World No.1 Victoria Azarenka advanced to the semifinals of the Brisbane International with a 6-1 6-0 victory over Ksenia Pervak, the qualifier who upset former No.1 Caroline Wozniacki in the first round, but had little left in her tank after two third-set tiebreaks in wins over the Dane and Urszula Radwanska.
The Brisbane tournament debuted in 2009 and Azarenka was its first champion, but back than it was a lower-level tournament, i.e. International, while in 2012 it was upgraded to Premier. Last season Azarenka's Australian swing was perfect, with the Sydney and Australian Open titles, but this is the first time since the inaugural year that Azarenka is playing Brisbane. Another thing to note about Brisbane is that in 2013 its prize money has increased to $1 million, while last year it was $655,000, and before it was $220,000.
A likely semifinal opponent for Azarenka is third seed Serena Williams, who faces fellow American Sloane Stephens later in the quarterfinals. Serena has won 33 of her last 34 matches and has lost to Azarenka only once in 12 meetings, including a 5-0 record against her in 2012.
The other semifinal is set: Anastasia Pavlychenkova vs. Lesia Tsurenko. After taking out Petra Kvitova, Pavlyuchenkova fought past fourth seed Angelique Kerber 7-6(3) 7-6(3) in the quarterfinals. As for the world No.116 Tsurenko, she had failed to qualify for the tournament, but then entered as a lucky loser when Maria Sharapova withdrew with a collarbone injury and today she was the first in the semis, with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Daniela Hantuchova, for her biggest WTA success so far. (photo: sr_cranks)