Victoria Azarenka

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Victoria Azarenka
Вікторыя Азаранка
Victoria Azarenka (9417885047).jpg
Full name Victoria Feodorovna Azarenka
Country  Belarus
Residence Monte Carlo, Monaco
Born (1989-07-31) 31 July 1989 (age 25)
Minsk, Byelorussian SSR, Soviet Union
Height 1.83 metres (6 ft 0 in)
Turned pro 2003
Plays Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Coach(es) António van Grichen (2005–2009)
Sam Sumyk (2010–)
Prize money

USD$ 23,786,452 [1]

Singles
Career record 401-148 (73.04%)
Career titles 17 WTA, 1 ITF[2]
Highest ranking No. 1 (30 January 2012)
Current ranking No. 17 (18 August 2014)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open W (2012, 2013)
French Open SF (2013)
Wimbledon SF (2011, 2012)
US Open F (2012, 2013)
Other tournaments
Tour Finals F (2011)
Olympic Games Bronze medal.svg Bronze medal (2012)
Doubles
Career record 135–51
Career titles 6 WTA, 3 ITF
Highest ranking No. 7 (7 July 2008)
Grand Slam Doubles results
Australian Open F (2008, 2011)
French Open F (2009)
Wimbledon QF (2008)
US Open 2R (2009)
Mixed Doubles
Career titles 3
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results
Australian Open F (2007)
French Open W (2008)
Wimbledon 3R (2012)
US Open W (2007)
Other Mixed Doubles tournaments
Olympic Games Gold medal.svg Gold medal (2012)
Last updated on: 10 July 2014.
Olympic medal record
Competitor for  Belarus
Tennis
Gold 2012 London Mixed Doubles
Bronze 2012 London Singles

Victoria Azarenka (Belarusian: Вікторыя Фёдараўна Азаранка (Viktoriya Fyodorovna Azarenka) [vʲikˈtɔrɨja aˈzaranka], Russian: Викто́рия Фёдоровна Аза́ренко; born 31 July 1989) is a Belarusian professional tennis player. She is a former world No. 1 and is currently world No. 17 as of 18 August 2014. She has won two Australian Open singles titles (2012 and 2013), becoming the first Belarusian player to win a Grand Slam singles title. Her other achievements include winning the bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, two mixed doubles Grand Slam titles—the 2007 US Open with Max Mirnyi, the 2008 French Open with Bob Bryan—and the gold medal in the mixed doubles at the 2012 Summer Olympics with Max Mirnyi.[3][4][5]

Personal life[edit]

At age 15, Azarenka moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, United States, from Minsk, Belarus, to train. In this she was aided by National Hockey League goalie Nikolai Khabibulin and his wife, who is a friend of Azarenka's mother.[6] In 2012 she moved to Monaco[7] and in August 2013 she bought a new house in Los Angeles, California.[8] Azarenka is fluent in Belarusian, Russian, and English and has some handling of French and Ukrainian. In 2011 she briefly considered a break from the sport of tennis to focus on education; however, after a conversation with her grandmother, she decided to continue playing. It is the inspiration from her grandmother that is regarded as the key for her continued developments in the sport.[9]

Tennis career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Azarenka debuted on the ITF junior tour in November 2003 in Israel, winning one doubles title with countrywoman Olga Govortsova.[10] At Wimbledon, Azarenka reached the semifinals of the girls' competition, only to be defeated by eventual runner-up Ana Ivanovic, despite having two match points in the marathon third set. She continued to participate in ITF tournaments in 2004, and at the end of the season she had a rank of 508 on WTA singles tour.[11]

Azarenka had a successful year in 2005, winning two junior Grand Slams: the Australian (she would eventually win the seniors' competition in 2012 and 2013)[12] and US[13] championships. She ended the season as the junior world No. 1 and was named the 2005 World Champion by the ITF, becoming the first Belarusian to do so.[14][15] In addition, she reached her first semifinal on the main tour in Guangzhou, China. She went from the qualifying draw of the tournament to the main draw, where she defeated Martina Suchá and Shuai Peng, before losing to the eventual champion Yan Zi.

Junior Slam results:

Australian Open: W (2005)
French Open: -
Wimbledon: SF (2004, 2005)
US Open: W (2005)

2006[edit]

In February 2006 in Memphis, Azarenka defeated her first top-20 player, Nicole Vaidišová,[16][17] and defeated her second top-30 player in Jelena Janković at Miami that same year.[18] On clay, Azarenka pushed 2004 French Open champion Anastasia Myskina to a third set in Rome, and took clay-court specialist Anabel Medina Garrigues to 9–7 in the third set in the first round at Roland Garros. At the 2006 Wimbledon Championships Azarenka lost in 1st round to 2005 Junior Wimbledon and 2006 Junior French Open Champion and Wildcard Agnieszka Radwańska. 2006 US Open, she had her first win over Myskina in the first round, and lost to Anna Chakvetadze in the third round, her best result in a Grand Slam event to that date. In her next tournament, Azarenka reached her second pro-level semifinal in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, losing to Tiantian Sun. She finished the year reaching the final of an ITF event in Pittsburgh, losing to Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak.[19]

2007: First WTA final[edit]

Ranked world No. 96, Azarenka began the year by playing two tournaments in Australia. She lost in the second round of qualifying at the Moorilla Hobart International. At the Australian Open, Azarenka reached the third round of a Grand Slam singles tournament for the second consecutive time, where she lost to world No. 11 Jelena Janković in straight sets.

She was upset in the first round of the French Open by Karin Knapp of Italy, and at Wimbledon, she lost in the third round to 14th-seeded Nicole Vaidišová.

At the US Open, Azarenka upset former world No. 1 Martina Hingis in the third round, before 2004 US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova beat her in the fourth round. In mixed doubles, Azarenka and countryman Max Mirnyi won the title, defeating Meghann Shaughnessy and Leander Paes.[20]

She ended her year at the Tier I Kremlin Cup in Moscow, where she defeated world No. 4 Maria Sharapova in the second round, in their first meeting.[21] She then lost to the eventual winner of the tournament, world No. 14 Elena Dementieva, in the quarterfinal. At the same tournament, Azarenka and her doubles partner Tatiana Poutchek, also of Belarus, lost in the final to the world No. 3 team of Liezel Huber and Cara Black in three sets. Azarenka's results at the Kemlin Cup elevated her rankings to career highs of world No. 27 in singles and world No. 29 in doubles.

