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March 15, 2016

Victoria Azarenka

Indian Wells, California


6-1, 4-6, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Looking at the stats from the match, you played a really good match. Score looked closer than it was, but how did you feel about the way the match played out?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think it was very high quality match. I think that second set I was playing catchup a little bit. I had a pretty average first game. You know, I let her dictate a little bit.

She went for some of her shots, but I felt that that game I should have done a little bit better. Then she starts, you know, going for her shots and serving well, and when she's that confident it makes it more challenging to break her.

I felt in the second set I didn't dare enough on my return games to be able to control the points.

Q. Your return game is one of your strengths, and you did seem all over her serve, like you had a good read on it. Maybe it was off a little bit. Where do you think your return game is right now? How happy are you with it?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think it depends on player to player. I felt that I got stronger than I was before. Definitely on my forehand side I'm able to create more angles, able to create more winners, and put a lot more pressure with that. I think that was one of the more visible improvements of my return.

Q. She has a pretty different game from most of the players. How much do you adjust when you play her?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't know. It is what it is. She has really fast hands and the serve. But I have Sascha who helps out to get a little bit adjusted more on the practice court and get used to kick serve, so that helps, as well.

But there are a few players who does play with a lot of spin. I actually played in Acapulco against Herzog, and I think she has a little similar game.

Q. You were mentioning in February you made a few changes to your game or adjustments or something like that. Can you share what some of those were? You said they were paying off.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Definitely I started to be more efficient on my movement, which is big part of my game, to be able to find angles, cut angles, and just overall placement of the ball.

I worked a lot on my serve to be able to create easier serving games and going for my shots, developing power speed, and now need to work a little bit more on accuracy.

Q. You get a little bit more time between matches at this tournament than most of them. How do you spend that time?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: In my room. I mean, I'm very not outgoing person right now. I really just stay in and hang out with my friends and my team.

It's difficult to really take me out of my room or when I'm in my house. There is only one person I can actually go to -- actually leave my house for.

Q. Who's that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Privacy. Not secrecy, just privacy.

Q. There have been some girls on the tour, they would have a breakthrough, getting far in a slam or winning a slam, and then they would kind of fall back. You were kind of like, to my knowledge, the last one who won a major and built on it. Is there anything that you can see that maybe you were able to do that maybe some other players struggled with when they finally reached that pinnacle and fulfilled that dream of winning the slam or at least getting far in a slam?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I can't really speak too much for other players. I can just really express my experience, and I felt that when you do get to the top of the rankings, you know, there comes a lot of pressure to it.

They say the road to the top is hard, but to stay at the top is harder. So to be able to handle this pressure every single day where players are going to play better against you, you're not on the side of the net where you have nothing to lose. Now you have everything to lose and there's going to be a lot more pressure.

So I think that's the difference, and some young players maybe sometimes underestimate that responsibility.

Q. Can you talk about how you handled it.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I love pressure. That's what makes me a good player and a great player. That's what motivates me. Without pressure I get bored and it's not fun. So to be able to compete in that high situation, that's what I'm always looking forward to.

Q. Outside of the pressure of wanting to stay on top and everything, how difficult was it, though, managing external expectation? Like all of a sudden you're No. 1 player in the world, Grand Slam champion. You lose a match early rounds and you have to come in here and people are asking you questions to justify it. Early on, how difficult was that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It's tough. It's still difficult. I think managing your emotion of what other people think and what they expect from you is probably the hardest thing to do.

Just in society you have so much pressure on how you look or what you do and if you say something. There is always consequences being in the public eye.

So really be able to detach yourself and find what makes you happy and what you want to do and how you want to approach your tennis, your life, setting goals and seeing a bigger picture, I think that's what makes it just a little bit easier to go through those days.

Q. What do you remember about the streak you had in 2012? You won here as part of that.

Q. What do you remember about that moment? Because you seemed pretty invincible at that time.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I was playing well. I was injury-free and everything was going well for me, so, you know, I'm looking forward to creating another one. I mean, hopefully.

Q. Does it feel like you're far from that sort of form, totally injury-free and having everything fall in place or do you feel like you're close to creating a patch like that again?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: The difference between then and now, I don't really think ahead. There is a difference between creating a big picture and goals, to set the goals where you work day in and day out towards.

But what's gonna happen, I don't really think about it. I just want to make sure that on every single day I do whatever I can. I think the great quote, you know, anybody can outwork you, but nobody will out prepare me.

Q. Can you also compare your journey from when you first got into the No. 1, the first time, get into that spot, and the journey now trying to get back on top? What's it been like trying to be No. 1 for a second run?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I'm in a different stage of my career. You know, I think getting to No. 1 of course it's a goal. My main goal is to win Grand Slams. That's that I want really bad and that's what I'm working towards.

I always think that ranking is a bonus that comes with it. Once you have results, you win tournaments, it comes automatically.

And at first it was something that you just, you want to get there since you're a kid. You know, it's a big dream. And once you achieve it, sometimes it brings the level of motivation down.

Right now my level of motivation is different. I'm not that kid with a big dream of becoming No. 1. I have been there.

But I am looking forward to realize my full potential on court, off court. Just to be the best possible version of myself.

Q. When you were at No. 1, do you feel like that was you at your full potential, or do you feel you can get even higher?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Oh, I don't think I am close to fulfilling my potential. Just to see what I can do on practice court and physically what I can improve, I'm far from that. That's what I'm looking forward to improve.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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