DOHA (AP) Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka beat Angelique Kerber 6-0, 6-3 in the first round of the Qatar Total Open on Monday.
The Belarusian, who won in 2012 and 2013, was forced to withdraw last year due to a foot inflammation.
Returning to Doha as a wild card entrant, Azarenka needed just 66 minutes to beat the eighth-seeded Kerber.
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”I’m pretty happy with it. You know, there isn’t a lot of things to complain about, but I always try to look at things what I can do maybe better or just stay more consistent,” said the former world No.1, who has now slipped to 48.
Kerber, who lost to Simona Halep in last year’s final, was blown away in the first set in which Azarenka dropped just nine points.
The German world No.11 came back in the second set in which she got her first service break in the sixth game. However Azarenka, playing her first match since hiring Wim Fissette as her new coach, broke back in sixth and went on to break Kerber’s serve again in the eighth to seal the contest.
Azarenka’s forehand winners proved too good for Kerber who did not help her cause with six double faults.
”In the first set, I really stepped with the right attitude, game plan and executed it well,” Azarenka said.
”And in the second set, I knew she was going to fight back and for me it was important to just stay consistent and stay in the moment still stay in command.” added Azarenka who hopes to become the first player to win Qatar Total Open three times.
Russian pair Maria Sharapova (2005, 2008) and Anastasia Myskina (2003, 2004) are the others to have won it twice.
Meanwhile, eight-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams rolled the clock back with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 comeback win over Australia’s Casey Dellacqua.
Earlier in the opening match, Italy’s Flavia Pennetta beat Former French Open champion Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 in windy conditions.
”I was really happy in the way I played and fight. The conditions were really tough,” said Pennetta.