Azarenka eases into third round

 14 Feb 2013 - 1:00


Victoria Azarenka of Belarus gestures during her second round match of the Qatar Total Open 2013 against Romina Oprandi of Switzerland at Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex, yesterday. RIGHT: Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in action against Sorana Cirstea of Romania. pictures by: Shaival Dalal; Supporters of Caroline Wozniacki cheer during her match against Sorana Cirstea in Doha, yesterday.


DOHA: World number one and top seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus yesterday wasted little time in reaching the third round of the Qatar Open, crushing Romina Oprandi of Switzerland in straight sets.

There were easy wins for fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, sixth seed Sara Errani of Italy, 10th seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, 11th seed Nadia Petrova of Russia and 13th seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia.

In the day’s biggest shock, Czech player Klara Zakopalova beat Sloane Stephens of the US in three sets. Zakopalova won 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. Zakapalova will now meet third seed Maria Sharapova of Russia in the third round today.

Yesterday, world number one Azarenka signed for the third round beating Oprandi for the third time in four matches.

The 23-year-old, who won the Australian Open last month broke her opponent three times in the first set and then quickly grabbed the second to secure a one-sided win.

“It was a slow start for me,” Azarenka said. 

“I am glad I picked up my game after that. It is not easy to play her in such windy conditions,” she added.

“I was lucky that I could step up when I needed to,” Azarenka said.

“She plays a lot of tough balls and is a tough competitor. I am glad my feet were moving well after the first few games.

“She has a lot of shots and can hit the balls well. I grabbed my opportunities to make a difference. Yes, it was a good match out there. I am glad I started well,” Azarenka said in reference to her first match after the Australian Open final.

“I wasn’t easy (because of strong winds), for sure, but you never want to take this as an excuse because it’s the same for both players. I think she’s a very tricky opponent, especially in those conditions.

“I’m glad I could turn around. I felt like it was a little bit of a slow start for me. I started to go for too much for my shots at the beginning. Then I started to be more patient, work more (on) the points. (That) got me more into the game and started to play much better,” the 23-year old said.

Azarenka plays Christina McHale of the US in the third round.

Yesterday, McHale shocked Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic, winning 6-4, 6-2 against the 17th seed.

Russia’s Petrova overcame a stuttering start to beat Su-Wei Hsieh of Taipie on court number two.

Petrova, a two-time Qatar Open champion, lost the first set but won the next two for a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 card. Petrova could win the ‘Diamond Ball’ if she lands the trophy later this week by completing a hat-trick of Qatar Open wins.

Former world number one Ivanovic yesterday was declared the winner after only one set when opponent Simona Halep of Romania surrendered due to a lower back injury.

The withdrawal was announced by Halep’s camp after Ivanovic had won the first set 6-3.

Radwanska quickly disposed off qualifier Anastasia Rodionova of Australia. Radwanska won 6-3, 6-2.

“I was really feeling pretty good out there,” Radwanska said. 

“But for sure the conditions today were not easy at all. It was really windy and the wind changed (directions) every couple of minutes. It was very tricky, but I’m just very happy that I could play really good tennis in the important moments and I finished this match in two sets,” the Polish star added.

Also yesterday, Errani hammered Timea Babos of Hungary 6-4, 6-0. Wozniacki beat Sorana Cirstea of Romania, winning 7-6, 6-0.

In today’s action, second seed Serena Williams of the US and Sharapova will be battling for a place in the quarter-finals.

Serena, who needs two more wins to reclaim the world number one ranking, will meet Urszula Radwanska of Poland today. 

Sharapova, chasing her third title in Doha, will take on Zakopalova, a surprise winner over Stephens, who beat Serena at the Australian Open last month.

The Peninsula