Tsitsipas, former champion Azarenka storm into Australian Open semis-Xinhua

Tsitsipas, former champion Azarenka storm into Australian Open semis

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-01-24 22:02:45

MELBOURNE, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas powered into the semifinals, while two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka wound back the clock to stun Jessica Pegula at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

Tsitsipas reached the men's singles final-four in Melbourne for the fourth time in five years, after his 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-4 quarterfinal victory over 71st-ranked Jiri Lehecka.

With Rafael Nadal and Casper Ruud packing their bags early, the 24-year-old Greek is the highest seeded player left in the men's draw as he eyes a maiden Grand Slam title.

Tsitsipas had it far easier than in his heart-stopping five-set victory over Jannik Sinner in the fourth round, but was pushed in the second and third sets by the gritty Czech before booking a semifinal with Russia's Karen Khachanov.

"I found a solution and it was a very difficult three-setter," Tsitsipas said. "The tie break was my chance to take a big lead and I'm glad I won the second set."

Tsitsipas will be favored to reach his first Australian Open final against 18th seed Khachanov, who went through when American Sebastian Korda was forced to retire due to a wrist injury.

The 7-6 (5), 6-3, 3-0 defeat ended the 22-year-old's dreams of emulating his father Petr Korda's famous triumph at the Australian Open in 1998.

29th seed Korda needed treatment on his injury in the second set and tried to push through before calling it quits.

Khachanov has equalled his best Grand Slam performance after a semifinal run at last year's US Open, where he lost to Ruud.

In an unpredictable women's draw, Azarenka of Belarus will play reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina from Kazakhstan for a place in the final.

Azarenka's crushing straight sets victory over Pegula means the top four women's seeds have been eliminated before the semifinals.

The American's quarterfinal jinx continued as she slumped to her fifth straight defeat at this hurdle in her Grand Slam career.

She was no match for a rejuvenated Azarenka, whose convincing 6-4, 6-1 victory has her on track to add to her Australian Open titles in 2012 and 2013.

"We had so many rallies and I just wanted to try and stay there and take opportunities," said Azarenka, who prevailed in a tough opening set in 64 minutes before putting the foot down.

"I'm very proud that I executed my game plan really well. It's so amazing to be in another semifinal of a Grand Slam."

Rybakina's quest for a second Grand Slam title remained on course after a one-sided victory over former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-4.

Moscow-born Rybakina made a fast start but her momentum was derailed by a 20-minute rain delay while the roof on the Rod Laver Arena was closed.

Rybakina, who beat top seed Iga Swiatek in the fourth round, wasn't to be denied as she clinched a place in the final-four with her 11th ace.

"I am super happy to be in the semifinals. It was an amazing atmosphere," said the 23-year-old Kazakh.

"Of course, I was nervous, especially in the last game, to be honest. Not as nervous as before the match.

"I am super happy that I managed with my emotions and I played very well today."

Hot favorite Novak Djokovic and Russia's Andrey Rublev meet in a blockbuster quarterfinal on Wednesday, with fifth-ranked Aryna Sabalenka, who is the highest remaining seed in the women's draw, also headlining the action.