Victoria Azarenka storms past No. 5-ranked Kenin in Rome, 6-0, 6-0

Victoria Azarenka storms past No. 5-ranked Kenin in Rome, 6-0, 6-0

It was the former No. 1's first win over a Top 5 player in more than 16 months, and she’s now won 13 of her last 14 matches since the start of her three-week run in the New York bubble.

A day after battling past Venus Williams in a tight two-setter in her first-round match—after which she said the longer she played, the better she felt her rhythm—Victoria Azarenka was on her game from start to finish in her second round against Sofia Kenin on Thursday night, cruising, 6-0, 6-0.

The 2012 and 2013 Australian Open champion needed just 61 minutes to steamroll the 2020 Australian Open winner, hitting 10 winners to just four unforced errors in the match and never facing a break point. Kenin, meanwhile, finished the match with twice as many unforced errors as winners, 22 to 11.

Azarenka won almost twice as many points as Kenin in the entire match, 57 to 29.

“I think consistency was the key to the scoreline,” Azarenka said. “I feel that I played really smart tennis today—I was able to use a lot of the court, and I was able to use a lot of different pace. So I’m really happy about that. But the key to the scoreline was to maintain the level I started with.”

It was her first Top 5 win since beating No. 4 Karolina Pliskova in Stuttgart in April 2019, and her first 6-0, 6-0 win since March 2016, when she beat Magdalena Rybarikova by that scoreline at Indian Wells.

It was also the first time she'd ever double-bageled a Top 40 player, let alone Top 5 player.

The two had played once before, with Kenin winning a two-hour, 32-minute marathon in the quarterfinals of Acapulco in February 2019, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, after Azarenka served for it at 5-4 in the third.

Awaiting Azarenka in the third round will be Russian qualifier Daria Kasatkina, who beat Katerina Siniakova earlier in the day, 6-2, 6-3. Kasatkina's currently ranked No. 74 but has been as high as No. 10.

Azarenka has won both of her previous meetings against Kasatkina, both of them coming on clay, winning 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 in Fed Cup play in 2016 and 7-5, 6-4 in the second round of Madrid in 2019.

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The No. 3-seeded Kenin wasn’t the only Top 5 women’s seed to get bounced from the tournament on Thursday night, as No. 5-seeded Kiki Bertens also lost, falling to Polona Hercog, 6-4, 6-4.

Hercog went into the match against Bertens with a dubious 1-31 career record against Top 10 players, the only win coming against a No. 7-ranked Marion Bartoli on the green clay of Charleston in 2012. But she broke the No. 8-ranked Dutchwoman five times en route to a one-hour, 36-minute victory.