Victoria Azarenka Fights Past Dominika Cibulkova to Win First Match on Stadium Court at the New Miami Open Site
(March 20, 2019) MIAMI, FL – Former Miami Open champion Victoria Azarenka had the honor of playing the first match on the Stadium Court at the new site of the Miami Open on Wednesday.
“It’s a huge honor for me to be able to be the first player to cut the ribbon, let’s say, let’s say it that way,” noted the Belarusian.
“I knew I would be playing the first match last week. You know, the tournament asked me if I would be happy, and I was really happy that they asked me to play. It’s incredible stadium. As I said, the facilities are amazing, and I hope this tournament is only going to grow. Yeah, I was really honored to play.”
The three-time champion battled past former Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 in two-hours and 31-minutes.
“She’s a big fighter,” Azarenka said of her opponent she’s played many times over the course of her career. “Even though we know each other pretty well, I feel that we haven’t played in a few years. I feel the last time was actually in Miami but five years ago or so.
“She’s a very dangerous opponent, because no matter how many, she comes off confident or not confident against top players, she’s always bringing a little bit of a next level and good game. She’s a big fighter. So I knew it’s not going to be easy, for sure.”
Azarenka, since coming back from having a baby, made her best tournament run last year in Miami reaching the semifinals.
The two-time Australian Open champion has suffered some tough losses this year including an epic battle in the second round of Indian Wells to Serena Williams.
“Well, I thought that was really my first best match since really kind of like my comeback on the tour,” she said to media. “That definitely gave me a little bit of more confidence, of seeing my abilities in the match, because I know I have — I’m not doubting my abilities as a player. It’s just being able to transfer that from practice to the match has been a struggle, and in that match, I was able to do this.
“I came up short a little bit, but it was, again, a really good step forward for me. As I said, the process can be frustrating and the patience is not easy to have, but I’m definitely improving step by step, and I want to continue to go that way.”
“The kind of losses that I had in the beginning of the year is something that I’m trying to build from, because that’s where you kind of learn most,” she added. “I had a pretty close match, last one in Acapulco, which I was also serving for the match and I didn’t convert that opportunity.
“So today it was a different story, and I’m happy with that progress, because, you know, as much as you want to be on the roll and winning easy matches, it never happens this way.”
Azarenka will play No. 19 seed Caroline Garcia of France.
“Well, we played, I think it was the first match, only match we played last year in Cincinnati, actually quite a close match,” said Azarenka. “I had a lot of opportunities in that match.
“She’s a very talented player. She has a lot of skills, has a lot of speed on the ball. She has kind of a fast-like arm with her forehand. A lot of power and spin. She can serve really well. She’s a dangerous player, definitely.
“It will actually be interesting for me to play against her, looking backward from the last year.”