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March 24, 2010

Victoria Azarenka


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Last year you came here seeded 11th. You beat Svetlana and Serena back to back. How does it feel coming back this year as defending champion? Does it change at all the way you view the tournament?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No. For me I'm not -- my feeling is not coming back as a defending champion. For me, it's a new year. I'm coming back as the same competitor as another 128 or how many girls here.
I'm gonna try to, you know, win the tournament, but you cannot really look into the past. It was great memories, great experience here, but it's done. So for me it's a new year, new challenges.

Q. Your losses this year, except for last week, they were all the top 10 players. How do you feel about the way you're playing right now?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I feel pretty good, you know. Last tournament wasn't that successful to me, but I had still a good match. You know, bad days happen.
But I feel pretty good. I like the way I play right now, and it's just a matter of getting back on the track, getting back on the court.
I couldn't be more excited to come back and play again.

Q. Now that you're working with a new coach, have your preparations been different for the tournament?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, you always adjust some things, you know. You discover some new things you want to work on, and, you know, you try to get yourself -- to know yourself a little bit better.
Definitely some changes. Not something, you know, crazy different, but some changes, yeah.

Q. I don't know if you were asked this in the beginning, but can you just talk about your memories of last year winning, and how did that change you in any way as a player or person beating Serena on a stage like this?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Um, as a person, didn't change me at all. As a player, probably some more people realized my name.
But, you know, I don't feel much difference except the experience you get. You know, the feeling that next time you walk on the court against a big match you don't feel as nervous as probably I was.
I don't know. Not much things changed.

Q. Are you working on developing specific aspects of your game with your new coach?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Um, we actually working on everything. Because the way that I see myself, that I can improve pretty much every aspect of my game.
So you cannot just really work on one thing. You work on some things a little bit more than usual, but you work on everything.

Q. Players often talk about the conditions here can be challenging with the heat, humidity, the wind. How do you feel about playing here? You were practicing yesterday. How are the courts?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: For me, everything is fine, you know. It's the same if -- it's heat, it's the same for both of us. If it's windy or sun, I don't know, it's the same for both of us.
You cannot find anything to bother you or excuse why I'm gonna play and it's gonna bother me. So for me, it doesn't matter.

Q. Can you talk about the return of Kim and Justine and what that has meant for the women's game?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think it means a lot, you know. The competition is really hard now. Um, you could see, you know, some unseeded players beating seeded players.
It's not because the seeded players or somebody plays bad, it's just the level of competition become much harder. I think everybody is playing in a better level.
I don't know. I think it's great, their comebacks. Unfortunately, I only played Kim once and I lost, but I'm looking forward for next matches. I mean, they are great players, and it's really exciting to play against them.

Q. As a result of your success, tennis in Belarus, is it more popular than it was, say, a year ago when you were here?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think so. Also, Max Mirnyi is a big, how do you say, big aspect, if you could call that, for tennis in Belarus.
It's really good. Our president helps a lot for the sport. They're building a lot of schools, a lot of courts. We don't really have too many coaches. That's, I think, one of the biggest problems.
But so many kids are joining the groups. Every time I come back, you know, it's really nice for me to see that people are following and, you know, kids are just -- I come back and I play with the kids all the time, because I remember when I was a little kid and somebody, you know, would come and play with us. It was so much fun.
So I try to help out, to bring some inspiration to tennis, and tennis became very popular. I think it's second most popular sport in our country.

Q. Did you spend time there in the off season? Is that really the only time that...
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I spent some time for my vacation. I don't practice there because it's pretty cold. But, yeah, I go there a lot.

End of FastScripts

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