Azarenka, in form, and into Australian quarterfinals
Melbourne, Australia — Victoria Azarenka couldn’t get off court quickly enough to check the score after reaching the Australian Open quarterfinals.
To her excitement, it was a Broncos win.
The two-time Australian Open champion had just beaten Barbaro Strycova 6-2, 6-4 in the fourth round on Monday — continuing a three-year sequence of wins against the Czech player that started in the second round in 2013 and included the third round last year — when she wanted to know the result of the AFC title game.
“Can somebody please tell me, did Broncos win?” she said, taking over her on-court TV interview. When she heard the Denver Broncos had beaten the New England Patriots 20-18, she shouted “Yesss!!” — stepping back and raising both arms, “I’m so happy now.”
“I was so nervous the whole morning, I didn’t watch. I didn’t want to know the result,” she said. “As you can see I’m a crazy sports fanatic, so I understand you guys when you get all nervous and stuff, because I felt that.”
Peyton Manning’s Broncos will face Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers in the 50th Super Bowl. Azarenka has already shown some allegiance to Newton and the Panthers, doing her version of the “dab” in her victory celebrations.
Told of the Panthers’ win over the Cardinals in the NFC decider, Azarenka said “Well then, it’s going to be my dream final, I can’t wait to see that.”
Azarenka is coming off two injury-interrupted seasons, but is returning to the kind of form that took her to the No. 1-ranked and back-to-back Australian Open titles in 2012 and ’13.
She won the Brisbane International leading into the first major of the season, and dropped only five games in her first three rounds at Melbourne Park.
Next up she faces No. 7 Angelique Kerber, who beat fellow German Annika Beck 6-4, 6-0 in the preceding match on Rod Laver Arena.
Kerber, who saved match point in her first-round win over Misaki Doi, is into the quarterfinals for the first time in nine trips to Melbourne Park.
In later fourth-round matches on Rod Laver fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, the French Open and 2014 Australian Open champion, was playing big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic and No. 2 Andy Murray, a four-time finalist at Melbourne Park, was set to face No. 16 Bernard Tomic, the last Australian in the draw.