Venus Williams kept her perfect record against Victoria Azarenka alive on Thursday night, beating her at the Bank Of The West Classic. And on her birthday, too...
WTA Staff

STANFORD, CA, USA - In a dream match-up between former World No.1s, Venus Williams beat Victoria Azarenka in straight sets to reach the quarterfinals of the Bank Of The West Classic.

Watch highlights, interviews and more video from Stanford right here on!

Williams had beaten Azarenka in straight sets in all three of their previous meetings and history repeated itself again, as she battled an hour and 42 minutes to take a tight two-setter, 6-4, 7-6(1).

It could have been over before the tie-break - Williams broke to lead 5-3 in the second set, and after losing that lead she held double match point up 6-5 on Azarenka's serve later in the set - but the two ended up going to that tie-break, where Williams stormed out to a 5-0 lead and never looked back.

"Obviously it's always great to get a win against a player like Victoria, because she's a champion, so it feels good," Williams said afterwards. "But also she hasn't been playing as much. I think she's still looking for her range. A lot of the time she played some great points but sometimes she had some errors she wasn't expecting, and I think that'll just clear up for her the more matches she plays."

Next up for Williams is No.8 seed Andrea Petkovic, who won her second round match on Wednesday. Williams leads Petkovic in their head-to-head, 2-1, and Petkovic's one win did come via retirement

Earlier in the day, No.5 seed Ana Ivanovic cruised past Canadian qualifier Carol Zhao in 54 minutes, 6-1, 6-1, to set up an absolutely mouthwatering quarterfinal clash with No.1 seed Serena Williams.

This is the third time Williams and Ivanovic will play this year, Ivanovic winning at the Australian Open and Williams getting revenge in Rome. They've never played each other this much in one season.

"It's a good sign. It means we're getting further into the tournaments to play each other," Ivanovic said. "It's going to be a tough challenge, but at the same time it's a good test, because when you're starting out with a new coach it's good for them to see where you're at and what you have to work on."

Ivanovic's win over Zhao on Thursday was her WTA-leading 41st match win of the season.

With Thursday's win, Ivanovic also secures a return to the Top 10 on next week's WTA Rankings. She spent 108 career weeks in the elite between May 14, 2007 and June 7, 2009, including 12 weeks at No.1, but has been out of it for more than five years now - that will come to an end this Monday.

Williams leads Ivanovic in their overall head-to-head, 5-1.

The other two matches of the day saw No.3 seed Angelique Kerber grind past CoCo Vandeweghe, 7-6(4), 0-6, 6-2, and WTA Rising Star Garbiñe Muguruza beat Daniela Hantuchova, 6-4, 6-4.

Kerber beat Muguruza in the pair's only previous meeting.

Friday's other quarterfinal will be an all-American affair between Varvara Lepchenko and qualifier Sachia Vickery. The two countrywomen will be playing against each other for the first time.