On Saturday, two-time former champion Victoria Azarenka extended her undefeated record against Jelena Ostapenko to 4-0 with a 6-1, 7-5 triumph in the third round of the Australian Open. Azarenka, the world No 22, reached her first quarterfinal at Melbourne Park since winning her Grand Slam titles in 2012 and 2013. The 34-year-old, whose last two matches have been three-setters, will face Ukraine qualifier Dayana Yastremska in her next match.
The players traded holds in the opening four games of the second set, but Azarenka found a groove with dominant forehands. Ostapenko struggled on her serve, committing five double faults in the next game, giving Azarenka her first break. Azarenka made quick work of the break, running through six points to take a 3-0 lead.
Azarenka, ranked 10th in the world, won the rest of the set as she broke Ostapenko’s serve twice in the next seven games to clinch the match. The Belarusian served the final game with a backhand winner down the line, extending her unbeaten run at this year’s Australian Open to eight matches.
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Despite her humbling defeat to Ostapenko, Azarenka’s performance was encouraging as she continued her return from injury. The 34-year-old was sidelined with a torn left thigh muscle and a lower right leg injury for the past month but is slowly building her strength and consistency.
Ostapenko appeared to be struggling with the heat as she dropped a set and a break in her first match in Melbourne. But she showed glimpses of the form that brought her to the 2017 French Open title by smashing her return winners with ease. However, she could not convert her chances as her error count increased.
In the final set, Azarenka again used her dominant forehand to dominate the exchanges with her opponent, breaking twice in the opening four games to take a 3-0 lead. Ostapenko tried to fight back, slamming a forehand winner to win the next game, but she struggled on her serve and squandered three break points before losing her composure in the 12th game.
The match was played in front of a sold-out crowd on the central court at Melbourne Park. The weather was hot and humid, and a drizzle fell on the courts. The pair will meet again on Sunday, with Azarenka seeking to win the first match of her career at this stage of a Grand Slam. She will bid for her 50th win at the Australian Open and 160th in a Grand Slam overall. She will also equal her best Grand Slam performance in Melbourne. The 34-year-old won her previous matches at the tournament in 2013 and 2024. She will aim to become the first woman to win four consecutive Australian Open matches since Margaret Court in 1970.