To see Victoria Azarenka back in incredible form has been absolutely exceptional since tennis returned.
The Belarusian is playing tennis with a new confidence, a smile and as she said without an ego. This return from Vika is a delight to see but it comes down to one thing and that is hard work.
Last year we saw Vika break down in tears in Melbourne, this year we didn’t see her in Melbourne and people thought retirement was on the cards. A video of Vika training at the Mouratoglou Academy came to light in the new year and that got rumours going.
In February the two time Australian Open champion teamed up with a new coach who began as a hitting partner. His name, Dorian Descloix and the team behind Vika was put together by the coach of Serena Williams, Patrick Mouratoglou. Ironically, Vika went onto beat Serena for the first ever time in a Grand Slam in New York.
Since Rome she has been back in France and spent time at the Mouratoglou Academy and even her practices have been of high intensity.
I think the work Vika has done and the struggles she has had the last couple of years is something which is magnificent in tennis but relatable and inspirational in life.
We’ve seen the struggles and now were seeing the rewards of continuing to work hard.
I love Vika and to see her struggle was tough, if you would have said to me a contender I would be surprised but now I’m thinking, yes! why not? Her aura on the court has changed. She’s a human being, tennis player and mum.
Last week in Rome for example we saw her ruthlessness on the court defeating Kenin 6-0 6-0 then comforting a tearful Kasatkina.
She has also had these characteristics but to see them mixed in with a smile, confidence and this quite incredible tennis is magnificent and is a true role-model.
Right now, do I think Vika can challenge in Paris?
Yes. If I am a player in the draw I’d want to avoid Halep and Azarenka right now and that’s a great compliment.
Vika doesn’t have the best record on clay, she has back to back quarter final appearances in Rome but at Roland Garros has struggled and hasn’t made the final four since 2013 but I right now, don’t rule anything out!