Originally Posted by Smitten
TF logic: form exists in a vacuum. If a player plays well for a stretch of time, they'll always play well. If a player has a bad year, they'll never return to form.
To them, Azarenka will continue her high level until the day she retires and no one else can challenge her. There are numerous players with bigger games than her who did not play up to their level of tennis in 2012.
Azarenka doesn't have a big enough game to establish any staying power. It takes her too long to win points and she doesn't dictate often enough to ever be a dominant champion.
The overwhelming majority of the reason Azarenka is in the position she is in is because her start to the year of 2012. Serena was flopping/injured, Kvitova was flopping, Clijsters was injured/flopping/semi-retired, etc. She doesn't get a medal for beating Sharapova, Radwanska, and a choking Barthel in every event.
She didn't win fuck all until 5 months after IW despite posting consistent results (which she is able to do thanks to her generic baseline game and general low UE count).
tl;dr: The girl is still local.
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.