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French Open round-up: Azarenka, Stosur move on in Paris, Venus ousted

Today’s action included another shock, as a high-profile player exited the tournament once again.

Azarenka beat Dinah Pfizenmaier 6-1, 6-1.
Azarenka beat Dinah Pfizenmaier 6-1, 6-1.

VICTORIA AZARENKA AND and Samantha Stosur moved closer to a potential quarter-final showdown at the French Open on Wednesday with both coasting to straight sets wins in the second round.

Former champions Ana Ivanovic (2008) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (2009) also made it through to the third round, but Venus Williams failed in her bid to keep the family flag flying following sister Serena’s shock defeat late Tuesday.

Top-seeded Azarenka from Belarus defeated German qualifier Dinah Pfizenmaier 6-1, 6-1 while Australian sixth seed Stosur saw off Irina Falconi of the United States 6-1, 6-4.

It was a very different showing from the world number one compared to her first round struggle when she stared defeat in the face at a set and 4-0 down against Italy’s Alberta Brianti before clawing her way back to win.

Up against a player who was making her Grand Slam debut at Roland Garros, Azarenka needed just 55 minutes to move through, allowing her opponent to dig her own grave with 29 unforced errors.

Azarenka won the Australian Open in January and is seeking to become the first woman since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to win the first two Grand Slam tournaments of the year.

“It was a different game for sure today,” she said.

“I didn’t really know my opponent and it took a few games to understand what she does.

“But after a few games I found my rhythm and definitely played much better today.”

Stosur was the runner-up here in 2010 when she was upset in the final by Francesca Schiavone of Italy, going on last year to defeat Serena Williams in the final of the US Open for her first Grand Slam title.

In two rounds so far at Roland Garros this year she has dropped just nine games and she looked very comfortable against Falconi, ranked 112 in the world, who had reached the second round for the first time.

The Australian said the easy wins were no grounds for complacency with former top tenner Nadia Petrova her third round opponent.

“It’s still only the third round and there is a long way to go yet before you are holding the trophy.

“I think it’s just one of those things – you have to knuckle down. I know that I’ve had good runs here in the past. Now I’m up to the third step of that.”

Also looking to put together another strong run at Roland Garros was the 2008 winner Ivanovic, who stormed past Shahar Peer of Israel 6-2, 6-2.

The former world number one has failed to reach the quarter-finals here in the last three years and has yet to reach a tournament final this year.

But the 13th seed’s form against Peer looked good and she has a decent looking draw through to the last eight where third seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland could be waiting.

(Ivanovic blows a kiss to the crowd after defeating Shahar Peer earlier today)

“I’ve been playing more consistently, improving with each week,” Ivanovic said of her own game.

“I am starting to play a lot freer and building points. I am actually starting to enjoy the process again.”

Kuznetsova, who succeeded Ivanovic as champion in Paris, ousted Taiwan’s Chan Yung-Jan 6-4, 7-6 (7/4).

Williams, playing in her 15th Roland Garros, was no match for third seeded Radwanska, falling 6-2, 6-3 to complete a miserable 24 hours for the Williams family.

Sister Serena late Tuesday crashed out after being a set up and 5-1 in the second set tie-break to France’s Virginie Razzano.

Among the other qualifiers for the third round were rising US player Sloane Stephens, who defeated compatriot Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-1, 6-1, and 15th seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia who beat Vania King of the United States 6-0, 6-2.

China’s 31st seed Zheng Jie went down 6-2, 6-4 to Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada, who goes on to play top seed Azarenka in the third round.

French hopes, high after Razzano’s thrilling win, were given a further boost early on Wednesday with Mathilde Johansson defeating 24th seeded Czech Petra Cetkovska 7-6 (7/1), 6-2.

But there was then heartbreak for last year’s beaten semi-finalist Marion Bartoli. The French number one and eighth seed lost 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to Petra Martic of Croatia.

© AFP, 2012

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