Azarenka serves up 'double bagel' to reach semis

Fri Mar 18, 2016 12:10am EDT
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(Reuters) - Victoria Azarenka showed little sympathy against an ailing Magdalena Rybarikova as the Belarussian eased to a 6-0 6-0 victory over her Slovak opponent to book a BNP Paribas Open semi-final berth on Thursday.

The 2012 champion polished off the opening set in just 34 minutes as she raced towards a first 'double bagel' at the tournament in two years.

"I think the key was the start. I started really well and took control and I think in the second set, she wasn't really feeling well," Azarenka, who faces big-serving Czech Karolina Pliskova in the semi-finals, told reporters.

"I'm glad I stayed focused on my game."

Following the first set, the unseeded Rybarikova took a medical timeout to have her upper thigh taped.

Rybarikova was clearly struggling by the end of the match but the unseeded Slovakian was always fighting a lost cause as she had her serve broken six times and finished with 25 unforced errors.

Azarenka continues her rise up the rankings after two injury-hampered seasons and the former world number one is exuding confidence in California this week, having dropped just one set in her tournament.

A victory in the final on Sunday would be the 15th-ranked Azarenka's second tournament win of the season after her Brisbane International triumph in January. "I'm very happy to be playing and to be improving," she said. "It's a different stage of my career where I can work hard and enjoy myself. I see the potential and that's exciting."

Earlier, Pliskova enjoyed a similarly dominant victory when she cruised into the semi-finals with a 6-3 6-2 victory over Russian teenager Darya Kasatkina. Top seed Serena Williams will take on third-seeded Pole Agnieska Radwanska in Friday's other semi-final.   Continued...

Belarus' Victoria Azarenka celebrates after winning her fourth round match against Czech Republic's Barbora Strycova at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 25, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu