By Lobsang DS Subirana
Melbourne, Australia, Jan 24 (EFE).- Russia’s Karen Khachanov reached the Australian Open semi-finals Tuesday in Melbourne after his opponent Sebastian Korda forfeited in the third set due to a wrist injury, while Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka defeated Jessica Pegula in the women’s draw.
Khachanov beat the American 7-6, 6-3, 3-0 with a dominant early display, which put him on the front foot. The Russian broke immediately in the first set and raced ahead to a 5-3 lead, but failed to serve it out and Korda drew level.
A tightly contested tiebreak ensued, which Khachanov won with a powerful backhand down the line, dashing the No. 29 seed’s hopes of a comeback.
The Russian played a more conservative second set but forced a flurry of unforced errors from Korda, who only managed to win half of his first serves and was broken at 3-3. The No. 18 seed saw it out comfortably, with commanding groundstrokes that began disrupting the serve of the American, who took a medical timeout for a problem on his right wrist.
He again left the court for treatment following the second set, but to no avail, as Khachanov quickly broke after holding in the first game. After a second hold, Korda looked clearly uncomfortable and called the match.
The No. 18 seed will now play the winner between No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and the Czech Republic’s Jiri Lehecka for a spot in the final.
In the women’s draw, former world No. 1 Azarenka rolled back the years to beat Pegula 6-4, 6-1 in a dominant display that took her closer to a third Australian Open title. The two-time champion, who won the tournament in 2012 and successfully defended in 2013, was clinical in her game, breaking Pegula at the first chance and racing to a three game cushion at 2-5.
The No. 24 seed had multiple opportunities to break a second time and claim the set, but couldn’t capitalize on her chances. This encouraged the No. 3 seed, who not only held, but broke back to serve at 4-5. However, the American’s nerves overcame her, gifting Azarenka a crucial game to take the first set.
The second set proved a different contest, with the Belarusian breaking Pegula three times to the American’s one, and closing the set out in just over 30 minutes to reach the semi-finals.
Azarenka will now face reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina Kazakhstan, who beat former Roland Garros winner Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets. EFE