Who is No. 1 this year? The rankings say Serena Williams. But the titles say Victoria Azarenka, who has won Brisbane and the difficult back-to-back Indian Wells and Miami.
Serena has zero titles this year in three tournaments.
While Williams withdrew from Madrid citing the “flu,” Azarenka on Monday improved her 2016 win-loss record to 26-1, beating Alize Cornet 6-3, 6-2 at the Mutua Madrid Open.
“I had two completely different type of players this week, and I’m adjusting pretty well,” Azarenka said of her week on the red clay in Madrid. “It’s just day by day progress, trying to get the game together…I feel that this year is going to be all about making progress and trying to improve, making errors but still improving.”
Azarenka, who appeared to be wrestling with some niggling injuries on Monday, will next face American teenage qualifier Louisa Chirico, who shocked former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic 5-7, 6-1, 6-3.
After the tournament lost its top two seeds on Monday, the topplings continued Tuesday as Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu beat No. 3 seed Garbine Muguruza on her home soil 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-3 to reach the third round.
“My coach told me I’m really close, and really playing well,” Begu said after asking for help using the WTA’s controversial on-court coaching during her match. “I just had to keep fighting for every ball, and that was the key…It’s tough to play a local player, and especially against Garbine, one of the best players. I was ready for this match, and I think that was the key as well.”
Begu will next meet American Christina McHale, who was a 7-6(3), 6-4 upset winner over No. 13 seed Karolina Pliskova.
Other upsets were Aussie Daria Gavrilova defeating No. 12 seed Elina Svitolina 6-2, 7-6(4), and Romanian qualifier Patricia Maria Tig topping No. 16 Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-3.
Gavrilova will next meet No. 5 seed Petra Kvitova, who was a 6-3, 6-3 winner over Russian qualifier Elena Vesnina. Tig will next face American Madison Keys, who defeated Barbora Strycova 6-3, 6-3.
“I’m glad that I had two matches with only two sets,” Kvitova said. “I didn’t really lost my serve so far, which is unbelievable.”
Among those in action on Tuesday in Madrid are No. 6 Simona Halep, No. 8 Carla Suarez Navarro vs. Sabine Lisicki, Dominika Cibulkova vs. Caroline Garcia, Sam Stosur vs. No. 11 Lucie Safarova, and (Q) Mirjana Lucic-Baroni vs. (Q) Laura Siegemund.
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