Wednesday February 13, 2013
Azarenka braced for Serena assault
DOHA: World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka has insulated herself against any potential disappointment, should Wimbledon and US Open champion Serena Williams take away her top ranking during the Qatar Open this week.
The Belarussian has only beaten the American once in 12 attempts but has her thoughts prepared for twin scenarios which could cause her significant setbacks at the US$2,369,000 tournament.
Williams only needs to win three matches to regain top spot, and might also fancy herself to take away Azarenka’s title if they meet in Sunday’s final if the seedings go to form.
“Well I’m not happy about it,” Azarenka admitted when her head-to-head record against Williams was mentioned. “But I don’t really think about it that way anyway.
“It’s in the past, and I never really look in the past. I make room for new memories in the future you know – to have my full focus, my full attention, to live in the present and in the future.”
The immediate future suggests a last 16 meeting with Dominika Cibulkova, the tenacious Slovakian, a quarter-final with Sara Errani, the vastly improved Italian, and a semi-final against Agnieszka Radwanska, the world No. 4 from Poland with whom she had a contentious match here last year.
An encounter with Williams could affect the positive mindset that Azarenka has developed since winning the first of her two Australian Open titles 13 months ago, but she declared she is unaffected.
“For me it doesn’t matter if I have to play Serena in any tournament. I would love to play her on any given day,” she claimed. “I think she is a great champion and a great challenge to have.
“If it happens here, it happens here, and if it happens any other week, it’s another week. I’m just looking forward to accepting any challenge that is thrown at me.”
Azarenka also claimed that capturing a Grand Slam title – as she did in her last tournament at Melbourne – is more important than the world No. 1 ranking. Winning any tournament is always the main aim, she said, with the ranking “just a bonus” which comes with it. — AFP