Australian Open 2019: Siegemund overwhelms Azarenka late to win three setter
Laura Siegemund played an outstanding level of tennis at the Australian Open. The German who battled early in the first set rallied to take the next two with a lot of moment to send Victoria Azarenka packing so early in the tournament 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2 at Melbourne Arena on the grounds of Melbourne Park. It was the first time that the Belorussian was defeated in the opening round since her debut in 2006.
This was Azarenka’s first time back at the open since giving birth to her son Leo in December 2016. Since then, her duty as a mother has been a task along with personal issues that kept her from attending. With the 2012-13 winner back on the blue courts down under, the 29-year-old carried a lot of positive feelings to take on the German for the first time. Despite not having a lot of time logged in on the WTA Tour, the Belorussian would come out hot against Siegemund who also struggled to win matches.
They opened with Azarenka holding serve in the first giving the German just one point. Siegemund got in with a great defense against the Belorussian while blasting the ball away. They remained on serve through four when Siegemund edged ahead in the fifth.
The German gained two break points to secure the break but went quietly in the next game. Azarenka took advantage of her silence and scored the break to love, leveling her back. The breaks continued to the eighth where Azarenka answered back with a double break keeping them very well even.
She got her service game back under control with Siegemund still playing just as good. It led them to play a tiebreak where Siegemund got the minibreak followed by a hold for 2-0. Azarenka got on the board but again faced a two-point deficit. She fell behind three to Siegemund before a surge got her to five all breaking the German a second time.
Three breaks were the charm for the Belorussian who got into place with the set point to win the tiebreak 7-5 on her own serve. It was over in 58 minutes with Azarenka keeping the offense with 31 of 39 won on the first serve.
Siegemund was aware of the challenges ahead and set the bar to hold serve against the Belorussian. Azarenka held firm to give the German very little to build on in the second. She went on to break Siegemund with a double break before consolidating that with another win increasing the streak to three games.
The 30-year-old kept within a game after seven with Azarenka inched closer despite giving up too much ground to Siegemund who leveled the score at four all.
The German proved her worth in the set holding strong in the ninth that out Azarenka on the hot seat to keep the set alive for herself. The 29-year-old showed some nerves during the game that allowed Siegemund to get focused for her shot to change things up. On a great return game, she troubled Azarenka who erred on the last point to end the second and bring up a third after an hour.
After the Belorussian left the court to regroup a little, she came back to break Siegemund in the first game. It didn’t pan into anything as she was blanked by the German who forced the situation before holding the third.
Azarenka got back into the mix in the fourth but it was becoming clear of a fight to the finish line. The path of the set suddenly changed as Siegemund made a push to take control away from Azarenka. She held the fifth before a huge break gave her a 4-2 lead with plenty of momentum built up behind her. It was becoming a major challenge for Azarenka to counter even with a breakpoint situation.
The 29-year-old had Siegemund down 0-40 only to see her come back to force deuce. She didn’t waste time to recover the advantage and stand with a 5-2 lead.
Azarenka was on the brink of disaster as she faced the end of her short time in the tournament. Siegemund showed no mercy getting deep in the court to make easy winners across to the former world number one who struggled heavily. Siegemund got two match points on a wide return from Azarenka that came with one final hit from the 29-year old into the net ending the match in 2 hours and 42 minutes.
While there was still the shock that Azarenka had suffered for the first time since her making the main draw 13 years back, the reality remained that her opponent would carry the solid win on the court and take it to Su Wei Hsieh in the second round.