Originally Posted by The Dawntreader
He has a point. As crudely put as it is.
I'm always surprised that people rate Azarenka on the strength of her mauling Sharapova every so often. Sharapova is barely even a vague shadow of the player she was 6 years ago. She herself has been blessed with this chasm of opportunity that was created after Henin left the game in '08. Further proof of her decline is the fact that it took her so long (even after recovery from shoulder surgery) to take advantage. Then we have players like Radwanska, Kerber, Errani Well, enough said. This is hardly a mountain of elite opposition that Azarenka has had to overcome.
Azarenka's game is generic as it gets. She plays at a steady, accumulative pace with decent margins, but lacks any sort of immediate weaponry. We even saw Cibulkova of all people, able to hit through Azarenka at will this year, because the rallying ball just doesn't do enough. The depth is solid without really biting the lines, the width isn't extreme enough and she doesn't take the ball early enough or has sufficient enough leverage to finish the points as early as possible.
The keys to her AO was maximising her game to the absolute maximum of her capabilities. The serve had enough good, raw-ish pace and decent placement, she took her forehand earlier, and she was playing at a standard above her normal underpowered, grinding game. The point is however, that she hasn't shown anything close to this level since, suggesting it took an incredible amount of conditioning, intensity and conviction to play that kind of tennis that is otherwise unsustainable for her to play week in week out. It's a contrived style of play that has had no long-term effect compared to those two weeks in Australia. That is the kind of tennis she'd have to play at every Slam next year to truly contend for Slams, and even that wouldn't probably be enough if Serena plays anywhere close to a high level.
Azarenka's Slam-winning days will probably be on hiatus for a while.
No offence, but you do seem to be a bit stuck in a timewarp when it comes to analysing Azarenka's game. Like you often say things like Azarenka's forehand is glitchy or can't redirect pace and makes it a lot of errors -- this may have been true in 2009, but these days, it's pretty obvious that her FH is watertight and solid as a rock and gives very few points away for free.
Also, you seem to base most of your argument on that one loss Azarenka had to Cibulkova, when that was pretty much the one
tournament this entire year that Azarenka played badly in. And I also don't know where you get the idea that Aza hasn't "come close" to her AO form from -- imo she exceeded that form from the US Open through to Linz.
I mean, I agree with the consensus that, very good though Azarenka is, there are 3 players who potentially have the ability to beat her regularly (Serena, Sharapova, Kvitova). But other than that, while there might be a few players lower down who have more raw firepower than Aza and might get the occasional win over her (such as Cibulkova, Safarova, Ivanovic, hell maybe even Venus
), they simply won't be able to execute consistently enough against a player who gives you as little for free as Aza does more than approximately 1 in 5 times, at best.