Victoria Azarenka Wins Australian Open 2012 Women’s Title

Australian Open 2012
January 28th, 2012, by Hiland Doolittle

Victoria Azarenka Spanks Maria Sharapova

In what was certainly the loudest championship match in Grand Slam history, Victoria Azarenka took the resurgent and former Melbourne Champion, Maria Sharapova, to the woodshed in the 2012 Australian Open Championship.

Victoria Azarenka Wins Australian Open 2012 Women's Title

Victoria Azarenka Wins Australian Open 2012 Women's Title

There, she dashed the Russian’s hopes and took over the WTA’s prestigious top ranking. All indications are that there is more to come.

In a remarkable evening of power tennis at its best , Victoria Azarenka ordained herself the Queen of the Australian Open and the monarch of women’s tennis. In 84 minutes, she changed the trajectory of her career and the ranking system used by the WTA.

Victoria Azarenka outperforms against Maria Sharapova

The finals pitted a rising star with a star who has been there and done that but who has come back from the operating table with a strong work ethic and a burning desire to champion the game she loves. For six rounds, Maria Sharapova punished the opposition and was clearly focused in every game and every point. The leggy 6’0” blonde bomber had overcome her opponents by out-strategizing them, controlling the pace of the game and playing with her notorious intensity.

Maria Sharapova was the betting favorite. She is the highest paid female athlete in the world and her tenacity and focus has removed her from the locker room pranks. Maria wants and expected to win this first Grand Slam.

Victoria Azarenka was playing in her first Grand Slam Championship. She has performed erratically in the past. She has been known to crack under pressure. However, emulating Novak Djokovic’s brilliant success last year, the native of Belarus is unbeaten in the two tournaments she has played this year. After winning in Sydney and now possessing one of the game’s four biggest crown jewels and the $2 million first prize, she has asserted her presence upon the field.

Maria Sharapova - Outstretched and Outperformed by Victora Azarenka

The word from the betting public was that she would succumb to the new environment. The wagering public and most analysts felt that her ground strokes would fall prey to Sharapova’s power and that her serve would disappoint her. This kind of analysis is why the players put their sneakers on.

Azarenka arrived at the finals by defeating Belgian Kim Clijsters in three sets. Sharapova came by way of a stunning dismissal of the second seeded Czech and Wimbledon queen Petra Kvitova in straight sets.

Azarenka lost the match’s first two games and nearly lost the third game before fashioning an extended hold. Sharapova had the challenger right where she wanted her; nervous and intimidated. With the third game hold, things changed quickly. Suddenly it was Azarenka who was punishing the ball and Maria was helpless against Azarenka’s relentless barrage and her improved foot speed and serve.

After breaking to 2-2, Azarenka went on a tear winning 10 of the next 11 games. The Champion closed out Azarenka in a quick second set to notch her first Grand Slam, 6-2, 6-0. The mismatch took just 84 minutes.

To really appreciate this title, it is important to remember that Azarenka considered returning to school after a disappointing March showing in Doha last year. She returned home and sought advice from her grandmother, who told the star to get back to work. Victoria was reminded that she led a very nice life and had dedicated her life to the game.

Once regarded as a “bad girl” of tennis, that all changed when she switched coaches from Antonio Van Grichen to new coach Sam Sumyk. The transition took a toll on Victoria. Van Grichen taught her the power game and Sumyk taught her how to win. Her full talents were on display in the finals. She volleyed, she hugged the baseline, she used a deft drop shot and she remained in control of herself and her game.

On this day in this match, Sharapova was overmatched. Azarenka answered every question and every challenge. The shapely blonde has now defeated Sharapova the last three times they played. Victoria is the new world number one and there are no reasons to think she will not repeat the feat. Beware world, Victoria Azarenka is on a roll.

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