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August 27, 2018

Victoria Azarenka

New York, NY, USA

V. AZARENKA/V. Kuzmova

6-3, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Kind of assess your opening match here, how do you think your level was?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I think, you know, first of all, the first round is never easy. It's even tougher when you don't know your opponent, never played. In some important moments like breakpoints or tight moments, you kind of still discover what the other person does.

I think she played very well. She hit the ball really hard. Her serve is a huge weapon. I mean, she was acing me every game, which doesn't usually happen. So I was trying to, you know, get those games and put as much pressure on her. She wasn't really giving me too many second serves.

Overall I think I played pretty well. I played aggressive. I played much more confident I think than the previous matches. The most important, I had fun. I'm very happy to be in New York. I haven't been here in three years, so I'm very happy to be here.

Q. Coming back to New York, when you walk around these grounds, getting ready for this match, did this match feel different than the first matches that you played at this tournament in the past, given the break and everything?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: First of all, there's new grounds. I didn't play with a roof before, so that's new for me. It's a new court, which is really beautiful. I enjoyed my time. I always hated the old Louis Armstrong. It was so terrible. I couldn't hit my backhand down the line there never, I don't know why. But it's beautiful to see, like, the improvements of the tournament.

For me, as I said on the court, New York is always going to be a special place. It's the first time I ever came to the United States when I was 10 years old. I feel I'm in a really good place mentally right now, that I want to enjoy every second.

Q. You noticed all these changes? Sometimes players focus on the player. Does it feel almost like a new place?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Not necessarily new place, but definitely an upgraded one. For me, the most fun thing was to see all the people around the grounds that I've made friends with, the security guys, the ladies in the locker room. They gave me so much love when I came back. I was really happy about that.

Q. What was it like for a 10-year-old to come from Belarus to Manhattan?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It was crazy. It was crazy because I traveled by myself at 10 years old. That was adventurous. It was something that I've never seen before. The pace of the city was so fast that even at 10 years old, you're like, Whoa. For me, I had a lot of fun coming here. I loved every, you know, fast food restaurant, unlimited soda. It was crazy for the first time. It was nice. It was nice.

I grew up in the city, but obviously not the fast paced as here. But it was impressive. I think New York is very impressive for the first time when you see it, and when you're 10 years old definitely a lot more.

Q. If Leo says in eight years I want to go halfway across the world by myself, what would you say to him?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Not happening. Not happening, yeah. Well, I want to promise myself that I'll be realistic mom that is going to let him do. But I love him so much, I don't know if I can let it go, let him go. I look completely different at the experience what my mom has done, how brave she was to let me go at 14 years old by myself to the academies and stuff.

It's going to be interesting, but I'm sure that Leo's grandmother is not going to let him into that either. It's going to be interesting. But honestly, I hope that he wants us there. That's my most important thing, that he wants mommy and he wants grandma to travel with him.

For me it wasn't that I wanted to go by myself, I just didn't have an opportunity. I think I want to support my son every step of the way if he wants me to be there.

Q. Can you summarize becoming a mother, ups and downs, what has been the essence of this path for you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think the most that I got challenged with is my patience. That's something that's always been the most difficult part for me. It was forced on me. I guess that was a way for me to learn patience. I still don't think I mastered it, but I'm much better at it.

Q. The next round, Daria.

Q. Gavrilova.

Q. She just said she really looks forward to playing you. Never had the opportunity to hit with you, play a match against you, as much as she's wanted to.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, that's a lie. We practiced together before.

Q. She was just saying that.

Q. She said you were her favorite player growing up, was very happy when you won your first Australian. Coming up against her, what would be your thoughts?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think she's a very interesting player because she's a little bit unorthodox. You don't really know what's coming. She has an interesting technique, a lot of head swing and stuff. Where is she going to go? It's hard to read.

I always like her as a girl. I think she's really cool and funny and nice, energetic. For me, it will be interesting to play her. I think I'm at the stage where I don't really right now pay attention so much who I play against, it's more about how I'm going to feel and how I'm going to play. I think that's better for me at the moment.

Q. In San Jose you were talking about patience, about being a little bit frustrated, trying to find that line of ambition and patience. It does seem you're in a good head space, positive.

Q. What's changed from then to now?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I got a little angel that helps me, so... Now I'm happy.

Q. What was the problem with the old Louis Armstrong?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It just didn't feel good. I don't know what it was. It was weird. The way the ball traveled, it was super weird to me. There were so many times you framed the ball. I don't know why. Like, it always puzzled me, that court.

I remember like I think Roger haven't played on Armstrong for very long time, and the second they put him, he lost to Tommy Robredo. It wasn't that he lost to Tommy, it was the way he lost. He was like framing every ball. Okay, I'm not crazy. If Roger frames the ball, it's okay.

Q. Of all the courts you play, if you had to say your favorite court?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I think all the Grand Slam, all the center courts are pretty spectacular, have their own type of charm. Nothing will beat for me the Australian Open court. People say, Because you won there. Not really. I don't know why. When you walk in there, it feels comfortable, it feels like home. To me it always felt like that. I always look forward to being out there.

Of course, Centre Court of Wimbledon is always going to be super special. As I said, every stadium is, like, their own charm. You cannot compare them because New York, it's loud, it's energetic. The finals that I played against Serena, the noise level is just crazy. Then when I win the point, it was, like, dead quiet. That was so tough.

French, when they start the wave, it's crazy. You play a French player, they boo you. It's so fun in every way, I always look forward to step on the court and have that experience. I think that's what motivates me to play more, to go out there on those stages to play. Going and practicing on P5 when nobody is watching is okay, but playing a match there would be not very motivating.

Q. In Melbourne, do you get a feeling from the fans? Is it just the atmosphere?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I just love that country. I think the country is amazing. If it wasn't that far from everything else, I probably would consider at some point living there for a little bit. I've been there many times and also outside of Australian Open, which was super fun. People are great. People have, like, crazy energy, so nice. Every time I go there, I just feel amazing.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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