Victoria Azarenka Double Bagels Reigning Australian Open Champion Sofia Kenin at Italian Open 2020

Published 09/17/2020, 2:18 PM EDT
Tennis – WTA Premier 5 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka celebrates a point |REUTERS


Victoria Azarenka is having some hurdles to cross in the Italian Open 2020. After defeating arch-rival Venus Williams in the opening round, she was up against Sofia Kenin of the United States of America.

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Facing Venus in the first round, Azarenka started off her campaign with a strong note as she pocketed the match with ease. Although she knew that 3rd seeded Kenin won’t be easy to defeat.

Victoria Azarenka took the first set in a jiffy

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The match started off pretty well with Victoria serving first. She held on to her service to take the first game without much effort. She showed a quick response and the willingness to go for the win pretty early in the match. Breaking Sofia Kenin’s first service of the day, she extended her lead by 2 games to 0.

Tennis – WTA Premier 5 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka in action during her second round match against Sofia Kenin of the U.S. |REUTERS

There was no stopping for the Belarusian as she took the next two games in a similar fashion. Her match reading capability was at its peak as she anticipated every move of her opponent.  Holding to her venomous service, she went halfway across the set leading 3-0. The change of service meant Sofia was serving to gain her first point. But all efforts went to vain as Azarenka pulled up some stunning returns to break once again and go ahead 4 games to 0.

If complete surrender is an adjective, the first set between Azarenka and Kenin is the absolute depiction of it. The 21-year-old found it quite difficult to stand in front of the experienced Azarenka. Serving with the intent to take one step into pocketing the set, Azarenka made no mistake to go 5-0 up against World Number 5. Her clinical approach completely demolished the last known resistance of Kenin to break her game. With 3 breaks, and holding her services, Azarenka completely dominated the match and took the set 6-0.

The second set was no different at all

Victoria Azarenka started off the second set from where she had left the first set. Starting the second set with her service, she quickly converted it to a point. Sofia was aiming for making a comeback in the game. She showed some flashes of her brilliance as she took the game to deuce. However, it was Azarenka who kept her nerve to break the game and go 2-0 up.

The World number 4 was having difficulties returning Victoria’s services. Already a set and 2 games down, she needed to get back to the game as fast as she could. Although she was trying real hard, it wasn’t her day. As a result, Azarenka clinched her 3rd game of the set and was cruising towards victory.

Into the 4th game of the set, we see Kenin making an effort to climb up the mountain ahead of her. A couple of positive points saw her going ahead 40-15. She faltered as she let Azarenka draw the scores and call it a deuce. After a couple of dilly-dallying with the advantage, it was Azarenka who capitalized the advantage to run away with the game. With the second set 4-0 up, she was two games away from proceeding to the next round.

Losing 10 games at a stretch, Kenin literally gave up all hopes and aspirations. The reigning Australian Open champion was utterly humiliated in the hands of Azarenka. Her spark faded off by and by and she lost the 11th game as Azarenka held to her service.

Azarenka delivered the final nail on the coffin by breaking Kenin’s service and walking away with 12 games straight. The scoreline for the second set repeated that of the first set. Not allowing Kenin to take a game, Victoria Azarenka proceeded to the next round.

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Surface change no issues for Azarenka

Coming into the clay court after a successful stint in the hard court, Azarenka remains the same lethal in Rome as she was in New York. The US Open 2020 runner up is reminding us of the golden days of 2014. Ousting Venus Williams and Sofia Kenin on a row, she is the force to reckon with now.

Tennis – WTA Premier 5 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka with Sofia Kenin of the U.S. after winning their second round match |REUTERS

Although most of the tournament is left, yet her astounding form only raises the hopes for the championship.
Azarenka herself will be looking forward to clinching the cup as a warning bell for her opponents in the French Open 2020.

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Francis Banerjee

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