Azarenka narrowly avoids Miami upset

March 26, 2012 at 9:12 PM

MIAMI, March 26 (UPI) -- World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka narrowly avoided an upset while Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova each collected victories Monday at the Sony Ericsson Open.

Azarenka dropped the first set to Dominika Cibulkova in decisive fashion and was down 1-5 in the second frame when she recovered, winning five games in a row.

The Belarus star eventually went on to post a 1-6, 7-6 (9-7), 7-5 victory over the 16th-seeded Slovakian to stay perfect on the season at 26-0 while advancing to the quarterfinals, where she will face No. 7 seed Marion Bartoli of France, who routed 22nd-seeded Russian Maria Kirilenko 6-1, 6-2.

The 10th-seeded American superstar Williams, a five-time Miami champion, dispatched No. 6 seed Samantha Stosur of Australia 7-5, 6-3, exacting a bit of revenge for the Aussie's upset of Williams in last year's U.S. Open final.

The 30-year-old Williams unleashed 20 aces Monday in a quest for her first Miami crown since 2008.

Sharapova overcame 11 double-faults to down fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) and advance to the quarterfinals. The former world No. 1 was last year's Miami runner-up, losing in the final to the currently top-ranked Azarenka.

Fifth-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska beat Spanish wild card Garbine Muguruza Blanco 6-3, 6-2.

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