Before Victoria Azarenka had a chance to analyze the two players she could meet next, her son was asked about the third-round performance of the two-time Australian Open champion.
Five-year-old Leo, wearing his sunglasses in the press conference room and sitting on his mother’s lap, replied succinctly, “Awesome!” Thanks, kid.
Azarenka’s highlights in her 6-0, 6-2 victory over 15th seed Elina Svitolina on Friday included “the amount of aggression I could bring point after point, applying a lot of pressure, the consistency. The breakpoints I faced, I played really hard.” “Yes, take control of my side of the pitch,” she added. “I think that’s what I’m happiest about.” She will next face French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, who rallied after a set and loss to 26th seed Jelena Ostapenko to win 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 and advance to the fourth round in singles at Melbourne Park for the first time. The 24th-seeded Azarenka, who won the title at Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013 and was a three-time US Open runner-up, is in the fourth round here for the first time since 2016 after extending her record of 5-0 win over Svitolina. .
She racked up nearly twice as many winners, 17, as unforced errors, nine, and never faced a break point. Svitolina made mistake after mistake, 26 unforced errors in all.
Since a quarter-final in Australia in 2016, Azarenka has lost first-round matches last year and in 2019, and missed the hard-court tournament in 2017, 2018 and 2020.
The 32-year-old former world No. 1, from Belarus, is feeling comfortable at the moment, fulfilling the dual role of player and mother in Melbourne.
Azarenka was asked if it was more demanding, fun or relaxing to have her son with her on tour.
“All of the above,” she said, laughing, as Krejcikova and Ostapenko played.
“He’s definitely not a distraction, I’d never say that. Parenting isn’t easy. He’s got a lot of personality – I don’t know where he got that from!” Leo flipped his tournament ID on his lanyard as his mother fielded questions from inside the venue and online. He yawned at least once and blew air into the microphone.
“I still feel privileged to be able to have him here,” Azarenka said. “These kinds of moments are really priceless to me. To be able to share that with my son is pretty amazing.” In other results on day five, fifth-seeded Maria Sakkari beat 28th-seeded Veronika Kudermetova 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the fourth round against 21st-seeded Jessica Pegula of the United States, who beat Nuria Parrizas Diaz 7-6. (3), 6-2.
Eighth-seeded Paula Badosa advanced with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 win over Marta Kostyuk.
The night session later Friday featured two highly anticipated matchups that could lead to an even bigger one.
Defending champion Naomi Osaka was scheduled to face Amanda Anisimova at Margaret Court Arena, while No. 1 Ash Barty was scheduled to face Camila Giorgi at Rod Laver Arena. The winners of those two matches will meet in a fourth-round match that could look like a Grand Slam final a week earlier if it’s Osaka versus Barty.
Rafael Nadal was set to continue his bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title with a third-round match against No. 28 Karen Khachanov.
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