At the Mallorca Open, former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka, playing her first match as a mom and after 11 months away from the WTA tour, confidently won the first set, then frustration and errors appeared in the second set, while her opponent, world No.74 Risa Ozaki of Japan, had the upper hand during most of the third set when the match got transferred to Wednesday because of darkness.
Wearing her signature tank, shorts and headband combo (haven’t we missed Vika in shorts?!), this time from Nike’s latest paint-stained collection, the two-time Grand Slam champion, currently unranked, stepped out onto Pista Central and flawlessly opened the comeback match by breaking Ozaki’s serve, followed by a love hold. The Belarusian actually stormed to a 4-0 lead, losing just one point on her serve! Even though Azarenka handed Ozaki a slew of errors in the eighth game and dropped serve, the inevitable was just delayed as the Belarusian broke her opponent in the following game to close out the first set, 6-3.
The second set started tighter and the first player to take advantage of errors produced at the other side of the net was Ozaki, who broke Azarenka for 3-2 and consolidated the lead in the following game, 4-2. The new WTA mom started expressing frustration as rustiness crept in and even though she saved two set points in the ninth game, Ozaki confidently served it out in the following game.
Awaiting the decider, Vika talked to her coach Michael Joyce, but she didn’t look optimistic and Ozaki earned a 4-1. Azarenka decreased the lead, but the Japanese got in the position to serve for the match at 3-6 6-4 5-4 and at that moment play was stopped due to darkness. The match will be finished tomorrow, being second on the schedule.
Prior to the tournament, Azarenka talked about possible differences in her approach now that she’s a mom:
It’s a bit different going on the court, but still the same routine. I’m still used to going on the court and preparing the same way. I always had the mentality of being really focused and really put everything I have on the tennis court, so that didn’t go anywhere. And I think that is a lot of what makes me the player that I am. My mentality and my approach to the game.