Istanbul: Victoria Azarenka put a dry fall season behind her on Tuesday, battling past Sara Errani in a tight two-setter in the first match of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships in Istanbul.
After reaching the finals of the US Open, Azarenka went on to lose her opening matches at her only two fall tournaments - Tokyo (to Venus Williams) and Beijing (to Andrea Petkovic). And if you lump in the loss to Serena Williams in that US Open final, she came to Istanbul on a three-match losing streak.
On Tuesday, in the White Group, second seed Azarenka of Belarus defeated sixth seed Italian Sara Errani 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.
In the Red Group, top seed Serena Williams had an easy outing against eighth seed Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-3, 6-1.
Errani seemed determined to keep that pattern going with a barrage of deep groundstrokes, perfect drop shots and lobs. She built a 5-2 lead in the first set. But maybe an 0-19 career record against Top 3 players crept into the Italian’s mind at that point, as Azarenka clawed her way back and eventually managed to take the first set to the tie breaker.
The second seed then completely took over the second set, blasting 20 winners to just two unforced errors, closing out Errani in straight sets.
“I think it’s pretty normal to have a slow start - I hadn’t played in a while, and to go out after a break like that against a Top 10 player is not easy,” Azarenka said.
“Sara’s a great fighter. She was fighting for every ball and playing some great tennis. I was also missing too much, just some close misses.
“But all of the matches will be tough here, so it’s important to just find your rhythm. I turned it around. Sara makes you play every ball and brings every ball back, so it’s important to step up and close out the points.
“I did a good job of that on Tuesday against her - but the accuracy could be a little better.” (Agencies)