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Lucky loser puts Azarenka to the test

6 January 2016, by AAP

Former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka has moved into the Brisbane International quarterfinals with a straight sets win over Belgian lucky loser Ysaline Bonaventure.

The two-time Australian Open champion endured a tougher than expected match against the hard-hitting Bonaventure, before closing it out 6-3, 6-2 in just under 90 minutes.

Bonaventure, who won a spot in the main draw after top seed Simona Halep withdrew due to injury on Tuesday, provided plenty of early fight against Azarenka.

The world No.170, playing for just the second time in a WTA main draw, broke Azarenka in the opening game and nearly took a 3-1 lead in a marathon 20-minute service game.

But after Azarenka secured the break back in that game she didn’t look back, claiming the set despite 18 winners from the gutsy Belgian.

“Definitely the best improvement is to do it in the match,” Azarenka said.

“I definitely missed playing since I haven’t in a while, so I’m really enjoying myself on the court right now and trying to do the best out there.”

Azarenka will now face Italian eighth seed Roberta Vinci for a spot in the semi-finals.

US Open finalist Vinci poses a different challenge for Azarenka, with the 32-year-old full of confidence after she stunned Serena Williams in New York last year.

“Obviously she’s been playing really well and showing some great results,” Azarenka said.

“I think you can see improvement in her game.”

Earlier, German fourth seed Angelique Kerber and compatriot Andrea Petkovic also booked their last eight spots.

Kerber took just 62 minutes to thrash American Madison Brengle 6-3, 6-0 while doubles partner Petkovic will face American qualifier Samantha Crawford.

The 20-year-old American claimed the biggest win of her career on Wednesday as she upset Swiss rising star, seventh seed Belinda Bencic.

Petkovic admitted she would have to study up on world No.142 Crawford following her impressive 7-5, 7-5 win.

“It’s going to be classic YouTube stalking from my side,” Petkovic said.

“I don’t know if I’m going to find a lot, but she must be playing tremendously well to beat Bencic … she must be in a good groove.”

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