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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka, born 31 July 1989 is a Belarusian professional tennis player. She is the current World No. 1 as of 28 May 2012.

She won the 2012 Australian Open singles title, becoming the first Belarusian player to win a Grand Slam in singles. Her other achievements include winning two mixed doubles Grand Slam titles, the 2007 US Open with Max Mirnyi and the 2008 French Open with Bob Bryan.

At the 2011 Andalucia Tennis Experience, Azarenka was the top seed and dropped only fourteen games on her way to the final. She defeated Irina-Camelia Begu 6–3, 6–2, in the final. Azarenka's victory, and Samantha Stosur's inability to defend her points at Charleston, ensured that Azarenka would reach a career high of world no. 5. She then participated in Belarus' 5–0 win over Estonia in the Fed Cup, registering a 6–2, 6–0 win in her singles rubber. In her next tournament the 2011 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Azarenka retired after the first set of her first match, having won the first set 6–4 against Julia Goerges, ending her 12-match winning streak. Ironically, Julia went on to win the tournament.

At the 2011 Madrid Masters, Azarenka was seeded fourth. She lost in the final in straight sets to Petra Kvitová, but still rose to a career-high world no. 4. Azarenka then reached the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, where she was up a set before retiring to eventual champion Maria Sharapova.

Azarenka was the fourth seed at the 2011 French Open. She beat Andrea Hlaváčková in the first round, Pauline Parmentier in the second round, 30th seed Roberta Vinci in the third round, and Ekaterina Makarova in the fourth round to reach her fourth career Grand Slam quarterfinal. She lost to Li Na in the quarterfinals.
Azarenka at the 2011 WTA Tour Championships

Azarenka was the fourth seed at the 2011 Wimbledon Championships. She beat 25th seed Daniela Hantuchová in a three-set third-round match, before beating Nadia Petrova. She followed that up with an easy victory over Tamira Paszek, advancing to the semifinals of a Grand Slam for the first time. Azarenka was beaten by Czech player and eventual champion Petra Kvitová, going down in three sets 1–6, 6–3, 2–6.

Her next tournament was the 2011 Bank of the West Classic, where she was the defending champion and top seed. Azarenka was ousted by 124th-ranked Marina Erakovic from New Zealand in the second round. Despite her 'horrible match' in singles, Azarenka claimed the doubles title with partner Kirilenko.

The next tournament Azarenka played was the 2011 Rogers Cup, where she was seeded fourth. After a bye, Azarenka crushed Stephanie Dubois, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, and Galina Voskoboeva, before being stopped by Serena Williams in the semifinals, 3–6, 3–6. Azarenka reached the doubles final with Kirilenko, but the team was forced to withdraw because of a hand injury to Azarenka. Azarenka pulled out of the 2011 Western & Southern Open with the same injury.

Azarenka's next tournament was the 2011 US Open, where she was seeded fourth. She made it to the third round, where she was defeated by Serena Williams 1–6, 6–7. Despite the early loss, she reached a new career high of no. 3 in the world.

Azarenka reached the semifinals of the 2011 Toray Pan Pacific Open, losing to eventual champion Agnieszka Radwańska. In doing so she qualified for the year-end championships in Istanbul.

The Belarusian participated in the China Open, the last of the four mandatory events for 2011, as the second seed. She defeated Polona Hercog in the second round, after receiving a first-round bye. She then withdrew from the tournament citing a right foot strain.

Azarenka would win her third title of the year at the 2011 BGL Luxembourg Open, defeating Monica Niculescu in the final.
Championships. She beat Samantha Stosur 6–2, 6–2 and Li Na 6–2, 6–2 in her first two Round Robin matches. She secured the move to the semifinals despite her loss in three sets, 7–5, 4–6, 4–6, to Marion Bartoli, a substitute for Maria Sharapova. She then beat Vera Zvonareva 6–2, 6–3 to move to the final where she lost to Petra Kvitova 5–7, 6–4, 3–6.

Azarenka claimed her first title of the season at the 2012 Apia International Sydney as the third seed. She defeated her first three opponents, Stefanie Voegele, Jelena Jankovic and Marion Bartoli all in straight sets to advance to the semifinals where she defeated the seventh seed, Agnieszka Radwańska in three sets 1–6, 6–3, 6–2 to reach the final, where she defeated the defending champion Li Na in three sets 6–2, 1–6, 6–3.
Azarenka competed at the 2012 Australian Open as the third seed, defeating Heather Watson, Casey Dellacqua, Mona Barthel and Iveta Benesova in the first four rounds without dropping a set, losing just 10 games and winning 48. In the quarterfinals, Azarenka faced a sterner test against world no. 8 Agnieszka Radwańska, and lost the opening set on a tie-break before coming back strongly, losing just two further games en route to a 6–7, 6–0, 6–2 win.[25] In the semi-finals, she defeated the eleventh seed and defending champion Kim Clijsters 6–4, 1–6, 6–3 to reach her first Grand Slam singles final where she faced the world no. 4 Maria Sharapova, conqueror of 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová in the other semifinal. In a nervous start to the final, Azarenka lost the opening two games of the match, and was within two points of trailing 0–3 after Sharapova took the first two points of the third game. Azarenka came back to hold serve, however, and took the next two games to establish a 3–2 lead, before her opponent held serve to level the score at 3–3. This would prove to be Sharapova's last service hold in the match, as Azarenka then proceeded to win all of the next nine games, to record an emphatic 6–3, 6–0 victory. Unusually, due to the earlier quarter-final defeat of Caroline Wozniacki by Clijsters in the same tournament, whichever of the finalists triumphed in Melbourne would gain sufficient points to replace Wozniacki at the top of the Women's rankings. Azarenka thus recorded her first Grand Slam singles title and became the world no. 1 (with effect from 30 January 2012) in the same match.

Personal life

At age 16, Azarenka moved to Scottsdale, Arizona from Minsk, Belarus, to train. In this she was aided by National Hockey League goalie Nikolai Khabibulin and his wife, who is a friend of Azarenka's mother. In 2010 she briefly considered a break from the sport of tennis to focus on education, however, after a conversation with her grandmother she decided to continue playing. It is the inspiration from her grandmother that is regarded as the key for her continued developments in the sport. Azarenka is romantically involved with tennis player Sergei Bubka Jr, son of former Olympic gold medalist and World Champion, Sergey Bubka.
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