Victoria Azarenka advances to Indian Wells semis

10/15/2021 12:34:08 AM EST

Two-time BNP Paribas Open champion Victoria Azarenka charged into the semifinals of the Indian Wells, Calif., event with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Jessica Pegula on Wednesday.

Azarenka, a 32-year-old Belarusian who is seeded 27th, won the event in 2012 and 2016 among her 21 career singles titles. Her only tournament championship since 2016 came at Cincinnati in 2020, as the interim span saw her step away from the tour for a stretch and also struggle to regain her form.

Her semifinal opponent Friday will be 24th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, who beat the United States' Shelby Rogers 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

Pegula, a U.S. player seeded 19th, won the first two games against Azarenka but dropped the next four. The second set saw the players exchange service breaks in the first two games, but Azarenka broke serve twice more to pull away.

"I thought it was a really good match," Azarenka said. "Very high quality from both players. Very consistent in terms of level for me. I felt that I really played well in the crucial moments. I felt like I stepped up a lot to the occasion. That's what I'm really happy with today.

"I started going for my shots from the beginning. I knew I have to apply pressure on her, and I will have the moment where I will have opportunity. I think in the beginning of the match we had a lot of great rallies, a lot of points where I was like, 'Oh, maybe I got this one,' and she got me. I felt that I really just stuck to being aggressive and being consistent. I got my opportunities."

Azarenka is looking to reach a tournament final for the first time this year. She went 1-2 in finals in 2020.

Ostapenko overcame double-faulting eight times and serving no aces to defeat Rogers. The match featured a combined 15 service breaks.

Ostapenko is seeking her fifth career WTA Tour title, with her most recent triumph coming this summer at Eastbourne, England.

In the other Indian Wells quarterfinals Thursday, Tunisia's Ons Jabeur, the 12th seed, beat 18th-seeded Estonian Anett Kontaveit 7-5, 6-3, and 21st-seeded Paula Badosa of Spain beat 10th-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-4, 7-5.

--Field Level Media

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