Southern California Open: Azarenka glad to be back

Victoria Azarenka Southern California Open

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Victoria Azarenka says she is excited to be back on the court and looking to continue to improve this week in Carlsbad following a knee injury.

The Belarusian was forced to withdraw from Wimbledon after falling heavily in her opening round clash with Maria Joao Koehler, breaking her run of four consecutive Grand Slam semi-final appearances.

Her five-week break has given her time to reflect on her game and she will now be turning her attentions final major of the year, the US Open.

The 23-year-old reached the final of the tournament last year and before her injury would have expected to challenge for the title, having won the other hardcourt Grand Slam, the Australian Open in both 2012 and 2013.

Azarenka returned to the court on Wednesday, defeating Italy’s Francesca Schiavone 6-2 6-3 in her opening match at the Southern California Open, a tournament where the likes of Petra Kvitova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Ana Ivanovic are also in action.

The former world number one will now face Jelena Jankovic on Thursday and says she is glad to be back and is confident she will continue to improve ahead of Flushing Meadows.

“Just going on the court and competing was so much joy for me,” Azarenka told the WTA’s official website. “I missed playing and I was just happy to be able to do something I’ve been training for. I enjoyed the time I had to go through rehab and learn so many new things.

“I was excited to see how I would handle it in the match. It was a good feeling to have that platform, and I’ll just try to make it better and better.”

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