Defending Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka says Serena Williams is the player to beat this year in Melbourne. Williams has won the last two Grand Slam titles and beat Azarenka five times last year, including a three-set win in the U.S. Open final.
"Yeah, I think so," said Azarenka, who added that the toe injury that prompted her to pull out of Brisbane before her match with Williams has healed. "Everybody tries to beat the top players. Every time I go on the court, you feel the same way. Everybody want to take your position, be the No. 1 player in the world. When I wasn't No. 1, I was feeling the same way. You get more excited. The job gets tougher for us, but also it's more exciting this way."
Williams, who was upset by Ekaterina Makarova last year in Melbourne, said she doesn't care whether she’s the favorite or not.
"I've been a favorite so many times and I've been the ultimate underdog several times," she said. "I like being the underdog a little. You don't have any pressure. Being the favorite is fun, too, because then you feel like you're the one to beat. If it came down to it, I would prefer to be the underdog."