Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Federer's streak ends; Azarenka survives

   One winning streak ended Monday, and another should have.
   No. 31 seed Andy Roddick ousted No. 3 Roger Federer 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-4 in the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Fla., and No. 1 Victoria Azarenka pulled out a 1-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5 victory over Dominika Cibulkova in the round of 16.
   Roddick snapped Federer's 16-match winning streak, which included titles in Rotterdam, Dubai and Indian Wells. Azarenka, who trailed 6-1, 4-0 and survived a match point, improved to 26-0 this year.
   Roddick, Federer and Azarenka are two-time champions in Key Biscayne. Azarenka and her top-ranked male counterpart, Novak Djokovic, won last year's titles.
   Roddick beat Federer for only the third time in 24 meetings and the second time in Key Biscayne.
   "It was kind of a game of chess," Roddick, a three-time SAP Open champion in San Jose, told reporters. "I stayed back on the returns, which is something I have not done with him often early on. I think he might have been a little bit surprised by it. He made the adjustment like he does because he's Roger. He started coming in a lot and putting the pressure on me, and it was 6-1 in the second and 0-40 early in the third. It was apparent that that wasn't going to work much longer.
   "So I said, 'Well, all right. Let's kind of go over-the-top aggressive.' I was able to get out of that game and play that really good game to break, and then my serve held up from there."
   In the round of 16, Roddick will meet 21st-seeded Juan Monaco, who beat 14th-seeded Gael Monfils 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
   Cibulkova, from Slovakia, also blew a 6-3, 3-1 lead against Azarenka in the third round of last year's Sony Ericsson Open. On Monday, Cibulkova repeatedly ripped forehand winners to build a commanding lead but double-faulted at critical times and missed a forehand on match point.
   "It kind of felt like she closed her eyes and just went for everything, and me, I couldn't open my eyes," said Azarenka, the Bank of the West champion at Stanford  in 2010 in singles and last year in doubles with Maria Kirilenko. "I was blinded a little bit. But my coach came to the court, kicked me a little bit that I had to at least try to change something, because it was like a snowball ... But it was more about fighting in my heart today rather than any shot. I definitely wasn't thinking about the streak."
   Azarenka, who will meet seventh-seeded Marion Bartoli in the quarterfinals, is coming off her first Indian Wells title. In that tournament, she overcame a third-set deficit of 4-1 against Mona Barthel of Germany in the second round.
   Eighth-seeded Mardy Fish of the Sacramento Capitals in World TeamTennis dispatched 28th-seeded Kevin Anderson, a 6-foot-8 South African, 6-4, 6-3 in the third round at Key Biscayne. Fish next faces 12th-seeded Nicolas Almagro of Spain.
   In the second round of men's doubles, ex-Stanford star Scott Lipsky and Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico lost to Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia 6-0, 6-3.

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