Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Azarenka returns to Charleston in style

Victoria Azarenka (photo by Daniel Ward)

Victoria Azarenka had not played in Charleston since 2010, but she got into the green clay groove nicely last night by defeating 2016 champion Sloane Stephens 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in Credit One Stadium. The match featured a lot of good shot-making from both players, and the crowd was appreciative of the display. 

2nd seed Ons Jabeur also got off to a good start last night, defeating Lesia Tsurenko 6-3, 6-3. And top seed Jessica Pegula, who was unable to make it to Media Day on Monday because she was busy packing her Miami Open doubles championship trophy, met with the press yesterday evening. Pegula said that yesterday was the first time this year that she has practiced on clay.

Asked about her level of fatigue after competing in Miami and going all the way to the final in doubles, the top seed said: "Definitely, I'm a little tired, but then at the same time, I think I'm still kind of in competition mode, which I think helps as well. It's one thing to have a quick turnaround, but I feel pretty good. Obviously singles I played a lot, doubles I played a lot, but I had a day off Saturday, just played the doubles final Sunday. I traveled here yesterday, and had another day off. So I don't feel super tired, drained. I think physically I still feel good. Like nothing is bothering me."

Pegula also reported some good news--her mother's rehab is going well, and her mother's condition has improved significantly. She also said that, fortunately, she has always been able to focus on whatever job she has at hand, and actually faces each task as a kind of stress relief. It helps a lot, however, that "we have a lot of people that are really great at home and that we trust and we know are going to take care of her, so I think that helps make my job much easier."

Two matches of particular interest (at least, to me) today are Paula Badosa (12) vs. Leylah Fernandez and Magda Linette (8) vs. Varvara Gracheva.

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