Playing only her second match since her quarter-final loss in the
Australian Open in January because of a persistent foot injury, the
fourth-seeded Belarusian showed her usual grit but looked rusty as
she was bundled out of the Wimbledon warm-up event on England's
The twice Australian Open champion had hoped to gain some match
practice on grass ahead of next week's Wimbledon with a wildcard
entry in Eastbourne but came up against an inspired Giorgi and
joined several top seeds to lose early.
Azarenka, whose only other match since the Australian Open was in
March at Indian Wells, battled back from 4-2 down to win the first
set but quickly tired against her aggressive opponent.
The Italian seized the initiative and the second set, and after
winning an epic game to move 6-5 ahead in the third she secured an
unforeseen, if not surprising, three-set victory.
Despite defeat Azarenka said the two hours and 47 minutes spent on
court had not been in vain.
"That's exactly what I wanted," she told a news conference. "I
wanted to have a competitive match, I wanted to test myself and play
for a long time and see how my body is going to react.
"It was the most important thing for today that I was there playing
and I was healthy and that's great news.
[to top of second column]
"I can only get better from here."
Azarenka's defeat was among some notable exits in the first round of
the women's draw, with another former world No.1 and third seed
Jelena Jankovic losing in straight sets to American Madison Keys
later in the day, following top seed Agnieszka Radwanska's loss on
(Writing by Sam Holden; Additional reporting by Alexandra Clark;
editing by Martyn Herman)
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