Live Commentary: Victoria Azarenka vs. Daniela Hantuchova - as it happened

Live Commentary: Azarenka vs. Hantuchova - as it happened
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Sports Mole provides live text coverage as world number two Victoria Azarenka and unseeded Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova face each other in the quarter-finals of the US Open.

World number two Victoria Azarenka and unseeded Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova met in the quarter-finals of the US Open on Wednesday evening.

Azarenka, who was runner-up to Serena Williams at Flushing Meadows in 2012, was the hot favourite to join Li Na, Flavia Pennetta and the defending champion in the last four.

Standing in her way was a 30-year-old, who was 48th in the WTA rankings and had never previously progressed beyond this stage at Flushing Meadows.

Would things go to plan for the second seed, or would Hantuchova upset the form book? Find out how the match unfolded by revisiting the action with Sports Mole's text updates below.


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11.45pmGood evening and thanks for joining Sports Mole for what promises to be a closer contest than last night’s main event in the women’s singles.

11.48pmThis time yesterday at Arthur Ashe Stadium, top seed Serena Williams was preparing to face Carla Suarez Navarro. The start of the match was slightly delayed, but the American soon made up for lost time by beating the Spaniard 6-0 6-0 inside 53 minutes.

11.52pmThat performance, coupled with her stunning recent form, demonstrates just why most bookmakers have made Serena a huge 1-2 favourite to retain her title in New York this weekend. Realistically, of the other four women left in the draw, Azarenka has the best chance of denying the American her 17th Grand Slam singles crown.

11.55pmThe Belarusian has beaten Serena three times in 15 attempts. Pennetta has lost all four meetings with the American, while both Li and Hantuchova have one-and-nine records against the defending champ.

11.58pmTherefore, an Azarenka win tonight would probably be the best outcome for female tennis because, although Serena destroying opponents in just under an hour is mightily impressive, it’s not what fans want to see in a final.

12.01amSo, fans with tickets to Sunday’s final may well be hoping for this match to go Azarenka’s way, but this is unlikely to be a stroll for the 24-year-old, who was far from at her best in the last round.

12.04amThe second seed's serve was broken on seven occasions during her lengthy 4-6 6-3 6-4 win over Ana Ivanovic. If those frailties are on show again tonight, an upset could well be on the cards.

12.06amHantuchova's serve can often be a tough nut to crack. She produced 15 aces during her 6-3 5-7 6-2 win over America's Alison Riske in round four.

12.09amPREDICTION: Azarenka is rightly the favourite, but Hantuchova will relish the opportunity to cause a shock. If the Slovakian can keep her unforced errors count down, I can definitely see her nicking a set. I reckon Azarenka will win in three well-contested sets.

12.11amThe players are making their way onto court. Conditions are cool and slightly less breezy than usual.

12.13amAzarenka and Hantuchova have faced each other on four previous occasions, winning two matches each.

12.17amIF Hantuchova can overcome Azarenka tonight then she will help make history. Never before in the Open era have three female semi-finalists been aged 30 or over. Two 'golden oldies' - Li and Williams, both 31 - are already through to the last four.

12.19amWe are about to find out who will join them (and Pennetta) in the semis. Croatian umpire Marija Cicak has called time. Hantuchova to serve first...

Azarenka *1-0 HantuchovaAZARENKA BREAKS: I said earlier that Hantuchova's serve can often be a tough nut to crack - not on this occasion! Solid and composed hitting from the Belarusian is enough to break to love, as her opponent makes four forced errors.

Azarenka 1-1* HantuchovaHANTUCHOVA BREAKS: Instant response by the Slovakian, who provides two gorgeous winners en route to breaking back to love straight away.

Azarenka *2-1 HantuchovaAZARENKA BREAKS: Hantuchova comes up with two well-placed aces, but she then negates her good work with three forced errors, squandering game point, before being broken to 40.

Azarenka 3-1* HantuchovaThe world number two holds to 40. The game ends with Hantuchova slashing a forehand return well wide. Prior to that poor shot, all eight second-serve points in this match had been won by the receiver.

