2013 Australian Open: women’s tournament review
It started with 128 women in the field, and it ended with Victoria Azarenka successfully defending her Australian Open title.
Before we wind down to the final, here are some of the highlights of how the women’s tournament panned out.
Maria Sharapova (#2) started the tournament on fire, with a 6-0, 6-0 wipeout of compatriot Olga Puchkova, while Samantha Stosur (#9) appeared as if she had put her home soil woes behind her, when she defeated Chang Kai-chen in a tight two-setter.
Ana Ivanovic (#13) showed signs of her best form from five years ago in a 6-2, 6-1 late night demolition of Melinda Czink, who had won their previous meeting at Cincinnati in 2009.
Sara Errani (#7) and Nadia Petrova (#12) were first round casualties, losing to Carla Suarez Navarro and Kimiko Date-Krumm respectively, while in the battle of the one-slam wonders, Petra Kvitova (#8) triumphed over Francesca Schiavone in three sets.
Victoria Azarenka (#1) and Serena Williams (#3) both opened their campaigns with comfortable wins.
Samantha Stosur blew a 5-2 final set lead and lost out to Zheng Jie, continuing her well-documented struggles in Australia.
Maria Sharapova once again won via a double-bagel, while Agnieszka Radwanska (#4) showed no mercy towards Irina-Camelia Begu.
Serbians Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic (#22) toyed with second set disaster before recording dramatic three-set victories to set up a third round showdown against each other.
Venus Williams also impressed as she continued her comeback from illness which ruined her 2012 season, while Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams were once again ruthless towards their second round opponents.
Petra Kvitova’s poor start to 2013 continued, becoming an early casualty to Great Britain’s Laura Robson, whose giant killing run at Grand Slams continued.
Angelique Kerber (#5) celebrated her 25th birthday with a hard fought victory over Madison Keys, while Li Na (#6) continued on her merry way with a hard fought victory over Sorana Cirstea.
Ana Ivanovic won The Battle of Serbia and successfully defended her fourth round points from 2012 at the expense of Jelena Jankovic, who dropped 120 points as she had also reached the fourth round last year.
Agnieszka Radwanska, like she did at Wimbledon last year, sent Heather Watson packing, while Venus Williams (#25) broke the 28-game winning streak of Maria Sharapova. But it wasn’t enough to prevent her losing 1-6, 3-6.
Victoria Azarenka was finally tested by Jamie Hampton, but pulled through in three, while Serena Williams came from 0-3 down in the second set to win 6-1, 6-3.
Of all the opponents that lost to each of the Top Four players, only Ana Ivanovic put in a competitive effort, taking six games off Agnieszka Radwanska.
The other three could only win five collectively (Maria Kirilenko (#14) and Elena Vesnina took two games each off Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka respectively, while Kirsten Flipkens took only one off Maria Sharapova).
Ekaterina Makarova (#19) repeated her run to the Australian Open quarter-finals, as Angelique Kerber was the highest seed sent packing.
Li Na returned to the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time since winning Roland Garros in 2011, defeating Julia Goerges (#18).
Caroline Wozniacki (#10) fell victim to Svetlana Kuznetsova’s comeback from a knee injury: the Russian continued her trend of reaching the Australian Open quarter-finals every four years after appearances in 2005 and 2009.
Maria Sharapova repeated the dose over Ekaterina Makarova, while Agnieszka Radwanska’s 26-set winning streak was cut down by Li Na.
Victoria Azarenka ended Svetlana Kuznetsova’s comeback tournament while Serena Williams, seemingly the favourite for the title, was stopped in her tracks by a back injury and Sloane Stephens (#29).
Maria Sharapova, who only lost nine games in her first five rounds, lost twelve in her semi-final match against Li Na, and could only win four games. Victoria Azarenka blew five match points serving at 5-3 in the second set before a “break” saw her finally win it 6-1, 6-4 and return to the final for the second-straight year.
After winning the first set, Li Na appeared to seriously injure her ankle in the second set and this is what I believe lost her the match. Victoria Azarenka successfully defended her title, and became the eighth woman in the Open Era to do so.
She also successfully defended her World No. 1 ranking, which she would have surrendered to Serena Williams if she had lost.
In the end, it was a thrilling final and a thrilling tournament overall. Victoria Azarenka was the deserving champion, but she was really made to work hard for the victory.
She is a true champion after all and I hope this isn’t her last Grand Slam title.