MELBOURNE, Australia — As Stanislas Wawrinka famously tattooed on his forearm, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” Agnieszka Radwanska came into her quarterfinal against two-time defending champion Victoria Azarenka having lost their last 12 sets and had lost in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open four times.
Then she decided to put on a show. Behind some incredible shot-making and guile, No. 4 Radwanska knocked out Azarenka 6-1, 5-7, 6-0 to advance to her first Australian Open semifinal where she’ll face surprise semifinalist No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova.
Highlights and video:
I call her The Ninja because just when you think you’re safe, she flips the script on you. Azarenka said after the match that Radwanska’s shot-making made her feel like “a spectator” out there. The Pole really put on a show today:
The winning moment
— Aga Radwanska (@ARadwanska) January 22, 2014
18: Match win streak in Melbourne for Azarenka, which was snapped by Radwanska.
1997: The last time both defending champions lost in the quarterfinals of a Slam (Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Steffi Graf at the U.S. Open). This is the first time it’s happened in the Open Era at the Australian Open.
12: Consecutive sets lost by Radwanska to Azarenka coming into today’s match.
5: Number of wins Radwanska now has over Top 2 players.
2: Radwanska’s ranking if she wins the title.
1: Number of times Radwanska has lost a match at the Australian Open after winning the first set. That one loss came to Azarenka in the quarterfinals in 2012.
What they said
Azarenka: “I just didn’t have the focus on finishing the point so accurate [in the third set]. That definitely changed the momentum. She really took advantage of that. It was hard to come back. But, I don’t know, my game wasn’t there today as I wanted it to. But she definitely played really well.”
Azarenka: “She was aggressive. She was making everything. She was guessing right. I was just playing a little bit too predictive, you know. In the second set I managed to fight back. Third set, you know, the first game was important. I let it go, like easily let it go. From there just couldn’t get back to it. It was tough.”
Azarenka: “It’s not the end of the world. I’m not happy with what I did today. But on the court I felt like I could have played a lot better. I could have changed something, you know, today. Could have been more sharp. There’s so much to improve from today. I can’t take away what she’s done today. She played amazing. She really was on top in the longer rallies and way more accurate than me.”
Azarenka: “She was solid from the baseline. She came in when she needed to. She served well in the important moments. She was just doing everything a little bit better than me. I was just watching. I was like a spectator a little bit.”
Radwanska: “I think it’s hard to play someone I lost so many times before. I knew she’s great player. Especially here, she’s playing amazing tennis. On the other hand, I really have nothing to lose. She was defending the title, not me.”
Radwanska: “I prefer to stay calm and just focus on every point, especially in matches like that. If you’re not focused for one moment, the match can turn around very quickly against you. I always trying to really think about the next point.”
Radwanska (when asked if she has a favorite color that she wears for success): “Color? Not really. … I like colorful stuff. I don’t mind changing.”
Aga gets everything back. Amazing — Dirk Nowitzki (@swish41) January 22, 2014
A classic squat-and-volley approach there. Wait a second…
— Tom Perrotta (@TomPerrotta) January 22, 2014
Crouching Tiger Hidden Aga
— louisa thomas (@louisahthomas) January 22, 2014
Who said women were all playing the same game hitting every ball flat and being stereotypes ? I hear that every day and they prove wrong. — Patrick Mouratoglou (@pmouratoglou) January 22, 2014
This is basically just a montage of 1,001 Things Agnieszka Radwanska Can Make a Tennis Ball Do. — Hannah Wilks (@newballsplease) January 22, 2014
I can’t think of more outrageously entertaining athletic points played in a final set of a major then we saw from @ARadwanska today
— Pam Shriver (@PHShriver) January 22, 2014
Azarenka’s loss makes it FIVE straight #AusOpen QFs lost by higher-ranked player (Ivanovic, Ferrer, Djokovic, Halep). Let’s get ridiculous.
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 22, 2014