Victoria Azarenka stuns defending champ Elina Svitolina, but Ashleigh Barty survives

Victoria Azarenka delighted

Elina Svitolina’s defence of her Italian Open title came to an abrupt end on Tuesday as she fell at the first hurdle against Victoria Azarenka.

The two-time defending champion, who had a bye in the first round, suffered a 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 defeat in two hours and 14 minutes at the hands of Azarenka, who saved a match point in the third set.

“It was such a dramatic match – it was a lot of breaks and stuff with the rain, and that was quite difficult to deal with,” Azarenka said.

“But I’m happy I was able to just block it out, play my game, survive the match point, and then pick it up from there to play great tennis.”

Fourth seed Karolina Pliskova had no problems booking her place in the third round as she eased to a 6-3, 6-3 win over Ajla Tomljanovic.

Eighth seed Ashleigh Barty had a battle on her hands as she required three sets to beat Viktoria Kuzmova from Slovakia 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

In first-round action, Belinda Bencic came from a set down to upset 12th seed Anastasija Sevastova 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, Darya Kasatkina beat Irina Begu 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) while Maria Sakkari was a 6-1, 7-5 winner over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

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