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Victoria Azarenka of Belarus serves the ball to Christina McHale of the USA during their third round match of the Qatar Open at the International Khalifa Tennis Complex, Doha, yesterday. Azarenka won 6-0 and 6-0.
BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: World number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and second seed Serena Williams of the US yesterday stayed on course for a possible clash in the final of the Qatar Open later this week after both players sent their opponents crashing to humiliating defeats.
Azarenka, the top seed at the $2.36m event, handed Christina McHale of the US a double bagel, winning their lop-sided round of 16 match 6-0, 6-0 to reach her third quarter-final of the new season.
Serena, seeking to reclaim the world number one ranking at the Doha event, hammered Urszula Radwanska of Poland, winning their third-round clash 6-0, 6-3.
If 31-year-old Serena wins her quarter-finals against Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic today, she will dethrone Azarenka as the world number one.
Yesterday, Kvitova yesterday edged two-time Qatar Open champion Nadia Petrova of Russia 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 to reach today’s quarter-final against Serena.
Third seed Maria Sharapova of Russia also signed in for the quarter-finals, crushing Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic.
Sharapopva, chasing her third title in Qatar, won 6-3, 6-3 in 1 hour 27 minutes.
The 25-year-old Russian will meet former US Open champion Samantha Stosur of Australia in the quarter-final today.
Stosur, seeded eighth in Doha, dispatched Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-4, 7-5 in 1 hour 35 minutes.
Azarenka will now play sixth seed Sara Errani of Italy in the quarter-finals today. Errani yesterday overcame a mid-match crisis to beat Daniel Hantuchova of Slovakia 7-5, 5-7, 6-2.
Also yesterday, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki beat Mona Barthel of Germany to set up a quarter-final clash against fourth seed fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.
Wozniacki won 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 while Radwanska stunned former world number one Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 6-1, 7-6 (8-6).
Azarenka, who won the Australian Open before pulling out of the semi-finals against Serena at Brisbane last month, yesterday crushed Mchale in just 66 minutes.
Despite the hammering in windy conditions, the Mchale still got richer by $24,300 for reaching the round of 16 while Azarenka remained on course to defend her title at the Khalifa Tennis Complex.
“Everything was working for me today,” a smiling Azarenka said after her easy win. “When I stepped on the court I just felt right. I was dominant in the key games. I tried to take the advantage of playing so well,” she added.
“That was the key - to play dominant in those moments (in games two, four and six in each set). That’s what the score shows - I was very consistent out there today,” she explained.
“She has had big wins in the past so I was just focused on my game. I was trying to execute my game. The conditions were tough but that was for both us. I can’t complain,” the two-time Australian Open champion said.
Earlier yesterday, Radwanska, winner of two events this year, made it to the quarter-finals with another commanding show on the wind-swept centre court.
The Polish ran away with the first set, winning at 6-1 but later showed remarkable calm in the tie-breaker of the second, battling to a straight set victory. Ivanovic fired five aces against none by her Polish opponent.
“It was an interesting match because of the wind which made things difficult,” the 23-year-old said. “Thankfully I got used to the conditions pretty quickly,” she added.
Radwanska, who won titles in Auckland and Sydney last month, said she was pleased with her performances since the start of 2012. The Polish star has now become the first player to win 15 matches this season.
“I think my hard work is paying off. You work hard all your life and I hope I get to play more finals and do well in the Grand Slams this year,” she said. “For that (to happen) I am going to work harder,” she said.
In the quarter-finals today, Radwanska will meet Wozniacki who looked sluggish on a windy day.
“It wasn’t great tennis out there today,” Wozniacki said after the match.
“The wind was a huge factor and it seemed like the wind took more on this court than it did on center because you have the fence behind.”The Peninsula