Dominant Serena Williams beats Azarenka

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The Independent Online

Serena Williams was dominant early and closed out a straight sets win over No. 4 seed Viktoria Azarenka 6-1, 7-6 (5).

That set up an intriguing fourth-round match with Ana Ivanovic. The Serb appears to belatedly be getting back to the form that once carried her to the No. 1 ranking, beating American teenager Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-4.

Williams may be seeded an unfamiliar No.28 but she showed why so many still regard her as the title favorite, racing to a 5-0 lead inside 17 minutes against an accomplished player like Azarenka.

"What's it like? It's painful," said Azarenka, who won eight points in those opening five games. "To have somebody just going at you like that, it's a little bit painful."

Eventually, though, Azarenka straightened her own play out enough to make things interesting in the second set. She erased four match points, broke when Williams served for the match at 5-3, and left Williams saying she wasn't pleased.

The 29-year-old American already owns 13 major championships, including three at the U.S. Open, which is why, when she was asked how she can play so well now, Williams replied: "I was a pretty good player before. So just trying to get back into that rhythm and feel it again."

Ivanovic was looking forward to being back in the Grand Slam spotlight for the big match against Williams.

"It's exciting, at least for me. She's the hottest player out there at the moment. She's been playing so well lately. It is going to be a good challenge," Ivanovic said.

Ivanovic acknowledged that Williams will be the "favorite, that's for sure" but also said: "I know I can give her a tough match. She beat me in the past, but maybe I can go for revenge on Monday."