2008: Australian Open final in doubles[edit]

Azarenka began the year at the Mondial Australian Women's Hardcourts tournament in Gold Coast, Australia. Unseeded, she reached the semifinals, where she beat fifth-seeded Shahar Pe'er of Israel, Azarenka's sixth top-20 victory. In her third career WTA tour final, she lost to Li Na, but the points she earned in this tournament were enough to improve her ranking to a career-best world No. 25.

Azarenka at Wimbledon 2008

Azarenka was seeded 26th at the Australian Open. This was her first appearance as a seeded player in a Grand Slam singles tournament. She showed no ill effects from a leg injury while winning her first two matches, but lost in the third round to seventh-seeded, defending champion and future rival Serena Williams. In doubles, Azarenka and her partner Pe'er were seeded 12th. They made it to the finals, before losing to the unseeded team of Kateryna and Alona Bondarenko.

Azarenka entered the French Open as the form player of the clay court season, having reached the semi-finals in Berlin and the quarter-finals in Rome. Seeded 16th, she won her first three matches in straight sets, for the loss of only six games. In the second round, she defeated Sorana Cîrstea of Romania, before defeating 18th-seeded and future French Open champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy in the third round.[22] She then lost to fourth-seeded Kuznetsova in the fourth round. Azarenka teamed with American Bob Bryan to win the mixed doubles title at the French Open, defeating the top seeded team of Katarina Srebotnik and Nenad Zimonjić in the final.

At Wimbledon, Azarenka was seeded 16th in singles and 6th in doubles (with Pe'er). In singles, Azarenka was defeated by 21st-seeded Nadia Petrova of Russia in the third round in two close tiebreaks. In doubles, Azarenka and Pe'er reached the quarterfinals, where they lost to the top-seeded team of Cara Black and Liezel Huber. At the Olympic tennis tournament in Beijing, Azarenka lost to Venus Williams in the third round. Azarenka was seeded 14th at the US Open, but was defeated by 21st seed Caroline Wozniacki in the third round.

2009: Miami Masters title, French Open final in doubles and Top 10 debut[edit]

Azarenka began the year at the Brisbane International as the second seed. She defeated Kateryna Bondarenko, Jarmila Groth, Lucie Šafářová, and Sara Errani, all in straight sets to reach her fifth career final. In the final, Azarenka defeated third seed Marion Bartoli to win her first WTA career title. Azarenka was seeded 13th at the Australian Open. She advanced to the fourth round for the first time, winning the first set against world No. 2 Serena Williams, before she was forced to retire because of heat stress.

Azarenka competing at the 2009 French Open

At the Cellular South Cup in Memphis, Tennessee, Azarenka was seeded second. She won her second WTA title by beating her doubles partner and top seeded Caroline Wozniacki in the final. Afterwards, Wozniacki and Azarenka won the doubles title, beating Michaëlla Krajicek and Yuliana Fedak in the final. At the BNP Paribas Open, Azarenka was seeded 8th and reached the semifinals, where she lost to her doubles partner and eventual champion Vera Zvonareva. Because of her performance at this tournament, Azarenka improved her singles ranking to a career-best world No. 10.[23] She is the second woman from Belarus ever to be ranked that high, following Natasha Zvereva who was ranked world No. 5 in the late 1980s.[23] At the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, Azarenka was seeded 11th. She defeated world No. 1 and defending champion Serena Williams in the final in straight sets. This was Azarenka's first Tier I or Premier Mandatory event title. Azarenka also became the sixth teenage female singles champion in the history of this tournament, with the others being Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Venus Williams, and Gabriela Sabatini.[24] By winning this tournament, Azarenka's ranking increased to a new career high of world No. 8.

Her next tournament was on clay at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany, where she lost to Gisela Dulko in the second round. At the Italian Open, Azarenka lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semifinals. At Roland Garros, Azarenka was seeded ninth. She ousted defending champion Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round, and advanced to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, where she fell to top seed Dinara Safina in three sets. With her partner Elena Vesnina, Azarenka made the final of the ladies doubles at Roland Garros. In the final, they lost to the Spanish pairing of Garrigues and Ruano Pascual. She withdrew from her first match at the Aegon International, the warm-up for Wimbledon, citing a hip injury. Azarenka was seeded 8th at Wimbledon. She fell to second seed and eventual winner Serena Williams in the quarterfinals.[25]

Receiving a bye in the first round at the Los Angeles, Azarenka fell to Maria Sharapova. In Cincinnati, Azarenka lost to Jelena Janković in the third round, committing 11 double faults. At the Rogers Cup in Toronto, she was seeded ninth. She lost to returning Kim Clijsters in the second round. At the US Open, Azarenka was seeded eighth. She fell to Francesca Schiavone in the third round. Seeded eighth at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, she lost to Li Na in the quarterfinals, in a third set tiebreak, giving up a 5–1 lead in the first set. In her next tournament the China Open, Azarenka was seeded ninth. She lost in the second round to recent Tokyo champion Maria Sharapova, leading 5–2 in the final set and serving for the match twice. She intended to play the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, but she withdrew. At the year-end Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha, Azarenka vanquished Jelena Janković in her first-round robin-match.[26] In her second match, however, Azarenka was defeated by Caroline Wozniacki. Azarenka failed to convert a match point in the final set in which she led by a break on four occasions, and also served for the match at 5–3. Azarenka also conceded her serve at 5–5, to leave Wozniacki serving for the match after receiving a point penalty for racket abuse.[27] Due to her loss to Wozniacki, Azarenka had to defeat second alternate Agnieszka Radwańska to qualify for the semifinals. She led with a double break, before going on to lose nine of the next ten games, eventually conceding the match after severe cramping in the third set forced her to retire while trailing 1–4 in the third set.[28]

Azarenka ended the year ranked world No. 7, with a 45–15 win-loss record, having won three titles and qualified for the year-end championships for the first time in her career. On 15 December, Azarenka split with long-time coach António van Grichen.

