Brisbane: A ruthless Victoria Azarenka stormed into the Brisbane International semi-finals with a 6-1, 6-2 demolition of eighth seeded Italian Roberta Vinci on Thursday. The former world number one, who won her maiden WTA title in Brisbane in 2009, swept Vinci aside in 78 minutes to set up a final four clash against American qualifier Samantha Crawford.
Victoria Azarenka returns to Italy's Roberta Vinci yesterday. Pic/AFP
Azarenka raced through the first set in just 29 minutes and although Vinci put up more resistance in the second, the result was never in doubt once she broke the Italian's serve in the fifth game to gain the vital advantage.
"I executed my plan really well and I started the match well, which I think was missing a little bit in the previous two rounds," Azarenka said. "I felt my composure was solid from the beginning to the end. Pretty happy with that."
Azarenka was in great form against Vinci and blasted 22 winners past the Italian to reach her first semi-final in almost a year. The two-time Australian Open champion admitted she had never seen Crawford play and was curious as to how she would fare in the semi-finals. "The semi-final is going to be interesting for both of us, facing somebody I've never faced before," she said.
"I haven't been in the semi-finals in a while, which is great, too. So it's a lot of good experience, and I'm looking forward to that." Crawford continued her giant-killing run when she beat former Brisbane finalist Andrea Petkovic 6-3, 6-0. The 20-year-old broke Petkovic once in the first set then ran away with the second to make her first ever semi-final on the WTA Tour. The young American said she wasn't worried about facing Azarenka.
"That's the great thing about tennis -- anything can happen on a given day, anyone can beat anyone," she said. "I just want to play well and enjoy it." Fourth seeded German Angelique Kerber moved into the final four when she outlasted Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-4. Kerber had reached the quarter-finals in four visits to Brisbane but this is the first time she has progressed to the semis. "I think it was a good match from both of us," Kerber said.
"Anastasia was playing the first few games really tough. She was hitting the ball so fast, so I was just feeling that I was always on the defensive. "But I was trying to be relaxed and focus on my game and just try to serve well and if I had the chance, go for it. I think it worked well." Kerber will play eighth seed Carla Suarez Navarro in the semis after the Spaniard took nearly three hours to down American Varvara Lepchenko 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.