This year's Australian Open champ, the top-ranked Victoria Azarenka, breezed into the third round of the Qatar Open in Doha with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Romina Oprandi on Wednesday. The defending champion was joined by fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat Australian qualifier Anastasia Rodionova 6-3, 6-2.
"I felt pretty good out there today," Radwanska said. "For sure the conditions weren't easy—it was really windy, and the wind changed every couple of minutes—but I'm very happy I could play some really good tennis in the important moments and finish this match in two sets."
Radwanska's win over Rodionova was her 14th match win of the year, putting her in a three-way tie for most match wins this year with Li Na and Mona Barthel. Since Li isn't playing this week, leaving the tournament, it could be either Radwanska or Barthel as the standalone match win leader for the year.
Not advancing to round three was American Sloane Stephens, who upset Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals, lost to Klara Zakopalova 6-4, 7-6(5), 7-6(5). Stephens, who was coming off an Australian season that saw her win 10 of 13 matches and jump in the WTA Singles Rankings to 17th in the world, seemed headed for a straight-set win as she built a 6-4, 5-3 lead and served for the match—she even had three match points in that game. But Zakopalova fought them all off, as well as a fourth match point in the next game, and took the set in a tie-break. The story was similar in the third set as Stephens was up a break three times, including serving for the match again at 6-5, but again Zakopalova and her powerful, flat ground game were just too solid.
Zakopalova advances to face the number three seed, Maria Sharapova.
Azarenka, who retains her top ranking if she reaches the finals at the Quatar Open and if Serena fails to reach the semifinals, had rough start as she was broken early and quickly fell behind 2-0. But Azarenka recovered, breaking Oprandi three times to win the first set. Azarenka then took a 3-0 lead in the second set.