Victoria Azarenka’s preparations for Wimbledon suffered a setback when the world No 8 lost in the first round of the Aegon International at Eastbourne. Playing only her second match since failing to defend her Australian Open title in January, Azarenka was beaten 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 by Italy’s Camila Giorgi.
However, the fact that Azarenka was able to complete a match that lasted more than two and three-quarter hours was a big consolation. The former world No 1 has been troubled all year by an injury to her left foot.
Azarenka recovered from 4-2 down to take the first set, but Giorgi fought her way back into the match. Azarenka broke when Giorgi served for the match at 5-4 in the deciding set, but the world No 42 replied in kind in the following game. Giorgi went on to complete the victory on her own serve, finishing the job with a fine backhand winner.
Azarenka said afterwards that she had been pleased to have a good workout. “I wanted a competitive match,” she said. “I didn’t expect an easy walk-through. I’m pretty pleased with what happened.” She added: “That’s a beginning. It’s a starting point. I think there are a lot of positive things that I can take from what happened today.”
Giorgi will now play Britain’s Johanna Konta, who got off to a good start, beating the junior Wimbledon champion, Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic, 6-3, 6-2. “I’m happy with my performance,” Konta said. “I knew going into the match that Belinda was in good form. She had obviously won three matches here to qualify.”
Meanwhile, Andy Murray is to be sponsored for the next three years by the Standard Life Group. The Scot will wear the savings and investment company’s logo on his shirt for the first time at Wimbledon next week. Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed but it is sure to be extremely lucrative for the 27-year-old Scot.