Classy Azarenka recovers to down Watson

Victoria Azarenka continued her impressive comeback with a three-set victory over local favourite Heather Watson at Wimbledon on Friday.

The Belarusian, playing only her second event since giving birth to her first child, battled back from a set down to defeat Watson 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Form may be temporary, but class is permanent, as the former Australian Open champion showed with her impressive performance on Centre Court.

Watson had the British crowds on their feet after taking the first set courtesy of two breaks to one. The World No 102 broke early only for Azarenka to return the favour, but was able to hit back with another break to clinch the opener.

Azarenka's head didn't drop, however, and her experience shone through as the match progressed.

An early break in the second handed her a 3-0 lead, and another break would soon follow as Azarenka leveled the scores at a set apiece.

Watson was the first to blink in the decider, giving away the break after a marathon seventh game to hand Azarenka a 4-3 lead.

The Brit showed remarkable resilience to get the break back in the very next game, but Azarenka had one final ace up her sleeve.

She broke again to lead 5-4 before saving two break points as she tried to serve out the match, holding on to clinch match point and secure her place in the round of 16.

“This is the matches that you’re looking for,” Azarenka said after the match. "To try to find a way when not everything goes great.

“I’m very happy that I was able to stay tough and find some other ways to win today. In the third set I really stepped up in the key moments.”

Elsewhere, there was an upset on Court 12 as 27th seed Ana Konjuh eliminated eighth seed Dominika Cibulkova 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 6-4.

Second seed Simona Halep and fourth seed Elina Svitolina enjoyed better fortunes.

Halep defeated Peng Shuai 6-4, 7-6 (9-7), while Svitolina was a 6-1, 7-5 winner over Carina Witthöft

Sixth seed Johanna Konta, meanwhile, kept British hopes alive in the women's singles draw with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over 21-year-old Maria Sakkari.

Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko advaced beating Camila Giorgi 7-5, 7-5, while 10th seed Venus Williams remains in the hunt as well after getting past Naomi Osaka 7-6 (7-3), 6-4.

All of Friday’s women’s singles results

13-Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia) beat Camila Giorgi (Italy) 7-5 7-5
6-Johanna Konta (Britain) beat Maria Sakkari (Greece) 6-4 6-1
4-Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) beat Carina Witthoeft (Germany) 6-1 7-5
2-Simona Halep (Romania) beat Peng Shuai (China) 6-4 7-6(7)
27-Ana Konjuh (Croatia) beat 8-Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia) 7-6(3) 3-6 6-4
Victoria Azarenka (Belarus) beat Heather Watson (Britain) 3-6 6-1 6-4
21-Caroline Garcia (France) beat Madison Brengle (U.S.) 6-4 6-3
10-Venus Williams (U.S) beat Naomi Osaka (Japan) 7-6(3) 6-4

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