2010: Steady ranking[edit]

Azarenka began the season at the Hong Kong Tennis Classic exhibition. She was part of Team Europe, along with Caroline Wozniacki and Stefan Edberg. In her first match, she defeated Gisela Dulko. The match was played best of one set due to rain. She withdrew from her remaining matches due to illness. She was seeded sixth at the Medibank International. She won her first three matches but in the semifinals, she fell to fifth seed Elena Dementieva.

At the Australian Open, she was seeded seventh. In the fourth round against ninth seed Vera Zvonareva she rallied to win, but lost to Serena Williams in the quarterfinal. Azarenka led 6–4 4–0, before Williams came back to win in three sets.[29] This was the third consecutive year she has lost to Williams at this tournament. Seeded fourth at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, on her way to the final, she defeated Vera Zvonareva in the quarterfinals and Agnieszka Radwańska in the semifinals. In the final, she lost to defending champion Venus Williams. At the 2010 BNP Paribas Open, she was seeded third, but was upset in the third round by María José Martínez Sánchez. At the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open, where she was the defending champion and fourth seed, she lost in fourth round to 14th seed and eventual champion Kim Clijsters. This was the fourth match in the five tournaments this year that Azarenka lost to eventual champions.

At the Andalucia Tennis Experience, she was the top seed. She had to retire in her quarterfinal match against María José Martínez Sánchez, leading 4–0 due to a left thigh injury. Seeded third at the Family Circle Cup, she had to retire from her first match while leading, 6–2, 2–2, against qualifier Christina McHale. At the 2010 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, she was upset in the second round by qualifier Anna Lapushchenkova, who was ranked No. 138 at the time. At the 2010 Internazionali BNL d'Italia, as the ninth seed, Azarenka was defeated by Ana Ivanovic. As the tenth seed at the 2010 Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open, Azarenka retired from her first round match against Shuai Peng, while trailing 0–3 with a groin injury. At the 2010 French Open, coming back from injury, Azarenka was defeated in the first round by unseeded Gisela Dulko. As she reached the quarter-finals in 2009, this loss caused Azarenka to drop to world No. 15. Azarenka was unseeded at the 2010 Aegon International. Still struggling with injuries, Azarenka fell to qualifier Ekaterina Makarova in the final.

Azarenka practising at the 2010 Bank of the West Classic

Azarenka was seeded 14th at Wimbledon. She lost to eventual semi-finalist Petra Kvitová in the third round. The defeat dropped Azarenka to world No. 18, as she was defending quarter-final points from 2009.

I don't know. I just don't like to look for excuses, you know, the lights, the fans, I don't know everything. To me, I'm just very disappointed with the way I played.

–Victoria Azarenka after her first round loss to Ana Ivanovic in Cincinnati.[30]

To begin the summer hard-court season, Azarenka competed in the 2010 Bank of the West Classic as a wildcard and eighth seed. Azarenka defeated Maria Sharapova in the final, after defeating top seed Samantha Stosur in the semi-finals, to win her first title since April 2009. The win propelled Azarenka to world No. 12. Despite being the favourite to win the Mercury Insurance Open, Azarenka withdrew to recover from a right shoulder injury. Seeded ninth at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters and Women's Open, Azarenka was stunned in the first round by world No. 62 Ana Ivanovic, despite serving for the match twice in the second set, and being within two points of victory on Ivanovic's serve;[30] it was Azarenka's second defeat by Ivanovic in 2010. However, she won the doubles title, partnering with Maria Kirilenko, defeating Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs. At the US Open, during her second round against Gisela Dulko and while trailing 5–1, Azarenka collapsed on the court. There were concerns that the cause of the fall was heat-related. Azarenka was taken to a local hospital for treatment and was diagnosed with a concussion after hitting her head whilst warming up before the match during a sprint exercise.[31] Azarenka won only seven Grand Slam matches for the entire year, matching her 2007 tally.

At the Toray Pan Pacific Open, she lost to Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals in three sets. Azarenka re-entered the Top 10 after this run. At the China Open, Azarenka retired in her second-round match to Timea Bacsinszky. At the 2010 Kremlin Cup Azarenka, as the second seed, defeated Maria Kirilenko in the final, coming back from 4–0 down in the second set to win her fifth career title. Azarenka's performance in Moscow qualified her for the year-end 2010 WTA Tour Championships, where she was in the White Group as the eighth seed. In her first round-robin match, Azarenka lost to Vera Zvonareva, and then lost to Kim Clijsters in her second match. This assured that she did not qualify for the semifinals. In her final match of the tournament and season, she defeated Janković for the second year in a row. Azarenka ended the year as world No. 10, her second consecutive year-end top-10 finish. Azarenka then took part in a charitable exhibition match in mid-November with Caroline Wozniacki, beating the Dane at the Sports Palace in her hometown of Minsk.

2011: Second Australian Open final and Miami Masters title, WTA Tour Championships final[edit]

Azarenka playing for at the 2011 Australian Open

Azarenka began her year at the Medibank International as the seventh seed, where she lost to Kim Clijsters in the quarterfinals. At the 2011 Australian Open Azarenka was seeded eighth. She lost to the ninth seed and eventual finalist, Li Na in the fourth round. Azarenka partnered with Maria Kirilenko in the women's doubles event, but the pair lost to Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta in the final. Azarenka then travelled to Israel to compete in Fed Cup. Belarus beat Croatia, Austria, and Greece in the group stage, without losing a match. The Belarusian team then defeated Poland 2–0 to qualify for the World Group II play-Offs in April where they played Estonia.

Azarenka's next tournament was the 2011 Dubai Tennis Championships, where she was seeded 7th. She lost to Flavia Pennetta in the third round. Azarenka then competed at the 2011 Qatar Ladies Open as the sixth seed, but lost to Daniela Hantuchová in the first round in three sets. Azarenka's next event was the 2011 BNP Paribas Open, where she competed as the eighth seed. She retired in the quarterfinals against world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, whilst trailing 0–3, due to a left leg injury. She also became the second person to defeat both Radwańska sisters in the same tournament. Azarenka then competed at the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open as the eighth seed. She reached her second final at the event, where she defeated sixteenth seed Maria Sharapova to win the title.

