Originally written on Tennis Panorama  |  Last updated 11/16/14

An interview with: VICTORIA AZARENKA – Post -Match interview after losing the US Open final to Serena Williams

Sunday, September 9, 2012

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.


Q.  You played a great match out there today.  I mean, at the end you really looked absolutely devastated.  Did you feel like you just let this one get away?  What are your thoughts?

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Yes, as you mentioned, you know, I think it was a great match.  Being so close it hurts deeply to know you don’t have it, you’re close, you didn’t get it.  But at this moment, you know, I have no regrets.  I felt like I gave it all there, you know.  Could it have gone my way?  Probably, yes.  But it didn’t.  It really, really hurts.  You know, those emotions come out and you feel sad, but it’s time to really realize what happened today.  You know, it was a great match.  It was close but not for me.


Q.  There are a lot of positives.  Getting to a Grand Slam final in and of itself is such a remarkable accomplishment.  You can look back on the summer as maybe a breakthrough summer for you.

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Definitely.  It’s a great achievement, there is no doubt.  It’s kind of difficult to sink everything in at this particular moment, because right now I feel sad.  I feel proud of myself in one way, but still sad.  But in few days when I go home, you know, I’ll be more than happy, you know, with the summer.  I think I’m in pretty good shoes, you know, sitting here as a finalist of the US Open actually for my first time.


Q.  Is it possible to explain how tense you were feeling at the end?  Looked like every single point was so important.

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Yeah, it was.  At this moment it feels like there is no room for a mistake, you know.  There is no room for a wrong decision.  So it’s absolutely tense and so close that you feel like you have to know what you’re doing, you know.  You have to be confident.  You have to trust yourself.  I did.  I really did.  It just felt like a few shots were just, you know, really close or at the top of the net.  But I have to be positive, you know, because I feel like these kind of matches ‑‑ every time I play Serena, it really pushes to be better, to improve, to move forward.  I have to be thankful to her for that, you know, as well.


Q.  Early on it was not going your way.  You had said you have to do something different.  What did you do to really turn the tide of that in the second set?  It was an amazing sort of switch that you were able to pull off.

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  I felt like I was returning much better.  I was preparing my opportunities to dictate, not let her dictate.  So that was important, to kind of make sure that no matter what the score is, no matter how good Serena is gonna play, I have to stay alert, and when I have opportunity to make sure that I’m on it.  And I really did that today.


Q.  You never played a Grand Slam final before this year.  You produced some of your best tennis in these two Grand Slam finals against Sharapova and Serena, both of whom had won Grand Slam titles before.  What do you think it is about your personality that allows you to bring out this best tennis at these most important matches moments?

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Well, I’m not too bad of a player, I think, right?  So when you play at these stages you don’t expect anything else.  You know, you have to come out and show your best tennis.  There is no stepping back.  There is last match.  You know, as important as semifinals or quarterfinals, every round you play, the final round is always going to be the most important all the time.  All those high stakes, I feel like when the task is more difficult for me it’s more exciting.  You know, I don’t know, that fear, adrenaline is coming, something that you never experienced before, you know, you have to stand tall and just face it.  So I feel like this brings the best out of me, you know, those conditions, that motivation that I have to produce absolute best.


Q.  You were winning most of the baseline rallies in the second set and the third set.  When you came off your chair at 5‑4 to serve for the match, did you feel like, Yes, this is in my control; I can do it, or did the nerves just kind of get to you?

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Well, it was both.  It was definitely a lot of self‑belief in myself, but I felt like there was just too many one‑, two‑shot rallies that didn’t allow me to grind it a little bit, you know, the way I like it, and not really make me feel in control at that particular moment.  I felt like I didn’t create enough a little bit myself.


Q.  Did you also feel like in that game when you served for it that she would definitely step up and play well?

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Well, there was no other choice for her to do, so, yeah, in the back of my mind I had that coming.  So that maybe was a little bit of hesitation for me.  But I have to say, you know, Serena produced some amazing tennis.  I feel like I could have done a little bit better, but there was nothing that I did absolutely wrong.


Q.  Great tournament.



Q.  You were talking about how Serena pushes you every time.



Q.  What makes her so great?  Is it the serve?  The mental part?  Can you break it down for us?

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Well, the serve is definitely the biggest asset, you know.  If you look in both of our games, it’s the biggest difference, you know, if you take it simple.  And the mental, you know, she never gives up.  You know, she’s a great champion.  She knows how to play.  I don’t know.  But definitely the serve is what stands out the most out of all the game, you know, assets.  But she’s definitely the toughest player mentally there is, and, you know, she’s got the power.


Q.  And mentally when she was making her push back in the third set, what went through your mind on the mental side in terms of, Here comes Serena?

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  I didn’t think about that.  I just tried to stay focused on myself, you know, because that’s what was helping me throughout the whole match, you know, to try to be focused on what I have to do.  Of course being aware of what she’s going to do against me, but mostly trying to stay focused on my execution.


