Victoria Azarenka Says She Needs To Get Fitter And Faster
by Tom Gainey | September 30th, 2015, 10:58 am

The road back to the top hasn’t been easy for Victoria Azarenka. The Belarussian was once the toast of tennis, winning Grand Slams and ranking atop the WTA. But a series of injuries curtailed her career and they continue to hamper her progress.

Tuesday in Wuhan, Azarenka had to retire in the second set to British qualifier Johanna Konta due to a minor leg injury.

Despite all the changes to her team adding Wim Fissette and Sascha Bajin, and improved play, Azarenka, who ranks just No. 23, says she still has a way to go.

“I believe I need to get faster,” Azarenka said. “I need to get a little bit more mobile. I lost that, the first one‑two step movement that I had before in terms of endurance. I feel the longer the match goes, the better I get. I never had problems playing long matches where I get tired. That’s not a problem.

“I just need to, you know, focus on those things to get my movement actually a lot more sharp than I have. That’s it. I feel like I’m pretty strong in my body, but I need to get quicker, I need to get faster.”

Azarenka’s been badgered about her weight – something she won’t discuss. Her results this year have been decent but not great. Other than reaching the Doha finals where she lost to Lucie Safarova, Azarenka hasn’t reached another tournament semifinal since her Brisbane final run at the start of 2014!

And while she’s played Serena tough – taking a set in all three meetings with the World No. 1 this year – Azarenka is just 11-9 vs Top 20s this season.

“The game is getting better,” Azarenka said. “Even though I couldn’t move today, I served really well. So there are positive things. I just need time to make sure that I put a really good amount of work in and dedicate myself and focus on fitness, focus on few things, and I’ll be fine.”

Azarenka made the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and the US Open, extending her streak of reaching at least one Slam quarter in seven straight years. She now heads to Beijing next week.

“For me, it’s a little bit more difficult to motivate myself on the tournaments outside of Grand Slams,” she added. “That’s something that I have to fight through again. But definitely already everything is kind of prepared. Right now I just have tournaments that I have to go through. I try to work on the things in the tournaments already that I would like to apply a little bit more next year. But it is what it is. I just need to get better.”

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10 Comments for Victoria Azarenka Says She Needs To Get Fitter And Faster

jalep Says:

It’s all true. Vika knows what she needs to do. Maybe she should go draw inspiration and train with hard working Cibulkova or Kerber, another super-fit player. Vika knows she should be back up there competing for #1. But she has to take more than just the GS’s seriously.

Come on, Vika!

RZ Says:

People are badgering Azarenka about her weight??? She’s so thin!

Gypsy Gal Says:

Ive warmed to Vika aside from that scream,she seems to be the only player capable of really pushing Serena as her game matches up well,and she doesnt seem intidated by her or Sharapova or her gamesmanship and dirty stares….

chris ford1 Says:

Sorry Vika, part of getting fitter and faster is addressing the many kilos of excess fat.

(The heavier female players, of course with the usual exception of Serena, tend to have injury and hip, knee, foot surgery. )

Margot Says:

Jo Konta beat Simona Halep and becomes British No1.
Brilliant! Go Jo!

Gypsy Gal Says:

Yeah Margot saw the result,and as much as i like Simona,this is indeed great news for our Gal….

RZ Says:

@Margot – amazing considering Jo was down 1-5 in that final set. I hope this upward trend continues, and I hope it motivates Heather and Laura to play well (although both of them had illness or injury issues)

Margot Says:

Her coaching team is Spanish and she’s also working with a “mind coach,” Juan Coto, who, although Spanish too, is based in London.
Has woeked with him from the beginning of this year, I believe, and its showing with her excellent results so far. Always used to find it difficult to serve matches out.
PS Sorry if you knew all this!

RZ Says:

@Margot – thanks, didn’t know that. I always thought that (pre-injury) Laura could have used a “mind coach” as she would win a lot of the matches she wasn’t supposed to win and lose a lot of the matches she was.

izakwalz Says:

I think Azarenka should iron out any wrinkles that are still left in her game and be absolutely 100% prepared to shut down Sharapova, Williams, and all other top challengers that she’s certain to face during the upcoming tennis year. She was clearly robbed out of a certain victory over Serena Williams during the 3rd round at the F.O. back in the spring which certainly took the wind out of her sails and that particular match could’ve launched her into full flight throughout the remainder of the year. Vika needs to tell Serena that she’s got zero business complaining about Henin’s alleged cheating during their 2003 F.O. matchup because Serena did the same thing during their previous F.O. matchup. I’m not sure why anyone would still even respect Serena let alone support her.

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