Ivanovic Wins, Sets Up Azarenka Showdown
Published May 08, 2012 12:00
MADRID, Spain - The Top 2 players in the world were made to work hard in their second round matches at the Mutua Madrid Open on Tuesday, and for both of them the difficulty level will only go higher in the third round.
Victoria Azarenka had the tougher battle of the Top 2, originally leading by 63 53 but having to fend off a set point and go to a tie-break to close out Czech qualifier Andrea Hlavackova in a hard-hitting straight-setter, 63 76(2).
"I feel like I lost a little bit of my concentration," Azarenka said of the end of the match. "I don't think I adjusted well to some of the obstacles that happened, but I'm glad I could turn it around pretty quickly and finish the match. Sometimes you can have those rollercoasters and Andrea is one of those players who doesn't give you a rhythm - I'm glad I finished it, and there's room to improve."
"It was a great first set - Nadia started really well, and I didn't do much wrong either," Ivanovic said. "In the second set I started serving better and putting more pressure on her with my forehand, which I think was the big difference.
"I love clay. I grew up on it. The blue clay is a little more slippery, but it's the same for everyone, so you just have to stay focused as usual."
Ivanovic leads Azarenka in their head-to-head, 2-1, winning their last two meetings. But Azarenka was never ranked higher than No.9 in any of those.
"Vika has been playing extremely well lately, and it's a challenge for anyone against her," Ivanovic said. "When I saw the draw I really wanted to get to this round and challenge myself against the World No.1. I hope I can bring the same level as I did today. I'm going to compete and we'll see how it goes."
Ivanovic is 1-7 in her career against reigning World No.1s, although the one win did come via retirement, against Maria Sharapova at Tokyo back in 2007.
Speaking of Sharapova, the No.2-seeded Russian lost serve twice but broke five times to win under the roof against another Czech, Klara Zakopalova, 64 63.
"The good thing about indoors is you pretty much know what you're going to get in terms of the conditions," Sharapova said after the match. "You don't have to worry about the wind or anything, so it's a plus that with this ever-changing weather we could have the roof. We actually didn't know until the last minute if it was going to be open or closed - but you just try to focus on what's ahead."
Next for Sharapova is another Czech, Lucie Safarova, who held all 10 of her service games and broke once per set to beat Spanish wildcard Carla Suárez Navarro, 63 64. Suárez Navarro beat No.15 seed Jelena Jankovic Monday.
Safarova beat Sharapova in their only previous encounter, and a very relevant one too - a straight set win in the first round right here two years ago.