Former world number one Victoria Azarenka beat fellow Belarusian Vera Lapko today to set up a meeting with 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in the second round of the Women's Tennis Association Premier Mandatory event in Indian Wells.
Azarenka closed out the first-round matches on the bottom half of the draw with a 6-2, 6-3 victory at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
The 29-year-old was clinical over the course of the match that lasted one hour and 24 minutes, winning an impressive 10 straight games after falling behind 2-0, 40-0 in the first set.
Her clash with American 10th seed Williams will be a repeat of the 2016 final, which she won.
"It’s obviously going to be a really difficult match playing Serena," Azarenka said.
"It's not a second-round match for sure.
"It's going to be a huge challenge.
"We haven't played in three years, we haven't played since we both became moms, so it's going to be a special one."
Among today's other first-round winners was Australia's Daria Gavrilova, who defeated Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 to register her first victory in seven matches played this season.
There was also success for the United States’ Sofia Kenin after she overcame China’s Yafan Wang 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, while Czech Republic’s Barbora Strýcová beat Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic 6-2, 7-6 and Canada’s Bianca Andreescu defeated Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu 6-7, 6-3, 6-3.
Strýcová’s reward is a clash with second seed Simona Halep of Romania.
In addition to Andreescu, three other wildcards were winners today as the US's Amanda Anisimova, Lauren Davis and Jennifer Brady all advanced in straight sets.
Anisimova downed Serbia's Aleksandra Krunić 6-0, 6-4, while Davis overcame Slovakia's Anna Karolína Schmiedlová 7-6, 6-2 and Brady beat Japan’s Nao Hibino 7-5, 6-3.
Top seed Naomi Osaka will face the winner of the match between France’s Kristina Mladenovic and China’s Zheng Saisai, scheduled for tomorrow, in the second round.
The men's competition is due to begin tomorrow.
It is an Association of Tennis Professionals Masters 1000 event.