Lesson learned for Vika after bowing out early in Paris

 - Simon Cambers

The Belarusian 11th seed fell to an inspired Schmiedlova in the second round on Wednesday

Victoria Azarenka, Roland Garros 2020, second round© Julien Crosnier/FFT

Former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka vowed to be “more courageous” after she was bounced out of Roland-Garros in the second round on Wednesday, beaten 6-2, 6-2 by Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia.

The 31-year-old two-time Grand Slam champion, one of the favourites for the title after her runner-up finish at the US Open, was strangely out of sorts against the world No.161, who earned her victory with a confident display of aggressive hitting.

The fluency, consistency and confidence Azarenka showed in New York were strangely missing on Wednesday but the No.10 seed was most disappointed about the mental side of her game.

“The lesson I need to learn is that sometimes when things don't work for me, the way I was playing today… was to be willing to adjust a little bit more and not think at the end of the match to finally start changing my game,” she said.

“I felt like I was trying a lot, trying different things, but today things were not working. I felt like nothing really was working, but I still had to find a way to win, and I didn't.

“So it's a lesson for me to learn how to be more courageous, to go for more. And I will learn it, for sure.”

Schmiedlova was ranked as high as No.26 in 2015 but had knee surgery after Wimbledon in 2019.

A nasty fall early in the second set gave Schimiedlova a scare but the 26-year-old recovered and maintained her poise as she wrapped up one of the biggest victories of her career.

“Definitely it was stressful moment,” she said. “I was a little bit in the shock because it was kind of scary. I think it was really hard. I sometimes fell on that knee, it's the knee I had surgery on, so it's never easy. I started to think about it.

“But, well, when I have the adrenaline and everything, I wanted to fight and win, then I didn't feel it. I hope I won't feel any pain tomorrow. We will see.”

Schmiedlova said she felt “scared” before the match began, such has been Azarenka’s form of late, but said her victory was all the more satisfying because of what she’s been through in recent years.

“I always thought that one year it has to come,” she said. “I'm happy that this year I am in the third round. I'm extremely happy."

Schmiedlova will now play Argentinian qualifier Nadia Podoroska in round three. Having taken out Azarenka, it is a match she will be expected to win, which brings its own pressure.

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Roland Garros 2020, second round© Julien Crosnier/FFT

“I don't remember playing against her, but I know her little bit,” Schmiedlova said. “She's a really good clay player. It will be very different than matches before. These two matches I had nothing to lose. I played big court. I was doing my best.

"Now I just need to be relaxed and play my game, and we'll see how it goes. She has to be playing really well here because she's in third round. It definitely won't be easy at all. She's a really good player. I will fight and I will do my best but I don't want to feel any pressure at all."

Though the WTA Finals will not be played in Shenzhen this year because of Covid-19 restrictions, the Tour is reportedly looking at other options for a venue. Azarenka, who sits in third place in the Race for the eight-woman field, hinted that she will be there.

“Actually I am not sure if there has been announcement,” she said. “I know my plan exactly what I'm going to do. If it hasn't been announced, I guess we'll get back to it later. I'm not the person to announce those news, I guess. (But) no, I'm not done for the year.”