'Sleeping' Victoria Azarenka survives Ana Ivanovic scare at U.S. Open

Victoria Azarenka didn't play her best at the U.S. Open in the fourth round but did enough to beat Ana Ivanovic.

Story highlights

  • Victoria Azarenka beats Ana Ivanovic in three sets to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals
  • Azarenka also needed three sets to beat France's Alize Cornet in the previous round
  • Azarenka is the favorite in the bottom half of the draw to make the final in New York
  • Li Na advanced to the U.S. Open semifinals for the first time by topping Ekaterina Makarova

A "sleeping" Victoria Azarenka woke up in time to beat Ana Ivanovic at the U.S. Open and keep alive her chances of reaching a fourth consecutive hard-court grand slam final.

Azarenka dropped the first set against the former world No. 1 and struggled to put the Serbian away but eventually prevailed 4-6 6-3 6-4 in a hard-hitting fourth-round encounter that was pushed back to Tuesday because of rain.

It was the second straight match the world No. 2 -- she, too, is a former No. 1 -- needed to stage a comeback following a sluggish start. France's Alize Cornet won their tiebreak in the first set in the third round.

Men's No. 1 Novak Djokovic had no such troubles, routing Spaniard Marcel Granollers in about one hour, 20 minutes.

Read: Heartbreaking loss for Azarenka

Azarenka struck a mere four winners in the first set against Ivanovic, combined with nine unforced errors. Ivanovic certainly wasn't asleep, crushing 17 winners.

"Ana came out firing and played amazing in the first set, and I felt like I was a little out of place," Azarenka said in an interview on court. "I was sleeping but she was ripping winners and serving great so I really had to wake up in the second set and fight for the points.

"In the second set I was more determined, more focused and taking the opportunities."

Azarenka on 'amazing' Australian win
Azarenka on 'amazing' Australian win


    Azarenka on 'amazing' Australian win


Azarenka on 'amazing' Australian win 02:24
Tennis stars face quickfire challenge
Tennis stars face quickfire challenge


    Tennis stars face quickfire challenge


Tennis stars face quickfire challenge 03:14
Women's tennis top stars talk personal
Women's tennis top stars talk personal


    Women's tennis top stars talk personal


Women's tennis top stars talk personal 01:14

Her numbers weren't that much better in the second set but Ivanovic cooled thanks in part to Azarenka changing the pace at times with a drop shot.

In a seesaw third set -- there were four straight breaks at one stage -- Azarenka blew two match points serving at 5-3 only to be let off the hook when Ivanovic dumped a backhand on a fourth match point.

Although Ivanovic put up a brave fight, she ultimately slumped to 3-20 against top-two opposition.

"The match points were pretty bad," Azarenka, who lost last year's final to Serena Williams, said. "I didn't really go for my shots. I kept waiting for a mistake. It didn't happen.

"She played really great. Especially in the tough moments I felt she was raising her game. I had to stay tough as well."

Azarenka meets pal Daniela Hantuchova in the quarterfinals having captured two of their four previous encounters. Three of the matches have gone the distance.

Former French Open winner Li Na of China achieved a first U.S. Open semifinal by overcoming tricky Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 6-7 6-2 and there was more drama in the men's fourth round as Russia's Mikhail Youzhny outlasted fellow veteran Lleyton Hewitt of Australia.

Youzhny, previously a semifinalist in New York, upended the 2001 champion 6-3 3-6 6-7 6-4 7-5 in four hours.

Having blown a 5-2 lead in the fourth, Hewitt broke Youzhny to get back on serve in the fifth. Youzhny subsequently broke at 5-5 and served out the match.

Youzhny next confronts Djokovic, a 6-3 6-0 6-0 winner over a seemingly weakened Granollers. Granollers' first three matches went to five sets and he also played doubles in New York.


    • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

      What does 2015 hold for Rafa?

      Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
    • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

      Love game: Andy Murray to tie knot

      The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
    • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

      'Crocodile' who broke all the rules

      His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
    • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

      Serena savors U.S. Open win

      Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
    • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

      The amazing life of Althea Gibson

      Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
    • Courting couple at match point

      "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
    • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

      'Baby' Sharapova's big moment

      It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
    • 'Swiss Miss' follows mom's lead

      Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.