Azarenka *3-2 HantuchovaHantuchova cruises into a 40-0 lead before a sweet forehand winner and a double fault give Azarenka hope at 40-30. However, Hantuchova then comes up with a big first serve, which Azarenka hammers low into the net, much to her vocal disgust.

Azarenka 4-2* HantuchovaBig hold for the second seed, who gets away with back-to-back double faults to win game six to 30. The Belarusian secures the hold with a confident and decisive volley at the net.

Azarenka *5-2 HantuchovaAZARENKA BREAKS: The opening set appears to be getting away from Hantuchova, who is broken to love for the second time tonight. Azarenka is starting to find her form, hitting three winners in game seven. She will now serve for a one-set lead.

Azarenka 6-2 0-0* HantuchovaFIRST SET AZARENKA: The Belarusian is thoroughly dominant as she wraps up set one inside 31 minutes thanks to her 12th winner of the night.

Azarenka 6-2 0-0* HantuchovaThe second seed, who was responsible for six unforced errors in set one, looks a lot more confident than her opponent. She is also moving a lot better and hitting the ball much earlier.

Azarenka 6-2 0-0* HantuchovaHantuchova has hit seven winners and made five unforced errors.

Azarenka 6-2 0-0* HantuchovaAzarenka has been very keen to get forward so far - and with justification, winning seven of seven points at the net.

Azarenka 6-2 *0-1 HantuchovaWhereas the opening game of set one saw Hantuchova broken to love, set two kicks off with a love service hold for the Slovakian. Azarenka looks bemused, having made three unforced backhand errors in the game.

Azarenka 6-2 0-2* HantuchovaHANTUCHOVA BREAKS: The Azarenka backhand continues to misfire, allowing Hantuchova to reach deuce. The 30-year-old then hits a sumptuous drop shot to earn break point, which is saved as Azarenka's temperamental backhand cracks a winner. However, Hantuchova volleys well at the net to earn another break point, before Azarenka throws the game away with her third double fault of the night.

Azarenka 6-2 *1-2 HantuchovaAZARENKA BREAKS: Hantuchova fails to consolidate her early break, as four forced errors allow the world number two to win game 11 to 15.

Azarenka 6-2 2-2* HantuchovaAll square in set two as Azarenka holds to 30. Hantuchova had chances in that game.

Azarenka 6-2 *3-2 HantuchovaAZARENKA BREAKS: Another smart drop shot helps Hantuchova recover from 15-40 to force deuce. However, she then surrenders her serve with back-to-back double faults.

Azarenka 6-2 4-2* HantuchovaShe holds to 30 to win her fourth consecutive game, but, for some reason, Azarenka is angry. After Hantuchova fires a game-ending forehand just long, the Belarusian mops her sweaty face with a towel and then flings the moist cloth at a nearby ball boy with unnecessary force.

Azarenka 6-2 *5-2 HantuchovaAZARENKA BREAKS: Three unforced errors from the Hantuchova backhand contribute to her downfall in game 15, as Azarenka breaks to 40. The end is nigh.

Azarenka 6-2 5-3* HantuchovaHANTUCHOVA BREAKS: More carrying on from Azarenka... The world number two is beaten at the net by a superb forehand pass as Hantuchova edges 30-40 ahead. After reacting by releasing the most unpleasant scream, the Belarusian then double faults.

Azarenka 6-2 6-3 HantuchovaGAME SET AND MATCH AZARENKA: The second seed breaks to 15 to seal a 6-2 6-3 victory inside 75 minutes. She will now face Italy's Flavia Pennetta for a place in the final.

1.41amShe wasn't at her best, but Azarenka was still far too good for Hantuchova, who hit 19 winners and 18 unforced errors.

1.43amAzarenka's figures were fairly similar - she produced 17 winners and 15 unforced errors. However, those statistics fail to represent the sizeable gulf in class, which the players' respective rankings accurately reflect.

1.48amWell, for the second night a row, a women's quarter-final has severely underwhelmed from an entertainment point of view. Serena Williams takes on Li Na in the semis on Friday. I hope you will join Sports Mole for that one, as I am confident that it will be a more interesting contest. Goodbye for now.

Flavia Pennetta celebrates her win against Roberta Vinci during the quarter-finals of the US Open on September 4, 2013
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