Q. It was a bit of a struggle but you got the edge in the end?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I was a little rusty at the beginning. I think it's a little bit expected after a break, and, you know, playing right away against a top player always makes it a little bit difficult because you don't have that room, adaptation. So I had to make that adaptation kind of during the match.
But I think, you know, overall was important to take that first set. It was a big turnaround point and to stay in the moment, to really just try to find a way how to, you know, how to win points, how to win games.
Q. Do you know when a match is sort of going more slowly?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, not really. For me it doesn't matter how long the match takes. I will stay and play as long as it takes. My physical ability, there is no question about it, how long it takes the match, as long as I'm going to stay there, so I never really looked at it.
Q. When you haven't played in a while and you're rusty and you're an aggressive player, are you thinking, okay, now I need to dictate against her? I also want to play patiently because I don't want to commit too many unforced errors early?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, yeah. It's important to find that balance. I felt like at the beginning, you know, my intentions and the way I played was the right way. It was just execution was missing a little bit. There were a few nets and few small outs. I didn't feel like they were big, big mistakes.
You know, that rustiness, that's what it comes after a little bit of a break, but I felt like after I found a little bit more patience, and in the important moment I was more brave to take my chances and the execution was better.
Q. When you are at a tournament like this, do you approach the first round differently than you would at a normal tournament just because you know the competition is going to be at a higher level off the bat, or is it same as usual?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It's a little bit different, because it doesn't feel like a first round. It feels like just the match, you know, in the group. So it is a little bit different approach, and it's been a while since I played a first round against a top 6 player, so it is going to be different.
Here, you know, the way the structure of the tournament is, you not only have to win matches, but sometimes you can rely on the games. So it's important just to stay in the moment, and it's the only, you know, one tournament where you can lose and still come back and still win the tournament.
Q. We all know Sara is a very good clay‑court player, but what do you think makes her also a very dangerous player on hard court? Is it the variety of the way she plays the ball or her fighting spirit, she never gives up?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think Sara proved over especially the last two years that she's been a really dangerous opponent on every surface. Of course, I think that her results were more consistent during the clay, but overall she's a very good fighter. She doesn't give anything away.
She makes you hit a lot of balls, and she starts to be more aggressive. She has a lot of variety, and, you know, she can come to the net. So you never really know what to expect, but you do know that you will expect a lot of balls bringing back.
Q. Because this is the showcase at the end of the women's season, the speed of the court and the quality of the players are obviously very important to the game. What do you think of the speed of the court here, this Championships? Do the players actually have any input into what they think would be the optimum speed of the court to bring the best tennis out at this stage of the season?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't think it's ever been asked by the players, because it more depends, you know, of the quality, not how fast the court is, is overall quality of the stadium that has to fit the standards.
But, you know, I think the court is pretty rough, I would have to say. It's a little bit slow. But that's what we have. I think, you know, you can't really find excuses or something. If the surface can be a little bit better because it's tough on the body, maybe, yeah, but I think it's the last year. I think it's a good point to bring for the next Championships.
We're going to change location and everything, so I think there can be improvement, but there is nothing wrong with the court.
Q. While you were off a little bit and ill, were you reading the comments about whether women should or could play three out of five sets at the slams, and would you realistically be in favor about that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I read about it. I think there has been a lot of talk about it. It's been brought so much into press, and I think we can stand by one opinion that all the women have: We're ready to play whatever it is.
I just think that, you know, playing five sets can be very challenging for the scheduling. I actually think men should play three sets. It would be, you know, more interesting.
Q. So what would be your preference? If someone said you can either stay at two out of three or you can switch to three out of five, what would you say?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I would say men should play best of three (smiling).
Q. She had a medical timeout in the second set. Were you put off by it at all?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Not off. I mean, you always feel a little bit, you know, sad for an opponent when they take a medical timeout, and, you know, there were quite a few breaks, but you just have to deal with this.
She played some unbelievable returns after that, so it was, like, okay, get back, just get back, try to play your game.
But I have to give her a lot of credit for, you know, staying out there and fighting really hard. It was important for the crowd, and I think it was still a good match in the second set.
Q. So you said you felt a little bit rusty, but overall, how would you assess your performance tonight versus maybe your last couple of matches? Good, better, about the same? Where are you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: The last couple of matches?
Q. Last couple matches.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Couple matches, I will not assess that.
This match I think, you know, it's a good start that, you know, you are right back in the competition mode. You know, I had to come back, and I had to find a way how to deal with the circumstances.
I'm not going to rate that, because I just want to think of what I can do better next match and try to avoid those maybe little mistakes in the beginning. But I think, you know, playing second match it already should get better.
Q. So it's safe to say there is a lot of room still for improvement?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: There is always room for improvement for anybody.
Q. Clearly quality of results, which you have frequently, is more important than quantity, but have you played enough tennis tournaments this year to your satisfaction, or would you like to play more next year?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It's a good question. I think it's the matter of when to play and what to play, because, you know, just try to adapt a schedule, because I would like to play, you know, all the main tournaments, of course, all the WTA events that I wanted to play this year and just schedule it a little bit better.
I had a very good summer, and, you know, the fall could have been better due to my scheduling. You know, I don't think that the result was ‑‑maybe, you know, if I wouldn't play some tournaments I would still lose for sure, doesn't matter, but for my own learning experience I feel like I can do better next year.
Q. When you were saying regarding Tokyo and Beijing that you didn't feel like you prepared well enough for the Asian swing after the US Open, what exactly did that mean?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I felt I didn't have enough rest. Really, it took so much out of me that summer with the rehab and playing Cincinnati and playing so well at the US Open. I just needed that break physically, and I felt so guilty not practicing, and I kept practicing and practicing and practicing, so it really didn't do me well.
Q. Going off of that a little bit, what would be your ideal situation? To have longer breaks after major tournaments where you can kind of shut down completely or, you know, a short break between tournaments to kind of just give your body a little bit of rest before you go into another one?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think it's important to have a little bit of a break after the major tournament, because you don't realize how much it takes out of you when you go that deep. Because it's not only a one‑week event or two‑week event. It's actually a three‑weeks event because you always get there earlier, and all that drag, mentally and physically, to be able to be there at such a high level, it really takes a lot out of you, especially now with the way the tennis is physically.
Q. Is it hard to want to take that break? For example, if you're at the US Open and you make the finals and you're playing well and you want to capitalize on that momentum and go off and play a tournament immediately, is it difficult to make that kind of shift, or at this point in your career with your experience are you good with saying, No, I need a break?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, that's a learning experience. I really wanted to play in Tokyo. I love that tournament. And it's the last year of that.
So, you know, you do some kind of mistakes. You can call it mistakes. I'd rather call it the learning experience for me to know what to do, you know, if the situation happens again.