Vika routs Aga, top men progress
Victoria Azarenka's formidable winning streak in 2012 continues to build, while the big guns in the men's game all progressed at the BNP Paribas Open.
Victoria Azarenka extended her season-long winning streak to 21 matches as she raced into the Indian Wells semifinals on Wednesday with a 6-0 6-2 dismantling of Agnieszka Radwanska.
If she wins her next match, you would have to go back to Martina Hingis in 1997 to find someone with a longer win streak to start the WTA season. Hingis had 37 consecutive wins.
“I am really impressed with the way I played,” Azarenka said. “I didn’t expect to win that way.”
The world No.1 will next face Angelique Kerber for a place in the final, after the German brushed aside No.8 seed Li Na 6-4 6-2 in their quarterfinal bout.
The 22-year-old Azarenka is chasing her first Indian Wells title after already having captured the Australian Open this year and the world No.1 ranking along with it.
If she makes it to the final in the California desert, the Belorussian could face second seed Maria Sharapova, who plays her quarterfinal match on Thursday.
Azarenka thrashed Sharapova in the Australian Open final, one of three titles for her this year.
Azarenka was on the top of her game on Wednesday as she clinched the match on her first match point when Radwanska hammered a forehand into the net. The top seed finished with one ace, two double faults and a 72 per cent winning total on her first-serve points.
Azarenka (21-0) and Radwanska (20-4) are the two winningest players on the WTA Tour so far this year.
But the fifth seeded Radwanska served poorly, winning just seven of 21 points on her second serve.
Radwanska, of Poland, had her serve broken six times and lost the first 11 games of the match. She broke Azarenka in the 12th game of the second set to avoid the double bagel, drawing a big cheer from the Stadium 1 crowd in the process.
“Pretty much I was pissed in the first set … six-love is not fun, right?,” said Radwanska, who has lost her past four matches, all this year, to Azarenka.
“Especially when you expect that you’re at this kind of level and that you can beat anyone, right?
“But then I was seeing that she was playing just too good. And of course I tried, but it was just not going my way at all.”
Djokovic, Nadal, Federer advance
Tennis’ big three moved on in the California desert as the second-ranked Nadal had the easiest time, storming into the quarters by beating 21st seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3 6-2 in just 76 minutes.
World No.3 Federer scrambled for the second straight day to eliminate an up-and-comer he was facing for the first time, recovering to beat Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 3-6 6-3 6-4.
Defending champ and world No.1 Djokovic lost a second-set tiebreaker en route to a 6-0 6-7(7) 6-2 win over Pablo Andujar.
“In the end, I was lucky to get through some points,” said Djokovic, who has won the past three Grand Slams. “I am happy to go through to the next round.”
The 24-year-old Serb came into Wednesday’s fourth-round match with a 12-1 record this year, having already captured his fifth slam at the Australian Open.
In the quarterfinals, Djokovic will face Nicolas Almagro, who surprised seventh seeded Tomas Berdych 6-4 6-0.
Djokovic looked to be charging his way into the quarters after dominating the first set 6-0 in just 28 minutes.
But he quickly found himself in the middle of a dogfight in the second as unseeded Andujar started to get his serve cracking, winning the set in a tiebreaker to level at one each.
Djokovic fired four aces and saved eight of eight break-point chances in the two-hour, 16-minute match.
Nadal next plays unseeded Argentine David Nalbandian, who came from behind to stun sixth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 3-6 7-5 6-3.
Nadal, who finished with four aces, challenged a call and won to get to match point. The line judge called a shot on the baseline which Nadal disputed. He won the point thanks to a video review that showed the ball was out.
That got Nadal to match point and he clinched the victory when Dolgopolov hit a forehand long.
“Being in the quarters is fantastic,” Nadal said.
“He is very difficult to play against. He can produce winners from every part of the court. He’s a funny player, good for tennis.
“I started very strong and he had a few mistakes, more than the usual on the backhand, which helped me out a bit.”
Federer is chasing his fourth Indian Wells title after winning three straight times from 2004-2006.
The 30-year-old Swiss, who already has two titles in 2012, was making a quick turnaround after rallying to win the night match Tuesday against Canadian Milos Raonic in three sets.
Federer also had to scramble to get back into it on Wednesday after dropping the first set. He then finished the second set the way he started it, by breaking the Brazilian’s serve en route to a 6-3 win.
“It is always great to come through in a three setter,” Federer said.
“I struggled early on to make the transition from night to day. I am happy and relieved to be through and still alive in the tournament.”