Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin fell victim to the veteran’s skills of Victoria Azarenka, with the American fifth seed suffering a 6-0, 6-0 humiliation in her opening match on Thursday at the Rome Masters.

Azarenka, who lifted the Melbourne trophy in 2012 and 2013, profited from 22 unforced errors off the American racquet to reach the third round at a deserted Foro Italico, where fans have been banned due to the COVID-10 pandemic.

The victory over a Top 5 player was the first for Azarenka since 2019 Stuttgart.

“Consistency was the key to the scoreline. I feel that I played really smart tennis today,” the winner said. “I was able to use a lot of court. I was able to use a lot of different pace. 

“So I’m very happy with that.”

The Belarus winner, runner-up at the US Open a week ago to Naomi Osaka. made the switch from hardcourt to clay between one continent and the other look easy in her 62 minutes of steamrolling on the Rome clay.

“I just miss fans because I feel like we are meant to play in front of them,” Azarenka said of the distinct lack of ambience in the stadium. “We are entertainers, so that’s what I miss.

“I don’t really allow myself to be distracted. I feel pretty focused on what I need to do.”

Azarena never faced a break point throughout while breaking the American six times.

So dominant was the winner that she committed just one unforced error in the opening set while allowing Kenin only eight points.

 Azarenka moved into a contest with qualifier Daria Kasatkina,who beat Katerina Siniakova 6-2, 6-3.

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