AO23: Azarenka rolls clock back, Tsitsipas roars on

These are the moments when champions draw clear from the rest, semi-final spots were on the agenda at Melbourne Park.

Victoria Azarenka Australian Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

The talk of predictions and projections has been thrown out the window at Australian Open 2023.

Tuesday down at Melbourne Park served up some statement victories. Here is what you might have missed from Down Under…

Let's party like it's 2013


Personifying perseverance Victoria Azarenka played like her peak years to return to the Australian Open semi-finals.

The former world No.1, who ruled Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013, was on the front foot from the very start with a 6-4, 6-1 triumph over No.3 seed Jessica Pegula.

Victoria Azarenka / Quarts de finale Open d'Australie 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

"I am very happy about today's match. I felt like I executed really well," said Azarenka, back in the last four Down Under for the first time since her title winning 2013 campaign.

"I feel like I definitely appreciate being on the court more now. I'm excited to give it another go in the semi-final and try my best. But I do want to kind of stay present and continue to do my daily work step by step."

Looking forward, Azarenka will gun for a sixth major final in an enticing clash with Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.

The Kazakh claimed their only previous meeting in straight sets last spring at Indian Wells. 

"It will be a great matchup. We only played once last year. Was a bit of kind of a weird match for me. I'm looking forward to having that challenge," reflected "Vika". 

"She's an incredible player, very powerful. Big serve. She's in the semi-final, so she's obviously playing amazing. Had some really tough wins, good wins. I'm excited."

Rybakina seems in a similar vein of form from her SW19 title run, having signed into her maiden Melbourne Park semi-final 6-2, 6-4 against Jelena Ostapenko earlier on Tuesday. 

Elena Rybakina / Quarts de finale Open d'Australie 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

"I think of course I got all the experience at Wimbledon, and it's helping me now this time here in Australia and I know what to expect," reflected the 23-year-old, the conqueror of world No.1 Iga Swiatek in the fourth round. 

 "For sure it's just easier in this case after Wimbledon. Feeling good on the court and just really enjoying every match I'm playing here.

"I already did it once, and of course I got confident that I can do it again. I did really good preparation with the team. I'm happy. I'm just hungry to work and improve more."

Stefanos Tsitsipas Australian Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Stats backing "Spartan" Stef


Stefanos Tsitsipas is once again circling on Grand Slam glory.

The world No.4 chalked up his third successive semi-final spot at the Australian Open with a hot shot-laden 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-4 scoreboard over Next Gen Czech Jiri Lehecka

Tsitsipas' Greek grit enabled the 24-year-old to escape in straight sets, saving eight of eight break points, cracking 38 winners and transferring up the court to ramp up the pressure with 25/30 success at the net. 

"It felt different time this time, it was a very difficult three setter," said the No.3 seed, who remains undefeated in 2023 following nine singles matches.

"Jiri has had a very good tournament, I wish him the best for the future because he's a great player.

"It was a task where I really had to put my heart out there. I know in the tie-break it become a really crucial moment. It came down to experience and some good Spartan attitude too." 

Tsitsipas, the Roland-Garros 2021 runner up, believes he now has the mindset for major glory.

"I'm a different player, playing different. My mentality is different. When I'm out on the court, I don't really think of negatives, to be honest. I just go out there and play the game."

Karen Khachanov will be the semi-finalist hoping to halt Tsitsipas, despite a 0-5 head-to-head record taking on the Greek. 

The world No.20 repeated his final four showing from the US Open, leading Sebastian Korda at 7-6(5), 6-3, 3-0 before the American was forced to retire with a right wrist injury. 

"Consistency. I would say it's all the details, all the small things that you put together in order to kind of do those steps forward and to keep achieving those goals which are set," stated the 26-year-old, analysing his major progress.

"I think the first semi-finals which I did in US Open, that gave me extra boost and extra confidence, to show where I really am and what I can do when I'm at my best and how can I be more consistent with that form. That pushes me to where I am right now."