Azarenka on the rise

The Belarusian was hard-hit by injuries last year, and a substantial spell on the sidelines saw her ranking plummet. As a result she headed to the 2015 Australian Open as an unseeded player, which is always a dangerous prospect.

Having eased past young gun Sloane Stephens in the opening round, Azarenka face eight seed Caroline Wozniacki in the second round on Thursday. And while it may have been the Dane who was the seeded player, Azarenka made light work of her good friend as she eased to a 6-4 6-2 victory.

Speaking after the match, Azarenka said she was in a good space once more.

“That's just fun, really fun,” she said. “Because I really enjoy playing. You know, sometimes there's pressure, tough moments. But just to be able to go through all those emotions once again, it's really fun, you know. 

"For me, I enjoy it so much. I can't wait to just keep working and keep playing, having more matches, more tournaments. Yeah, it's the beginning of the year, so I'm looking forward to it."

Playing one of the top seeds so early in the tournament is certainly not ideal, but Azarenka has asserted that to win the title you have to beat the best, so it's not a point to be dwelt on.

“I think sometimes it doesn't really matter on what stage you play,” she said.

“It's probably tougher in the beginning of the tournament. But for me I knew that I'm unseeded so I can play anybody. I just accept whoever is on the opposite side.

"She had such an incredible end of last season so I knew I had to step up my game and really take my chances today – I think I did that pretty well.”

Azarenka now faces number 25 seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova for a place in the last 16. 

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