Category Archives: Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka: Will She, Won’t She?

Things looked like they were all going to plan for Victoria Azarenka early in her match against Daniela Hantuchova, as she took the first set 6-4. There was some resistance from Hantuchova, but it was clear that Vika was just better. All signs pointed to her running away with the second set and taking the match with ease.

But, of course, that didn’t happen. Instead, she would lose the match in three sets, winning a measly three games for the remainder of the match

I’ve always been completely undecided on Vika. Everyone has forever expected her to move into the top five and eventually win slams, but it just hasn’t happened. Gamewise, though she possesses one of the best backhands and return of serves in the game, other parts of her game - notably her serve, forehand and movement, are distinctly average. But even so, her consistent aggression is a style of play that should thrive against the current crop of players, yet, again, it’s not working.

The biggest problem has been between her ears and just above that cute nose of hers. Mentally, she is crazy, insane, and an absolute wreck. She has spent the beginning of 2011 either psychotically choking matches away or losing without seemingly even caring. Another question mark has always been her body - problems with the heat, injuries, illnesses, concussion and so on all leading to an insane amount of retirements and withdrawals in her short career. She may still be only 21, but she could really end up stuck in a purgatory-like state for the rest of her career. keeping her nose just above the rest of the top 20, but never breaking through as a genuine contender for slams. You know, like Hantuchova herself. And if not that, then her body could eventually just collapse. We watched Tatiana Golovin go through similar problems in the mid-00s, and by the age of 20, it was all over. Some bodies just aren’t cut out fo the strains of the modern and highly physical game of tennis.

To be fair, there have been genuine sparks where she has looked like a real contender, especially in her three slam quarterfinal runs. But each time, she was knocked back by a far superior player. Dinara Safina in the form of her life at the French Open in 2009, and then eventual champion Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2009 and the Australian in 2010. In comparison, in the four quarterfinals Wozniacki has contested, she has faced Melanie Oudin, Francesca Schiavone twice and Dominika Cibulkova. Huge difference. It just makes you wonder - had it been Azarenka in that position, would she be where Wozniacki is now?

But you make your own luck, and it’s up to Azarenka to bounce back and establish herself as a future champion again, because right now she isn’t even flying ‘under the radar’ – she doesn’t register on it. Personally, though not exactly a fan, I would love to see her finally break through on the big stage. But she will have to put in so much hard work and strive to sort out her mental problems. 2011 could well prove a pivotal year in the career of Victoria Azarenka.

Posted in Dubai, Feature Article, Victoria Azarenka | 2 Comments

Australian Open Rally For Relief: Your Favourite Sport COULD NEVER.

So, we finally had the much anticipated follow up to last year’s ‘Hit For Haiti’ exo, with this year’s ‘Rally For Relief’ taking place today. This exhibition was to benefit all those affected by the Queensland floods, with Andy Roddick, Novak Djokovic, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Pat Rafter, Justine Henin, Vera Zvonareva, Andy Murray, Jim Courier, Lleyton Hewitt, Kim Clijsters, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Sam Stosur all taking part. It was a massive success with the players raising $1.5m thus far, a figure likely to be doubled, tripled and God knows what esle over the next fortnight.

The first part was pretty much a free-for-all in a similar vein to last year. As usual it was Novak and Andy who stole the show with their perving on the WTA players, going into the photog area, perving again, sitting in the linesman’s chairs, perving a little more and just generally cracking joke after joke (most of which were to do with their female counterparts). Also gotta hand it to Ana and Vika who were the supporting cast in this exo. Most of the other players were (expectedly) quite boring, and Serena was clearly missed after her effort in the last exhibition. But Murray and Ana had sex on-court, people.

