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post #675 of (permalink) Old Jul 28th, 2013, 01:25 AM
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Re: News and updates about Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka confident knee will be ready

Victoria Azarenka’s knee is on the mend. Which means her quest to return to the top of the World Tennis Association rankings can resume when she arrives in Carlsbad on July 29 for the Southern California Open at the La Costa Resort and Spa.

The world’s No. 3 tennis player withdrew from Wimbledon last month after a nasty spill on the famed grass court forced Azarenka to exit the Grand Slam, a setback that the 24-year-old Belarus star hopes to put behind her as she moves to the hard court this week in her first stop on the U.S. Open Series calendar.

“It’s always tough to withdraw from any tournament through injury,” Azarenka said in an email to U-T San Diego. “Your mind is in the right place and your tennis is good and then something happens that is out of your control. There is no point to be upset about it, though.

“The best thing to do is put those emotions into something positive and work on getting better.”

That something positive could happen here in Carlsbad, where Azarenka is the top-ranked woman in a singles field that includes No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, the 2011 winner of the Southern California Open, No. 7 Petra Kvitova and No. 25 Dominka Cibulkova, last year’s winner with a 6-1, 7-5 win over reigning Wimbledon champ Marion Bartoli.

Bartoli pulled out of both the Southern California Open and last week’s Bank of the West Classic with a hamstring strain.

Azarenka knows something about that kind of frustration.

Last month while attempting to return a forehand from Maria Joao Koehler, Azarenka slipped and twisted her right knee, sending her to the grass in a heap of sobs and pain.

Although trainers wrapped it tightly enough for Azarenka to finish off a 6-1, 6-2 win, the sprained knee and bone bruise forced her to withdraw minutes before a second-round match with Italian Flavia Pennetta.

Azarenka, however, isn’t expecting her knee to hold her back when she steps on the court in Carlsbad, where she lost in the second round to Daniela Hantuchova in 2007 in her only other appearance in the Southern California Open.

“I’ve been training and rehabilitating daily,” Azarenka said. “In the morning, I do specific exercises in the pool to strengthen those parts of my body without any impact. I have deep tissue works done with my physio and finish up in the afternoon with hitting sessions. … My knee will be 100 percent by the time I arrive in Carlsbad.”

Which means she can resume her push to the top of the WTA.

Azarenka took her biggest leap with her first Grand Slam last year, besting Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-0 in the finals to rise to the top of the charts for the first time in her career, and she repeated in Melbourne this year with a come-from-behind 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win in the finals over Na Li.

But after a follow-up win over rival Serena Williams at the Qatar Total Open, Azarenka fizzled in a finals loss to Williams at Rome and lost in the semis to Sharapova in the French Open in May before her run-in with the Wimbledon grass.

Now she’s playing catch-up on the hard court work she had planned to get in before the U.S. Open in August. After the Southern California Open, Azarenka will play in the Rogers Cup in Toronto and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati to get her game in shape for the season’s Grand Slam finale in New York.

Carlsbad is as good a place to start as any.

“Obviously, the U.S. Open is an important tournament for me,” said Azarenka, who turns 24 on July 31. “I have a good hard court game and wanted to take advantage of all the tournaments leading up to New York. The injury was
frustrating to deal with, so I’m working around the change in schedule as best as I can.”

Last edited by ozza; Jul 29th, 2013 at 12:28 PM.
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