Q. How would you describe your fire to win this tournament right now?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: A little bit out of fire right now. (Laughter.) I'm just, you know, I'm really looking forward to play the tough battles I have still in the tournament. You know, for being first time in the semifinals in the US Open is incredible feeling for me. Definitely I don't want to stop. I really want it bad. I'm going to do absolutely everything I have, you know, to give it all here.
Q. Sam said that she played her best tennis of the tournament today but it wasn't enough. Did you play your best tennis of the tournament today?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, for sure she really pushed me, you know, to dig deep. We fought really hard. I felt like there wasn't something, you know, somebody was missing. It was always somebody had to grab the opportunity, you know, to provoke mistakes. Even though there were mistakes, but there was provoking them, you know, coming in and playing big shots. I think that the quality of tennis was really high, and it was tense because it could go either way. But, you know, it was like breaks but still, you know, somebody ‑‑ like me or Sam we would come back strong and play that next game, be really, you know, determined and motivated even though you lost the game before.
Q. How important is it to have a match like this where you really are challenged? Because thus far at this tournament you have dominated.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, you know, I think everybody prefers to win maybe a little bit easier than this way. (Laughter.) No doubt. But it definitely gives a lot of boost, you know, and energy knowing that you go through the fight to win. It's ironic to hear that, I think, but I enjoy the fight. You know, I enjoy that, you know, struggle, that pain that we go through, that incredible moment that you feel relieved after, you know, you gave it all in every point you had.
Q. What were you telling to yourself in the third set when you kept being ahead and she was coming back then the breaker was crazy and you had this 5‑All. What was going through your mind?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You don't want to know what I kept telling myself. I would have to beep that, I think. I was just trying, you know, to stay positive because I knew I had to find the opportunities. You know, even though I had few opportunities, I kinda missed them. I felt like I wasn't aggressive enough at some point. But, you know, she came back really strong and she actually kept me back, wouldn't let me use those opportunities. I kept telling myself, Don't be a chicken; come on; just go, go for your shots.
Q. At 5‑All in the tiebreaker, what did you think? You know, you hit an ace. Were you nervous at that point?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: When did I hit an ace? Did I hit one today actually?
Q. To go up 6‑5 in the breaker. You saved a break point 5‑All.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: 5‑All I made the dropshot, no? I was lucky that the ball caught the net. I was, you know, just trying to stay in the moment. I didn't really feel like what was the score. I was just trying to, you know, when I had that short ball I had to do something to surprise, because at this moment you have to come up with something different, not the usual what you do. Because one or two shots will just, you know, decide everything. Even one move can decide everything. So I felt I had to come up with something different. I had the dropshot. I showed some good hands, I guess. (Smiling.)
Q. How often do you have to tell yourself, Don't be a chicken?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Not often, really. Sometimes I just go for too much. But today, you know, I felt like she was defending really, really well, you know. I wanted to come in, but she kept the ball so low, you know, during the slice that I was hesitating on couple of occasions. I had to, you know, just really push myself to go and take my chance.
Q. Did you know that the No. 1 ranking was on the line?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No.
Q. So when you went like this at the end to your box, that wasn't...
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, it had nothing to do with numbers, really. (Smiling.)
Q. Do you ever get nervous during matches anymore and were you nervous at any time today?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Of course. Yes, I do get nervous. I'm a human being, you know. You know, I don't think that there is any player who says that they don't get nervous during the matches or they're lying or they're just too strong. But, yeah, of course you get nervous, because, you know, you sometimes don't want to miss the shot, you know, or you feel like, Oh, maybe I have to be aggressive. So there is this little bit of unknowing what to do, you know, so it brings out the nerves. When you, you know, face break point or something, I'm just calmer when I face a break point because I just feel like I have to go for my shots.
Q. When you faulted were you nervous or you just went for the serve too much?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't ‑‑ I was just ‑‑ shit serve, seriously. It was just a terrible, terrible. Wrong movement. I was not focused enough on my execution, what I had to do.
Q. You put it behind you just like that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I feel like, you know, these kind of mistakes are easier to deal with because they're just silly. You know, it's easier to fix than something that, you know, you had a great opportunity and you missed it right there.
Q. I want to ask you a question about your ambition. You said, "I want this." Does that mean I just want to win this tournament? Does it mean I want to be No. 1 at the end of the year? Does it mean I want to win 10 Grand Slams? What is your ambition about tennis?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: That's a good question. I feel like I will never be satisfied, you know, sometimes. That even though I'm doing, you know, at the peak of my career right now, I feel like I want to do better, I want to do better. The ambitions are really high, but I don't like to jump ahead too much. That's what I felt kind of was holding me back before, you know, is to have that image that I want it so bad that I'm going to go for it. I just try to execute being a good player, improve myself as a player, my physical aspect, and the result is second for me right now.