At the 2011 Andalucia Tennis Experience, Azarenka was the top seed and dropped only fourteen games on her way to the final. She defeated Irina-Camelia Begu in the final. Azarenka's victory, and Samantha Stosur's inability to defend her points at Charleston, ensured that Azarenka would reach a career high of world No. 5. She then participated in Belarus' 5–0 win over Estonia in the Fed Cup. In her next tournament the 2011 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Azarenka retired after winning the first set of her first match, ending her 12-match winning streak. At the 2011 Madrid Masters, Azarenka was seeded fourth. She lost in the final in straight sets to Petra Kvitová, but still rose to a career-high world No. 4. Azarenka then reached the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, where she was up a set before retiring to eventual champion Maria Sharapova.

Azarenka at the 2011 Rogers Cup

Azarenka was the fourth seed at the 2011 French Open. She beat Andrea Hlaváčková in the first round, Pauline Parmentier in the second round, 30th seed Roberta Vinci in the third round, and Ekaterina Makarova in the fourth round to reach her fourth career Grand Slam quarterfinal. She lost to Li Na in the quarterfinals. Azarenka was the fourth seed at the 2011 Wimbledon Championships. She beat 25th seed Daniela Hantuchová in a three-set third-round match, before beating Nadia Petrova. She followed that up with an easy victory over Tamira Paszek, advancing to the semifinals of a Grand Slam for the first time. Azarenka was beaten by Czech player and eventual champion Petra Kvitová, going down in three sets.

Her next tournament was the 2011 Bank of the West Classic, where she was the defending champion and top seed. Azarenka was ousted by 124th-ranked Marina Erakovic from New Zealand in the second round. Despite her 'horrible match' in singles, Azarenka claimed the doubles title with partner Kirilenko. The next tournament Azarenka played was the 2011 Rogers Cup, where she was seeded fourth. After a bye, Azarenka crushed Stéphanie Dubois, María José Martínez Sánchez, and Galina Voskoboeva, before being stopped by Serena Williams in the semifinals. Azarenka reached the doubles final with Kirilenko, but the team was forced to withdraw because of a hand injury to Azarenka. Azarenka pulled out of the 2011 Western & Southern Open with the same injury.

Azarenka's next tournament was the 2011 US Open, where she was seeded fourth. She made it to the third round, where she was defeated by 28th seed and eventual runner-up Serena Williams.[32] Despite the early loss, she reached a new career high of No. 3 in the world. Azarenka reached the semifinals of the 2011 Toray Pan Pacific Open, losing to eventual champion Agnieszka Radwańska. In doing so she qualified for the year-end championships in Istanbul. The Belarusian participated in the China Open, the last of the four mandatory events for 2011, as the second seed. She defeated Polona Hercog in the second round, after receiving a first-round bye. She then withdrew from the tournament citing a right foot strain.

Azarenka would win her third title of the year at the 2011 BGL Luxembourg Open, defeating Monica Niculescu in the final.[33] Azarenka was placed in the White Group at the 2011 WTA Tour Championships. She beat Samantha Stosur and Li Na in her first two Round Robin matches. She secured the move to the semifinals despite her loss in three sets to Marion Bartoli, a substitute for Maria Sharapova. She then beat Vera Zvonareva to move to the final where she lost to Petra Kvitová in three sets.[34]

2012: First Major title, two Olympic medals & world No. 1[edit]

Azarenka claimed her first title of the season at the 2012 Apia International Sydney as the third seed. She defeated her first three opponents, Stefanie Vögele, Jelena Janković and Marion Bartoli all in straight sets to advance to the semifinals where she defeated the seventh seed, Agnieszka Radwańska in three sets to reach the final. She defeated the defending champion Li Na in three sets.[35]

Azarenka competed at the 2012 Australian Open as the third seed, defeating Heather Watson, Casey Dellacqua, Mona Barthel and Iveta Benešová in the first four rounds without dropping a set. In the quarterfinals, Azarenka faced a sterner test against world No. 8 Agnieszka Radwańska but won in three sets.[36] She then defeated the eleventh seed and defending champion Kim Clijsters[37] to reach her first Major singles final, where she faced the world No. 4 Maria Sharapova. After a nervous start Azarenka proceeded to win the last nine games to win the title.[38] Azarenka recorded her first Grand Slam singles title and became the world No. 1 (with effect from 30 January 2012) in the same match.

Her first tournament as world number one was the 2012 Qatar Total Open. She won her third title of the year in Doha, defeating Samantha Stosur in the final. Azarenka planned to compete at the 2012 Dubai Tennis Championships. However, after a bye in the first round, she withdrew from the tournament due to an ankle injury. In March, she played in the 2012 BNP Paribas Open, where she was the top seed. In a re-run of the 2012 Australian Open decider, her opponent in the final was world No. 2 Maria Sharapova, and once again, Azarenka won in straight sets, thus extending her undefeated record in 2012 to 23–0. Azarenka´s streak ended in the quarters of the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open in a straight set loss against Marion Bartoli. Her record for consecutive wins was 26–0.

Azarenka won an Olympic bronze medal during the 2012 Summer Olympics She and Max Mirnyi also won the mixed doubles gold beating Britain's Laura Robson and Andy Murray

In April, she competed at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. Making it to the semifinals she faced Agnieszka Radwańska and won comfortably in straight sets. This win meant she had beaten Radwańska in all five matches against her this year. Azarenka would then face world No. 2 Maria Sharapova in the final where she fell in straight sets. Azarenka then competed at the 2012 Mutua Madrid Open. She made it to the finals but was beaten easily in by Serena Williams in straight sets. The result gave Azarenka only her 3rd defeat of the year. Azarenka's next tournament was the 2012 Internazionali BNL d'Italia, she advanced to the third round quite easily but then withdrew from the tournament, due to a right shoulder strain, and avoided a third round clash with Dominika Cibulková.

