Azarenka has the wood on Kerber

Angelique Kerber has been on the receiving end of two of the most significant victories in the second coming of Victoria Azarenka.

There was a three-set thriller in the third round of last year’s US Open and a much more comprehensive 6-3 6-1 triumph by the statuesque Belarusian in the final of the Brisbane International earlier this month.

The win in Brisbane provided Azarenka with the 18th title of her career and the first since her ranking went into freefall after she battled depression and injuries in late 2014.

Azarenka is still some way from matching the giddy heights of 2012 and 2013, when she won back-to-back Australian Open crowns and held the world No.1 ranking.

But she’s heading in the right direction and is shaping as the biggest threat to Serena Williams claiming a seventh Australian Open title.

The No.14 seed holds a 6-0 career win-loss record over the seventh-seeded German going into Wednesday’s quarter-final clash at Melbourne Park.

“I always look forward to playing against (Kerber), she always gives me tough matches,” said Azarenka.

“I prepare myself for a very tough match because she’s very solid, very consistent, and an amazing fighter.

“Her fitness level was always pretty high, she’s been very consistent and a great mover.

“She can play for as long as she wants to.”

Kerber advanced to her first Australian Open quarter-final in 10 attempts with a comprehensive 6-4 6-0 victory over countrywoman Annika Beck.

But she knows she will have to play better – and serve better – if she is to take down Azarenka.

She could be excused for taking a “nothing to lose” attitude into the latter stages of the tournament, having fought back from match point down in the opening round against Japan’s Masaki Doi.

“I actually had one leg on the plane back home,” she said.

“But after that I’ve been playing much better.”


2016 Brisbane International, hard, F, Azarenka 6-3 6-1

2015 US Open, hard, R32, Azarenka 7-5 2-6 6-4

2015 Dona, hard, R32, Azarenka 6-0 6-3

2012 WTA Championships, Istanbul, hard, RR, Azarenka 6-7 (13-15) 7-6 (7-2) 6-4

2012 London Olympics, grass, QF, Azarenka 6-4 7-5

2012 Indian Wells, hard, SF, Azarenka 6-4 6-3


Age: 26

Ranking: 16

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US25,786,573 ($A36.95 million)

Career titles: 18

Grand slam titles: 2

Career win-loss record: 446-163

Australian Open win-loss record: 39-8

Best Australian Open result: champion 2012, 2013


Age: 28

Ranking: 6

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US9,311,818 ($A13.34 million)

Career titles: 7

Grand slam titles: 0

Career win-loss record: 462-251

Australian Open win-loss record: 15-8

Best Australian Open result: quarter-final 2016

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