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post #556 of 1004 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 2012, 12:37 AM
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Re: News and updates about Victoria Azarenka

US OPEN 2012 Stats

1R: WIN over Alexandra Panova (RUS;#74) 6-0 6-1
2R: WIN over Kirsten Flipkens (BEL;#133) 6-2 6-2
3R: WIN over Jie Zheng (CHN;#28) 6-0 6-1
4R: WIN over Anna Tatishvili (GEO;#73) 6-2 6-2
QF: WIN over Sam Stosur (AUS;#7) 6-1 4-6 7-6(7-5)
SF: WIN over Maria Sharapova (RUS;#3) 3-6 6-2 6-4
F: against Serena Williams (USA;#4)

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post #557 of 1004 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 2012, 12:39 AM
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Re: News and updates about Victoria Azarenka

US OPEN 2012
Victoria Azarenka Press Conference
SF WIN over Maria Sharapova (RUS;#3)
Q. Well, how do you feel? We're getting to the moment of truth. Any butterflies in the stomach?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, the butterflies are a little bit gone already. If it would be right after the match is a different feeling. I had a little bit of time, you know, to settle and realize what I have done. But definitely really proud of what I achieved today.

Q. What were you thinking after the first set?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: What I was thinking?

Q. Were you thinking, Oh, I have to turn this around?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I felt like towards the end of the first I was kind of getting a little bit better, you know, trying to find the momentum and getting more and more comfortable in the match. So even though I lost the first set I felt like it was close. I had a few opportunities; I missed them. But once it finished, I kind of thought that, you know, I had to turn it around and start from zero like it's a new match.

Q. Were you watching Serena's match?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, I wasn't watching.

Q. Maybe Serena is winning. Could you talk about the match?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, yeah, she almost won. Definitely, you know, toughest opponent there is in the draw, and being in the final makes it even more difficult. So definitely gonna be a tough one.

Q. Why is she so difficult for you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, first of all, if you look at our record it says it all. I mean, I haven't won in any last meetings, so I definitely need to find something to surprise her tomorrow, because she's in a great form, you know, feeling really confident right now. You know, she has everything on her side.

Q. Do you go out on court with confidence against her? Because, you know, game to game it seems like you should play her a lot closer than you have the last two years.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I guess. I mean, in Wimbledon I feel like the match was, you know, a lot closer. There were opportunities for me to step it up. But when I go to play against her I don't think that I'm playing against Serena. I just try to go the same way and try to focus more on myself. But you definitely know that it's gonna be, you know, a big adversity there on the court against you. You have to be prepared to make sure you want to dig deep, you know, and accept the challenge.

Q. What will you have to do well, do you think?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I have to, you know, try to return well, definitely. (Smiling.) And serve. Because, well, with Serena it's not really the long rallies. It's all about, you know, who grabs the first opportunity, who is more brave to, you know, step it up right from the beginning.

Q. Maria said earlier today that she thought the big difference was that she couldn't get the ball back and in often enough on your serve; your serve was very effective against her in the third set. Do you agree with that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I think I served much better. It was more commitment from me. You know, I felt like I was creating, you know, those opportunities starting from my serve, which probably wasn't really the case at the beginning. You know, I was just trying to place it well, not really going with the serve, with a plan on what I'm going to do next. So I think that was a big change from my side on my serve.

Q. How much do you enjoy playing against Maria? Do you enjoy the challenge of facing her?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah. I really do, you know, because that's what I feel like we play for, we live for, to play on these big stages against, you know, such champions. You know, that feeling of winning a great battle is just priceless.

Q. Is there a psychological factor tomorrow that you're going to have to shut the crowd out? Because it is the US Open, and given the decrepit state of American tennis, I assume the crowd will be cheering her on as line the lone face of American tennis at this point. Is that something you can put the ear plugs in and just do what you have to do tomorrow?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I will not really use ear plugs, but I definitely ‑‑ you know, I wouldn't be surprised if ‑‑ I would be surprised if it would be the other way, so I kind of know that already. It's not the first time for me to kind of face that. It's definitely gonna be the first time being in the US Open, but, you know, there is a lot of things that been for the first time for me in this year. I just need to adjust and try to be, you know, who I am on the court.

Q. You seem to be having a lot of fun here. You're dancing; you have interesting people in your box; you're vivacious. Has it been as much fun as it appears to us?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, sometimes it's not as fun, you know. Especially in that first set today it wasn't that fun. (Laughter.) But I try to enjoy my moment. I feel like I don't want it to end. I'm living this great run, you know, this great opportunities that coming at me, that I just want to continue and enjoy that ride. When I'm on the court, I feel like I'm in paradise, you know. I'm in that most comfortable place I can be. Why not enjoy it?

Q. Does that still go back to that conversation you had with I think your grandmother? Is that still in your mind, that turnaround that you had?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I guess it's just the mentality change, you know, the approach change. I just know how to prepare myself to be in that state of mind. It's never always the same. Sometimes to come up with that fire it takes a little bit more energy out of me or, you know, a little bit of adaptation, something that I have to bring myself. But, yeah, the approach is there. I enjoy playing on the court. It's always there.

Q. You play with that fabulous intensity out there, which is a huge asset.

Q. But the crowd maybe doesn't always warm up to you tremendously. We're here in the media capital. What can you tell fans about Victoria, the young person as a person?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: As a person, I'm definitely not intense in real life, you know. (Laughter.) I'm much more calm. I'm more much more easygoing. As I mentioned before, this is who I am on the court. This is what brings the best tennis out of me. This is how I approach my matches. You know, maybe if I would be just, you know, trying to smile every time and be ‑‑ I would not be as focused. I'm not really aware of how I am on the court, that intensity, or maybe that face of expression that I have because I can't see myself in the mirror when I'm there. I just try to be in the zone. That makes me comfortable to play.

Q. And off the court you're calm and normal and laid back and all that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, very, very relaxed.

Q. Has it been a process trying to find a balance between having fun and being in tennis? Like at one point were you too much one or the other and you're sort of reaching that point, or have you always been able to balance?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I enjoy intensity on the court because that's how I play. That's the zone I like to be in, you know, that makes me feel good. It makes me play my best tennis. So I do enjoy intensity on the court, because I'm a player who gives 100% on every moment on the court.

Q. Was it feeling different after this match point compared to Australia and the semifinal? Can you compare reaching your first final in Melbourne and here?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Definitely different. Every time you don't really know what to do, how it's gonna come up. It's just so natural it brings out those emotions, those feelings that you don't know. It comes from somewhere so deep inside of you that you don't know what to expect from yourself.

