'Pain-free' Azarenka ready for French Open


A "pain-free" Victoria Azarenka insists she feels fit and ready for the French Open.

World number five Azarenka had not lost since February until a back injury forced her to withdraw from the Madrid Open this month.

The Belarusian appeared to still be feeling the effects when she fell to a shock defeat against Irina-Camelia Begu at the Internazionali d'Italia the following week.

However, Azarenka thinks the extra time has helped her prepare mentally and physically for Roland Garros.

"I arrived pretty early to Paris, so I had a few days of training here already," she said.

"It was good for me to take some time off and regroup. I have been practising pain-free, so I'm feeling ready to start the tournament.

"I didn't play tennis [after Rome]. I took a couple of days off. I still kept doing my exercises for the back and continued with what I could do to stay active. I don't like to just sit and do nothing.

"For me it was more mental to just get away and get myself, you know, focused again and motivated again. I went home, spent time with the family. For me, it's always the best [way to] recharge."

Azarenka dropped down to 50th in the rankings in 2015, but feels she is now a more rounded player.

"I do believe that I have improved, and I'm still improving," he said.

"I want to use this year and hopefully next year for a process to keep improving my game, make myself the best player as possible."

The 26-year-old will face Karin Knapp in the first round of the French Open.