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Azarenka under pressure to retain Grand Slam seeding


Victoria Azarenka 20140813161735_l20141225234813_l

Melbourne, Dec 25: Dual Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka is in danger of going unseeded at next year’s first Grand Slam tournament if she takes an early loss in her comeback at the Brisbane International.

Azarenka has not played since early September and managed just nine tournaments this year due to a left foot injury and she is ranked No. 31, reports heraldsun.com.au.

Runner-up at the Brisbane International last January, she defends 305 of her 1492 ranking points as an unseeded player when the Queensland Tennis Centre event starting Jan 4.

The Australian Open seeds the first 32 players and to have a seeding Azarenka likely needs to have a points tally greater than at least one of the players beneath her in the rankings list published after the first week of the season.

World No. 32 Belinda Bencic, the impressive Swiss teen, has 1391 points, followed by Zarina Diyas (1371) and Italian Camila Giorgi (1355).

A seeding would protect Azarenka from playing a higher ranked player in the first two rounds at the Australian Open.

Brisbane International tournament director Cameron Pearson said he had heard good reports of Azarenka’s training ahead of her arrival in Brisbane, where she won her first WTA title in 2009.

“I am told Vika has had a great pre-season and is fit, healthy and looking towards a successful 2015,’’ Pearson said.

“She is really looking for a good start in Brisbane.

“The seedings for the Australian Open are done after the Brisbane International so performances in Brisbane will have a bearing on the seedings.’’

Azarenka is, conversely, someone the eight seeds at the Brisbane International would be most keen to avoid in the opening rounds.

The right-hander from Belarus had a skinny preparation for the US Open, but made the quarter-finals, before cancelling all remaining tournament commitments for 2014 in October.

Brisbane ended up her only final in 2014, with injury forced her to miss seven of her first 16 events.

“Pushing and pushing … does not appear to be the best approach for me,’’ Azarenka said.

“I will use this time to work on making a full recovery and take care of my body to compete at my best next season,’’ Azarenka said.

“There is a great deal for us to accomplish still.’’

It is the first year since 2007 in which Azarenka has finished the season ranked outside the top 20.

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