January 26, 2023
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
E. RYBAKINA/V. Azarenka
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Hello, everybody.
THE MODERATOR: Vika, tough one tonight. Could you give us your assessment of the way the match played out.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, right now especially it's kind of hard to digest. Obviously I had quite a few chances that I gave myself. Kind of not converting them right now is difficult.
Yeah, cannot really say I'm really proud of how I played. Not proud, but like very happy that I played great tennis today, I feel like I didn't really do that.
I'm proud of myself how I fought and I tried, but just was not, tennis-wise I felt like just wasn't there, especially in the important moments when I kept creating those opportunities for me. Just couldn't convert them.
Yeah, not a great feeling right now to digest. But give me a couple hours and I can have, like, probably a better outlook on this month in Australia. Look forward to throughout the year what I can do.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You came on wearing a PSG top. I think I heard the umpire say, Take that off, for various reasons. What happened?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Which time (smiling)? They told me to take it off twice because I had a different shirt.
Yeah, I think it's the issue with the sponsorships. I guess the logos are too big. I mean, it's not something they've done that is out of ordinary. I know that I'm not allowed to play in that. I knew those type of things.
But I can still step on the court in what I want to step on the court. Yeah, I mean, I do it for my own reasons. My son wore the white jersey today to his practice, and I tried to wear a white jersey to my match but couldn't. So that's okay.
Q. On the first set in particular, you got the early break there. Seemed like you got a good read on her serve. Returning well. Did she make adjustments? Did your level dip?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Actually, I felt like returning-wise I was pretty comfortable. Of course, she serves big. She made aces. That's always going to happen.
Overall I felt like I was handling her serve actually pretty well. Couple shots after that, it was kind of, like, I wasn't adjusting well. Some balls were coming slow. Some balls were coming faster. I felt like I wasn't really focusing on what I have to do. Kind of misjudged a lot of balls.
The quality wasn't there. For me, I had few breaks, so I didn't feel like she was untouchable on her serve. It was more for me to, like, play that one, two shots. In any long rallies, I felt like I had the upper hand. Those first two balls I wasn't doing enough today. Once I could make her move, then I felt pretty confident. Those first two shots were not in my game today.
Q. There's been a lot of scrutiny about a lot of the Russian and Belarusian players here. I'm sure even if you weren't looking at social, you would have seen there was an incident with Novak's dad last night. Is it difficult for you when you go out there to put all those things out of your mind? Do you think there are other players who get impacted by it?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Other players get impacted by what exactly are you asking me?
Q. Distractions out of their hands, the constant sort of news and talk about issues.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: News are coming from who?
Q. Well, from everyone, social media.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You're here talking about it right now, so obviously it's a topic you want to continue to bring up and up and up again (smiling).
I don't know what you want me to say.
Q. Are you able to distance yourself completely? Does it concern you at all? Do you think about it? As a fellow player, do you think how difficult that might be for Novak?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't know what it has to do with Novak at all, to be fair, so...
I've spoken to actually a security guard today who was walking me to practice every day. I know him for years. I just asked him what was the accident [sic]. He explained to me.
I don't know what you guys want us to do about it. Like talk about it? I don't know what's the goal here that it's continuously brought up. These incidents that in my opinion have nothing to do with players, but somehow you keep dragging players into it.
So what's the goal here? I think you should ask yourself that question, not me.
Q. To clarify on that. Does it frustrate you, particularly last night, for example, there was a clear sort of pro-Russian demonstration happening within the grounds of the tournament, that these people are coming and using the Australian Open as a platform for these kind of demonstrations. Does that frustrate you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Whatever the answer I'm going to give it to you right now, it's going to be turned whichever way you want to turn it to. So does it bother me? What bothers me is there's real things that's going on in the world. I don't know. Are you a politician? Are you? Are you covering politics?
Q. No, I'm a sports journalist.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: And I'm an athlete. You're asking me about things that maybe somebody says are in my control, but I don't believe that.
I don't know what you want me to answer. If it's a provocative question, then you can spin the story however you want.
THE MODERATOR: Final one on this.
Q. Not on this topic.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Thanks.
Q. When you were saying earlier about the shift, as you said, it's difficult to see the light at the moment, might give you a few hours and change your mindset, what is it that sort of changes your mindset in this situation? Is it time? Is it waking up tomorrow and hanging out with Leo? What will shift this for you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Probably a little bit of everything, honestly. Time always is a good medicine I feel like. I don't really dwell too long on things. I feel like I'm in the state of mind where I can be a little bit more objective.
I think what helps me now is not to take it, I did something bad or I'm this or that. I don't take it as a personal. It's just a day that my game didn't win. I think that helps my mindset to not dwell on things like that too much.
On the other hand, it also motivates you. Okay, I want to go a step further and do better. Then take the lens, zoom out and see what I can do maybe better next time.
I think it's a combination of kind of few things.
Q. I wanted to ask if you could offer your assessment of what sort of potential Rybakina has moving forward?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: As a player, I think she's a great player. She obviously has big weapons. I think that if she improves couple areas, she's going to be better, as well. She hasn't really had that consistency throughout the year so far.
I don't know. I want to see how she is in five years, so... It will be interesting.
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