From Marbella… to Melbourne

28 Jan

It all essentially began for Victoria Azarenka in Spain last April. The then 21-year-old Belarusian confirmed her top seeding by winning the third edition of the Andalucía Tennis Experience to rise to a career best fifth in the WTA world ranking. She had dropped only 14 games on her way to the final at Marbella’s Puente Romano Tennis Club, eventually beating Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 6-2.

By September, she was number three – the highest-ranked Belarusian player in the history of the women’s tour, two better than Natasha Zvereva. Now the 2007 US Open (with Max Mirnyi) and 2008 French Open (Bob Bryan) mixed doubles champion has secured her first singles Glam Slam title, with a comprehensive Australian Open triumph over fellow arch-grunter Maria Sharapova of Russia, and wrested number one spot from Caroline Wozniacki – who had held on to the position since October 2010 in spite of still seeking her own first Grand Slam victory.

Azarenka’s win made it a rare double: she was also the Australian Open junior singles champion in 2005, the same year she won the US Open junior title and was named the ITF Junior Girls World Champion. Her first career WTA title was the 2009 Brisbane International, and earlier this year, in the lead-up to the 2012 Australian Open, she won the Apia International Sydney tournament.

Dinara Safina signing autographs

Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anabel Medina visit Marbella’s Old Town

Winning style from Azarenka


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