September 1, 2020
New York, New York, USA
V. AZARENKA/B. Haas
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. What is easiest about and hardest about the absence of the big-crowd atmosphere?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: What's easiest? Well, the easiest is I think getting around the grounds when you want to go from practice court back to the locker room. But I'm really much missing the energy of the people. In the big moments, the crowd cheering, being part of our world. That's what honestly I practice for, is to play in front of the crowd, in front of the fans. I miss the fans, for sure.
I think those screens on Arthur Ashe are really weird, really weird.
Q. Talk about your win today and what it does for you psychologically? First-round matches are sometimes the most nerve-wracking. What is your mindset after the win today?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think I played a really good match. Started the match really, really well. I played against an opponent that I didn't know about. That was a good adjustment for me.
After having to play Cincinnati, it's pretty quick turnaround. I haven't had this type of experience in a while, playing the week before a Grand Slam. But overall I didn't really have much tennis in the last months as everybody else.
I think it was a good turnaround after a good week. It was good for me to start kind of where I left off and pick it up from there. Pretty happy with that.
Q. Fans are very curious about life in the bubble. What are your impressions? What were your expectations? What were your anxieties? Give the fans a little sense of what it's like to be playing in unique circumstances.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I will say that first of all I'm not staying with everybody else. I'm staying at the house. I'm still in the bubble, but I'll call it a golden prison because I stay in a really nice place, but you can't go anywhere outside of that.
For my peace of mind, it's easier to be just with my family. My feeling is just moving from my home to another home, but I still have my team around. I have my son and my mom around. That is a little bit easier mentally.
It's not easy. Obviously it's not something that we're used to, to be stuck in one place. But my mindset here is that I'm here to play tennis and I want to do the best I can to protect that, obviously to be healthy. That's actually the number one priority. My mission here is to play tennis and not anything else.
I try to be as cautious as possible for me and my family, for my team. But if I will sit here and say that it's amazing, it's not. It sucks. But it is what it is. It's where we are in the world right now. We have to try to do our best to be able to play tennis, to have a tournament together.
I think we're all trying to figure out now what's the best way moving forward because right now there is no other answer for this pandemic.
Q. You mentioned the transition. What was the key to the transition from Saturday to Monday both physically and mentally? Do you just go back into the rhythm? Do you put it all behind you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I don't think there's much change. I think the last couple days was really focusing on recovery and trying to keep the body going. There is not a lot of time to actually take a break and kind of restart. Just be very mindful of getting as much rest as possible to be able to prepare for two weeks - hopefully - ahead.
Mentally, before the match it was really just keeping the same routine. When something is working, why really change that? But today it was just a little bit of a different circumstances that I'm playing against somebody I've never played before, didn't really know much about. It was something that I had to be aware, to adjust in the beginning. I felt that I've done that really well.
Q. In your next match you could face Aryna Sabalenka. If that is the matchup, talk about the challenge of playing her and whether or not you think the court speed at all changes what that matchup looks like from your eyes.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think it will be a great matchup. Honestly, I would be really excited to have that challenge. We had a really great match last year. It was really high quality. It didn't go my way. I feel like this year it's a great opportunity to kind of see where my level is at versus her level.
Yeah, it's going to be a great challenge. She's a great fighter. She's been showing great tennis. I'm really looking forward if that's going to be the matchup.
Q. You talked about win or lose, it doesn't matter, you're enjoying the process.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I mean, it does. It does matter. It does matter. It's not going to change things for me. It's just an experience. But of course it matters. I'm not going to sit here, I don't care if I win. Of course I care. I'm very competitive.
My mindset is a little different.
Q. With the wins that you got last week in Cincy, do you have your swagger back?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think I have swagger all the time, you know. Courtney, c'mon. I think I keep it all the time (laughter). That never changes.
Q. I just needed to confirm.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, yeah (laughter).
Q. You're basically playing a larger tournament than the Western & Southern Open, which you just won, but on the same court, same atmosphere. Do you feel a real difference apart from the prize money between this and the previous tournament?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think the significance obviously is something that is around in the atmosphere. I am obviously aware it's beginning of the new tournament, you kind of start from zero. I'm very mindful of that.
But I think it's kind of an advantage for everybody to be able to be in the same condition where you don't necessarily have to adjust to a different surface, different weather conditions and et cetera.
I am very mindful that it's a new tournament. Cincinnati is a little bit behind me, so... US Open is obviously, I think the atmosphere has more significance to it.
Q. What do you think the most important reasons are for staging this event after Wimbledon was canceled and the French Open was postponed?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I have no idea. You got me. I don't know how to answer that question to be honest.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports