GNP Seguros: Victoria Azarenka rallies to a straight sets win over Zarina Diyas
Victoria Azarenka delivered another top performance at the Abierto GNP Seguros Thursday night. The Belorussian gave little to Zarina Diyas who fell to her in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 at GNP Stadium on the grounds of Club Sonoma.
The two met back in 2016 where the eventual champion at Indian Wells started with a smooth victory against the Kazak in the second round of the tournament.
While the seasons have gone by, the Belorussian remained as the strongest of the two to succeed in their second meeting. Azarenka had an easy hold against Miyu Kato to prep for a similar challenge.
She quickly gained a 2-0 lead against Diyas before the 25-year-old held her off in the third. The brief loss of control came back to Azarenka who took the next pair gaining a double break in the process.
With the set running in the Belorussian’s hands, Diyas called down coach Roberto Antonini who gave her ideas on how to redirect the returns at her opponent and create chances.
A key break was achieved for Diyas to cut Azarenka’s lead in half but the 29-year-old was determined to break back in the seventh. With the forceful forehand, the former world No.1 got the job done to serve for the set on her terms.
Diyas made it a difficult game as she reached break point but was forced to deuce by Azarenka. She couldn’t regain control of the serve as the Kazak gained two AD point chances to close within two.
Diyas’ momentum was going the right way as she served in the ninth to try and stave off dropping out. An error came at the wrong time which handed Azarenka set point. She won on a big forehand winner that closed out 36 minutes.
Despite having more than a dozen errors with some coming from Diyas, her winners took a beating to the Kazak and outscoring her 32-23.
Azarenka didn’t lose any speed going into the second where she scored a serve to love. Diyas answer with a good service hold of her own but trailed the fifth seed who was not going to slip up.
She made a statement that broke Diyas in the fourth to quickly return to service. The gap continued to widen but the 25-year-old did everything in her power to stay in contention. A hold for the Kazak put her within two but the serve was once again in Azarenka’s hands.
She got through her serve in the seventh with ease putting all the weight on Diyas to hold or go down to the Belorussian.
The fifth seed had the strength to gain a 30-0 lead but good court positioning allowed the Kazak to finish with a last hurrah. The next point secured the win for Azarenka who scored with a line drive winner ending the night in one hour and seven minutes.
The difficulty increases as she faced four-time tournament winner Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Friday’s quarterfinal.
“She’s a great player and definitely feels comfortable here playing,” Azarenka said about her next match.
"It will be an interesting match.”