Monday, January 22, 2018
Sports

Top seed looks resilient in error-filled match

PARIS — Only 22, just recently a Grand Slam champion and ranked No. 1 for the first time, Victoria Azarenka is still learning to think like a top player.

So trailing by a set and one point from being down 5-0 in the second at the French Open on Monday, Azarenka's mind was filled with "a mix of things."

"Sometimes I felt it was not my day," she explained. "Sometimes I thought, 'Yeah, maybe I still fight, I still have a chance.' Sometimes it was like, 'You know what? Forget it. I don't want to do it.' "

And yet she did do it, beginning the climb back from a daunting deficit with a gutsy second-serve ace. Showing how far she has come from the petulance of earlier in her career, Azarenka took 12 of the final 14 games to beat Alberta Brianti 6-7 (8-6), 6-4, 6-2.

"Before, maybe I would just give up and go home. I was kind of thinking there was a flight straight to Minsk," said Azarenka, who was born in the capital of Belarus. "But I didn't want to leave too soon."

She certainly did not want to become the only top-seeded woman to lose in the first round since the tournament started allowing foreign entrants in 1925. But she needed every bit of fortitude to overcome a whopping 60 unforced errors.

The top-seeded man, Novak Djokovic, limited his miscues to when he spoke to the crowd in French after a victory Monday, never facing a break point while beating Potito Starace 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-1.

"It wasn't that successful," Djokovic said — referring to his on-court postmatch interview, not his play.

"I'm trying to take it slowly. I'm running out of words," he said. "Who knows? Maybe (in the) next two weeks, I'll learn something more."

Other winners included defending champion Li Na and No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska.

Roger Federer dealt with a few blips, getting broken once in each set, including when serving for the match for the first time. But he defeated Tobias Kamke 6-2, 7-5, 6-3.

Fish has heart procedure: Mardy Fish recently had a medical procedure to correct a heart problem.

Fish hasn't played since late March after being diagnosed with fatigue. He told USA Today he had a procedure called cardiac catheter ablation Wednesday to deal with misfiring electrical pulses in his heart. He is recovering at his home in Los Angeles.

"It has been so scary," Fish told the paper for a story posted on its website Monday.

Fish, who at No. 10 is the highest-ranked American on the ATP Tour, said he can resume light training soon and hopes to play at the grass-court tuneup for Wimbledon that begins June 11.

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