Written by Senior Tennis Editor Peter Gehr
Victoria Azarenka pictures a successful 2012 tennis season by continuing to play at the top of her game, and looks forward to the challenges that lie ahead. Azarenka’s win over Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open showed her dominance on the court, but with Petra Kvitova at her heals, she will have to continue an aggressive and tactical campaign to keep winning.
As with anyone holding the No. 1 WTA ranking, the pressure is now on to retain the glory, and with what we saw in Melbourne, she has learned to focus her former temper issues into powering her game with amazing footwork and her shot placement saw her produce precision strategies that were executed with timely and deliberate action on the court.
Victoria Azarenka Pictures a Successful 2012 Tennis Season
Evidently, Victoria Azarenka finally got tired of waiting for her moment in the sun. The new world No. 1 decided to take matters into her own hand in Melbourne—defeating both Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova consecutively to take the 2012 Australian Open crown.
Both her semifinal and final opponents had previously won the title “own under.” In fact, Clijsters was the defending Australian Open champion. Sharapova had won the title in 2008.
Azarenka’s win harkens back to the sudden rise of Novak Djokovic starting with the 2011 Australian Open when the No. 3 ranked Serb defeated No. 2 Roger Federer in the semifinals. Djokovic advanced to the finals where he defeated world No. 4 Andy Murray, claiming his second Australian Open title.
The new top-ranked woman in the WTA is Victoria Azarenka, born in Minsk, Belarus.
Throughout her career, many compared Azarenka to long-legged tennis beauty Sharapova because both are tall and blond. Then, too, both ladies lay claim to high-pitched shrieks that accompany their explosive baseline bullets.
When Azarenka and Sharapova met in the final in Melbourne in 2012, the winner would find herself climbing to the coveted No. 1 ranking. This time, however, 22-year-old Azarenka proved her superior abilities on the tennis court as she destroyed the Sharapova game 6-3, 6-0.
Finally, there were no injuries or illnesses to bring collapse to the Azarenka game. Once the lady from Belarus got rolling, there was nothing Sharapova could do but try to hang on until the end as Azarenka dismantled the Russian’s game.
Probably, there is no need to point out that this is the fifth Grand Slam women’s title in a row with a different winner. Clijsters won the 2011 Australian Open while Li Na of China won the French title later that spring.
Petra Kvitova emerged as the surprising winner over Sharapova in the 2011 Wimbledon final—only to be followed by Samantha’s Stosur’s stunning upset win over Serena Williams to capture the 2011 US Open in Flushing Meadows. Now, Azarenka has captured the 2012 Australian Open championship—her first Slam title.
It appears, however, that Azarenka has the best chance of becoming the “Djokovic” of the women’s game now that she has learned to control her emotions on court.
With her superior speed, court movement and aggressive play, Azarenka should become the woman for all seasons and all courts. She had the ability to win on any surface.
Just an inch shorter than 6′, with a powerful two-handed back hand, Azarenka has been improving steadily since she turned pro in 2003. She was named the junior world champion in 2005.
Azarenka won her first tournament in 2005, defeating Viktoriya Kutuzova in the finals of the ITF Roller Open in Luxembourg. Remarkably talented, her ranking continued to climb as the level of her play improved.
Early on, Azarenka had a reputation for crumbling at the end of matches, blowing huge leads and wilting under the pressure. The meltdowns were products of a lack of both physical conditioning and mental toughness.
Azarenka also had a fiery quick temper. Her shrieking, temper, and attitude did not win her many fans or add to her success.
As a growing teenager, she had issues with fitness because of illness and injury. She hired a fitness coach, Pat Etcheberry, to oversee her conditioning. He worked with her prior to the 2008 season.
The hard work is now paying off, and Azarenka now has a firm grasp on her temper, mettle, and her ever-improving game.
Her chief competition should come from world No. 2 Petra Kvitova whose win at Wimbledon in 2011 shot the Czech into the spotlight. Certainly Kvitova has the superior serve plus a blistering forehand but her best surface may be grass and not the hard courts—at least, not yet.
Then too, the spotlight is new and seemingly unwelcome in the Czech’s world and it may take Kvitova some time to adapt to such high expectations. Some players like Dinar Safina never could overcome their fears—playing not to lose rather than playing to win.
For anyone to have a season like Djokovic did last year is highly unlikely. But the task of cementing the No. 1 spot may be settled if Azarenka can continue to play with aggression and self-assurance enhanced by brilliant footwork and shot selection. Click here to visit the original source of this post
Victoria Azarenka pictures a successful 2012 tennis season, and whether she can emulate the men’s world No. 1, Novak Djokovic may be an unfair comparison. Azarenka has played well for her country, her team and herself by securing the No.1 position and easily seizing the prize money at the Australian Open. However, it remains to be seen if she has the good to continue delivering and staving off the ambitious and hungry competitors right behind her such as Petra Kvitova, and the fine-form of Maria Sharapova.