There was no double bagel for Victoria Azarenka Thursday in the second round of the Australian Open, but the defending champion and world No.1 got pretty close in a 6-1 6-0 drubbing of Eleni Daniilidou on Rod Laver Arena.
Azarenka raced out to a 5-0 lead on Daniilidou, a former top 20 player, in just 17 minutes, her biting groundstrokes finding the corners of the court and clearly overwhelming her Greek opponent.
It was in the sixth game of the first set that Daniilidou finally got on the board, putting one finger in the air and breaking into a big smile as she held for 1-5.
"I was in the zone trying to execute all of my shots," Azarenka said about her form. "I was trying to make everything happen, and that's what I'm happy about."
The 30-year-old had actually won the only career meeting between the two Europeans, but that was five years ago in 2008. Azarenka imposed her steady, devastating game from the outset in Rod Laver’s first match of the day, pounding 21 winners to just seven for Daniilidou.
After Azarenka won the first set in 24 minutes, Daniilidou began to work her way into points much better, exchanging baseline rallies that lasted for seven, 10 and 12 strokes. Yet the defending champion had found her groove and didn’t relent another game, winning a more closely fought but better executed second set without dropping a game.
In game four Azarenka won the longest exchange of the match – 23 strokes – with a dropshot winner to give herself the advantage after facing three break points at 0-40. She won that game and the final two, closing the match out in 55 minutes.
The 23-year-old Belarusian is looking for her first title of the 2013 season after pulling out of a semifinal match with Serena Williams because of an injured toe. She gets the winner of Lasika Kumkhum, a qualifier from Thailand, and American grinder Jamie Hampton in the third round.
Azarenka has now won nine straight matches at Melbourne Park, and 16 overall in the past two years. She won the title in Sydney prior to the Australian Open a year ago before winning her maiden Grand Slam title and two more matches in Brisbane and Melbourne here again this year.
Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams have registered three double matches in three matches played between them, Sharapova doing so twice and Williams in her first-round match. Azarenka lost just five games to Monica Niculescu Tuesday and looked in even finer form against Daniilidou.
Should seeds hold, Azarenka will face Serena in the women’s semifinals.
Her plans to stay cool during the remainder of a boiling hot summer day in Melbourne?
"I will stay inside," she laughed.