January 23, 2023
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
V. AZARENKA/Zhu Lin
4-6, 6-1, 6-4
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Hello. Good morning (smiling).
THE MODERATOR: Vika, congratulations on an incredible win tonight, or this morning. Can you give us your thoughts on the match, how you refocused after dropping the first set.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, it was hell of a match. It was very physical. There were so many rallies. It was kind of tough for me to figure out how my opponent plays. I watched a little bit her playing before, but today I felt like the bullets were coming from every angle, on the run, off the run, on the line, touch the net. I felt like everything is, like, going in.
It was a bit frustrating for me, I'm not going to lie. I probably didn't show it, but I was a bit upset because, When is it going to turn my way?
At one point I had to tell myself a little bit stop thinking what she's doing, really focus on myself, what I can do, control. I can't control her making winners, I can't control her hitting lines or playing amazing tennis. I can play a part in not letting her play such a good tennis.
Yeah, it was that moment where I was like, Okay, I just need to step by step focus on myself, execute better. Second set, I was playing better. Third set was momentum shifts going crazy.
But I'm so happy that I was able to turn this around. What I said on the court. I had couple really tough three sets that didn't turn my way, and I was very, very close. Today was very important for me.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. In the third set, she never let you pull away. What was the key to finally being able to get the last break and serve it out?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, there were a lot of breaks.
I felt like just patience. I was like, Okay, just keep going, keep trying, keep creating opportunities, and it will happen. There were quite a few moments when it's almost, but it's not.
I really focused on staying patient, staying focused on myself because it was very, very easy to just lose that patience, lose control because it was very tough out there.
Q. Was that particularly tough in that final game, facing the break points trying to serve it out?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I wouldn't really say that. I felt like once it was 3-2, I felt like, okay, I'm getting the momentum. Then I just lost two games, like, super easy. At 5-4, I was, like, nobody is going to give it to you, you just got to go and take it. I was brave enough to go for my shots, to create those opportunities.
Yeah, I also believe those kind of losses earlier in Adelaide kind of helped me. Okay, you got to shift, you got to take control.
Q. In terms of the physicality of the match, you must be very pleased with how physically you were able to cross the finish line, not limp over it?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I feel really good physically. Knock on wood, if there's wood here (smiling).
But I worked really hard in my off-season. I always work hard, but I felt like I was challenging myself to kind of go a little bit beyond what I usually do, which was very scary.
Honestly, it was very scary for me physically to fail. I was afraid to fail, that I wouldn't be able to finish certain things. It hurts my ego very much if I cannot complete something.
This off-season I really worked on not being afraid to fail and just give it 100% and kind of be okay with that if it's not enough, kind of build from there. I think that helps me physically to know that I have that experience from the off-season.
That also gives me that self-confidence that no matter what the score is, if it's three hours, whatever, as long as I need to play, as long as I need to, I'll do it.
Q. This has been the site of some great moments for you. How much do you think back to the championships here? Is that something that can help fuel you when you come back and play here?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I mean, I made history. For me, my name is always going to be there on the wall. It's definitely historic for me.
But I don't really look back and think about what I have done. I just try to really create new memories. I'm not the person who looks back, either regrets or is happy about the past. I do live in the moment. Sometimes too much in the future, being too hopeful (smiling).
Yeah, it's not bringing back the wins. I always say that you only remember the good things, you don't remember the bad things about your wins.
There were tough roads both times. I try to create new memories. I need space for new memories.
Q. You face Jessie. What do you make of her as an opponent, her rise to No. 3?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I mean, she's amazing player. Her stability and consistency throughout I wouldn't only say last year, I would say the years before that. She's been an incredible player. She got me here, so I definitely want revenge.
She's a great friend of mine. I absolutely adore her. We have really tough battles every single time. We practice with each other. There's going to be no surprises absolutely. Also, like, it's going to be tough, it's going to be a lot of rallies, the ball is going to be low. Doesn't really make it easier to think that I know who I'm playing.
Q. The fear of failure during your pre-season, can you apply that or do you want to apply that same mentality to your tennis the second week?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, absolutely. I feel like everything is kind of interconnected. You cannot turn off -- I don't feel like you can turn off your personality or fears, especially in a moment of high pressure, high stress. I think those are the times where they reveal the most.
Yeah, I mean, it's a process for me. It's a process for me. I don't know how far I'm going to go or how long it's going to work.
For me it was important to really build little steps because, as I told you before, it's so easy to kind of think far down the road. I'm the type of person who sometimes can try to skip the steps.
I think it's a blessing and a curse. I don't want to sit here and say being super cocky that I'm talented, but I do feel a lot of things come naturally to me and quite easy. It's very easy to, okay, I got it, mastered it, but you still need to practice over and over and over again.
Q. What would you describe as the most challenging thing Jess does on a tennis court?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I will say she plays quite simple, which is I would say is a compliment. It's quite easy to be flashy. Not easy, but it's easier to just go overboard. But to have that consistency and simplicity...
A player of different style, but Ash Barty is one of the people, she just did certain things so well and over and over and over again. I feel like Jess has in her way, in her style, kind of similarity.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports