Australian Open: Former champion Azarenka upset by Pegula in first round

Victoria Azarenka, who won her two Grand Slam titles in Melbourne in 2012 and 2013, took a medical timeout in set two after appearing to have trouble breathing.

Victoria Azarenka plays a forehand in her Women's Singles first round match against Jessica Pegula.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Victoria Azarenka was dumped out of the Australian Open in the first round on Tuesday after a 7-5 6-4 defeat by main draw debutant Jessica Pegula.

Belarusian Azarenka, who won her two Grand Slam titles in Melbourne in 2012 and 2013, started the stronger and looked to be in complete control, the 12th seed racing to a 5-2 lead in the first set.

However, things quickly fell apart as American Pegula, the world number 61, took the next five games to seal the set.

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Azarenka's troubles continued in the second set and she took a medical timeout while trailing 4-2 after appearing to have trouble breathing.

She did not reveal the reason for the medical timeout, making a plea for privacy in her post-match interview.

"I don't really know why we're getting asked about medical conditions," she said. "All this is going out on the internet after for people to talk about, to judge about.

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"I truly don't ever understand why, when somebody is sick, injured or whatever, they have to give their medical reason out in the world. I think that should be changed, unless players do want to talk about it."

She returned to hold serve and followed that up with a break to draw level at 4-4, but Pegula broke straight back before serving out the match, sealing victory with an ace.

-Azarenka says quarantine took toll-

The 12th said the isolation had taken a toll. "Was that the best preparation for me? No," she told a news conference. "The biggest impact for me personally has been not being able to have fresh air. That really took a toll."

The 31-year-old said she had been unable to get her game in shape less than a week after being freed from lockdown.

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"I don't know how to prepare after two weeks in quarantine ... I don't have a blueprint how to prepare," she added.

"It's all about trying to figure it out and I didn't figure it out. Not this time."

"I'm just disappointed, not being able to perform at my best," Azarenka added. "Leaving Australian Open so soon is also disappointing, but it is what it is."

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