World #1 Victoria Azarenka absorbed a strong early attack from former world #1 Ana Ivanovic before coming back to post a 6-4 6-4 win in the third round of the 2012 Mutua Madrid Open. I expected Ana to play well, and she did at the outset. Ivanovic had Azarenka reeling as Ana started the match with a 4-1 lead. But Vika fought back to rip off the next 7 straight games to turn 1-4 down into 6-4 2-0 up. I thought Ana had a real chance to win this match. She just has to get a little bit mentally tougher when the momentum shifts against her.
“I had so many opportunities but I lost that game and then got down on myself. It was frustrating, because I just let it slip. I would feel a little bit better if at least she had earned it, but I kind of let it slip with a few unforced errors. I think that’s where the match probably turned around.” – Ana Ivanovic
Awaiting Vika in the quarterfinals will be 2011 Roland Garros champion Li Na. Li posted an impressive victory over the surging Angelique Kerber, 7-5 6-4. Although Li is ranked higher, I would have made Kerber the favorite going in. It’s a very good win for Li. However, she goes from the frying pan into the fire with Vika up next. But it’s also a great test for Azarenka, too. She has not looked unbeatable lately like she did earlier this season. The thing I worry about with Li against Vika is Li Na’s high risk-high reward style is prone to a lot of unforced errors. She can’t give Azarenka free points. If Li can keep the errors to a minimum, it could be a good match.
Singles – Second Round
(Q) Lucie Hradecka (CZE) d. (3) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 64 63
(4) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Sara Errani (ITA) 60 61
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. (16) Maria Kirilenko (RUS) 64 64
Roberta Vinci (ITA) d. Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 61 62