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AUSTRALIAN OPEN


January 12, 2013


Victoria Azarenka


MELBOURNE, VICTORIA

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  This is your first time coming back to a Grand Slam as defending champion.  How has it felt so far?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Felt amazing.  It's always good to be back here.  You know, I enjoyed it since the first time I came to Melbourne as a junior.  I always look forward to come back.  This year is no exception.
So I'm really happy to be back and can't wait to start the tournament, you know, to get everything rolling.

Q.  Do you feel any more pressure being defending champion?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Uhm, no, not really, because I'm not here to defend, I'm here to win, to play tennis.  That's how I look at it.
You know, it's my position, my mentality going into and starting the tournament.

Q.  Sam Stosur, do you see her as a threat or just another competitor?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Oh, I think she's a great player.  She definitely has had some tough times, you know, here.  But I know on any given day she can bring her A game.  Everybody know how dangerous of an opponent she is.
The first tournament, never say anything what's going to happen here.  I always think that she's a very tough competitor and, you know, she has an advantage of being with the home crowd.  So definitely going to be one of the favorites.

Q.  Do you see Serena as being the player to beat?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Yeah, I think so.  You know, everybody try to beat the top players.  Every time I go on the court, you feel the same way.  Everybody want to take your position, be the No.1 player in the world.
When I wasn't No.1, I was feeling the same way.  You get more excited.  The job gets tougher for us, but also it's more exciting this way.

Q.  You didn't get a chance to play Serena in Brisbane.  Maybe it would have been a chance to try out your game against her before the Open started.
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  You know, I kind of let go of that situation.  There is no point to be disappointed or kind of have really any emotions about it anymore because that what happen.  There is nothing I could do possibly to make it happen.  I just really let it go.
I think I did a very good choice, by the way.  I'm feeling good right now.  So the only thing that I feel is that I made the right decision.

Q.  Are you a superstitious person, doing the same things that year you did last year, hotels, restaurants?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  No, not really.  I'm a little bit superstitious on a few things, but not that major.
I always prepare the same way for the last couple years.  I have my own routine, which doesn't matter if I win, if I lose, it's always the same.  That's what makes me feel good before the matches, after the matches.  So it's going to stay the same.

Q.  What did the win last year do for you mentally, how you approach things?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:¬† Well, it gave me a lot more self‑belief.¬† I always thought of myself as a really good player.¬† That mental edge to kind of make the difference, you know, it definitely helped to bring a lot of inner confidence in yourself, knowing that you can do it.
That feeling that I had was incredible.  Since then, I want to feel it again.  This is what motivates me even more every day.  It's amazing, when you achieve your dream, your goal, how much more motivated I was after that.
That's really something incredible for me to feel.

Q.  Is your injury a hundred percent better now?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Yes.

Q.  No problems at all?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  No.  I mean, it's healing.  I don't feel any pain when I play.  I still have to tape it, but there is no problem.

Q.  You've been one of the better doubles players, top singles players in the WTA for a while.  You haven't played doubles much lately.  Is that something you're planning on doing in 2013?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Probably not.  I felt like I did really good decision to stop playing doubles, to have my main focus not only on the court but off court to try to have the best recovery, the best preparation for my singles.
But I love playing doubles, especially play with Maria Kirilenko.  We have so much fun.  She's probably one of the best partners I ever have.  Playing mixed doubles is also really fun.  I definitely enjoyed the Olympic Games this year.
Maybe right before I retire or next Olympic Games (laughter).

Q.¬† You won the first‑ever gold in mixed...
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  I guess I'm a mixed doubles players.

Q.  Do you think you'd ever try to go that for here?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Maybe.  I actually wanted to play at the US Open with Kei Nishikori.  He wanted to play.  My knee wasn't very good from Montréal, so I didn't want to put any more pressure.
But I was really looking forward to play that.  So maybe this year I'll play with somebody.

Q.  Is the tennis for you as much fun now that you're at the top and you've been a Grand Slam champion?  Is it as much fun as the journey there?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  It's even more fun.  Yeah, it's even more fun.  It's definitely more challenging.  There is some points when there is not that much fun, but you try to make the best out of it and put it in the direction that will have you mentally really focused on what you want to achieve.
So for me it's really fun all the time, you know.  That's how I play my best tennis, when I enjoy what I do.

Q.  How do you feel having the No.1 ranking next to your name?  Some recently haven't dealt with it very well.
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  I think to maintain the level is probably harder than it is to get there because you have to be consistent, you know.  It's really difficult to maintain the same form throughout the years.  You always going to have some up and downs.
But I felt, you know, really good that I stayed pretty much consistent throughout the whole year.  That what kept me with the ranking.
I always try to look into improving my game, improve myself as a player, too, because results come always first for me.  Trophies and the ranking is something that follows up that.  So that's not my main focus, what the ranking is.  But it's definitely not something you're going to complain about (smiling).

Q.  You're optimistic and a perfectionist.
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  I'm optimistic?

Q.  Yes.
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  I try to be (laughter).

Q.  Do you feel sometimes it's better to keep your mind off the tennis when you're off the court?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  I always keep my mind off the tennis when I'm off court.  I don't think about my matches before that.  I watch movies.  I play music.  I do music.  I talk about different stuff, do different jokes and stuff.
I really never think about tennis so much.  Even when I prepare for my match, I'm in the zone, I'm not thinking about it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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