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Monday March 11, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Thursday April 18, 2013 MYT 12:40:26 AM
INDIAN WELLS: Defending champion Victoria Azarenka shook off a slow start to beat Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 6-1 on Saturday and reach the third round of the Indian Wells ATP Masters and WTA tournament.
It was a tough tournament opener for Azarenka against a player who won the title in the California desert in 2002 and 2007.
But after falling behind 4-1 in the first set, she roared back to preserve her unbeaten record in 2013 and move a step closer to adding a third title to the Australian Open and Doha crowns she has claimed this year.
“I have to give her credit, I think she started really well,” Azarenka said, adding that Hantuchova had the momentum of her first-round win behind her while the seeded players had byes.
“It caught me a little bit off-guard,” she said. “I needed a little bit of time to realise that I’m in the tournament, that I have to step it up if I want to win the match.
“I think I adjusted really well, tried to make her hit out of her comfortable zone.
“At the beginning she was really going for her shots and making incredible winners. But then I felt I changed the momentum and started to do that myself.”
The top seed from Belarus next faces Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 winner over Romania’s Monica Niculescu.
German fourth seed Angelique Kerber advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu.
It was a welcome reversal of fortunes for Kerber. Since falling to Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets in the fourth round of the Australian Open, Kerber had lost in straight sets in her opening matches in both Doha and Dubai.
She next faces Belgian Yanina Wickmayer, who rallied from a set and a break down to beat Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Seventh-seeded Australian Samantha Stosur used a break of serve in each set to dispatch US teenager Madison Keys 6-3, 6-4.
Stosur, the 2011 US Open champion, next faces China’s Peng Shuai, who defeated Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru 6-0, 4-6, 6-3.
With second-seeded Maria Sharapova and No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland advancing on Friday, the top eight of the women’s seeds all made it safely through to the third round.
Eighth-seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki completed that group, but it was far from smooth sailing for the former world No. 1.
She battled to a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over tenacious Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, ranked 33rd in the world. — AFP
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