Victoria Azarenka in the first round of the WTA Mutua Madrid Open 2018
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in action at the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Tennis | Western & Southern Open 2020 | Konta downed by Azarenka who will face Osaka in final

  • Victoria Azarenka def. Johanna Konta [8] 4-6 6-4 6-1
  • Will face Naomi Osaka who beat Elise Mertens on the resumption of play on Friday
NEW YORK, USA – After an eventful 48 hours, Victoria Azarenka got the better of Johanna Konta and will face Naomi Osaka in the final.


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Victoria Azarenka def. Johanna Konta [8] 4-6 6-4 6-1

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British No. 1 Johanna Konta had gone through the entire tournament without being broken, and it took two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka to break her five times in the match.

It was a characteristically Konta-like start which saw both players battering the covers off the poor yellow fluffies, with an edgy break having saved a break point on her own serve, and Azarenka grittily saved seven set points in all before Konta finally got over the line for the lead.

That set the tone for what was to come, with the pair trading breaks early in the second set, with Azarenka regaining an advantage, before breaking once more and then serving out a little more comfortably for the second set.

That momentum was like a waterfall for the Belarusian as she broke Konta twice more to book her spot in the final.

She said, after the match: “I think it was a really good, high quality match overall. I think Johanna played really, really well. Especially in the first set, she was really taking a lot of chances, and some of the opportunities that I had I didn’t maybe go enough for them. But she was really, really strong.

“I felt that in the second set I was able to manage those opportunities better, step up a little bit. And then in the third set I felt like I was more, you know, in my pace and doing what I wanted to do, so I felt more comfortable.

“She served really well, put a lot of pressure also on my serve, so I was constantly trying to, you know, find opportunities to be aggressive. It worked out well after.”


Azarenka was not willing to offer a comment regarding the pause in play:

“I want to talk about tennis, and I want to focus on my tennis tomorrow. And then maybe when I’m ready to speak about what’s on my mind that it has nothing to do with tennis, I will.”

Konta said: I found out at quarter past 9:00 at night. I was actually going back on the bus. To be quite honest, I’m really not up to date on current affairs.

“Obviously I’m very aware of the movement, and I’m very aware of what’s happened in the past, especially while I was at home, but I haven’t watched the news while I have been here, and also, I didn’t see Naomi’s post. I really wasn’t aware of the situation in its entirety, so that kind of decision was taken out of my hands.

“And I fully understand why the tournament, why the USTA and US Open and WTA and ATP, why they decided as they did.”


When Naomi Osaka was asked by reporters in her press conference about their decision not to make any additional comments:

“If I was in a position where I didn’t know that much information, I wouldn’t make a comment either. I know both of them as people and they are both really nice.

“I don’t know. I feel like you’re kind of trying to dig a little bit, to be honest. I would say if there was an issue, I think they would come to me face to face.”

READ MORE | Tennis | Western & Southern Open 2020 | Tours unite to suspend tournament for a day following Osaka’s announcement of semi-final withdrawal over Blake shooting


Osaka [4/WC] v Azarenka | H2H: Osaka leads 2-1

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For both players, this tournament has signified different types of comebacks. Osaka played no lead-up exhibitions or domestic tournaments while Azarenka admitted to fighting demons of her own having won no matches in her two tour events this year (Monterrey and Lexington) as well as a couple of matches at the Credit Bank One Invitational during the easing of lockdown.

Like Konta, she had not dropped a set on the way to the semi-final and spoke a little about some of her previous doubts.

“For me, to be on a good level, I need to be mentally prepared. I need to want to go to practice. I need to want to go on the tennis court.

“I think that’s what I have been trying to work on is to find myself, to enjoy myself on the court, because I think that was kind of maybe not turning my results into what I wanted before. I think when you’re miserable on the court, it’s tough to have a good result.”

It will almost be like playing from scratch, with their first encounter having been four years ago when Azarenka did the Indian Wells and Miami ‘Sunshine’ double, and two encounters of clay that went Osaka’s way.

She said, of the final match-up: “For me, it’s really cool to be able to play Vika now, because I played her in the French last year, but I know that probably her best surface is hard court and also my best surface is hard court, so I think it will definitely be a really fun match.”

Both will play aggressive and heavy-hitting tennis from the baseline, but Azarenka at her peak could mix things up well, coming forward and showing off her doubles prowess at the net.

Osaka has demonstrated some extraordinary maturity this week, both in her tennis and her approach to problems on court, and of course her actions off it. She has the edge coming into this match.

Prediction: Osaka in three sets.


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