Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber, two former bests in women’s tennis, challenged each other Saturday for the privilege to face off against current world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in the next round of the Miami Open.
History told the tale as the 14th-seeded Azarenka, a three-time Miami Open past champion, advanced with a 7-5, 6-2 third round win over the 24th-seeded Kerber.
It was Azarenka’s ninth victory in 10 career matches played against the German.
The only time Kerber toppled Azarenka was in the 2016 Australian Open quarterfinal, which was en route to her winning the first of her three Grand Slam trophies.
Azarenka went into the third-round match against Kerber without having hit a ball in competition this week.
A two-time Australian Open champion, Azarenka had a first round bye and a walkover in the second round.
The Belarusian initially trailed Kerber 4-1 in the first set, but from that point on controlled the match.
“When things weren’t really working out in the beginning for me, I felt that I was looking for the right approach, trying to find my rhythm, so I think that’s what I’m the most proud of today,” Azarenka said.
Azarenka is no stranger to Barty as the two have played doubles together in the past, even reaching the 2019 U.S. Open women’s doubles final.—AP