Radwanska Rises Up, Second Round Ends
Published March 09, 2013 12:00
The No.16-seeded Safarova was the first of the two to bow out, losing to Magdalena Rybarikova, 62 46 62. Safarova looked headed for a straight set defeat as she fell behind, 62 20, and faced a point for a 62 30 deficit; she lifted her game to take the second set, but Rybarikova regrouped in the third.
Stephens, the No.15 seed, followed Safarova to the sidelines in the feature night match, falling to Urszula Radwanska, 63 64. Radwanska actually held double match point leading 63 52, 40-15, and watched on as Stephens got two more games on the board - but Radwanska closed it out.
Both Rybarikova and Radwanska scored their ninth Top 20 wins. Both have Top 10 wins among those: Rybarikova has one, over a No.10-ranked Petra Kvitova at an ITF Circuit event in Prague in 2011; Radwanska has three, over a No.10-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska at Dubai in 2009, a No.8-ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova at Indian Wells in 2009 and a No.8-ranked Marion Bartoli at Brussels in 2012.
"I have to give her credit - I think she started really well," Azarenka said after the match. "It was my first match after a while, so it's always a little bit tricky, and she already had a match under her belt, plus she feels very good here, obviously winning two times before. So she caught me a little bit off guard. I needed a little bit of time to realize I'm in the tournament, that I have to step it up if I want to win.
"I started trying to make her hit out of her comfort zone, because in the beginning she was going for her shots and making incredible winners. But I changed the momentum and started to do that myself."
Azarenka had actually lost two of her three previous meetings with Hantuchova, one of the losses being a very famous loss at Doha in 2011, after which the Belarusian's career had a big turnaround.
"The last time I remember playing her was the match before I wanted to stop playing tennis," Azarenka said. "That match I don't even think about as a match-up. It was just an awful match-up for me.
"But she's a great player. We kind of have similar hitting zones, so when we hit to each other it's a little bit of a battle. But I can bring different things and made the right changes in today's match."
Elsewhere, No.11 seed Ana Ivanovic and No.24 seed Mona Barthel set up an intruguing third round clash, both winning second round matches in straight sets - Ivanovic beat American wildcard Taylor Townsend, 61 62, while Barthel had a little bit of a tougher second set, closing out Kiki Bertens, 61 64.
Barthel beat Ivanovic in their only previous encounter, blasting 11 aces in the process.
"We played one time in Stuttgart last year and I won it 7-6 and 7-5 or something - two close sets," Barthel said. "But of course she's an amazing player. She can play so well, and especially here - I think she won this tournament before. I'll have to play one of my best matches. It will be a tough one."
"I remember she hit a lot of aces on me!" Ivanovic said of the previous meeting. "She's having a great year. She has a big serve, but these courts are slower, so hopefully they'll absorb that a little bit."
Other winners later in the day were No.8 seed Caroline Wozniacki, who won a two-hour, 35-minute grinder against Alizé Cornet, 64 36 63, and No.29 seed Elena Vesnina, who was down 63 42 and a game away from losing at 63 54 but rallied to beat Japanese wildcard Kimiko Date-Krumm, 36 75 61.