The two-time Australian Open champion, now ranked 24th in the world, rolled back the years to beat Pegula, one of the most consistent players on the women’s tour over the past couple of seasons and remaining favorite, 6-4 6-1 in just one hour and 37 minutes.
It marks Azarenka’s best performance in Melbourne since she last won the second of her two Australian Open crowns in 2013 and her second grand slam semifinal appearance since 2020.
For Pegula, who is still waiting to reach her first grand slam semifinal, there will be a lot to mull over in the aftermath of her defeat, in particular given the way she only won one game in the second set.
“It hurts to beat her because I always want her to do well,” Azarenka said in her post-match interview. “But I know I need to play my best tennis because she’s been so consistent. We had so many rallies … I just had to stay there and take opportunities.
“I’m very proud that I executed my gameplan really way and it’s so amazing to be in the semifinal of another grand slam.
“Last year my tennis wasn’t bad but I wasn’t there mentally. I played with a lot of fear and anxiety – it’s hard to make the right decision when you feel anxious and hesitant so I tried to push myself in the off season.
“When you achieve great success sometimes you become conservative to try new things, so this season I was like, I’ll try new things, put my head down and work hard.”
More to follow…