Azarenka marches on

- Agence France-Presse, LONDON

Jul 6, 2017-

New mum Victoria Azarenka continued her comeback bid for Wimbledon glory on Wednesday winning her second round match.

Former world No 1 Azarenka, playing her first Grand Slam tournament since giving birth to first child Leo in December, knocked out Russian 15th seed Elena Vesnina. The 2012 and 2013 Australian Open champion, in her fourth match back, won 6-3, 6-3, taking her record over the Russian to 8-0 without dropping a set.

The Belarusian, 27, could become the first mother to win the Wimbledon singles since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980. “Travelling is a little stressful for me, travelling with a baby. I want to make sure that everything is okay. But overall, it’s just great. It’s really fun that I’m able to go home and spend time with my son,” she said. “Overall, I felt like I played really good on the important moments, which gave me opportunities to win comfortably,” she said of the match.

Azarenka next faces British wildcard Heather Watson who also upset the form book. The world No 102 knocked out Latvian 18th seed Anastasija Sevastova in straight sets. “I think Vika is an incredible player and person,” Watson said of Azarenka. “I know she has only just come back, but I expect her to play really well.”

Spanish 18th seed Roberto Bautista Agut was the first man through to round three with a four-set victory over German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk. He next faces either Japanese ninth seed Kei Nishikori or Ukrainian qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky. France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 12th seed, made short work of Italian qualifier Simone Bolelli in the sizzling heat, winning in straight sets. Fans shielded their faces from the sun with towels, programmes and napkins as temperatures reached 29 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit).

On Tuesday, Roger Federer barely had to break sweat to make winning starts as his injury-hit opponent retired hurt. Federer is chasing a record eighth Wimbledon title and he was already well on top at the start of his 19th All England Club campaign when Alexandr Dolgopolov was forced to quit with an ankle injury. The world No 3 raced into a 6-3, 3-0 in 43 minutes on Centre Court before the Ukrainian limped off. 

Federer, who hit his 10,000th career ace in the eighth game of the first set, will face either Dusan Lajovic of Serbia or Greek qualifier Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the last 32. “It feels great to be back on Centre Court,” said Federer, who recorded his 85th match win at Wimbledon, passing the mark he shared with Jimmy Connors.

Having unexpectedly won the Australian Open in January before taking the clay-court season off to rest, Federer, making a record-equalling 70th Grand Slam appearance, is the favourite to take the Wimbledon crown for the first time since 2012. “Everybody’s got a chance to win Wimbledon and for me it’s no different. I already achieved my dream to be back here healthy. Now we’ll see how far I can go,” Federer said.

On the women’s side, Karolina Pliskova underlined why she is the bookmakers’ favourite as the world No 3 crushed Evgeniya Rodina 6-1, 6-4. The 25-year-old Czech emerged as a potential star when she reached the US Open final last year and she has followed up on that breakthrough by making the French Open semi-finals last month.

Former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, the 14th seed, beat Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2, 6-4. Australian qualifier Arina Rodionova, ranked 166th, saved seven match points before defeating Russian 16th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchen-kova 3-6, 7-6 (8/6), 9-7.

Selected results

Men’s Singles

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x12) bt Simone Bolelli (ITA) 6-1, 7-5, 6-2; Sam Querrey (USA x24) bt Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3; Gilles Muller (LUX x16) bt Lukás Rosol (CZE) 7-5, 6-7 (7/9), 4-6, 6-3, 9-7; Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x18) bt Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 6-2, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3; Paolo Lorenzi (ITA x32) bt Horacio Zeballos (ARG) 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 7-6 (10/8), 7-5


Women’s Singles

Dominika Cibulkova (SVK x8) bt Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-4, 6-4; Ana Konjuh (CRO x27) bt Irina Begu (ROM) 7-6 (7/3), 2-6, 6-3; Maria Sakkari (GRE) bt Kristýna Plísková (CZE) 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-4; Victoria Azarenka (BLR) bt Elena Vesnina (RUS x15) 6-3, 6-3; Heather Watson (GBR) bt Anastasija Sevastova (LAT x18) 6-0, 6-4

Published: 06-07-2017 09:00

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