By Erwin Ong
CINCINNATI -- Victoria Azarenka’s campaign for a trophy at the 2013 Western & Southern Open began on Tuesday morning with a slight hiccup.
The Belarusian, ranked No. 2 in the world, breezed through her first set against American wildcard Vania King 6-1 but got broken early in the second. "There were quite a few unforced errors and just really fast mistakes," Azarenka shared after the match. "So it went kind of quick, but I was glad that I could turn around and come back strong."
Azarenka did credit King for the close second set, which Azarenka won in a tiebreak, 7-6(6). "[King] was already in the game playing at a much higher level and really going for her shots." Now through to the round of 16, Azarenka could face Serbian Ana Ivanovic if seedings hold.
On the men’s side, Feliciano Lopez avenged his loss to Kei Nishikori in the final of the U.S. National Indoors in Memphis with a 6-4, 7-6(4) win in the first round. Lopez will next play Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.
Tommy Haas, Tommy Robredo, Mikhail Youzhny, Stanislas Wawrinka, and Nikolay Davydenko also advanced.
Unseeded John Isner beat Florian Mayer 6-3, 6-4 and without issue. A knee injury that forced the 6'9" American to retire early in the 2013 Wimbledon draw has no lingering effect. Even though Cincinnati is his fourth tournament in a row, Isner finds his game at a good place, saying, "I actually feel rejuvenated."
Isner is also undaunted by talk of American men falling out of the rankings, as there is currently no American man in the Top 20, for the first time since the data was kept in 1973. "I'm just trying to handle my business and play tennis for as long as I can. I'm having fun doing it. So I don't really think about it."
On the women's side, Jamie Hampton won her match against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets. She next faces Australian Samantha Stosur.
Sorana Cirstea, a finalist at last week’s Rogers Cup ladies’ event in Toronto, withdrew from her first-round match against Yanina Wickmayer due to a left abdominal injury. She has been replaced in the draw by Monica Niculescu.
Matches later in the day include third seed Maria Sharapova going up against American Sloane Stephens, followed by Roger Federer, seeded fifth at this event, facing German Philipp Kohlschreiber.