CARLSBAD, United States / California: Top-seeded Victoria Azarenka, playing for the first time since an injury withdrawal from Wimbledon, celebrated her birthday with a WTA win at Carlsbad on Wednesday. Australian Open champion Azarenka, ranked third in the world, cruised into the quarter-finals with a 6-2, 6-3 second-round victory over former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy.
Azarenka, who turned 24 on Wednesday, hadn’t played since limping out of Wimbledon after hurting her right knee in her first-round win over Portugal’s Maria Joao Koehler.
Former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, the third seed, also eased into the quarters, beating Britain’s Laura Robson 6-1, 6-2
Kvitova hadn’t been counting on an easy passage.
Fourth-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy advanced with a 6-4, 6-2 win over American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
Vinci will next face either US qualifier Coco Vandeweghe or former world number one Ana Ivanovic.
Ivanovic, the seventh seed from Serbia, rallied to beat defending champion Dominika Cibulkova 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the last match of the first round.
Cibulkova, who won the title up the California coast at Stanford on Sunday, was looking perfectly able to maintain her momentum as she took the opening set. But with the second set deadlocked at 3-3, Ivanovic came alive, winning eight games to take the second frame and build a 5-0 lead in the third.
Fifth-seeded Australian Samantha Stosur was in action on Wednesday night, taking on Kazakh qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva.
But first, Swiss great Martina Hingis was on court in her first WTA match since her second retirement in 2007, playing doubles with Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova.