LONDON– Victoria Azarenka’s Grand Slam comeback has extended into the second week at Wimbledon.
The former No. 1 from Belarus, who gave birth to her first child in December, advanced to the fourth round on Friday by beating Heather Watson 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Centre Court.
Azarenka also lost the first set in her opening match, but that was only her third match since her return. Friday’s match was her fifth.
“This is the matches that you’re looking for,” Azarenka said, “try to find a way when not everything goes great.”
The two-time Grand Slam champion will next face Simona Halep on Monday in the fourth round. The second-seeded Romanian beat Peng Shuai 6-4, 7-6 (7).
Two-time champion Rafael Nadal was next on Centre Court against Karen Khachanov, and defending champion Andy Murray was to follow against Fabio Fognini.
On No. 1 Court, five-time champion Venus Williams was to play Naomi Osaka.
Also, ninth-seeded Kei Nishikori was eliminated. The 2014 U.S. Open finalist lost to Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-3.
“I couldn’t maintain my level high enough,” Nishikori said. “He served well every set. Was really tough time (on) my return game.”
Marin Cilic, the man who beat Nishikori in that U.S. Open final, advanced to the third round by beating Steve Johnson 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-4. The seventh-seeded Croat will next face Bautista Agut on Monday.
Sixteenth-seeded Gilles Muller also advanced in the men’s draw, while fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina, sixth-seeded Johanna Konta, 21st-seeded Caroline Garcia and 27th-seeded Ana Konjuh reached the fourth round among the women.