Former champion Victoria Azarenka was victorious Wednesday in Miami. The 2-time champion breezed past Sílvia Soler-Espinosa 6-1, 6-3 in the first round of the event she won twice in 2009 and 2011.
“It’s been unfortunate the last couple of years for me, but I love this tournament,” Azarenka said. “You know, the field is very strong for me all the time. I’m just happy to play anywhere I can.
“Coming back to a place where I have a lot of memories, it’s always nice,” she said. “I’m just looking forward to build my momentum here again and try to play as many matches as possible, but really to improve my level.”
Azarenka next faces Indian Wells finalist Jelena Jankovic on Friday.
Another former Top 10 player is also making a comeback this week. Former Slam semifinalist Nicolas Vaidisova continued her return to tennis defeating Hungarian qualifier Timea Babos, 6-1, 7-6(4), for her first WTA-level match win since beating Laura Granville at Memphis in 2010.
“It’s been a long time,” Vaidisova said. “I’m excited to get such a good win under my belt.”
Vaidisova, still only 25, takes on Indian Wells champion Simona Halep in the next round.
“I’ll take it as an opportunity,” Vaidisova said. “Obviously I’ve never played her – I don’t think she was around back then. But she’s having an awesome season and she’s just a great player.”
Sloane Stephens and Belinda Bencic were among the other winners in the women’s draw.
The men opened first round play with three prominent American men advancing as Sam Querrey, Jack Sock and Donald Young all advanced. Dominic Thiem also got through as did 18-year-old Korean sensation Hyeon Chung who his first career ATP matching beating Marcel Granollers.
On Thursday, Juan Martin del Potro makes his masters return along with Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams and Lleyton Hewitt.
THURSDAY MIAMI SCHEDULE
STADIUM start 11:00 am
WTA –  A. Radwanska (POL) vs A. Schmiedlova (SVK)
ATP – M. Baghdatis (CYP) vs S. Bolelli (ITA)
ATP – V. Pospisil (CAN) vs [PR] J. Del Potro (ARG)
Not Before 5:00 pm
WTA –  V. Williams (USA) vs [Q] U. Radwanska (POL)
Not Before 7:30 pm
WTA – [WC] D. Gavrilova (RUS) vs  M. Sharapova (RUS)
Not Before 9:00 pm
ATP – L. Hewitt (AUS) vs T. Bellucci (BRA)
GRANDSTAND start 10:50 am
ATP – A. Golubev (KAZ) vs M. Youzhny (RUS)
ATP – A. Haider-Maurer (AUT) vs B. Coric (CRO)
WTA – M. Brengle (USA) vs  C. Wozniacki (DEN)
ATP – R. Berankis (LTU) vs A. Dolgopolov (UKR)
Not Before 5:00 pm
ATP – [WC] R. Harrison (USA) vs J. Melzer (AUT)
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