Azarenka handed Melbourne boost

14 December 2017 03:59:04 GMTPlus10

Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka is relishing a return to action after being handed a wildcard entry for the Australian Open early next year.

The 28-year-old took the title in Melbourne in both 2012 and 2013, beating Maria Sharapova and Li Na respectively.

It's been a tough year and being able to come back to the Australian Open will be a really positive way to start 2018.

Victoria Azarenka

However, she has been out of action since Wimbledon earlier this year, with a combination of injury problems and off-court issues now leaving her outside the top 200 in the world rankings.

She has though been given a lifeline back into the first Grand Slam of 2018 and Azarenka is clearly very pleased to be set to return to the scene of her greatest triumphs in the game.

Azarenka told the tournament's official website: "I'm so excited about coming back to Melbourne for the Australian Open - it's my favourite tournament.

"I've won there twice and always feel so comfortable on court and the city is great.

"It's been a tough year and being able to come back to the Australian Open will be a really positive way to start 2018."

As well as claiming the Australian Open title in 2012 and 2013, she also reached the final of the US Open in both of those years, being beaten on both occasions by Serena Williams, who is also expected to be back in action in Melbourne.

The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion has taken time away from the game following the birth of her first child, but has been confirmed as an entrant for the Australian Open, where she is a seven-time champion.

Williams is available at 1212/1 to make it eight in Melbourne, with Sharapova priced at 10/1 and Azarenka 1212/1.

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