Azarenka ousted at Madrid Open

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Azarenka ousted at Madrid Open

MADRID - Victoria Azarenka lost her temper, broke her racket and argued with the chair umpire in an exit Wednesday from the Madrid Open, where she’s been the runner-up the past two years.

Losing to Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3, in the second round ended Azarenka’s 18-match winning streak to start the season.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal spoiled Benoit Paire’s 24th birthday by sweeping past the Frenchman, 6-3, 6-4. The fifth-ranked Nadal’s hopes of returning to the top four in time for the French Open were boosted by Novak Djokovic’s loss on Tuesday.

Azarenka returned after a two-month layoff because of an ankle injury. She double-faulted five times and got in just over half of her first serves. The 24th-ranked Makarova’s first-serve accuracy rate was 60 percent.

The Belarusian berated Alves after picking up a second code violation for smashing her racket in the third set.

“After all you’ve done, how are you still in the game?” Azarenka shouted at the official while on court.

Azarenka said she felt confused by some refereeing decisions.

“I didn’t understand what happened, what I did,” she said. “I was very sure that I didn’t have a code violation, that’s why I broke my racket.”

Makarova rallied from 3-1 down in the third set, winning five straight games.

“We played many times before and I didn’t win so much,” Makarova said. “It was a really tough first set for me. When I came out, I wasn’t playing as well as I wanted to. Then I got a little bit angry, and it was really tough to change my game and my mentality.”

But she credits recent strong Fed Cup play on clay for helping her win. Makarova and Elena Vesnina won the decisive doubles match last month to lift Russia past Slovakia, 3-2, and reach the Fed Cup final in November.

Meanwhile, Nadal landed 80 percent of his first serves and recovered some near-winners in a match that Paire stretched to nearly 90 minutes.

“It was a tough game as he is an awkward opponent because he doesn’t allow you to build up a rhythm,” Nadal said. “I had a difficult time with the break point in the second set, I don’t know how I saved it .?.?. by miracle, I think.”

Nadal commented on Djokovic’s early ouster by Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.

“Novak has had a fantastic year but played against a very young player who has been doing very well, and against whom I, too, was about to lose in Monte Carlo,” Nadal said. “With this level of tennis, you can depart at any time in a tournament.”

Also, seventh-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France beat Robin Haase of the Netherlands, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2), sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic got past Jerzy Janowicz of Poland, 6-7 (3) 6-3, 6-2, and Kei Nishikori of Japan defeated Viktor Troicki of Serbia, 7-5, 6-2.

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