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Victoria Azarenka: Back in the mix, but staying ‘in the present’
The two-time champion is back in the Australian Open fourth round for the first time since 2016, but she’s determined not to linger on past achievements.
Published Jan 21, 2022
MATCH POINT: Victoria Azarenka def. Elina Svitolina in the Australian Open third round.
Victoria Azarenka has been in ominous form across the first three rounds at the Australian Open, and the two-time champion is officially back in the conversation as the women’s draw takes shape.
The No. 24 seed needed just over an hour to oust No. 14 seed Elina Svitolina, 6-0, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena. Azarenka, who lifted the trophy here in 2012 and 2013, has yet to drop a set in Melbourne.
“I thought I was really well-executing my game plan,” Azarenka said in her post-match press conference. “I wanted to put as much pressure as I could on her and kind of not let her come into the match. She's an amazing fighter and I know if I give her a little room, she's going to get back out there.”
Azarenka’s firepower effectively smothered Svitolina, and she struck 17 winners including four aces past the Ukrainian player. She also peppered her strong baseline game with successful forays to the net, where she won 11 of 12 points.
I think when you look in the past, which I particularly don't like to do, I think your memory is a bit distorted. Victoria Azarenka
It’s a continuation of the form Azarenka showed at the end of 2021, which saw her reach her third final at the WTA 1000-level event in Indian Wells before falling to Paula Badosa. Azarenka has maintained momentum after the short off-season, posting a quarterfinal appearance in Adelaide.
“I think when you look in the past, which I particularly don't like to do, I think your memory is a bit distorted,” Azarenka said, refusing to compare her current level to the one she showed in Indian Wells.
“I kind of try to take it day by day. I think that kind of mentality—to stay in the present, continue to just do what I can in the moment—that's been helping me more rather than kind of comparing.
“I think that's really what I'm trying to say, that I want to climb that ladder step by step. I think the danger for me is to try to skip few steps. That is something I'm actually learning not to do. That's been helpful.”
Azarenka, who opened the fortnight with her first win in Melbourne in six years, will get a big test in the next round as she faces No. 4 seed Barbora Krejcikova. The Belarusian owns one victory over the reigning French Open champion, defeating her 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 in Ostrava in 2020.