2016 Wimbledon player profile: Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka is one of the form players of 2016 after picking up three titles this year including the Sunshine Double by winning Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back.

She was non-existent during the clay court season but the world number six is definitely one of the favourites to claim her first Wimbledon title.

Notable results to date

The former world number one Victoria Azarenka had a poor 2014 season due to suffering a foot injury and she improved massively in 2015 by reaching the quarterfinals of Wimbledon and the US Open but she would expect more from herself.

This year has seen the resurgence of Azarenka, as she won her first title since 2013 at the Brisbane International against Angelique Kerber in the final without dropping a set en route to the title.

After that title, many consider Azarenka to be the favourite to lift the Daphne Akhurst title for the third time at the Australian Open since her rivals Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova among others had niggling injuries before the tournament even started.

The Belarusian won 18 consecutive sets during her title run in Brisbane and Melbourne but she suffered a shock loss to eventual Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals.

Azarenka had a pit stop in Acapulco and withdrew from her second round match against Dominika Cibulkova but the former two-time Australian Open had the perfect hard court swing in North America.

Azarenka completed the Sunshine Double by winning Indian Wells at the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open back-to-back which was impressive as she defeated some top players along the way.

The Belarusian defeated her rival Serena Williams 6-4, 6-4 in the final at the BNP Paribas Open and at the Miami Open she defeated future French Open champion Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round, Kerber in the semifinals and fellow two-time slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final.

Azarenka holding the trophy at the BNP Paribas Open following her win against Serena Williams (Photo by Julian Finney / Source : Getty Images)
Azarenka holding the trophy at the BNP Paribas Open following her win against Serena Williams (Photo by Julian Finney / Source : Getty Images)

Following that spectacular North American hard court run, it was time for Azarenka to play on her least favoured surface, clay. The Belarusian has been a semifinalist at the French Open in 2013 but she suffered a back injury that forced her to withdraw from her third round match with Louisa Chirico at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Azarenka's back was still clearly hampered at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome as she suffered her second defeat of the season to the in-form Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu.

Her clay court season culminated with a first round defeat at the French Open on Court 1 to Karin Knapp but she sustained a knee injury that forced her to withdraw from the match in the final set at 4-0 down.

Best grass results leading to Wimbledon

Azarenka was scheduled to play at the Aegon Open in Nottingham and she practiced there for a few days but withdrew from the event as she wasn't 100% to compete.

Best Wimbledon result

Azarenka is a two-time semifinalist at Wimbledon, she reached that stage of the competition in consecutive years in 2011 and 2012 losing to the eventual champions in both years, Petra Kvitova and Serena Williams. 

Azarenka's route to the semifinals in 2011 as the fourth seed was easy, she breezed past Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4 and was leading 3-2 in the second set before the Slovak retired. Iveta Benesova, 25th seed Daniela Hantuchova and Nadia Petrova all fell to Azarenka before the quarterfinals.

In the quarterfinals, Azarenka thrashed Tamira Paszek 6-3, 6-1 before she lost to Kvitova in three sets in the semifinals.

Azarenka in action in Wimbledon in 2012 against Ana Ivanovic (Photo by Clive Rose / Source : Getty Images)
Azarenka in action in Wimbledon in 2012 against Ana Ivanovic (Photo by Clive Rose / Source : Getty Images)

In 2012, Azarenka's run to the semifinals was even more impressive as she did not drop a set in her first five matches. Irina Falconi, Romina Oprandi, Jana Cepelova and 14th seed Ana Ivanovic all fell by the wayside.

For the second consecutive year in the quarterfinals, Azarenka defeated Tamira Paszek and her run at SW19 came to a halt by Serena Williams in the semifinals.

Azarenka has shown that she is a formidable force on the grass courts as along with a pair of semifinal finishes, a pair of quarterfinal losses to Serena Williams in 2009 and last year occurred in her Wimbledon career.

How Azarenka's game translates to the surface

Grass is the fastest surface in tennis and players are able to get a lot of cheap points on this surface, if they have a good first serve.

Azarenka's first serve has improved over the years but she is still prone to serving double faults. The Belarusian can play good baseline tennis on grass as this surface is also good for playing attacking tennis which Azarenka possesses in her game.

The former world number one is also one of the best returners in tennis and she can show brilliant defence which she could use to her advantage.

A huge bunch of Azarenka's titles have come on hard courts and she hasn't won a title on grass in her career but she reached one final losing to Ekaterina Makarova in Eastbourne six years ago.

Azarenka's two quarterfinal and two semifinal finishes at Wimbledon will give the Belarusian some confidence to go on a big run at Wimbledon. 

The main question for Azarenka is fitness. Can she stay fit to capture her third Grand Slam title and the Venus Rosewater Dish in a few weeks time?

 

 

 

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