Azarenka wins; Stephens to play Williams in Brisbane

BRISBANE, Australia — Top-ranked Victoria Azarenka opened her season with a 6-3, 6-3 win Wednesday over Sabine Lisicki to join No. 3 Serena Williams and fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber in the Brisbane International quarterfinals.

American Sloane Stephens had a 6-3, 6-4 win over Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson to set up a quarterfinal against Williams. She’ll face a childhood hero.

“Obviously, she’s been a really great influence in my tennis,” the 19-year-old Stephens said. “I’m excited to play her and get on the court with her. I think it’ll be fun.”

Williams said she has been following Stephens’ career and was “a fan” of her young Fed Cup teammate’s style.

In her first tournament back since being sidelined by an abdominal injury following the U.S. Open, Stephens isn’t awed by the prospect of taking on the 15-time Grand Slam winner.

“Obviously, I always was like, ‘Oh, my God. I love her to death. She’s amazing, whatever,’ ” Stephens recalled of early meetings with Williams. “Now she’s like an actual person and I’m like, ‘Oh, hi. How is it going?’ She’s not like a hero anymore. She’s just a friend.

Kerber recovered from 5-2 down in the deciding tiebreaker to beat Puerto Rican qualifier Monica Puig, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7).

In men’s second-round matches, third-seeded Gilles Simon of France beat Colombia’s Alejandro Falla 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) and No. 5 Kei Nishikori of Japan had a 6-3, 6-3 win over Tommy Robredo of Spain.

Sixth-seeded Florian Mayer lost 6-4, 6-2 to 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis.

In the night match, fourth-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov was leading 6-2, 4-1 when Jarkko Nieminen of Finland retired because of a migraine.

Hopman Cup

Djokovic loses to Tomic: In Perth, Australia, Bernard Tomic upset top-ranked Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4 but Australia lost to Serbia 2-1 at the Hopman Cup on Wednesday.

Ana Ivanovic evened the round-robin event by overwhelming Australian 16-year-old Ashleigh Barty 6-2, 6-3. Barty made a positive start, but once Ivanovic made the first break to lead 4-2 she took control. The Serbians combined to win the mixed doubles 6-4, 6-7 (8), 10-6.

Tomic put Djokovic under pressure right from the start, holding five break points in the opening game. Djokovic survived that threat and held a break point of his own to lead 5-3 but netted a backhand. Tomic broke serve in the next game with a crosscourt forehand winner and served out the set.

He kept up the pressure in the second set, failing to convert a break point to lead 4-3. But he won his sixth break point at 5-4 and he served out his first win over Djokovic in four tries.

Qatar Open

Davydenko, Monfils reach quarterfinals in Qatar: In Doha, Qatar, after struggling with injuries last year, Nikolay Davydenko and Gael Monfils are playing some of their best tennis at the Qatar Open.

Davydenko reached the quarterfinals by beating fourth-seeded Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 6-3. He was joined by Monfils, who upset third-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

Top-seeded David Ferrer beat Germany qualifier Tobias Kamke 6-3, 6-2. Second-seeded Richard Gasquet rallied past 55th-ranked Grega Zemlja of Slovenia 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 in a match that lasted nearly 3 hours.

Davydenko, once ranked as high as No. 3, combined a consistent first serve with aggressive play to unnerve the 25th-ranked Youzhny.

Shenzhen Open

Li defeats Cohen: In Shenzhen, China, top-seeded Li Na advanced to the Shenzhen Open quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Julia Cohen of the United States in the second round on Wednesday.

The Chinese star overcame five double faults and struggled with her serve during the 94-minute match.

Li will play eighth-seeded Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia.

No. 2-seeded Marion Bartoli also advanced by defeating Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele 7-5, 6-4.

China’s Zhou Yi-miao, ranked 177, completed the quarterfinals lineup with a 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (3) win over Taiwan’s Chang Kai-chen.

Chennai Open

T ipsarevic wins, Haase loses in SECOnd round: In Chennai, India, second-seeded Janko Tipsarevic beat French player Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-2, 6-3 Wednesday in the second round of the Chennai Open.

Tipsarevic, who had a bye in the first round, took a 3-0 lead and maintained the tempo to set up a quarterfinal match with Go Soeda of Japan. Also, Aljaz Bedene defeated sixth-seeded Robin Haase 7-5, 6-3.

, and fourth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka beat German qualifier Cedrik Marcel-Stebe 6-4, 6-3.

Soeda beat Indian qualifier Prakash Amritraj 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-4.