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News & Photos / Articles / Attacking Azarenka sets up quarter-final clash with Na Li

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Agressive Azarenka
Victoria Azarenka forged ahead with her French Open campaign by defeating Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-3 in the kind of simple, straight-sets victory that she has made her calling-card at the tournament over the past week. The Belarusian, who at no.4 is the highest remaining seed in the tournament, has been moving seamlessly through the draw and has dropped a mere 17 games thus far.

Azarenka took to the Suzanne Lenglen clay on a sunny Monday afternoon and the immaculate, powerful baseline game which has become her winning formula was trotted out again to earn her a spot in a Grand Slam quarter-final for the fourth time in her career. A clear contender for the title, the 5'10" Belarusian stamped her authority on the match by serving out the opening game to love and promptly broke Makarova in the following game thanks to spectacular depth of shot that had the Russian pinned to the back of the court. The no.33-ranked Makarova is an inch taller and a year older than Azarenka, but those were the only advantages she possessed during the match.

Frequent fist pumps and cries of "come on" gave a sense of the burning desire Azarenka possessed to reach the quarter-finals, and every ball that was struck by the blond-haired no.4 seed was accompanied by a determined shriek. Makarova on the other hand was the polar opposite, going about her business in complete silence, and keeping her emotions well hidden.

Azarenka suffered a wobble in the third game, serving two double faults which cost her the game and Makarova began to match her opponent in the stroke-making stakes to peg the match at 2-2. It was to be a temporary blip - Azarenka broke again to shatter Makarova's confidence, the Russian sprayed balls wide and into the net and an easy missed volley at 3-5 handed the Belarusian three set points. Azarenka converted the third with a backhand winner to take the first set in 27 minutes.

Exchanges of break followed in the second but Azarenka's blistering groundstrokes always had the edge and she went on to wrap up the match in one hour and five minutes. Following the exits of Caroline Wozniacki, Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva, Azarenka is a firm contender for the title but first her focus will be on her quarter-final match up with Na Li on Wednesday.

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