Q. Did you watch the Stosur final last year when she was in a similar position to you, a massive underdog against Serena, and she managed to produce the best tennis and get Serena off her game? Did you watch that match?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I watched very, very little. Actually, I think I only watched the highlights. Yeah, but she definitely showed some incredible tennis and showed so much heart. But, yeah, it has nothing really to do with me because she's a different player. My match tomorrow will depend on me and my opponent, not what happened a year ago, two different players.

Q. Do you go back through the archives though and look at any video footage of yourself against Serena in the next 24 hours?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I don't want to be depressed. (Laughter.) I mean, there is not really something that you can look at. But, no, I mean, it's just I'm going to have the same game plan with my coach as we did today and the days before. I'm not really big fan of watching and scouting. I like to watch tennis when it's live. I do enjoy that. But to look back, no.

Q. It looks like the lessons on the shuffle have paid off. Was he happy with your style out there?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I hope so. We haven't really been practicing yet because I have been playing too many matches. But, yeah, I have been doing some practicing back home with a friend of mine, as well. I'm sure he appreciates that.

Q. Given how well you've played this year at various times and in big matches, I would think tomorrow night going on court you at least want to be competitive; you don't want to walk off getting blown out.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: That's a silly question, no? (Smiling.)

Q. You can answer it, though.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I can answer it, for sure. I think you know the answer better than me. Of course I'm not gonna go on court and say, Oh, I wish I can win more games than I won last time, right? I'm going always to win a match, no, and to do the best as I can. The result will depend on how well I play or how well my opponent also played. Those are kind of 50/50. So definitely going with the mentality to win. There is no other way.

Q. When you have such a record against a player and someone like Serena, do you have to avoid the temptation of saying, I've got to change something and say, I've got to just be who I am and do what I do and trust that? Is it difficult to not fall into the idea of how to do something different?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I've got to do something different, to be honest, you know, because the other times didn't really work for me. So I definitely have to, you know, try to make sure that I'm the one who kind of dictates the play and try to, you know, control the match as much as possible.

Q. Could you go back to the grandmother issue and talk about her a little bit? Is she still working hard...
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, she's chilling now. No, she's actually enjoying, you know, her life a lot. We have this house outside of our city. She, you know, spends a lot of time in nature. She looks so much younger now that I have seen her. Actually, I came to my brother's wedding and my grandma was, you know, with this beautiful dress and with the makeup on, and I was like, Wow, is that my grandmother or is this some really hot looking lady here?

Q. So if she were hot and living the good life before maybe her advice might not have had the impact that it did.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I'm sure it would. She's such a positive person. It doesn't matter how she lives. It's just the spirit that she has and the heart that she has. It's just, you know, something that nobody will ever take away.

Q. Can you tell us her name?

Q. The other day you talked about the importance of your coach. Now could you talk about the manager, how important it is for you to have a manager who knows about tennis well and very close to you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You know, my team around me is very close people to me. We don't treat each other as the people who work only. We are more like a family that have, you know, a goal to reach same way. So we're all really close. We go through good times and bad times together, and I feel like it's important to have the people who understand you, who wants the best for you around you. Because, I mean, honestly I spend so much more time with them than with my family. So that mental help, that closeness that we have, it definitely helps to know that when I go on the court, you know, I have a couple of people behind me supporting me no matter what.

Q. You talk about your grandmother a lot. How much do you talk to your parents about career and how much is it just, you know, kind of personal on how you're doing, that type of thing?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You mean like my matches?

Q. Yeah. Like after a big win or a big loss do you go to mom or dad or whatever?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I talk to my mom actually more than I talk to my dad, because, I don't know, my mom is always watching. My dad is not always watching because he gets too nervous. (Smiling.) But I always keep in touch with them. They're my biggest fans, for sure. My mom can give me sometimes some advice, but she doesn't want to be ‑‑ she doesn't want to play that role of a coach or somebody else because she knows I have a great team around me. She just want to support me as my mom, and she always tells me, I want you to be happy. If playing tennis or whatever makes you happy, you know, that's the best.

Q. Have you thought about flying them in to New York or Australia or another slam just so they could see you in person, or would it make you too nervous to have them in your box?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You mean like for tomorrow?

Q. Sure. Well, they're too far away, but a couple days ago when you were getting into the semifinals maybe.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't think there is really a point. My mom came for Olympics and she stayed all the way through. I don't feel like just for one match to bring them all the way here, plus my dad would be like, I'm not flying that far anyway. But I definitely like when they come to the tournament. I just always feel sometimes that I need to make sure that I give them so much of my attention because they're my parents. It's a little bit difficult to manage with the recovery and time off court.
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post #558 of 1004 (permalink) Old Sep 10th, 2012, 09:18 AM
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Re: News and updates about Victoria Azarenka

Press conference US Open 2012
After loss in the final to S. Williams

An interview with: VICTORIA AZARENKA

Sunday, September 9, 2012

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You played a great match out there today. I mean, at the end you really looked absolutely devastated. Did you feel like you just let this one get away? What are your thoughts?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yes, as you mentioned, you know, I think it was a great match. Being so close it hurts deeply to know you don't have it, you're close, you didn't get it. But at this moment, you know, I have no regrets. I felt like I gave it all there, you know. Could it have gone my way? Probably, yes. But it didn't. It really, really hurts. You know, those emotions come out and you feel sad, but it's time to really realize what happened today. You know, it was a great match. It was close but not for me.

Q. There are a lot of positives. Getting to a Grand Slam final in and of itself is such a remarkable accomplishment. You can look back on the summer as maybe a breakthrough summer for you.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Definitely. It's a great achievement, there is no doubt. It's kind of difficult to sink everything in at this particular moment, because right now I feel sad. I feel proud of myself in one way, but still sad. But in few days when I go home, you know, I'll be more than happy, you know, with the summer. I think I'm in pretty good shoes, you know, sitting here as a finalist of the US Open actually for my first time.

Q. Is it possible to explain how tense you were feeling at the end? Looked like every single point was so important.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, it was. At this moment it feels like there is no room for a mistake, you know. There is no room for a wrong decision. So it's absolutely tense and so close that you feel like you have to know what you're doing, you know. You have to be confident. You have to trust yourself. I did. I really did. It just felt like a few shots were just, you know, really close or at the top of the net. But I have to be positive, you know, because I feel like these kind of matches ‑‑ every time I play Serena, it really pushes to be better, to improve, to move forward. I have to be thankful to her for that, you know, as well.

Q. Early on it was not going your way. You had said you have to do something different. What did you do to really turn the tide of that in the second set? It was an amazing sort of switch that you were able to pull off.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I felt like I was returning much better. I was preparing my opportunities to dictate, not let her dictate. So that was important, to kind of make sure that no matter what the score is, no matter how good Serena is gonna play, I have to stay alert, and when I have opportunity to make sure that I'm on it. And I really did that today.

