Azarenka aims for In­dian Wells re­peat

The Pak Banker - - INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS/SPORTS -

Aus­tralian Open cham­pion Vic­to­ria Azarenka ar­rives for her ti­tle de­fence at In­dian Wells seek­ing an­other vic­tory to take her closer to re­gain­ing the world No 1 rank­ing.

A ti­tle re­peat on the hard courts of the Cal­i­for­nia desert won't send Azarenka back to the top of the heap, but it could set the stage for a show­down with cur­rent No 1 Ser­ena Wil­liams later in March in Mi­ami. Once again, Wil­liams and her sis­ter Venus are skip­ping the BNP Paribas Open, where other no­table ab­sen­tees in­clude China's Li Na. World No 5 Li is still bat­tling the nag­ging ef­fects of the left an­kle in­jury she suf­fered in los­ing the Aus­tralian Open fi­nal to Azarenka. Women's main draw play in the com­bined WTA and ATP Masters tour­na­ment be­gins on Wed­nes­day, although the top 32 seeds all en­joy first-round byes.

World No 3 Maria Shara­pova, routed in straight sets by Azarenka in last year's fi­nal, is seeded sec­ond ahead of Poland's Ag­nieszka Rad­wan­ska and Ger­many's An­gelique Kerber. Roger Fed­erer is the de­fend­ing men's cham­pion, and seeded sec­ond be­hind world No 1 No­vak Djokovic.

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