Azarenka, Sharapova in last eight in China Open
Beijing: Top two seeds Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, both bidding for their first title here, eased into the last eight in straight-set victories at the China Open Thursday.
Belarus` World No.1 Azarenka defeated qualifier Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-3, 6-3 to set up a quarter-final clash with Switzerland`s Romina Oprandi, while Sharapova cruised past World No.90 Polona Hercog of Slovenia 6-0, 6-2 in just one hour and a half, as reported by a news agency.
Azarenka, who entered the last 16 without dropping a single set, dominated her third-round match as she broke four times to claim the victory. However, she felt that the match was much closer than the score suggested.
"I didn`t expect her to be that aggressive, she was pretty successful. It was quite challenging," said Azarenka, who increased her record against Vesnina to 3-0.
Sharapova, who survived an early-exit scare with a hard-fought 7-5, 7-5 opening victory over Simona Halep of Romania, enjoyed a much easier encounter against Hercog as she was broken only once.
"I had a long first round, even though it was two sets, but today and yesterday were definitely a little bit quicker," said Sharapova.
"I played really well in the beginning and got a little tense in the second set, but I felt like I really needed that challenge. It`s nice to be in the quarterfinal stage of this tournament."
Sharapova will face her first real test in the next round when she meets fifth seed Angelique Kerber of Germany, winner over former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 6-1, 2-6, 6-4.