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Li Conquers Kerber, Azarenka Awaits In QFs

Li Na, Victoria Azarenka and Sam Stosur became the first three into the quarterfinals Wednesday.

Published May 09, 2012 12:00

Li Conquers Kerber, Azarenka Awaits In QFs
Li Na

MADRID, Spain - Saying afterwards she was living in the moment and knew she could turn it around, World No.1 Victoria Azarenka weathered some serious storms from Ana Ivanovic at the Mutua Madrid Open, toughing out a close straight set win against the former No.1 to reach the quarterfinals.

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The No.13-seeded Ivanovic came out very strong, winning 21 of the first 27 points en route to a 4-1 lead. But there's a reason why Azarenka has won more matches than anyone this year: she weathers those storms like no one else.

"Ana started really strong and I was a little bit too slow and not really aggressive enough, but I knew I could turn it around," Azarenka reflected afterwards. "I just needed to get a small opportunity, and that's it. I just tried to stay in the moment and keep applying what wasn't really working at the beginning.

"I just tried to do the same things but execute them better."

Azarenka did just that and won seven games in a row, only one of them even going to deuce, and 1-4 turned into 64 20. She was never behind again and, after a six-deuce 5-4 game where Ivanovic held three break points, Azarenka finally closed out an electric 64 64 victory on her fourth match point.

"There are always times when you get frustrated, because not every day is perfect," Azarenka said. "You always have some obstacles to go through. But in other ways it's exciting because you have to challenge yourself, not just in matches but in practice too. It makes it exciting to wake up every day."

Ivanovic pointed to the first set turnaround as a gamechanger in the match. "I had so many opportunities but I lost that game and then got down on myself," Ivanovic commented. "It was frustrating, because I just let it slip. I would feel a little bit better if at least she had earned it, but I kind of let it slip with a few unforced errors. I think that's where the match probably turned around."

But there is still a bright side for Ivanovic. "For a lot of European players this is the nicest time of the year, because we play in such lovely cities," she said. "It doesn't get better than Madrid, Rome, Paris and London. It's an amazing time and brings the best out of me. I also really enjoy playing on clay. So I'm excited for the next few weeks and I really feel like I played great matches here.

"I want to take a lot of positive things from this and try to build from today and just try to get my act together for the even bigger ones."

Awaiting the No.1-seeded Azarenka in the quarterfinals will be the No.8 seed, Li Na, who avenged a defeat from Indian Wells by beating No.12 seed Angelique Kerber, 75 64. Li got the only break of the first set in the very last game, then rallied from 3-1 down in the second set to put the German lefty away.

Li leads Azarenka in their head-to-head, 4-3, though Azarenka has won their last two meetings. Li did win their only clay court meeting in straight sets.

The only other player to move through to the quarterfinals was No.5 seed Sam Stosur, who beat Petra Cetkovska, 63 62. She will next play the winner of Thursday's match between Ekaterina Makarova and Lucie Hradecka.

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