Azarenka beats Cornet to advance to 3rd round in Madrid
MADRID — Fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka continued her fine form, beating Alize Cornet 6-3, 6-2 to win her 16th straight match and advance to the third round of the Madrid Masters on Monday.
Azarenka, seeking her third consecutive title, broke Cornet’s serve five times to maintain her winning streak. The fifth-ranked Belarusian saved seven of the eight break points she conceded to her French opponent at the clay-court tournament.
In the men’s draw, Frenchmen Richard Gasquet, Gilles Simon and Lucas Pouille advanced to the second round, along with local favorite Feliciano Lopez and 11th-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic.
Azarenka has not lost since the second round at Acapulco in February. The two-time Australian Open champion won tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami heading into Madrid.
“I feel that this year is going to be all about making progress and trying to improve, making errors but still improving,” Azarenka said. “It’s just day by day progress, trying to get the game together.”
The 48th-ranked Cornet has failed to advance past the second round in her last five tournaments since winning the title in Hobart in January.
Azarenka next faces 130th-ranked American Louisa Chirico, a 19-year-old qualifier who upset 14th-seeded Ana Ivanovic 5-7, 6-1, 6-3.
Defending champion Petra Kvitova reached the third round with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Russian qualifier Elena Vesnina, the finalist at Charleston in April. Kvitova will next face Australian Daria Gavrilova, who upset 12th-seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina 6-2, 7-6 (4).
Two other Americans advanced to the third round: Christina McHale topped 13th-seeded Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (3), 6-4 and Madison Keys eliminated Barbora Strycova 6-3, 6-3. Sixteenth-seeded Sloane Stephens fell to qualifier Patricia Maria Tig of Romania 6-2, 6-3.
Gasquet, the No. 10 seed in the men’s draw, beat qualifier Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1, 7-6 (5), while 11th-seeded Raonic defeated Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci 7-6 (4), 6-1, and 16th-seeded Simon got past Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in nearly 2 1/2 hours. Lopez edged Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4 behind 14 aces, while French qualifier Pouille saved four match points to defeat 12th-seeded David Goffin of Belgium 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (7) in a thriller.
The 34-year-old Lopez, a Madrid resident, has participated in every singles draw in the tournament’s 15-year history.
“I’m a very fortunate player. I didn’t think to be able to play so many years and have such a long career. I feel very proud and fortunate to be able to still be competitive with my age,” Lopez said. “It’s been 15 great years with a lot of the matches and things to remember.”
Earlier Monday, third-seeded Roger Federer announced he was withdrawing from the tournament because of a back injury. Rafael Nadal debuts on Tuesday.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.