Sun | May 20, 2018

Makarova beats Azarenka to reach US Open semis

Published:Thursday | September 4, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Ekaterina Makarova of Russia reacts after defeating Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in two sets during the quarter-finals of the 2014 US Open tennis tournament, yesterday. - AP


Ekaterina Makarova describes herself as a person who prefers "to stay in the shade". At this year's US Open, she finally believes she deserves to play under the brightest lights.

The 26-year-old Russian reached her first Grand Slam semi-final yesterday, beating Victoria Azarenka in straight sets at the US Open. Makarova won 6-4, 6-2 after losing her previous four major quarter-finals.

"Before maybe I didn't believe that much that I can come through," she said. "Today, definitely, was a different feeling."

Azarenka acknowledged she suffered from food poisoning the day before, but didn't want to talk about how it might have affected her. Unusually subdued for most of the match, she smashed her racket after one of her 27 unforced errors gave Makarova a break and a 4-2 lead in the second set.

Full credit

"I'm not going to make any excuses," she said. "I did the best I could today. I want to give full credit to my opponent. She deserves to win. She played much better than me today."

The players were 16th and 17th in the seedings, but came in with very different resumes. Azarenka is a two-time Australian Open champion who lost to Serena Williams in the last two US Open finals.

Azarenka arrived at Flushing Meadows having played just eight matches since the Australian Open because of foot and knee injuries, her ranking plunging. She got five in here, a huge help to rediscovering her rhythm.

"I can take positives from this tournament," Azarenka said. "Two months ago, I didn't even think that I was going to be able to play."

Makarova's semi-final opponent could be Serena Williams. The two-time defending champion faced 11th-seed Flavia Pennetta to open the night session yesterday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray took the court after that for a rematch of the 2012 US Open final.

Meanwhile, Caroline Wozniacki knew, as anyone paying attention does, that the woman she played in the US Open quarter-finals, Sara Errani, does not hit booming serves. And after noticing that Errani's previous opponent, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, tried unsuccessfully to pound those soft serves, Wozniacki decided the best course of action was simply to make sure she put those balls in play.

Getting all 34 of Errani's serves back over the net and then claiming 26 of those points, Wozniacki parlayed six breaks and a 26-12 total edge in winners into a 6-0, 6-1 victory over the 13th-seed Errani, in a wind-whipped match on Tuesday night.

The victory for the 10th-seed Wozniacki, moved her into her first Grand Slam semi-final in three years.

"I learned quite a lot from Lucic the other day. She was going for every return and trying to make winners on every return," Wozniacki said. "For me, that wasn't really the game plan today. It was just putting pressure on her from the start and kind of start the rally from there."

Wozniacki, a former No. 1 who eliminated five-time major champion Maria Sharapova in three sets in the fourth round, will face unseeded Peng Shuai of China in the semi-finals.