BIRMINGHAM, England – Victoria Azarenka rallied from 4-0 down in the first set to beat Varvara Lepchenko of the United States 7-6 (7), 6-4 in the first round Tuesday of the Aegon Classic, a grass court Wimbledon warm-up event.
The former top-ranked Azarenka came within one point of losing the fifth game of the opening set five times, but managed to steer clear of trouble with a powerful service game.
However, there were more difficult moments to come, with the Belarussian being a set point down in the tiebreaker and then losing a second set lead of 4-1.
"At those times I really decided I want to try to lift myself up and try to fight through whatever it is," Azarenka said. "That definitely helped me to get my body going, get my concentration better, and in general energy higher. I think the most important was the mindset."
Looking ahead, the 25-year-old Azarenka was upbeat about her Grand Slam chances.
"Being a young player, I think everybody is dreaming about winning Wimbledon," she said. "So that is definitely a dream of mine as well. I think my game has raised a lot (this year) ... the level that I've been showing in the last couple of tournaments I think is pretty high."
Azarenka was joined in the second round by another former No. 1, Jelena Jankovic, and top-seeded Simona Halep.
Jankovic beat Tereza Smitkova 6-4, 6-4 and Halep defeated Naomi Broady 6-4, 6-2.