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Azarenka safely into quarter-finals

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Victoria Azarenka stayed on track for a third consecutive Australian Open title with a composed 6-3 6-2 victory over 13th-seed Sloane Stephens in the fourth round on Monday. With third seed Maria Sharapova and world number one Serena Williams both losing in the fourth round, Azarenka has firmed as favorite to retain her crown and become the first woman to win three successive Melbourne Park titles since Martina Hingis (1997-99).

Tennis: Defending champion Azarenka into Aussie quarters

Victoria Azarenka blasted past young American Sloane Stephens and into the Australian Open quarter-finals on Monday as the defending champion hit top form. The Belarusian second seed blitzed into a last-eight clash with either fifth seed Agnieska Radwanska or exciting young Spaniard Garbine Muguruza with a 6-3, 6-2 win in 91 minutes. With Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova both fourth-round casualties, Azarenka is well-placed to become the first woman to win the title in three consecutive years since Martina Hingis between 1997-99.

Tennis: No mercy as Azarenka romps into last 16

Defending champion Victoria Azarenka romped into the Australian Open fourth round on Saturday, dropping just one game during a straight-sets demolition of unseeded Yvonne Meusburger. The second seeded Belarusian blasted past the Austrian 6-1, 6-0 in one hour exactly and will play American young gun Sloane Stephens for a place in the quarter-finals. Azarenka, who beat Li Na to win last year's title, was always the hot favourite against the 30-year-old, who was playing a Grand Slam third round match for the first time and had never upset a top 10 opponent in her career.

Tennis: No mercy as Azarenka sets up Stephens rematch

Defending champion Victoria Azarenka set up an Australian Open rematch with Sloane Stephens Saturday after dropping just one game in a straight-sets demolition of unseeded Yvonne Meusburger. The second-seeded Belarusian blasted past the Austrian 6-1, 6-0 in one hour exactly and will face the American young gun for a place in the quarter-finals. It will be the first time they have met since their controversial last-four clash at Melbourne Park in 2013.

No looking back in anger for American Stephens

(Reuters) - Sloane Stephens was keen to swat away any references to a controversial clash against Victoria Azarenka at last year's Australian Open as the American advanced to a possible fourth-round clash against the two-times champion on Monday. "I don't even remember half the stuff that happened," the 20-year-old said when questioned about a possible showdown with Azarenka after she had beaten Ukraine's Elina Svitolina 7-5 6-4 in the third round on Saturday. "It's okay.

Azarenka feasts on Meusburger to reach fourth round

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Victoria Azarenka remained on course for a third straight Australian Open title with a thumping 6-1 6-0 victory over Yvonne Meusburger in exactly an hour on Saturday. The second seed reached the fourth round when she broke the Austrian world number 49 for the seventh time with a thundering smash at the net to bring an end to a thoroughly one-sided contest on Rod Laver Arena. Azarenka has not lost a set in her three matches this week and extended her winning streak at Melbourne Park to 17 matches.

Azarenka thriving on pressure as she chases hat-trick

By Simon Cambers MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Victoria Azarenka said the prospect of winning a third straight Australian Open title was an inspiration, not a pressure, after booking her place in the third round on Thursday. Playing under the roof on Rod Laver Arena, the Belarussian saw off Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-1 6-4. "I don't think I feel pressure," the number two seed told reporters. "I like pressure because I think it motivates you to be better.

Tennis: Defending champ Azarenka sweeps into third round

Title-holder Victoria Azarenka swept into the Australian Open third round on Thursday with a straight-sets mauling of Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. The two-time champion was rarely threatened on Rod Laver Arena to blast past the Czech 6-1, 6-4 in 88 minutes. The Belarusian benefited from the roof being shut on centre court because of searing heat. "It feels pretty good, it was a good match and a competitive second set," Azarenka said of the win. "Barbora played well and I was just glad to close it out in two sets."

Tennis: Azarenka in stuttering start to title defence

Title-holder Victoria Azarenka moved into the Australian Open second round Tuesday but she made a meal of the match and looked far from her best in blazing conditions on Rod Laver Arena. The second seed overcame world number 91 Johanna Larsson 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 but her game was riddled with unforced errors and poor serving, in contrast to Serena Williams' clinical first-round win late Monday. The Belarusian took an hour and 46 minutes to get past the Swede as temperatures soared towards 43 Celsius (109.4 Fahrenheit).

Tennis: Azarenka in stuttering start to title defence

Title-holder Victoria Azarenka moved into the Australian Open second round Tuesday but she made a meal of the match and looked far from her best in blazing conditions on Rod Laver Arena. The second seed overcame world number 91 Johanna Larsson 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 but her game was riddled with unforced errors and poor serving, in contrast to Serena Williams' clinical first-round win late Monday. The Belarusian took an hour and 46 minutes to get past the Swede as temperatures soared towards 43 Celsius (109.4 Fahrenheit).
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