2-time Australian champ Azarenka tops Pegula, talks anxiety

Jan 23, 2023, 6:02 AM | Updated: Jan 24, 2023, 4:52 am
Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic reacts after losing a point to Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece duri...

Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic reacts after losing a point to Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

(AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

              Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic reacts after losing a point to Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Jessica Pegula of the U.S. plays a shot back over her head to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Jessica Pegula, right, of the U.S. embraces Victoria Azarenka of Belarus following their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. talks with medical staff after having his wrist taped during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Karen Khachanov, left, of Russia consoles Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their quarterfinal match with an injured wrist at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. receives medication from medical staff during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Jessica Pegula of the U.S. reacts during her quarterfinal against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a backhand return to Jessica Pegula of the U.S. during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Jessica Pegula of the U.S. reacts after losing a point to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Karen Khachanov, right, of Russia gestures to Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their match with an injured wrist during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece reacts after defeating Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus waves after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus waves after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Jessica Pegula of the U.S. plays a shot back over her head to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Jessica Pegula, right, of the U.S. embraces Victoria Azarenka of Belarus following their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. talks with medical staff after having his wrist taped during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Karen Khachanov, left, of Russia consoles Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their quarterfinal match with an injured wrist at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. receives medication from medical staff during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Jessica Pegula of the U.S. reacts during her quarterfinal against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a backhand return to Jessica Pegula of the U.S. during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Karen Khachanov, right, of Russia gestures to Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their match with an injured wrist during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus waves after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Jessica Pegula of the U.S. reacts after losing a point to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus waves after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Jessica Pegula, right, of the U.S. embraces Victoria Azarenka of Belarus following their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. talks with medical staff after having his wrist taped during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Karen Khachanov, left, of Russia consoles Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their quarterfinal match with an injured wrist at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. receives medication from medical staff during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Jessica Pegula of the U.S. reacts during her quarterfinal against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a backhand return to Jessica Pegula of the U.S. during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Karen Khachanov, right, of Russia gestures to Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their match with an injured wrist during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Jessica Pegula of the U.S. reacts after losing a point to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus waves after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Jessica Pegula, right, of the U.S. embraces Victoria Azarenka of Belarus following their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. talks with medical staff after having his wrist taped during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Karen Khachanov, left, of Russia consoles Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their quarterfinal match with an injured wrist at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. receives medication from medical staff during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Jessica Pegula of the U.S. reacts during her quarterfinal against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a backhand return to Jessica Pegula of the U.S. during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Karen Khachanov, right, of Russia gestures to Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their match with an injured wrist during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Jessica Pegula of the U.S. reacts after losing a point to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus waves after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Jessica Pegula, right, of the U.S. embraces Victoria Azarenka of Belarus following their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. talks with medical staff after having his wrist taped during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Karen Khachanov, left, of Russia consoles Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their quarterfinal match with an injured wrist at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. receives medication from medical staff during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Jessica Pegula of the U.S. reacts during her quarterfinal against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a backhand return to Jessica Pegula of the U.S. during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Karen Khachanov, right, of Russia gestures to Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their match with an injured wrist during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Jessica Pegula of the U.S. reacts after losing a point to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus waves after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Jessica Pegula, right, of the U.S. embraces Victoria Azarenka of Belarus following their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. talks with medical staff after having his wrist taped during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Karen Khachanov, left, of Russia consoles Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their quarterfinal match with an injured wrist at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. receives medication from medical staff during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Jessica Pegula of the U.S. reacts during her quarterfinal against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a backhand return to Jessica Pegula of the U.S. during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Karen Khachanov, right, of Russia gestures to Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their match with an injured wrist during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Jessica Pegula of the U.S. reacts after losing a point to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus waves after defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. talks with medical staff after having his wrist taped during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Karen Khachanov of Russia plays a backhand return to Sebastian Korda of the U.S. during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Karen Khachanov, left, of Russia consoles Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their quarterfinal match with an injured wrist at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. receives medication from medical staff during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Karen Khachanov, right, of Russia gestures to Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their match with an injured wrist during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Jessica Pegula of the U.S. reacts during her quarterfinal against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a backhand return to Jessica Pegula of the U.S. during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. talks with medical staff after having his wrist taped during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Karen Khachanov of Russia plays a backhand return to Sebastian Korda of the U.S. during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Karen Khachanov, left, of Russia consoles Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their quarterfinal match with an injured wrist at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. receives medication from medical staff during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Karen Khachanov, right, of Russia gestures to Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their match with an injured wrist during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. talks with medical staff after having his wrist taped during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Karen Khachanov of Russia plays a backhand return to Sebastian Korda of the U.S. during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Karen Khachanov, left, of Russia consoles Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their quarterfinal match with an injured wrist at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. receives medication from medical staff during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Karen Khachanov, right, of Russia gestures to Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their match with an injured wrist during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. talks with medical staff after having his wrist taped during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Karen Khachanov of Russia plays a backhand return to Sebastian Korda of the U.S. during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. plays a forehand return to Karen Khachanov of Russia during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Karen Khachanov, left, of Russia consoles Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their quarterfinal match with an injured wrist at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Sebastian Korda of the U.S. receives medication from medical staff during his quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Karen Khachanov, right, of Russia gestures to Sebastian Korda of the U.S. after Korda withdrew from their match with an injured wrist during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
            
              Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia plays a backhand return to Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan waves after defeating Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan plays a backhand return to Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan serves to Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan waves after defeating Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan reacts after defeating Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Elena Rybakina, right, of Kazakhstan is congratulated by Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia following their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan waves after defeating Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — On the court at Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday night, Victoria Azarenka — the athlete — displayed the same confident brand of take-the-ball-early, hard-hitting tennis that carried her to two Australian Open titles and the No. 1 ranking a decade ago.

That was responsible, in part, for the way she beat No. 3 seed Jessica Pegula 6-4, 6-1 to return to the semifinals at Melbourne Park for the first time since those triumphs in 2012 and 2013.

After the match, Victoria Azarenka — the person — opened up about how, away from the court in recent months, she managed to learn a new mindset by, in her words, “Trying to be neutral, not to go negative; accepting the anxiety that I have; accepting the fear that I have.”

And that, too, she explained, allowed her to deal with a fear of failure and play once again to the very best of her considerable abilities, which she certainly did against Pegula, who hadn’t dropped a set in the tournament and ceded only 18 games through four matches until Tuesday.

The two — her professional and personal lives — “are definitely connected,” Azarenka said.

“I don’t think that one goes without the other. I feel like a tennis court — probably for everybody, but for me, especially — triggers a lot of those fears, a lot of anxiety,” she continued. “It’s kind of like an open canvas. When everything comes there at a high-pressure moment, high-stress moment, weird emotions come on the court. Sometimes, like, ‘What … are you thinking about on the court?'”

A key turning point, one that helped her realize she needed to confront what was bothering her, came when she broke a few rackets after a loss at a tournament in October.

“I don’t think you recognize it right away. I think it builds up until you hit kind of a pretty bad spot where nothing kind of makes sense. You feel kind of lost,” Azarenka said. “I was at the point where I couldn’t find anything that I feel good about myself. Not like even one sentence.”

The No. 24-seeded Azarenka’s semifinal opponent will be No. 22 Elena Rybakina, the reigning Wimbledon champion, who defeated 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-4.

Rybakina — who was born in Moscow but has represented Kazakhstan since 2018 because it offered to fund her tennis career — hit 11 aces to take her tournament-leading total to 35.

In men’s action, Karen Khachanov reached his first semifinal at Melbourne Park — and made his second consecutive trip to the final four at a Grand Slam tournament, following his run at the U.S. Open last September — when 22-year-old American Sebastian Korda stopped playing in the third set because of an injured right wrist while trailing 7-6 (5), 6-3, 3-0.

Khachanov will face No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas, a 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-4 winner over Jiri Lehecka, for a berth in the men’s final. Tsitsipas, a finalist at the 2021 French Open, got to the semifinals in Melbourne for the fourth time by saving all eight break points he faced.

