Victoria Azarenka overcomes nasty fall, injured right knee to advance in her Wimbledon opener

  • Article by: EDDIE PELLS , AP National Writer
  • Updated: June 24, 2013 - 1:25 PM

LONDON — When Victoria Azarenka's right knee gave way, she slid to the slippery turf and began sobbing.

A routine first-round match at Wimbledon turned into something more harrowing for the No. 2 seed from Belarus. She closed out her 6-1, 6-2 victory Monday over Maria Joao Koehler after tumbling near the baseline on Court 1 and injuring her right knee in the second game of the second set.

"I was in such shock," Azarenka said. "You know, for two minutes I had such a consistent pain that it just completely freaked me out, what happened. Because you never know. You're just down on the ground. You never know what happened. It was so quick and a huge shock."

After a visit from the trainer that lasted about 10 minutes, Azarenka played the rest of the match with a heavy wrap on her right knee. She was limping noticeably and winced after several points.

But Koehler, making her Wimbledon debut, did not have the power or consistency to make Azarenka, the two-time Australian Open titlist, pay for her diminished mobility. Azarenka finished with 25 winners to 19 for Koehler and won the match easily despite struggling with her serve, finishing with nine double-faults.

"I think, first of all, it's quite difficult to make a lot of drop shots against my game," Azarenka said. "I really understood that I could (not) move the same way as before my fall. So I really went for my shots. I felt like I had to be aggressive, to finish as quick as possible."

Barring rain, Azarenka will get about 48 hours to recover before her next match. She said she wasn't sure about the extent of the injury and planned to have more tests on the knee later Monday.

"It's good to have tomorrow to recover, but I still need to make the final assessments," she said.

Both Azarenka and Koehler slipped and slid near the baseline through the first set of the tournament on Court 1, which was still green and lush on a cool, humid day at the All England Club.

She said the shock was as scary to her as the actual pain she felt when she fell.

"At that moment, it's so shocking because you have no ground. You basically just fall," Azarenka said. "Your legs go one way, and there is no balance or nothing. Nothing I could control in that moment, and that's scary."

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