Victoria Azarenka (Belarusian: Вікторыя Фёдараўна Азаранка, Łacinka Viktoryja Fiodaraŭna Azaranka [vʲikˈtɔrɨja aˈzaranka], Russian: Викто́рия Фёдоровна Аза́ренко, Viktoriya Fyodorovna Azarenko; born 31 July 1989) is a Belarusian professional tennis player. She is a former world No. 1 and is currently world No. 16 as of 11 January 2016.
She has won two Australian Open singles titles (2012 and 2013), becoming the only Belarusian player, male or female, to win a Grand Slam singles title.
Her other achievements include winning the bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, two mixed doubles Grand Slam titles—the 2007 US Open with Max Mirnyi, the 2008 French Open with Bob Bryan—and the gold medal in the mixed doubles at the 2012 Summer Olympics with Max Mirnyi.
2016: First title since 2013, re-entry into top 20
Azarenka started her season at the Brisbane International in Australia. She reached the final after defeating Elena Vesnina, Ysaline Bonaventure, eighth seed Roberta Vinci and surprise qualifier Samantha Crawford. She faced the fourth seed Angelique Kerber in the final and won the title without losing a set in the entire tournament. This is her eighteenth WTA title but her first since the 2013 Western & Southern Open. At the Australian Open Azarenka was seeded 14th and reached the quarterfinal after straight-set victories over Alison Van Uytvanck, Danka Kovinić, Naomi Osaka and Barbora Strýcová in which she conceded no more than four games per set. However, in the quarterfinal she was defeated in straight sets by seventh-seeded Angelique Kerber who had not won against Azarenka in their previous six matches. Azarenka was 5–2 up in the second set but failed to convert five setpoints.
Endorsements and earnings
In August 2013, Azarenka was named the fourth highest paid female athlete in the world by Forbes magazine, with total earnings of $15.7 million between 2012–2013. Her prize money constituted $6.7 million while her growing endorsements equaled $9 million. Azarenka’s $7.9 million prize money haul in 2012 was a single year record for a female athlete in any sport. With over $24.4 million in prize money, Azarenka is fourth on the list of WTA prize money leaders and the youngest in the top ten. Endorsement partners include Nike, Wilson, American Express, Six Star Pro Nutrition, InstaForex and Citizen Watch. Red Bull entered into a deal with Azarenka in January 2013, making her the first tennis player sponsor for the beverage and sports investment giant.
Azarenka tends to play an aggressive baseline style that showcases her mobility. She is known for her strong two handed backhand, return game and taking the ball early. Her game is based on controlled aggression which she uses to hit relentless groundstrokes and to move her opponent around the court in order to hit low risk winners. Her aggressive game was praised particularly by American tennis player Sloane Stephens, who said that “she’s just a really tough competitor”. Azarenka’s playing style includes shrieking.
Throughout her career, Victoria Azarenka has established rivalries with other players on the WTA Tour. Her rivalries with Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are among the most significant on the WTA Tour, as all three players have met each other at least fifteen times.
Azarenka vs. S. Williams
List of all matches
|[show]No.||Year||Tournament||Surface||Round||Winner||Score||Length||V. A.||S. W.|
Victoria Azarenka’s most notable rivalry is against Serena Williams of the U.S.A. They have met 20 times, including ten times in the Grand Slams, with Serena Williams leading their head-to-head 17–3, 10–0 in the Grand Slams, 5–3 in finals. Their first meeting was at the 2008 Australian Open, with then-defending champion Williams winning in straight sets. Their next meeting would also be at the Australian Open, in the fourth round in 2009, and again Williams was victorious when the Belarusian was forced to retire due to illness, having won the first set but trailing 2–4 in the second. Two-and-a-half months later though, Azarenka would achieve her first victory in the rivalry, defeating the American in straight sets in the final of the Sony Ericsson Open. Williams later won a quarterfinal match between the pair at Wimbledon on her way to winning that championship.
Once again the pair met at the Australian Open, in the 2010 quarterfinals. Azarenka had won the first set and was leading 4–0 in the second set before Williams came back to win the three-set match, once again on her way to winning the title for the second consecutive year. Her dominance continued with straight sets victories at the Rogers Cup and the US Open in 2011, both times coming after Williams’ ranking had plummeted to world No. 175 following Wimbledon.
