Miami - Victoria Azarenka says she is
playing better now than when she was ranked number one in the world in 2012 and
warns rivals that her best is yet to come.
"I still feel that I'm far from my
best and that's what's really exciting for me, to be motivated, to keep
improving," she said.
The 26-year-old from Belarus advanced to
the semi-finals of the ATP and WTA Miami Open on Wednesday by beating British
24th seed Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2, ensuring she will jump to fifth in Monday's
After winning the 2012 and 2013 Australian
Open and losing to Serena Williams in the US Open finals each of those years,
Azarenka was nagged by a series of injuries that limited her 2014 and 2015
But she is back with a vengeance this year,
winning at Brisbane, cracking the top 10 for the first time since August of
2014 by beating Williams in the Indian Wells final and marching farther up the
ladder in Miami.
"I'm a better player right now,"
Azarenka said when asked to compare now to her days atop the rankings. "I
improved my serve a lot. I'm just stronger in the tougher moments. I feel
happier on the court so that's very important, to be able to go out there and
perform in a difficult fight."
Azarenka has stressed improved performance
with every match as a goal for the season.
"My game is developing with pretty big
progress," she said. "I want to see this process moving forward and
not really be stuck on the rankings or the tournaments, just give myself
opportunities to grow."
A major part of her rise has been better
utilizing her serve to attack opponents.
"I always had a pretty high
first-serve percentage," Azarenka said. "I think the difference is
the way I'm using my serve. I'm going for a lot more. I take a lot more risk.
"It has been more rewarding in terms
of winning percentage as opposed to making percentage of serves in. Really
trying to work on it and make adjustments to use it more as a weapon. I think
that has been missing for a long time to really take my game to the next
Azarenka says confidence in her health has
sparked confidence in her game.
"I never doubt my abilities," she
said. "What came to my mind is definitely after being for so long injured,
the doubt was to get healthy."
And Azarenka gladly will take a few bad
language warnings to keep her focused.
"Sometimes I cuss and that's OK.
Whatever is going to make me play better I'm going to do," Azarenka said.
"I understand the game a lot better.
I'm not in the chasing position anymore. I don't feel I'm in the stage of my
career where I have to go for every tournament and keep hustling and try to
prove somebody something. I'm in the position where I just want to enjoy."