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Sports News

'She's ready': Azarenka's coach confident ahead of U.S. Open final

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Victoria Azarenka is in top form and ready to go the distance in her first Grand Slam final in seven years, coach Dorian Descloix said on Friday, a day ahead of her U.S. Open showdown against former champion Naomi Osaka.

“Physically she’s ready, to be honest. She worked a lot the last few months,” he said. “She worked every day on fitness. Even on the court we did a lot of long sessions on the court. Now she’s ready.”

The 31-year-old came back from a one-set deficit to topple 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams in their semifinal match inside Arthur Ashe Stadium on Thursday, returning to the sport’s peak from a long road littered with setbacks.

Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open winner, stunned a the Western & Southern Open, slaying competitors before winning on a walkthrough after not securing a win of any kind in a year.

To topple world number four Osaka, Descloix said she must “play her game.”

“(She has) to be relaxed on the court, just to mix a lot. She has a big panel of shots,” he said. “She has to remain exactly the same.”

Descloix joined Azarenka in February as a hitting partner, before becoming her coach, as the pair set about mounting her remarkable career comeback.

“To be honest, it’s my first experience as a coach,” he said. “Vika is a great player, so for me it was tough for me at the beginning. We talk a lot. I learn every day with Vika.”

Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Sandra Maler

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