Stosur, Azarenka set up Qatar Open title clash
MIR BASIT HUSSAIN
DOHA TOP-SEEDED Belarusian Victoria Azarenka overcame a pain barrier and world No 6 Agnieszka Radwanska to qualify for the fifth final in succession on Saturday. At the Khalifa Internaitonal Tennis and Squash Complex, the world No 1 limped all over the court after a nasty ankle twist but held herself together to post a gutsy 6-2, 6-4 victory in the second semi-final of the Qatar Total Open .
In the Sunday’s final showdown, Azarenka will clash with Australian Samantha Stosur, the world No 5, who advanced when Marion Bartoli got cramps in her calf muscles and quit the first semi-final.
Interestingly, the title-clash is between the two players who had lost in their respective opening matches in their first appearances in Doha.
Azarenka will begin as a heavy favourite for the title , having beaten Stosur in all the five previous clashes so far.
The Qatar Total Open final is the third title-clash of the season and fifth in a row for the Belarusian.
Saturday’s victory has helped her equal Justine Henin’s season opening winning streak of 16 games (2004 season).
The current Australian Open champion, Azarenka, said that she was happy that she pulled it off.
“Honestly, I don’t know how I managed to do it. I was in a state of shock when it happened. I had to focus on each and every point and shot that I played. I still feel a bit dizzy now,” said Azarenka in an overwhelmed tone.
She further added that she was happy that the match up was decided in two sets. “I don’t know what would have happened then,” said Azarenka.
Both Azarenka and Radwanska have been involved in some tough matches in the recent time. Though Azarenka leads her rival 7-3, her three victories in the last four matches have come off in three sets.
So the latest match was also being predicted to be a tough one.
It began with Azarenka dishing out some fluent ground strokes to break the Polish player in the very first game to go up 2-0. But Radwanska took advantage of Azarenka’s two double faults to come at par. Azarenka, playing currently at a high level of proficiency, avenged and pulled off two more breaks and progressed solidly to wrap up the first set at 6-2 in 35 minutes with a brilliant overhead forehand smash.
The second set started with the two players trading breaks and it was here that Azarenka sprained her ankle while trying to hit back a drop shot from her opponent.
For about seven minutes there was a suspense whether the fate of this match would be the same as of the previous one (Bartoli retired after calf injury).
But as she said recently that she has learnt how to control her feelings and emotions.
She showed exactly that and chose to bear the pain and play rather than give up. The Belarusian got her foot tied up by her physio and she was back into the court.
After 2-2, Azarenka forced Radwanska to drop her service twice to take a formidablelooking 5-2 lead.
Azarenka might have sealed the victory in the eighth game. But she committed two double faults and threw away one match point as she was not apparently feeling very well.
But Radwanska held her service in the ninth game, Azarenka finished the set and the match in style.
She pulled off the game at love and the last shot of the match was her trademark forehand down the line. She covered her face immediately with both hands in disbelief.
Radwanska admitted that she didn’t utilise the chances she got during the match.
“I didn’t really use my chances. And when you are playing a top player and don’t use your chances, it’s hard to come back. It happened today and she was playing really well,” said the loser.