August 26, 2020
New York, New York, USA
V. AZARENKA/O. Jabeur
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. I saw your match last week against Venus Williams. Tell me how far you've come in that time since that match against Venus.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: How far I have come from...
Q. In terms of your form.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: A loss to a semifinal, so four matches long. Four matches further than Lexington. That's how far I have come.
In terms of my game, you know, I felt -- actually, after our first-round match, someone asked me that. Obviously I played better, but I felt that Lexington, you know, was my first tournament really back. I haven't played pretty much any tennis for about a year. Even though that match was a loss, I was still able to kind of find my rhythm.
The problem was it was a little too late, so that didn't work out for me. But I was happy that I was able to find that rhythm and feel like, okay, now I know a little bit how it feels to, you know, to have that feeling and that more of a comfort on the court.
So that was actually very positive for me, even though it may not be like that in terms of a result.
Q. You were mentioning about your blending into the background. What do you think of your new kit from Nike? Is it a favorite of yours compared to others?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I mean, it's pretty cool. I think it's pretty nice.
It's different. It feels like bringing the fashion back. I feel like fashion, it's always kind of a circle. You know, you go in a circle with a little bit more inspiration.
So it's nice. I think that it's cool colors. I think it blends really well with the blue courts, especially with the pink colors. Some other players have some different shades of this outfit, but I do love the pink and the blue combination. I feel like it stands out.
Q. You have put together now four wins. Was today playing Ons the most challenging of the opponents you have faced? If so, why?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't really look at it that way. I think what was challenging today was that I was playing against her for the first time. Other opponents I have played before, so it was a little bit more familiar.
The beginning was a little bit tough for me. I felt like I was getting bullets out of my behind for a few times, and then I kind of got into the ball.
I was, I would say, surprised but in a good way by her pace. She's very, very talented. I have obviously seen her play, but, you know, standing on the other side was different.
So I definitely admire her talent, and it was surprising in a good way -- I mean, in a bad way for me, but I'm saying it with a compliment.
Q. Certainly an opportunity for you to think your way through a tough match and to keep moving on?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, it was definitely a tough match. It was very close. I was down set points and then I had some set points, and the tiebreak was really close.
I felt it was really, really good quality. You know, she was pushing me. I had to come up with something that wasn't any, like, given points. So we really had to bring the best today.
Obviously with the tricky conditions, you know, the wind was quite heavy today. So it wasn't easy to manage with the variety that she was bringing, as well.
Q. I saw two set points, consecutive set points for her. Then a few for you. Also some errors. You mentioned the wind. But, I mean, there was also some tension which was prevailing maybe, considering also that you have been a little bit away from tennis in the recent times.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Did you just give me the summary, or was there a question? Was there a question here, or should I take some notes?
Q. How did you react to these different situations? And if it was the wind, if it was the, you know, the fact that you were away from tennis for a while? Because in my opinion, you are making quite a few mistakes, both of you. Sometimes her, sometimes you. And I think, but maybe you don't agree.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: There were mistakes. The tennis match doesn't happen without mistakes. That's for sure.
But I feel like in the closer moments I played well. Definitely the set points I saved pretty big in the first set, and the other ones I went for some balls. When there are tough moments, you either gotta go for it or you're going to wait for a mistake.
In my case, I felt that I was going to try and go for my shots, and sometimes it doesn't happen. So my reaction was to keep trying, keep trying, and then it's going to work.
You know, I'm not going to say it was the wind or whatever. There were mistakes. Of course there is going to be mistakes. Show me a match without mistakes, and we can discuss about it (smiling).
Q. No, I was just trying to understand if you are satisfied with your game, with the level that you have just reached, compared to the one that you were used to.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't remember -- I don't remember what was used to.
Q. When you were No. 1 in the world.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think when you look at the result, that's what you expect -- you know, when you win, everybody thinks, oh, my God, your level was amazing, you played like this.
But opponents are different. You know, it's been now eight years since I won first Australian Open, so the game also changes. You know, things change, and it's how you adapt to it. And I honestly feel that I'm going to learn a lot more than I was in 2012, and my game has developed.
Results is something that is an outcome, but I feel pretty good. I'm not going to say that everything worked today, but it was enough for me to win, and I'm going to keep trying to play the next match.
Q. I saw you are working with Dorian. Can you explain me when did it begin? And GaĆ«l Monfils played a role in the association?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, absolutely not. But, you know, I have two more French guys in my team, so it's not just Dorian. Apparently I have a connection with French people somehow. GaĆ«l is one of my best friends.
I started working with Dorian and my new team, the fitness coach, as well, in February right before I was going to play in Monterrey. So with the lockdown, Dorian was a little bit away, because he just had twin girls, so he had a very good personal reason to be away.
But we kept in touch, and I enjoy the work we do. I put some changes into my practice routines, into my fitness routines, as well.
So it's been good. I have been enjoying, and it's nice to have guys who are, like, my age so we have a lot more in common. I feel like we both learn from each other.
Dorian never really coached anybody before on the level, I think in WTA on the level that I play, so we get to learn a lot from each other.
And he's been great with pushing me on the tennis court in terms of my game. It's been fun.
But we get along really well, and I think at this time it's very important to be mentally fresh, to be mentally enjoying yourself, enjoying the work, because it does get repetitive, and especially knowing in the lockdown when you have no motivation, you don't know what you're practicing for. To keep that mentality going was important.
Q. Do you speak French?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I understand French. They only teach me naughty words. Joking.
Q. You mentioned you're enjoying yourself on the court more. I'm wondering when you're going through a first set like that, first-set tiebreak like that, are you able to enjoy that while you're on the court?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Hell, yeah. Hell, yeah. That was so fun.
That was, like, the best. It was the best. Those moments, it's really fun. It's what you experience. It's not pretty, doesn't feel comfortable, but it's the best.
Q. You said the game has moved on since you were World No. 1 in 2012 when you won the Australian Open. How has it moved on?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I feel it became -- definitely stepped up another level on the physicality, I think. In terms of power, I feel like a lot of young girls are a lot more powerful, and I think the biggest difference is like from first rounds.
You know, there is really no easy matches, and you sometimes don't know what to expect, because in terms of consistency I feel like it can go up and down a little bit. But the level, when a lot of players are up, especially young girls, the level is pretty high in terms of power. So I feel like that has been the most visible improvement.
Q. Finally, at any point over the last, say, three years, have you ever considered retiring?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah. About a few times. I wasn't -- in January, I didn't know if I was going to play at all. So end of January, I decided, You know what? I might try, last time, and see what happens. Yeah.
Q. Feeling pretty good about that decision now, I imagine?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I would have felt good about any decision. I don't regret many things.
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