After a tough and sloppy showing in her opening match at the WTA championships yesterday, Victoria Azarenka (Player Profile) followed it up with another performance riddled with losses to lose in straight sets to Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic. This struggle is not a sudden occurrence as the World No. 2 lost her opening round matches in both Beijing and Tokyo prior to the year-end championships.
Why is this the case? The Belarusian says that is has simply been a “tough year” on the tour and consistency at the elite level is an exceptionally difficult thing to achieve.
“I think it’s pretty obvious,” Azarenka said following her loss to Jankovic today. “It’s just the bad road, and I have to go through that, because it didn’t happen to me in a long, long time. It’s been a long year. It’s been a tough year. It’s been tough two years, so that consistency I have been playing with, it’s sometimes difficult to keep all the time. Everybody goes through tough moments in his or her career, and the important thing is how you come out of it. I just need to battle right now as much as I can.”
The World No. 2 detailed the issues behind the year-end championships, mainly the mental effort required for back-to-back matches against elite competitors. It is a difficult task for all eight women and Azarenka has had a particularly trying two years as she climbed to the No. 1 rank and contested for points against rival Serena Williams.
“Definitely it’s tough, in the end of the year to play against the best players, because every match you have to go and dig deep, and sometimes your motivation is not there enough to know the capacity, how deep can you dig,” she said. “It’s tough for everybody I’m not going to sit here and say that I feel perfectly, but you play back-to-back matches. It’s a little bit tiring, and all the things put together, it makes your body tired. Just mentally tough right now, tough to get things started a little bit.”
World No. 1 Serena Williams empathizes with her current rival and admit that it is natural to feel tired and drawn out at the end of the season.
“I feel like that every year at the end of the year,” she said. “I think it’s natural. Just like the last tournament, and then you just know in a couple of days you can be somewhere else, on a beach or, in China, where you choose to go. I’m barely hanging on, but I don’t know [how I keep my mind on matches].”