Melbourne: A vintage display from Victoria Azarenka has fired the two-time Australian Open champion back into her first semifinal at Melbourne Park since lifting the trophy a decade ago on Rod Laver Arena.
The former world No.1 dictated play 6-4 6-1 to prevail past third seed Jessica Pegula under the lights in their quarterfinal on Tuesday night.
There was a fist bump in the tunnel between these close friends, but that was out the window on court.
First-strike tennis was on the menu, and it was Azarenka controlling the tempo.
Pegula connected with a highlight-reel backhand pass under pressure, however, the No.24 seed consolidated a 3-0 lead in just 12 minutes of clinical hitting.
The American then fended off six break points in an intriguing 10-minute hold to finely get on the scoreboard.
Despite Azarenka soaring 5-2 up, Pegula dug deep, stepping into rip on the return to erase two set points for 5-4. A switch of momentum seemed on the cards, but Azarenka had other ideas.
She re-imposed herself with three games to secure the set and take another commanding 2-0 lead in the second.