At the 2012 French Open, she defeated Alberta Brianti, Dinah Pfizenmaier and Alexandra Wozniak respectively to qualify for the fourth round. However, in the fourth round, she lost in straight sets against Dominika Cibulková of Slovakia.[39] As a result, she lost her world No. 1 ranking to eventual Roland Garros champion Maria Sharapova. Azarenka then competed at Wimbledon, winning her first four matches in straight sets. She then defeated Tamira Paszek in the quarter finals, also in straight sets, before losing to Serena Williams for the 6th straight time in the semi-final, bringing their head-to-head 8–1 in Serena's favour.[40]

Later in the month, Azarenka took part in the 2012 Summer Olympics tennis event, held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London. She entered two events, playing in both the women's singles, and the mixed doubles alongside ATP doubles world No. 1 Max Mirnyi. In singles, Azarenka won her first four matches before falling in the semifinals, losing for the third time of the season and the ninth time overall to eventual Gold Medallist Serena Williams. Azarenka rebounded by winning the Bronze Medal match over Russian Maria Kirilenko in straight sets, earning the first ever olympic medal in tennis for Belarus.[41] Azarenka got her first Gold medal in the 2012 Olympic Games on 5 August 2012 with Max Mirnyi for Belarus, defeating Andy Murray and Laura Robson of Great Britain in a tiebreak.[42]

Azarenka retired from her 2012 Rogers Cup second round match to Tamira Paszek at 3–3, and then withdrew from Cincinnati. Azarenka reached the quarter-finals for the first time at the 2012 US Open, winning her first four matches in straight sets for the loss of only ten games. There, she faced defending champion Samantha Stosur and eliminated her from the tournament in a two-and-a-half hour three-set thriller which was decided by a final-set tiebreak.[43] Azarenka then faced former US Open champion and world No. 3 Maria Sharapova in the semifinal. Azarenka was able to come through the match after being a set down. In the final she faced former US Open champion and world No. 4 Serena Williams, losing for the eighth consecutive time despite having had a 5–3 lead in the final set and serving for the match at 5–4.[44] Following her loss, Azarenka was applauded by many in the tennis community for the honesty and gratitude she demonstrated during the trophy ceremony as well as her press-conference afterwards.

Azarenka at 2012 US Open

In mid-September, Azarenka played an exhibition match against Dominika Cibulková in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,[45] winning the match in straight sets.[46] Azarenka then played at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo where, in the quarters, she retired from the tournament due to dizziness. She then played the China Open, advancing to the quarter-finals without dropping a set. There she defeated Romina Oprandi and then eased past Marion Bartoli en route to the finals. The finals was set for another top 2 seeded match as it was Azarenka facing world No. 2 Maria Sharapova for the 5th time of the year. Azarenka was able to win the match comfortably. The win gave Azarenka her 2nd Premier Mandatory title of the year and 5th overall title of the year. Azarenka then played at the Generali Ladies Linz, where she advanced to the semi-finals without dropping a set. In the semis she faced Irina-Camelia Begu, winning easily. In the finals she faced Germany's Julia Görges and won the match in straight sets, tying Serena with six titles for the year.

Azarenka's final tournament of the year was the WTA Tour Championships where she was drawn in the red group along with world No.3 Serena Williams, world No. 5 Angelique Kerber and world No. 8 Li Na. In match one she beat Kerber but was subsequently beaten by Serena Williams. In her final round robin match, she beat Li Na, ensuring her Year-End No. 1 ranking. As the runner-up of her group, Azarenka faced White Group winner Maria Sharapova in the semifinals. After, clinching the world number 1 spot in her previous match against Li, she seemed physically drained to compete well and lost to Sharapova in 2 sets.

Azarenka set a new record for single-season prize money in 2012, earning $7.9 million. She also finished the season with a 69–10 win-loss record and 6 titles, losing five of those matches to Serena Williams, two to Maria Sharapova, one to Marion Bartoli, one to Dominika Cibulková and the remaining loss coming on a retirement to Tamira Paszek.

2013: Second Australian Open title & US Open Runner-Up[edit]

Victoria Azarenka began her 2013 season at the 2013 Brisbane International in what was her first appearance at the tournament since winning the title in 2009. She was able to reach the semi-finals, however had to withdraw from her scheduled match against Serena Williams due to a toe infection.[47]

Azarenka reached the French Open Semi-finals for the first time in her career. There she lost to Maria Sharapova

Azarenka defended the title at the 2013 Australian Open, beating Li Na in three sets in the championship match.[48] Her passage to the final included a first round win against Monica Niculescu, a second round win against Eleni Daniilidou, a three set win against rising American star Jamie Hampton, a fourth round win against Elena Vesnina, a quarter-final win against Svetlana Kuznetsova, and a semi-final win against Sloane Stephens where she took a controversial 10-minute medical timeout citing breathing difficulties and stress.[49] Her next tournament was the Qatar Total Open, where she was the defending champion. She advanced to the semifinals with easy wins over Romina Oprandi, Christina McHale, Sara Errani, and Agnieszka Radwańska. In the final, Azarenka faced Serena Williams and defeated her in three sets, successfully defending her title and beating Williams for the first time since 2009.[50]

In her next event at the WTA Premier Mandatory event 2013 BNP Paribas Open, Azarenka, the defending champion, opened well against two-time Indian Wells winner Daniela Hantuchová. Against 28th seed Kirsten Flipkens, Azarenka dropped the first set and was three games from losing in the second set. However, Azarenka won twelve straight points to clinch the second set and went on to win the third set easily. In the Round of 16, Azarenka defeated Urszula Radwańska. Azarenka was drawn to meet Caroline Wozniacki in the quarter-finals. However, Azarenka was forced to withdraw from the match and the tournament, citing a right ankle injury. As a result, despite her 17-match unbeaten start to the season, Azarenka lost her No. 2 ranking to eventual champion Maria Sharapova.

