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May 6, 2019

Victoria Azarenka

Madrid, Spain

S. STEPHENS/V. Azarenka

6-4, 2-6, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Can you talk through the match a little bit? It looked like you figured a lot of it out in the second set. And then the third set, maybe the serve kind of was an issue?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yes. I felt that I really was taking all the control from the baseline points. I felt that I was doing the right things. I was moving the ball around. I was moving well. And I was playing smart tennis. But I didn't create anything with my serve today and it was really frustrating. I didn't really have a game plan. I don't think it is the issue about the shot. There was really no game plan of what to do with the serve and that is something I need to take a look at and fix.

I have been fixing and cleaning up a few things in my game which I'm very happy about. But this is something that I need to look at, make it more simple and just do the right things.

It's the mindset how to execute that and prepare that shot better and today, I just didn't do that and that's frustrating.

But the good point is that with all that, I was still able to create those opportunities to take that. It's going to be a good lesson learned for me and I'll move on.

Q. You felt that just with not having the game plan on the serve that was for the full match?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: In the third set. Really, the first set also. You know, I had slipped up the game at 5-4, which I had full control of. So those are the little things that I have to do a little better and just trying to make the serve in isn't going to help.

I felt in the last game I started to finally swing the serve, but it was a little too late. So, I need to take notes from that and I definitely will.

I'm frustrated obviously that I didn't do the best things on that today, but I'm happy with a lot of other things that I've done well and I just need to continue to work for them, the bigger goal. So I'm going to continue to do that.

Q. Over the past year, you have been faced by injury, slowing down your progress. How difficult is it for you to stay healthy compared to three, four, five years ago based on your own experience?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You talking about last year?

Q. Over the past 12 months you have been affected by injury. How difficult is it to keep healthy on the tour compared to three, four, five years ago?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Oh, I feel that I'm a lot healthier now than I was four or five years ago. And in 2014, 2015, there was a lot of injuries for me, a lot of frustrations.

I had an unfortunate couple of things in the last two tournaments that I played. They weren't big injuries. There was a lot of tennis for me, a lot of travel that I have to be a little smarter with my schedule. But overall, I feel pretty good. I don't think that there's big issues.

So, it's about preventing, making the right choices of when to play, where to play, when to push, where not to push. We are all trying to find that balance. I don't think it is easier four or five years ago.

Q. You are coming up to your 30th birthday this year.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: (Smiling) okay.

Q. Sorry. I was wondering, 10, 15 years ago, that's the sort of age players would start thinking about retirement but that landscape has shifted now. Do you have any idea how long you intend to carry on playing for and what your goals are, whether you can get back to world No. 1 or whether you just like playing?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: That's two different questions (laughing). Well, the age thing, I think... It's hard to say because I don't feel I'm coming up to 30. I feel like really much better physically than when I was 20, 22. And when I was 18, 19, when somebody asked me how long you want to play, I said I will never play past 27 and that's not the case.

So, I don't want to say that thing again, but in my mind, I feel that I have about five more years till my son has to go to school to give myself the best shot and give the best effort because tennis is my job, it's not my life. But I want to make sure that I have done everything I can in this time period and we'll see what happens. Not sure I'll be playing past 35, but you never know.

Q. You are very used to winning and winning and winning. How frustrating, or how difficult is it to be patient at times like this when you are close to going on a roll and not quite there yet?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It's very frustrating, obviously. I'm not going to be sitting here, yeah, I'm enjoying it. That would be a lie. There is a difference between losing and not progressing and there's a difference between losing and learning and then coming back and not repeating that again, so that's where I'm kind of at.

The beginning of the year was much more difficult where I couldn't really step up into the next match and try to do things better. It was frustration because I didn't really feel comfortable, I didn't know what to do. Now, I do have a clear plan. Sometimes it just doesn't work out. Sometimes I have to do a few more steps to do that.

Like playing here, you know. My movement, I feel I have improved so much compared to other years on clay, so there's a lot of positive on that.

Today, my serve didn't work out. So I need to take a look and try to bring it to the next match and I'll do the same. I kind of enjoyed that, that type of challenge in a way. But I of course want to get on a roll. The draws haven't been too lucky to me either (laughing) and I'm not expecting it to be like that.

But I know the way I've been working the last couple of months, it's coming. I'm progressing from match to match. It's not there yet. But it's okay. I'm going to keep working.

Q. When you say the 'tennis is my job, it's not my life'.

Q. Wim was saying something similar.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: He stole that from me.

Q. He said it was from you but that you said that and it was a big mental change from you. Can you talk that through a little bit? And what does that mean to you when you say that tennis is your job and not your life?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, because when you are young and you grow up and everything, your childhood has gone, it's all about tennis, practice and fitness and tournaments and it is about winning and making it and everything. So tennis becomes your life. Everything in your team becomes about you, you know, you are an individual athlete. So when I became a mom that went to the second part.

No matter how much I love tennis, no matter how much my son is everything to me and it's always going to be that way, so that never going to change. And to me it felt like if I don't try to say that I'll still love tennis, like people might think, like oh, she doesn't have the commitment anymore. And all this talk has been happening. So in a way it took a toll on me, oh, do I like to play tennis?

Do I have the same drive? Yes, I do. But it is not my priority anymore because to be, quite frank, if I had a choice do I go to play a tournament or I spend time with my son? There is no choice. It's going to be my son. But I have to work and I have to do things so I do that sacrifice and I take that job really seriously because when I do do my job, is the limited time I'm away from my son and I'm going to make sure I put 100 percent in doing the best I can otherwise I won't be doing it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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