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Azarenka sets up second round Indian Wells showdown with Serena

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 7 Mar 2019
  • Azarenka beat Vera Lapko in straight sets in R1 of Indian Wells on Wednesday night
  • The win set up a blockbuster second round clash with Serena
  • The pair last met in the 2016 Indian Wells final
Victoria Azarenka (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Victoria Azarenka will take on Serena Williams in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in what will be a rematch of the 2016 final - and the pair’s first match since becoming mothers.

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Azarenka moved into a blockbuster second round showdown with Serena in Indian Wells after cruising past compatriot Vera Lapko 6-2 6-3 on Wednesday night in the Californian desert.

Speaking after the victory, Azarenka said she was looking forward to renewing her rivalry with Serena, saying the American legend is one of the reasons why she continues to push herself on tour.

“It’s going to be a very special match for us. It’s going to be the first time since we both became mums,” Azarenka said. 
“We have such a big history already, [including here in Indian Wells] one time. It’s going to be fun. Serena is one of the players why I still play. She motivates me. She inspires me to do better. She always pushes me so I’m really looking forward [to the match].”

Despite Serena holding a dominant 17-4 record in their head-to-head, Azarenka has plenty to draw upon as she seeks victory in the second round. The Belarusian won their last encounter, ironically in the 2016 Indian Wells final, in straight sets, while her other three victories have also come in finals, so she’s proven she can beat Serena when both are at the peak of their powers.

Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams after the 2016 Indian Wells final (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
However, Azarenka is still trying to recapture her best tennis on a consistent basis. The two-time Australian Open champion made her full official comeback to the tour this time last season in Indian Wells and went on to make the semi-finals of the Miami Open just a couple of weeks later, but that would ultimately be her best result of 2018 as she struggled for consistency.


Currently No. 48 in the world, Azarenka - who lost to Laura Siegemund in the first round of the Australian Open - remains unseeded at the big events, such as the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. While all of the other top players and seeds enjoyed a first round bye, Azarenka was out toiling away in the opening round against 20-year-old countrywoman Lapko on Stadium 1 on Wednesday night.

It was a slow start for Azarenka as she quickly fell behind 0-2, 0-40 in the opening set, but she swiftly turned the tables, going on a stunning 10-game run as she took the opening set and opened up a break advantage in the second. Lapko put up some resistance in the closing stages, saving a total of five match points as Azarenka served for it at 5-2, but after breaking she couldn’t hold herself, with Azarenka regrouping and coming away with the straight sets victory.


In other first round WTA results from Indian Wells on Wednesday, former top five player Johanna Konta beat Pauline Parmentier, rising stars Amanda Anisimova and Bianca Andreescu scored wins over Aleksandra Krunic and Irina-Camelia Begu respectively, while Daria Gavrilova claimed a confidence-boosting victory over Hua Hin champion Dayana Yastremska.

Sofia Kenin also avenged her loss to Wang Yafan in the Acapulco final last week, coming back from a set down to beat the Chinese player 1-6 7-5 6-4.


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Azarenka sets up second round Indian Wells showdown with Serena

Victoria Azarenka will take on Serena Williams in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in what will be a rematch of the 2016 final - and the pair’s first match since becoming mothers.

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