Even though Azarenka attended the Player's Party in Miami for the 2013 Sony Open Tennis, she withdrew from the tournament moments before her first match with American up-and-comer Madison Keys, because she hadn't recovered fully from her right ankle injury. In her first tournament after injury, Azarenka lost to Ekaterina Makarova in the second round off Madrid Open but successfully reach final in the following tournament, Italian Open by defeated Julia Görges, Ayumi Morita, Samantha Stosur, and Sara Errani but lost to Serena Williams in the final. In the 2013 French Open, as the third seed, she reached the semifinal before being defeated by Maria Sharapova who ended the tournament as runner-up. However, it was a huge improvement made on her weakest-surface. She is making huge strides to become a better clay-court player.

In the first round of the 2013 Wimbledon Championships she defeated Maria João Koehler in straight sets, but suffered a serious knee injury early in the second set. This injury ultimately forced her to withdraw from the Championships before her second round match against Flavia Pennetta.[51] Azarenka's withdrawal from Wimbledon ended a sequence of four consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals.

Following her injury-enforced early exit from Wimbledon, Azarenka returned to action at the 2013 Southern California Open, where she was the top seed. After receiving a first round bye, she defeated Francesca Schiavone, Urszula Radwańska and Ana Ivanovic (the latter in three sets) before losing to Samantha Stosur in straight sets in the championship match. The loss to Stosur marked her first loss against her, after previously winning their first eight encounters.[52]

Azarenka was later forced to withdraw from the Rogers Cup due to a back injury she suffered in the championship match in Carlsbad.[53]

Seeded second at Cincinnati, Azarenka received a first round bye, following which she won her first match at the tournament since 2009, when she defeated local hope Vania King in the second round. That was then followed by wins over Magdaléna Rybáriková, Caroline Wozniacki (her first victory against her since 2009) and Jelena Janković, en route to reaching her fifth final of the year, where she defeated Serena Williams in a thrilling championship match to pick up her third title for the year.[54]

At the US Open, where Azarenka was seeded second, she successfully reached the final for the second consecutive year, only dropping two sets en route. In her first round match, she defeated Dinah Pfizenmaier without losing a game. In her second round match, she defeated Aleksandra Wozniak in straight sets. In her third and fourth round matches, she respectively battled past Alizé Cornet and Ana Ivanovic, coming from a set down to win both matches. In her quarterfinal match, she defeated Daniela Hantuchova in straight sets. In the semi-final match, she defeated surprise semi-finalist Flavia Penneta. However, she lost in the final to Serena Williams in three sets.[55]

Azarenka then endured an unsuccessful Asian swing, losing in the second round to former number one and seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams in straight sets in Tokyo[56] and losing in the first round to Andrea Petkovic in an error-riddled performance in Beijing.[57] Azarenka's 2013 season ended with a poor showing at the 2013 WTA Tour Championships, winning only one of her three round robin matches and failing to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2010.

2014: Injuries and subsequent fall from the top 10[edit]

Azarenka successfully made to the final of the Brisbane International for the third time. In the final she was defeated by Serena Williams in straight sets. She lost to Agnieszka Radwanska in the 2014 Australian Open quarterfinals.

At the 2014 BNP Paribas Open, she was defeated by the world No. 62 Lauren Davis in straight sets. A recurring foot injury forced Azarenka to withdraw from the French Open, where she had been a semifinalist the previous year. Her withdrawal, along with those from other events during the season, saw her drop out of the top four for the first time in three years.[58]

Azarenka returned to competition at Eastbourne, but fell to Italian Camila Giorgi in her opening match. At Wimbledon, Azarenka won her first match since launching her comeback by defeating former semifinalst Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the first round. She suffered a second-round defeat to Bojana Jovanovski, losing in three sets.

Azarenka marked her 200th consecutive week in the world's top 10 in the week starting 28 July 2014; no other player had managed this feat during this period. In that same week, she entered the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, but after receiving a first-round bye, she suffered a straight-sets defeat to fellow former world No. 1 Venus Williams; the loss resulted in her dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since September 2010.[59][60] However, Azarenka did return to the top 10 for one week; by reaching the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup, where she lost to eventual champion Agnieszka Radwańska, she guaranteed herself to re-enter the top 10 for the week of 11 August 2014 at the expense of Ana Ivanovic.[61][62] Azarenka withdrew from the Western & Southern Open due to a right knee injury she suffered in Montréal; as a result of her not defending her title, Azarenka dropped back out of the top 10, dropping to No. 17 in the world. However, the withdrawal of Li Na secured Azarenka a top 16 seeding at the US Open.

Endorsements and earnings[edit]

In August 2013, Azarenka was named the fourth highest paid female athlete in the world by Forbes Magazine, with total earnings of $15.7 million between 2012–2013. Her prize money constituted $6.7 million while her growing endorsements equaled $9 million. Azarenka's $7.9 million prize money haul in 2012 was a single year record for a female athlete in any sport. Endorsement partners include Nike, Wilson, American Express, Six Star Pro Nutrition, InstaForex and Citizen Watch. Red Bull entered into a deal with Azarenka in January 2013, making her the first tennis player sponsor for the beverage and sports investment giant.[63]

Playing style[edit]

Azarenka tends to play an aggressive baseline style that showcases her mobility.[64] She uses groundstrokes to move the ball around, hitting it with slight topspin.[64] She plays a fast game with fast rally strokes.[64] Her aggressive game was praised particularly by American tennis player Sloane Stephens, who said that "she's just a really tough competitor".[65]

Rivalries[edit]

Throughout her career, Victoria Azarenka has established rivalries with other players on the WTA Tour. Her rivalries with Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova[66] are among the most significant on the WTA Tour, as all three players have met each other at least thirteen times.[67][68]

Azarenka vs. S. Williams[edit]

Victoria Azarenka's most notable rivalry is against Serena Williams of the United States of America. They have met 17 times, including eight times in the Grand Slams, with Serena Williams leading their head-to-head 14–3, 8–0 in the Grand Slams, 5–3 in finals.[67] Their first meeting was at the 2008 Australian Open, with then-defending champion Williams winning in straight sets.[69] Their next meeting would also be at the Australian Open, in the fourth round in 2009, and again Williams was victorious when the Belarusian was forced to retire due to illness, having won the first set but trailing 2–4 in the second.[70] Two-and-a-half months later though, Azarenka would achieve her first victory in the rivalry, defeating the American in straight sets in the final of the Sony Ericsson Open.[71] Williams later won a quarter-final match between the pair at Wimbledon on her way to winning that championship.

