Vika's Take On Confidence
Published March 13, 2013 12:00
INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - With a flawless 17-0 record for the season, Victoria Azarenka is probably in a fairly confident frame of mind heading into her Indian Wells quarterfinal with Caroline Woznaicki on Thursday afternoon. But, according to the Belarusian, confidence has nothing to do with her current on court exploits.
In fact, it is "overrated".
This does not fall in line with the received wisdom in tennis circles that confidence, or lack thereof, can be the difference maker in getting over the winning line and falling agonizingly short.
Scores of players - past, present and, no doubt, future - steadfastly hold the belief that the 'c' word is more often than not the underlying factor in determining those match-deciding moments.
Yet, Azarenka, who has never been one to toe the party line just for the sake of it, disagrees.
And she should know; since the start of 2012 she has won more matches (85) than any other player on tour, taking seven titles (two of them majors) and spending 51 weeks on top of the rankings
So, if it is not confidence, what is - for Azarenka, at least - determining the outcome of all these matches?
"I think confidence is overrated. You don't win by confidence. You win by your action," she said after her third round win over Kirsten Flipkens at the BNP Paribas Open. "You win by finding what you have to do in particular moment.
"Confidence is just a word for me. It does exist - in the way you position yourself and the way you carry yourself - but it's not real and something that affects me."
Azarenka's approach has already seen her eke out razor-thin decisions in her two biggest battles of the season - first, against Li Na at the Australian Open and then against her nemesis Serena Williams in Doha.
Victory in Doha was particularly significant, bringing a nine-match losing streak against Williams to an end and a modicum of revenge for last year's painful US Open final defeat. The key?
"I just did everything better than last time," Azarenka said of her win over Williams.
"I won't say I didn't feel pressure, I was just really into the match and really focused on what I had to do," she added. "Near the end she saved a match point with a good serve. But it wasn't a big deal, really - I just had to keep my composure and make another opportunity and create another match point."
In Indian Wells, she has taken this relaxed mentality to a new level, as she revealed to the assembled media corps after her match with Flipkens.
"I think about weirdest things when I'm on the court." Azarenka said. "I think about a movie, I think about, I don't know, what my nephew is doing!
"When I make a mistake I analyze it then. I never think at a changeover, 'what am I going to do right now' or think that I lost this game because made this mistake. I don't analyze that way.
"I never really have expectations. I just try to go out there and do my job as best as I can."