Sloane Stephens maintained her dominance over Victoria Azarenka with a three-set victory in round two of the Madrid Open. Stephens, 26, had won her three previous meetings with the Belarusian and made it four in a row with a 6-4 2-6 6-2 triumph in the Spanish capital.
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Having lost the opening set, former world number one Azarenka levelled affairs with two breaks of serve in the second. She had chances in the decider but failed to convert two break points at 1-1, with Sloane Stephens then upping her level to take the match in two hours and six minutes.
The American’s reward will be a last-16 showdown against either China’s Zheng Saisai or Alize Cornet of France. Elsewhere, seventh seed Kiki Bertens was a straight-sets winner over Jelena Ostapenko, while Anastasija Sevastova downed Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania 6-3 6-4. Naomi Osaka is top seed at the event and will face Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo in round two after beating Dominika Cibulkova on Sunday.