Q. You never played a Grand Slam final before this year. You produced some of your best tennis in these two Grand Slam finals against Sharapova and Serena, both of whom had won Grand Slam titles before. What do you think it is about your personality that allows you to bring out this best tennis at these most important matches moments?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I'm not too bad of a player, I think, right? So when you play at these stages you don't expect anything else. You know, you have to come out and show your best tennis. There is no stepping back. There is last match. You know, as important as semifinals or quarterfinals, every round you play, the final round is always going to be the most important all the time. All those high stakes, I feel like when the task is more difficult for me it's more exciting. You know, I don't know, that fear, adrenaline is coming, something that you never experienced before, you know, you have to stand tall and just face it. So I feel like this brings the best out of me, you know, those conditions, that motivation that I have to produce absolute best.

Q. You were winning most of the baseline rallies in the second set and the third set. When you came off your chair at 5‑4 to serve for the match, did you feel like, Yes, this is in my control; I can do it, or did the nerves just kind of get to you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, it was both. It was definitely a lot of self‑belief in myself, but I felt like there was just too many one‑, two‑shot rallies that didn't allow me to grind it a little bit, you know, the way I like it, and not really make me feel in control at that particular moment. I felt like I didn't create enough a little bit myself.

Q. Did you also feel like in that game when you served for it that she would definitely step up and play well?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, there was no other choice for her to do, so, yeah, in the back of my mind I had that coming. So that maybe was a little bit of hesitation for me. But I have to say, you know, Serena produced some amazing tennis. I feel like I could have done a little bit better, but there was nothing that I did absolutely wrong.

Q. Great tournament.

Q. You were talking about how Serena pushes you every time.

Q. What makes her so great? Is it the serve? The mental part? Can you break it down for us?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, the serve is definitely the biggest asset, you know. If you look in both of our games, it's the biggest difference, you know, if you take it simple. And the mental, you know, she never gives up. You know, she's a great champion. She knows how to play. I don't know. But definitely the serve is what stands out the most out of all the game, you know, assets. But she's definitely the toughest player mentally there is, and, you know, she's got the power.

Q. And mentally when she was making her push back in the third set, what went through your mind on the mental side in terms of, Here comes Serena?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I didn't think about that. I just tried to stay focused on myself, you know, because that's what was helping me throughout the whole match, you know, to try to be focused on what I have to do. Of course being aware of what she's going to do against me, but mostly trying to stay focused on my execution.

Q. I want to ask you, going back to something you said a few answers ago where you thanked Serena for the way she pushes you and makes you strive to play better. You said something to that effect during the awards ceremony out on the court. If you could elaborate on that. You've played 11 times and she's beaten you 10 times. Do you really feel grateful for having her in the game in your era and that she does bring that out in you, your best?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, hell, yeah; but in the other way, if she wasn't there, I mean, I probably would have won more titles. (Laughter.)

Q. That's my question, because some people would resent the other player.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, but I will not take anything back. I think she's brought ‑‑ for me she's the greatest player of all time. She took the game to the next level. As I said before, she makes me all the time to make sure that I'm taking my game, my personality, my physical aspect to the next level. So, you know, having few of the players like that in the women's tour right now is something priceless, you know, something that you cannot take away. It's the people who, you know, like Maria, like Petra those kind of girls, they always push me to be better. I mean, it's great opportunity, so I have no regret. Today I was close. I'm going to have for sure another opportunity to make something better. That's what I'm looking for.

Q. You're a very positive person. I know you have taken positives away from this match. How eager are you to return to the practice court and then play Serena again?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I'm not going tomorrow or after tomorrow. Trust me on that.

Q. Why not?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: (Laughter.) Well, because I feel like I deserve a little bit of rest.

Q. I'm kidding.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You know, I feel like I always try to improve everything in my game. I improved a lot my serve, which was a bigger gap between me and Serena, for sure. So definitely physical aspect that I would like to step another level, because I feel like there is a lot of room of improvement. Now the game becomes so physical that you have to keep pushing yourself. Serena shows a lot of people how important it is right now.

Q. Before the match, Agassi was talking about the sound of the crowd and how it sounds like a jet plane and a heartbeat, all this stuff. You were in the middle of that cauldron and you were focusing on your game, but what does it feel like to be in a US Open final on that stage?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It's amazing, absolutely. I feel like I'm in a place that I belong, you know. It's something that you will never be able to describe really with words, because that feeling that you get, that energy, you know, that something special, all eyes on you waiting for you to serve or return or see what you're gonna do, it's absolutely incredible. It's something that, I don't know, we wake up every day for, you know, to feel that incredible atmosphere. You know, I mean, no words describe. It was not for me most of the time, because fair enough, but it was incredible.

Q. After one of the crazy points, I think it was in the second set, you actually smiled to the crowd and looked happy. Is it possible actually to have fun in a Grand Slam final?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Oh, it was a lot of fun. Maybe wasn't showing on my face expression, but it was a lot of fun. It was great, you know, to be out there for ‑ I don't know how long we played, two hours‑something ‑ that special moment. It was absolutely fun.

Q. You talked about your now‑famous grandmother. When you get a personal moment just to share the personal side of this, what will you say about this great effort which just fell short in this drama?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I just got a message from my family, and they said, We love you. So I don't need any other words to feel from them. That's the most important.

Q. The spirit between you and Serena on the court afterwards was very nice. It was a nice scene. Can you speak a little bit about your energy with her.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, we never had a problem with each other. I truly admire her as a person, as a tennis player. But I feel like, you know, there goes beyond just a tennis player when you connect with somebody. Absolutely I admire her. It was honest feelings, you know. I congratulated her with all my heart because I felt like she absolutely deserved the win, you know. She was the best player out there today.

Q. Were you planning any special dances or celebration in case you won?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I got my moves. I don't need to do the special dances. When I win, I'll do it. But what's important to prepare when you didn't win? (Laughter.) I can dance all my night today.

Q. Obviously you came at her in the second and she showed some fragility. Things were breaking down a little bit for her. Were you surprised by that? Because she's known for being so strong. Or is that understandable in the moment with everything?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, she's a human being, you know, who has two feet, two legs, you know, two hands. It's understandable. Plus, you know, I felt like I came up to do something different to provoke those opportunities. It wasn't something, Oh, I'm going to... she will start to miss, because that will never happen, really. I felt like I provoked her and I was just trying to stay in that moment to make sure that I keep it rolling.

Q. After the first set, were you sure that at some point in the second set, yes, I'm going to find my game? Yes, I'm going to get this match and it's going to be close or I have a chance of winning it?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, of course, otherwise I would just pack my bags and go home, seriously. I feel every time I play I had this great advice from one very special person that said, When there is still a point, you always have a chance. So I always have that mindset.

