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Victoria Azarenka targets the French Open

Posted 05-05-2011 at 10:44 AM by Philip Oliver
The time is right for Victoria Azarenka to win her first slam. She has matured as a person and player and has the power-hitting game to succeed on the clay courts of Roland Garros. Some her main rivals are struggling for form and fitness and her excellent current form makes her one to follow in Paris.

It is surprising that Azarenka has never progressed past a slam quarter final, a sign that she has failed to produce her best when the pressure is on in big matches. Her suspect temperament, characterised by on-court meltdowns and umpire fall-outs, was certainly her biggest barrier to success, but now, approaching her 22nd birthday, the Belarusian appears to have things under control and those looking at the womens French Open betting should remember this.

Azarenka has risen to a career high of fifth in the WTA rankings, proof of her steady progress in 2011. She has improved throughout the season and appears to be peaking at the right time, having won her second Miami title last month and shown her clay form by cruising to the Andalucía Tennis Experience event.

Injuries and a tendency to retire from matches remain a concern to potential backers. She has retired from matches at Indian Wells and Stuttgart, the latter ending a 12-match winning streak that looked set to continue in Germany. Azarenka withdrew from last year's US Open after suffering concussion in a gym fall and a few weeks later retired when leading her second round match in the China Open. Still, if she triumphs in France she will no doubt attract plenty of Wimbledon free bets.

This weakness perhaps means the burning will to win is not yet fully in place, as her final set collapse in the second round in Dubai earlier this year suggests – she lost five straight games whilst leading Flavia Pennetta 4-1 in the decider.

If Azarenka can handle the pressure and volatile Paris crowds, who often do not tolerate the noise that accompanies her strokes, she will be hard to beat at the French Open. A semi final place appears the minimum aim for the tour's form player.
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