|Azarenka will match up against US Open champion Sam Stosur after Marion Bartoli retired hurt [EPA]|
Victoria Azarenka overcame a second set injury scare to thrash Aginezska Radwanska 6-2, 6-4 and sweep into the final of the WTA Qatar Open on Saturday in Doha.
The world number one from Belarus will meet Australia’s US Open champion Samantha Stosur in Sunday’s final after her rival Marion Bartoli of France retired early in the second set with cramps.
Azarenka won despite having court side treatment on her left foot immediately after Radwanska broke back in the second game of the second set.
The world number one was in apparent pain as she had her foot strapped, and for a few minutes it looked like she too would call it quits like Bartoli did an hour earlier.
But after a near eight-minute delay Azarenka came back with renewed determination that left Radwanska completely at her mercy.
After the scores were tied at 2-2, Azarenka won three games in a row to lead 5-2 and although Radwanska herself had a break and retained her serve to close in at 4-5, the Australian Open champ was not letting the opportunity slip by, winning the tenth game 40-0 with a forehand down the line to reach her third final of the season.
“Honestly, I don’t know how I managed to pull it off,” she said.
“I had to concentrate very hard on every point, but I am happy that I made it,” added Azarenka, who took her winning streak this year to 16 to equal the now retired Justine Henin’s record set in 2004.
Earlier Bartoli decided to call off her bid for a first title in Doha after losing the first set 6-3 to Stosur.
“Well, actually it started yesterday during the match against Lucie (Safarova),” Bartoli said.
“In the third set I really felt like my right calf was starting to cramp, and I really had to make sure I finished that third set very quickly, because I was really feeling the cramp coming in on the calf.
“I had a lot of treatment yesterday after the match. Today when I started to warm up, I still felt it. So I knew I was not 100% going to the match. That was for sure.
“Then I couldn’t put any weight on it, so it really was hurting me on my serve and on every movement when I was having to change direction and push from the feet.
“So I think it was a really good decision to take, because the more I was playing, the tighter it was getting.
“I knew if I was keeping pushing on it, I would really strain it really badly, because when your muscle is so tight, that’s what’s happening.
“So I played a lot of tennis, and I’m just not a machine. So somehow my body just couldn’t do it anymore,” added Bartoli, who had credited her superior fitness for her victory over Safarova in the quarter-finals.