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What will Azarenka-Collins mean in 6 weeks — that is the question

Matt Zemek

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Jerry Lai -- USA TODAY Sports

To be or not to be? What if the hokey pokey really IS what it’s all about? Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near? Add “What meaning will Victoria Azarenka and Danielle Collins derive from their first-round match in Acapulco?” to a list of questions which are hard to answer.

You want something profound or targeted from me after Azarenka’s 6-1, 6-2 win over Collins in Acapulco on Tuesday? Sorry. I have nothing to offer.

Could this match become a springboard for Azarenka, whose life has become immensely difficult for reasons beyond her control? Sure it could. Learning how to be a mother and learning how to live in the face of litigation are two very different but profoundly difficult tasks. Imagine trying to take on those immense burdens while also sustaining a professional tennis career.

I can’t offer a verdict on Azarenka’s tennis which contains any analytical weight or power. I wouldn’t dare say or suggest anything which would feel like a personal judgment of her performance — and by “judgment,” I refer to the imposition of a standard of quality Azarenka must meet, not to the more neutral notion of “judgment” as a dry and detached evaluation of her shots and her overall form.

“This is unacceptable” is a judgment I won’t offer about Azarenka at this point in her life. That sort of personal evaluation — which I do levy against other tennis players if I feel it is warranted — is out of bounds with Azarenka right now. She is going through too many other more important dramas (not entirely of her own making) to deserve that kind of treatment. Players have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and Azarenka’s case demands delicate, empathetic generosity right now, as opposed to standard “A versus B” comparisons of results or career trajectories.

I have no idea what this win over Collins will mean in six weeks.

Speaking of Collins, what about this result? The University of Virginia product made the Australian Open semifinals, and then got blitzed, 12 games to 3. Will this erode her confidence heading into Indian Wells? Will this wake her up before Indian Wells? Was this merely a brutally unfortunate draw? That last question offers what is probably the best answer, but I would be lying if I told you I had a strong feel for what this match says about Collins.

Where will these two players stand at the start of April? I wish I could give you a projection or a roadmap or any sort of clarity… but I can’t. Some sports results just can’t be easily assessed in the present moment, in Acapulco or anywhere else.

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at radioinfluence.com. Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: mzemek@hotmail.com. You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

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