Azarenka into Round of 16 at Australian Open


Third-seeded Victoria Azarenka has advanced to the fourth round of the Australian Open, winning a matchup between champions of two warm-up tournaments when she beat Mona Barthel 6-2, 6-4 on Friday.

Azarenka, who beat four seeded players including French Open champion Li Na to win the Sydney International last week, has only lost eight games at Melbourne Park en route to the Round of 16.

The 22-year-old from Belarus will next meet Czech player Iveta Benesova, who beat Russian qualifier Nina Bratchikova 6-1, 6-3.

Barthel was on a 10-match winning run in Australia after capturing her first title at the Hobart International last week as a qualifier.

Barthel hit 20 winners — one more than the third-seeded Belarusian — but she was broken three times and failed to convert three break opportunities, including one when Azarenka was serving for the match.

Azarenka won on her fifth match point when Barthel missed a shot into the net.

"I've been playing in the end not brave enough to finish the match ... I had to get a little," angry, Azarenka said. She wasn't able to review a line call in the last game after wasting three challenges. "I was wrong three times so it's my fault, too."

Defending champion Kim Clijsters was set to play Daniela Hantuchova in a night match on Hisense Arena.

Five-time Australian Open champion winner Serena Williams notched her 500th career singles victory Thursday when she beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-0, 6-4 in the second round.

"Five hundred is a lot of matches to play, let alone to win," she said, adding that the left ankle she badly sprained two weeks ago wasn't an issue. "It's totally fine. It was my good ankle, so I'm good."

Williams won the Australian Open in 2009 and 2010, but didn't defend her title in 2011 because she was injured.

No. 2 Petra Kvitova moved into the third round with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 win over Carla Suarez Navarro. Maria Sharapova, one of the three former champions in the women's draw, routed U.S. qualifier Jamie Hampton 6-0, 6-1. No. 7 Vera Zvonareva, a two-time semifinalist at Melbourne Park, No. 9 Marion Bartoli and No. 21 Ana Ivanovic all advanced.