Press conference after final vs Li.
Victoria Azarenka 26-01-13
Saturday, 26 January, 2013
Q. You must be very happy with a long, tough match, and you had to deal with quite a bit with the injury timeouts and fireworks. How do you feel now?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I feel really happy right now. It's been a long match. It's been a tough match. Li Na was absolutely playing great tennis. Unfortunate things that happened to her, you know, but that's sport.
But, yeah, I'm just happy that everything I went through, you know, I still could manage to give my best and really come out there and try to focus on my game and play tennis that I can produce. And that's the thing that I love to do, is to compete.
Q. Li Na said she felt you perhaps played better on the bigger games in the end. Is that how you feel the match was decided?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think so. In these kind of matches you always have to take the opportunity of the important moments. In the second set, in the third set, that's what I was doing better.
In the first set, she was really on top of me, I think, she was really going for her shots and making everything happen.
Then I just had to readjust and really take advantage of when she gives me an opportunity.
Q. How much more difficult is it coming into a slam defending the title?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You know, I never thought about it this way. My mentality was to come and try to win another title. That was my main goal. It was definitely not easy with all the attention, you know, with all the press around.
But it was definitely new experience for me that I think I handled quite well, and I can only learn from this experience and moved on forward and try to improve as a player and as a person, as well.
Q. Was it difficult for you to get your head right going into the final, bearing in mind the talk of the last couple of days?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It isn't easy, that's for sure, but I knew what I had to do. I had to stay calm. I had to stay positive. I just had to deal with the things that came onto me. And that's pretty much it.
I was actually really happy that I went through so many things knowing that I can still produce the tennis that I can and keep the focus that I can. It just motivates me to be a better player.
Q. Is this the most pressure you ever felt going into a match? Your No. 1 ranking was up for grabs if you lost.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I never thought about that. I never thought about the No. 1 ranking. The pressure was there, but I like the pressure, you know. It's interesting. It's very interesting thing. It pushes you to be better. You can take it different way. You can take it negative and try to, you know, think negative.
But I take it as a positive, something that will push me forward to improve, to get better, and the outcome is out of my hands. I just have to be really focused on what I do, very honest with what I do, and that's it.
Q. Were you surprised with the way that Li Na bounced back after the two heavy falls?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: She did, but I think I kind of didn't expect that. You always feel really bad for a player when something like this happens. I kind of I think lived with her that moment and completely forgot that I have to play tennis, you know, have to compete and make her run still.
So tricked me a little bit. But, you know, it's my own fault for letting me trick that way. But I'm just glad on the second one I could keep my focus, keep my cool, and execute my shots.
Q. A 10 minute break for fireworks doesn't happen at every Grand Slam tournament.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Never happened. Never happened.
Q. Does that break up the momentum of the game to a certain degree?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't know. Everybody can say broke up the momentum, it changed, it didn't. For me, I was just trying to stay focused and really be there in the moment when it's finished, because there's nothing you can do about it.
I mean, everybody celebrates. It's happy day, Australia Day, everybody's happy. I wish I could see the fireworks, too, honestly. But I had to put some hot cream on me so I don't get cold.
Q. What did you do during the break? Did you go into the locker room?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, I went in the other room, where I was before, the match before, the exact same room. I put some hot cream on me because it was getting cold. I don't like to be cold. I was playing with the pants on and it was a little bit chilly out there, so that's all I did.
Q. What was the music what you were listening to before you entered? Red Foo?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No. Actually, it wasn't. It was one track called Poppin' off in Atlanta. It was a dubstep mix. It has this video on YouTube or Vevo, I don't remember, and it has really, really cool dance, so I was imagining.
Q. Going into the 5 3 game in the third set where you served for it against Sloane, also thinking back to the US Open against Serena, you had a 5 3 lead, did you really have to focus on making sure you wanted to close it out returning instead of having to go and serve for it?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Do you think I calculated? I had no idea (laughter).
No, I had no idea really. It's just what happened. At 4 3 was a really close game. You know, she really did a lot of things. You know, I think it was a breakpoint, I was breakpoint down, and I stayed there.
