Australian Open 2023: Victoria Azarenka prevails over Sofia Kenin in battle of former champions

Victoria Azarenka confessed to some nerves earlier than coming by a troublesome first-round battle towards Sofia Kenin 6-4 7-6(3) on Monday to make sure she can be the one former Australian Open champion remaining within the ladies’s draw.

The 33-year-old Belarusian, champion in 2012 and 2013, mentioned she had been involved at enjoying Kenin even when the American had suffered an appalling run of accidents since she gained her first Grand Slam at Melbourne Park in 2020.

“She’s an amazing champion, I know she’s had some injuries but she has the experience and I knew it was going to be a tough match,” the twenty fourth seed mentioned after the two-hour battle.

“I also thought she was coming in with nothing to lose so I knew she was going to play well, play freely. First matches, especially in the first Grand Slam of the year, are never easy and I was very nervous before my match today.

“I could not discover my greatest tennis immediately so I used to be simply attempting to combat step-by-step so I used to be capable of finding a means. Right now was about that.”

Kenin will perhaps have been encouraged by her fighting display on Margaret Court Arena after three years blighted by injuries, illness and off-court issues.

The 24-year-old took a 3-0 lead in the opening set after an early break only for Azarenka to notch up the power and rattle off five successive games. Kenin fought gamely to hold serve for 5-4 but Azarenka made no mistake when serving for the set.

The second set was much tighter with the key moment coming in the tiebreak when Azarenka boomed down her fifth ace and Kenin responded lamely with a double fault.

Azarenka, who will next meet lucky loser Leolia Jeanjean or Nadia Podoroska at her 15th Australian Open, said her pre-match nerves were a testament to how much it meant to her to be playing at Grand Slams.

“We work laborious day by day,” she said. “The off season is stuffed with blood, sweat and tears so we will go on the market and do our greatest. It is excessive strain so I nonetheless really feel nervous.”

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