Radwanska beats Azarenka jinx to make semis

TENNIS

Agnieszka Radwanska ensured this year’s Open will crown a first-time female winner by snapping a seven-match losing streak against Victoria Azarenka.

Radwanska maintained her self-belief after gifting the second set to her nemesis, racing away to win the quarter-final clash 6-1 5-7 6-0 against the two-time defending title-holder yesterday.

The Polish fifth seed’s reward is a semi-final showdown against fellow 24-year-old Dominika Cibulkova from Slovakia, continuing a rivalry that began in the under-9s.

The other semi-final will pit No.4 seed Li Na against Canadian teen sensation Eugenie Bouchard.

Li’s 2011 French Open crown is the only major title won by any of the four Open semi-finalists. It is also the first time since 1997 that none of the top three women’s seeds made it through to the last four.

The Polish star is through to a grand slam semi for only the third time in 31 attempts and the first at any major other than Wimbledon.

‘‘It’s hard to play someone I’d lost to so many times before,’’ said Radwanska.

‘‘She’s a great player, especially here where she’s playing amazing tennis.

‘‘On the other hand, I really had nothing to lose.

‘‘She was defending the title, not me.

‘‘I was really trying to play my best tennis and go for every shot I could.’’

Azarenka was left to rue a slew of unforced errors in the first and third sets.

‘‘She was just doing everything a little better than me,’’ said the world No2.

‘‘I was like a spectator.’’

Cibulkova upset No3 seed Maria Sharapova in the previous round and never looked like suffering a letdown yesterday against Simona Halep.

The 11th-seeded Romanian was overawed in her first grand slam quarter-final and could only hold her serve twice in seven attempts in a 6-3 6-0 loss.

‘‘I was playing aggressive and I was playing freely,’’ said Cibulkova.

‘‘I really enjoyed my time on the court. That’s what I want to do.

‘‘If I put pressure on myself I play nervous and that’s not what I want to do.’’

Radwanska won five of her six clashes against Cibulkova at senior level, including at last year’s Sydney International..

‘‘It’s always tricky to play someone that you’ve known for so long and played so many times as well,’’ said Radwanska.

‘‘But every match is a different story, especially when it’s a semi-final of a grand slam and the first semi for me here and for her as well.’’  - AAP

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