Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka looks to be a major contender at this year’s event which starts in Melbourne on Monday.
The former world number one looks to be ready for the tough, upcoming challenges, especially after winning last week’s Brisbane International title when she hammered Germany’s Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-1 in the final. The title was her first piece of WTA silverware in two and a half years.
What was nice to see last week was that Azarenka looked healthy, happy and settled off the court, something that has been missing from her makeup for the last two years.
She started 2015 ranked 32nd and ended it at number 22, and in between that put a new coaching team together, had to deal with her father’s health issues and struggled with a long-time foot injury, which appears to have healed judging by her great movement on court in Brisbane.
In an interview with the Australian Open site, the 14th seeded Azarenka said she felt good after making many changes in the last year but was raring to get going in Melbourne.
“I had a lot of changes last year,” Azarenka said. “It took a little bit of time to regroup, reorganise, mature a little bit, and understand how to organise yourself.
“I’m like a freak right now, I’m super-organised. Now I found what works for me, what makes me feel comfortable, calm, at peace. So it’s good.”
Her victory in the Brisbane International, where she only lost 17 games during the event, is a clear indication that Azarenka means business.
“For me, it’s like you’re reading a book and you just turn the page,” Azarenka said after beating Kerber. “That part of it was over. You just flip the page. I think that’s exciting. I can’t wait to read the next page.”
With Azarenka’s new coaching team together, coach Wim Fissette and trainer Sascha Bajin, things seem very much in sync at the moment.
“I wanted to win the title, but I didn’t feel, ‘If this doesn’t happen the world is going to end,'” Azarenka admitted in Brisbane.
“I just feel really excited and happy that I’m doing the right things. I’m excited to keep working hard. Just gives extra motivation to keep working hard and achieve better things.
“When you’re on the right direction, I think it’s kind of cool,” she added.
With her current form and fitness, the Belarusian will be a dangerous opponent to face in Melbourne.
“It was love at first sight for me with Australia,” Azarenka wrote for Sports Illustrated in November. “The atmosphere is amazing, the fans are highly passionate and there is such history and appreciation for the athletes.”