Wimbledon Wednesday: Vika Back On Court
Published June 25, 2013 12:00
LONDON, England - Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova could meet in the Wimbledon semifinals in over a week, but they still have several hurdles in front of them - starting with second round foes on Wednesday.
Wednesday, Second Round
 Victoria Azarenka (BLR #2) vs. Flavia Pennetta (ITA #166)
Head-to-head: tied 1-1
Victoria Azarenka's recovery from a right knee injury will be one of the storylines of the second round. After suffering the injury during a fall in the first round on Monday, the Belarusian was treated on court and went on to victory, but will pain linger two days later? A clash with Flavia Pennetta will help answer that question.
Pennetta has dealt with her own injury concerns recently, as right wrist surgery kept her sidelined for a big chunk of 2012. Despite quite a few early round losses in 2013, the former Top 10 player reached the semifinals of Strasbourg last month - her best result in over a year. She is looking for her fourth win over Top 2 players, having beaten No.1 Jelena Jankovic at Zürich in 2008, No.1 Caroline Wozniacki at Beijing in 2011 and No.2 Vera Zvonareva at Sydney in 2011. Azarenka and Pennetta have split their two meetings, with this being their first tilt on grass.
 Maria Sharapova (RUS #3) vs. [Q] Michelle Larcher de Brito (POR #131)
Head-to-head: first meeting
Maria Sharapova has to like her chances for recording her 150th Grand Slam match win against Michelle Larcher de Brito. Not only has the 2004 Wimbledon champion not been defeated by a player outside the Top 20 since February 2012, but she is 33-2 at Grand Slams against players outside the Top 100 - with the last such loss occurring here five years ago. Though Sharapova endured a challenge from Kristina Mladenovic in the first round on Monday, the Frenchwoman is ranked almost 100 spots higher than Larcher de Brito.
An upset would tie Larcher de Brito for her best Grand Slam result, a third round showing at Roland Garros in 2009. She has three wins against Top 20 opponents, but none against Top 5 opponents. However, she did extend two of those matches to three sets, one of which came versus Williams at Stanford in 2008. Larcher de Brito should be used to the grass at the All-England Club, as she won three matches in Wimbledon qualifying before surviving a tight first round clash against Melanie Oudin.
 Sloane Stephens (USA #17) vs. [WC] Andrea Petkovic (GER #76)
Head-to-head: Petkovic leads 1-0
Sloane Stephens and Andrea Petkovic are both on a comeback trail of sorts recently. After a splendid start to the year that saw her upset Williams en route to the Australian Open semifinals, Stephens did not reach a quarterfinal in her next seven events. However, she righted the ship with a quarterfinal appearance in Brussels and a fourth round showing at the French Open. And despite a tough first round draw here in the form of World No.25 Jamie Hampton, Stephens had a relatively easy time with her fellow American.
As for Petkovic, after an injury-marred 2012, she saw her ranking fall as low as No.177 in March. But she has flashed her former Top 10 form this month in winning an ITF Women's Circuit event in Marseille and reaching the final of the WTA event in Nürnberg. And now she is looking to take advantage of the Wimbledon wildcard she received by matching her best result here - a third round showing in 2011. Petkovic dropped three games in her one previous encounter with Stephens, who was ranked just No.131 at the time but is now No.17.