Sports

Former champ Azarenka storms past Pegula, becomes first player into Indian Wells semis

Victoria Azarenka continues to be energetic in her quest to win the BNP Paribas Open for a 3rd time. The No.27 seed from Belarus charged previous Nineteenth-seeded Jessica Pegula, 6-4, 6-2, on Wednesday, turning into the primary semifinalist on the 2021 version within the desert.

Former World No.1 Azarenka, who was the Indian Wells champion in 2012 and 2016, took an hour and 34 minutes to finish the run of American Pegula and attain the ultimate 4 of this occasion for the fourth time in her profession.

Stat nook: With the victory, Azarenka claimed a head-to-head lead over Pegula for the primary time. Of their first assembly, Pegula shocked two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka within the first spherical of this 12 months’s main occasion in Melbourne, which kicked off the American’s run to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Nonetheless, Azarenka avenged that loss on the grass courts in Berlin this summer time, and now has gained the final two of their three conferences, because of her thirty second profession match-win at Indian Wells.

Solely two girls have gained extra matches total at this event: Lindsay Davenport (47) and Maria Sharapova (38). With 32 victories, Azarenka has now tied Caroline Wozniacki for third place on that listing.

Azarenka will now contest her third semifinal of 2021. She additionally reached that stage this 12 months at Doha (the place she withdrew previous to her semifinal in opposition to Garbiñe Muguruza because of a again damage) and Berlin (the place she misplaced to eventual champion Liudmila Samsonova after she defeated Pegula).

Key moments: Azarenka took the lead for good within the fifth recreation of the match, the place a big-hitting rally ended within the Belarusian’s favor, giving her triple break level. Azarenka transformed the primary of these possibilities by forcing a netted error with a robust backhand, giving her a 3-2 benefit.

Pegula used lovely backhands to stave off two set factors earlier than holding for 5-4, however Azarenka would convert her third set level within the subsequent recreation with an unreturned serve. Pegula had three extra winners than Azarenka within the opening body, however the American additionally led in unforced errors by 14 to 10.

After an early change of breaks within the first two video games of the second set, Azarenka as soon as once more broke for 3-2, this time on her fifth break level of a essential 11-minute recreation. Azarenka eased to 5-2 from there, the place she served for the match.

In that recreation, Azarenka was pressured to stave off two break factors, however excellent serving at that essential juncture helped her grit out the sport and transfer into the Indian Wells semifinals as soon as once more.

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