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No mellow yellow for Azarenka

By Reuters In Melbourne | China Daily | Updated: 2015-01-24 08:03

The fluorescent yellow outfit Victoria Azarenka wore as she dismantled Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open on Thursday was a one-word fashion statement - loud.

In her defiantly single-tone ensemble matching a skirt with a long-sleeve top, Azarenka made a huge impression on social media even before a racket was swung at Margaret Court Arena.

Though the look was polarizing, Azarenka's game was anything but. The universal verdict after her 6-4 6-2 win over the eighth-seeded Dane was that the Belarusian was back - and in a big way.

Unseeded but under no pressure, Azarenka dictated play like a traffic cop in a high-visibility suit.

The night was not overly cool, but the long sleeves stayed on as if the former world No 1 had hardly raised a sweat in the 98-minute clash.

It was tempting to link Azarenka's performance with the stunning color of her clothes and the Belarusian agreed she was out to make impressions.

"That's the key. That's the whole point, the outfit," she smiled as she spoke to reporters, wearing a still-loud pair of leggings and a baseball cap perched backwards on her head.

"I didn't take off my outfit, so the energy and intensity stayed there with the outfit. But really, that's how I play. I try to imply that intensity. I play aggressive. I think that's one of my trademarks. Not the outfit, but the intensity."

Azarenka played less than 30 matches through an injury-blighted 2014, but appears hungry for another five at Melbourne Park, where she reigned supreme in 2012 and 2013.

Having mowed through her opening matches against American Sloane Stephens and Wozniacki, she next plays a very winnable match against Czech 25th seed Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova.

The chance of a potentially mouthwatering clash against last year's finalist Dominika Cibulkova follows.

After finishing off Wozniacki, she clenched her fist, gritted her teeth and held a steely gaze at her player's box.

She said she felt the love for Melbourne Park flowing through her.

"I love the energy of people here. Really, I think the whole country is like sport nation," she said.

"I guess I'm going to adopt an Aussie kid or something like that."

Caroline's 'curse'

Wozniacki said she felt "cursed" at Melbourne Park after losing.

The eighth-seeded Dane enjoyed making the semifinals in 2011 but has since suffered diminishing returns in every trip to the year's first grand slam. She could certainly count herself unlucky to run into fellow former world No 1 Azarenka so early.

"Obviously she feels great here," Wozniacki said. "I think it's a curse I've gotten here. I've made semis, then quarters (2012), then fourth round (2013), then third round (2014), this year second round.

"It's kind of gone that way the last few years. Hopefully I'm going to break that next year and start going the other way.

"I love this tournament and I'm so sad to be out already. Obviously it was a tough draw for both of us. But, you know, she came out on top and played better."

Wozniacki worked hard to break back into the top 10 last year, reaching the final at the US Open and raising hopes she might be able to compete with the likes of Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova after a couple of years in the wilderness.

No mellow yellow for Azarenka

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