The rivalry reached its peak in 2012 with the pair meeting five times, with Serena Williams victorious on each occasion: the Madrid Masters final, the Wimbledon semi-finals, the Olympics semi-finals, the US Open final, described by many as the best match of the year on WTA, and in the round robin stage of the year-end championships. They had been due to meet in the semi-finals of the 2013 Brisbane International, before Azarenka was forced to withdraw due to a toe infection. At the Qatar Total Open, Azarenka scored just her second victory over Williams in a WTA Tour match, winning in the championship match in three sets. They next faced off on clay at 2013 Internazionali BNL d’Italia which Williams won in straight sets.
Azarenka’s third (and most recent) victory over Williams came in the final of the Western and Southern Open; again, a third set was required to decide the outcome, and on this occasion a final set tiebreak proved to be the difference. However, in a rematch of the previous year’s final, Williams would get her revenge, defeating her in the final of the US Open, which, like the previous year, also required a third set. Azarenka then lost to Williams again in the championship match of the Brisbane International early in 2014; this defeat marked Azarenka’s first at the tournament.
The pair would not meet again until the 2015 Mutua Madrid Open some 16 months later; Azarenka lost a third round match against Williams in three sets despite holding three match points on her own serve in the final set. They then met in the third round of the 2015 French Open where Azarenka led 6-3, 4-2 before going on to lose 10 of the next 12 games, losing 6-3, 4-6, 2-6. In the quarterfinals of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships, she once again was one set up on Williams, but proceeded to win only 5 of the next 17 games and ultimately lost the match 6-3, 2-6, 3-6.
Azarenka vs. Bartoli
Azarenka and Marion Bartoli met 12 times between 2007 and 2012. Azarenka led the head-to-head 9–3 overall and 1–0 in the Grand Slams.
Azarenka dominated the early rivalry, winning the first six meetings between the pair, including in the second round of the 2007 Australian Open, the final of the 2009 Brisbane International and all four matches that eventuated in 2010. The win in Brisbane marked Azarenka’s first success in a WTA Tour final, having previously lost three finals. Bartoli got her first win over Azarenka in Eastbourne in 2011, winning after Azarenka retired with injury. At the 2011 WTA Tour Championships, Bartoli qualified as a reserve for Maria Sharapova and in the only match she played, she upset Azarenka in three sets. The match had no meaning because Bartoli could not qualify for the semi-finals as Sharapova had lost her two matches and Azarenka had already qualified for the semi-finals.
The pair met three times in 2012, with Azarenka winning two of the matches. Bartoli’s victory in the Miami quarterfinals was significant though, as it snapped Azarenka’s 26-match winning streak to start the season. Bartoli won in straight sets to record what was at the time her third victory over a reigning world No. 1. Their last meeting was in the semi-finals of the China Open with Azarenka avenging the Miami loss on her way to winning the title.
Azarenka vs. Sharapova
List of all matches
|[show]No.||Year||Tournament||Surface||Round||Winner||Score||Length||V. A.||M. S.|
One of women’s tennis most famous current-day rivalries is the one between Azarenka and Maria Sharapova. They have met 15 times since 2007. The head-to-head is at 7–8 overall in Sharapova’s favor, but Azarenka leads 2–1 in the Grand Slams and 5–1 in finals. Together, they reigned as the top two women in the world from January 2012 to January 2013, except for a brief period in July and August when Agnieszka Radwańska was the world No. 2 behind Azarenka.
Azarenka won their first meeting in 2007, in the second round of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Their first meeting in a WTA Tour final came at the 2010 Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, which Azarenka won for her first (and fourth career) title that year. Azarenka also defeated Sharapova in the Miami Masters final in 2011 to win her second title at that tournament.
The rivalry between the two players started to intensify in 2012, with six meetings between the pair that year, four of them being in finals. Azarenka won four of the six meetings that year, three of them in finals. Their most famous meeting occurred early that year, in the final of the 2012 Australian Open. This match had historical proportions as Azarenka would become the first player from her country to either win a Grand Slam singles title or become world No. 1, or Sharapova would win her second title at the tournament, having won in 2008. Ultimately, Azarenka won the match, beating Sharapova in straight sets in one hour and twenty-two minutes and in doing so claimed the world No. 1 ranking for the first time. Azarenka would defeat Sharapova in two further finals, at Indian Wells, in Beijing however Sharapova would prevail in the final of the 2012 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. Their two non-finals were split, Azarenka winning at the US Open and Sharapova winning at the year-end championships.
