|Venus Williams, shown on Tuesday in the first round of|
the Bank of the West Classic, has never lost a set in four
matches against Victoria Azarenka. Photo by Paul Bauman
Williams beat Azarenka, seeded fourth, 6-4, 7-6 (1) at Stanford to reach the quarterfinals. Williams, 34, has never lost a set in four matches against Azarenka, all on hardcourts.
Williams and Azarenka are both former top-ranked players, multiple Grand Slam singles champions (seven titles for Williams; two for Azarenka) and past Bank of the West titlists (Williams in 2000 and 2010; Azarenka in 2010).
Both also have battled health issues.
Williams, 34, was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, an energy-sapping autoimmune disease, in 2011.
Azarenka, who turned 25 today, has missed most of this year with a left foot injury. The Belarusian has won one match in four tournaments since advancing to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, which she won in 2012 and 2013, in January.
Azarenka has fallen to 10th in the world and Williams to 25th.
Williams will take on eighth-seeded Andrea Petkovic, a free-spirited German playing in the Bank of the West Classic for the first time this year, on Friday not before 4 p.m.
In the featured night match, top-ranked Serena Williams will meet fifth-seeded Ana Ivanovic at 8 p.m. Ivanovic, currently ranked 11th, will return to the top 10 for the first time since May 2009 on Monday.
The day session will start at noon with third-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany facing Garbine Muguruza of Spain, followed by unseeded Varvara Lepchenko against 19-year-old qualifier Sachia Vickery in an all-American matchup.
Kerber outlasted American CoCo Vandeweghe, the 2012 runner-up to Serena Williams at Stanford as a lucky loser, 7-6 (4), 0-6, 6-2.
Ivanovic, another former world No. 1 and Grand Slam singles champion, dispatched qualifier Carol Zhao, a Stanford sophomore from Canada, 6-1, 6-1.
Muguruza, 20, eliminated 31-year-old Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-4. Muguruza reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal in this year's French Open, routing Serena Williams 6-2, 6-2 in the second round.
At Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Center
Angelique Kerber (3), Germany, def. CoCo Vandeweghe, United States, 7-6 (4), 0-6, 6-2.
Ana Ivanovic (5), Serbia, def. Carol Zhao, Canada, 6-1, 6-1.
Venus Williams, United States, def. Victoria Azarenka (4), Belarus, 6-4, 7-6 (1).
Varvara Lepchenko, United States, vs. Sachia Vickery, United States.
Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia, and Arantxa Parra Santonja, Spain, vs. Paula Kania, Poland, and Katerina Siniakova, Czech Republic.