Honestly, I just wanted to play one point at a time. I didn't think two matches before, three matches before, four matches before. The US Open never crossed my mind.
I was just really staying in the moment and trying to collect as many points as I can in this particular game and that was it.
Q. Why do you accept balls from the right hand side only?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, that's not true, actually.
Q. A particular side?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, particular side. I'm weird that way. It's like a stupid thing that you're blaming a ball boy. I'm losing a point, but that's not true. I always take from one side. If I start losing, I go to another side. I'm just changing.
I'm just trying to adjust a little bit the situation, which completely doesn't make any sense, but helps me.
Q. Is it something superstitious?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I guess so.
Q. Were you worried about the reception you might get when you went on court at the beginning?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I was expecting way worse, to be honest actually. What can you do? You just have to go out there and try to play tennis in the end of the day. That's what it was all about. It's a tennis match, tennis battle, final of the Australian Open. I was there to play that.
The things what happened in the past, I did the best thing I could to explain, to do everything I could, and it was left behind me already. So when I went into the match, I was really focused on trying to play that particular match, the most important match of the tournament, That one thing that I just have to go and do, and that's it.
Q. In the circumstances, do you actually derive greater satisfaction from retaining the title than you did actually winning it the first time last year?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't know. It's a completely different mix of feelings. This one is way more emotional. It's gonna be extra special for me, for sure.
I never compare my wins or losses ever in any tournaments. It's just a matter of the feeling that you get, things you've been through, because you're the only one who knows what you've been going through these two weeks.
So it's definitely an emotional one and it's going to be special. But to defend the title, it's a different one, for sure.
Q. Was it emotional just because of what happened with Sloane or are there other reasons why it's so emotional?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Everything. What happened with Sloane, it was a big deal, for sure. It came out as a big deal. It wasn't a big deal on the court.
But I take it as a great learning experience and just try to live the moment and take the best things out of what happened and move forward.
But emotionally, there were a lot of things. Like the match I had in the third round, it was really tough to battle through. So two weeks is very difficult to keep your cool, because it seems in one way so short, but in another way it seems so long. So you just have to kind of try to manage everything.
But I think the whole world knows I'm an emotional player now.
Q. Do you think the way things happened tonight with the break and with Li Na's tumbling a couple of times, the way you handled that situation, that you've won back some fans that might have been skeptical after the last match?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't know really. I don't know. I hope so. But that's out of my hands really. I was just there to try to be the best tennis player there is, to do the best job as I can and show great tennis.
I cannot go back in time. I couldn't go forward in time. I can just execute and be there and take control of what I can. I've done that and I'm really proud of that.
Q. You said the semifinal was a learning experience. What did you learn?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I learned how to talk a lot on TV. Way more than any win I ever got (laughter).
But, you know, it's just a pressure of something that you have to explain. You have to keep going, kind of make everybody believe you, because nobody did at the beginning. Just trying to be honest really for about a hundred times in a row. That's different.
Q. Have you got some sort of guarantee from your support crew in the box that they're going to follow you around to a few more slams?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I hope so. I really do.
Q. Last year you won and Novak won the men's. In the end of the year, you both claimed the top spot. Are you going to text him something about that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: If I'm going to text him?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Can you give me his phone number, then I'll do that (laughter)? I don't have his phone number, honestly.
Q. You said at the very start you learned to become a better player and person. You said before about being honest. Is that what you're talking about when you say being a better person?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You know, when I came first on the tour I kind of was lost a little bit. I didn't know how to open up my personality. It's very difficult when you're alone. I was independent since I was, you know, 10 years old. I went first time to the States when I was 10 years old. It was a little bit scary and I wouldn't show my personality.
So the whole couple of years I learned how to open up to people and to share the moments with them and how to talk to you guys, as well. I wasn't really good before. I hope I got better. It's your judgment, but...
That's my thing, is to show the personality that I really have, you know, outside the court as well. Because on the court I'm really focused, I'm really determined, I'm going to do the job that I have, and I'm going to have the face that I have, and I'm going to be the way that I have to be to be the better tennis player.
But off court I'm a different person a little bit.