The pair’s only meeting in 2013 did not come until the semifinals of the French Open, where Sharapova won in three sets. This marked the first time Sharapova had beaten Azarenka at a Grand Slam, and improved to 3–0 against her on clay. Sharapova won their next meeting in the third round of the 2015 BNP Paribas Open in straight sets.
Azarenka vs. Li
List of all matches
Azarenka and Li Na met eleven times between 2008 and 2013. Azarenka led the head-to-head 6–5 overall, and 2–1 in championship matches (all of which reached a deciding set), but trailed 1–2 in Grand Slam matches.
Their first meeting was in the final of the 2008 Mondial Australian Women’s Hardcourts tournament (which has since been renamed as the Brisbane International), which Li Na won in three sets after Azarenka had won the first. Azarenka’s first victory over Li was in the third round of the 2010 Rogers Cup. They met three times in 2011, two of which were at the Majors, with Li winning both times, before Azarenka won their third meeting at the 2011 WTA Tour Championships, en route to reaching the final.
They met a further three times in 2012, with Azarenka winning each time. They met in the final of the Sydney International, where Azarenka won in three sets after breaking the defending champion Li at 4–3 in the decider. Azarenka was also victorious in their meetings at Madrid and the year-end championships.
Their most notable meeting to date was in the final of the 2013 Australian Open. Both players entered the championship match with one Grand Slam title each (Azarenka who the 2012 Australian Open, whilst Li won the 2011 French Open), and in very good form, with Azarenka only dropping one set throughout her run and Li Na having not dropped a set and also having defeated two top four players (Agnieszka Radwańska and Maria Sharapova) en route. After Li Na won the first set, Azarenka stepped up her game as Li started to suffer multiple injuries, and eventually won in three sets to successfully defend her Australian Open title and become the first world No. 1 to win a Major since Serena Williams won Wimbledon in 2010.
Azarenka lost the pair’s last meeting in straight sets at the 2013 WTA Tour Championships, playing through a back injury and winning just three games in the process.
Grand Slam singles performance timeline
Won tournament; reached the Finals; Semifinals; Quarterfinals; Rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; competed at a Round Robin stage; reached a Qualification Round; absent from tournament event; played in a Davis Cup or Fed Cup Zonal Group (with its number indication) or Play-off; won a Bronze, Silver (F or S) or Gold medal at the Olympics; a downgraded Masters Series/1000 tournament (Not a Masters Series); or a tournament that was Not Held in a given year.
To avoid confusion and double counting, these charts are updated either at the conclusion of a tournament, or when the player’s participation in the tournament has ended.
|Grand Slam tournaments|
Doubles performance timeline
Only Main Draw results in WTA Tour are considered. This table is current up to the 2012 Summer Olympics.
|Grand Slam tournaments|
Grand Slam finals
Singles: 4 (2 titles, 2 runners-up)
|Winner||2012||Australian Open||Hard||Maria Sharapova||6–3, 6–0|
|Runner-up||2012||US Open||Hard||Serena Williams||2–6, 6–2, 5–7|
|Winner||2013||Australian Open (2)||Hard||Li Na||4–6, 6–4, 6–3|
|Runner-up||2013||US Open (2)||Hard||Serena Williams||5–7, 7–6(8–6), 1–6|
Doubles: 3 (3 runners-up)
|Runner-up||2008||Australian Open||Hard||Shahar Pe’er|| Alona Bondarenko
|6–2, 1–6, 4–6|
|Runner-up||2009||French Open||Clay||Elena Vesnina|| Anabel Medina Garrigues
Virginia Ruano Pascual
|Runner-up||2011||Australian Open (2)||Hard||Maria Kirilenko|| Gisela Dulko
|6–2, 5–7, 1–6|
Mixed doubles: 3 (2 titles, 1 runner-up)
|Runner-up||2007||Australian Open||Hard||Max Mirnyi|| Elena Likhovtseva
|Winner||2007||US Open||Hard||Max Mirnyi|| Meghann Shaughnessy
|Winner||2008||French Open||Clay||Bob Bryan|| Katarina Srebotnik