Q. Who was that special person that gave you that advice?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Can I keep it to myself? (Laughter.) Thank you.
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post #559 of 1004 (permalink) Old Sep 15th, 2012, 04:34 PM
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Re: News and updates about Victoria Azarenka

Vika updated blog:


There is always so much excitement and buzz in New York, playing there is so exciting for me! I had such a good time, some of the matches had so much tension… the tennis so good, especially in my quarter, semi and final matches. It was pretty emotional all the way through with both Andy Roddick and Kim Clijsters retiring. Kim has always been such an incredible and inspirational person for me…

I stayed at a wonderful hotel near the Empire State building called the Setai. It was such a great hotel, the best place I have ever stayed. The staff were incredible! Thank you guys.

Here is a link to my really cool practice video!!

The final was tough. I have no regrets, it was a close match and I will have another opportunity for sure. I think Serena is a great player, she always makes sure that I take everything to the next level. I feel proud in one way and sad in the other. I am a US Open finalist and I will have more opportunities!!
One of the best things about the tournament was getting to hang out with Red Foo from LMFAO! He is a huge tennis fan and I love music so we got along straight away! He came to one of my press conferences which made it more fun than usual… He came to all my matches afterwards and he came to dinner with my team after the final. We even did some party rocking after finals… even went shopping the next day! Maybe we shopped too much? Impossible… )

I just got home to Belarus. It feels good to be home and see my family, I dont get to come home much so love to see everybody. I am not here for long… Probably only a few days! I fly to Vietnam next week for an exhibition there, then onto Tokyo and then Beijing! Lots of travel… I am so lucky…
See you guys soon!! xxx
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post #560 of 1004 (permalink) Old Sep 18th, 2012, 06:06 PM
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Re: News and updates about Victoria Azarenka

I don't think this has been posted already.

14. SEP. 2012

World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka is expected to show off her skills on September 20 in Ho Chi Minh City.

They will perform in men’s and women’s singles, and mixed doubles at the Lan Anh Club, set to start at 7pm.

The short exhibition is conveniently situated after the US Open in New York and before the autumn Asian tennis
swing in Tokyo and Beijing, according to the organisers – the Vietnam Tennis Federation and Heineken brewer
Vietnam Brewery Limited.

Tickets cost VND2 million ($100) each at the minimum for all matches and available at Lan Anh, 291 Cach Mang
Thang Tam Street, District 10. The organisers said last week there would be around 300 tickets for sale, though
the court has 1,500 seats. The other seats are reserved for invitations.

Before the matches, the four aces will meet and talk to local fans as well as have friendly games with local junior

Azarenka, 23, secured a bronze in the women’s singles and the gold medal in the mixed doubles at the 2012
London Olympics with compatriot Max Mirnyi. Her other achievements include two mixed doubles Grand Slam
titles, the 2007 US Open with Mirnyi, the 2008 French Open with Bob Bryan.

The 2010 Heineken Stars saw Argentina’s Juan Monaco, Tommy Robredo of Spain and Americans Mardy Fish and
Sam Querrey performing their skills at Phu Tho Indoor Stadium.

The first and second Heineken tennis shows also took place in the city in 2006 and 2008.
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post #561 of 1004 (permalink) Old Sep 19th, 2012, 09:25 PM
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Re: News and updates about Victoria Azarenka

Azarenka talks to Tuoi Tre readers

The world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus Wednesday attended a meeting with Tuoi Tre readers at the Ho Chi Minh City’s Lan Anh Club, and answered nine questions from them.

Azarenka started the meeting by saying, “I’ve heard many interesting stories about Vietnam. I used to think that I will visit Vietnam someday. And when invited, I accepted. I don’t have much time to explore Vietnam. I hope to find some before the match tomorrow.”

* Redfoo, member of the LMFAO band, had come to cheer for you at the semi and final during the US Open. Can you share with us how you met him, and how his presence at the stadium helped you in your competition? (Nguyen Minh Tuan Viet, 19, nguyenminhtuanviet@...)

- Victoria Azarenka: I’m always a fan of music, as he is a fan of tennis. We met during an interview after the 4th round of the US Open. We started to talk and become friends. We have a lot in common and talk together a lot. I was surprised and delight when Redfoo came to cheer for me. It really surprised me.

* Hi Vika! You are so beautiful. Does your shouting help create more power for your serves, or frighten your rivals? (Hai Vy, 25, nguyenxuanvi@...)

- Victoria Azarenka: I was an active child since the very early age, and I usually shouted when doing something interesting. It’s like an inside power helping the ball move fast. It’s part of natural. It’s a very personal matter.

* Many tennis players from Russia and the East Europe have emerged powerfully over the last few years. This is not what we had in the past. Why? (Tieu Nguyen, tieunguyen123@...)

- Victoria Azarenka: Over the past five years, we saw fewer Russian players, but more East European players as they have better condition for training trips. They are potential, and have many chances to play and compete.I hope the next youth generation will continue to develop and assert their talent to be present more at world tennis.

* In Vietnam, the expense for an athlete to pursuit tennis is far higher than that needed for studying abroad, and rarely will a youth accept stopping their studying to play tennis. So do you have any advice for Vietnamese youths who have passion to become a professional tennis player? (Hang Phi,

- Victoria Azarenka: This is hard to answer. I never want to advise someone to quit studying to follow tennis, but you must do both at the same time as studying will help you stay mature in every stage of your career, and it’s one of the most important things in life. When you have an education background, you can play tennis better. I think Vietnamese government should have strategies to help the tennis talents.

* After achieving the single trophy at the Australia Open in 2012, you have become the first Belarusian player to win a Grand Slam, and that victory has enabled you to become the first player to jump from the third place to be the world number one without the need to stand at the second post.
To many people, such a success is indeed a peak that is hard to reach, in other words, it’s a dream that is almost impossible to be realized. So what do you think about this, and are there any heights that you want to achieve in your sporting career? (Pham Hien Chuong, 27,

- Victoria Azarenka: The world number one position is what you will always dream of when starting playing tennis. I was overwhelmed when achieving this. I’m in my happy time. My goal is to remain at the top post as long as possible, and achieve more Grand Slams.

* In 2010, there was time when you stopped playing to pursuit education. But after a talk with your grandma, you returned and earned good results. This shows your grandma has great influence on you. So what has your grandma told you that changed your mind? (Huynh Thi Hong Nga, 47, ngahuynh36@...)

- Victoria Azarenka: I want to make it clear that I have never wanted to quit schooling. I only wanted to stop playing tennis. But I have passion and always love and desire to play tennis. But I lost this for a couple of years. With grandma, I told her many things. She knew and sympathized for me. She advised me not to give up my passion. She played me many movies, and I did smile. I got my passion back.

