Victoria Azarenka was full of praise for Zhu Lin following their Australian Open match as she noted that the Chinese could be a top-10 player with this level of tennis.
Azarenka, a former world No 1, was made to work by 87th-ranked Zhu but still escaped with a 4-6 6-1 6-4 win in their Australian Open round-of-16 match.
Zhu, 28, has never been ranked higher than No 58 but she drew attention to her tennis at the Australian Open.
Before falling just short to Azarenka, Zhu stunned No 6 seed Maria Sakkari.
“She never gave up, no matter what the score was. With this tennis, she has to be Top 20, because she played amazing. I’d never heard of her before, I know she’s coming from China — but there are so many players who can come out here and produce an amazing level. Sometimes it helps when you know your opponent, but I didn’t know much about her and I had to adjust on the go. Today was blinding for me. She’s an amazing player, I wish her luck for the rest of the year and I hope we’ll see a lot more of her,” Azarenka said, per the WTA website.
Azarenka ‘relieved’ to survive the Zhu challenge
After nearly three hours of play, Azarenka defeated Zhu to progress into her first quarterfinal at Melbourne Park since 2016.
“I feel so relieved. It was 2 hours and 40 minutes of complete pressure point by point, momentum shifts, there was everything in this match,” Azarenka admitted.
After losing the first set, Azarenka bounced back in the second set by breaking Zhu twice to send the match into a decider.
In the first six games of the third set, six breaks were seen as Azarenka was three times up by a break but Zhu every time came back.
After blowing three early third-set breaks, Azarenka broke Zhu again in the ninth game and served out for the match in the following game.
Azarenka plays next against Jessica Pegula.