Azarenka’s unbeaten streak ends in Miami
Originally published on: 29/03/12 10:21
The longer you keep a winning streak going, the more determined the chasing pack are to rip you off your perch – as Victoria Azarenka found yesterday, finally surrendering to defeat after 26 straight wins this season.
After titles in Sydney, Melbourne, Doha and Indian Wells, the Belarusian’s unspoken tilt to chase down Martina Hingis’ record 37-match unbeaten run (in 1997) ended 11 victories short with a 6-3 6-3 defeat to Marion Bartoli in the Miami quarter-finals.
“Everybody wanted to be the first one to beat me,” Azarenka said. “I think that’s pretty normal. When I was going to play against the No.1 in the world I also tried to do the same.”
In the end, it was 27-year-old Bartoli who took that honour, adding a third scalp of a world No.1 to those she had secured in victory over Justine Henin at Wimbledon in 2007 and Jelena Jankovic at the Australian Open in 2009. The Frenchwoman had lost eight of her last 10 matches to the current No.1 but she repeated her win over Azarenka in their previous encounter – at the WTA Championships last year – by racing out of the blocks in each set before securing the straight sets win.
“I think the main key for me was to step up on the court trying to win the match, not only thinking about how well she’s playing and everything, but really go on the court, having a game plan and try to go for my shots,” Bartoli told the Sony Ericsson Open website. “It was a very demanding match on the fitness side. I think I had to really run a lot, especially from side to side.”
Though unhappy to lose (“I feel disappointed for sure. Who wouldn’t be after a loss?”) Azarenka was content to reflect on her achievements since January.
“What I’ve done the last couple of months, I have to be really proud of myself,” she said. “I could have maybe played better today, that’s for sure, but I gave it all I had. But Marion played really well today, and she deserves the win. What else can I say? I have to look forward.”