The Norman Transcript

National Sports

January 17, 2013

Williams, defending champ Azarenka into third round of Aussie Open

(Continued)

MELBOURNE, Australia —

The 23-year-old Belarusian won her first Grand Slam title in Melbourne last year, during a 26-match winning streak to start the season.

“It’s pretty difficult to duplicate something like that,” she said, “all I can do is try.”

She didn’t win another major in 2012, dropping the U.S. Open final against Serena Williams, but held the No. 1 ranking for most of the season.

The temperature hit 93 degrees during her match, the first of the day on the center court.

Also advancing were No. 14 Maria Kirilenko, who beat China’s Peng Shuai 7-5, 6-2, No. 16 Roberta Vinci and Elena Vesnina, who beat No. 21-seeded Varvara Lepchenko of the United States 6-4, 6-2.

On the men’s side, 2008 Australian final Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Japan’s Go Soeda 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-3, No. 17 Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany edged Israeli qualifier Amir Weintraub 6-2, 7-6 (4,) 6-4 and Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis ousted No. 25 Florian Mayer 6-2, 6-3, 6-1.

The lopsided wins for Azarenka and Serena Williams came a day after No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova recorded her second 6-0, 6-0 win of the tournament.

Sharapova overwhelmed Japan’s Misaki Doi in 47 minutes, even less time than she needed to beat fellow Russian Olga Puchkova two days earlier in her first competitive match of 2013.

The first woman to post back-to-back 6-0, 6-0 wins at a Grand Slam since 1985 next plays seven-time major winner Venus Williams in the third round.

“It’s not really the statistic I want to be known for,” Sharapova said. “I want to be known for winning Grand Slams.”

To Sharapova, her first two wins have been a matter of “getting the job done.” She was recovering from a sore right collarbone that ruled her out of a tuneup event in Brisbane earlier this month.

She skipped the Brisbane tournament last year, also due to injury, and went on to reach the Australian Open final.

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