I think we all rolled our eyes after looking at the program for the second match of the exhibition, billed as the “main event. The four got down to the mic-less *srs* business, with Kim teaming up with Rafa and Fed with Sam. There were some fun moments but all in all it wasn’t the most riveting of viewing experiences. But then they flipped it round for a good ol’ battle of the sexes, and it went from boring to goddamn amazing in the blink of an eye. I don’t even care that this was an exhibition, I just found it so enjoyable and to watch the WTA players, our WTA players, go up against the men and give such a great account of themselves. The men did try to play it cool with their little dinks and slices, but when they did step up and go for their strokes there were some pretty electric rallies. Two of the most prominent being the forehand-to-forehand exchange between Rafa and Sam, in which both were killing the ball, and the second was when Kim and Sam loaded up on heavy topspin, imitating their male counterparts. The women eventually won the tie 45-43 with a massive forehand winner from Kim. Bow down to them.

The one thing I will say is that, as great as this and last year’s event have been, I just wish that it wasn’t simply a response to a disaster. They raised so much money with just a 1hr30 hit ‘n’ giggle, and there are so many other causes that need help, so why not make events like these a regular occurrence at the other slams (bar the US Open which obviously has the Arthur Ashe Kids Day) also? Not only does this raise a lot of money for charities and relief efforts, but it’s a brilliant advertisement for the ATP, the WTA and tennis as a whole.

Pics underneath:


Posted in Ana Ivanovic, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Australian Open, Caroline Wozniacki, Exhibitions, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Lleyton Hewitt, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Sam Stosur, Vera Zvonareva, Victoria Azarenka | 2 Comments

Victoria Azarenka Meets Dannii Minogue

Yesterday, Victoria Azarenka was snapped meeting Australian Pop icon Dannii Minogue. Minogue then styled Victoria is a number of dresses from her own line. Check out more pictures below the cut.


Posted in Australian Open, Victoria Azarenka, WTA Off court | 1 Comment

Australian Open Women’s Previews, Picks and Incoherent Rambling: Second Section

Second Section

The second section of the top half again plays host to a total of ten Grand Slam titles, in the form of Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova. Simultaneously excited at the prospect of a long-awaited Venus vs Maria scream-fest rematch, and horrified at the fact that they’re due to meet in only the fourth round, this has really been the section that has captured my attention the most. It has also amused me to see many people stating that Maria and Victoria Azarenka would be pleased with their draws. Maybe it’s just me, but if I was Maria, considering I lost in straight sets to Greta Arn just a week ago, I wouldn’t be jumping for joy at the thought of drawing arguably the most accomplished player in the draw. And as for Vika, considering she has never defeated Venus and her matches up horribly against her, again, I wouldn’t be too excited either. The whole “Venus is on her last legs” theory just doesn’t add up. She is currently sitting at 5th in the world with only nine tournaments to her name, so if she is supposedly finished and close to retirement, then what the hell does that say about the rest of the tour?

Anyway, let’s move on. This section is also intriguing because of the dangerous floaters littered throughout it. We have tennis player-turned assassin dancer Andrea Petkovic waiting for Venus in the third round, and Maria will have to fight her way past sextape queen Elena Vesnina and then Julia Goerges or Kaia Kanepi, which is a really, really tough ask. Further down in the draw, it’s worth keeping an eye out for the first round bitch-fest between Aravane Rezai and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, with Rezai’s total tennis contrasting well with Zahlavova Strycova’s consistent and resourceful game. Another worth watching is Daniela Hantuchova’s tough first-round match against the talented but injury-prone Regina Kulikova.

More than any other section, I’m expecting the top seeds to pull through to meet each other in the fourth round, and from then anything could happen. In the top half, should they meet, the match between Venus and Maria is probably one of the most pivotal in the draw. A victory for Maria could really give her the confidence to finally lose those inhibitions and nerves that have held her back over the last year, and similarly for Venus, it could prove a morale booster and the challenge from Maria could force her to elevate her game to that next level for the remainder of the tournament. It’s anyone’s match, really. The other fourth rounder between Na Li and Vika Azarenka will be similarly unpredicable. We all know Na – she just won Sydney with some brilliant tennis, and could completely blow Azarenka away in under an hour, but she could just as well lose with 927 unforced errors to her credit. It all depends on what side of the bed she wakes up on.

