MELBOURNE, Jan 22 (Reuters) - The fluorescent yellow outfit Victoria Azarenka wore as she dismantled Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open on Thursday was a one-word fashion statement -- loud.
A defiantly single-tone ensemble matching a skirt with a long-sleeve top, Azarenka made a huge impression on social media even before a racket was swung at Margaret Court Arena.
Though the look was polarising, Azarenka’s game was anything but. The universal verdict after her 6-4 6-2 win over the eighth-seeded Dane was that the Belarusian was back, and back in a big way.
Unseeded, undercooked but under no pressure, Azarenka dictated play like a traffic cop in a high-visibility suit.
The night was not overly cool, but the long sleeves stayed on as if the former world number one had hardly raised a sweat in the 98-minute clash.
It was tempting to link Azarenka’s performance with the stunning colour of her clothes and the Belarusian agreed she was out to make impressions.
“That’s the key. That’s the whole point, the outfit,” she smiled as she spoke to reporters, wearing a still-loud pair of leggings and a ‘trucker’s cap’ perched backwards on her head.
“I didn’t take off my outfit, so the energy and intensity stayed there with the outfit. But really, that’s how I play. I try to imply that intensity. I play aggressive. I think that’s one of my trademarks. Not the outfit, but the intensity.”
Azarenka played less than 30 matches through an injury-blighted 2014, but appears hungry for another five at Melbourne Park, where she reigned supreme in 2012 and 2013.
Having mowed through her opening matches against American Sloane Stephens and Wozniacki, she next plays a very winnable match against Czech 25th seed Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova.
The chance of a potentially mouthwatering clash against last year’s finalist Dominika Cibulkova follows.
After finishing off Wozniacki, she clenched her fist, gritted her teeth and held a steely gaze at her player’s box.
She said felt the love for Melbourne Park flowing through her.
“I love the energy of people here. Really, I think the whole country is like sport nation,” she said.
“I guess I‘m going to adopt an Aussie kid or something like that.” (Editing by Pritha Sarkar)