Azarenka, Sharapova cruise in China

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 01, 2012

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 27: Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a backhand in her quarterfinal match against Serena Williams of the United States of America during day ten of the 2010 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 27, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Top-ranked Victoria Azarenka and No. 2 Maria Sharapova reached the China Open quarterfinals Thursday with straight-set wins. Azarenka easily beat Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-3, 6-3, while Sharapova defeated Slovenian qualifier Polona Hercog 6-0, 6-2. Azarenka will next face Romina Oprandi of Switzerland, while Sharapova will play either Angelique Kerber of Germany or former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark. ''I played really well in the beginning and got a little tense in the second set,'' Sharapova said. ''But I felt like I really needed that challenge.'' Sharapova won her first Grand Slam title in four years at the French Open. Azarenka is hoping to rebound from last week in Tokyo, where she withdrew after a bout of dizziness in the third round. Azarenka has won four times this year, including the Australian Open. In men's singles, Mikhail Youzhny of Russia defeated Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-3, 6-3 and Zhang Ze of China beat fifth-seeded Richard Gasquet of France 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
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