MELBOURNE: Victoria Azarenka continued her love affair with the bright blue courts of Melbourne Park on Tuesday as the unseeded two-time former champion cruised to a 6-3 6-2 first round victory over Sloane Stephens.
Azarenka, 25, showed she will be a dangerous floater in the draw after being unseeded at a grand slam for the first time since the 2007 U.S. Open following a run of injuries that restricted her to just nine tournaments last year.
She broke the 21-year-old American three times in the first set to clinch it in 29 minutes, and while Stephens fought off five break points in the second game of the second set, her resistance then faded and the tall Belarusian romped to the win.
It is the third successive year Azarenka has beaten Stephens at Melbourne Park, the only place they have met on the WTA circuit, and she will next play either eighth seed Caroline Wozniacki or American teenager Taylor Townsend. (Reuters)