Victoria Azarenka Taking ‘Baby Steps’ In Hope Of More Grand Slam Success Before Retirement  - UBITENNIS
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Victoria Azarenka Taking ‘Baby Steps’ In Hope Of More Grand Slam Success Before Retirement 

The former world No.1 explains why her goals are no longer driven by results.

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Victoria Azarenka - Indian Wells 2021 (foto Twitter @BNPPARIBASOPEN)

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka has revealed she is taking a different approach to life on the Tour after her first round win on Monday. 

 

Azarenka, who is the only former champion remaining in the women’s draw at Melbourne Park this year, sealed her place in the last 64 following a 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), win over Sofia Kenin on the Margaret Court Arena. Kenin claimed the title back in 2020 but since then has struggled on the Tour with injury and hasn’t won back-to-back matches at a major event since the 2021 French Open. 

Now at the age of 33, Azarenka may not be as much of a dominant force compared to the past but she continues to play at the top of the sport. This year is her 15th appearance at the Australian Open where she made her debut back in 2007. 

“It was a nerve-wracking match for me, for sure,” Azarenka said following her latest match.
“I feel like my game definitely was not at its best today, but I was able to find a way to win, which I think is important to do. I feel I stayed mentally strong and I kept looking for solutions.”

Despite being a veteran on the Tour, the Belarusian has decided to take a new approach to the sport in the hope that it will boost her results. She started the season by playing both WTA events in Adelaide where she reached the quarter-finals in week one before suffering a first round loss to Veronika Kudermetova in week two. 

“I usually set myself some goals that I want to achieve, and most of the time they are result-oriented,” she explains. “I think it’s something that I try not to do so much and really take it step-by-step because it’s so quick to go to a finish line to think about it and your mind is racing there.
“So something that I want to try to break in little steps, and I have been working on that, and I think it helps me.”

So why make such a change at this stage in her career? Azarenka explains that she is doing so to help the mental side of her game. She has spoken openly about her experiences with mental health in the past. 

The ultimate goal of this new perspective is for her to once again shine at the Grand Slam events. Besides the Australian Open, she is a three-time US Open runner-up, two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist and one-time French Open semi-finalist. 

“I’m towards the end of my career and I cannot say being focused on the result hasn’t worked for me,” she said.
“But it also played big tricks for me mentally after you haven’t achieved your expectations, or what you wanted. [That is] kind of a hard hole to recover from.
“I would say I think of myself like I’m taking baby steps and really work on my intentions and what I want to do.
“I just didn’t want to judge ‘Can I do it?’ or ‘Can I not do it?’ I just try to see what happens. That is a pretty big win (for me).”

Azarenka will play Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska in the second round on Wednesday. 

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Ons Jabeur’s Latest Withdrawal Raises Doubts Over Season Ambitions

Ons Jabeur will be hoping to re-energize herself ahead of a big few months in her career.

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Ons Jabeur’s latest withdrawal in Dubai has raised doubts over how successful the Tunisian can be this season.

 

Despite having high hopes for revitalizing her season in Dubai, Ons Jabeur has had another setback in 2024.

The Tunisian was forced to withdraw from one of her favourite tournaments of the year in Dubai due to a knee injury.

This withdrawal came days after Jabeur said she was ready for the challenge in Dubai and was excited to compete in front of a passionate crowd in Dubai.

In a statement Jabeur explained her injury and why she was unable to compete in Dubai this week, “After consultation of my doctors and team we have decided that I will have to withdraw from Dubai this week and go for more medical treatments,” Jabeur was quoted by tennishead as saying.

“Looking forward to reconnect with all on the courts for the US swing. Thank you for your continuous support.”

This latest setback isn’t a coincidence though as Jabeur has struggled with injuries ever since her Wimbledon final.

The mental and physical toll that the last eight months have taken of Jabeur are starting to show.

There doesn’t seem to be a plan in place as Jabeur has been open about her mental health struggles since that comprehensive defeat to Marketa Vondrousova at Wimbledon.

That’s a potential problem for Jabeur going forwards as it continues to get tougher for the world number six to find motivation going forwards.

A long break away from tennis may be beneficial for Jabeur as it feels like this summer may be the Tunisian’s last opportunity at Grand Slam glory.

An innovative and new approach may be required for Jabeur as her physical and mental stamina continues to fade with every week.

However will Jabeur manage reinvent herself before it’s too late? Only time will tell and SW19 may be the final destination in that bid.

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Iga Swiatek ‘Proud’ After Claiming Doha Title

World number one Iga Swiatek won her 18th career title in Doha.

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Iga Swiatek defeated Elena Rybakina 7-6(8) 6-2 to claim the title in Doha.

 

The world number one sealed an 18th career title with a straight sets win over Rybakina.

Swiatek had previously struggled to beat the Kazakh and that continued at the start of the opening set with the Pole conceding a double break deficit at 4-1.

However Swiatek was resilient as she won four games in a row to get back on track in the opening set.

Rybakina broke in the eleventh game and had the opportunity to serve for the opening set but couldn’t take the opportunity.

In the tiebreak, Swiatek converted her fourth set point as she claimed a mammoth tiebreak 10-8.

After that Swiatek seized control as she broke twice after saving two break points in the second game.

The Pole held comfortably to claim her maiden title of the 2024 season in what was her first tournament since a third round exit at the Australian Open.

In her-post match speech Swiatek admitted that she is proud of her performance in Doha this week, “You don’t even know hard it was not to think about it,” Swiatek was quoted by France 24 as saying after winning her 13th match in Doha.

“I came here and was pretty stressed because I felt the expectations. I wanted to do everything step by step like I always do. I’m really happy. I’m really proud of myself.”

Swiatek will now look to continue that form in Dubai next week where she takes on either Sloane Stephens or Clara Burel in her opening round match.

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Ons Jabeur Ready For Dubai Challenge Despite Injury Struggles

Ons Jabeur is looking to overcome injury struggles and revitalize her form in Dubai.

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Ons Jabeur is looking to be ready for Dubai this week after struggling with injuries this season.

 

The year could have started better for the Wimbledon finalist who continues to struggle with injuries.

Having struggled with knee injuries, Jabeur enters Dubai in very inconsistent form as she went out in the first round in Doha to Lesia Tsurenko.

However despite recent struggles Jabeur seems determined to continue working on solutions as she prepares for the upcoming challenge in Dubai.

Speaking ahead of the event in Dubai Jabeur reflected on her recent retirement to Tsurenko, “I think it’s the worst decision you can take because my heart wants to play and my body is not allowing me so much,” Jabeur told The National.

“I feel like I need to take the right decision and sometimes you have to take decisions where your heart is not agreeing with it. But all I know is that I’m doing my best to be ready for this tournament and be ready to play here and compete in front of amazing fans.”

The Tunisian will look to pick up form in what should be an incredible atmosphere for Jabeur in Dubai.

In recent tournaments there have been football-like atmosphere for Jabeur in Dubai and that’s something she is looking to capitalise on, “I think everybody knows the match against Simona was unbelievable,” Jabeur reflected on her epic match with Simona Halep in Dubai in 2020.

“We got the Tunisian fans, the Arab fans and the Romanian fans. So it was unbelievable. I would never forget that match because it was right before Covid and after that the crowd completely disappeared so I always tried to think about that match when the stadium was empty.”

Jabeur has a first round BYE in Dubai and will play a qualifier in the second round before potentially facing the in-form Jelena Ostapenko in the third round.

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