Azarenka: I'm glad I lived this experience and overcame the challenges today
The TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships burst into life on day two in Istanbul as Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova outlasted their respective opponents in two three-set marathons
It was 2:12am when Sharapova finally brought an end to proceedings on a dramatic day of tennis inside Istanbul’s Sinan Erdem. The world No.2 fired an ace past Agnieszka Radwanska to seal a 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 victory over the plucky Pole, who had led by a set and 4-2 at one stage.
“I was a little bit frustrated early on,” said the French Open champion after the three-hour, 12-minute match. “I wasn't doing the right things and she was doing all the right things, and making me make mistakes. I was just trying to hang in there. It was a very physical match with so many ups and downs - I wasn't playing my best tennis, but I kept fighting. And when you win when you're not at your best, it gives you extra motivation to do better in the next one."
The win comes as sweet revenge for Sharapova who was beaten by Radwanksa in the final of Miami in their only other meeting this year. “There's a reason why she's No.4 in the world,” the Russian said of her opponent. “Her capability of anticipating where the ball goes and getting it back – and no matter if it's a hard shot or a low slice with no pace, she makes you work for it. She did until the end.”
The win also sealed Sharapova’s spot in the knock-out stages of the competition after the 2004 champion overcame Sara Errani on day one.
Earlier in the day Azarenka recovered from match points down in the second set to beat Angelique Kerber 6-7(11), 7-6(2), 6-4 in a three-hour, six-minute contest.
“On the match points I just thought I had to go for it - she wasn't going to miss, and I didn't want to wait for her to make a mistake,” said the world No.1. “I was so determined to make it happen. I wanted to take destiny into my hands - if I missed those shots, it was going to be up to me, not up to my opponent.
“I was fighting so hard - at the beginning of the tournament it's quite hard to have a match like that!” the Belarusian added. “But all the best players are here and you have to show your best tennis. I don't think I did that, but at least I showed my best fight. I'm glad I lived this experience and overcame the challenges today.”
The loss all but seals Kerber’s fate in the competition but the German debutant was keen to take positives from her performance.
“I gave it my best today, but Vika played too well in the important moments,” said the world No.5. “Of course I'm a little bit sad I lost this match but the quality was unbelievable. There's just one winner and one loser, and Vika won today. I was happy to be a part of this great match. The atmosphere was amazing.”
Serena Williams also booked her place in the semi-finals with her second win of the tournament. The American overcame Li Na in an error-strewn match 7-6(2), 6-3.