Thursday, July 31, 2014

Venus tops Azarenka in Bank of the West

Venus Williams, shown on Tuesday in the first round of
the Bank of the West Classic, has never lost a set in four
matches against Victoria Azarenka. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Even in the best of times, Victoria Azarenka has trouble with Venus Williams.
   Azarenka certainly isn't alone in that sense. Furthermore, these aren't the best of times for her.
   Williams extended her mastery over Azarenka with a 6-4, 7-6 (1) victory tonight to reach the quarterfinals of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
   Williams, 34, has never lost a set in four matches against Azarenka, all on hardcourts.
    Williams and Azarenka are both former top-ranked players, multiple Grand Slam singles champions (seven titles for Williams; two for Azarenka) and past Bank of the West titlists (Williams in 2000 and 2010; Azarenka in 2010).
   Both also have battled health issues.
   Williams, 34, was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, an energy-sapping autoimmune disease for which there is no known cure, in 2011.
   Azarenka, who turned 25 today, has missed most of this year with a left foot injury. The Belarusian has won one match in four tournaments since advancing to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, which she won in 2012 and 2013, in January. She was seeded fourth in the Bank of the West Classic at No. 10 in the world.
    "I think she's still looking for her range," Williams, a wild card ranked 25th, said on "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."
   Williams will take on eighth-seeded Andrea Petkovic, a free-spirited German playing in the Bank of the West Classic for the first time this year, on Friday not before 4 p.m.
   In the featured night match, top-ranked Serena Williams will meet fifth-seeded Ana Ivanovic at 8 p.m.
   Williams is 5-1 against Ivanovic, who's ranked 11th but will  return to the top 10 for the first time since May 2009 on Monday.
   This will be their third meeting of the year. Ivanovic won in the fourth round of the Australian Open on a hardcourt, and Williams gained revenge in the semifinals at Rome on clay in May.
   The day session will start at noon with third-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany facing Garbine Muguruza of Spain, followed by unseeded Varvara Lepchenko against 19-year-old qualifier Sachia Vickery in an all-American matchup. 
   Kerber outlasted American CoCo Vandeweghe, the 2012 runner-up to Serena Williams at Stanford as a lucky loser, 7-6 (4), 0-6, 6-2.
   Ivanovic, another former world No. 1 and Grand Slam singles champion (2008 French Open), dispatched qualifier Carol Zhao, a Stanford sophomore from Canada, 6-1, 6-1.
   Muguruza, 20, eliminated 31-year-old Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-4. Muguruza reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal in this year's French Open, routing Serena Williams 6-2, 6-2 in the second round.
At Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Center
Second-round singles
   Garbine Muguruza, Spain, def. Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia, 6-4, 6-4.
   Angelique Kerber (3), Germany, def. CoCo Vandeweghe, United States, 7-6 (4), 0-6, 6-2.
   Ana Ivanovic (5), Serbia, def. Carol Zhao, Canada, 6-1, 6-1.
   Venus Williams, United States, def. Victoria Azarenka (4), Belarus, 6-4, 7-6 (1).
Doubles quarterfinals
   Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears (1), United States, def. Varvara Lepchenko, United States, and Ajla Tomljanovic, Croatia, 7-6 (6), 6-1.
Friday's schedule
(Starting at noon)
   Angelique Kerber (3), Germany, vs. Garbine Muguruza, Spain.
   Varvara Lepchenko, United States, vs. Sachia Vickery, United States.
(Not before 4 p.m.)
   Venus Williams, United States, vs. Andrea Petkovic (8), Germany.
(Not before 8 p.m.)
   Serena Williams (1), United States, vs. Ana Ivanovic (5), Serbia.
   Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia, and Arantxa Parra Santonja, Spain, vs. Paula Kania, Poland, and Katerina Siniakova, Czech Republic. 

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