Victoria Azarenka says that choosing not to defend her title in Cincinnati ''was a very smart decision.''

Azarenka pulled out of the hard-court tournament earlier this month because of a right knee injury. She said Saturday that taking the time off put her in better position heading into the U.S. Open, where she was the runner-up to Serena Williams the last two years.

She says that ''during practice it doesn't bother me, so I'm ready to go.''

Azarenka also missed time with a foot injury this year, and the two-time Australian Open champ's ranking has fallen to No. 17.