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Makarova dances into her first Grand Slam semi-final

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Originally published on 04/09/14

On Twitter she uses the handle katemakarova1 and in Russia her name is abbreviated to Katya, so she calls herself Kate. “It’s easier for the fans,” she said on Wednesday after her 6-4 6-2 defeat of former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka. To confuse matters even more, when she won on Arthur Ashe Stadium the song that was belted out over the PA was the 1995 dance song, “The Makarena”.

“I heard they were playing this song. Actually it started at the Australian Open. So many fans they called me like this.” she said “In Russia, no one is calling me like that, you know from the court. But it’s a different thing. It’s nice, I think”.

The Russian who prefers the shade to the limelight has a great sense of humour. Interviewed on court after her quarter-final victory she said. “I’ve had five chances to make the semi-finals before!” She has a 0-4 record in Grand Slam quarterfinals, having reached the last eight in Australia in 2012 and 2013, the US Open 2013 and Roland Garros this year.

At the fifth attempt, Makarova maintained her composure to defeat an out-of-sorts Azarenka. “Today was a great tough match. We have played many times, she’s beaten me and I’ve beaten her,” she said.

Coming into the match the 26-year-old left-hander had played Azarenka five times and the Belarusian led the head to head 3-2. Makarova had however won their last meeting in Madrid in 2013. But the Russian’s star is in the ascendency; she has had her best tennis results this year, winning her second WTA title in February at Pattaya, almost four years after her first, at Eastbourne in 2010. She is unsure what accounts for this run of form.

“Maybe I have grown up a little bit, or maybe I am ready for big wins, you know, just in my head,” she said. Former WTA Player Evgenia Manyukova coaches the Russian. They have worked together since January 2007. She also has help from Anastasia Myskina, the Russian player, a former world No.3 and 2004 Roland Garros winner. Myskina was one of her idols growing up.

“I’m really happy that she has finished her career and that we are not really competing. She is still an idol for me,” she said. In the first major semi-final of her career, Makarova, who started playing tennis when she was six, will face Serena Williams who defeated Flavia Pennetta 6-3 6-2 in the night match on Ashe. The left-hander has beaten Serena before at a major – she won their fourth-round match at the Australian Open in 2012.

“She’s a great and a tough player,” she said. “But I have beaten her once already and I have a great memory. I have a great feeling of that match. I need to be a little bit more aggressive than she is, [make] her move definitely.” 

Were Makarova to make it to the finals, she knows how to dance the Makarena, and in her post-match press conference in answer to the question, “can you show us?”, she said: “Next time on stage”.

The left-hander is still competing in the women’s doubles with fellow Russian Elena Vesnina where they are the fourth seeds. They defeated Venus and Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. So maybe we will see the dance on Louis Armstrong Stadium, if the pair beat Kimiko Date- Krumm and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova on Thursday.

 

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