US Open runner up Victoria Azarenka seems to have picked up from where she left of in US at the Italian Open in Rome, reaching the quarter-final at the clay-court event. But it was an out-of-play moment that became the big takeaway from Saturday’s fourth-round action.
In one of the most touching moments of sporting spirit on the tennis court, Azarenka rushed to help and then console an injured Daria Kasatkina during their match. The videos of their interaction went viral on social media for the class the 31-year-old showed in the aftermath of the incident.
The 23-year-old Russian, a former top 10 player who has lost her momentum, had to come through qualifying and was doing well against Azarenka in a tight first set. But during the second point of their tiebreak, she rushed to the net but lost her footing and fell down on the court.
Visibly in pain, she stayed on the ground as the tournament trainer came out to check on her. But it was her opponent who got help first. Azarenka went to the other side of the net and then got an ice pack which he applied to Kasatkina’s injured right ankle.
The Russian clutched her foot, evidently being unable to get up, and it was Azarenka who fetched a towel and wiped the clay off her. The trainer and her opponent then helped the Russian stand up and get to her seat.
Once the match was decided, Azarenka sat with Kasatkina and gave her a long pep talk as she broke down in tears. It has been a hard last few years for the youngster who had a promising season in 2018. If there is one player who can show the fight needed to get back at the top of the tennis world, both by words and recent examples, it’s Azarenka.
The former world No 1 had a four-year long battle to return to the sport’s top level with injuries, maternity break and a custody battle. But she has been back to her best recently with a stunning final run at US Open after her first title as a mother at the Western & Southern Open.
“I hope this moment will be turnaround for her. I know it’s an adversity but I hope she takes the best out of this situation and pushes forward. I wish her that. I hope she’s able to recover before the French Open. I offered her my help and my team’s help if she needs it,” the two-time champion was quoted as saying by Tennis.com of the moment.
Watch the full video here
Read more about Azarenka’s comments about her opponent here: