MADRID: Top seeds Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova made serene progress past Czech opponents into the third round of the Madrid Open tennis on Tuesday.
Azarenka dispatched Andrea Hlavackova 6-3 7-6 and Sharapova saw off Klara Zakopalova 6-4 6-3.
Sharapova, who beat world number one Azarenka in the Stuttgart final last month, was first up on the unfamiliar blue clay of the Manolo Santana show court, a controversial
innovation at this year's edition of the event that has prompted mixed reactions from players.
With the sliding roof closed to keep off the morning drizzle, the Russian soon found her range and broke Zakopalova's serve in the opening game.
The three-times grand-slam singles champion wobbled when serving for the match at 5-2 in the second set but broke again in the next game for a comfortable win that set up a meeting with another Czech, unseeded Lucie Safarova, or Spanish wildcard
Carla Suarez Navarro.
Belarussian Azarenka had newly-appointed adviser Amelie Mauresmo watching from her box alongside coach Sam Sumyk and made short work of Hlavackova, who needed treatment on a problematic left thigh midway through the second set.
Like Sharapova, Azarenka missed a chance to serve out the match in the second set but went on to take the tiebreak 7-2 and will next play Russian Nadia Petrova or Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, a former world number one who is seeded 13.
Serena Williams, seeded nine and making her first European appearance of the season, plays unseeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova later on Tuesday, a day after her sister Venus was knocked out by Germany's Angelique Kerber. (Reuters)