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Victoria Azarenka feels the pain in victory

Victoria Azarenka is helped by the medical team
by Helen Gilbert
Monday 24 June 2013

Victoria Azarenka’s quest for her maiden Wimbledon singles crown began in dramatic fashion on No.1 Court this afternoon after a nasty slip initially looked to threaten her tournament chances.

The No.2 seed was cruising 6-1, 1-0 against Portugal’s Maria Joao Koehler when she appeared to skid awkwardly on the baseline, lost her footing and took  a painful tumble in which her right knee bore the brunt.

Although the defending Australian Open champion recovered to seal the match 6-1, 6-2 her movement was impaired throughout the remainder of the second set as she moved gingerly on her right foot.

“It happened so quick in the second that my leg just kind of collapsed,” she said after the match.  “I felt like my knee just turned to the other way, and it was just so nasty. I was in such shock.  You know, for two minutes I had such a consistent pain that it just completely freaked me out what happened.”

Until that point the Belarussian had been sailing through the contest, her pace and depth of shot proving too much for her No.106 world ranked opponent. Even though ‘Vika’ was shaky on serve – five double faults in the first set, two of those in the opening game - there was a sense this would matter little to the outcome.

Koehler’s best grand slam performance had been a second round showing at this year’s Australian Open and although her penetrating forehand helped  generate a fair few winners, she was unable to keep up the momentum against her more experienced foe.

Leading a break, things appeared to be moving swimmingly for Azarenka until she performed an almost split-like movement which caused her to fall heavily to the lawn. Lying in a crumpled heap, her screams echoed around the stadium as tears streamed from her eyes.

The hushed spectators watched on in disbelief willing Azarenka to stand up. She didn’t. Instead she sobbed and yelped in pain. There followed a lengthy assessment as a three-strong medical team gathered around eventually helping Azarenka to her feet, then chair.

“At that moment, it's so shocking because you have no ground,”  Azarenka continued. “You basically just fall.  You know, your legs go one way, and there is no balance or nothing.  Nothing I could control in that moment, and that's scary.”

A medical time out followed and heavy strapping was applied to her right knee. It appeared to do the trick. Despite a limited range of movement and moments of inconsistency she went on the win ith the loss of only two further games.

Just how the fall will affect Azarenka’s Wimbledon campaign remains to be seen – she expects to undergo further physical examinations and scans later today.  

“I still have to do some more checkups to make sure.  It's good to have tomorrow to recover.  But I still need to make the final assessments,” she added.

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  • Victoria Azarenka salutes fans after victory.
  • Victoria Azarenka is helped by the medical team
  • Maria Joao Koehler prepares herself for her First Round match against Victoria Azarenka.
  • Victoria Azarenka recovers after fall on No.1 Court.
  • Maria Joao Koehler prepares a forceful forehand.
  • Maria Joao Koehler slips on No.1 Court.
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