Newly crowned Australian Open champion and the number one female tennis player in the world, Victoria Azarenka has pulled out of the Fed Cup singles match against the United States of America this week, citing back injury problems.
It would have been the first match for the Belarusian player since being crowned the Australian Open champion but the injury in her lower back that has been her chronic problem since her youth days has prevented her from donning the colors of Belarus for the match.
Azarenka breezed through the match against Maria Sharapova in the final of the first Grand Slam of the year, where she was the underdog for most people, defeating the former world number one by a margin of 6-3, 6-0 to win her first major title in professional tennis. The 22 year old has a perfect record in singles in 2012, having not lost a match in singles and boasting a 12-0 record this year and has already won two titles, the other being in Sydney.
In the absence of Victoria Azarenka, Anastasiya Yakimova was drafted in as her replacement at the last minute and she was handsomely beaten by Christina McHale 6-0, 6-4 in the opening singles match before Serena Williams put the Americans in the driving seat by winning her match to give them a 2-0 lead, with three matches still to be played.
Azarenka has been a big crowd puller this year, with her attitude during wins in the Australian Open putting the proverbial icing on top of the cake. Her pulling out of the Fed Cup tie took out the gloss from the match which saw attendances drop considerably for one of the biggest matches in the history of tennis in Belarus and with Victoria Azarenka out, their chances of progressing looks extremely bleak at the moment.
Belarusian tennis sensation Victoria Azarenka will play world number one women’s tennis player Caroline Wozniacki in the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada when the tournament returns to the city after a gap of a year. This will be the first time that the 22 year old Azarenka will play in the tournament whereas her opponent is a veteran in the competition, having won the trophy the last time the event was held in Montreal. Although the Danish world number one Wozniacki did not have the best of seasons in terms of Grand Slam success this year, she will start as the favorite against the Belarusian.
The 22 year old Victoria Azarenka is yet to win a single Grand Slam title in her career but according to many experts of tennis, her game resembles that of legendary Czech tennis player Martina Navratilova and she has been marked as one of those players who will come to dominate the women’s game for years to come. Currently ranked number 3 in the world, Azarenka breezed through to the finals of the WTA Championships after reaching the semi-final stages of Wimbledon in 2011.
Alongside Azarenka and Wozniacki, Marion Bartoli and Vera Zvonareva will also play in the competition but it is being assumed that the biggest rivalry that will come out of this tournament will be that between Azarenka and Wozniacki, who have played each other many times with the Dane holding the upper hand in most of those one-on-one matches. But Victoria Azarenka is not a player who can be written off by statistics and she will be the one going into the tournament with form on her side.
Whether she manages to overcome the other three players is a whole new question but it is certain that Azarenka has announced her arrival on the big stage of tennis.