Australian Open 2023 | Victoria Azarenka’s Ashleigh Barty nod after 2am win vs Zhu Lin

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka gave a nod to retired Aussie star Ash Barty following her three-set victory over Zhu Lin that finished after 2am.

She will next face in-form American world No.3 Jessica Pegula in a quarter final on Tuesday.

In her post-match press conference in the early hours of Monday morning the 2012 and 2013 AO winner was asked about the biggest challenge she faced against Pegula, the highest seed remaining in the draw.

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“She plays quite simple, which I say as a compliment – it’s quite easy to be flashy,” she said.

“It’s easier to just go overboard (than) to have that consistency and simplicity … Ash Barty is one of those people.

“She just did certain things so well and over and over and over again.

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“I feel Jess has in her way, in her style, kind of similarity.”

Azarenka played Barty four times before the Aussie’s retirement, with the head-to-head finishing 3-1 to the Aussie.

The pair also famously teamed up in the doubles draw for the 2019 US Open, where they made it all the way to the final, but lost to Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka.

Azarenka and Pegula meanwhile are split 2-2. They last met at Guadalajara last October, which went the way of Pegula 7-6 (3), 6-1.

They have met once before at the Australian Open – indeed it was the first time they had met – in the first round in 2021, which Pegula won 7-5, 6-4.

Azarenka and Pegula are also good friends and hitting partners. The Belarusian said she would be out to avenge that 2021 defeat.

Match Highlights: Victoria Azarenka v Lin Zhu

“Her stability and consistency throughout, I wouldn’t only say last year, I would say the years before that, she’s been an incredible player,” she said.

“She got me here, so I definitely want revenge. She’s a great friend of mine. I absolutely adore her. We have really tough battles every single time. We practice with each other.  

“There’s going to be no surprises … it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be a lot of rallies, the ball is going to be low.

“It doesn’t really make it easier to think that I know who I’m playing.”

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