Azarenka, the No. 3 seed at Roland Garros, made quick work of Schiavone, the 2010 French Open champion, despite losing three games in the opening set. Azarenka cruised to victory in the second set, shutting Schiavone out.
Azarenka played better against Schiavone than any other opponent at the 2013 French Open. She defeated Alize Cornet in the third round but needed three sets to do so. She lost five games in the first round and seven in the second but still managed to pull off a pair of victories.
Azarenka has now advanced further than she did a year ago when she fell to Dominika Cibulkova in the fourth round. She hasn’t been very successful in the past at Roland Garros, never making it past the quarterfinals, but she seems to have found a higher gear this year.
The Belarus-native came into the French Open with a 5-2 record on clay this year, getting upset in the second round at the Madrid Open and falling to Serena Williams in the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.
With Azarenka’s fourth-round victory over Schiavone, she advances to take on the winner of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Maria Kirilenko. Azarenka has only played Kirilenko in the past, defeating her three times in five matches and winning the only match between the two on clay.
While Azarenka hasn’t really been tested just yet at Roland Garros—although her third-round victory did take a third set—she’ll have to continue playing at her best if she has hopes of winning her first French Open title and her third career Grand Slam.
If Azarenka can avoid an upset in the quarterfinals, she’ll likely have to play either No. 2 Maria Sharapova or Sloane Stephens in the semifinals and then could look to get her revenge against No. 1 Williams in the final. Playing one of the top two seeds at Roland Garros seems like a very real possibility for Azarenka going forward.
Winning it all won’t be easy to say the least, but with how well Azarenka has been playing lately, anything short of a French Open title would be a disappointment. Taking the title at Roland Garros would prove any doubters wrong about her talents on clay.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!