Azarenko nearly conquers Istanbul

Belarusian tennis player brilliantly finishes most successful season of her career

After winning a tournament in Luxembourg, Victoria Azarenko has failed to repeat her success at the final tournament in Istanbul, which brought together the eight strongest tennis players worldwide.

The victory in Luxembourg was Victoria’s third this season. At the last tournament in Marbella, in April, Ms. Azarenko celebrated victory but has only once since then reached a finals match: in May in Madrid. Her win in Luxembourg pushed her into the WTA finals in Istanbul, where she continued her successful performance. During the group stage, she confidently defeated Australia’s Samantha Stosur and China’s Li Na (6:2. 6:2 in both).

Later, Victoria had to face Russian Maria Sharapova. However, having lost two matches, Sharapova decided to retire early from the tournament, allowing France’s Marion Bartoli to take her place in Istanbul and guaranteeing Azarenko a place in the semi-finals. The Belarusian tennis player also easily defeated Sharapova’s fellow countrywoman, Vera Zvonareva, while fighting for a place in the finals, where she met Petra Kvitova — a ‘discovery’ of the past season.

In the finals, Azarenko and Kvitova battled for the Grand Slam title and a prize of over $1.5m, as well as the status of second seed worldwide. After almost two and a half hours of spectacular play, the 2011 tennis vice queen title was awarded to 21 year old Petra Kvitova. For Azarenko, reaching the finals of this tournament is the greatest achievement of her career to date. At a press conference after the final match with Zvonareva, Victoria was constantly asked about Amelie Mauresmo. Until 2005, the French player also had some problems with Grand Slam tournaments. Her victory at the final tournament was a ‘forerunner’ of triumph at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

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