For the second time in less than a week, Victoria Azarenka beat a Williams sister. Last Thursday, the Belarussian toppled Serena in the US Open semifinals, today she ousted elder sister Venus from the Rome Masters 7-6(7), 6-2. It was a quick but successful turnaround from hard courts on Saturday to clay on Wednesday for Azarenka.
“Different surface was definitely challenging, but I feel like I adapted very well,” Azarenka said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, I knew I wasn’t going to play a perfect game today, but it was all about trying to find the right intention of what to do today. I think it worked out okay.”
“I felt that this was a great match for me to figure it out, the first match on clay,” she added. “Venus played a really good match, it was good to see her also adapting to clay, changing and trying different shots. So, I’m pretty happy.”
There’s no rest for Azarenka. Tomorrow she’ll meet Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the third round.
“It’s going to be an interesting match because Sonya’s been my doubles partner for the last two tournaments,” said Azarenka. “We know each other quite well.”
“She’s a great player, she’s obviously been playing exceptional this year,” she said. “I feel like I’m playing all these players I’ve lost to before, so I’m kind of given an opportunity to redeem myself.”
Simona Halep made a winning return dispatching Italian Jasmine Paolini 6-3, 6-4.
“I was a little bit tight at the beginning,” said Halep. “Actually, the whole match it was a little bit difficult to get the rhythm and to get relaxed. But the first match of the tournament is always tough and she played really well.
“Her forehand was strong but so was the backhand. It was tough to find out what to do because we had never played before.
“But I’m happy I could win the match. It was a very tough one.”
The former French Open champion will now meet Dayana Yastremska on Friday in the third round. Yastremska won one of the better matches of the day fighting off Amanda Anisimova 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-4.
Seeds Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina and Elise Mertens were also straight set winners on the day.
Thursday sees the return of teen Coco Gauff who continues her WTA-level clay event against 2016 French Open winner and 2-time Rome semifinalist Garbine Muguruza.
“It’s a good match, I’ve never played against her,” Muguruza said. “I’m looking forward to playing as many matches as possible. She’s playing great and she’s having a big breakthrough, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Anett Kontaveit and Marketa Vondrousova are also in action.
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