* I know of the beautiful love story between you and Budka when you first met at New York. You are more famous than your boyfriend. So how do you deal with this? (Thanh Bình, 43, thanhbinh43@...)

- Victoria Azarenka: I didn’t meet him in New York. I knew him for long when we both played at the junior series. I really do not want to talk much about my personal life. Please sympathize. But believe that it’s a beautiful love story.

* To you, who is the greatest women tennis player of all time? What do you learn from them? (Thanh Phuc, 21, phucnt1990@...)

- Victoria Azarenka: There are so many great players and it’s hard to choose. But in the regards of the number of trophies, it will be Steffi Graff. She’s my idol since early age and I always follow her path. It’s also difficult to say what ‘special plays’ I learned from her as tennis constantly changed.

* Have you ever fallen in a disappointed circumstance? During these hard times, who would you share and talk to first? What will you do to overcome those disappointments to strike for success? (Minh Huy, 36, huyphan76@...)

- Victoria Azarenka: Those moments of disappointment and discouragement will help you stronger and reach for success. In those hard times I would talk to my family as it’s them who always support me. Thanks to their encouragement, I overcame and achieved my dream. I treasure those moments because if life was only full of success, you would never fully feel all of your successes.
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China Open 2012
An Article with answers from the "wet hair" PC
Azarenka Looking to Finish Season on Top

The world's best female tennis player is in Beijing, and if you expected her to be dour coming off her defeat in the U.S. Open Final, you would be wrong.

Twenty-three-year-old Victoria Azarenka, No. 1 in the world and the top seed here at the China Open, gave an effervescent and cheery press conference today beneath the National Tennis Stadium. She giggled and smiled as she discussed the U.S. Open, her ranking, the end of her season and even the China Open promotional commercial she starred in.

"The U.S. Open, well, it's already in the past," she said. "I'm looking forward to finish(ing) the year strong and I'm motivated to come here. You know, I don't have good results here yet."

Azarenka's record in Asia has been less than stellar. In last year's China Open, she fell in the third round. In 2010 and 2009, she lost in the second. And in last week's Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, she withdrew before her quarterfinal match when she experienced dizziness. However, she said that she feels better and that "it's been getting a little bit better every day."

Azarenka's first round match will take place next Monday against France's Alize Cornet, a 22-year-old who's ranked 45th in the WTA. The two have never played with each other, but by this time of the season, hundreds of matches have taken their toll, which often tends to level the competition.

"I think everybody is a bit tired," Azarenka said. "It's been a long year, but it's just a few more pushes and I always look forward to play tennis. I just want to finish the year as strong as I started."

That strong start included her first Grand Slam title, at the Australian Open in January. She said that her victory there encouraged her to adopt a more ambitious mindset.

"Once I won it, I kind of got a little bit relieved and I could focus on different goals and grow more as a player, which also gave me more motivation…because I enjoyed that feeling so much that I want to have it again," she said."

As the reigning Australian Open champion, Olympic bronze medalist and U.S. Open finalist, Azarenka will be the overwhelming favorite in every match she plays here, saving a possible match-up against Maria Sharapova or Angieszka Radwanska in the final. But she said that status won't affect her.

"I don't think about pressure or confidence or whatever it is," she said. I just try to focus on my physical condition to be good and go from there, because without that, there's not much."

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China open 2012
Pre-Tournament PC
Q. Did you recover from the dizzy incident that you had in Tokyo tournament? How much confidence do you have to put into this China Open?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I feel better, for sure, than I felt in Tokyo, and it's been getting a little bit better every day.
Right now my concern is to make sure that I feel good on the court physically. The rest, I'm not too worried about it right now. I don't think about, you know, pressure or confidence or whatever it is. I just try to focus on my physical condition to be good and go from there, because without that, there's not much.

Q. I have two questions. The first question is: We are coming to the end of this year, so do you have any plan to lock in the No. 1 ranking in the world? Last year you withdraw the match because of the physical fitness. Do you have any plan to China Open? Are you adaptable to the atmosphere and the climate in Beijing? And also, the second question is: Did you recover from the failure from US Open? But I want to say you had a very good performance. I want to say, Go, go. Come on.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Thank you very much for that. I was, you know, the terms of recovery, as I said, it's important to be healthy, especially in the end of the season, which is when it gets tough physically and mentally to kind of, you know, continue.
About the No. 1 ranking, it all depends on the results, you know. It's important to play good. Ranking will come itself. Ranking is something that you cannot really control. It's what you have to earn with playing tournaments, winning matches, and that's it.
But of course it's always, you know, a great achievement and it's always in the back of my mind.
What was the other question? Did I answer everything? Because it was a long speech.

Q. Actually it's not a question; it's a compliment. Recovering from the US Open, I want to say you had a very fair performance in the US Open. What are you going to do to move forward with as much confidence as possible?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Oh, thank you. I just wanted to finish the year, you know, as strong as I started. For me it's important.
The US Open, well, it's already in the past. It's been great, but I'm looking forward to finish the year strong and I'm motivated to come here. You know, I didn't have good results here yet. It definitely would be a step forward to perform well here.

Q. In the very beginning of this year, some people are very much fierce to compete with you, but now you are No. 1 firmly. Looking back from this year, what do you think might be the secret to keep No. 1? The second question is: You used to be No. 1 in the ITF, ranking, but now WTA No. 1. So what suggestion do you have for the others who want to get the first win and better of you in the China Open?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Okay, I didn't understand the last part.

Q. Actually, what suggestion do you have for those players who want to have a final win in China Open?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: The final win in China Open?

Q. That's right.

Q. My second question is you were the No. 1 in...
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Sorry. Can I answer the first question first? What was the first question? I keep losing it.
What was the first question? It's too much information.

Q. How do you make it to be the No. 1? Because in the beginning, lots of people compete with you.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, as I said earlier, I think it always depends on the result. You know, you have to be consistent to hold that spot because, you know, somebody plays better this week. There is always a new winner next week. So it's important to stay consistent and show good results, especially in the big events.
I think I have done that pretty consistently this year, and that proves the ranking there is at the moment.
My advice to‑‑ I understand for the younger kids, right? I think that they need to enjoy, you know, what they do, is because I'm a big believer when you enjoy training, you enjoy playing, you will always do it better because you have ‑‑you're in a better mood, you're in a better state of mind.
Practice always makes perfect. That's usual. But you have to have a big picture of what you want to achieve. It's not gonna happen over a day, you know. Like for me the transition to become, you know, a top player didn't become so quick, as well. So it just takes time. But you have to be patient and put everything you can and you want on your side to be successful.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. You mentioned that you have been playing pretty solid, pretty consistently this season. Do you feel you're a different player after winning the first major in Australia?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, definitely. It changed a lot. It definitely took a lot of pressure off, you know, knowing that before I was a good player but I didn't have that title. It was, you know, a lot of pressure of getting it.
Once, you know, I won it, I kind of got a little bit relieved and I could focus on different goals and, you know, grow more as a player, which also gave me, you know, more motivation to play after because I enjoyed that feeling so much that, you know, I want to have it again.

