PARIS, June 1 (Reuters) - Third seed Victoria Azarenka stuttered into the last 16 of the French Open but her title credentials were given a rigorous examination in a 4-6 6-3 6-1 win over a spirited Alize Cornet on Saturday.
For large periods of the encounter, France's Cornet out-fought the double Australian Open champion and looked much sharper around the court.
Cornet, seeded 31, took the first set and both players struggled to find consistency on their serve, frequently exchanging breaks, as the sun made a rare appearance at Roland Garros.
The pair then went toe-to-toe before the Belarussian found her rhythm and broke Cornet's resolve, taking the second set and running away with the third.
"I'm not surprised by how she played, she showed what a terrific player she can be," Azarenka said in a courtside interview. "That's the best tennis she has played against me."
Azarenka will now play the winner of Marion Bartoli's match against former champion Francesca Schiavone. (Editing by Clare Fallon)