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Former champion Azarenka rolls back years to crush Svitolina

Defending champion Victoria Azarenka thrashed 15th rank Elina Svitolina in the third round of the Australian Open on Friday as she seeks to reclaim her No. 1 ranking ahead of the likes of Naomi Osaka and Ashleigh Barty.

Barty and the defending champion Osaka, both ranked No. 1 in the world, can meet in the last 16 if they survive their games in the night session. Rafael Nadal, aiming for his 21st Grand Slam title, is also in play.

Nevertheless, it was just the 32-year-old Belarusian Azarenka who stole the spotlight by defeating her Ukrainian opponent 6-0, 6-2 and setting up a quarter-final matchup with Barbora Krejcikova, the French Open champion. You can check all the latest news in Singapore here.

It calls for a celebration

When Victoria Azarenka made the analogy of ascending a ladder on Friday, she had to make sure that she didn’t tumble off the top rung of it. The 32-year-old smashed Elina Svitolina 6-0, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena to go to the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Barbora Krejcikova, the defending French Open champion, beat 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets to advance to the quarterfinals as the Czech returned from a knockdown to beat the world number four.

Since 2009, Azarenka has reached the fourth round at least eight times at the Australian Open, culminating with her 2 titles in 2012. It’s been a while since she’s been on a trip, but the 24th rank isn’t getting too far ahead of herself. Or at least, that’s what many SG news outlets believe.

She broke the Ukrainian Svitolina from the initial game and never looked back, forcing a torrent of miscues from her opponent in Melbourne’s sweltering weather.

Svitolina, a two-time quarterfinalist in Melbourne, was able to preserve five match points in the second set, but it was too late.

And yet, despite the ease with which she had won, Azarenka was concerned about the challenge that Krejcikova would face. The Czech had been one of the most accomplished players the previous year and had won 3 titles, which include Roland Garros.

Meanwhile, Monfils is on fire

Moving over to the men’s division, Matteo Berrettini, the seventh seed in the men’s draw, defeated 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in a five-set thriller in the third round. It’s certainly thrilling news today in Singapore.

A 7-6 (7/4), 6-1, 6-3 rout against Chile’s 16th seed, Gael Monfils, gave the flamboyant Frenchman a terrific start to the season after he won the Adelaide warm-up. Miomir Kecmanovic, the 77th-ranked Serbian and a likely loser to the world’s top 1 seed Novak Djokovic in round one Monday, is currently in the 2nd week after defeating Lorenzo Sonego of Italy who’s at the 25th rank.

Rod Laver Arena will host a matchup between top seed Barty, who has been on a tear in 2022, and seasoned Italian 30th rank Camila Giorgi.

On the Margaret Court Arena next door, Osaka will face Amanda Anisimova, who won the Australian Open in 2019 and 2021.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal will take on Russian 28th rank Karen Khachanov throughout the final match of the tournament, and the Spaniard has warned that his peak is yet to come following an injury-ravaged 2020.

With only three games lost in two matches, Barty is on the verge of winning her maiden title at a home Slam event.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are both out of the tournament, so Rafael Nadal might face Alexander Zverev throughout the quarter-finals.

Determination pays off

Despite the fact that Krejcikova beat Ostapenko in Dubai last year, it was the Latvian 26th rank who took a 4-1 lead on a hot day in Melbourne to begin her singles ascension.

When she broke Krejcikova in the very 2nd set, she had a 3-1 lead and seemed like she was on the verge of a major triumph.

But the Czech fought back twice to send the match to a decider when her first serve % and error count improved and she cracked Ostapenko quickly to set up the victory.