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January 4, 2016

Victoria Azarenka

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

V. AZARENKA/E. Vesnina

6-2, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How happy were you with that performance to start the season?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I was happy to be on the court. That was -- it's been a while to be out there playing an actual match. It's been a lot of practice, so I was just happy to go out there and play and be in front of the crowd and just compete.

So I was happy to be able to do that.

Q. September last year was your last game; is that right?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah. It's been a while, yeah.

Q. You had a string of injuries last year. Were you a bit nervous about this year, or you think you've done all the rehab and your body is fine?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I wasn't nervous for sure. I was actually excited. I was pretty calm going into this match. I think I was definitely looking forward to it. But, no, I wasn't nervous.

Whatever happened, I had to go over it. I had to put a lot of work into it. No, not really nervous. No.

Q. How much will your next match be -- will it be like a true gauge of how far you've come since overcoming injury, coming up against the top seed?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't know if that's going to justify anything or not. I think it's going to be a very good test, you know. Just in general playing against top players you always put yourself in a situation where you have to push yourself.

So for me it's going to be a great challenge. It's a difficult match definitely, and to play early in the year, it's great. To be the best, you got to beat the best, so I'm looking forward to that.

Q. Physically how did you feel coming in? Usually players the whole off-season have been training and getting in shape. Do you feel like you're where you want to be with that now?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Definitely a lot better than last three years I would say. I think it's a good start for me to -- I started to get my movement where I want it to be. Still in the process, I believe.

But for the first match, and not having a lot of matches under my belt since September, I think it was pretty good. Always a little bit of an adjustment of the match play and reaction and rustiness, but, you know, it's a good start.

Let's see where it takes me.

Q. You spoke of being better than the last three years. Is that all from being injury-free and able to train or different things or methods you were using to get you to this improvement?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think a little bit of both. Definitely feeling in control of my movement, not thinking about pain, that's a huge element.

Also, I worked a lot on getting my movement a lot more efficient, being much more mobile and flexible.

So for me, that work that I started is not -- has not ended. It's still just a big process. But I like the improvement that I've been able to do in those months.

I think it's the right way.

Q. Simona changed coaches since you last played her. She has Darren full time now. Do players notice changes when another player changes coaches? Do you notice slight tweaks of the game?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I haven't really seen her play, so I don't know. I don't know. We'll see.

Q. In the off-season did you work hard like over a longer period of time with the training to get yourself to a good physical base, or was it same amount of time you committed but more intense?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It was different. I mean, my training was different. I did things that I didn't do that much before or I didn't maybe pay enough attention to it.

In terms of quantity, of course you put a big load of work in the off-season. For me it was more about structuring and being very -- paying a lot of attention to details, being very -- schedule was very important for me.

Waking up early was difficult part at the beginning, but now I wake up very early in in the morning. So just changing the habits I think was pretty big change for me.

Q. Despite your frustration with injury, do you still come to Australia with an extra spring in your step just because of the success you've had in Melbourne?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, Australia had nothing to do with that, with my injuries, that is for sure. So I'm very excited to go wherever I am. I'm just happy, you know.

Not that I'm injury-free, I just found myself. I love myself. I'm happy. I enjoy playing tennis. And I think that's a huge achievement, to be able to put myself in this situation from where I was a year and a half ago.

So I think that's my biggest achievement so far, and we'll see what results will bring.

Q. So at the end of the year were you pretty satisfied overall?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: In the end of the year if I was satisfied?

Q. Yeah.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah. I mean, the whole year probably not, but what I was satisfied is the lessons that I learned and finally start to find solutions to problems. I think that was a good achievement.

But playing through injuries was not fun; that wasn't enjoyable at all. But it is what it is. It is really in the past. I don't think about it. I don't try to analyze it. I just try to move on and see what I can do best from now.

Q. So you were saying you're getting up really early in the morning now. Why is that?

Q. But why? Why now?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Something to just -- I actually feel much better about it. I used to go to sleep really, really late, and I just thought that it would be better for my recovery. I get a lot more things done. I practice a little bit more and I push myself.

Just different habits and trying i out and staying in the house the whole time. (Smiling.) No, I had great time in my off-season. I didn't do anything besides being in the house, but I had full house of friends and so they made my time really fun.

Q. Was that a dab we saw at the end of the match?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah. I hope my agent is going to be really proud of that.

Q. Have you been following Cam, what he's been doing?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah. I mean, I actually became just a huge fan of him because of what he does, the work he does with kids. I'm super excited to see his show on Nickelodeon. I watched few more documentaries to learn a little bit more about his story. I am always curious about different people, different players, where they came from, what they been through.

I think it's really interesting just to see a little bit of a different perspective, not just an athlete. So, yeah, he's pretty amazing.

Q. Speaking of stories and writing, how are you enjoying being on the other side of the aisle now being a tennis writer yourself?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It's tough. It's tough part to -- not to write, but to understand what it is would be interesting for readers to read. I think that's the biggest challenge, you know, to find the topic.

The way I write, I'm not a writer obviously, but I get inspired by talking to people in conversation. That's how I start writing. I don't just sit there and, oh, this is what I'm going to write. It comes really natural.

That's what I want to share, whatever it is that's going on that's natural. I think it's never really been done in tennis or in sports in general to really have fans or you guys to read an unknown part.

The press conference is very restricted. You don't get to share those moments because you're in the tournament; you're thinking about how I'm going to get myself ready; you have this wall in press conference and some other interviews that you don't go past that or you don't want to.

I just really want to be able to share my thoughts, and hopefully somebody who maybe been going through some tough times, kids or whatever, get inspired or get help. So that's my biggest goal, just to be open about it. I think it's pretty interesting.

Q. Going back to the Halep US Open quarterfinal; 6-4 in the third; win that match you could have won it all.

Q. If you beat her, Halep, in the quarterfinals, you had a really shot at winning the tournament, no?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think -- I mean, yes and no, because nobody knew the results of semifinals, I think, right?

Q. You mean Serena losing?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, and I thought honestly Simona was going to win that semifinal, too. She played really well in the quarterfinal. It's tough to predict. It was a shot for sure. I had a shot at the beginning of the tournament, I think.

I don't think it was that match that decided that I have a shot in winning it. It was still so far. It was in the past, and obviously I didn't get it. There is always the next year.

Q. Do you go back and look at film or tape or anything from that match or recent matches with Simona, or you more just know what her game is going to be going into it?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I do. I never used to watch tape. I hated to watch myself. Now I do. Told you I'm changing some habits. See where it takes me.

Q. You watch tape of your opponent, too?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah. Just some -- just more tennis in general.

Q. Did you watch the Serena/Vinci match? If so, what are your thoughts on that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, I didn't watch that. I don't even know what to think. I think it was shocking for everybody, but you can't take credit away from Roberta. She did an amazing match and she deserved to win.

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