World no. 1 Victoria Azarenka is in the semifinals at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany after defeating German wild card Mona Barthel in what turned out to be quite the match. Barthel may not have been seeded, but played like someone who soon will be.
It took about three hours for Azarenka to earn the 6-4, 6(3) - 7, 7-5 in a contest that challenged her like few matches this year have. It was the fourth meeting of the year between the two, with Azarenka wining them all, but pushing Azarenka to bring her best game. Barthel has a serve that is becoming known as among the most hard to handle in the game, and blew 13 of them past Azarenka, who only managed five.
"She played great tennis today. Having already played her three times this year, I know she is the one to watch," Azarenka said. "She serves well and was still bombing in aces after two-and-a-half hours today, and she plays better when she's behind than when she's in front."
Radwanska past Li Na, will meet Azarenka again
Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland moved past China's Li Na in three sets. After playing a little slow in the opening set, Radwanska tightened up her game and won the match, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Radwanska rarely wins with her power, and this match was no exception. Utilizing well-placed drop shots and a great return game, the world no. 4 surged ahead.
With that win, Radwanska is now 28-4 on the year. The four losses all came against Azarenka, with plenty of drama on and off the court. Radwanska has previously been very critical of Azarenka's shrieking and has called into question the seriousness of an ankle injury her nemesis suffered.
The semifinal will see their drama continued, but will it be a story of the same result, or will Radwanska earn a breakthrough?
The competitors in the other semi will be either the winner of the Sam Stosur vs. Maria Sharapova match, or the contest between Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova. The fans in Stuttgart will surely be rooting for Kerber, who is the last German player alive in the tournament. Azarenka knocked out Barthel, and Stosur defeated defending champion Julia Goerges. Kerber advanced by downing Caroline Wozniacki.
The Porche Grand Prix is one of the big clay-court competitions of the run-up to the French Open and whets the appetite of fans for great play on the clay.
Jeff Musall is a longtime fan and player of tennis. He began following the professional game as a kid back in the '70s, watching the greats of that era.
- Sports & Recreation
- Victoria Azarenka
- Mona Barthel
- Agnieszka Radwanska