Q.  I want to ask you, going back to something you said a few answers ago where you thanked Serena for the way she pushes you and makes you strive to play better.  You said something to that effect during the awards ceremony out on the court.  If you could elaborate on that.  You’ve played 11 times and she’s beaten you 10 times.  Do you really feel grateful for having her in the game in your era and that she does bring that out in you, your best?

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Well, hell, yeah; but in the other way, if she wasn’t there, I mean, I probably would have won more titles.  (Laughter.)


Q.  That’s my question, because some people would resent the other player.

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Yeah, but I will not take anything back.  I think she’s brought ‑‑ for me she’s the greatest player of all time.  She took the game to the next level.  As I said before, she makes me all the time to make sure that I’m taking my game, my personality, my physical aspect to the next level.  So, you know, having few of the players like that in the women’s tour right now is something priceless, you know, something that you cannot take away.  It’s the people who, you know, like Maria, like Petra those kind of girls, they always push me to be better.  I mean, it’s great opportunity, so I have no regret.  Today I was close.  I’m going to have for sure another opportunity to make something better.  That’s what I’m looking for.


Q.  You’re a very positive person.  I know you have taken positives away from this match.  How eager are you to return to the practice court and then play Serena again?

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Well, I’m not going tomorrow or after tomorrow.  Trust me on that.


Q.  Why not?

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  (Laughter.)  Well, because I feel like I deserve a little bit of rest.


Q.  I’m kidding.

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  You know, I feel like I always try to improve everything in my game.  I improved a lot my serve, which was a bigger gap between me and Serena, for sure.  So definitely physical aspect that I would like to step another level, because I feel like there is a lot of room of improvement.  Now the game becomes so physical that you have to keep pushing yourself.  Serena shows a lot of people how important it is right now.


Q.  Before the match, Agassi was talking about the sound of the crowd and how it sounds like a jet plane and a heartbeat, all this stuff.  You were in the middle of that cauldron and you were focusing on your game, but what does it feel like to be in a US Open final on that stage?

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  It’s amazing, absolutely.  I feel like I’m in a place that I belong, you know.  It’s something that you will never be able to describe really with words, because that feeling that you get, that energy, you know, that something special, all eyes on you waiting for you to serve or return or see what you’re gonna do, it’s absolutely incredible.  It’s something that, I don’t know, we wake up every day for, you know, to feel that incredible atmosphere.  You know, I mean, no words describe.  It was not for me most of the time, because fair enough, but it was incredible.


Q.  After one of the crazy points, I think it was in the second set, you actually smiled to the crowd and looked happy.  Is it possible actually to have fun in a Grand Slam final?

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Oh, it was a lot of fun.  Maybe wasn’t showing on my face expression, but it was a lot of fun.  It was great, you know, to be out there for ‑ I don’t know how long we played, two hours‑something ‑ that special moment.  It was absolutely fun.


Q.  You talked about your now‑famous grandmother.  When you get a personal moment just to share the personal side of this, what will you say about this great effort which just fell short in this drama?

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Well, I just got a message from my family, and they said, We love you.  So I don’t need any other words to feel from them.  That’s the most important.


Q.  The spirit between you and Serena on the court afterwards was very nice.  It was a nice scene.  Can you speak a little bit about your energy with her.

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Well, we never had a problem with each other.  I truly admire her as a person, as a tennis player.  But I feel like, you know, there goes beyond just a tennis player when you connect with somebody.  Absolutely I admire her.  It was honest feelings, you know.  I congratulated her with all my heart because I felt like she absolutely deserved the win, you know.  She was the best player out there today.


Q.  Were you planning any special dances or celebration in case you won?

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  I got my moves.  I don’t need to do the special dances.  When I win, I’ll do it.  But what’s important to prepare when you didn’t win?  (Laughter.)  I can dance all my night today.


Q.  Obviously you came at her in the second and she showed some fragility.  Things were breaking down a little bit for her.  Were you surprised by that?  Because she’s known for being so strong.  Or is that understandable in the moment with everything?

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Well, she’s a human being, you know, who has two feet, two legs, you know, two hands.  It’s understandable.  Plus, you know, I felt like I came up to do something different to provoke those opportunities.  It wasn’t something, Oh, I’m going to…  she will start to miss, because that will never happen, really.  I felt like I provoked her and I was just trying to stay in that moment to make sure that I keep it rolling.


Q.  After the first set, were you sure that at some point in the second set, yes, I’m going to find my game?  Yes, I’m going to get this match and it’s going to be close or I have a chance of winning it?

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Well, of course, otherwise I would just pack my bags and go home, seriously.  I feel every time I play I had this great advice from one very special person that said, When there is still a point, you always have a chance.  So I always have that mindset.


Q.  Who was that special person that gave you that advice?

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Can I keep it to myself?  (Laughter.)  Thank you.

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