- French Open, Day Four
Azarenka back on song, Radwanska sends Venus packing
World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka recovered from her opening-round scare at Roland Garros to deliver an accomplished victory in the second stage of the French Open on Wednesday.
Azarenka had been in real danger of exiting the competition when she met Alberta Brianti in round one, falling a set and a break down before fighting back. There were no such worries against Dinah Pfizenmaier, who trailed early en route to a 6-1 6-1 triumph for Azarenka.
Pfizenmaier is ranked 198 in the world, but that does not accurately represent her true quality, having strung together an impressive 15-7 record in recent matches to lift herself from 271st in the rankings. Her development resulted in a maiden grand slam appearance this week, but Azarenka was always going to prove several steps too far.
The world's leading player broke early to lead 2-1 and, with Pfizenmaier moving into double-figures for unforced errors in the first set, Azarenka soon found herself claiming the set 6-1.
Pfizenmaier's game escaped her as the match progressed, chalking up more errors in the second set, dropping her serve to fall 3-0 behind. The match was eventually closed out in 55 minutes as Azarenka continued her quest for a second grand slam of the season.
She will now face Aleksandra Wozniak, after the Canadian beat No. 31 seed Jie Zheng 6-2 6-4. Wozniak hit 20 winners in the contest and approached the net smartly to book a date with the world No. 1.
Venus Williams followed her sister in making an early exit from Paris after she was beaten in straight sets by Agnieszka Radwanska. Following Serena Williams' shock first-round defeat to Virgie Razzano on Tuesday, Venus' French Open campaign came to an abrupt end after she was comprehensively beaten by the third seed 6-2 6-3.
Williams has slipped outside the world's top 50 after being diagnosed with Sjogren's Sydrome last year, but there was no sympathy on Radwanska's part as she grabbed an early break before racing to a 5-1 lead.
The Pole wrapped up the opening set with an ace, before streaking to a 4-0 lead in the second. Williams offered glimpses of her former self with a love service game followed by a late break as Radwanska wobbled when serving for the match, but it merely delayed the inevitable as the world No. 3, who made just six unforced errors in the match, broke straight back to clinch victory.
No. 6 seed Sam Stosur is also safely into the round of 32 after she defeated Irina Falconi in straight sets. Stosur broke three times en route to a 6-1 6-4 victory. Ana Ivanovic is another player looking good at this stage, the former world No. 1 advancing 6-2 6-2 against Shahar Peer.
The big departure of the day saw eighth seed Marion Bartoli ousted by Petra Martic. Clay has never been Bartoli's favourite surface but she would have expected to go further than the second round, losing 6-2 3-6 6-3 to Martic.
Elsewhere, there were wins for No. 21 seed Sara Errani, who beat Melanie Oudin, 15th seed Dominika Cibulkova against Vania King, and No. 29 seed Anabel Medina Garrigues, a 6-3 6-2 winner over Irena Pavlovic.
Italian Flavia Pennetta eased into the third round with a 6-3 6-1 win over Alexa Glatch, while other winners included Svetlana Kuznetsova, Nadia Petrova, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Mathilde Johansson.