Dubai: Victoria Azarenka admits that her bid to win two Middle East tournaments in as many weeks is an emotional one as the young Belarusian returns to Dubai where she nearly quit the game a year ago.
This time last year, the 22-year-old from Minsk thought she would quit the women's tour after early defeats in Doha and Dubai.
But after achieving one of the most astonishing turn-arounds in the modern game, she returns to the region as a stunning new world number one.
Azarenka is top seed both at this week's Qatar Classic, where last year she lost in the first round to Daniel Hantuchova, and at next week's Dubai Open, where she lost second round to Flavia Pennetta, and which starts tomorrow.
Those defeats plunged Azarenka into such despair that a spell of support and advice from her mother and grandmother was required to convince her not to quit.
"My mum told me to come home and rest, and not be crazy about it," she admitted. "And my gran pointed out there are things so much harder in life than tennis matches."
Now a more confident Azarenka will follow her good run in Doha with an attempt to win the title in Dubai, the $2 million (Dh7.34 million) tournament which has often been voted the players' favourite.
"Last year I was in a bit of a mess. I couldn't control any of my emotions. I had to change my mentality," the Australian Open champion said.
"So now I don't try to, you know, think ‘why is this happening to me?' Instead I just try to accept and deal with it."