[CR2] Simona Halep (ROU) vs. [CR20] Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Their head-to-head statistics were irrelevant today. In 2012 when Azarenka defeated Halep twice, Halep was ranked 63 and Azarenka was ranked number 1. Three years later, the rankings are reversed; thus, they both knew this was going to be a completely different match. In addition to a reversal in rankings, Halep is riding a wave of confidence while Azarenka is trying to regain her form after a series of foot/leg injuries. When you play someone who has the advantage in speed, you have to stay with them, because the minute you fall behind, it becomes almost impossible to catch up. Azarenka found that out to her chagrin in the third set. Despite a valiant effort to even the match in the second set, Azarenka could not maintain the level of play necessary to consistently keep the ball out of Halep’s reach.
As the tension mounted the closer they got to the end of the match, Azarenka started to press a little too much. She attempted winners that were highly improbable, a testament of her shaky confidence. The strategy was costly as she made too many errors at critical moments. Once she got broken, the match was over. Halep was not going to relinquish the lead after the effort expended to obtain it. The final error by Azarenka with the court wide open sums up the entire match, moments of brilliance followed by moments of appalling errors. The stunned looked on Azarenka’s face spoke volumes about her disappointment. Halep on the other hand was consistent, she was prepared for the battle and determined to fight for the victory. Perhaps the reward of her first semifinals at the US Open was the motivating factor behind her 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 of Azarenka.