Q. You have obviously had a great year since Australia. Maybe not the results, but did you miss not having the trophy? Did you miss it? Is that part of, I want to get that feeling back again?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Oh, yes. Of course everybody wants to feel and raise the trophy. Definitely everywhere I go I want to win the tournament. That's the ambition; that's the mindset. When you come to any event, you know, doesn't matter if it's a Grand Slam, I always want to win. I love winning. Who doesn't?
Q. You have been working with your coach about three years now?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yes, almost three years.
Q. How important was it for you to find the right person? What was that process like?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It was quite difficult, because the coach I had before, I was with him for four years. I'm the kind of player that don't like to change too much coaches, because I feel like I'm really picky in that way. But when I pick somebody, we try to work things out because you always know it's never going to be a smooth ride. But when you have full trust when the person is really caring about you, wanting you to do well, I think that's important. That's what we have with Sam, you know. We have a good understanding, which took a little bit of while for him to get to know me, for me to get to know him. You know, to have that communication and trust between each other.
Q. If you play Maria in the next round, not looking too far ahead, just one match now, how would you describe what that match will depend on and what you've learned from playing her this year?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, she's been showing also amazing tennis this year. She really stepped up her level, you know, winning French Open. It was incredible, that achievement. Maria is always one of these players that, you know, she will give it all no matter what the score is. You know, she's always fighting and she's really tough mentally. It's gonna be tough match no matter what. What do you expect differently in the semifinal of a Grand Slam?
Q. You were talking about learning to trust Sam. How long has it taken you to trust your own instincts on court, or did that just come automatically?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I feel like it's experience, you know. Because you have to go through mistakes more to learn how to understand yourself more, how to, I don't know, feel yourself. For me it's important to feel myself, you know. The main key is I always ‑‑ I never lie to myself. If I feel nervous, I'll say I feel nervous. If I feel relaxed, I'll say I feel relaxed. So I feel this is important to be honest with you yourself and never be afraid of your feelings.
Q. Going back to the ace that was 5‑All, break point in the third set. You only served one ace in the whole match. Does that show your ability to come up in the clutch? Did that feel like a clutch moment for you to come up with that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Why do you guys saying I served an ace? Did I serve an race?
Q. One ace down the middle.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: At 5‑All? Oh, 5‑All in the games. I was like, in the tiebreak? What? (Laughter.) Seriously.
Q. It was a big moment to come up with the ace because she had she just got in front she could break for 6‑5.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, that's what I said. You know, when you're facing a break point you don't feel like you're going to hope for a mistake. You have to make it happen. You have to change the momentum. You have to create something that, you know, that will surprise her. Because. Has the momentum going. She's on the ‑‑ she's feeling confident. You know, she has a chance. I had to come up and be strong, so I was like, Okay. Let's do it. If I miss it, I miss it.
Q. The other thing was the squash shots that she came up with a few times and surprised you. Do you see many of those on tour? Is that another one that Sam has in her arsenal not many others do?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I haven't seen those shots in her game before really. She definitely improved that. But I feel like maybe this court from our previous matches suits her better to do those kind of opportunities, plus with the wind it was sometimes helping. I felt like I was coming with a great shot, you know. Then jogging kind of to the net and the ball comes so low that she kind of caught me off guard a few times because it felt like it was hitting the net.
Q. With your win today you keep your No. 1 ranking. You have a slam; you've been No. 1 for a while. How meaningful is it to stay No. 1 to you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It means a lot, but it's nothing like lifting a trophy, honestly. It's nothing. I cannot compare that feeling to winning a tournament. It's just a number. It's a great achievement. It's something that you work really hard for your whole life to be, but this will not compare.
Q. Maybe talk about Bartoli a bit. You played her this year.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah. Well, Marion is always surprising player and very tough. You know, I feel like she knows how to play big matches. She plays against top players I feel like she played way better than she does against anybody else. It doesn't seem like she had a great summer playing, but she definitely showed some great results here. And beating, you know, such tough opponents, it shows that she's in a good place. You know, either one of those who's gonna win is definitely gonna be a tough battle. They're both really tough mentally; really tough physically, as well. We'll see.
Q. When you played Maria at Australia, what do you think the key to that match was?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I feel like with Maria it's important, you know, who has the first opportunity, you know. It's who is going to be dominating more, who is going to be in control of the game. If I manage to do that, I have more chances on my side.
Q. Many people, especially Europeans, the first time they come here don't like the US Open. They don't like the energy. It's too much. It's overwhelming and distracting, crazy traffic. You obviously clearly love playing here. Did you always feel that way, or was it an evolution to get there? What's it like to sort of get to the place where you love it?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I love New York, you know. I feel like it's a great place, just a beautiful city. It's one of my favorite places in the world. I said it many times that I feel like fans are really appreciative here. Really feel like they make you feel special when you step on the court. They are so educated with tennis. But not only with tennis but the whole sports in the States. The energy when you walk on the court, you feel the crowd, you feel the boost. I don't know. I'm very energetic person. I like to be, you know, energetic. So for me it's perfect. But it's up to everybody's taste, right?