Press conference after SF vs Stephens.
Victoria Azarenka 24-01-13
Thursday, 24 January, 2013
Q. Could you perhaps talk us through the end of the match and what prompted your departure and when you came back.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, you know, I had been struggling a little bit throughout the whole match, from the second set, my back. And it just kept getting worse. I should have, you know, called the trainer a little bit earlier before that when I got to the point that I couldn't really breathe and had to go off court.
So there was a little bit of my bad. But just a rib got locked and kept getting worse. I had to have it adjusted. I really had to go and take that medical timeout.
Q. Can you understand that people perceive that as being gamesmanship at that particular point in the game?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't really because it was necessary thing for me to do, as I said, you know, earlier. I just regret that I didn't take it earlier. That it got to the point that it was pretty much impossible for me to breathe and to play.
It took a little bit longer.
Q. Would you agree the timing was unfortunate?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: The timing, yeah, it was my bad. The game before that when I lost my service game, it kept getting worse. I thought I would have to play through it and keep calm. But it just got worse.
You know, I had to do it.
Q. What treatment did you have?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I had to unlock my rib, which was causing my back problem. You know, the trainer said, We have to go off court to treat that. I just didn't really want to take off my dress on the court.
Q. You said after the match you were overwhelmed, rather than mentioning your back. Is there a reason why you didn't mention it?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You mean the question of the interview?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You know what, I think I just really misunderstood what she asked me because the question was I had few difficulties and why I went off. I completely thought of a different thing, why I couldn't close out of match, you know, that I had few difficulties.
So I understand the whole situation right now, but it just really simple misunderstanding of a question. I guess it was my bad.
Q. You were also asked on ESPN and you made no mention of your back as well.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I did say that. I did say I couldn't breathe. It was locked. That was came from my back.
Q. In your previous answers, you attributed the not being able to breathe being pretty much directly to not converting the five match points in the game before. You said you had to take some time to get your mind together when you were going off court. This seems like a very different answer that you're giving now.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: What can I tell you after a few seconds after the match? I couldn't really talk about everything what was going on. You know, I'm telling you what happened right now honestly, that my back was bothering me. It took me too long of a time to call the trainer, which was my mistake.
I took it to the point where I couldn't breathe, which was causing from my back problem, and I couldn't really figure out what was going on on the court. When the trainer told me that was the rib that was blocking that, my back, that's what happened.
Q. It was reported there was also a knee that was one of the problems when you went off court.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, but actually I only took one medical timeout. You know, it took a little bit maybe more time because they were evaluating that. But I took only one medical timeout.
And my knee, I slipped. Was it, I don't know, maybe third game of the second set. So it was a little bit bothering me. But it wasn't that big of a deal. It was just my back that caused my ...
Q. Given how bad it was, were you surprised at the speed of your recovery?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, when somebody unlocks and you can breathe, it definitely helps. But I still feel it a little bit.
Q. Do you have any sympathy for Sloane, who had to sit there for 10 minutes waiting to serve to stay in the match?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I haven't thought about it that way because I was trying to make sure that, you know, I can play when I go back.
Q. You were saying, though, that you were choking. That's what you said when you came off court. Did the choking have anything to do with your shortness of breath?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, it had a lot to do with that, because when you cannot breathe you start to panic. You know, I was really panicking, not because I couldn't convert my match point.
That's not the case. I mean, I'm experienced enough to go over those emotions. But when you cannot breathe, when something's really blocking you, the stress, that was the stress I was talking about. I just couldn't realize what was going on with me.
Q. When you were going up to approach the ball on match points, Oh, my Good, my rib hurts; you couldn't breathe? You couldn't swing?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I couldn't breathe; I couldn't swing. I think it was pretty obvious that my shots were a little bit different. That's I think the misunderstanding of the situation, you know, what I said that I was stressed out and choked was not because I couldn't finish my shot.
It was just so stressing me out the pain that I had that you know, maybe it was overreaction, but I just really couldn't breathe.
Q. So it didn't feel like a panic attack, that the pain was causing you to panic maybe?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No. Because as the trainer explained to me and the doctor explained to me after, when the rib blocks, it blocks your diaphragm and you can't breathe. I'm not a doctor to explain that.
Q. So in hindsight, do you think you owe an apology to Sloane just for the timing of it, the medical timeout?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Apology? I don't know if that's apology. For the timing, I cannot be in control how long it takes to fix my injury, you know.
As I said, they wanted to take two medical timeouts, for the knee and for that, but I wanted to take one because I wanted to go back on court.
So that was it.
The timing that I shouldn't have put myself in that situation to have that pain? Yeah, I shouldn't have done that. I should have done it earlier, for sure.
But I thought I was going to, you know, play through the pain. It was a little bit an issue, but it got to the point that it didn't, you know, so...
Q. Have you ever had that sensation before when you've played?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Actually never. So that was freaking me out, that I never felt, you know, something like that before.
Q. How do you think you would have felt if it was the other way around?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You know, I have so many times somebody take a medical timeout. But what can you do?
Q. It was very long one at an important time of the match.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Oh, but what can I do? Is it my fault the doctor took that long to evaluate? I said, I don't want two medical timeouts. I only took one.
Q. Do you think some players are abusing this rule, not yourself, but other players use it as a stalling tactic sometimes that you've experienced?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Honestly, I cannot say about anybody, what anybody do. I can only speak about myself.
I'm being really honest here, what I'm talking about. But about somebody else, maybe somebody does, somebody doesn't, but I don't really care.
When I play and somebody takes a medical timeout, I don't doubt them.
Q. When did you start to feel the rib?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It was like two days ago a little bit, but it wasn't that big of a deal. It just got to a point that it was really weird, you know. It was very unusual and I didn't know what was going on, so it really made me scared there on the court.
Q. At what point in the match did it get bad?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Was it 4 2 when I was serving? 4 2. It was a long game.
Q. Is it going to be a factor in the final?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I hope not. You know, really need to unlock that, and kind of did after. So we'll see.
Q. You'll play Li Na in the final who has improved a lot technically and mentally. Do you approach that match as you did before against her?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think she's in incredible form right now really. You know, in the finals anything can happen. It looks like she improved a lot. Will be a tough match, so I'm really looking forward to it.
Q. Is last year's final experience going to be an advantage for you to face her?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't know. I don't really think about it. She's been in a final. She's won a Grand Slam also. She has the experience. So that's not such a big factor, I would say.
Q. You seem a little bit stressed. You have two days to recompose. Talk about what you're going to do to get ready for the final.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, right now I just need to calm down with the whole situation, what happened, make sure that my body's right. You know, tomorrow is another day. Try to practice, you know, and the same day, just try to give it my best.
We'll see what happens.
Q. Do you feel like people give you too hard a time over things like this?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You know what, I feel like it had to be explained, the situation. I understand the point of people maybe not understanding what I said; me not understanding what I've been asked. So I'm just glad that I'm here, you know, to make everything clear, and that's it.
You know, I think you cannot really judge by few words. The situation had to be explained. I'm glad I'm here doing that.
Q. Can you talk about how happy you are to retain the No. 1 ranking given that Sharapova lost and how hungry you are to defend your title?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I'm really hungry to defend my title. That was my first, you know, goal. Actually, not to defend, to win the tournament. I put myself in the position to give it the best shot there is, you know, being in the final.
So I'm really looking forward to it.
But the ranking, right now I'm not really thinking about it.