In a battle of former world no. 1’s, Belarusian Victoria Azarenka defeated German Angelique Kerber, the no. 1 seed 6-4 4-6 6-1 in the semi-final of the Monterrey Open.
The win extends Azarenka’s dominant head-to-head record to 8-1. The only time Kerber has defeated the Belarussian was in the quarters at the Australian Open in 2016, a tournament she went on to win.
This week in Monterrey it is the first time Azarenka has put together this many wins in a week. She had won her first three matches without dropping a set.
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Photo: Victoria Azarenka into her first final since Miami in 2016.
Kerber took the early lead, breaking in the first game, and had the chance to lead by a double break at 3-1, but after multiple deuces two consecutive aces saw the Belarusian hold for 3-2. Azarenka lead for the first time after the ninth game and then a shot into the net by Kerber brought up set point on the German’s serve, which Azarenka converted with a backhand return winner. Kerber should have seen the score at 5-5 but missed a sitter of a shot with game point. She sent Azarenka wide and then had an open court to hit into, but pushed a shot long.
Once again, Kerber broke in the first game, but Azarenka was able to break back immediately to level the score at 1-1. Azarenka was not able to hold her next service game, giving the German the lead again at 2-1. A double fault by Azarenka in the seventh game brought up another break point for Kerber. She lead by a double break when a backhand by Azarenka was overruled as out by the chair 5-2.
The German was unable to serve out the set the first time. She hit a forehand winner in the next game to earn a set point, but she hit a backhand long in the next point to allow Azarenka to hold on for another game. Kerber successfully served out the set the second time to take the match to a decider.
Azarenka stormed out to a 5-0 lead in the third set and had a match point in the sixth game when Kerber sent a backhand into the net. She couldn’t convert it as she returned the serve into the net, giving Kerber her first game of the third set. The Belarusian was able to serve it out, despite facing a break point. Kerber hit a forehand out on match point, handing Azarenka her ticket into her first tour-level final in just over three years.
Kerber had too many unforced errors throughout the match with 40 to 32 and it was 35 winners for Azarenka to 30 for Kerber. Throughout the match Azarenka broke six times from 12 opportunities. Kerber broke four times.
She will play no. 2 seed and defending champion, Garbiñe Muguruza for the title. Muguruza easily overcame Magdaléna Rybáriková in straight sets 6-2 6-3. Both Muguruza and Azarenka have only dropped one set each on their road to the final.