Victoria Azarenka’s time away from the sport through injury has taught her not to take any moment on court for granted, the former world No1 explained after triumphing over No11 seed Angelique Kerber in one of the best women’s tennis matches of the season.
Azarenka ground out a huge 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 victory over the tireless German lefty in a three-hour third round thriller at the US Open to set up a last 16 clash with American Varvara Lepchenko.
The two-time US Open runner-up has been trying to find her way back to the top of the rankings following an injury-interrupted 2014 season. The 20th-seeded Azarenka and Kerber combined for a total of 97 winners in what was an epic display of sheer battle and grit.
“I said, ‘I’m going to stay here all day if it takes me to, and I’m going to stay all day and fight all day,’” a relieved Azarenka said after the match. “Honestly this is the most enjoyable moment you can possibly have is to fight in such a great match against such a fighter like Angelique.
“To come out with the win is just a bonus but I just enjoyed this hustle, this running down every ball, this getting winners and stuff! It was amazing.”
Azarenka is into the second week in New York for a fourth straight year and says there is nothing that rivals the feeling of competing on the sport’s biggest stage.
“Just being able to go out there and fight hard and compete, it’s exciting. I don’t ever want to take it for granted that I go on Arthur Ashe Stadium and I play no matter which round it is,” said the two-time Australian Open champion.
She faces another lefty today, in the unseeded Lepchenko, for a chance to reach the quarter-finals.
“She’s a really tough competitor. She’s obviously playing great tennis, reaching the second week here. Another lefty for me. At least I had some practice today,” Azarenka said with a smile.
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