Azarenka battles through at Indian Wells


World tennis No. 1 Victoria Azarenka survived an opening-match scare, outlasting Mona Barthel 6-4, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (8/6) in a marathon centre court contest at the Indian Wells tournament Friday night.

She arrived in Indian Wells riding a 17-0 match win streak and having reached the final of her last five tournaments, but the unseeded German made her work to keep that win streak alive on Friday.”It was a survival,” Azarenka said.

“She had nothing to lose and I wanted to go for my shots but I didn’t go for my shots so I hesitated.”Today my game was not at its best but the most important thing is I won”.

“This was the third time Azarenka and Barthel had locked horns this season. Azarenka beat Barthel 6-2, 6-4 en route to the Australian Open title in January and 6-1, 6-0 last month in Doha before their three-hour marathon on Friday.

“Mona was real motivated to beat me. She played great,” Azarenka said.Azarenka clinched the match on her second match point of the tie-breaker after rallying from a four games to one deficit in the third set.Earlier in the tie-breaker Azarenka allowed Barthel to level it at 4-4 when the top seed delivered her 12th double fault of the match.

Azarenka, who claimed her first Grand Slam title at the Aussie Open, moved into the third round, where she will face Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Russian advanced after Swiss Timea Bacsinszky pulled out of their match with a wrist injury.Azarenka, who withdrew from the WTA event in Dubai last month with an ankle injury, won despite struggling on her serve. She pulled out of Indian Wells last year with an injury in the middle of her quarter-final match against Caroline Wozniacki.She double faulted eight times in the third set and won just 62 percent of her first serve points overall compared to 68 percent for Barthel.

Related News

Barthel, who is ranked 37th in the world, had her finest moments in the second set and was serving for the set at one point in the third. She lost the first set 6-4 then forced a tiebreaker after being down 5-1 in the second.The 21-year-old Barthel said having played Azarenka twice earlier this season made her realize that she could eventually beat her.”It was difficult serving for the match against the world number one,”
Barthel said. “I am sad I couldn’t win, but I will get another chance.”

Barthel possesses an aggressive return game and moves quickly around the court for a 1.85 metre (6ft 1in) tall player. She also stepped up her play with precision groundstrokes on the big points Friday.”This year I have improved a lot. I am just trying to get used to the tour. Everything is new for me. I just want to see where I am at the end of the year,” Barthel said.

Former Indian Wells winner Jelena Jankovic became the first seed to crash out Friday, losing in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 to world No. 99 Jamie Hampton.The 12th seeded Jankovic blamed her second round loss on fatigue, especially being jet lagged after flying all the way from southeast Asia and arriving in the California desert on Monday night.”Today I was a shadow of myself,” Jankovic said. “I didn’t feel like I did anything right.

Jankovic, who won the Indian Wells title two years ago, reached the semi-finals at the Kuala Lumpur tournament last week before heading to the United States.”I am feeling jet lagged and have some allergies here and there,” she said. “I went on court and I expected much more from myself, but it didn’t happen.”The 22-year-old Hampton fired three aces, including one in the final game of the match to go ahead, 30-0. She clinched the win when Jankovic pushed a forehand wide, ending the 89 minute match on centre court.Jankovic survived two match points but couldn’t overcome a 40-0 deficit in the final game, bowing out on the third match point.In other early second round WTA matches on Friday, 14th seeded Julia Goerges of Germany beat Elena Baltacha of Britain 6-3, 6-2, China’s Zheng Jie routed Michaella Krajicek 6-1, 6-3 and American Christina McHale defeated Russia’s Elena Vesnina 6-3, 7-5.

On the men’s side, Germany’s Tommy Haas won his first round match over Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 7-6 (11/9), 6-4 and Marcos Baghdatis beat Jeremy Chardy of France 6-3, 6-4.Argentine David Nalbandian beat Polito Starace of Italy 7-6 (7/4), 6-0 and France’s Michael Llodra defeated Latvian Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (7/3).

Load more