Azarenka recovers from sluggish start

ESPN staff
March 10, 2013
Victoria Azarenka is the defending champion © AP

Top seed and reigning champion Victoria Azarenka overcame a 4-1 deficit in the first set to beat two-time champion Daniela Hantuchova 6-4 6-1 in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday.

Azarenka was sluggish in the opening stages of her clash with Hantuchova, but she suddenly became inspired - rattling off 12 of the next 13 games to put the match to bed. Victory ensures she remains unbeaten in 2013.

"First-round matches are never easy and Daniela is such a great player," Azarenka said. "She started really well. It was my first match after a while, so it's always a little bit tricky.

"She already had a match under her belt, plus I think she really feels very good here, winning two times before. So it caught me a little bit off guard. I needed a bit of time to realise ... that I had to step it up if I want to win the match."

Azarenka will now face Kirsten Flipkens in round three, after the Belgian scraped past Romania's Monica Niculescu 4-6 6-4 6-3.

Seventh seed Samantha Stosur earned a 6-3 6-4 win over American wildcard Madison Keys. Stosur was able to break once in either set to advance.

Caroline Wozniacki, the eighth seed, did not have it so easy against Alize Cornet, eventually triumphing 6-4 3-6 6-3, while Ana Ivanovic dominated American wildcard Taylor Townsend 6-1 6-2. Ivanovic is a previous winner of the event back in 2008.

Elsewhere, fourth seed Angelique Kerber beat Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 6-3 6-2 and No. 10 seed Nadia Petrova of Russia overcame Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland 6-2 6-3.

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