Madrid Open: Karolina Pliskova holds off Victoria Azarenka in round two

Karolina Pliskova and Victoria Azarenka shake hands at the net after their second round Madrid Open tie
Sixth seed Karolina Pliskova took just over two hours to beat Victoria Azarenka

World number six Karolina Pliskova held her nerve to secure a hard-fought 6-2 1-6 7-5 victory over Victoria Azarenka in round two of the Madrid Open.

Pliskova, 26, eased to the first set only for fellow former world number one Azarenka, 28, to respond by winning five straight games to take the second.

The Belarusian, playing her first clay tournament in two years, hit back from 3-0 down to level the deciding set.

But Pliskova held a tense 11th game before breaking serve to win the match.

The Czech, who won the Stuttgart Open last week, will face Sloane Stephens in round three after the US Open champion beat Australia's Samantha Stosur 6-1 6-3.

Azarenka missed a large part of last season and this year's Australian Open due to a custody battle over her son, who was born in December 2016.

The two-time Grand Slam winner will play in the Italian Open next week before making a return to the French Open for the first time since 2016.

Earlier on Monday, world number two Caroline Wozniacki edged past Australia's Ashleigh Barty 6-2 4-6 6-4.

The Australian Open champion trailed 4-2 in the deciding set but claimed four straight games to secure victory and set up a third-round tie with Dutch player Kiki Bertens, who beat Latvian 15th seed Anastasija Sevastova 6-1 6-4.

Former world number one Maria Sharapova remains on course for a potential quarter-final against Wozniacki after she beat Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu 7-5 6-1.

The 31-year-old Russian, who has had an arm injury in recent weeks, will face Kristina Mladenovic in round three after the Frenchwoman beat China's Shaui Zhang 6-4 4-6 6-3.

Zhang later partnered Johanna Konta to victory in round one of the women's doubles as they beat Spanish pair Anabel Medina Garrigues and Arantxa Parra Santonja 2-6 6-3 10-3 to set up a tie with fourth seeds Xu Yifan and Gabriela Dabrowski.

British number one Konta will face American qualifier Bernarda Pera in round two of the women's singles on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in round two, 11th seed Julia Goerges came from a set down to beat Spanish wildcard Lara Arruabarrena 2-6 6-4 6-2.

The German takes on France's Caroline Garcia in round three after the seventh seed secured a 6-3 7-5 victory over Croatia's Petra Martic.

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