Victoria Azarenka, the 2008 and 2011 victor at the Miami Open, booked her spot into the next round with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Spaniard Silvia Soler-Espinosa.
After a routine first set, the former world number one went down an early break. Down 1-3, Azarenka captured the next five games for the straight sets triumph.
For Azarenka, it’s a year of rebuilding after being sidelined by injury for most of 2014. As a result, the two time Australian Open champion and twice runner-up at the U.S. Open, has seen her ranking dip and is now at 49.
In evaluating her play today, Azarenka expressed, “I think it was a pretty good first set. . .second set there was too many mistakes in the beginning. . . I lost my momentum, and she led the way a little bit. But I’m glad I could turn it around and play well when I needed to. But I just would like to see a little bit more consistency from my game.”
The Belarusian realizes that there is plenty of work that will be required if she hopes to regain her usual form after her forced hiatus. Azarenka believes what is lacking “it’s just the match play. . . You can practice for as long as possible, but really to have that moment where you play, where, you know, you sometimes get nervous, you know, it doesn’t only depend on you. It also a little bit on your opponent. So all that is the more, the more match play.”
Once one has been to the mountain top, it’s hard to accept anything less than being top dog. Azarenka stated “I’m trying to be at No. 1. I don’t want to settle for anything else. It’s going to be a long road. I think patience is probably the most frustrating thing. I know the level I play at. I just need to make sure I can do that every single match and build my match endurance, my match confidence back up there. But I feel that my level is getting better and better”.
Azarenka is thrilled to return to Miami where in 2008 as a nineteen year old she lifted the trophy by beating Serena Williams. “I love this tournament. . .the field is very strong all the time for me. I’m just happy to play anywhere I can. Obviously coming back to a place where I have a lot of great memories, it’s always nice. . .it was my first big win here, and actually first win over Serena. It took me a while to get another one after that. . .That whole year was really my first big, consistent year on a high level. So I think I left a pretty good mark winning here.”
Next up for Azarenka is Jelena Jankovic, the 2015 finalist at Indian Wells. The two have not tussled since January 2014. Azarenka has vanquished the Serb six out of ten times. “It [will be] a tough match. Being an unseeded player, I’m going to have really difficult first couple of rounds. I’m looking forward to that. I just need to keep working on my game and trying to do my best every match. Jelena had such a great week in the past, so she’s playing with a lot of confidence. She’s always a dangerous player, so I just need to focus on myself and try to play my best.”