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Muguruza battles past Azarenka to reach US Open fourth round

The two former Grand Slam champions put on a show on Arthur Ashe stadium court but it was the Spaniard who came out on top in three sets

Garbine Muguruza AI / Reuters / Panoramic Garbine Muguruza

US Open 2021: Women’s singles, third round

Garbine Muguruza (9) beat Victoria Azarenka (18) 6-4, 3-6, 6-2

  • What happened: Garbine Muguruza survived a mid-match wobble to advance to the last 16
  • You will also learn: The Spaniard is into the last 16 in New York for only the second time
  • Why you should read this: Last year’s runner-up Azarenka is set to drop out of world’s top 25

Sometimes matches are hyped and fail to deliver; sometimes they light up from the very first ball hit.

This was the latter as Garbiñe Muguruza and Victoria Azarenka went toe to toe and traded huge groundstrokes for two and a quarter hours on Arthur Ashe stadium court on Friday, but it was the Spaniard who finally came out on top, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 to reach the last 16 at the US Open.

Remarkably, it’s just the second time Muguruza, the former Roland-Garros and Wimbledon champion, has ever reached the last 16 at Flushing Meadows but the way she played, especially in the deciding set, suggests she could go much further this year.

“It’s a Grand Slam I’ve been struggling in,” she admitted. “This year so far is working so I just want to keep going.”

Victoria Azarenka
Victoria Azarenka

Azarenka unable to find form of 2020

It’s just 11 months since Azarenka rolled back the years to reach the final in New York, her first Grand Slam final since 2013, when she lost out to Naomi Osaka in a tense final.

This year, her draw was not so favourable and Muguruza looked on a mission from the start. The Spaniard took a tough first set thanks to some typically aggressive play but her serve deserted her in the second set and Azarenka, using the drop shot to good effect, levelled.

The decider hinged on the sixth game when Azarenka saved a couple of break points but finally sent a backhand wide to give Muguruza a 4-2 lead. Two games later, a sixth double fault from the Belarussian handed Muguruza victory and a clash with French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, who beat Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia 6-4, 6-2.

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