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Ruthless Azarenka in imposing form

Victoria Azarenka digs out a slice backhand.
by Helen Gilbert
Thursday 28 June 2012

It was perhaps telling that Victoria Azarenka’s match would be a relatively quick affair when it took her less than a minute to break world No.87 Romina Oprandi and waltz off with the opening game.  

Precisely 50 minutes later Vika, as she is affectionately known, was shaking hands with her opponent following a 6-2, 6-0 whitewashing on a sun-drenched but blustery No.2 Court.

Oprandi has spent much of the year contending with a right knee injury so when she emerged with her leg thickly strapped – almost to the point where it seemed impossible for her to turn – there was a distinct sense of foreboding, particularly given the fact that this was just her seventh tournament appearance this year.

On the other side of the net was world No.2, the 2011Wimbledon semi-finalist and a player looking to add to the maiden Grand Slam title she collected at Melbourne Park at the start of the year.

If Azarenka possessed even an ounce of mercy she refused to show it pummelling balls left, right and centre, while throwing in the odd drop shot now and again. It was the same strategy she employed in her opening-round match again 78th-ranked Irina Falconi of the United States, which she won 6-1, 6-4.

Incidentally that match lasted almost half an hour longer than today’s contest, which simply proved too much for Oprandi who time and time again struggled to even get her racket on the ball. Multiple-stroke rallies proved few and far between but given the sweltering conditions, Azarenka wasn’t complaining.

“You’re never really looking for a long match,” she said following her victory. “I think I played pretty well, I was controlling the match all the time and that was important to do."

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