September 1, 2021
New York, New York, USA
V. AZARENKA/J. Paolini
THE MODERATOR: If you could just start out by telling us your thoughts on the match and how you feel you're playing at this particular point in this very successful first week.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I thought it was a really entertaining match. I thought there was a lot of really high-quality points, really good rallies, a lot of shot variety.
I thought it was a pretty good level, especially first set. I felt that in the second set I had some opportunities that I didn't close out, but, you know, she played a couple of pretty flashy moments. You know, she took her chances. It really felt like she played really loose today.
It was my first time meeting her, so I didn't really know what to expect. A couple of things I saw from before were a bit different today, but overall I thought it was a pretty high-quality match, and I felt that I was happy that in the end I closed out in a strong way.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. It sounded like you were impressed with the game she brought today. What did you make of her game?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I think that sometimes it's a bit harder to judge when you play against somebody you don't know and play on a big court. It felt like there was no pressure. I will definitely say if she can keep up this level consistently, I think she will have a different ranking, for sure, and coming up.
It's harder for me to judge based on this match, the overall performance and ability of a player. Today she played really well.
As I said, I thought it was very high quality. I had to find my opportunities and really go for it. But she was making some pretty impressive, you know, shots, like right to the baseline, some like really, you know, out of kind of winners from any position.
That's what I'm saying. It's a bit hard to judge just based on one performance and the performance that she played today.
Q. You next face Garbine. When she was here, she spoke about how you have had success here and she hasn't and is trying to change that. What are your thoughts when you face her in terms of style of play?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: She's a very difficult opponent, because she has an ability to make incredible shots, and sometimes she can -- I mean, I think we all have seen some matches that she can be off, but I think that against top players she rises to the occasion, and she brings a really high level.
So I know that it's going to be a very difficult match. She's a dangerous opponent, a Grand Slam champion, so definitely knows what it takes to be on big stages, win big matches.
But I love those kind of challenges. It's going to be in the third round, but it really doesn't matter. You know, to win the titles, you need to beat the best players. That's what I'm looking forward to do is to play those big matches.
Q. You don't have to answer this, but...
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I love the start of that (smiling). I don't have to answer it, all right.
Q. If you could change one or two things in your career, what...
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Change things in my career? Honestly, I think that at some point everybody has this question, not necessarily about career but your life, would you change anything. And I don't think so, because, you know, it brings you here.
I think that one thing moving forward I can think about is learning from maybe some of your mistakes and not repeating them. That is just something that I would look forward to.
But going back and change something, honestly, it's pointless. It's never gonna happen. So the only thing I can, as I said, I can look for is not maybe repeating some of the same mistakes.
Q. Talk about Leo. Is he well aware his mom is an international athlete? How he's been?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: He's doing good. He does watch a lot of matches. He was actually asking to come to my match today, but I had to give him a "not yet," because I can't not pay him attention when he plays. He actually watched our doubles in Berlin, and he still doesn't really understand the score. So he just says, "Go, momma," then he points. "Good job, momma."
I'm very attentive parent, so whenever he's around, like, he's my focus. So the ball will not be my focus when he's around (smiling).
Q. If I'm not mistaken, are you still working with Dorian here in New York?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: He's not here in New York.
Q. You guys are still working together?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah.
Q. Who are you working with here, just to clarify?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I'm here with my other part of my team, Max Chutekan (phonetic). You'll need some spelling for that.
I worked with both of them from actually last year. So we are switching for some of the personal reasons. That's just the situation.
Q. On court you thanked your fans or mentioned to the fans that you were pleased that everyone in there was vaccinated. I think it's the first event that we have had that has had that as a thing. Does it change anything for you in terms of...
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You know, I think that it's such a question that is like going back and forth with a lot of people, although I think that majority of people still are trying to be progressive and trying to be, you know, find a solution moving forward, which is in my opinion is part of being vaccinated.
I want to start this conversation between our players, because to me that's a bit bizarre that fans have to be vaccinated and players are not. So I think that in my opinion, it's inevitable that it will be mandated at some point, like other leagues are doing. I don't see the point of stalling it, really, because I think we all want to be safe, we all want to continue doing our jobs, and I know there is a lot of discussions about it.
But to me, I respect everybody's opinion as long as it's not conspiracy theory. You know, if you actually have decent knowledge and looked into research and have your facts and stats and research, that's a different conversation. But I feel that that part of conversation that really you need to be knowledgeable to what you're saying is missing in a lot of players.
I hope that as a association we make the best decision for our business, for our health, for the tournaments, for public. And I think that we need to start this conversation, because as I said, in my opinion it's just inevitable.
Q. A week ago an Argentinian fan got tattoo with your image playing... I guess you saw it.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yes, I did.
Q. How do you feel about this kind of stuff in your life?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You know, I really don't necessarily understand the level of like fanatic to do something like this. I appreciate it, but I cannot really relate to that, because I'm a fan of a lot of people, of a lot of athletes, but I don't know if I'll ever go to that point.
So I can't really understand that level, but I really appreciate that. Of course it puts a smile of my face that somebody is that passionate about what I do and maybe inspired to do something else in their life, so it's a privilege.
But it's sometimes a bit, you know, hard to grasp that, like, Wow, somebody actually wants to have my image of me for the rest of their life.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports