Azarenka quick to settle into No.1 spot
Originally published on: 19/03/12 10:07
Victoria Azarenka may not have been the obvious choice for the world No.1 spot at the turn of the year but the Belarusian has wasted little time growing into the role.
Victory over Maria Sharapova in the Indian Wells final saw her triumph in the Californian desert for the first time, lift her fourth consecutive title and move to 23 matches unbeaten in 2012.
“She’s going through a period in her career where she’s extremely confident, extremely solid,” said Sharapova. “Nothing is really going wrong for her.”
Azarenka had crushed the Russian 6-0 6-3 in their previous meeting – in the final of the Australian Open – and her fifth victory over the 2006 Indian Wells champion in their eighth career meeting was similarly authoritative. Already a titlist in Sydney, Melbourne and Doha, Azarenka made it four for the year with a 6-2 6-3 victory that added a 12th WTA title to her collection.
It’s been a remarkable rise for Azarenka, who laid the foundations for success last year by ending the season at a career-high No.3 in the world after reaching her first Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon. “Last year was a learning experience for me,” said the 22-year-old. “Every loss I analysed and step by step just built on everything, just daily hard work. I had a lot of tough losses last year and so now I’m really trying to turn it around in my own favour. I have just been trying to be consistent and professional every day. I never dreamed this would happen.”
Her latest title came only after the Belarusian had survived her greatest test of the year so far in the second round, when she overcame upcoming German Mona Barthel in a three-hour thriller that saw her pegged back from 6-4 5-1 to within two points of defeat at 5-3 30-0, before finally scraping through 6-4 6-7(4) 7-6(6).