Q. How do you see the challenge of playing here in Beijing, given the fact that this tournament is the last premier event on the schedule and you guys have been playing so much all year round?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, it's definitely, you know, being in the tough position, you know, to play in the end of the year, but it's also exciting. I think it's, you know, it's a great event that we have here and, you know, we're lucky to have such a big event in the end of the season.
But I think everybody is a little bit tired. Everybody is‑‑ you know, it's been a long year, but, you know, it's just few more pushes and you always look ‑‑ you know, I always look forward to play tennis. For me, it's exciting. As I said, I didn't have any good results here so far, so it would be great to change it this year.

Q. In Wimbledon, Olympics, and US Open, you only lost to one player, Serena Williams. Coming to Beijing, do you feel...
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Before that, too, actually, in Madrid. (Laughter.)
Q. Coming to Beijing, do you feel maybe a little bit relieved that you don't see her in the draw?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Not really, you know. First of all, it's not good to see any player get injured, you know, and not being able to play.
Second of all, I don't feel relieved because I like to, even though I never beat her ‑I mean, I beat her once but not recently‑ I would like to, you know, play again, and until I do, I want to play her every week.

Q. You were in this year's China Open commercial. You wore a really beautiful red Chinese traditional dress. So have you watched that commercial yourself?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Thank you. I saw a part of it, a small part where, you know, with different, other different players. I think it was really cool, you know, to experience some of that tradition that is not, you know, typical for me.
So it was really exciting to shoot that and to kind of promote the tournament in the way. I was really honored to be asked.

Q. So do you like that dress?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, it's unusual. It's probably not something that I would wear out, you know, to...

Q. Why not? It's beautiful.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, yeah, but maybe at a costume party. But I think people would look at me a little bit weird why I'm wearing a Chinese dress when I'm not Chinese.

Q. Everyone can wear a Chinese dress.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, definitely. What I meant is it is not daily wear. (Smiling.)

Q. This is the first time coming to Beijing as world No. 1, Grand Slam champion. Do you feel you are more recognized by common people maybe in the hotel and the street and more popular among Chinese fans?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think so. I definitely felt it today after the practice when I had so many people waiting, you know, for the autograph with the signs and the T‑shirt and they were singing songs.
It was definitely an incredible feeling, and I feel like with, you know, especially Li Na winning the Grand Slam, tennis grows more and more every year in China, and it's great to see because the population is huge.
You know, I hope we, with this tournament and with us coming here, it gets bigger. So, you know, more kids will be involved and tennis will become even more popular.

Q. You said they sang songs?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: They sang a song, yeah.

Q. About what?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: About me. (Smiling.) Like a support song.

Q. Did you receive any special prize from the Belarus government because of the winning the gold medal in the Olympics?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Special prize? Honestly I was home only for like three days since I have been from the Olympics, and I didn't tell nobody that I came because I kind of wanted my, you know, quiet time.
But we did get something, for sure. I will see when I get back. But what was really amazing what our country did is they donate the money for your own charity or something that you want to put, you know, with your sport. I wanted to help out two girls that I'm helping already in Belarus to sponsor them a little bit.
So the money goes to them. I think I'm more happy and proud of this prize than of something personal for me, honestly.
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China Open 2012
PC after 1R WIN over Alize Cornet(FRA;#43)
Q. I think it was the middle of the second set I noticed you stopped the match for a second. There was something with your eye? Can you maybe tell us what that was.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Oh, yeah, what's the name of ‑‑mosquito. I saw it coming right in my eye, and it was so quick I didn't have time to stop it. It was just a little bit uncomfortable. I had to get it out of my eye, and I couldn't see where it is.

Q. After the first game, losing that one, I guess, what was your mindset? Were you surprised or did you expect it to be a tougher match throughout after that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: If I was surprised by what, sorry?

Q. Dropping the first game and, you know, your responding to that.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Oh, well, I think I responded pretty well after dropping that game. You know, first game doesn't really tell the story. Just the beginning.
It was important to kind of feel the atmosphere. I hadn't really been practicing at all.
I knew when I come out there I will not be playing perfect or I will not, you know, execute maybe my shots as good as I could or did before. So I was just trying to find the rhythm and go for my shots, to feel right away the aggressivity.
She started well, so I bounced right back really well. I started to be more focused, more precise after that, and, you know, it started working my way.

Q. Do you feel okay since Tokyo? I guess you're great now.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I feel much better, which is, you know, everything I could ask for is to feel better physically.
So still, you know, maybe not perfect as usual, but I can't complain.

Q. What is your objective of this last part of your season now for you, your goal now?

Q. Yeah, for the last of the season.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: The goal is to finish the year, you know, as strong as possible, the same way that I started; you know, to be consistent, to have, you know, good results and still in that last period of time that we have during this year to improve myself as a player and step it up, you know.
We have a few more weeks that, you know, just try to keep the focus, keep the motivation up, and hopefully, you know, physically will allow me to show my best tennis. I'm really excited to finish the year on a strong note.

Q. What did you think of Cornet's game today? Even though the score was pretty lopsided, it seemed like she made you make some tough shots.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I know she's a good grinder, so she's going to make you hit a lot of shots and going to try to make you travel. That's her game. She has two different sides where she hits.
You know, we had some good rallies, but I felt like I was constructing the point really well to find my opportunities to be aggressive and step in.
You know, she played the way I kind of expected her to play, you know, to try to make me, you know, stay back and hit a lot of balls.
I just feel like I executed well and played my game not to allow her to do that to me.

Q. You got a pretty easy win today. Can you share with us your plan for the rest of the day, what you are going to do?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I don't know how long I'll spend more with you guys, but after, you know, it's all about recovery. You know, the life of a tennis player is not maybe as exciting as it seems sometimes because you have to make sure that you're ready for your next match and you have to rest and get some treatment, some massage.
So I'm going to do an autograph session after here. So for a little bit, you know, I think it's important to spend some time with the fans because they're all waiting and watching all day.
But after that, back to the hotel, getting ready for tomorrow, maybe, you know...

Q. Not going out for dinner?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Actually, we have really good buffet in the hotel.

Q. InterContinental?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah. It's great, you know. There is a lot of food. You can eat, you know, for four hours as much as you want. (Laughter.)
Q.Winning the Masters in Istanbul could be a real dream for you? I don't know if you really enjoy that.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You mean to win?

