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September 6, 2007

Victoria Azarenka

Max Mirnyi


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. So that's seven for you, Max, seven titles?
MAX MIRNYI: I'm not sure. Four here at US Open.

Q. Where do you put all these trophies?
MAX MIRNYI: Well, depending on where is the nearest house. Florida.

Q. How many are back home in Belarus?
MAX MIRNYI: Whichever is won in Europe. Simple.
But it's not a tough thing to decide though.

Q. How did you two get together as a team?
MAX MIRNYI: Well, we're from the same hometown, so I've known Victoria since she came to play tennis when she was five or six years old. Now she's coming up and she was always at the club and her mom was very much involved into our program as a professional.
Back home at the National Tennis Center she's been always helping our team with the Davis Cup ties. As the years go by, Victoria became the best junior, and it didn't take her too long to be one the best professional players now.
With the limit of the tournaments she had the last couple years she's now top 40, so it's incredible progress she's made. I'm happy to have played with her throughout this year.

Q. Max, something's happening in Belarus, because it's not only Victoria, but here comes Vladimir Ignatic right behind. He looks like he's going to be a pretty good player. Is money finally being made available to young players to train and travel?
MAX MIRNYI: I think it's a long process. It's tough to just point out one single aspect that's been improved on. The whole structure has been changed. The last four years there has been tremendous support from the government side in Belarus because our city mayor of Minsk is president of the Tennis Federation. Certainly with big help of city funds the Federation is run now. There's much more courts available for winter training.
I think generally speaking that's what's making a big difference. Hopefully in the future it's going to continue to make a change. That whole that we lived through in the '90s was very difficult for girls that are a little bit older than Victoria, and guys. You know, she's more of a new generation now. But we've had many good juniors that who were 15, 16 and didn't have the funds and ability to travel and play internationally. Now it's changing.
Of course, with the ability to play many more tournaments now you don't have to travel to the United States or Asia to play. Now in our region around Belarus and Baltic states and Ukraine and Russia there are so many more tournaments, so I think that has to do with that, too.

Q. How difficult was it for you to get money when you were 11, 12 years old to travel and to train?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I had a sponsor when -- I had a sponsor since I was 12, for a couple of years, and then we just -- Victoria Khabibulin and Nikolai Khabibulin, the hockey player. They started helping me until I started getting money on my own, and they're still helping me. So that's pretty much I just got lucky that I got a sponsor, and I could leave and train somewhere else.

Q. What was it like teaming with Max? Is he somebody you looked up to growing up? Were you a little nervous here?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, Max has always been around, and we always followed, and I was even ball-boying since I was at Davis Cup and everything. I always looked forward to all of our players, like Max and Natasha Zvereva and all the other players.

Q. Did you ball boy for Max in a match? Ball girl for Max?
MAX MIRNYI: Some Davis Cup ties we've played at home.
MAX MIRNYI: We have 13 years apart age difference, so I was playing Davis Cup since '94. Victoria was only eight.

Q. What were you thinking at 6-1 down?
MAX MIRNYI: Victoria was thinking; I wasn't. Especially mixed nowadays a think it's a great addition to the rule that they've made the short format which allows a lot of top players to participate in the mixed.
So having that in the back of your mind, it's such a short format you know you just cannot be -- you know, allowing yourself to relax and let just time go by. Every point is so important.
Obviously we didn't know that the things are going to turn out the way they did in the second set tiebreak. I was mainly concerned at the time to just keep compusure and continue to apply pressure and use the game plan that we've had for the final set, ten-point tiebreaker.
Because, of course, being down 6-2, that's what's most likely to happen. But, you know, with the change of ends and one side being more windy than the other and then I was serving pretty good during that time and Victoria had some great shots, so didn't take long for deficit to disappear.
When we were at 6-All situation we had to change ends again, and that was a good situation because I had to return against the girl and against wind, which gave me more time to swing and be more aggressive on my return, and I felt this was a good break for us.

Q. You came back from 0-5. Have you ever come back from it 0-6 in a tiebreak?
MAX MIRNYI: You're referring to my singles match?

Q. Today.
MAX MIRNYI: I don't remember that, no. But 0-5 in my singles tiebreak here against Baghdatis in the first round, such two unusual things happening in one tournament that must have been our week.

Q. Victoria, how do you feel having won your first Grand Slam title?

Q. What's that experience like?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't know. Actually I don't believe it yet. I'm just at the point that I don't realize we won the Grand Slam. I knew we won the match, but I'm still not there. I'm kind of in a place right now, I don't know where.

Q. You were part of a class of juniors which Szavay and Tamira Paszek, and there's a fourth girl that did well here?

Q. You all sort of turned pro about the same time. Do you know each other very well?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I played doubles with Agnes and we won two juniors Grand Slams. I know Agnieszka also because she's Polish and we sometimes talk in our languages. Tamira is also a very good friend of mine, so we're all friends.

Q. This could be one of the better classes of junior players that turned pro together. Have you ever discussed the possibility that we might be playing each other in a Grand Slam singles final someday, some wish like that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, we never have. We just talk, and whoever wins, good luck for other matches. Just like that.

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