Once again the pair met at the Australian Open, in the 2010 quarter-finals. Azarenka had won the first set and was leading 4–0 in the second set before Williams came back to win the three-set match, once again on her way to winning the title for the second consecutive year.[72] Her dominance continued with straight sets victories at the Rogers Cup and the US Open in 2011, both times coming after Williams' ranking had plummeted to world No. 175 following Wimbledon.[73]

The rivalry reached its peak in 2012 with the pair meeting five times, with Serena Williams victorious on each occasion: the Madrid Masters final, the Wimbledon semi-finals,[74] the Olympics semi-finals,[75] the US Open final,[76] described by many as the best match of the year on WTA, and in the round robin stage of the year-end championships. They had been due to meet in the semi-finals of the 2013 Brisbane International, before Azarenka was forced to withdraw due to a toe infection.[47] At the Qatar Total Open, Azarenka scored just her second victory over Williams in a WTA Tour match, winning in the championship match in three sets.[50] They next faced off on clay at 2013 Internazionali BNL d'Italia which Williams won in straight sets.

Azarenka's third (and most recent) victory over Williams came in the final of the Western and Southern Open; again, a third set was required to decide the outcome, and on this occasion a final set tiebreak proved to be the difference. However, in a rematch of the previous year's final, Williams would get her revenge, defeating her in the final of the US Open, which, like the previous year, also required a third set. Azarenka then lost to Williams again in the championship match of the Brisbane International early in 2014; this defeat marked Azarenka's first at the tournament.[77]

Azarenka vs. Bartoli[edit]

Azarenka and Marion Bartoli met 12 times between 2007 and 2012. Azarenka led the head-to-head 9–3 overall and 1–0 in the Grand Slams.[78]

Azarenka dominated the early rivalry, winning the first six meetings between the pair, including in the second round of the 2007 Australian Open, the final of the 2009 Brisbane International[79] and all four matches that eventuated in 2010. The win in Brisbane marked Azarenka's first success in a WTA Tour final, having previously lost three finals. Bartoli got her first win over Azarenka in Eastbourne in 2011, winning after Azarenka retired with injury.[80] At the 2011 WTA Tour Championships, Bartoli qualified as a reserve for Maria Sharapova and in the only match she played, she upset Azarenka in three sets.[81] The match had no meaning because Bartoli could not qualify for the semi-finals as Sharapova had lost her two matches and Azarenka had already qualified for the semi-finals.

The pair met three times in 2012, with Azarenka winning two of the matches. Bartoli's victory in the Miami quarter-finals was significant though, as it snapped Azarenka's 26-match winning streak to start the season. Bartoli won in straight sets to record what was at the time her third victory over a reigning world No. 1.[82] Their last meeting was in the semi-finals of the China Open with Azarenka avenging the Miami loss on her way to winning the title.[83]

Azarenka vs. Sharapova[edit]

List of all matches

No. Year Tournament Surface Round Winner Score Length
1. 2007 Russia Moscow Carpet R16 Azarenka 7–6(11–9), 6–2 N/A
2. 2009 United States Los Angeles Hard R32 Sharapova 6–7(4–7), 6–4, 6–2 N/A
3. 2009 China Beijing Hard R32 Sharapova 6–3, 6–7(5–7), 7–5 N/A
4. 2010 United States Stanford Hard F Azarenka 6–4, 6–1 1:27
5. 2011 United States Miami Hard F Azarenka 6–1, 6–4 1:46
6. 2011 Italy Rome Clay QF Sharapova 4–6, 3–0 RET 1:23
7. 2012 Australia Australian Open Hard F Azarenka 6–3, 6–0 N/A
8. 2012 United States Indian Wells Hard F Azarenka 6–2, 6–3 1:26
9. 2012 Germany Stuttgart Clay F Sharapova 6–1, 6–4 1:24
10. 2010 United States US Open Hard SF Azarenka 3–6, 6–2, 6–4 N/A
11. 2012 China Beijing Hard F Azarenka 6–3, 6–1 1:27
12. 2012 Turkey Istanbul Hard SF Sharapova 6–4, 6–2 N/A
13. 2013 France French Open Clay SF Sharapova 6–1, 2–6, 6–4 N/A

One of women's tennis most famous current-day rivalries was the one between Azarenka and Maria Sharapova. They have met 13 times since 2007. Azarenka leads 7–6 overall, 2–1 in the Grand Slams and 5–1 in all finals.[68] Together, they reigned as the top two women in the world from January 2012 to January 2013, except for a brief period in July and August when Agnieszka Radwańska was the world No. 2 behind Azarenka.

Azarenka won their first meeting in 2007, in the second round of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.[21][84] Their first meeting in a WTA Tour final came at the 2010 Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, which Azarenka won for her first (and fourth career) title that year.[85][86] Azarenka also defeated Sharapova in the Miami Masters final in 2011 to win her second title at that tournament.[87]

The rivalry between the two players started to intensify in 2012, with six meetings between the pair that year, four of them being in finals. Azarenka won four of the six meetings that year, three of them in finals. Their most famous meeting occurred early that year, in the final of the 2012 Australian Open. This match had historical proportions as Azarenka would become the first player from her country to either win a Grand Slam singles title or become world No. 1, or Sharapova would win her second title at the tournament, having won in 2008. Ultimately, Azarenka won the match, beating Sharapova in straight sets in one hour and twenty-two minutes and in doing so claimed the world No. 1 ranking for the first time.[88] Azarenka would defeat Sharapova in two further finals, at Indian Wells, in Beijing however Sharapova would prevail in the final of the 2012 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. Their two non-finals were split, Azarenka winning at the US Open[89] and Sharapova winning at the year-end championships.

The pair's only (and most recent) meeting in 2013 did not come until the semi-finals of the French Open, where Sharapova won in three sets. This marked the first time Sharapova had beaten Azarenka at a Grand Slam, and improved to 3–0 against her on clay.

