Accident-prone Azarenka steers clear of trouble

You never know whether she will make it to the end of a match, let alone a tournament, but as the French Open enters its second week Victoria Azarenka is becoming a hotter favourite by the day. The accident-prone world No 4 came here in excellent form, having won titles in recent weeks in Miami and Marbella,and has an outstanding chance of claiming her first Grand Slam crown, especially after the defeats of Caroline Wozniacki and Kim Clijsters.

After three matches, Azarenka has yet to drop a set. The 21-year-old from Belarus brushed aside Roberta Vinci yesterday, winning6-3 6-2. Serving with purpose and attacking the Italian at every opportunity, she took command from the middle of the first set and never looked in difficulty thereafter.

"I've been improving from match to match," Azarenka said. "I'm just taking it day by day." Considering her fitness record, that is a sensible philosophy. In the past three months Azarenka has retired in the middle of three matches, most recently when she hurt her elbow playing Maria Sharapova in Rome. Over that periodPetra Kvitova, who beat Azarenka in the final in Madrid, is the only playerto have got the better of her when the match has gone the distance.

Azarenka's bad luck has extended in the past to Grand Slam tournaments. At the Australian Open two years ago she was a set up against Serena Williams when she had to quit due to heat exhaustion and a virus. At the US Open last year she collapsed against Gisela Dulko and was taken off in a wheelchair, having earlier hit her head in a fall in the gym while warming up.

The defeats of Wozniacki, Clijsters and Sam Stosur, last year's losing finalist, can only strengthen Azarenka's chances, but she refuses to look beyond her fourth-round meeting with Ekaterina Makarova. Victory over the Russian would take Azarenka into her fourth Grand Slam quarter-final, though she has never gone further.

Azarenka is seeded to meet Sharapova in the semi-finals. The 24-year-old Russian, who established her own credentials as a contender for the title here with her victory in Rome earlier this month, nearly went out to the unheralded Caroline Garcia in the last round but coasted through her latest match against Taiwan's Chan Yung-jan, winning 6-2 6-3. Sharapova now faces Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat Yanina Wickmayer 6-4 6-4.

Kvitova has been another of the season's outstanding players, having won three titles already. The 21-year-old Czech, who reached the fourth round with a 6-4 6-2 victory over Vania King, her third straight-sets win in a row, now faces China's Li Na.

After finishing runner-up at the Australian Open, Li lost in the first round of her next four tournaments but has recovered her form during the clay-court season, reaching the semi-finals in Madrid and Rome. Yesterday she just needed 61 minutes to beat Romania's Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-2.

The top half of the draw play their fourth-round matches today, with the previous two champions looking particularly threatening. Svetlana Kuznetsova, who has dropped only 11 games, plays Daniela Hantuchova, while Francesca Schiavone, who has lost only 10, faces Jelena Jankovic.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin