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Azarenka overcomes slow start

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Associated Press
May 29, 2012
— Only 22, just recently a Grand Slam champion and ranked No. 1 for the first time, Victoria Azarenka is still learning to think like a top player.

So trailing by a set and one point from being down 5-0 in the second at the French Open on Monday, Azarenka’s mind was filled with “a mix of things.”


“Sometimes I felt it was not my day,” she explained. “Sometimes I thought, ‘Yeah, maybe I still fight, I still have a chance.’ Sometimes it was like, ‘You know what? Forget it. I don’t want to do it.’”


And yet she did do it, listening to the most positive of those voices and beginning the climb back from a daunting deficit with a gutsy second-serve ace, of all things. Azarenka took 12 of the last 14 games to beat Alberta Brianti of Italy, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-2.


“Before, maybe I would just give up and go home. I was kind of thinking there was a flight straight to Minsk,” said Azarenka, who was born in the capital of Belarus. “But I didn’t want to leave too soon.”


She most certainly did not want to become the only top-seeded woman to lose in the first round of the French Open since the tournament started allowing foreign entrants in 1925. But she needed every bit of fortitude to overcome a whopping 60 unforced errors.


The top-seeded man, Novak Djokovic, defeated Potito Starace of Italy, 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-1, as he began his bid to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win a fourth consecutive Grand Slam title.


Defending champion Rafael Nadal starts his try for a record seventh French Open title today. Day 3 also features fourth-seeded Andy Murray, 13-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and three-time major winner Maria Sharapova.


Federer dealt with a few blips, getting broken once in each set, including when serving for the match for the first time. But he defeated Tobias Kamke of Germany 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 to tie Jimmy Connors’ Open era record of 233 Grand Slam match wins.



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