MELBOURNE, Australia — Victoria Azarenka calmly coasted through her opening two matches at the Australian Open. On Friday, she had to get angry.
Struggling to close out a third-round win over Mona Barthel, the third-seeded Belarusian twice thought her opponent's shots had missed the sideline. Each time, she glared at the linesperson in disbelief.
After sealing the 6-2, 6-4 win on her fifth match point, Azarenka turned to the official and pumped her fist. Apparently, it was all part of the plan.
"I had to get a little bit not angry like in a bad way, just a little bit get my emotions going to finish the match," she said. "Because I had few chances, I didn't convert them.
"But sometimes you just have to push yourself a little bit to get you going again."
Azarenka begins to psyche herself up when she walks onto court with her hood up, boxer style, and headphones on. At the Australian Open, she has been listening to a song by Mary J. Blige.
The 22-year-old pumps her fist after almost every point she wins. Her grunting — a high-pitched hoot — gets a little more urgent during the more extended rallies.
In her second-round win over Australia's Casey Dellacqua, people in the crowd began to mimic the owl-like sound. It happened once on Friday, too.
"Of course I hear it. I mean, I'm not deaf," she said with a smile. "But it's fine for me. I respect the crowd, whatever they do. I try to just be focused on my game, and that's it."
Azarenka is on an eight-match winning streak after claiming the Sydney International title coming into the Australian Open, making her one of the title favorites at Melbourne Park.
No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki's failure to win a Grand Slam title has taken attention away from the major gap in Azarenka's resume. The No. 3-ranked Belarusian has won nine titles and more than $9 million in prize money — but hasn't reached a Grand Slam final.
"To think if I could have done better I think it's a little bit of a waste of time, because you can't really bring it back," said Azarenka, who faces unseeded Czech Iveta Benesova next. "All you can do is to learn from your experiences, mistakes, good, bad, and take it to the next one."
OLDIES BUT GOODIES: For all the talk about the young up-and-comers like Bernard Tomic and Milos Raonic, the older guys were still getting it done at Melbourne Park.
Seven men over 30 advanced to the third round of the singles draw at the Australian Open: Ivo Karlovic (32), Juan Ignacio Chela (32), Michael Llodra (31), Lleyton Hewitt (30), Roger Federer (30), Julien Benneteau (30), Feliciano Lopez (30) and Nicolas Mahut (30).
Three of the veterans played on Friday, with Federer eliminating Karlovic 7-6 (6), 7-5, 6-3 in the afternoon and Lopez holding off John Isner.
In one of the more intriguing matchups pitting the old guard against the young guns on Saturday, Hewitt, a two-time Grand Slam champion, play Raonic, a powerful 21-year-old Canadian who has shot up the rankings in the past year.
Hewitt's body has given out on him in recent years — he's undergone two hip surgeries and a foot operation. But Federer is still picking him to beat Raonic, who had hip surgery himself last year.
"I think it's going to be an open match because Lleyton doesn't give away anything," Federer said in a nod to a player who held the No. 1 ranking before he did. "I've seen that happen so many times that I'll just pick Lleyton because he's playing well and he's playing at home."
Federer also is closing in on an important milestone — his next match will be his 1,000th on tour.
"How do I feel?" he said. "I feel good. I feel healthy. I don't know if I can play another 1,000, but I feel like it's a lot of tennis."
Only two 30-somethings made it to the third round on the women's side: Greta Arn (32) and Serena Williams (30). They were to play each other in the third round.
NADAL'S WISH: Rafael Nadal is one of the few players to boast a winning record over Roger Federer, but there is one thing he envies about his Swiss rival's game: his serve.
Nadal has beaten Federer on 17 of the 26 occasions they have played — 13 of those in finals. They could meet for a 27th time in the semifinals of the Australian Open.
Asked Friday what he would like to take from Federer's life, Nadal didn't have to think twice before replying: "We're gonna take the serve."
Federer doesn't have the biggest serve on the men's tour, but it is one of the most effective. Against the hard-serving Ivo Karlovic on Friday, he didn't give up a single break.
Even when his first serve is failing, the 16-time Grand Slam champion has a second serve that is just as threatening. After three matches, Federer averages 66 percent of points won behind his second serve — a figure bettered by only one other player in the tournament.
Associated Press Writer Justin Bergman contributed to this report.