Victoria Azarenka is confident she is moving in the right direction after an impressive performance in defeat against Serena Williams at the Indian Wells Open.
Williams prevailed 7-5 6-3 on Friday, but the American was made to work extremely hard in a high-quality contest, as fellow mother and close friend Azarenka put up a superb fight.
Following an early exit from the Australian Open in January, former world number one Azarenka broke down in tears in a post-match news conference as she reflected on her struggle to regain top form following a series of injuries, the birth of her first child and a subsequent custody battle.
However, after claiming a doubles title in Acapulco last week alongside Zheng Saisai, as well as recording two emphatic singles wins before a quarter-final loss to Sofia Kenin, the Belarusian again appeared to take a step forward with her battling display against Williams.
When it was put to her that she appeared happy at the net after Friday's contest, Azarenka replied: "Happy - that's a little too far out, but the quality of the match is not even in comparison to Australia, the level of my game is not even in comparison to what it was in Australia.
"So from this match there are a lot more positives that I can take. It was a great two sets of tennis from both players.
"I feel like I've been improving from week to week after the Australian Open. I said that I took a pretty good step forward in Acapulco, even though I didn't do fully the results that I wanted. It's the little pieces, you know. There is nothing big that is missing in my game, it's really about putting those things together.
"I always say Serena pushes me to play my best tennis. I thought it was a good match, definitely a lot of high quality. I don't feel like there was really a loser in this match. She really won, she deserved to win, she played better on those important moments."
Williams will now face another former world number one in Garbine Muguruza and added: "It will be good. I haven't played her in a while. I think tonight was a good match to get me ready for that and I'm ready."