On Thursday, just five days after losing the US Open final, Victoria Azarenka dismissed her New York doubles partner Sofia Kenin in Rome, 6-0, 6-0.
You read correctly. The bout took just over an hour and sent Azarenka into the round of 16 where she'll face Daria Kasatkina.
"I feel that I played really smart tennis today," Azarenka told press. "I was able to use a lot of court, I was able to use a lot of different pace so I'm very happy with that. But the key to the scoreline was definitely being able to maintain the level that I started with."
It can be easy to lose focus after such a lopsided first set, but the Belarusian didn't let up even for a second. She would know best that giving the American in inch of leeway could cost her. Her friendship with Kenin wasn't in her mind after the duo competed in both the Western & Southern Open and US Open together.
"It can be a double-edged sword because she kind of knows my game as well," Azarenka said. "I felt like I was really more focused on what I can do today on the court rather than what she does well."
The 31-year-old is 14-2 since the tours resumed in August. She's been hyper-focused, stressing that her personal problems have eased and she's able to zone in on her career again and have a lot of fun on court.
She's also taken to spending changeovers with her eyes closed, seemingly meditating.
"It's just simple quietness; that's what I have been doing," she said." I have been trying to kind of find the balance of dealing with some anxiety, uncertainty, to kind of just pause for a second. That's why I started doing it.
"I have been going through some difficult personal things, so I have just been trying to find my balance. It's been helping."
But the meditation doesn't transfer over to her pre-match routine. Before taking Campo Centrale against Kenin, she didn't visualize the result, and no one, even her, could have expected such a scoreline.
"I never would visualize the result," she said. "I think that's unproductive. I think that puts unnecessary information into my brain. I just focus on my energy and today I needed energy, actually I was trying to get it from everywhere."
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