World no. 1 Victoria Azarenka won a hard fought straight set battle over Serb Ana Ivanovic, a former world no. 1 herself, to reach the quarter finals of the WTA Mutua Madrd Open on Wednesday.
The 2008 French Open champion Ivanovic came out strong, leading 4-1 before Azarenka won five games in a row to win the set 6-4. Azarenka went up an early break in the second and held on in a marathon final game, a six-deuce 5-4 game where Ivanovic held three break points but Azarenka finally closed out for a 6-4 6-4 victory on her fourth match point.
“Ana started really strong and I was a little bit too slow and not really aggressive enough, but I knew I could turn it around,” Azarenka said in her post match interview. “I just needed to get a small opportunity, and that’s it. I just tried to stay in the moment and keep applying what wasn’t really working at the beginning. I just tried to do the same things but execute them better.”
“There are always times when you get frustrated, because not every day is perfect,” Azarenka commented. “You always have some obstacles to go through. But in other ways it’s exciting because you have to challenge yourself, not just in matches but in practice too. It makes it exciting to wake up every day.”
“”I had so many opportunities but I lost that game and then got down on myself,” Ivanovic said in the press room. “It was frustrating, because I just let it slip. I would feel a little bit better if at least she had earned it, but I kind of let it slip with a few unforced errors. I think that’s where the match probably turned around. For a lot of European players this is the nicest time of the year, because we play in such lovely cities,” she said. “It doesn’t get better than Madrid, Rome, Paris and London. It’s an amazing time and brings the best out of me. I also really enjoy playing on clay. So I’m excited for the next few weeks and I really feel like I played great matches here.
Azarenka will now meet regining French Open champion Li Na, who beat Angelique Kerber, 7-5 6-4.
US Open champion and no.5 seed Sam Stosur also reached the last eight beating Petra Cetkovska, 6-3 6-2.
In second round matches, journeywomen Lucie Hradecka scored the biggest win of her career, beating world no. 4 and defending champion Petra Kvitova 6-4 6-3.
“This one was a little bit strange because we are good friends, and we were even laughing with each other on the way to the court,” Hradecka commented. “I knew if I played strong and concentrated on my serve I had a chance to win. We played at the end of last year in some club matches and I won, and also we’ve played a lot of sparring games from Fed Cup. We know each other’s games pretty well.”
New world no. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska ended Sara Errani’s 16-match clay court winning streak with a 6-0 6-1 drubbing.
MUTUA MADRID OPEN
Madrid, Spain – Singles – Third Round
(1) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. (13) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) 6-4 6-4
(5) Samantha Stosur (AUS) d. Petra Cetkovska (CZE) 6-3 6-2
(8) Li Na (CHN) d. (12) Angelique Kerber (GER) 7-5 6-4
Singles – Second Round
(Q) Lucie Hradecka (CZE) d. (3) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 6-4 6-3
(4) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Sara Errani (ITA) 6-0 6-1
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. (16) Maria Kirilenko (RUS) 6-4 6-4
Roberta Vinci (ITA) d. Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 6-1 6-2