Azarenka loses first match of 2012 as Bartoli stages upset
By Bill Scott Mar 29, 2012, 4:41 GMT
Miami - World number one Victoria Azarenka lost her first match of the season after 26 consecutive wins as she went down 6-3, 6-3 in the quarter-finals of the Miami Masters on Wednesday to Marion Bartoli.
The seventh-seeded Frenchwoman ruined a perfect 2012 record for Azarenka, who lost last in her concluding match of 2011, the final of the year-end championship to Petra Kvitova.
Azarenka had beaten Bartoli in eight of their last 10 meetings.
'I had the belief, we'd had good matches in the past,' said Bartoli, a Wimbledon finalist five years ago whose last loss to Azarenka came in a January quarter-final in Sydney.
'I knew if I did my best I had a shot. I stayed focused to the end. I'm so happy I got the win. This was a high-standard match. You have to play aggressive against her.'
Azarenka said she ran out of puff after her perfect start to the season: 'Physically I was just not able to do anything today. I'm a human. I'm not a super woman.
'I feel disappointed - who wouldn't be after the loss? But what I've done in the last couple of months, I have to be really proud of myself. I could have maybe played better today, that's for sure, but I gave it all I had.'
Fifth seed Agnieszska Radwanska ended any threat from the Williams sisters as she put out Venus 6-4, 6-1. She next faces Bartoli, whom she leads 6-0.
Williams was dispatched less than 24 hours after the exit of younger sister and five-time champion Serena, who lost heavily to former number one Caroline Wozniacki the previous night.
'I'm just very happy that I was playing very consistent today and especially in the tight moments. I did some great shots,' said Radwanska.
Andy Murray trudged through a draining 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Janko Tipsarevic to book the first of the men's quarter-final spots.
'It was a strange match, both of us struggled on serve up until the third set pretty much. It was four or five breaks in each of the first couple of sets.
'It was tough, tough conditions, but I struck the ball pretty well from the back of the court. I was hitting it clean but needed better shot selection. Because of the wind, I was maybe trying to hit it too close to the line.'
Murray cleaned up his game in the third set in wilting heat after a number of plot twists, taking the win in two and a half hours with 38 unforced errors and 25 winners. The fourth seed broke on six of his eight chances against the Serb ranked ninth in the world.
Murray's next opponent will be three-time finalist Rafael Nadal, who needed almost three hours to overcome French sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.
Nadal served for a straight-set win but failed and needed more than another hours of play to finally take victory on his third match point.
Tsonga had won two of the pair's last three meetings, but now trails Nadal 3-7 in their series.
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