Shahar Pe’er squandered a golden opportunity to finally string together
consecutive wins on Tuesday, losing 7-6 (2), 6-4 to Varvara Lepchenko in the
second round of the Madrid Open.
Pe’er, ranked No. 53 in the world, was
broken five times against Lepchenko (77) and failed to progress past the second
round for a seventh straight tournament.
Top seeds Victoria Azarenka and
Maria Sharapova made serene progress past Czech opponents into the third round
Azarenka dispatched Andrea Hlavackova 6-3, 7-6 and
Sharapova saw off Klara Zakopalova 6-4, 6-3.
Sharapova, who beat world
No. 1 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
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
The three-time 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
Sharapova said the blue clay was a little more slippery
than its red counterpart but that she generally approved of the decision to
switch colors, which organizers argue makes it easier to follow the yellow balls
“I did feel a bit of a difference with the amount of clay
that is on the court and the bounces were a bit off, especially the first couple
of days of practice, but I feel like it’s gotten better and settled in a little
bit,” she told a news conference.
“You just have to work on your balance
a bit more,” added the 25-year-old world No. 2, who will be chasing the only
Grand Slam that eludes her at the French Open starting later this
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
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
Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, a former world No. 1 who is seeded 13.
“It is a
little bit slippery but it’s the same for everybody,” Azarenka told a news
conference when asked about the blue court.
“I don’t like to complain
about the surface, it is what it is,” the Australian Open champion
“You have to deal with it and nobody’s going to change it now so
everybody is playing in the same conditions.”