Azarenka: Just Looking To Win
Published March 07, 2013 12:00
INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - For Victoria Azarenka, 2013 has started off much the same as 2012 - unbeaten in January and February, and coming into Indian Wells with expectations about staying unbeaten. So how does the Belarusian stay focused on hitting those little yellow things on the court?
"There's really no such thing as unstoppable in tennis, because sooner or later it's going to happen to everybody," Azarenka said recently. "I'm here to try to win every match when I go on court. That's the mentality. And how many wins it will be and all the numbers, that just depends on me doing as good a job as possible every single day, just giving my best - that's the only thing I can ask of myself."
Azarenka came out of the blocks in 2012 with a phenomenal 26-0 start, winning Sydney, the Australian Open, Doha and Indian Wells, then making the quarterfinals of Miami before falling to Marion Bartoli.
So far in 2013, Azarenka is 14-0 - she reached the semifinals of Brisbane before having to withdraw due to a toe injury, then won the Australian Open and Doha again. Now she's back in Indian Wells.
"It's not really in my mind to beat the statistics," Azarenka said. "I never look to beat statistics, beat records. I'm just looking to win. That's the most important. Whatever comes with it, comes with it."
And that mentality could also help her block out an extra expectation this fortnight in Indian Wells as the defending champion. "I never actually send a message to myself to defend a title - I go to tournaments to win the title, to just try one match at a time and be very determined to win matches.
"I'm always serious on the court. I'm not there to joke around. When I step on the court, I'm all in."
If history is anything to go by, Azarenka defending her title at Indian Wells would definitely be a big feat - in the 24 previous editions of the event, only one player has been able to win back-to-back titles: Martina Navratilova in 1990 and 1991. Perhaps surprisingly, only three times has the defending champion even made it past the quarterfinals the next year, that being Navratilova winning the title in 1990 then winning it again in 1991; Lindsay Davenport winning the title in 1997 then finishing runner-up in 1998; and, similarly, Ana Ivanovic winning the title in 1998 then finishing runner-up in 1999.