Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Victoria Azarenka wins Australian Open women's title, takes over No. 1

She won the 2012 Australian Open singles title, becoming the first Belarusian player to win a Grand Slam in singles. With this win, she became the first player ever to go from No. 3 to No. 1 by skipping No. 2. Her other achievements include winning two mixed doubles Grand Slam titles, the 2007 US Open with Max Mirnyi and the 2008 French Open with Bob Bryan.

"It's a dream come true," she said. "I have been dreaming and working so hard to win the Grand Slam, and being No. 1 is pretty good bonus. Just the perfect ending and the perfect position to be in.

Victoria Azarenka , born 31 July 1989 , is a Belarusian professional tennis player. She is the current World No. 1 as of January 30, 2012.

At age 14, Azarenka moved to Scottsdale, Arizona from Minsk, Belarus, to train. In this she was aided by National Hockey League goalie Nikolai Khabibulin and his wife, who is a friend of Azarenka's mother. In 2010 she briefly considered a break from the sport of Tennis to focus on education however after a conversation with her 'inspiring' grandmother she decided to continue playing. It is the inspiration from her grandmother that is regarded as the key for her continued developments in the sport.

Azarenka won her first tournament of the year by winning 2012 Apia International Sydney where she was the third seed. Azarenka defeated her first three opponents, Stefanie Voegele, Jelena Jankovic and Marion Bartoli all in straight sets to advance to the semifinals where she defeated the seventh seed, Agnieszka Radwańska in three sets 1–6, 6–3, 6–2 to reach the final, where she defeated the defending champion Li Na in three sets 6–2, 1–6, 6–3.
Azarenka competed at the 2012 Australian Open as the third seed, defeating Heather Watson, Casey Dellacqua, Mona Barthel and Iveta Benesova in the first four rounds without dropping a set, losing just 10 games and winning 48. In the quarterfinals,

 Azarenka faced a sterner test against World No. 8 Agnieszka Radwanska, and lost the opening set on a tie-break before coming back strongly, losing just two futher games en route to a 6–7, 6–0, 6–2 win. In the semi-finals, she defeated the eleventh seed and defending champion Kim Clijsters 6–4, 1–6, 6–3 to reach her first Grand Slam singles final where she faced the World No. 4 and 2008 Australian Open champion, Maria Sharapova, conqueror of 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová in the other semi-final. In a nervous start to the final, Azarenka lost the opening two games of the match, and was within two points of trailing 0–3 after Sharapova took the first two points of the third game.

 Azarenka came back to hold serve, however, and took the next two games to establish a 3–2 lead, before her opponent held serve to level the score at 3–3. This would prove to be Sharapova's last service hold in the match, as Azarenka then proceeded to win all of the next nine games (breaking the Sharapova serve on four consecutive occasions), to record an emphatic 6–3, 6–0 victory. Unusually, due to the earlier quarter-final defeat of Caroline Wozniacki by Clijsters in the same tournament, whichever of the finalists triumphed in Melbourne would gain sufficient points to replace Wozniacki at the top of the Women's rankings. Azarenka thus recorded her first Grand Slam singles title and became the Women's World No1 (with effect from the 30th January 2012) in the same match.

Azarenka has been criticized by different individuals, including commentators and ex-professionals, for the noise she makes when hitting the ball. During the 2010 Australian Open quarterfinal between Azarenka and Serena Williams, ex-pro Pam Shriver, who was providing court-side commentary, noted that Azarenka's screams were so long that she was still yelling when Williams returned the ball. She has also been noted for her tendency to lose her temper during matches. In Wimbledon 2011 she grunted at 95 decibels,which caused the chief executive of the All England Lawn and Tennis Club Ian Ritchie to raise the issue with the press. He issued the following statement – "Officials would prefer to see less grunting". Her average screams were recorded to last 1.5 seconds.

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