Wednesday March 13, 2013
Azarenka blows rival away despite stuffy nose
INDIAN WELLS (California): Victoria Azarenka woke up just in time on Monday, rallying for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory over Belgian Kirsten Flipkens that kept her Indian Wells title defence on track.
Azarenka remained unbeaten in 2013, having successfully defended her Australian Open title and her Doha crown.
The 23-year-old from Belarus, currently ranked second in the world behind American Serena Williams, is vying to become the first woman to win back-to-back titles at Indian Wells since Martina Navratilova in 1990 and 1991.
But she showed far from dominant form in a scrappy first set against Flipkens, a 27-year-old ranked 31 in the world.
“I just wanted to go to sleep instead of playing tennis,” Azarenka said of her first-set struggles, which saw her broken three times in the frame after taking a 2-0 lead.
A stuffy nose compounded her problems, and once she’d dealt with that, she said, she began to feel better.
“I just blew my nose, started breathing better and calmed down and started to see what I had to do,” she said.
Azarenka led a parade of the top 10 seeds into the women’s round of 16 scheduled for Tuesday.
Second-seeded Maria Sharapova, No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska and fifth-seeded Petra Kvitova had advanced on Sunday.
No. 4 Angelique Kerber of German advanced on Monday with a 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) victory over Belgian Yanina Wickmayer. Seventh-seeded Australian Sam Stosur defeated China’s Peng Shuai 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 and eighth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki breezed past Russian Elena Vesnina 6-2, 6-1. — AFP