Victoria Azarenka Is Pain-Free, But Is She Ready To Beat Serena And Win The French Open?
by Tom Gainey | May 21st, 2016, 3:49 pm

Victoria Azarenka is among the favorites to win the French Open after Serena Williams. But the Belarussian has only made the French Open semifinals once, and she admits clay she struggles on the clay.

“(It is) the most challenging just because of the specific movement that you have to adapt on the clay,” Azarenka said. “The sliding that I don’t use on the hard courts where I’m able to go with one shot from defense to offense.

“It’s more difficult to do than one, two shots. It takes patience.”

Azarenka tore up the first quarter of the season, winning back-to-back crowns at Indian Wells, where she beat Serena Williams, and Miami, where she beat Svetlana Kuznetsova who beat Serena.

But a back injury hampered her clay run. Now, she says, the injury is in the past.

“I didn’t play tennis. I took a couple of days off. I still kept doing my exercise for the back and continued with what I could do to stay active,” she said. “For me it was more mental to just get away and get myself focused again and motivated again. I went home, spent time with the family. For me, it’s always the best recharge.

“I arrived pretty early to Paris, so I had a few days of training here already. It was good for me to take some time off and regroup. I have been practicing pain-free, so I’m feeling ready to start the tournament.”

The former No. 1 hasn’t won a Grand Slam since the 2013 Australian Open, and hasn’t made a semifinal at a Slam since the start of 2014. But, she says, she’s on the way back.

“I do believe that I have improved, and I’m still improving,” Azarenka said. “I want to use this year and hopefully next year for a process to keep improving my game, make myself the best player as possible.”

Azarenka will start play either Monday or Tuesday against Karin Knapp. She could meet Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. The two played one of the better matches a year ago in Paris where Azarenka led a set and a break before losing.

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4 Comments for Victoria Azarenka Is Pain-Free, But Is She Ready To Beat Serena And Win The French Open?

jane Says:

I hope Petra can make a run of it though I know clay isn’t her best surface. She is having a slow start right now.

mat4 Says:

Hi, everybody!

Just arrived home. Is it raining in Paris? I see a lot of interrupted matches.

BBB Says:

They mentioned that Petra split with her fiance. I wonder if that accounts for some of her struggles recently.

Yes, Mat, rained out most of today.

mat4 Says:

Hi, BBB.

Had a look at the other threads, so figured it out. Thank you for the answer, anyway, it was very nice of you.

I read your post about Novak, and while I was more focused on his style of play, I agree completely with you about the maturing.

I even think that most of the big dogs in tennis considerably influence each other, and that we watch an epoch of nice players and nice men. Greg Couch once wrote an article where he asked himself why did the men go so well together off the court, despite the terrible rivalry they show on court, while there was a genuine rivalry outside the tennis court on the WTA scene. I didn’t remember his analysis, but a few anecdotes were revealing and nice to read.

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