Azarenka books showdown with Serena at Indian Wells, Latest Tennis News - The New Paper

Azarenka books showdown with Serena at Indian Wells

Two-time Indian Wells champion Victoria Azarenka shook off a slow start to beat Vera Lapko 6-2, 6-3 yesterday morning (Singapore time) and set up a second-round meeting with long-time rival Serena Williams.

Azarenka, a former world No. 1 now ranked 48th in the world, said she started a little too passively in dropping the first two games against her fellow Belarusian, but roared back to seal the win with ease.

She was looking forward to taking on 10th-seeded Williams, who like all the seeds in the combined WTA and ATP Masters event has a first-round bye.

The American, also an ex-world No. 1 player, has won 17 of their 21 encounters, but Azarenka took their most recent clash - in the 2016 Indian Wells final.

"Of course it's going to be a very special match for us," she said of their first clash since both became mothers.

"We have such a big history, it's going to be really special. She motivates me, she inspires me, she pushes me to be better," Azarenka said of Williams.

Johanna Konta also progressed to the next round after her pinpoint serving proved too much for France's Pauline Parmentier to handle as the Briton coasted to a 6-2, 6-3 win to set up a second-round clash with Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan. - AFP, REUTERS