Ahead of day’s last quarterfinal, Azarenka delivered a warning message to her opponents at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
“I don’t think I am close to fulfilling my potential,” she said in last round’s post-match press conference. “Just to see what I can do on practice court and physically what I can improve, I’m far from that. That’s what I’m looking forward to improve.”
If that’s really the case, her opponents will have much to worry about after Azarenka’s 6-0, 6-0 win over Magdalena Rybarikova.
Rybarikova, who at No.97 is the lowest-ranked player to reach the quarterfinals at Indian Wells since 2012, found herself struggling with her serve early on. Only 41 percent of her first serves found their mark in the opening set, giving Azarenka many opportunities to come up into the court and attack Rybarkiova’s weaker second serve. The Belarusian threw everything at her opponent – even attempting a tweener – and Rybarikova couldn’t come up with a reply, quickly dropping the first set after only 34 minutes.
The Slovak’s troubles would only get worse from there; she called the trainer during the changeover to treat an injury to her right leg.
Azarenka continued to steamroll in the second set as Rybarikova’s movement became increasingly hampered. Despite struggling a bit with her serve – Azarenka served two double faults in one game to give Rybarikova break point at 2-0, and again at 4-0 to give her three more break chances – she stayed perfect until the end, blasting her third ace of the match to secure the victory and her spot in the semifinals.
“I think the key today was the start,” Azarenka said after the win. “I really started aggressive, taking opportunities and I felt like I was in full control.”
“I think in the second set she wasn’t feeling really well, but it was important for me to stay in the moment and keep dictating. It’s easy to lose focus and pay too much attention to your opponent.”
Azarenka opponent in the semifinals will be the big-hitting Czech Karolina Pliskova, who ended Daria Kasatkina’s breakthrough run in Indian Wells with a 6-3, 6-2 victory.