A three-time runner-up at the U.S. Open, most recently in 2020, Azarenka has always played most effectively on hard courts, and that showed again on this evening. She repeatedly got the better of lengthy exchanges of forehands and backhands; Pegula made eight of the match’s first 10 unforced errors.

After some misses, Pegula would sigh, roll her eyes, slump her shoulders. She often looked into the stands at her coach, Davis Witt, to say something, including one exclamation about the ball speed: “It’s so … slow!”

“Just made it tough for me to feel like I could really pressure her,” Pegula said. “Felt like she was pressuring me constantly.”

Pegula, a 28-year-old from New York, was playing in the quarterfinals in Melbourne for the third year in a row but fell to 0-5 for her career at that stage in Grand Slam tournaments, with each loss in straight sets. Her parents own the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, and Pegula wore a patch on her skirt during matches with the No. 3, the jersey number of player Damar Hamlin, who collapsed on the field during a game on Jan. 2.

Her exit Tuesday leaves No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka as the lone top-20 woman still in the bracket. On Wednesday, Sabalenka will play unseeded Donna Vekic in the quarterfinals, while No. 30 Karolina Pliskova faces unseeded Magda Linette.

Now 33 and a mother — she walked into the stadium wearing a jersey from Paris Saint-Germain, the favorite soccer team of her son, Leo — Azarenka, who is from Belarus, delivered big shot after big shot, raced to a 3-0 lead in 12 minutes, and never really let Pegula, a good friend, into the match.

“Leo doesn’t really care so much that I’m playing here. … Obviously, he is watching some matches, but he definitely wants his mom to be home,” Azarenka said. “So a few more days here, and I’ll be back.”

Might make the trip with a trophy in tow if she keeps playing like this.

___

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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) drives on Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield (24) during ...
Associated Press

James closes in on scoring record, Lakers rally past Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — LeBron James had 26 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and pulled within 63 points of becoming the NBA’s career scoring champ as the Los Angeles Lakers rallied to beat the Indiana Pacers 112-111 on Thursday night. James gave Los Angeles its first lead on a 3-pointer with 2:35 left in the […]
19 hours ago
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, right, shoots against Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon ...
Associated Press

Cavs All-Star Mitchell ejected after tussle with Grizzlies

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell was ejected in the third quarter Thursday night against Memphis for throwing the ball at Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks after the players tangled under the basket. Brooks was called for a flagrant-2 foul and was also tossed following the fracas with 5:48 left and the Cavs […]
19 hours ago
Hank Lebioda, second from right, waits to putt on the 18th green of the Monterey Peninsula Country ...
Associated Press

Lebioda leads on a day of ever-changing conditions at Pebble

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Changes in weather and fortunes can happen without notice in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which seems to suit Hank Lebioda just fine these days. Playing his sixth different course in his last six rounds on the PGA Tour, Lebioda ran off six birdies in an eight-hole stretch for an […]
19 hours ago
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) shoots over Indiana Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith (23) d...
Associated Press

As James nears record, Tuesday’s Lakers game moved to TNT

NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA has further adjusted the schedule of nationally televised games with LeBron James closing in on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the league’s scoring record. James is on pace to break the record Tuesday at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder. That game will now be shown on TNT, a change that […]
19 hours ago
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) runs against Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Willie Ga...
Associated Press

Bengals’ Joe Mixon charged with pointing gun at woman

CINCINNATI (AP) — Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon has been charged in a warrant with pointing a gun at a woman and threatening her, according to court documents. Mixon faces a misdemeanor charge of aggravated menacing, according to the documents, which were filed Thursday in Hamilton County Municipal Court and obtained by The Associated […]
19 hours ago
Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) goes up for a dunk over Portland Trail Blazers forward Trend...
Associated Press

Embiid, Morant, Brown lead NBA All-Star reserve class

Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Portland’s Damian Lillard had to have known they were going to the All-Star Game. Players averaging more than 30 points per game typically don’t have to worry about not hearing their name called. Other players — like Miami’s Bam Adebayo, Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton and Utah’s Lauri Markkanen […]
19 hours ago
2-time Australian champ Azarenka tops Pegula, talks anxiety