Azarenka’s comeback will not come easy
Azarenka is a champion, she’s a former number one, she has won two grand slams, but I feel as though her comeback has been a bit of a dud so far. Granted, she is stuck in a complicated custody battle that has kept her schedule a bit light, but she seems to have been given the green light to play on the tour consistently. Let’s look at her last three results now that she appears to be on the tour full time:
- Loses to Sloan Stephens in the second round of Indian Wells 1-6, 5-7
- Loses to Sloan Stephens in the semi-final of the Miami Open 6-3, 2-6, 1-6
- Loses to Karolina Pliskova in the second round of the Madrid Open 2-6, 6-1, 7-5
Her loses have come to top women, so these matches are nothing you can’t build on. Getting to the semis at Miami was a strong showing, and taking Stephens, the eventual champion, to three sets is commendable given how good Stephens is on that surface.
Pliskova is no slouch either, she’s good on the clay and will make you work for the points. Next week Azarenka plays Naomi Osaka in the first round of the Italian Open. That will be another tough challenge. That being said, even though you can potentially build by losing to top players, going out in early rounds is not in the best interest of Azarenka. She can’t get match tough with early exits.
However, it’s tough to get matches in when you are entering tournaments with no seeding. What Azarenka needs to do is to do is build ranking points at the smaller tournaments so that she can start getting seeded at the bigger tournaments. Otherwise she’ll be running into players like Pliskova and Stephens on a weekly basis, and most likely exiting early on a weekly basis. That’s no way to get match tough. She needs more tour level matches and the only way to get those under her belt will be at the smaller tournaments.