Q. The Masters.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Oh, yeah. Well, of course it's, you know, one of the, you know, most important events also of the year because we all play the whole year, you know, trying to chase the points and to make it to this last one.
It's so prestigious. You know, there's only eight players, the best players of the, you know, of the season in the world. It's really, really exciting to see who comes up in the end, you know, after such a long year on top.
For me it will definitely be an amazing achievement. I'm looking forward to play and win.

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Re: News and updates about Victoria Azarenka

China Open 2012
PC after 2R WIN over Sabine Lisicki(GER;#28)
Q. Actually, Lisicki is a very tough opponent. Based on your performance today, it's very much easy to beat her. So can you share your thoughts on your performance here today?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, she's a very dangerous opponent. I knew that, and so that was important to try to be focused right from the beginning to take control, not to let her into the game to start, you know, going for her shots, because she's kind of player that doesn't give much of a rhythm. She likes to take control right from the very beginning.
I felt like I played really well in the beginning and took all of my opportunities. You know, I was maintaining from then a very high level.

Q. I know the opponent is very much‑‑ it's end of the season. Compared with what she performed before, what's the big difference before between her and the other opponents?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Was the question about Lisicki? I didn't understand.

Q. (Off microphone.)
VICTORIA AZARENKA: The difference between the generations?

Q. You entered...
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You mean when I started to play professional? Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I started to play full time on the tour when I was 16 years old, and I felt like I did a pretty good transition. While I was playing junior tournament, I was already playing few challengers and like 50,000s and 25,000s, 75,000s to get my ranking up to try to get into qualifying of the Grand Slams, so that's where I started.
The transition was not easy, you know. I had to go through very tough losses, because in the juniors I was No. 1, I was winning pretty much, you know, all the tournament, especially that year, so it was a little bit tougher, you know, mentally to accept that.
But I felt like I did a pretty good transition and got on the tour, on the roll pretty quick.

Q. It's very much possible for WTA to control the screaming made by the opponents on the court. There was an interview of Sharapova by Reuters, to see if she was going to agree to this control. What's your opinion on this regulation posed by WTA?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, honestly I mentioned it before already, and I don't really know how it's going to happen, but it's going to be in the future. It's not going to be concerning our generation.
So it's a little bit difficult for me to judge, but I guess we'll see what happens. I don't really feel there is something to comment before it actually happens. You know, we can see the results from there.
I understand there are few concerns about it, but in the near future, I don't see that changing too much.

Q. You got the gold medal with Olympics doubles. How did you keep that? Did you carry the gold medal with you or probably keep it at home?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You know, I actually always read about where all the athletes keep their medals. They say somebody keeps it in a drawer, somebody keeps it, I don't know, in the safe or somewhere.
I think I'll just keep it, you know, to myself where I keep it so nobody is going to steal it ever from me. (Laughter.)
I didn't carry it right after the Olympics. My mom took it away to bring it back home because I went to travel to another tournament, and, you know, only few players started doing the tour with a gold medal, so it wasn't something we knew. So I'll do it maybe later.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.

Q. Any thoughts on the press money for the Australian Open next year?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I actually just read the news today. Any comments, we just have to be really happy about it, you know, and thank, you know, the players who helped make it happen in the tournament of course to increase the prize money.
I mean, we are really lucky, and I'm really happy about it.

Q. Novak said earlier that they're not satisfied with the results, wanting more reactions from other three Grand Slams. So is there anything similar ongoing in the women's tour right now, you know, they want more money as well as men's tour?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think everybody in general wants more money, not only in tennis. (Laughter.)
It's fair enough, but I feel like there has been already, you know, a step forward. We can only make it better, and I think that's the plan from all the players to do that. We have to be more united to make that, you know, bigger statement.
I feel like the Grand Slams, the other ones, have to take a good example from what the Australian Open did.
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Re: News and updates about Victoria Azarenka

Vika on CNN website "leading women"

(scroll past Oprah, the Queen of Jordan etc)

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About Julia:
"Also, I really like Julia as a person. She's really fun and always very nice. We always talk when we're at tournaments and have a really good relationship. And she always says nice things to me and congratulates me on Twitter."

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Re: News and updates about Victoria Azarenka

A No. 1 Who Wants to Stay on Top

Victoria Azarenka has yet to take another look at the women’s tennis match of the year: The one in which she and Serena Williams imposed their volume and baseline power on each other deep into a third set; the one Azarenka lost despite serving for her first United States Open title.
“It will take me a bit of time to go back and watch it, because the truth is, it still hurts,” Azarenka said in an interview this week. “But it definitely is something I would like to watch as a spectator someday and go through those emotions and those feelings once again.”

Such a defeat might have dimmed the year-end zeal of a less-driven woman, but Azarenka still has bright and shiny goals to chase in the twilight of her finest season. Since that closing-night disappointment in New York, she has bounced way back by winning 13 straight matches without dropping a set and by strengthening her grip on the top ranking, which she has now held for 34 weeks.

All that remains is the W.T.A. Championships, the elite eight-woman grand finale in Istanbul, and all Azarenka needs to assure herself of being No. 1 at season’s end are two victories in the round-robin phase of the competition.

“Well, you don’t have a lot of options; either you go shoot yourself or you bounce back,” said Sam Sumyk, Azarenka’s coach, of the defeat in New York. “I don’t see a lot of gray area there. It hurts, no question about it. It did hurt. It still hurts, but it’s your choice if you want those experiences to make you better or not and, well, she decided that it would make her better.”

In Azarenka’s current frame of mind and game, only Williams would be a favorite against her at the championships. But other threats lurk, including Petra Kvitova, who thrived on the quick indoor surface used last year in Istanbul, defeating Azarenka in the final.

Many tennis observers thought Kvitova, an imposing Czech left-hander, would use that momentum and continue gathering speed in 2012. But it was Azarenka who caught the wave instead and her emergence as a consistent force at the highest level has been the biggest change in the women’s game.

Williams, who swept all before her this summer, had won Grand Slam singles titles and dominated rivals in the past. Maria Sharapova, who won the French Open and briefly returned to No. 1 in June, had done the same. But Azarenka — combustible, cacophonous and unpredictable — only proved herself in earnest this year.

She did it by her managing her emotions and winning a big one: the Australian Open in January. She did it by managing the rigors of a draining Olympic season, winning five other tournaments and more prize money — nearly $7 million and counting — than any woman has won in a single campaign.

Now it’s time to find out whether she has the staying power that some recent No. 1s — like Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic and Dinara Safina — have lacked in what remains, after all, the Williams era.

“Azarenka surprised me,” said Lindsay Davenport, the former world No. 1 who is now an analyst for Tennis Channel. “I was prematurely losing hope in her. It was kind of like Andy Murray. I kept expecting her to break through.

