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March 4, 2021

Victoria Azarenka

Doha, Qatar

Press Conference

V. AZARENKA/E. Svitolina

6-2, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Being physically compromised as you were, how did you endure the pain? Did it get any better as the match went on?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, the pain didn't really get any better. I'm pretty proud of the way I handled it mentally. I tried to approach it and focus on the things that I could do rather than the things that I couldn't do, and I think that really helped me to go through and find ways to, first, stay in the match and then also to create opportunities and take them.

Q. You're happy to turn right around and play another match tomorrow? How will you approach the circumstance?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I mean, as kind of the same way as I did with the match. You know, one moment at a time. Try to do obviously the best possible, check every option that I have to prepare the best as possible for tomorrow and make the best judgment.

I don't want to, you know, sit here and make any decisions. There is no point. The most important is to be able to give myself all the possible options to be better.

Q. When you look at some of the numbers from this match, you held Elina to 4 of 24 on second-serve points, and obviously that's the sort of number you look for under any circumstance. You playing particularly aggressive on that second-serve return, was that a biproduct of how you were feeling physically, or was that always the game plan going into today's match?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I think, you know, against Elina, it was really important for me to be aggressive. She's a very good baseline player, and she counterattacks a lot, so it was important not to kind of give her opportunity to take first and keep me moving around in the beginning.

I obviously had no idea about the stats, but I think that was really important for me to kind of set that tone from the beginning today.

Q. For you now moving forward, I'm curious, just given the uncertainties surrounding everything this season, do you feel pressure within a tournament now that you're playing to continue to play matches even if you're not physically at your best, just given the uncertainty of when that next tournament might be?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think it's maybe a bit, you know, somewhere in the clouds but not necessarily a main focus obviously.

For me, the priorities are always going to be to make sure that you're physically healthy, not to maybe go over the limit, you know. But obviously sometimes you push a bit more than others, but it also depends on different circumstances and, you know, pain tolerance, mental preparation, how far you can push. I think there is a lot more things that goes into it, into decisions like this.

Q. Earlier this week you and Elina played doubles against Elena Vesnina, and that was her first match back since having a baby. She and many other moms on tour cite you as an inspiration. Wondered if you had those conversations with her and other players and what you make of this sort of new rung of tour moms after you and Serena and several others have blazed that trail?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, it's very flattering, obviously, that they do say that. I said that many times that I think the stereotype of women having kids and not following their careers is broken. I think a lot of women are taking the chances to fulfill their career potential as well as being, you know, prioritizing their family.

I'm very happy that Elena came back. It was actually really fun to play against her. It's fun to see her, you know, in the different role. I haven't seen her since she had the baby, so it's always a nice meeting again.

Yeah, I'm inspired by all the ladies that they are coming back and fighting for their own passions and dreams. I think that's really amazing that in this era we have such a huge, you know, adjustment or new things that women are continuing to play.

I think that attributes as well that the tour age of the players is already further, which is amazing. That means that tennis is a lot longer period of time where you can play.

Q. A question about you and how you were feeling physically on the court today, did you feel you were getting better at any points in the match, and do you feel in the course of your career you have gotten better at managing pain and injuries in matches over the course of the last few years?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I would say over the last year I think that, you know, something that is coming sometimes with experience, with age, with maturity, and your way of taking responsibility for things, I didn't necessarily feel better in the match, but I think what was very helpful for me is to focus on things what I was able to do rather than anything else and what was not working.

I think that sometimes that kind of clouds your judgment and clouds your thinking when you are enduring pain and difficulty that, you know, you're not focused on things that are there to find solutions.

Q. Was there any sort of point during that match where you felt that this was a decisive game or a decisive break in any particular set that you felt you had sort of wrestled the advantage?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, I think I'm old enough to understand that the match can turn at any point, so I think that would be a bit of a rookie mistake to think that you're cruising all the way through.

But I think the importance was for me to just stay consistent. I don't necessarily think there was a point or a game. It was just having that kind of consistent aggressiveness that I played with today, I think that what kept that pressure from the beginning to the end.

Q. Lastly, in preparation now for the next round, will it be just mainly for the next 24 to 48 hours when you're playing again, whether it just be sort of relaxation? Will you take any sort of study on your next opponent and do a bit of research and get a bit of practice in, or is it very much recuperation?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: The most important obviously is preparing physically. In terms of 48 hours, I don't have them. The most I will have is probably less than 24 (smiling).

But, no, it's not that exciting. It's just sleep, eat, try to recover, do as much treatment as possible and prepare myself.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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