Azarenka eases into last eight
A review of the day action in the women's singles at the Australian Open, with Victoria Azarenka an easy winner.
- Related Content
Victoria Azarenka enjoyed an easier outing at the Australian Open today, cruising into the quarter-finals with a routine win over Elena Vesnina.
Defending champion Azarenka was pushed all the way by Jamie Hampton in the previous round on Saturday with the American threatening a major upset until her chances were undone by a back injury.
There was no such drama on Rod Laver Arena on Monday with Vesnina never looking as though she could unsettle the top seed.
The world number 47 was overpowered and out-thought by Azarenka, who won 6-1 6-1 to advance to a last-eight meeting with Svetlana Kuznetsova.
The Hampton match aside it has been plain sailing for all the top seeds in Melbourne and this was another contest which did little to enhance the reputation of the women's game.
Azarenka ran through the opening set with three breaks, and although Vesnina claimed the Azarenka serve at the start of the second she could not win another game as the Belarusian eased through in just 57 minutes.
"I think it's getting there," she said when asked to assess her game.
"With every match you build up, the top battles are starting now and it's exciting to be this far in the tournament."
A clash with resurgent two-time grand slam champion Kuznetsova promises to be much tougher.
The Russian came through a tricky three-setter with former world number one Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 2-6 7-5.
"I'm happy with the result but still disappointed with the second set," said Kuznetsova, who is enjoying a return to full fitness after a disjointed end to 2012.
"I had knee problems so I had to spend two months on crutches. I had a good pre-season and I am fresh and it is showing on the court.
"I'm happy to be in the quarters."
Serena Williams has dismissed suggestions she has taken on a mentoring role to quarter-final opponent Sloane Stephens.
The pair set up an all-American last-eight clash in Melbourne with contrasting wins.
Williams maintained her blistering form with a 6-2 6-0 annihilation of Maria Kirilenko , while Stephens struggled to a 6-1 3-6 7-5 win over Bojana Jovanovski.
And while some observers have claimed Williams is playing a role in overseeing Stephens' progress, the world number three insists she is nothing more than an interested spectator in the 19-year-old's career.
"I would need a better definition of the word mentor," she said. "I just feel like the older one and maybe some of the younger players look up to me.
"It's hard to be a real mentor when you're still in competition.
"I don't feel any responsibility (towards her). I doubt she has any expectations of me to be responsible for anything. Maybe she does. I don't know."
Stephens has been tipped to follow in the Williams sisters' footsteps and become the next great black player to emerge from the US.
And Williams was impressed when they met two weeks ago in Brisbane.
"I took a lot from that match," she said of the 6-4 6-3 win.
"She plays well. Like I said after the match, she can be the greatest player. I feel like it will be another good match and a good opportunity for both of us. One of us will definitely be in the semi-finals which is awesome."