Victoria Azarenka can’t complain about her 2013. She won a Grand Slam, reached the final of another, and finished No. 2 for the year. Yet she enters 2014 as something of a question mark. Her loss to Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final seemed to mark a summit not quite reached. Azarenka had come close to beating Serena the previous year at Flushing Meadows, had beaten her twice in 2013, and had her on the ropes as the third set began. Yet she lost it 6-1 and never recovered; Vika went 1-4 the rest of the year.
The question for Vika in 2014 is: Can she make another run up the mountain? The thought of taking Serena on again must be a daunting one at the moment, but the two-time defending Aussie Open champ always gets off to a good start Down Under.
Ad-In: Azarenka lost to Serena when it mattered last year, but she has proven she can play with her. Vika is also eight years younger than her, and should be entering her prime. Hard courts are her turf, and two majors on them in 2014 are within her grasp.
Ad-Out: Vika has the most to lose from the return of Maria Sharapova, who beat her in the French Open semifinals before being sidelined with a shoulder injury. And how many times can Azarenka lose to Serena in major matches and keep looking on the bright side?
As we approach the new year, we'll take a closer look at what's in store for the past year's top performers. To read more of our 2014 Season Previews, click here.