- Special Pages
BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: World number one Victoria Azarenka feels her top ranking on the WTA Tour computer is the result of hard grind and never-say-die spirit shown by the 23-year-old from Belarus.
In less than three years, Azarenka has won two Australian Open titles, reached the final of the US Open last year besides bagging two medals at the London Olympic Games in August 2012.
She also reached the semi-finals at the last two editions of Wimbledon.
“I worked really hard to achieve those goals. No, I’m not surprised,” Azarenka said when asked if she was surprised to accomplish so much in such a short period of time.
“That’s what I dream about. That’s what I want to achieve. That’s what I practice for. So, no, it’s no surprise for me,” Azarenka added.
“I try to write my own script, my own story, not letting anybody else define the player who I am,” Azarenka said.
The Belarusian said the top ranking arrived with a mix of proper planning and attention to detail.
“It’s a combination of a lot of things: determination, hard work, talent, (and) really wanting to do well,” she said.
“At this level, there is so much more attention to paying details because everybody knows how to run, how to play tennis, how to serve, how to return.
“It’s the moment where you really need to bring your heart, your ‘A’ game. That’s what defines the best player,” she said.
“I think I learned this over the years. I am only 23 years old so there is a lot of time (to) improve.
“With all the experience, I really give myself a chance to learn and to improve. Not only tennis wise but physically, mentally,” she added. Azarenka, who has won 6 WTA Tour titles, has arrived in Doha as the defending champion and as the 2013 Australian Open winner.
However, the 23-year-old from Minsk refuses to believe she’s in invisible form.
“I don’t try to think about who’s going to stop me. I just really try to focus on doing my job,” Azarenka said when asked about a rival ready to dethrone her from the top ranking.
“Whoever is going to be in front of me, I try to beat (them). I will never think of who is going to stop me.
“I just think of who I have on the other side (of the net),” she said.
Azarenka said she was happy to be back in Doha.
“It feels great. I have been here in December practicing for two weeks. There’s amazing hospitality, going back from the tournament that was the Championships,” Azarenka said.
“I always love coming back here. It’s a great event and there’s always a very tough field (to deal with). Yeah, I enjoy (being in Doha),” she said.
“We are staying at the Ritz Carlton. There is an amazing buffet and I don’t like to go there because I always overeat ... everybody overeats (laughs) so I would rather order room service or (go to) some normal restaurant, but the food is incredible here.
“(During) the last trip (to Doha) we went jet skiing all the way from the Ritz Carlton to downtown at the Four Seasons Hotel ... I rode around there (and) then got lost.
“I saw a few boats and they were waving at me and I was like, ‘well, I’m lost’. Where is the place that I have to return? Because I thought that people would be thinking that I stole the jet ski or something (laughs).
“But it was really a fun thing to do,” the Australian Open champion said.
Azarenka said winning the Australian Open last year was the culmination of a childhood dream but she had other lofty ambitions to fulfil.
“Well, the first (Grand Slam win) is always it’s like your first love. You think it’s the best thing that ever happened to you until you get the second one. Then you think this (winning the second) is the best thing that ever happened to you,” she explained.
“So it’s kind of a similar feeling there. First one, it was like a kid’s dream came true. When I started to play tennis, that was the ultimate goal. I wanted to be a Grand Slam champion. And when it happened, you kind of think that it’s hard to realise what you have done.
“The second time is just you wanting to repeat that feeling that you had for the first time because it was amazing. It’s very hard to describe that feeling. So you are just always looking for that opportunity to relive that moment,” she said.