This is before RG, a little late from May 20th
Spox Interviews Vika
SPOX: Miss Azarenka, do you like hockey?
: Of course! But I know why you’re asking…
SPOX: Because of Nikolai Khabibulin, the goalie of the Edmonton Oilers. He took you under his wings when you left Minsk to live and practice in the US at a very early age.
: Yes, he used to play for the Phoenix Coyotes and lives in Scottsdale. I stayed at his house, went to a lot of his games and cheered him on. That’s when I came to love hockey.
SPOX: How long have you known the Khabibulin family?
: Basically all my life. Nikolai is a good friend of my mother, and they became my second family when I lived with them.
SPOX: Now, as an established pro-player, you still live in Scottsdale. Why did you stay in Arizona?
: The conditions are perfect: Scottsdale has great courts and nice weather. That’s not to say that I don’t like my hometown Minsk. Quite the opposite: I always love to go home! Even though I can’t manage to go very often.
SPOX: Before the US you tried Marbella. Why didn’t it work out there?
: I just felt like Scottsdale was a better fit form me. With Nikolai’s family and my former coach living there, the adjustment was a lot easier.
SPOX: You used to play indoors a lot as a kid, you name hard-court as your favourite surface, but the best results you had in Grand Slam tournaments have so far come at Roland Garros. How do you explain that?
: I have advanced to the quarters at the French Open, the Australian Open and Wimbledon. I guess I would not say that my best results come from clay. I clinced my biggest career title in Miami last year; a tournament that is held on hard court. I actually think that my game style fits the hard surface better, and I tend to feel more comfortable on it as well, but I have nothing against clay either.
SPOX: So far you have yet to reach a Grand Slam semifinal. However, you have been considered a potential winner basically every time since 2009. Do you figure that you have a shot at the title in Paris?
: Whoever competes at a Grand Slam has a shot at winning the title. I believe that hard work will eventually pay off, and I will fulfill my dream of winning a title soon.
SPOX: In order to do that, you would probably have to beat some of the top players However, concerning current top 10 players you only have a positive record against Sam Stosur (3-0). Is it just your age, or what else is still missing that would allow you to take that last step?
: These statistics are a little misleading. Yes, it is true that I have a positive record against these players, but it’s not like I have not beaten any of the top players yet. I have recorded wins against Caroline Wozniacki and Serena Williams as well as many others. I am still very young; I will get many more chances to play against these players, and hopefully I will improve my record against them.
SPOX: And someday become the world’s number one? Or is winning a grand slam title your number one priority at this point in your career?
: Yes, I’d like to get that major title first. And then become the world’s number one (smiles).
SPOX: You’re well-known for taking trips through the cities in which you’re playing and to suck in the atmosphere of every place. What do you like to do when you have some time off?
: I like shopping, I love sports, I like ice-cream. I think your best bet to find me would be at a big shopping area, or at a basketball or hockey game, or at an ice-cream parlor. At home I like hanging out with my friends, going to the movies, having a good chat with a cold lemonade, or just chilling out at home.
SPOX: Ice-cream, really? In today’s sports world where nutrition becomes more and more crucial, don’t you get into trouble with your coach?
: I understand that nutrition is crucial but I love ice-cream and sometimes I think I can afford eating a little chocolate ice-cream.
SPOX: And why basketball and hockey, but no tennis?
: I like sports, but I don’t necessarily watch tennis.
SPOX: Nevertheless you name Roger Federer and Steffi Graf as your idols. Who else do you like?
: I grew up playing next to Natasha Zvereva and Max Mirnyi. It was actually a little weird that I used to idolize Max, and then I won a mixed doubles Grand Slam with him. I always wanted to be like them from very early on. However, as I started watching tennis, I became a big fan of Steffi. As for Roger, I think he is a genius. I respect him as an athlete and as a person. I think he created a great balance in his life, for which I admire him.
SPOX: It really seems that that’s the hardest part about being a professional tennis player. You always have to keep your focus. However, have you been able to make friends on the tour, or is it all just business?
: My best friend on the tour is Caro Wozniacki; she is a great girl. We have so much fun when we meet up at different events and we usually try to grab dinner to catch up whenever we are at the same event.
SPOX: Now that I know what things you like and who your best friend on the tour is: Please tell me what you’re afraid of.
: Getting my blood drawn is my worst fear of all. I simply hate needles. I have disliked them since I was a little girl. I also despise spiders.