Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka thinks maybe she should have skipped her 2014 season altogether, believing she was never able to train and/or properly prepare for her matches.
The results showed and then she certainly got off to a rough start this week.
The 25-year-old star was injured for most of the year and also stopped dating Stefan Gordy, aka RedFoo, in '14.
But Azarenka felt that giving up last year was never an option.
The former No. 1 star is currently ranked 42nd in the world and dropped her first match of 2015 versus Karolina Pliskova in more than three hours in Brisbane this week, although the Czech left-hander Pliskova is one of rising stars in the women's game. For the record, Azarenka titled in Brisbane in 2009 and was last year's runner-up there at the hands of one of her two key rivals, Serena Williams (with Maria Sharapova being the other).
The native of Belarus captured back-to-back Aussie Open titles and was the back-to-back U.S. Open runner-up in 2012 and 2013 and finished '12 as the No. 1 player in the world.
Fast forward to 2014 when a foot injury kept her on the sidelines for three months and she never quite re-located her game after that.
Vika lost to Agnieszka Radwanska in last year's Aussie quarterfinals, then dropped four of her next five matches, stretching out between March and July. She entered just three tournaments from August on -- highlighted by a third straight U.S. Open quarterfinal appearance.
Azarenka was depressed for a while from a tennis standpoint, but now feels like she's once again ready to go.
"The important thing, and what's exciting is how you come out of it," she said. "That's what shows a strong personality, a strong character, because it's a challenge of life; it's more."
Obviously, things haven't been all bad for Azarenka, whose aggressive baseline style and fierce two-handed backhand have led her to 17 career titles (just none since 2013) in 32 WTA finals and more than $24 million in prize money.
Until last season, the four-time Grand Slam finalist had been a fixture in the top 10 for five years. And you can almost always count on seeing her in the latter stages of the Slams, having reached at least the quarterfinals at 14 of the last 24 majors (and she missed last year's French Open due to injury, the only major event she's missed since joining the circuit). And even with all her problems last year, she still managed to play in three of the four Slams.
She's reached at least the semis at all four majors.
Just like everyone else, I don't have that crystal ball that can predict the future. But if I had to make a prediction, I would lean in the "she'll be returning to the top 10 sooner rather than later direction."
Vika's just too good not to.