WTA Tour

Serena out-guns Azarenka in Indian Wells

2019-03-09 15:00
Serena Williams (AP)
Serena Williams (AP)

Indian Wells - Serena Williams out-gunned Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-3 in an electrifying clash of former world number ones on Friday to reach the third round at Indian Wells.

The two raised the temperature on a cold, windy night in the California desert, trading shots from every corner of the court before Williams wrapped things up after two hours and 17 minutes

She finished it off in style, with a pair of unreturnable serves.

"It was really good for me to kind of fight through that, because literally I had to fight for every point," Williams said.

The display worthy of a final came in the second round thanks to Azarenka's current ranking of 48th in the world - and the bad luck of the draw.

The first set alone lasted one hour and 13 minutes.

Williams, unable to serve it out at 5-3, was under pressure again at 5-5 but Azarenka was unable to convert five break points. Williams produced three service winners to take a 6-5 lead and broke Azarenka to pocket the set.

"She deserved to win," Azarenka said.

"She played better on those important moments. I felt that every game was ad, deuce, ad, deuce. It was all about who was going to take that chance, and she took them a little better today."

While Williams took her record over Azarenka to 18-4, the Belarusian said she would always relish any chance to take on her longtime rival.

"You know, as much as she's the toughest opponent I have ever played in my life, she's my favourite person to play against," Azarenka said. "Those type of challenges always motivate me." 

Since their last meeting - Azarenka's victory in the 2016 Indian Wells final - both women have become mothers, adding another dimension to their on-court rivalry and off-court friendship.

"We're both moms, and we know how hard it is and how hard it's been for us to come back, starting literally from scratch and fighting our way back," Williams said.

They exchanged a warm hug at the net to cap what Azarenka called an "amazing" match.

"I think it's not a surprise that we have mutual respect and love off the court," Azarenka said.

"On the court it's a fight. It's a war, it's a lot of intensity.

"I think it was quite an amazing match. And having such a match on International Women's Day, I felt that was really incredible."

Things won't get any easier for Williams in her pursuit of her first title since the birth of daughter Alexis Olympia in September of 2017.

In the third round she faces another former world number one, Spain's Garbine Muguruza, a two-time Grand Slam champion who breezed into the third round with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over American Lauren Davis.

Elsewhere on Friday, world number two Simona Halep eased into the third round with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Czech veteran Barbora Strycova.

Halep, who lifted the Indian Wells trophy in 2015, fired 18 winners and converted six  of 11 break point chances to set up a third-round meeting with Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Kozlova, a 6-4, 2-6, 6-0 winner over 31st-seeded Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus.

But there was more misery for world number four Sloane Stephens, who was unceremoniously bundled out by Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele 6-3, 6-0.

Voegele, ranked 109th in the world, won the last eight games to  sweep into the third round in just 68 minutes.

It's the second tournament in a row that 2017 US Open winner Stephens has been toppled by a qualifier, coming on the heels of a straight-sets defeat to 172nd-ranked Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia in Acapulco.

Voegele's victory is perhaps less of a shocker. She has now won the last four of five career meetings with Stephens.

Stephens said the windy weather was a factor, but not the main problem.

"I didn't play well," Stephens said.

"It was unfortunate that I lost the second set 6-0. It happens."

Results on Friday in the BNP Paribas Open WTA and ATP Masters hardcourt tournament (x-denotes seeded player):

Men

First round

Hubert Hurkacz (POL) bt Donald Young (USA) 6-3, 6-3

Steve Johnson (USA) bt Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-3, 6-3

Dusan Lajovic (SRB) bt Taro Daniel (JPN) 7-6 (8/6), 6-4

Radu Albot (MDA) bt Marius Copil (ROM) 6-2, 6-2

Stan Wawrinka (SUI) bt Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-3

Peter Gojowczyk (GER) bt Andreas Seppi (ITA) 7-5, 6-4

Alexei Popyrin (AUS) bt Jaume Munar (ESP) 7-6 (9/7), 6-3

Alex Bolt (AUS) bt Ernests Gulbis (LAT) 6-3, 5-7, 6-2

Robin Haase (NED) bt Denis Istomin (UZB) 7-6 (7/2), 6-1

Feliciano Lopez (ESP) bt Tomas Berdych (CZE) 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/2)

Filip Krajinovic (SRB) bt Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 6-3, 6-4

Women

Second round

Johanna Konta (GBR) bt Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE x27) 6-0, 6-2

Garbine Muguruza (ESP x20) bt Lauren Davis (USA) 6-1, 6-3

Stefanie Voegele (SUI) bt Sloane Stephens (USA x4) 6-3, 6-0

Wang Qiang (CHN x18) bt Bernarda Pera (USA) 7-6 (7/5), 6-2

Daria Gavrilova (AUS) bt Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROM x29) 6-2, 6-2

Jennifer Brady (USA) bt Caroline Garcia (FRA x19) 6-3, 3-6, 6-0

Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) bt Daria Kasatkina (RUS x14) 6-2, 6-1

Jelena Ostapenko (LAT x22) bt Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-2, 6-1

Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) bt Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR x31) 6-4, 2-6, 6-0

Simona Halep (ROU x2) bt Barbora Strycova (CZE) 6-2, 6-4

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Vote

When all is said and done, who of the 'Big 3' in men's tennis ends their career with the most Grand Slams?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.