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Azarenka sees off Makarova challenge

Victoria Azarenka continued to avoid the clatter of seeds in the women's draw at the French Open as she eased through to the quarter-finals with a 6-2 6-3 victory over Ekaterina Makarova this afternoon.

The fourth seed was the favourite for the title before the tournament started despite never previously having been past the last eight at a grand slam, and she is the highest-ranked player left after early exits for Caroline Wozniacki, Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva.

Azarenka did not have things all her own way against Makarova and was twice a break down early in the second set, but the Russian struggled to hold her serve and in the end had no answer to her opponent's power.

Azarenka will now play Li Na, who won six games in a row in a 2-6 6-1 6-3 victory that ended the hopes of ninth seed and dark horse Petra Kvitova.

Li was the runner-up to Clijsters in the Australian Open but then lost five of her next six matches and has since changed her coach, swapping husband Jiang Shan for Denmark Fed Cup captain Michael Mortensen.

This tournament is the last of a trial period that has also included semi-final appearances in Madrid and Rome, but Li admitted she does not know if Mortensen will want to take up the position on a permanent basis.

She said: "I would like to carry on working with him. But after this tournament I will have to ask him if he has the time to travel with me, because he has a family."

Li felt she was helped by her husband today, though, because as soon as he left the stands she turned the match around.

"It was tough," she said. "I didn't believe I could come back because she has a huge serve. But then I thought 'it's okay, she's only broken one service game. If I come back, I still have a chance'.

"I don't know what happened. Maybe it was just that my husband left so I could win six games in a row."