New York: Former world number one Victoria Azarenka refused to blame a pedestrian performance in her US Open quarter-final defeat on Wednesday on food poisoning suffered the day before. Azarenka, bidding to reach a third straight Flushing Meadows final, fell 6-4, 6-2 to Russian lefty Ekaterina Makaraova, who reached the first Grand Slam semi-final of her career.
Victoria Azarenka and Ekaterina Makarova
Her spokesman said after the match that she'd battled food poisoning the day before, but the Belarusian -- already fed up with fielding questions about injuries earlier this season -- declined to discuss it.
"I'm not going to make excuses for myself. I did the best I could today," Azarenka said. "I want to give full credit to my opponent. She deserves to win. She played much better than me today." Two-time Australian Open winner Azarenka reached the quarter-finals at Melbourne in January, then found herself sidelined by a left foot injury. An attempt to return at Indian Wells in March ended in an opening-round defeat.
She didn't play again until a first-round exit at Eastbourne in June, which was followed by a second-round defeat at Wimbledon. She withdrew from the US Open tune-up event at Cincinnati with a right knee injury, and with her failure to reach the semi-finals in New York she's slated to fall out of the top 20 in the world rankings. But Azarenka refused to see her latest setback as part of a run of bad luck.
"It's not luck," Azarenka said. "It's just circumstances that you have to deal with and something that comes up and you deal with it. "I had to deal with it today. Can I play better? Absolutely. "It's not the end of the world," she added. "It's something I can take positive from this tournament.
Two months ago I didn't even think that I was going to be able to play today." Instead, she played five matches in a tournament for the first time since the Australian Open, and she'll head to tournaments in Tokyo, Wuhan and Beijing seeking to shore up her ranking. "I'm going to try to play as much as I can in the end of the year," Azarenka said.