The 2014 season was clearly a disappointing one for Victoria Azarenka. She finished it with a 15-9 record without adding any titles to her cabinet – and, more importantly, she was unable to stay reasonably fit for its larger part. Plenty of careers were ruined by injuries before, so many of her fans were asking the same question – is she ever going to come back and return to the heights at which she was staying in the last couple of years?
Well, after February, it seems safe to say that Victoria Azarenka has managed to produce a successful comeback and that all those worries turned out to be unfounded. The first match she played ended in a defeat, but that has been the only big mistake she’s made so far in her comeback season. Since that loss, she has beaten Caroline Wozniacki (twice!), Angelique Kerber, and even her nemesis, Venus Williams, so it seems that only sky is the limit for her this year. It took a perfect performance from Dominika Cibulkova to stop her in Melbourne and one can also find suitable excuses for her loss against Lucie Safarova in Doha, so negatives are indeed rather scarce for the player from Belarus, who also seems rather unfazed by the departure of her long-time coach.
What’s more, while Azarenka seems to be on the rise, her closest rivals appear to be following a somewhat downward spiral. The top two seems to be reserved for Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, but the other spots are very much for the taking, with Petra Kvitova, Caroline Wozniacki, and Agnieszka Radwanska all showing suspect form in the first two months of the new season. Eugenie Bouchard, who’s probably responsible for the departure of Sam Sumyk, seems to be focused on other things than playing tennis, while Ana Ivanovic is yet to prove that she’s capable of going far in the Grand Slams.
So how high can Azarenka realistically aim for? An optimist would probably say the top six, a pessimist would probably stay at top fifteen, but the bottom line is that she should get to the top fifteen at the very least if her body holds up, a question that will be asked again after the finals in Doha. Apart from that, nobody can question her hunger for success at the moment – and that was what got her the two Grand Slam titles in the first place.