ACAPULCO, Mexico -- Former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus notched another straightforward victory at the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL presentado por HSBC on Wednesday, dispatching Germany’s Tatjana Maria, 6-2, 6-1, in their second-round encounter.
"Physically, I feel like my movement is starting to pick up," Azarenka told the press, after the match. "My execution and the timing of that was not there, so it made it look kind of inefficient, and now it’s a little bit put more together and more efficient. So I’m happy with the direction that I’m going."
World No.50 Azarenka claimed a 64-minute win over No.2 seed Danielle Collins in the opening round on Tuesday, and her first meeting with Maria was also quite smooth, as the two-time Australian Open champion needed just 84 minutes to move into the quarterfinals.
Azarenka had 20 winners to just 10 for Maria, while the 69th-ranked German was also undone by 28 unforced errors during the match. Maria, who won her first WTA singles title last season in Mallorca, could only convert one of her three break points, while Azarenka clinched six service breaks on her way to a convincing win.
— WTA (@WTA) February 28, 2019
In her first quarterfinal showing of the 2019 season, Azarenka will meet either 5th-seeded American Sofia Kenin or Katie Boulter of Great Britain, who play each other in the second round later on Wednesday evening.
"I’ve never played either one of them," said Azarenka. "I actually practiced with Boulter before this tournament, so [I have] a little bit of understanding of her game. But both of them are young, both of them will play with nothing to lose, without that much pressure, so it makes a dangerous opponent."
Maria started the match well, using incredible defense to lull Azarenka into unforced errors. The German was up a break, leading 2-0, and had three points to hold for 3-0. But Azarenka was able to use aggressive play to reach three break points in that game as well, and on the third, Maria double faulted to allow Azarenka back on serve.
The Belarusian did not look back in the first set from there. Azarenka opened the court with groundstroke winners from both sides as she picked off five games in a row. She garnered a third consecutive service break to lead 5-2 by demonstrating exceptional defense to extend a rally before finishing it off with a forehand passing winner.
— WTA (@WTA) February 28, 2019
With Azarenka serving for the opening frame, Maria saved a set point with a powerful forehand, then used a crosscourt return winner from that wing to reach break point. But two of the German’s returns went awry, setting Azarenka up with a second set point, which the Belarusian converted following a miscue long by Maria.
Maria fended off two break points in the opening game of the second set, but that would be the lone game she would win during that timeframe. Azarenka was untested on serve in the set, losing only three of her 15 service points, and was equally productive on return, taking nearly two-thirds of points when Maria needed to play a second serve.
Indeed, just as in the first set, Azarenka put together three consecutive breaks of serve, converting her first match point with a stunning crosscourt return to force an error and complete a six-game run, thereby racing into the final eight in Mexico.