I think both Maria and Venus would prefer to meet Azarenka in the quarters – though both Li and Azarenka are essentially aggressive players, they are on completely different ends of the spectrum, with Azarenka’s consistent and relentless aggression contrasting with Li’s explosive, unpredictable game. Azarenka’s game will always match up dreadfully to Venus’ because Venus not only loves power, but she loves to be given the same ball over and over, with no changes in pace. Though aggressive, Azarenka’s game isn’t big enough to hit through Venus’ athleticism and so defeat is usually inevitable. The results would be similar against a confident, uninhibited Sharapova, with Masha demolishing the Azarenka serve and using the pace of Vika’s balls for her own amusement.

So here we go. Can Venus play her way into form and move into her second straight slam semi-final? Will Maria up her game in the last sixteen and find a way to summon the Sharapova of old? Can Li continue her Sydney form with a second consecutive Australian Open semi-final? And could Azarenka finally move into the semis of the Australian Open with no Serena to stop her for the first time in four years? So many questions. I do think that, should Maria and Venus play in the fourth round, the winner will come out of that match just because it would just be such a massive confidence booster for either player. And though I do think Maria is in with a great chance, is it really advisable to pick her to reach her first slam semi in three years off the back of her performance in Auckland? I’m thinking no.

Pick: Venus Williams.

Posted in Australian Open, Li Na, Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka | Leave a comment

Vera Zvonareva, Jelena Jankovic and More Glamorous In Sydney

Vera Zvonareva, Jelena Jankovic, Flavia Pennetta and Victoria Azarenka all got glammed up for a photoshoot at the Sydney player party yesterday. Check out the other pictures underneath.


Posted in Flavia Pennetta, Jelena Jankovic, Sydney, Vera Zvonareva, Victoria Azarenka, WTA Off court | 1 Comment

Foot Fault’s 46 Predictions for 2011

With 2011 fast approaching and the excitement of a brand new season slowly mounting to a fever pitch, I’ve taken to my trusty crystal ball to see what awaits us in the new year. I still wear my Schiavone French Open prediction like a crown, so will lightning strike twice in 2011 or will I be stuffing my face with humble pie this time around? We shall see. Remember, this is all in good fun so don’t take my word for gospel or anything.


Posted in ATP Offcourt, Agnieszka Radwanska, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Aravane Rezai, Benoit Paire, Caroline Wozniacki, Dinara Safina, Ernests Gulbis, Fernando Verdasco, Gilles Simon, Grigor Dimitrov, Jelena Jankovic, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Laura Robson, Lleyton Hewitt, Maria Kirilenko, Maria Sharapova, Nikolay Davydenko, Novak Djokovic, Polona Hercog, Rafael Nadal, Ricardas Berankis, Richard Gasquet, Robin Haase, Roger Federer, Ryan Harrison, Sabine Liscki, Serena Williams, Tomas Berdych, Ula Radwanska, Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka, WTA Off court, Yanina Wickmayer | 6 Comments

Why Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka’s AO QF Is The Best Match Of 2010

Though I’ve steered away from the evaluative year-end posts, it’s been interesting to see the general consensus on the best matches of 2010. While it is pretty obvious which men’s match tops the list (Isner and Mahut, duh), the women’s vote has been a lot trickier due to the fact that there haven’t been too many great matches this year. Many ended up settling with Serena Williams’ defeat of Justine Henin at the Australian Open final. I do see the argument behind picking this match; obviously they are two of the three best players of this generation (yeah, now isn’t the time to be getting into a Justine vs Venus debate), they are massive rivals, it was gripping, absorbing, and the first Women’s 3-set slam final in 97 years. But even so, I feel that though there were numerous moments of brilliance from both players, the quality of play was patchy and inconsistent, and for that reason, it cannot be classed as the match of 2010.

My nomination would, without a doubt, be the quarterfinal match at that very tournament between Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams. I don’t know how Vika has managed to amass so much bad karma to be drawn against Serena Williams so many times at the Australian Open, but over the last few years, she has landed herself in Serena’s tiny section of the draw so many times. In 2008 she was aced 15 times by Serena in a straight sets match that didn’t last much longer than an hour, and in 2009 she was forced to withdraw with heat exhaustion after taking the first set from her. So going into their 2010 quarterfinal, she had plenty of reason to be angry and determined to play her best tennis.

