BRISBANE (AFP) - Former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka moved into the quarter-finals of the Brisbane International when she downed little-known Belgian Ysaline Bonaventure 6-3, 6-2 on Wednesday.
Bonaventure, who had lost in the final qualifying round, gained a main draw spot when top seed Simona Halep pulled out with a leg injury on Tuesday.
She pushed the two-time Grand Slam winner hard, particularly in the 56-minute first set when she blasted 18 clean winners.
But once Azarenka weathered the storm she was able to master the 21-year-old Belgian and was never really troubled thereafter.
"I think the beginning definitely was really tough," said 26-year-old Azarenka. "She played very well. You know, it's always a little bit of a moment of adaptation when you don't know who you play, so it's an adjustment.
"But I'm glad I could stay strong in the beginning and turn it around, because it wasn't going my way at first for sure."
Azarenka spent 51 weeks as world No. 1 in 2012 but suffered a severe foot injury in 2014, finishing the year at 32. She was then hampered by a left thigh problem in 2015, which affected her climb back to the top 10.
Azarenka started the year at No. 22 and is unseeded this week.