MADRID, (Reuters) – Victoria Azarenka lost her temper and was docked a point for smashing her racket on the way to a surprise 1-6 6-2 6-3 defeat by unseeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova in the Madrid Open second round yesterday.
The Belarussian world number three, runner-up in the last two editions of the premier clay event and coming back from an injury layoff, appeared firmly in control against her 24th-ranked opponent after cruising through the first set.
However, Makarova raised her game to take the second set and after Azarenka smashed her racket on the ground at 3-3 in the decider the Australian Open champion’s game fell apart and she suffered her first defeat of the year.
The umpire had already warned Azarenka at the end of the first set and when she took out her frustration on her racket she was given a point penalty.
“I just felt it was a weird call for me because I had no idea I had a code violation,” she told a news conference.
“But, I mean, it happened. It didn’t help, for sure, but it’s okay. It’s my own fault,” added the 23-year-old.
Azarenka’s vanquisher in the 2011 Madrid final, Czech Petra Kvitova, was another high profile casualty yesterday.
Seeded eight in the latest edition, Kvitova surrendered a one-set lead to fall 2-6 6-2 6-3 to Slovakian wildcard Daniela Hantuchova.
British teenager Laura Robson failed to build on her fine win against fourth-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round when she lost 5-7 6-2 7-6 to former world number one Ana Ivanovic of Serbia in the night session.
Seeded 16th, Ivanovic was a break down to the 19-year-old in the deciding set but the former French Open champion fought back to take the tie break 7-5 as Robson double faulted on match point to miss out on a place in the last eight.
“I’ll definitely take the positives out of the match,” Robson said.
“It’s been a good week of tennis for me and my level has picked up a lot since Estoril last week,” added Robson, who is currently without a coach after splitting with Zeljko Krajan just before the Madrid event.
“It’s not all bad and I’ve still got Rome to look forward to next week. It was a great match from her and hopefully we’ll have some more great matches in the future.”
Playing in her first event since her withdrawal at Indian Wells in March due to an ankle injury, Azarenka said the lack of competitive action had been a factor in yesterday’s reverse.
She vowed to get back on the practice court before heading to play in Rome as she continues her build-up to the French Open starting at the end of this month.
“I have been doing mistakes that I don’t do but that’s what comes after not playing for a long time.
“So I still have another tournament before the French Open to compete in and I’m going to go back on the practice court as I always do and work hard to improve.
“I have to give Ekaterina credit. She played well. I felt like I had a lot of chances, I just didn’t take them.”
Makarova, who will play 14th-seeded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli in the third round, had beaten Azarenka once in four previous attempts, a 7-6 6-4 success in the final of the Eastbourne grass court tournament in England in 2010.
She now has seven career wins against top-10 opponents but Azarenka is her highest-ranked victim.
“It was really tough in the first set. I didn’t play as good as I wanted and I was a little bit angry,” Makarova said.
“I don’t really like to play against her because it’s always tough but I wanted to move her around the court as much as possible and in the second and third sets it worked.”