Victoria Azarenka gets big win over Stefanie Voegele at Mallorca Open
Victoria Azarenka puts everything on the line to advance on at the Mallorca Open Tuesday. The former number one had a lot of problems to sort out but came through against Stefanie Voegele who challenged her from start to finish but fell to the Belorussian 6-7(4) 6-3, 7-5 on Pista Central at Santa Ponsa Country Club on the island on the Balearic island of Mallorca.
The Belorussian has denied the Swiss miss any chances of winning against her and would try to keep it going. Despite their first-round losses at the French Open, both came into the grass court season looking for all the time possible to get ready for intense journies.
Voegele went 1-2 so far with Azarenka playing her first. While she has had a lot of time to practice and get used to the surface, the former number one would be under pressure to kickstart her sluggish return to the sport.
She delivered a good service hold to follow that of Voegele who came out strong against the former number one. A change arrived in the fifth in favor of the Belorussian who used her signature groundstroke pace to outrun the Swiss star into breaking in the fifth.
Azarenka gained the lead but had Voegele trailing not far behind. She leveled with the Belorussian on a breakpoint win before holding serve that gave her the lead after nine. A big hold for Azarenka kept the set alive for the 28-year-old smashing winners down the line to beat the lucky loser.
The Swiss player set the bar in the 11th holding off a break opportunity by Azarenka to pressure her into stumbling on serve to negate the need for a tiebreak.
She was far from it as the former number one laid down well-placed winners to the left of Voegele catching the line each time. Despite her thoughts of the ball landing out, it only meant that she would have to compete deep into a tiebreak.
She got the upper hand of Azarenka as the smallest mistakes cost her points putting her own 4-2. She forced the Belorussian to play defensively giving her control to play the ball where she wished.
She achieved three set points hanging on to two of them to take the opening set in 51 minutes. The five double faults to Azarenka’s name were her major downfall of the opening set despite having numerous winners that nearly got her out of trouble overall. Voegele was able to keep the errors low and try to make a strong finish on the court.
The Belorussian came out with a force of power Voegele couldn’t fight well against. It was quickly a 3-0 run for the former world number one whose first serve was rock solid on service games.
The Swiss star got on the board holding serve for the first time in the fourth that helped her get back on serve. She achieved two holds through six but was still down enough for Azarenka to compose a shot at playing another set of tennis.
Playing against Voegele’s serve, the 28-year old gained enough set points to get out of a jam and play on for a shot at making it her match to conduct after 33 minutes.
The ability to land 70 percent of her shots on the first serve was a big improvement to holding back Voegele at the critical moments.
She opened the third with a solid break, trying to keep the spirits of Voegele low and conduct her own pace. She got into trouble in the second on serve down 0-40 but made a full comeback to force deuce.
After two breaks, Azarenka faltered just enough to lose all the ground made up and sit a game apiece with Voegele.
The 28-year-old Swiss laid down a good hold in the third which enabled a steady hold of serve through six. With things still deadlocked a break chance in the ninth opened for Azarenka who wanted to get the edge as the match was close at hand.
Things tensed up on the court as the ninth went to deuce with every point so important to Voegele to keep and not give away. She nearly lost her cool when she was called for a foot fault but held the AD point after three breaks to play for a shot at the second round.
Azarenka put together winners on the cross court shots but the double faults were becoming a problem at the worst time. She opened the door for Voegele to do something good but saved the game on a second break to force more games to be played.
A key break for Azarenka on Voegele’s serve gave her confidence to try and go for a continuance to her tournament on the island.
The 12th brought her struggles to a close as she delivered the knockout blow to the Swiss star winning the match in two hours and 20 minutes. While her stats on the second serve and return game didn’t fare well, the 28-year-old needed to sort them out when she faces Lucie Safarova in the second round.
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