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Victoria Azarenka targets US Open Series Return: Former world number one says she wants to be the best again

Leye Aduloju in WTA 29 Mar 2017
  • Victoria Azarenka has revealed her plans to return to tennis during the US Open Series.
  • Azarenka, who gave birth to her first child in December, has not played since Roland Garros last year.
  • Watch and bet on tennis at bet365 > live streaming > tennis
Victoria Azarenka. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)

Former world number one, Victoria Azarenka has disclosed her plans to return to the WTA tour during the US Open Series, which starts with the Bank of the West Classic at the end of July- a tournament Azarenka won in 2010. The US Open Series also includes tournaments in Toronto, Cincinnati, New Haven and the US Open.

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Azarenka is currently away from the tour following the birth of her first child, Leo in December, but the Belarusian revealed that she has already started training to in shape for her scheduled return in the summer. The two-time Australian Open champion however insists that she will not rush her comeback, with the development of her baby playing a big part in when she eventually gets back to playing tennis.

"I started training about three weeks ago," Azarenka said. Physically I want to get my body strong, and it's more about rebuilding the body.” 
"My goal, for now, is to be ready for summer, the US Open Series, and we'll see where it goes. This is realistically where I want to start... Also if Leo is ready to travel the world, I want to be comfortable. I don't want to rush anything."

Azarenka was last seen in action at the French Open last year, where a knee injury forced her to retire from her first round encounter against Karin Knapp. It was an unfortunate end to a disappointing clay court season, during which she also suffered a back injury in Madrid.

Azarenka completed the Sunshine Double in 2016. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
The Belarusian had begun the season in stellar fashion, claiming the title in Brisbane as well the impressive Sunshine Double at Indian Wells and Miami, but she never got going on clay, and her season ultimately ended after her French Open retirement. The two-time Australian Open winner announced in July that she was expecting her first child.

Azarenka has always demanded a lot from herself; and she has set herself the goal of becoming even better when she returns to tennis. The former world number one has targeted improvements in virtually every aspect of her game.

"I want to get everything better, from movement to shot selection, shot technique, improve my serve," Azarenka said. "I think last year you could see the improvement on my serve, and the conversion and aggressivity. This is one direction I've already taken last year. This is heading toward that goal of getting my game stronger." 
"Physically I want to be stronger. I want to work smart to prevent injuries. Overall I'm always looking to improve... Even though I was a pretty complete player, I still have a lot of things to work on."

Azarenka will hope to achieve all of these improvements with her new coach, Michael Joyce, who once served as the long-term coach and hitting partner of rival Maria Sharapova. At her prime, the current world number 48 rose to the top of the world rankings, a position she occupied cumulatively for 51 weeks across two spells and the 27-year-old is determined to reclaim those lofty heights when she returns in the summer.

"I have no doubt that I can improve much more. That's why I'm taking my time to work smart and add to my game to become a better player. That's the only reason why I want to go back and play on the tour. I don't want to come back and just play. I want to go back and be the best again. That's my goal."

There is certainly precedence to what Azarenka hopes to achieve- as Kim Clijsters won three Grand Slam titles and briefly returned to the top of the world rankings after she became a mother.

At 27, there is still plenty of time for Vika to go on and match, or even better the achievements of the sport’s ultimate supermom.



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Victoria Azarenka targets US Open Series Return: Former world number one says she wants to be the best again

Victoria Azarenka has revealed her plans to return to tennis during the US Open series. The former world number one, who gave birth to her first child in December, has not played since Roland Garros last year.

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