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An Interview With: Victoria Azarenka (Round 3)

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Q. When you were out injured, how much did you miss some of the feelings that you experienced on the court today?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: A lot. Probably the most you can miss when you're an athlete, not just a tennis player. That intensity, that feeling of the battle, you know, heat of the moment. I don't know, personally that's what I live for.

Q. So how did it feel out there experiencing it today?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: It was great. You know, every moment was really intense and tough. I just tried to stay focused and tried to give my best at every point. You know, she was playing incredible. She was pushing me. I was pushing her. So, you know, from both sides it was just head-to-head. It was amazing, I think.

Q. At what point out there, or did it ever cross your mind, you were a part of something special there?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: You know, every moment to me is special. Just being able to go out there and fight hard and compete, it's exciting. I don't ever want to take it for granted that I go on Arthur Ashe Stadium and I play no matter which round it is. It's just that feeling of competition, making yourself better, to improve, you know, really hustle, battle. Whatever it takes, it's my home. I don't know, I feel at home when I'm in that moment.

Q. Have you thought about your next match yet against Varvara?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I haven't thought too much about it, honestly, because I'm just trying to a little bit enjoy this moment. But, you know, she's a really tough competitor. She's obviously playing great tennis, you know, reaching the second week here. Another lefty for me. At least I had some practice today (smiling). I'm just looking forward to play that match. Every match from this point is just getting tougher and tougher. I want to stay focused. I want to take it one match at a time, actually one day at a time. Today recover, tomorrow practice, then let's go.

Q. I notice over the changeovers you were looking at some papers. I don't know if that's something you have done in the past.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I have done it. Started doing it not too long ago. It's just something that I feel will keep me a little bit entertained during changeovers. Sometimes it gets a little quiet, so I just want to make sure I'm focused on what I have to do. I write different things for me, you know, sometimes something to make sure I stay focused. I wrote this thing which was hilarious to me yesterday. It was so stupid, but it made me laugh so hard. I just wrote it, you know, to keep me relaxed sometimes.

Q. What does a win like that mean to you? High-quality match, three sets, tough fight, opponent not giving you anything.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: It means that I'm strong and I can go through whatever is happening on the court. To me, you know, I'm going to stay there as long as it takes for me to win that match. That's what I did today. What it means is that I've just been consistent and I know what I want. It happens that today it was on my side. That's what I want to just take it as a positive and give myself, I guess, confidence going into the next match, that this is what I have to do to win tough matches.

Q. When you were trying to come back, was the mental part of it just as challenging as the physical part?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think on a tennis court when it's such a tough battle, most of it is about mental toughness, the will to win, however you want to call it. Because everybody know how to play forehand, how to play backhand. But being sometimes courageous and go for your shots, be courageous to adapt to a situation, that's something that is most challenging part, I would say. In those tight moments, it's all up to you to make a difference.

Q. It was such a high-quality match. You won. Even when you lose a match like that, does it make it easier because of the fact it was so entertaining?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, for me, I'm all about winning. I don't know. I'm not on that side today. But I think it's great for our sport to be able to produce this kind of high-quality match. I applaud Angelique because she really pushed me to give my best, really to dig deep and find resources to make it happen.

Q. Back to the mental toughness. After a match like that, is that sort of mental effort something that takes a toll? Is it something that going into the next match actually builds?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I mean, it's up to you really. I think it's something you have to go out again and do it again. It's not going to be there magically appearing all of a sudden. It's something that you just have to go and work hard to do. So my point is definitely to keep this ability steady and then see what happens.

Q. When you say it's good for the sport, is there still a lot of convincing that women's tennis has to do to sort of prove that you are high quality like that?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think it goes beyond tennis. It's just in general in life, woman have to always prove a little bit more. In business, in other sports. But, you know, I just want to show it on the court and not talk about it. I think today everybody saw what's been happening out there. I hope they can appreciate that.

Q. It's been a pretty incredible 24 hours on the court you played on, as far as the quality of matches. What was the atmosphere like out there?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Amazing. Absolutely amazing. It's a little bit difficult to describe with words because it's a mixed feeling of adrenaline and then I want to just stay out there as long as possible, but also you want to win and get out of there. It's bunch of mixed emotions. But just to be out there and battling hard, people were amazing. The crowd get into the match. You know, they scream. They clap. Even during the points sometimes they go, Whoa, when somebody hits an amazing shot. To see support for both players, really pushing us, motivating us to get even better at the matches is absolutely fantastic.

Q. When Lepchenko was here before you, she said her approach to facing you would be, Well, she's the higher-ranked player, I have nothing to lose. When you hear things like that, the whole mentality going into a match, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, first of all, everybody has something to lose. You have points to lose. You have money to lose. You have opportunity to lose. I guess it's the way to take a pressure off yourself. And for me, I love pressure. It makes me better. I don't wish to have pressure, but it's something that, I don't know, I think I love to rise to the occasion. It's challenging and motivating for me. But also when I go out on the court, I focus on my effort and what I can do to improve or what I can do to give my opponent the worst possible time, and the rest takes care of itself.

Q. How much do you work on psyching yourself up? When you're on the court, you have more gestures than many players, you speak a lot, you do things a lot. How much of that is to convince yourself of things?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I'm just being me, you know. You watch my practice, I do a lot more probably gestures. They're awkward gestures, clumsy gestures, fist pumps. I just do whatever I feel like is right in the moment. If I need to be hyped, I'm hyped. If I need to talk to myself, I talk to myself. Whatever it takes to win, I'm going to do it.

Q. Some people gave you the second-best odds of winning this tournament. Do you hear stuff like that? How do you feel?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I hear it, I just don't care about it. Not that I don't appreciate that people speak highly about me. It's irrelevant to me. I have to go out there and win matches. Odds are just odds.

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