January 20, 2023
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
V. AZARENKA/M. Keys
1-6, 6-2, 6-1
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Hello, everybody.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, Vika. Back into the fourth round here at the Australian Open. Give us your thoughts on the match and how you turned it around after the first set.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, very happy to be here. It was not easy out there. I played against a great opponent who had a lot of success on these courts as well, started the year really, really strong. We have always quite big battles. Our last battle in Guadalajara was another heartbreaker.
But, yeah, I felt like first set she came out playing incredibly well. I was a bit kind of like one step off. My serve wasn't really working. I just kept trying to find my rhythm, try to go back to my basics, take one point at a time, do things a little bit more, a little bit faster, hands a little bit faster, my feet, finish my serve a bit more. Point by point I felt like I started to shift momentum, then I kind of hanged on, something like that (smiling).
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. When you walked off the court, you were looking for your name in the Hall of Champions. Should we be reading into that at all, how confident that performance made you feel?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, no. Really not. I didn't know that they were changing them. I walked earlier in practice and I saw my name. Yeah, but there's nothing to read into. But I didn't know they are changing the spots actually. That was kind of interesting.
But, you know, it's something that I can be proud of myself for the rest of my life. My name is going to be ingrained in the history. I feel like sometimes, when maybe you don't feel confident with yourself, results are not there, you kind of forget what you've done.
I'm very hard on myself, so I try to be a little bit kinder to myself, try to look more objectively on the bigger picture rather than just focusing on sometimes, like, what happened now and whatever, to take, I guess, my lens a little bit out of the zoom sometimes, yeah.
Q. How much of those good vibes you have on the court inspire you when you play a match like that? With the results you have obviously in the past, how much does it help mentally?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I think honestly for me, the trick is always, if I focus on my good vibes based on the result, it feels like it plays a trick because those are things that are out of my control. Sometimes I can play amazing, and I can still lose. I actually try to keep my good vibes - if that's the word - more consistent and really focus on what I can do, what I can control.
I try to break down my goals on the court into small little parts and see how I can achieve them rather than saying, Okay, I need to win. I think that keeps me more grounded, that keeps me more focused, definitely more consistent.
Yeah, I mean, I feel like the energy that I put out there is strong. I fight for every ball no matter what the score is. Yeah, I feel like it's the right way to do it.
Q. In terms of the match tonight and problem solving, what is most satisfying to you, the actual successful problem solving you did or the execution side of being able to execute the solution?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, probably a bit of both. I felt like in the first set I was kind of looking for solution without kind of doing my basics. That was, like, kind of running before I actually have to do something. I was trying to fix something that I didn't have a foundation of.
I actually told to myself... I kept looking at my coach a little bit, not too much, but like he's going to tell me something magical and all of a sudden everything is going to change. But I told myself, Nobody's going to play for you, you just got to go out and do what you believe is right.
That is something I'm proud of, is for not freaking out or feeling bad for myself because that's kind of I think sometimes normal reactions when you have disappointment, when you have a challenge in front of you.
Yeah, the solution solving is definitely something that I'm proud of. But also to simplify things a little bit. Sometimes to look for a solution, you get a little bit caught in too many things. To simplify that, like I did today, I think was very important.
Q. Looking ahead, obviously you play either Sakkari or Zhu Lin. The fact that it is a round of 16 with an opportunity to get back into the quarterfinals here in a little bit of time, how big of a match is it to you? How do you simplify it to just being a match?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I mean, it's bigger on paper, right? Obviously even coming into this match, I was talking to my team. I was like, everything starts to feel more important - right? - everything starts to become bigger.
In reality, it is not. It's still a match. It's not about for me fighting against those feelings. It's about accepting them and working through them.
I work really hard on that. I really work hard on psychology and the game, awareness, learning about myself. I feel like I'm more open-minded, it helps me to learn.
It is bigger on paper. I'm sure I'll have feelings, okay, it's fourth round, it's a step closer. But I do want to use that experience. It's a long road. I'm aware of that.
As long as I can keep my feet grounded and my head clear, that's all it is. But it is tempting to think that way, for sure.
Q. When you talk about the simplification of things, Andy Murray last night played his match, inspiring result for somebody who was a champion alongside you, a lot of the champions alongside you have retired, I'm curious how much inspiration do you take out of that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I mean, honestly, I take inspiration from anything really. I really respect Andy and his grit. It's very impressive to see how hard he works for what he is. I also sometimes question why he do it. I'm not going to lie. I'm like, You've got everything. You have kids at home. Why you still, like last year, going to challengers? But it's his way of doing it.
We were training in the same place actually in the off-season, and I saw how hard he worked. It's definitely impressive. I think he's sticking to what he believes, even though different people are telling him different things. That for me is admirable.
I feel like there's so much inspiration around, girls, guys, there's so much talent around tennis. For me it's about looking at the new generation, how I can beat them because they're coming with a lot of power, a lot of fearlessness.
Yeah, I kind of tried to remember I was 16, I was 17, I was 18. Somebody thought like, Oh, I'm playing this young girl. But I thought I'm going to beat everybody at that age. They're probably thinking the same way.
For me it's about looking at also new generation to see how I need to improve my game because the game is shifting, it's improving. Yeah, it's a challenge.
But in terms of inspiration, I think it's up to you how you want to look at it. Some people look at things glass half full, some people look at a glass half empty. I feel like it's up to you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports