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Azarenka shocks third seed Kenin in Rome

Victoria Azarenka switched with ease from her impressive form on the hard court in the United States last week to clay in Rome sweeping past third Sofia Kenin 6-0, 6-0 to advance to the third round of the Italian Open on Thursday.

The US Open runner-up followed on from her straight sets win over Venus Williams in the first round at Foro Italico, dispatching Australian Open champion Kenin in just over an hour.

The 31-year-old former world number one, who won her first tournament since 2016 in Cincinatti, did not drop a game and faced no break points, hitting 57 winners against to the American’s 29.

“I think my consistency was the key to the scoreline, I think I used my serve smart today,” said Azarenka who next plays Russian Daria Kasatkina for a place in the quarter-finals.

Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open winner in 2012 and 2013, has jumped to 14th in the world after her New York success.

The Belarussian spent two years off the court after giving birth in 2016 and became embroiled in a custody battle.

Dutch fifth seed Kiki Bertens also exited in the second round to Slovenian Polona Hercog 6-4, 6-4.

But ninth seed Garbine Muguruza dropped a set before rallying past 16-year-old American Cori Gauff 7-6 (7/3), 3-6, 6-3.

Former French Open champion Muguruza next plays Johanna Konta, the seventh seed, and a runner-up last season.

The British player eased past Irina Begu of Romania 6-0, 6-4, with Czech 12th seed Marketa Vondrousova and Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova also advancing.

In the men’s tournament, France’s Gael Monfils, the fifth seed, lost his first match since the coronavirus lockdown, falling 6-2, 6-4 to 97th-ranked German Dominik Koepfer in a match which was interrupted for 45 minutes by an electricity cut.

Japan’s Kei Nishikori lost his second round match to Italian Lorenzo Musetti, ranked just 249th in the world.

The 18-year-old won through 6-3, 6-4 against the 35th-ranked Nishikori, having already eliminated Swiss Stan Wawrinka in the first round.

“This evening I won with my head. I played the important points well,” said the former junior Australian Open winner who next plays Koepfer.

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