CARLSBAD, Calif. – Top-seeded Victoria Azaranka beat seventh-seeded Ana Ivanovic 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 on Saturday to advance to the final in the Southern California Open.
Azarenka, ranked No. 3, won a sloppy match as both players committed more unforced errors than hit winners. The two-time Australian Open champ will face the winner of the late match between wild-card entrant Virginie Razzano of France and fifth-seeded Sam Stosur of Australia.
The win will propel Azarenka, the former world No. 1, past Maria Sharapova of Russia into the No. 2 slot when the new rankings come out Monday.
Azarenka, from Belarus and playing her first event since withdrawing from Wimbledon because of a right knee injury, scored the first of her two service breaks of the final set to take a 3-2 lead. When Ivanovic, from Serbia, had four unforced errors in the ninth game, including a backhand into the net on the final point, Azarenka secured another break for the win.
The first set wasn't as lopsided as the score indicated. Each of the first four games were long and drawn out. But after Azarenka broke the Serb's serve at love in the fifth game, she quickly held serve to win the first set.
Ivanovic opened the second set by holding her serve, a big improvement from the first set when she made just 43 percent of her serves and won only 53 percent of her first serve points.
Ivanovic clearly seemed to gain confidence as she won the first three games and took a 4-1 lead. But Azarenka then rolled off the next three games to tie the set before Ivanovic closed it out by holding serve, then breaking Azarenka's serve at love to force a third set.