Azarenka, Ivanovic soar into second round in Cincinnati

Ana Ivanovic

Ana Ivanovic

In their first appearances at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati, Ninth-seeded Victoria Azarenka and No. 11 Ana Ivanovic advanced to the second round.

Azarenka, who has won three singles titles this season, held off Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, 6-3, 7-6(2), in the opening match of the tournament. Ivanovic, a former world No. 1, rallied from a first set hiccup to bounce American qualifier Melanie Oudin, 2-6, 6-1, 6-1, in 88 minutes.

The 20-year-old Belarusian was solid throughout the one hour and 29-minute match, committing only 15 unforced errors compared to 36 by Kanepi. Azarenka won 75 percent of first serve points, while breaking serve on three of seven occasions. Azarenka has now won both meetings against Kanepi and will next face Russian Anna Chakvetadze, who defeated Elena Vesnina, 7-5, 6-3.

After looking like another early round exit was in store for the former Roland Garros champion, Ivanovic quickly turned things around as the 17-year-old Oudin began to fade.

Ivanovic struggled a great deal with her ball toss, hitting six double faults, but insisted afterwards that she has had more pace on her serve and her shoulder problems are gone. The 21-year-old Serb was very consistent from the baseline in the final two sets, breaking serve five times.

Play was suspended in the third set due to heavy thunderstorms with Ivanovic leading 4-1. But after play resumed following a lengthy delay, Ivanovic lost just three points en route to victory.

Ivanovic next faces Melinda Czink of Hungary, who defeated Alize Cornet, 6-3, 6-2. Ivanovic has won all three previous meetings against Czink, winning most recently at Wimbledon in 2007.