Two-time defending champion Victoria Azarenka was bundled out of the Australian Open in the quarter-finals on Wednesday by fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska in another big tournament upset.
The determined Pole battled to a 6-1, 5-7, 6-0 win to send the Belarusian packing with the top three seeds now out of the Grand Slam following the defeats of Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
It was a major scalp for Radwanska, who had lost all seven previous meetings with the Belarusian, and now goes into a semi-final with Slovak 20th seed Dominika Cibulkova.
The win also ensures the tournament will have a new champion with none of the semi-finalists — Radwanska, Cibulkova, Li Na and Eugenie Bouchard — having won before.
“It is always hard against her. I have lost so many times that (I knew) I had to play aggressive and go for my every shot. That’s what I tried to do and it worked today,” she said.
One of Radwanska’s biggest challenges was to block out Azarenka’s grunting, which has frustrated her in the past.
It came to head in Dubai in 2012 when the Pole said she was “angry” and had “lost a lot of respect” for the Belarusian because the noise coming out of her.
Fairfax Media said it had recorded a 90 decibel grunt in Azarenka’s first round match — louder even than renowned shrieker Sharapova.
Whatever the reason, Radwanska has always struggled against her. The pair, both 24, had met 15 times before with the Belarusian leading 12-3, winning their last seven meetings.
But the dam finally broke as Radwanska battled into her first semi-final in Melbourne, having made the quarter-finals four times before without going further.