Azarenka vs. Li[edit]

List of all matches

No. Year Tournament Surface Round Winner Score Length
1. 2008 Australia Gold Coast Hard F Li 4–6, 6–3, 6–4 N/A
2. 2009 Japan Tokyo Hard QF Li 7–6(9–7), 4–6, 7–6(7–4) N/A
3. 2010 Canada Montreal Hard R16 Azarenka 6–3, 6–3 1:24
4. 2011 Australia Australian Open Hard R16 Li 6–3, 6–3 N/A
5. 2011 France French Open Clay QF Li 7–5, 6–2 N/A
6. 2011 Turkey Istanbul Hard RR Azarenka 6–2, 6–2 N/A
7. 2012 Australia Sydney Hard F Azarenka 6–2, 1–6, 6–3 1:56
8. 2012 Spain Madrid Clay QF Azarenka 3–6, 6–3, 6–3 1:54
9. 2012 Turkey Istanbul Hard RR Azarenka 7–6(7–4), 6–3 N/A
10. 2013 Australia Australian Open Hard F Azarenka 4–6, 6–4, 6–3 N/A
11. 2013 Turkey Istanbul Hard RR Li 6–2, 6–1 N/A

Azarenka and Li Na have met eleven times since 2008.[90] Azarenka leads the head-to-head 6–5 overall, and 2–1 in championship matches (all of which have reached a deciding set), but trails 1–2 in Grand Slam matches.

Their first meeting was in the final of the 2008 Mondial Australian Women's Hardcourts tournament (which has since been renamed as the Brisbane International), which Li Na won in three sets after Azarenka had won the first.[91] Azarenka's first victory over Li was in the third round of the 2010 Rogers Cup. They met three times in 2011, two of which were at the Majors, with Li winning both times, before Azarenka won their third meeting at the 2011 WTA Tour Championships, en route to reaching the final.

They met a further three times in 2012, with Azarenka winning each time. They met in the final of the Sydney International, where Azarenka won in three sets after breaking the defending champion Li at 4–3 in the decider.[92] Azarenka was also victorious in their meetings at Madrid and the year-end championships.

Their most notable meeting to date was in the final of the 2013 Australian Open. Both players entered the championship match with one Grand Slam title each (Azarenka who the 2012 Australian Open, whilst Li won the 2011 French Open), and in very good form, with Azarenka only dropping one set throughout her run and Li Na having not dropped a set and also having defeated two top four players (Agnieszka Radwańska and Maria Sharapova) en route. After Li Na won the first set, Azarenka stepped up her game as Li started to suffer multiple injuries, and eventually won in three sets to successfully defend her Australian Open title and become the first world No. 1 to win a Major since Serena Williams won Wimbledon in 2010.[48]

Azarenka lost their most recent meeting in straight sets at the 2013 WTA Tour Championships, playing through a back injury and winning just three games in the process.[93]

Career statistics[edit]

Grand Slam finals[edit]

Singles: 4 (2 titles, 2 runner-ups)[edit]

Outcome Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Winner 2012 Australian Open Hard Russia Maria Sharapova 6–3, 6–0
Runner-up 2012 US Open Hard United States Serena Williams 2–6, 6–2, 5–7
Winner 2013 Australian Open (2) Hard China Li Na 4–6, 6–4, 6–3
Runner-up 2013 US Open (2) Hard United States Serena Williams 5–7, 7–6(8–6), 1–6

Doubles: 3 (3 runners-up)[edit]

Outcome Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Runner-up 2008 Australian Open Hard Israel Shahar Pe'er Ukraine Alona Bondarenko
Ukraine Kateryna Bondarenko
6–2, 1–6, 4–6
Runner-up 2009 French Open Clay Russia Elena Vesnina Spain Anabel Medina Garrigues
Spain Virginia Ruano Pascual
1–6, 1–6
Runner-up 2011 Australian Open (2) Hard Russia Maria Kirilenko Argentina Gisela Dulko
Italy Flavia Pennetta
6–2, 5–7, 1–6

Mixed doubles: 3 (2 titles, 1 runner-up)[edit]

Outcome Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Runner-up 2007 Australian Open Hard Belarus Max Mirnyi Russia Elena Likhovtseva
Canada Daniel Nestor
4–6, 4–6
Winner 2007 US Open Hard Belarus Max Mirnyi United States Meghann Shaughnessy
India Leander Paes
6–4, 7–6(8–6)
Winner 2008 French Open Clay United States Bob Bryan Slovenia Katarina Srebotnik
Serbia Nenad Zimonjić
6–2, 7–6(7–4)

Grand Slam singles performance timeline[edit]

Key
W  F  SF QF #R RR LQ (Q#) A P Z# PO SF-B F S G NMS NH

Won tournament; or reached Final; Semifinal; Quarter-final; Round 4, 3, 2, 1; competed at a Round Robin stage; lost in Qualification Round; absent from tournament event; played in a Davis Cup Zonal Group (with its number indication) or Play-off; won a bronze, silver (F or S) or gold medal at the Olympics; a downgraded Masters Series/1000 tournament (Not a Masters Series); or a tournament that was Not Held in a given year.

To avoid confusion and double counting, these charts are updated either at the conclusion of a tournament, or when the player's participation in the tournament has ended.

Tournament 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 W–L
Grand Slam tournaments
Australian Open 1R 3R 3R 4R QF 4R W W QF 32–7
French Open 1R 1R 4R QF 1R QF 4R SF A 19–8
Wimbledon 1R 3R 3R QF 3R SF SF 2R 2R 23–8
US Open 3R 4R 3R 3R 2R 3R F F 24–8
Win–Loss 2–4 7–4 9–4 13–4 7–4 14–4 21–3 19–3 5–2 97–32

Doubles performance timeline[edit]

Only Main Draw results in WTA Tour are considered. This table is current up to the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Tournament 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 W–L
Grand Slam tournaments
Australian Open A F 3R 3R F A 14–3
French Open 1R QF F 2R QF A 12–5
Wimbledon 2R QF 3R 1R A A 5–3
US Open 1R 1R 2R A A A 1–3
Win–Loss 2–3 11–4 10–4 3–3 8–2 0–0 34–16

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