Former world number one Venus Williams overpowered ailing top seed Victoria Azarenka 6-2 6-4 with ruthless efficiency to reach the last 16 of the Pan Pacific Open yesterday.
The seven-times grand slam champion showed glimpses of her gunslinging best under the Tokyo floodlights against a grimacing Azerenka, who spent much of the match bending over her racquet between points and tugging sharply on her purple top in frustration.
“I’ve sat through two US Open finals between her and Serena and you could tell from the first game she wasn’t herself,” Williams told reporters.
“It was definitely hard to concentrate because you sort of feel bad. I don’t know what was bothering her but I just hope she feels better.”
Azarenka, beaten by Serena Williams in the US Open final earlier this month in a repeat of the 2012 championship match in New York, had a large fan brought courtside to try to cool off at changeovers.
But such was her obvious discomfort she failed to threaten Williams. The 24-year-old Belarusian threw several tantrums as she repeatedly wafted shots off target or into the net.
“I haven’t been able to practise for three days and I didn’t sleep at all last night,” said Azarenka. “I felt hot, then cold.
Maybe I ate something bad but it’s been getting worse,” added the world number two, who complained of having eaten some bad sushi after a quarter-final exit from the USD 2.3 million event last year.