Victoria Azarenka overcame a huge health scare sustained at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic where she looked to be struggling with her fitness, and came into the 2018 Rogers Cup roaring into contention as one of the dark horses for the title with a stunning and astonishing 6-0, 6-1 win over former top-10 player Kristina Mladenovic in a surprisingly one-sided blockbuster opening-round encounter in Montreal.
The Belarusian only required a mere 55 minutes to seal the comfortable win over the Frenchwoman, winning twice as many points as Mladenovic while not facing a break point throughout the encounter. Furthermore, Azarenka lost only four points behind her second serves while Mladenovic struggled with her confidence and game, with her second serves being constantly exploited by Azarenka, who was once considered the best female returner in the game.
Azarenka claims the stunning bagel
After having question marks revolving around her form especially after retiring in the semifinals at San Jose just a couple of days ago, Azarenka defied the odds and silenced the doubters with a confident service hold in the opening game. The former world number one was not missing much whereas, Mladenovic was missing everything she could.
The Frenchwoman, who suffered her second consecutive opening-round exit, served two double-faults in her first service which ultimately led to her misery. Azarenka was simply firing on all cylinders as she maintained solid in her game rattling off 12 of the first 16 points in the match and storming towards a quick 3-0 lead within a blink of an eye.
Mladenovic had the golden opportunity to get on the scoreboard as she earned three game points in the fourth game, but all her chances were extinguished without any prior warning as Azarenka stormed back to extend her lead. Overcoming several uncharacteristic unforced errors, the two-time Major champion held serve from 0-30 down before Mladenovic was forced to serve to stay in the set at 0-5 down.
Nothing was working for Mladenovic despite the number of changes she tried to implement in her game, although she showed some tough resistance by saving set points with a backhand winner. Nonetheless, after a slight tussle towards the closing stages of the set, Azarenka was third-time lucky and closed out the brutal opening set 6-0.
Azarenka seals the fantastic win
Things continued to be one-way traffic in the second set as Azarenka continued to ride on her momentum, producing the unbelievable passing shot to grab the opening game. The level of the Belarusian’s game was extremely high which gave Mladenovic no breathing space and took a huge blow on her confidence after the dismal start which made her feel helpless.
Serving down 0-6, 0-3 40-AD, it seemed as though the improbable double-bagel victory for Azarenka could occur soon. However, Mladenovic stepped up her game in the timeliest manner, getting onto the scoreboard after what seemed like an eternity. Despite so, she was unable to translate those successes onto her return games, ultimately falling 0-6, 1-6 after just 55 minutes of action.