Millennium Post

Fighting Serena stays alive, Azarenka ousted

Fighting Serena stays alive, Azarenka ousted
Serena Williams displayed all her fighting qualities to grind down the dangerous Garbine Muguruza and stay alive at the Australian Open Monday, but two-time champion Victoria Azarenka was bundled out.

The world number one battled back from a set down in a tense centre court match against the 24th seeded Spaniard to win 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 and make the quarter-finals, staying on track for a 19th Grand Slam title and her sixth at Melbourne. “I didn’t start out so well and she did everything she needed to do in the first set. I just decided to do my best, stay focused and relax,” said Williams, who can lose her top ranking if she exits and Maria Sharapova wins the tournament. She will next face last year’s finalist Dominika Cibulkova, the 11th seeded Slovak who ended the comeback from injury of Azarenka in three sets.

Cibulkova, who lost in the 2014 decider to Li Na, went into her match as an underdog against Azarenka, who had beaten her seven times in their nine previous meetings. But she said her self belief blossomed as she stepped back onto Rod Laver Arena, the scene of her best Grand Slam performance.

“I just walked on the court and all the memories came to my mind and I was just thinking ‘I’m a great player, I can do it, I just have to believe in myself’,” she said after the fiercly contested match. Cibulkova had plenty to play for, she has struggled at Grand Slams since last year’s Australian Open and a loss would have sent her tumbling out of the top 20 for the first time since 2010.

Despite her disappointment Azarenka said she was content with what she had achieved so far this year on the comeback trail, including a defeat of eighth seed Caroline Wozniacki in round two. “I take it as progress. I think there are a lot of the positive things to take from here,” said Azarenka, who won the Melbourne title in 2012 and 2013 but struggled with a string of foot injuries and depression last year.

Venus stuns Radwanska
Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams stormed into the quarterfinal on Monday, overcoming fatigue to roll back the years and down sixth seed Agnieszka Radwanska in three gruelling sets. The 34-year-old American finished strongly to win 6-3, 2-6, 6-1, sealing match point with an ace to reach the final eight of a major for the first time since the US Open in 2010. The win takes her 2015 record to 9-0.
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