DOHA – Top seed and defending champion Victoria Azarenka scored a convincing 6-2, 6-3 victory over Switzerland’s Romina Oprandi on Wednesday to move into the third round of the Qatar Total Open.
Playing on a windswept Centre Court at the Khalifa Tennis Center, Azarenka had her serve broken in the opening game of the match and faced another break point in the third game that would have put her behind 3-0, before she turned the tables on Oprandi.
Azarenka, blasting away from the baseline and coming to the net on occasion, broke the 62nd-ranked Oprandi three straight times and proceeded to win six games in a row to take the first set.
The Belarusian picked up where she left off in the second set, racing to a 3-0 lead before Oprandi finally held serve after losing nine straight games.
The Swiss was able to hold serve in three consecutive games, but was sent packing by Azarenka in 1 hour, 11 minutes.
“It was a bit of a slow start for me. I started to go too much for my shots at the beginning,” said Azarenka. “Then I started to be more patient, work the points more. Romina is a bit of a tricky player. She plays so many different balls that you never know what to expect.”
Azarenka, who was playing her first match since winning her second straight Australian Open, acknowledged that she faces a formidable task if she hopes to win this tournament again.
“It’s the same field as in a Grand Slam here, so I’m really happy to play in this event but it will be tough,” she said.
Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland beat Russian qualifier Anastasia Rodionova 6-3, 6-2.
“The conditions today were not easy at all. It was really windy, and the wind changed every couple of minutes,” Radwanska commented. “It was very tricky. I’m just happy I could play good tennis in the important moment and finish the match in two sets.”
In other second-round action, sixth seed Sara Errani dispatched unseeded Timea Babos of Hungary 6-4, 6-0, while seventh seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic went through when Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova retired due to illness after losing the first set 6-4. Eighth seed Samantha Stosur of Australia bested Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, while ninth seed Marion Bartoli of France was ousted 6-4, 6-4 by unseeded Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia.
Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, the 10th seed, staved off four set points against Romania’s Sorana Cirstea in a first set tiebreaker, then romped to a 7-6 (9-7), 6-0 triumph.
Wozniacki felt that prevailing in the tiebreaker was dispiriting for Cirstea.
“I knew that I had to have a good start in the second set, and then once I had that, I could see that she maybe lost a little bit of the belief in it,” she said.
Eleventh seed Nadia Petrova dropped the opening set to Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei before rallying to a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory.
Former world No.1 Ana Ivanovic, the 13th seed, moved into the third round after Romania’s Simona Halep retired with a lower back injury after losing the first set 6-3.
Sloane Stephens, coming off a quarterfinal victory over Serena Williams at the Australian Open, was bounced in her second-round match. The 16th-seeded American teen was beaten by Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5).
Stephens had a match point in the second set, but was unable to capitalize on it.