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January 6, 2016

Victoria Azarenka

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

V. AZARENKA/Y. Bonaventure

6-3, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Probably a tougher match than it looked on the scoreboard in the end.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I think the beginning definitely was really tough. She played very well. You know, it's always a little bit of a moment of adaptation when you don't know who you play, so it's an adjustment.

But I'm glad I could stay strong in the beginning and turn it around, because it wasn't going my way at first for sure.

Q. Perfect match for early in the season to blow out a few cob webs and have the hard rallies?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, definitely, and I think just to feel the momentum shift in the match was important, you know, in the beginning of the year, and for me especially since I haven't played in a while. So it's good to go through those moments.

I'm happy the way I was looking for a solution today and really try to stay in the moment and fight and take control back in my hands.

So it's definitely a good part of that.

Q. What were thoughts early in the match? Fourth game I think was 17 minutes long. All those dueces. What were your thoughts?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I was just trying to play one point at time. She didn't really give me a lot of rhythm and she was serving really big.

It was pretty uncomfortable, so I tried to find a way and solution to win that game, because it was important, and to get back on the serve.

Q. Did you feel that you were nervous? You looked a little nervous at the start. Was that just because you had never played her before?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I felt a little overwhelmed. I think it's pretty normal when you don't know what to expect. I felt that I waited too much for the rhythm and there was not going to be any rhythm.

So I just accepted that later, that it's going to be short rallies and that's the way I have to play.

Q. Not just specifically to this year, but just generally, what's the most difficult thing for you about the first week of the season, the first tournament? What's the tricky thing about it?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think the way the body kind of accepts the competition. For me, every time it's a little wonder that you practice so hard and work so many hours on the court, and then you play a match, which is not actually long, and your body feels some type of way.

That's, to me, always an interesting part, that first week after that long break. But that's pretty much it.

Q. Are you surprised at how many people have been injured already? The season is like six days old and people are falling around all over the place. Is that a surprise to you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think it's unfortunate. I don't ever want to see any of my competition, you know, hurt, because it's not what the game is about. It's about seeing who is winning when everybody is at their best.

So I would love to see everybody get healthy, but it's an unfortunate part of the sport. You never know when that's going to come. I'm just going to try to take care of myself right now, and hopefully everybody will be ready for the Australian Open.

Q. Some of the other players have had more tennis under their belt recently than you have and they can take a chance or be a bit more cautious about their approach to the Australian Open. For you, is getting more games under your belt right now the most important thing, or sort of making sure your body is okay going into the first match?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think I've done okay without many matches before. I think I have enough experience to know what it's like to play a Grand Slam. Right now I just try to, you know, work more on my game. Definitely the best improvement is to do it in the match.

I definitely missed playing since I haven't in a while, so I'm really enjoying myself on the court right now and trying to do the best out there.

Q. Even with the withdrawal of Maria and Simona you would still be a contender because you're a Grand Slam champion and been in the finals. What would it mean to win the tournament seven years apart '09 to '16?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't know. I'm just looking forward to tomorrow, to be honest. I'm that kind of person that doesn't look too much ahead. I think that worked out for me well.

I think there are plenty of examples of underestimating an opponent or tournament or the draw, so I'm just trying to stay in the moment, try to stay focused. There is no easy matches, even though it looks like this on the paper or favorites or unfavorites, whatever it is. I'm just trying to stay focused, stay humble, stay grounded, and stay hungry.

Q. Is there a mental challenge as well when you're preparing to face somebody like Simona and then she withdraws and you're facing sort of a unknown quantity?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I mean, actually happened quite quickly. I didn't know who I'm going to play until that night after I finished my match. I didn't know I was going to play Simona, and then she withdrew.

I think the only thing I felt is probably a little bit sad that we didn't get to play just because of her injury. I don't want to wish that on any of my opponents. The year is long. I think our careers are going to be long. We're going to have plenty of opportunities to play.

In terms of mental preparation, I just try to focus on myself really. There is definitely a tactic and adaptation who you're going to play, but mentally I just prepare myself for another challenge, whoever it is on the other side.

Q. Next match is against Vinci. Very different. More slice. How do you handle that? How do you plan for a player that is very different?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I mean, she's still very aggressive player. I think she has a lot to offer and variety, and the slice is just one component of her game. We played quite a few times. It's been a while since we played.

It's important to really just focus on my game and see what happens. I don't know. I haven't really thought too much about it. I just finished my match, and I'm trying to analyze a little bit what happened out there for me, what I can do better in my next match for myself.

Q. Since you last played her she made it to a Grand Slam final; she beat Serena. Do you think that will bring a different confidence to her? When you've seen players in the past, do they transform or grow when they have had a big result previously?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't know. Obviously she's been playing really well and showing some great results. I think you can see improvement in her game. I don't know if there is huge difference. I think she's just on the rise and she feels really good, confident.

I don't know what it's going to bring. I don't really think about it too much.

Q. In a week there is obviously a big tournament on the horizon. When you're in the off-season and preparing, how challenging is it knowing that you have this big tournament and there is no margin for error?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I wouldn't call it relaxed really, you know. It's a little understatement. But obviously everybody's main focus I guess is on Australian Open. I'll be lying if I said that that's not my main focus either.

But I think the best preparation and the best way to think about that is to take care of what's happening right now. I'm here in Brisbane and going to be playing in quarterfinals. I'm trying to take care of that, because this is what is a leadup to it.

Q. In the off-season were you looking at equipment issues at all? Are you using the same racquets? Are you looking for a change?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: We'll see. (Smiling.)

Q. So is it currently? I'm just wondering if you had to adjust to a new racquet or if it's the same thing.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: We'll see. (Smiling.)

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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