Azarenka loses in first Australian Open match since '16

Azarenka loses in first Australian Open match since '16

Victoria Azarenka, who is a dual Australian Open victor, bowed out the world.110 Laura Siegemund.

Williams needed all of 18 minutes to wrap up the first set, ceding just five of 29 points along the way.

After skipping last year's Australian Open, she steadily improved at the majors after a first-round exit at the French Open, a second-round loss at Wimbledon and a third-round appearance at the U.S. Open and moved to No. 53 in the rankings. There were 26 break points up for grabs and the German converted seven out of 15 to maintain the led, suffering four breaks of serve from 11 chances she offered to Victoria.

"But I think they're going to make me stronger and I'm going to work hard for it".

She was on the verge of victory, leading 5-3 in set number two before Venus broke back at love in the crucial ninth game, carrying that momentum into the tie break that she won 7-3 to stay in the match and force a decider.

The tournament's two No. 1 seeds, Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep, played at night and both won - although in contrasting fashion. Djokovic eliminated Mitchell Krueger of the US 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, while Halep trailed by a set and a break before coming back to beat Kaia Kanepi 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-2 and avoid becoming the first top-seeded woman in 40 years to lose her opening match at the Australian Open. And she has spoken about the challenges of being a traveling, working mom. But I'm struggling. Failing is when you give up and you don't try again, but I'm struggling.

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Azarenka has struggled to find her best form since returning to the tour following pregnancy and a lengthy custody battle, and she confessed she was "struggling" at this stage of her career.

The younger Williams sister has no interest in that sort of comparison now.

"I want to believe that and I'm going to work hard for it".

"(I do) random stuff, nothing to do with tennis because I already do that enough. "Sometimes I wonder why I go through them", Azarenka, a two-time champion in Melbourne, said.

"It's not easy to sit here and be positive but I don't have another choice".

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