LONDON (AP) — The last time Serena Williams played Victoria Azarenka, they exchanged angry gestures, testy words — and a pair of shorts.
If the rematch of that tense three-setter at the French Open is half as good, fans at Wimbledon should be in for a treat.
Williams takes on Azarenka again in the quarterfinals at the All England Club on Tuesday, hoping to keep up her dominance against a player she considers a friend off the court. Williams has a 16-3 career advantage against Azarenka, including a 9-0 record in Grand Slam matches.
“I’ve had a couple of tough matches with Victoria,” Williams said. “She’s due to win big and to do really well. Incidentally, so am I.”
The second Tuesday at Wimbledon usually only features the women’s quarterfinals, but they’ll be joined by Novak Djokovic and Kevin Anderson this time. Their fourth-round match was suspended because of darkness after the fourth set and will resume on Court 1.
Williams is now just three matches away from winning her fourth straight major, but her streak was nearly ended by Azarenka in the third round at Roland Garros. Williams had to come from a set down to win that match, which turned heated as the players argued over a decision to replay a key point. Their friendship quickly resumed afterward, though, with Azarenka giving Williams a pair of her shorts after the American said she liked them.
She’s not likely to get any gifts back on Tuesday — on the court at least. And as for a game plan for how to beat the American, she seems to lack that, too.
“I still need to find it because I haven’t beaten her in the Grand Slams,” Azarenka said. “So for me, I still have to find that extra step to go a little bit further.”
Williams beat sister Venus on Monday, and faces another former No. 1 in Azarenka. If she wins that, she could face a third in Maria Sharapova in the semifinals.
In the bottom half of the draw, there are no women left who are ranked in the top 10 or have won a major.
“I’m on the heavier side (of the draw) it seems,” Williams said. “Maybe because I’m one of the heavy hitters and it makes it heavier. But also with Maria, Victoria and Venus, there’s a lot of heavy hitters on this side. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day you need to get through these matches now, sooner or later.”
Here is a look at other three women’s quarterfinals:
Before a possible matchup with Williams, Sharapova has to get past another American. She faces CoCo Vandeweghe, who is playing her first Grand Slam quarterfinal match.
“I think it’s been a tremendous effort for her to get to this stage of the tournament,” Sharapova said. “With the serve she has, her game really revolves around that serve, and she’s been using it quite effectively in her previous four matches. … It’s always tricky playing against a really good server on grass because a few points here and there can ultimately tell the difference in the winner and the loser.”
Madison Keys is the third American woman in the quarterfinals, the highest number in the last eight since 2004. Keys is also in her first Wimbledon quarterfinal, while Radwanska reached the final in 2012 and semifinals in 2013.
“(Keys) is hitting the ball very, very strong and serving unbelievable,” Radwanska said. “I really have to be careful on that and trying to put as many balls as I can to the other side.”
Garbine Muguruza upset Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round and the Spaniard will again be the underdog against Timea Bacsinszky, the Swiss player who reached the French Open semifinals this year. Both are playing in the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time.
Muguruza is hoping the importance of the match doesn’t get to her.
“In these types of rounds, everybody is so nervous, everybody wants to win so much,” she said. “You just have to fight against this and find your way to (reach) the final or win.”
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