Victoria Azarenka overcame a slow start to defeat Varvara Lepchenko and book her place in the second round of the Aegon Classic Birmingham.
WTA Staff

BIRMINGHAM, England - Victoria Azarenka overcame a slow start to defeat Varvara Lepchenko and book her place in the second round of the Aegon Classic Birmingham.

Watch highlights, interviews and more video from Birmingham right here on wtatennis.com!

The first outing of the season on grass is rarely straightforward and so it proved for Azarenka. While the former World No.1 was finding her feet, Lepchenko wasted no time building a commanding 4-0 lead, winner after winner whistling through the court.

"I felt that I didn't really start well. I wasn't really there. I was missing too much," Azarenka said. "Of course she played well and forced me to do a lot of things but I just didn't feel that I put in enough energy or concentration. Something wasn't quite working."

Whatever was hindering her in those first four games did not last for long. And as Azarenka's tennis improved, Lepchenko's hitherto precise groundstrokes began to miss their mark.

Azarenka grasped the opportunity with both hands, recovering from 5-2 down before edging through a see-saw tie-break. In the second set, she built on this momentum to surge ahead, and despite being pegged back, broke once more in the final game to close out a 7-6(7), 6-4 victory.

"I just tried to stay positive as much as possible and try and fight through it. I think that was one thing that I did really well today. I made something happen in the important moments and tried to change the flow of the match in my favor," Azarenka added.

After a couple of stop-start seasons, Azarenka appears to finally have put her recent injury woes behind her. While the improvements to her game have been steady rather than spectacular, she is just happy to have the opportunity to build some momentum.

"Last year I was fighting the whole year through the injuries, through the pain," Azarenka said. "Right now I feel like I'm still developing my game to connect the way I want to connect it. I think I still have to sharpen my game, and as a perfectionist I'm always looking to improve."