Azarenka crumples to Williams pressure

Serena Williams recovered from yesterday’s erratic performance to beat world number one Victoria Azarenka 6-4 6-4 in their second match of the WTA Championships.

The American said after the game “I knew I could do better” after a below-par performance against Li Na, and crusied into the semi-finals with a determined, consistent and relaxed display in Istanbul.

Azarenka, who would have secured her number one spot for the start of 2013 if she had taken Thuesday’s match, looked tied after yesterday’s clash with Angelique Kerber and could not handle the serves once Williams got into her rhythm.

The first set went with serve for the first seven games, before Williams took her first break point to go 5-3 up in the first set. Azarenka broke straight back with a well-worked point at 15-40, pushing Williams wide before securing the game. Yet she could not hold her serve and Serena took the set before the Istanbul crowd had time to blink.

Azarenka looked her frustrated former self at times – much like yesterday’s game against Angelique Kerber – and had to refrain from smashing her racquet at the start of the second.

A fourth consecutive break of serve gave Azarenka a 1-0 lead in the second set and the Belarusian soon found herself 3-0 up after Williams hit long an erratic backhand.

The annoyance in Serena was evident and the American swatted home a return forehand in the next game before breaking Azarenka with an amazing drop-shot return, stooping down almost underneath the umpire’s chair to make the point. Indeed, Williams found her momentum and drew level 3-3 after poor serving from her opponent.

The set went with serve until 5-4 Williams, when Azarenka lost her nerve to double fault at 0-15. Williams won the next point with a neat backhand down the line but overcooked her first match point, finding the net.

Yet Williams had nothing to worry about as Azarenka again double faulted to hand her opponent the match and a passage into the semis.

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