Azarenka falls short in return
By Peter Santo
Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka had a difficult year in 2014. She battled numerous injuries and eventually fell outside the top 40 in the world rankings.
Hoping to make a triumphant return at this year’s Australian Open, Azarenka faced a tough draw due to her current ranking of 41. She defeated two seeded players on her way to a 4th round match against Dominika Cibulkova.
Cibulkova, a surprise finalist Down Under last year, came into the match as the favorite and hoped her aggressive style of play would lead her to victory.
Azarenka was a little off her game in the opening set, making lots of unforced errors and facing an opponent who was playing at a very high level. Cibulkova hit numerous forehand winners and closed out the first set 6-2.
Azarenka came back fiery in the second set. She was able to stay in the point longer and outlast Cibulkova on her way to taking the second set 6-3. Vika showed off her aggressive game style and cut out the errors she made in the opening set.
The match came down to a final set. Vika came out determined and quickly raced out to a 3-1 lead. However Cibulkova continued to stay steady and was able to come back and take a 5-3 lead. It all came down to the last game where Azarenka finally started showing life again. But unfortunately it was too late for the two-time champion as she lost on the first match point.
Azarenka showed great fight in her return from injury and played very well given her difficult draw. This was a big step in her road to recovery as she hopes to regain the form that made her world number one just two years ago. Look for more great things from Vika moving forward.
Ali Hickey also contributed to this report