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Azarenka Plays Catch-Up, Kvitova Rallies

Victoria Azarenka had to wait until Day 4 of the tournament to play but when she finally did, there was no stopping her. Petra Kvitova regrouped to beat a former Top 15 player - who was it?

Published May 29, 2013 12:01

Azarenka Plays Catch-Up, Kvitova Rallies
Victoria Azarenka

PARIS, France - After getting washed out on Tuesday, Victoria Azarenka swept through her first match on Wednesday, stumbling a little bit early in the second set but still moving on in straight sets.

After having to wait until the fourth day of play, the No.3-seeded Azarenka finally got on the court and came out firing against Elena Vesnina, building a 61 31 lead; Vesnina broke back and caught up to 3-all in the second set but Azarenka closed the match out anyway just a few games later, 61 64.

"It was important to finally start the tournament. I felt like I was one of the last ones to start," Azarenka said. "It was a long wait, but I think performance-wise, it was a good match. It was a quality match. Elena is a very tough opponent, and I was actually surprised she wasn't seeded at the tournament. And we actually know each other pretty well, so it was important to start right away from the beginning with determination and good focus, because she's a very dangerous opponent with a very flashy game.

"I'm glad that I could maintain my level and improve when I needed to today."

So what did Azarenka do all day on Tuesday?

"Well I knew the weather wasn't going to be good. So I took a chance and came here in the morning to hit, to make sure at least I got a good warm-up. So it was lucky I had a court and I got a hit in.

"I went back and was just chilling the rest of the day, watching The Voice. It was incredible. I was so entertained. I watched some parts of the matches too, when it was on. And then I got cancelled pretty early, so I could kind of regroup and get focused. I knew I would definitely be playing the first match, so no matter what I had to be ready at 11 o'clock. It made it a little bit easier to prepare for it."

On the subject of The Voice, the World No.3 is throwing her support to one singer in particular.

"There's this girl, her name is Judith, she was a duet singer with Michael Jackson. She's absolutely incredible. I have no idea how sound like that can come out of somebody's mouth. It's just - wow."

Another marquee name whose first round match got bumped was No.7 seed Petra Kvitova, who survived Aravane Rezai, 63 46 62. Rezai was starting to look like the player who went as high as No.15 in the world a few years ago as she took the second set and broke in the first game of the third, but Kvitova found her range again and won six of the last seven games to finish the French wildcard off.

"I knew going into the match it was going to be tough," Rezai said afterwards. "She plays very well - she has a lot of strengths in her game and she's so powerful. It was like playing a mirror - she plays pretty much like me, hitting the ball pretty flat. What separated us were our winners and errors. I was fighting as hard as I could but I just couldn't make it today, especially in the most important moments.

"I'm far from where I was before - I have a lot of work to do - but in terms of groundstrokes and just striking the ball, there wasn't much separating me from the No.7 player in the world. I just need to work on a lot of things right now - serve, physical things - and I'm hoping I can get back up there."

The other seeds in action had mixed results, with No.12 seed Maria Kirilenko cruising past Nina Bratchikova, 60 61, but No.23 seed Klara Zakopalova falling to Kaia Kanepi, 76(3) 62, and No.25 seed Lucie Safarova losing to Jamie Hampton, 76(5) 36 97, despite serving for the match at 7-6 third set.

Other winners were Peng Shuai, Stefanie Voegele, Annika Beck, Slovak qualifier Anna Schmiedlova and Australian wildcard Ashleigh Barty. The 17-year-old Barty got her first Grand Slam match win.

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