And she did. She came out onto the court all guns blazing – placing her typically weak serve well, attacking fearlessly off the ground and finishing most points at the net. Her play for the first set and a half was categorically flawless. That backhand… Easily one of the top five backhands in the world, it showed us all exactly way that day. Serena, though sluggish, wasn’t even particularly bad -- she was just being completely outclassed. The first set came and went, and before anyone knew it, Victoria was up 6-4 4-0 and two games away from bageling the then-four time champion.

At this point, quite literally any other player in history would have gone on to lose the match. Vika was not in the mood for choking, and she continued to play at an unwaveringly high level. The only way to beat her would be to pry the match away from her death grip. But that’s exactly what Serena did. The turning point was at 0-4 on Serena’s serve. The game dragged on to several deuces, and with some inspired passing shots and a couple of titanic rallies, Serena toughed out the game and her trademark confidence and self-belief slowly began to seep back into her game. Suddenly her serve was beginning to fire more frequently, she was moving better, she was hitting the ball cleaner, she was making more returns and looking to be aggressive off them – she was a new player. Azarenka did her best to stay close to Serena by bravely fighting to take the match into the tiebreak, and for a while the pair found themselves in a massive scuffle with some blistering and long rallies won by both, but Serena continued to improve and eventually took the second set 7-6(4).

The final set saw Serena hit full stride – acing and hitting return winners at will, but no matter whose side you were on, you had to feel sorry for Victoria. She would have murdered almost any other player in two easy sets that day, yet all she could do was stand there and watch as ball after ball flew past her. An amazing match.

Posted in Australian Open, Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka | 4 Comments

And The Winners Are…

So Victoria Azarenka emerged victorious in Moscow, defeating Maria Kirilenko 6-3 6-4. Though straight sets, the match wasn’t without its drama. The first set was a pretty crazy affair, with both girls participating in some insane points. Azarenka had the edge though, and she took advantage of some passive play from Maria to wrap up the set with a double break. After a long toilet break, Azarenka’s level dropped off slightly and Kirilenko took full advantage, racing to a 4-0 lead and urging herself on with some of the most incredible fistpumps known to man. However, when she got to 4-0, she just couldn’t handle the pressure. She began to miss the most pedestrian of shots and by the time it was 4-4, she couldn’t even find the middle of her strings. But let’s all stop acting surprised now, it’s the WTA after all.

On the men’s side in Moscow, Viktor Troicki took home his first ever ATP title, downing Marcos Baghdatis 3-6 6-4 6-3. A pretty great week for Viktor ahead of the Davis Cup Final. The last few months have seen him squander massive chances against both Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, and so it’s nice to see that those setbacks haven’t held him back.

Easy peasy. Roger Federer cruised to his 64th title in Stockholm, defeating Florian Mayer 6-4 6-3. I guess the biggest thing to take out of this is the fact that this 64th title means that he now stands shoulder to shoulder with Pete Sampras on the all time list. How many more can he win?

Posted in And the winners are..., Other WTA Events, Roger Federer, Victoria Azarenka | Leave a comment

Nike Primetime… Blowout.

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams (oh and Johnny Mac) all on one court. It sounds amazing, right? Especially after the Hit for Haiti event at the Australian this year turned out to be so, so, so good. But no, what the organisers of the Nike Primetime Knockout event neglected to tell us was that they decided to bring along some random ‘celebrities’ who had probably never even seen a tennis racket in their lives. And just like that, the “Hit ‘n’ giggle” quickly resembled a leisurely weekend hit among pensioners.

And they didn’t even stop there. They also really felt it necessary to find the most idiotic presenter in the whole of the USA and stick him in there too. One of his best bits was when Maria first came onto court and as she walked towards Serena he randomly decided to say to her “Isn’t it awkward standing on the same court as the number 1? You want what she has!” Cue awkward silence and rolled eyes. There was also the moment when Serena was introducing Azarenka and the guy decided to probe Serena about her Miami final loss to Vika in 2009, as if to imply that it was a bad loss since Azarenka is a nobody. But Serena understood immediately and made sure to stress just how good of a player (and person) she thought Vika was.

