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Azarenka: Damp Conditions Pose Injury-Risk

Victoria Azarenka burned through her Roland Garros opener, but hasn’t warmed up to the cool, damp, drizzly conditions of Paris in autumn.

The 14th-seeded Azarenka overwhelmed Danka Kovinic 6-1, 6-2 playing the 61-minute match while wearing her Nike warm-up jacket and black tights to ward off the chill of temperatures in the 50s Fahrenheit with a blustery breeze of 16 mph.

Seeing Kovinic slip in the third game, Azarenka successfully lobbied the chair umpire and supervisor to permit the players to leave the court while a cloud passed, calling playing in rainy conditions “ridiculous” and “a joke.”

“I live in Florida and it’s hot there,” Azarenka told the chair umpire at one point. “Here we are at eight degrees [Celsius]. Since you’re not on the court, you don’t know what it means to play like that. I’m not going to sit around like a duck for a couple of minutes because I’m freezing.”

Afterward, Azarenka said heavy, soggy, cold conditions pose an injury risk to players.

“Does it increase the risk of players getting injured? Absolutely, I think that it does,” Azarenka told the media afterward. “But what’s going to happen, I don’t know. I don’t really want to think about it.

“Right now I try to focus on what can do I on the court, not rather what is not good, you know, what sucks or like what is bothering everybody. That’s not what I’m trying to think about because I’m here to do my job to the best capacity possible. “I think after the tournament there should be some real good feedback and explanations and conversations with players, that’s for a fact.”

The former world No. 1 called on the French Tennis Federation, which made the unilateral decision to move Roland Garros from it’s scheduled May time slot to September, to be more transparent.

“I think that the unfortunate part sometimes with French Open is that there is no communications with player or player council, so you kind of just makes decision without consulting,” Azarenka said. “So I hope this actually will kind of change in the future.”

Still, despite her concerns about conditions and 12-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal complaining the new Wilson ball is not suited for red clay, Azarenka appreciates the opportunity to play Paris, particularly after Wimbledon cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Do I think it’s better that the tournament is cancelled? I wouldn’t particularly say so because I do believe that I want to play,” Azarenka said. “We all want to compete and we want to play and for maybe not a player like me that maybe financially is more stable than other players are, it’s very important to have this opportunity during pandemic.

“I think lower-ranked players and doubles players have been hit pretty hard financially with the situation, so it’s definitely a great opportunity to be able to have the tournament. So I think it’s a difficult question to answer yes or no.”