Azarenka Begins Title Defence In Style; Wozniacki Tested; Henin Impresses
Defending champion Victoria Azarenka made a strong start to her 2010 Sony Ericsson Open campaign Friday with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Alexandra Dulgheru before heavy rain interrupted other matches.
Fourth-seeded Azarenka, 20, improved to 13-4 on the year with her victory over the 20-year-old qualifier. Azarenka is seeded to meet US Open champion Kim Clijsters in the fourth round.
In the feature night match, unseeded former World No. 1 Justine Henin confirmed her status as the most dangerous floater in the women's draw after dismissing fifth seed Elena Dementieva 6-3, 6-2 on Friday night. Henin, who also took out the Russian in the second round of the Australian Open this year, improved to 11-2 lifetime against Dementieva. A Miami quarter-finalist in 2007, Henin has now won 13 of 16 matches in her comeback season.
Henin next faces Slovak Dominika Cibulkova, who dispatched Swede Sofia Arvidsson 6-0, 6-2.
“It was not as hard as it was in Australia, but I'm very happy the way I've played very consistent tennis tonight. I wanted this victory a lot, and I've been very - I mean, 69% of first serve is quite unusual for myself, so I really take it as something positive," Henin said.
“I've been aggressive, I went to the net, I took the opportunity, so I am very happy the way I played. And to beat, I mean, top 10 players again, it is of course a lot of confidence.
“I was ready for a really tough fight, and I was a bit scared of this match, of course, because I knew it was tough draw to play Dementieva in the second round. But I like this kind of challenge, and I really took it as something I would push myself to be better on the court than I've been the last few weeks. So I think it was a good opportunity for myself."
Seventh seed and newly crowned Indian Wells champion Jelena Jankovic enjoyed a 6-4, 6-0 win over Ukraine qualifier Mariya Koryttseva. A runner-up at Key Biscayne in 2008, the Serb former World No. 1 is looking to become just the third player to complete the Indian Wells-Miami double in the same year (Graf 1994 and ’96 and Clijsters 2005).
Second seed Caroline Wozniacki dug herself out of a deep hole to advance to the third round. The 2009 US Open finalist trailed Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 3-6, 1-3 before rallying to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Reigning US Open champion Kim Clijsters, who saw her match bumped off center court due to rain, found Court 1 to her liking. The Belgian clipped Czech Petra Kvitova 6-1, 6-1 to move to within one match of a potential fourth-round meeting with Azarenka.
Clijsters, already back at No. 16 in the rankings despite being less than one year into her comeback, took the Miami title in 2005 when she became the only unseeded champion in tournament history.
Clijsters said that the move to Court 1 was fine by her. “I like playing on smaller courts, too. I like playing night matches. Even with a court like this it doesn't bother me at all. I was just waiting for the people to turn the lights on in the beginning of the match because it was getting really dark. I think I was only at 4-love or 4-1 when they turned them on.”
Standing in Clijster’s way to the fourth round is Israeli No. 17 seed Shahar Peer, who had a crushing 6-1, 6-0 win over Russian Alla Kudryavtseva in just a tick under 45 minutes.
Ninth-seeded Australian Samantha Stosur overcame the service yips and a one-set deficit to defeat Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 4-6, 7-5, 6-2. Stosur threw in seven double faults and faced 15 break points. She was broken five times but did enough in the end to get the win in 2 hrs., 10 mins.
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