Victoria Azarenka stormed past fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-1, 6-3 in the second round of the US Open on a rainy night under the roof at Louis Armstrong Stadium. Meeting for the second straight year at Flushing Meadows, Azarenka needed only 66 minutes to defeat her countrywoman, having lost to Sabalenka in the first round in 2019.
The two-time US Open finalist jumped out to a 4-0 lead and eventually took the set as the fifth seed committed 17 unforced errors and she was quickly out to a 3-0 lead in the second, only to see Sabalenka claw her way back on serve. Azarenka broke again and secured victory three games later to move into the third round in New York for the 11th time in her career.
Rampant Azarenka races past Sabalenka in all-Belarus affair
Sabalenka built up a 40-0 lead on her serve to start the match, but a backhand over the baseline set up break point and Azarenka was on top after the fifth seed overhit a forehand. A battling hold consolidated the two-time major champion's lead and she was up a double break after back-to-back double faults by Sabalenka made it 3-0.
Sabalenka finally got on the board with an easy hold in the fifth game, but she quickly fell behind 5-1 as Azarenka held to 15 twice and she earned two set points after the fifth seed flew a backhand long and converted on her first chance when Sabalenka sailed a forehand miles over the baseline to wrap up the opening set in just 28 minutes.
Azarenka saved two break points to open the second set and she was quickly up a break after yet another unforced error by Sabalenka. The lead was stretched to 3-0 after an incredible retrieval of a drop shot by the fifth seed. Sabalenka held to 30 to cut the deficit to 3-1 and she started to get her power game under control, breaking after Azarenka hit a backhand that just went long.
The momentum was short-lived as a double fault brought up break point for the former world number one and she converted with an outstanding backhand winner for a 4-2 edge. After being challenged on serve at 30-30, an error from Sabalenka and a wonderful drop shot with no reply gave Azarenka a 5-2 lead.
Sabalenka had her best game of the match, holding to love to force Azarenka to try and serve it out and she earned two match points when the fifth seed missed a forehand and she converted on her first chance after a deep forehand forced one final error off of the fifth seed's racquet.