Speaking of Serena, she was the event-saver. She was still wearing that dreaded boot and while she obviously couldn’t play, she stood by the net and just had a lot of fun. Having banter with Johnny Mac, cheering on Maria and Vika and one of the more hilarious moments was when she tried to distract Federer by screaming while he served. John invited her to join him in the commentary booth one day during the US Open and she seemed genuinely interested. Can you imagine Serena and John commentating on a match together? No, neither can I because the last thing they would be talking about is the actual match.

One good thing that came out of this was the press conference audio recorded by Global Village Tennis News. It’s actually pretty funny and with the players all relaxed and having fun they all come across pretty well. Masha really is so different to when she first burst on the tour. She was so robot-like back then but nowadays she seems much more fun, open and accessible as a person. Recently a video of her visiting Chernobyl premiered and it is really worth taking a look at.

All in all it was a pretty useless event, but you got the feeling they were all just enjoying the moment. After all, they have only four days left before they have to pull up their socks and get down to business.

(Pictures: Daylife)

Posted in Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka | 2 Comments

Quotable Quotes

The Women’s Semifinals may have been rained off in Montreal this week, but it didn’t dampen the players spirits as they sat down in twos to do press conferences.

Firstly here’s Sveta da Joker.

JOURNALIST: How was your day?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I had the best day in my life. We were competing in soccer. Who kicks the most amounts in a row. I was losing to Vickie so I couldn’t stand it so I had to beat her up. I ended up taking forever but I did manage to (win).
Q. The rain is scheduled to stop at exactly 10 a.m. tomorrow. That’s the hourly forecast.
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I think if it was to happen in Moscow, we would have a huge vent, they would do someting to stop the rain forever. They have special planes to move the clouds away. That is why it never rains in Moscow.
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: That is why if you plan your vacation, come to Moscow in August.

And then Karolina and Vika engaging in some friendly banter:

JOURNALIST: Having fun?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Great fun! We love waiting! Not really
Q: Are you concerned about your upcoming schedule, and the delays here?
I am playing in New Haven and I have a bye in the first round. I will not play before Wednesday. I always like playing bye.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It’s the best opponent.

Q. All of this waiting, going on, getting off, waiting. I don’t know how much anxiety or nerves this creates. It’s not like this is U.S. Open, or anything. Do you get kind of emotionally ready and then on edge, up and then down again?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Of course, we want to win. It doesn’t matter if it is the U.S. Open, or… this is a big tournament for us as well and we want to do well and we want to win. We want to be mentally ready. And when it rains, you look at the radar and you look to see whether it will be a lot of rain. After that you try to relax a bit and try to put the intensity down, relax, and when you see the sky opening up a bit… you prepare…
VICTORIA AZARENKA: (Imitating snoring sounds, followed by laughter)
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: You know, I am going to pretend that I didn’t hear that! (laughter) Can you believe we are staying in the same hotel in New York? And I have to put up with this? (laughter) Every single day? And actually, she is the one who was late for the press conference because she could not put the balls in the pool table.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, but I won in the end.

Q. So the plan is if it rains tomorrow, they have to decide whether to play Tuesday or split all the money into the points.

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Can they do that? Really? Can we play poker or something? (laughter) We can put all the prize money into a poker tournament.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Rain, please, rain! (laughter)

Q. Would you play on Tuesday?
We haven’t thought about that yet. Hopefully tomorrow we will have good weather and finish the tournament.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah. (laughter)
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Vickie is already thinking. I can see that. It just takes a while. (laughter)
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah. (laughter) You just said so much that I don’t know what to add.

All I have to say to that is: STOP MAKING ME LIKE YOU, KAROLINA.

Posted in Caroline Wozniacki, Interviews, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Victoria Azarenka, WTA Off court | 2 Comments