Azarenka: “This is one my best”
Originally published on: 02/08/10 11:37
Victoria Azarenka saw in her birthday weekend in style in Stanford, defeating Maria Sharapova 6-4 6-1 for the fourth title of her career and her first of the year.
Resisting any urge to zip across the Californian border to Las Vegas to make the most of her just-turned-21 status on Saturday, the Belarusian delayed her birthday celebrations a day after grabbing a deserved victory at the Bank of the West Classic on Sunday.
“I want to see my friends and family if I have time,” said the young Belarusian of her plans to celebrate – adding with a grin: “I want a cake. I want some ice cream, something beside cinnamon.”
The triumph brings an end to an unremarkable spell for Azarenka. First round exits in Charleston, Madrid and Roland Garros during the clay court season were tempered by a run to the final at the AEGON International in Eastbourne, but the world No.12 fell to 100th ranked Russia Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets in the final.
That defeat set the tone for Wimbledon, where world No.62 Petra Kvitova notched up a second set bagel as Azarenka was dumped out of the All England Club in round three – a result which has prompted her to modify the way she crafts her play.
“I’m changing my game so as not to have the same patterns all the time,” said Azarenka. The most important thing is to be thinking on the court.”
It paid off in Stanford as Azarenka, famed for her return game, defeated Sharapova for the second time in four meetings after winning six of her 11 break points and securing 57 per cent of her total return points.
“She’s one of the most consistent [players],” admitted Sharapova after missing the chance to lead the WTA Tour by claiming a third title of the year. “She gets a lot of balls back and every ball is heavy.”
Despite Sharpaova’s praise, the new Standford champ conceded that her playing style is more out of necessity.
“I have to go for my return,” she said. “I cannot step back; I have to attack, attack the serve. I keep pushing myself forward on every point.”
Either way, it worked a treat in Stanford, but the young Belarusian will be unable to continue her winning run in California after she withdrew from this week’s Mercury Insurance Open in San Diego with a shoulder injury.