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Victoria Azarenka cruises into 4th round

01-21-2012 11:58 BJT Special Report:Australian Open Tennis Championships 2012 |

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In the Australian Open, third seed Victoria Azarenka took on German Mona Barthel. Azarenka came through a strong field to win last week's Sydney warm-up tournament, and established herself as a prime contender for the year's first grand slam. Azarenka showed no mercy from the start of this one. She bounced to the lead with a forehand winner taking the first set 6-2.

Barthel won a warm-up event as a qualifier in Hobart, Australia. She made her debut at Melbourne Park, and battled right to the end. Azarenka ended up unhappy with a few line calls and ran out of hawk-eye challenges.

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reaches for a forehand return to Germany's Mona Barthel
during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championship, in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 20, 2012.

She may have been rattled in the past, but channeled the emotion into her game this time. Azarenka clinched her place in the last 16 on her fifth match point, final score 6-3, 6-4. The native of Belarus reached the final at her last three events and won two of them. She'll face Czech Iveta Benesova next.


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