Our What's Next? series looks at every player who finished in the ATP or WTA Top 10 this season, and considers their future in three different ways.
Vika will start the season by returning to the scenes of her earliest and most convincing victories of 2012. Her Australian Open title was her first major, and it lifted her to No. 1 for the first time. That spot had been a curse for many of its recent occupants, but Azarenka was inspired, rather than intimidated by it: She didn’t lose a match until the last week of March. And while she had faded in the second half in years past, she never lost atltitude in 2012; she reached the final of the U.S. Open and had a strong fall.
Azarenka, like the rest of the tour, does have a Serena problem—she was 0-5 against her last season. But that’s about the only problem she has at the moment. Azarenka was 10-2 against the other two members of the Top 4, Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska, in 2012. She shouldn’t lack for motivation going forward: Vika likes being No. 1.
Best Case Scenario: Azarenka, like her fellow No. 1 Novak Djokovic, is hard to beat on hard courts, and prone to fast starts. How many majors, or titles, she wins may depend on how many times she has to face Serena Williams. If she can avoid her, she could end up with two Slams. Either way, her consistency will make her hard to dislodge from the No. 1 ranking.
Worst Case Scenario: In the past, Azarenka had trouble staying injury-free, and retirements curtailed her progress. That changed over the last two years, when she had a good run of health. But it didn’t go away completely. She had wrist and leg problems in 2012, and she shut herself down rather than risk further injury on a couple of occasions. We’ll see if any physical issues hold her back next season.
Australian Open Outlook: You have to like Vika’s chances of going deep in Australia. She’s the defending champion, she comes out of the gates fast each season, she loves Melbourne Park’s slow hard courts, and she made her original breakout run there four years ago. Unfortunately, that run, along with two others of hers at the Australian Open, was stopped by the same woman: Serena Williams.
More What's Next?
- ATP No. 10, Richard Gasquet
- WTA No. 10, Caroline Wozniacki
- ATP No. 9, Janko Tipsarevic
- WTA No. 9, Sam Stosur
- ATP No. 8, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
- WTA No. 8, Petra Kvitova
- ATP No. 7, Juan Martin del Potro
- WTA No. 7, Li Na
- ATP No. 6, Tomas Berdych
- WTA No. 6, Sara Errani
- ATP No. 5, David Ferrer
- WTA No. 5, Angelique Kerber
- ATP No. 4, Rafael Nadal
- WTA No. 4, Agnieszka Radwanska
- ATP No. 3, Andy Murray
- WTA No. 3, Serena Williams
- ATP No. 2, Roger Federer
- WTA No. 2, Maria Sharapova
- ATP No. 1, Novak Djokovic
- WTA No. 1, Victoria Azarenka