“She’s a great athlete, and she truly believes she should be No. 1,” Davenport added. “And as much as the other ones tried to give that attitude off, it just wasn’t very natural.”

Azarenka is defined by her ferocious low-to-the-court groundstrokes, her fast-twitch returns and, of course, her shrieks, which might be old news but still have fans of all ages imitating her in the stands and in front of the screen during matches.

“She is sort of labeled with the noises,” said Nick Bollettieri, the 81-year-old American tennis coach. “However when you get down to it, if you can put that aside, the girl has improved her mentality and her temperament and that to me has been the big difference.”

At 23, Azarenka still has the time and ambition to make other improvements: in transition in the forecourt and, above all, with her serve. At 6 feet, or about 182 centimeters, tall and with her elastic ability to generate intimidating pace with other strokes, it would appear she could do more with it. That would seem a fine idea if she is to improve on her 1-10 career record against Serena Williams.

“I don’t think she gets enough racket-head speed,” Bollettieri said. “She almost muscles the serve.”

Davenport believes Azarenka has sacrificed pace in favor of consistency in the last two years, perhaps to avoid being vulnerable off her second serve.

“I don’t mind her motion,” Davenport said. “You can have kind of a funky motion, and you can still have a live arm. Andy Roddick taught everyone that, and for whatever reason, she doesn’t quite snap her wrist, doesn’t quite go for it. I’d love to see her in practice try and hit the 110- or 115-mile-an-hour serve because I think she could do it.”

Neither Azarenka nor Sumyk, a California-based Frenchman, appear reticent about embracing change or outside influences. They brought in former French star Amélie Mauresmo briefly this year before Mauresmo was named Fed Cup captain and took on a bigger role with the French tennis federation. Sumyk has also sought inspiration and counsel from sources as diverse as the former Olympic sprint champion Maurice Greene and most recently, Olivier de Kersauson, the leading French sailor.

“You can learn from everywhere but I really believe there are special people on the planet, and if I can meet a couple of them, a few of them or more than a few, well, it’s a privilege. If they accept, why miss that opportunity?”

For Sumyk, the good news is that Azarenka has much room to improve and she is already No. 1 and a Grand Slam singles champion. That sounds like a logical combination until you remember that her friend and Monaco neighbor Caroline Wozniacki finished No. 1 in 2010 and 2011 without winning a major title.

Wozniacki, who has dropped out of the top 10, is a reminder of the fragility of tennis success. Has Azarenka given her encouragement? “It’s hard to do that, because maybe she doesn’t want to hear it from me,” Azarenka said, adding that, “I always have only positive things for her, and I wish her all the best.”

Azarenka sacrificed more than most to become a tennis star: leaving her family and her home in Minsk, Belarus, to train first in Spain and then in the United States. She recognizes now that the self-imposed pressures generated by those sacrifices were a big part of what once held her back.

“I kind of made the transition really quick and success came fast to me, and maybe I was not sure how to handle it too well,” she said. “I feel like these days I do it much better, and I adapt to situations. I still go through a lot of things that I never have before, but I feel like I handle them with a cold mind.”

She was, however, not quite cool enough in New York to collect her second Grand Slam singles title, but she did push Williams in a new and more convincing fashion. Perhaps she’ll get another chance in Istanbul.

“I always like to let my racket talk and not really talk myself and to show who’s the best player or who deserves to be the best player in our game,” Azarenka said. “It’s not by discussing it in the interviews. I think it’s important to show it on the court, and that’s what I will try to do.”
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post #569 of 1004 (permalink) Old Oct 22nd, 2012, 12:56 PM
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Re: News and updates about Victoria Azarenka

Azarenka amazed at career turn-around

Even though world No 1 Victoria Azarenka is this week on the brink of one of her finest achievements, she admits that she looks back with amazement at the day when she nearly gave it all away.

The 23-year-old from Belarus needs only two wins at the WTA Championships, which start on Tuesday, to become the year-end world No 1 for the first time, yet she vividly remembers that not long ago her despair had made her decide to quit.

"You have a moment when it just clicks and you get a better vision of where you are heading," Azarenka said of the February day in 2010 when it required her mother and grandmother to persuade her to continue.

"It clicked when I got a real understanding of what I wanted to do and to achieve it and work around it," added the transformed player who emerged from the emotional crisis to win her first Grand Slam title at the start of 2012, and who has been top of the rankings for most of this year.

"I'm really glad that happened to me, as it helped me to mature. It opened doors and helped me. It happened pretty much on one day.

"I shall have to look it up and check the date, so that if I come to write a book I shall know exactly which day it was that changed me," she laughed.

Since then Azarenka has not only managed to control her off-court mood swings, her tempestuous on-court temperament, and her variably aggressive game, but has gone some way to changing herself as a person too.

"You gain a few perspectives, and change your vision of things," she said. "It helps you improve - improve not only as a player but as a personality.

"I am as intense as I ever was, but maybe I manage it better. And now I have a great team around me, which helps me in everything. It took time to have a comfortable bubble around me."

Azarenka can now afford to lose one of her three round robin matches and still achieve the coveted season-end top spot.

She may need that leeway as she has landed Serena Williams, once again the tour's hottest player, in her group.

When they last met, in the final of the US Open in New York last month, Azarenka was 5-3 up in the final set before Williams somehow clawed her way back. Azarenka will try to take heart from how close she came.

"I will have to server better when serving for the match, that's for sure," she said of the imminent rematch with the American legend she has beaten only once in 11 tries.

"I don't think we have ever played indoors, so it will be a new occasion. And I will also play a couple of other players too."

One of those will be Li Na, the first Chinese player either to win a Grand Slam title or to qualify for the WTA Championships.

She and Azarenka stand at four-all in their head-to-head record, but Azarenka has won the last three, including a match at this tournament last year at the same Sinan Erdem arena.

The other is Angelique Kerber, the fast-rising German who is making her debut in this showdown tournament, and whom Azaenka has beaten in both their completed matches.

She also handed Kerber a walk-over in Tokyo at the end of last month, complaining of dizziness, which suggested chronic fatigue.

The extent to which Azarenka has recovered from this will influence her chances of winning the WTA Championships title.

Azarenka was criticised for the way she handled that situation by Maria Sharapova, who commented that "she is probably injured more than any other player who is No 1."

However these two cannot meet before the semifinals. Sharapova, the French Open champion and the second seed, heads the other round robin group, which includes Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, Petra Kvitova of the Czech republic, and Sara Errani of Italy.
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post #570 of 1004 (permalink) Old Oct 22nd, 2012, 08:54 PM
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Re: News and updates about Victoria Azarenka

Matt Cronin ‏@TennisReporters Did not realize until today that @vika7 has hired Nadal's PR man @benitopb to also be her publicist. Should be interesting

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