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March 11, 2018

Victoria Azarenka

Indian Wells, California

S. STEPHENS/V. Azarenka

6-1, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How did you feel on the court today?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Whew. That was not the most pleasant moment, to be honest. I felt like I started the first game well, and then kind of everything just went away. Started to be so many mistakes and quick, you know. I kind of didn't know what I was doing out there.

I found a little bit better rhythm in the second set, found a little bit more fight. But just, you know, really low quality consistency from me today, and it's tough to win matches like this.

But, you know, I'm being very hard on myself today, but, you know, if I was prepared 100% like I wanted to do and played like this, I would be a lot more disappointed than I am today. But I'm still really disappointed with just the -- you know, I was hoping to play a little better today.

Q. Was the rainout from last night and kind of the turnaround, did that have any impact, and just your match preparation rhythm as you're starting to get back into things?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I don't think I have any match rhythm at all or would have impacted, because I'm just trying to find a little bit, like, how to get to the match, you know, how to start preparing for the match, what kind of mentality to be in the match.

So right now I'm still -- I'm in the searching process, I would say.

Q. Novak Djokovic was just in here and he's missed quite a bit of time and said many things similar to what you're saying. Why is it so hard to get that match tennis going? Is it because it's almost the only thing you can't practice on the practice court?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, you can't substitute. You know, as much as you practice, whatever you want to do, you can play practice matches, whatever, it's not the same. Because, you know, the crowd, the importance, there is some more things at stake. And the practice, it's still practice. You treat it like practice.

So for me it's -- you know, I have played -- I don't know how many -- seven matches in two years or whatever. So it's not that bad, but as I said, you know, the quality of my tennis is a long way to go, and I need to work -- I need to be able to play first and start to work and continue to improve.

But, you know, it's not the worst start. I could have lost in the first round (smiling).

Q. First tournament back. What's your general assessment?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: A lot of work to do. Obviously a lot of work to do. For me, the most important is to have a clear head, which obviously right now is not. Once I figure all my stuff outside of the court, I'll be able to focus and be 100% when I'm on the court to be there.

Q. Do you mind elaborating just how difficult it is to mentally focus on tennis when there are other more important things going on? How have you been able to even step on the court and win a match?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I have no idea. You know, this whole process, honestly, amazes me that I still have my shit together (smiling), to be honest. I really am surprised that the challenges that I have been put through and I'm still going through is -- I wouldn't expect myself to be this calm and this positive and this optimistic for this long period of time.

So there is definitely a lot of things and a lot of strength that I'm finding myself outside of the court. And I need to get, you know, confidence back because there is no other way than going out there and failing, getting up, failing, getting up, but just working hard.

Q. Does it make tennis seem simpler?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Simpler? Um, not when you want to do everything perfect, no, it doesn't make it more simple.

You want to think simple, but then you go out there and sometimes everything becomes more complicated, but it's up to you to just try to stay focused on the moment and what you have to do.

As I said, right now it's a little bit difficult moment for me to do just that.

Q. Just with tennis and everything that's going on, has tennis been an outlet for you? A distraction? Is it, like, this cloud that's... I mean, what has the sport and the career aspect of things, what's the role that that has been over the last few months?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, it's definitely an outlet, you know, because this is what I have been doing since I'm seven years old. This is my livelihood. It's not just a fun game that you go out there and play. This is how I earn my living. This is how I live.

So to be, you know, kind of taken away that for a reason that is out of your control is a little bit difficult to grasp on. But when I go out and practice, you know, it's the same. Sometimes I'm able to get my head out of that and sometimes I just have to stop because I can't focus on the ball. There's too many things going on.

Q. At this stage, does it feel like -- can you envision yourself having a more clear approach just a couple months down the line on the court? How does it feel?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah. I mean, I hope so. I hope I figure out my things off the court and I can focus a little bit more when I'm in my work to be able to have a clear head.

Q. Is your plan still to play in Miami?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Definitely, yeah.

Q. A question other than today's game. You had many better days here.

Q. As far as the fan experience is concerned, how would you say Indian Wells is different from other tournaments?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Just fans-based?

Q. Yes.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, it's real interesting, fan base here, because I feel like there are a lot of people who come who actually do play tennis themselves, so they are really educated in tennis and real tennis fans, which is really cool. And you see a lot of kids, which is really a lot of fun always. Also, like, playing kids, juniors and stuff, so that's really cool.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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