Australian Open

Azarenka sweeps to victory

2014-01-16 12:57
Victoria Azarenka (AFP)

Melbourne - Title-holder Victoria Azarenka swept into the Australian Open third round on Thursday with a straight-sets mauling of Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

The two-time champion was rarely threatened on Rod Laver Arena to blast past the Czech 6-1, 6-4 in 88 minutes.

The Belarusian benefited from the roof being shut on centre court because of searing heat.

"It feels pretty good, it was a good match and a competitive second set," Azarenka said of the win. "Barbora played well and I was just glad to close it out in two sets."

Azarenka was keen to make an impression after a lacklustre first-round showing against world number 91 Johanna Larsson, when her game was riddled with unforced errors and marred by poor serving.

She got off on the right foot, holding serve against the experienced Zahlavova Strycova, ranked 84, who was attempting to match her best Australian Open performance in reaching the third round in 2011.

The Czech made it 1-1 when Azarenka missed an easy volley after a tight second game, but the champion made no mistakes on break point in Zahlavova Strycova's next service game.

After a long rally the Belarusian, with boyfriend pop star Redfoo cheering her on, produced a delicate drop shot to earn the break.

She held serve and screaming her trademark, "C'mon!" made the most of her opponent's sloppy first serve to go 5-1 ahead with a sizzling cross-court backhand.

Azarenka was in control and polished off the first set in just 34 minutes.

She continued in the same vein in the second set, immediately breaking for a 1-0 lead and while Zahlavova Strycova tried everything she could to claw back in a 13-minute fourth game, too many errors cost her.

But she refused to give up and got back in the match when Azarenka sliced a backhand long to give her a break at 3-3, only to have the second seed break straight back.

The Czech was shouting at herself when she dropped points and it fired her up as she broke again for 4-4 before throwing her good work away with another errant service game.

It put Azarenka on the front foot and she sealed the match with another cross-court backhand.

She next faces either Serbian 33rd seed Bojana Jovanovski or Austrian Yvonne Meusburger as she searches for a third consecutive Melbourne title, a feat last achieved by Martina Hingis between 1997-1999.

In the Open era only five women have managed three in a row - Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles and Hingis.

Results from the Australian Open on Thursday:

Men's singles:

Second round:
Kei Nishikori (JPN x16) bt Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-1, 6-1, 7-6 (7/3)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x10) bt Thomaz Belluci (BRA) 7-6 (8/6), 6-4, 6-4
Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) bt Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 6-2, 6-4, 6-2
Donald Young (USA) bt Andreas Seppi (ITA x24) 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5
Roger Federer (SUI x6) bt Blaz Kavcic (SLO) 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7/4)
Stephane Robert (FRA) bt Michal Przysiezny (POL) 7-6 (7/3), 6-1,
6-7 (3/7), 6-1
Gael Monfils (FRA x25) bt Jack Sock (USA) 7-6 (7/2), 7-5, 6-2
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x22) bt Lu Yen-Hsun (TPE) 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (11/9)
Milos Raonic (CAN x11) bt Victor Hanescu (ROM) 7-6 (11/9), 6-4, 6-4
Martin Klizan (SVK) bt Blaz Rola (SLO) 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (7/2)
Feliciano Lopez (ESP x26) bt Michael Berrer (GER) 6-4, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4
Andy Murray (GBR x4) bt Vincent Millot (FRA) 6-2, 6-2, 7-5
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) bt Juan Martin del Potro (ARG x5) 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5
Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS) bt Fernando Verdasco (ESP x31) 7-6 (7/1), 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4
Gilles Simon (FRA x18) bt Marin Cilic (CRO) 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-2
Benoit Paire (FRA x27) bt Nick Kyrgios (AUS) 6-7 (5/7), 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-2, 6-2

Women's singles:

Second round:
Zarina Diyas (KAZ) bt Marina Erakovic (NZL) 6-4, 6-0
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS x29) bt Mandy Minella (LUX) 6-2, 6-2
Elina Svitolina (UKR) bt Olivia Rogowska (AUS) 6-4, 7-5
Simona Halep (ROU x11) bt Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 4-6, 6-0, 6-1
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP x16) bt Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) 7-6 (7/2), 3-6, 8-6
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK x20) bt Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 6-0, 6-1
Alize Cornet (FRA x25) bt Camila Giorgi (ITA) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
Maria Sharapova (RUS x3) bt Karin Knapp (ITA) 6-3, 4-6, 10-8
Garbine Muguruza (ESP) bt Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-3, 6-3
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL x5) bt Olga Govortsova (BLR) 6-0, 7-5
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN x10) bt Christina McHale (USA) 6-0, 1-6, 6-2
Sloane Stephens (USA x13) bt Ajla Tomljanovic (CRO) 3-6, 6-2, 7-5
Victoria Azarenka (BLR x2) bt Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE)
6-1, 6-4
Kurumi Nara (JPN) bt Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK x32) 6-4, 6-3
Jelena Jankovic (SRB x8) bt Ayumi Morita (JPN) 6-2, 6-0
Yvonne Meusburger (AUT) bt Bojana Jovanovski (SRB x33) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2


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