DOHA, Qatar - Fresh off winning a second consecutive Australian Open, top-ranked Victoria Azarenka breezed into the third round of the Qatar Open with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Romina Oprandi on Wednesday.
The defending champion was joined by fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki. Radwanska beat Australian qualifier Anastasia Rodionova 6-3, 6-2, and Wozniacki downed Sorana Cirstea of Romania 7-6 (7), 6-0.
American Sloane Stephens, who upset Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals, lost to Klara Zakopalova 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5).
"Today was a tough match," Stephens said of the wind and 80-degree temperatures. "The conditions were tough but Klara played well. Now I just need to regroup and keep working on my game and get ready for Dubai."
Azarenka will retain her top ranking if she reaches the final and Williams fails to reach the semifinals. She made a nervous start, dropping serve to fall 2-0 behind. But the Belarusian recovered to break three times and win the first set. Azarenka then took a 3-0 lead in the second set.
"Well, it wasn't easy for sure, but you never want to take this as an excuse because it's the same for both players," Azarenka said of the wind. "I started to go too much for my shots at the beginning. Then I started to be more patient."
At The Khalifa Tennis Complex
Purse: $2.369 million (Premier)
Agnieszka Radwanska (4), Poland, def. Anastasia Rodionova, Australia, 6-3, 6-2.
Sara Errani (6), Italy, def. Timea Babos, Hungary, 6-4, 6-0.
Nadia Petrova (11), Russia, def. Hsieh Su-wei, Taiwan, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Christina McHale, United States, def. Lucie Safarova (17), Czech Republic, 6-4, 6-2.
Klara Zakopalova, Czech Republic, def. Sloane Stephens (16), United States, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5).
Victoria Azarenka (1), Belarus, def. Romina Oprandi, Switzerland, 6-2, 6-3.
Ana Ivanovic (13), Serbia, def. Simona Halep, Romania, 6-3, retired.
Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia, def. Ekaterina Bychkova, Russia, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.
Urszula Radwanska, Poland, def. Roberta Vinci (15), Italy, 6-2, 5-7, 6-0.
Caroline Wozniacki (10), Denmark, def. Sorana Cirstea, Romania, 7-6 (7), 6-0.
Petra Kvitova (7), Czech Republic, def. Ekaterina Makarova, Russia, 6-4, retired.
Sam Stosur (8), Australia, def. Monica Niculescu, Romania, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.
Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia, def. Marion Bartoli (9), France, 6-4, 6-4.
Radwanska had little trouble with the 131st-ranked Rodionova, breaking to go up 3-1 on the way to winning the first set. The second set was even more one-sided, with the Pole breaking twice on the way to victory where she said "the wind changed every couple of minutes. It was very tricky."
Several seeded players lost, including the 16th-seeded Stephens. Ninth-seeded Marion Bartoli lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-4, while No. 17 Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic was upset 6-4, 6-2 by Christina McHale of the United States. Urszula Radwanska, the sister of Agnieszka, upset 15th-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy 6-2, 5-7, 6-0.
Wozniacki saved four set points in the tiebreaker before going up 1-0 when Cirstea hit a crosscourt backhand wide. The Dane then broke Cirstea three times.
"In the second set, I came off really strongly and probably crushed the last of her beliefs in that match," Wozniacki said.