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Azarenka advances at Miami Open

Azarenka advances at Miami Open
Victoria Azarenka returns a shot to Dominika Cibulkova during their Miami Open match.
Miami, Mar 21 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 3/21/2019 12:34:45 PM IST

Victoria Azarenka won an opening-round thriller at the WTA Miami Open, where wet weather caused more delays on Wednesday.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Azarenka outlasted Dominika Cibulkova before rain wreaked havoc again in Miami midweek.

While there was play, unlike Tuesday, Indian Wells Open winner and Canadian sensation Bianca Andreescu was unable to hit a ball.

Teenager Andreescu, 18, had made it out on court to face Irina-Camelia Begu when the rain started and eventually washed out play.

Azarenka has not won a singles title since the 2016 Miami Open, and survived a scare as she bids to win the event for a fourth time.

The former World No. 1, also a winner in south Florida in 2009 and 2011, needed three sets and two hours and 31 minutes to defeat Cibulkova 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, hitting 41 winners in a testing encounter.

Azarenka, looking to go one step further than last year, when her semifinal run marked her best post-maternity result, said: “She’s [Cibulkova] a very dangerous opponent, because no matter how many, she comes off confident or not confident against top players, she’s always bringing a little bit of a next level and good game.

“She’s a big fighter. So I knew it’s not going to be easy, for sure.”

Azarenka and Cibulkova’s duel was not the longest match of Wednesday, however, as Yulia Putintseva and Kirsten Flipkens played out an epic.

Putintseva lost the first set to the 2013 Wimbledon semifinalist but staged a fightback to prevail after just over three hours.

The Kazakh appeared poised for defeat when she trailed 5-3 in the decider, only to win four successive games to progress 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Meanwhile, Australian tennis star Samantha Stosur has progressed to the second round of the Miami Open after a first-up win over Russian Evgeniya Rodina.

Stosur triumphed 6-4 6-2 over Rodina in just over 90 minutes, hitting five aces and winning three quarters of all breakpoints.

The world No.78 will face American Madison Keys in the second round, with the victor likely to face Australian Ashleigh Barty.

She said it’d be a major challenge, having not played Keys since 2013, when she beat the world No.16 at Indian Wells and Osaka.

“We’ve both got a bit more experience than back then, she was pretty young when I played her last time,” the 34-year-old Stosur told reporters.

“She has a big game, big serve, big forehand.”


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