“I love the game” – Evolving Azarenka wants to keep adding to her game


Through Chris oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday, January 6, 2021

As a tennis career spans a decade or more, evolution is the concept that can keep a player relevant. Adapt to the ever-changing demands of the terrain, and success can be sustained – even high. Victoria Azarenka, a full decade after winning her first Australian Open title, fully embraces change.

The 32-year-old told reporters on Thursday in Adelaide, where she is in the singles quarter-finals and doubles semi-final, that she barely remembers the thrill she felt there. ten years old, when she reached the top of the sport. But she finds it incredible that she’s still around now, loving the sport as much as she ever did, albeit for different reasons.

“It’s pretty amazing that 10 years later I’m still here,” said the former world No.1 and current No.27. “I like the game. I want to play. I want to improve. I have my son here who looks at me, motivates me. There are a lot of things that are amazing.

“I’m not sure I feel like it was 10 years ago. I think time flies. I really appreciate it very much, I will always be grateful for it. I don’t cling to the past because I think it doesn’t leave enough room for what I can do now and in the future.

Letting go of the past, even ridiculously successful success, has been key for Azarenka as she seeks to move up the WTA ladder of success as a senior tour member.

A once-dominant player who spent 51 weeks atop the WTA rankings, Azarenka wouldn’t be to blame if she continued on the same path. But credit the Belarusian, a forward-thinking researcher who dreads the idea of ​​standing still, for looking for ways to reinvent her game.

“I hope I won’t stay the same throughout the tour, I don’t know how many years I’ve been on the tour,” she said. “I think the evolution of my game is quite visible at the moment over the last few years. I feel like I’m trying to adapt to the new generation as well. There are a lot of young talents coming. Can’t stand still and get stuck in 2012 and 2013.

Azarenka has already reaped the fruits of her openness. Her new mental approach to the sport helped her reach the 2020 US Open final – it was her first trip to a Grand Slam final in seven years.

Even though there was no follow-up statistically in 2021, Azarenka believes she is in a better place now.

“I really feel like I’ve grown a lot and I don’t have the same approach as last year or two years ago,” she said. “I think it’s too much [static]. That’s the word ? I always try to look for something that can help me learn and grow. I think the learning process for me is the most important.

It is remarkable to see Azarenka inspired and in pursuit of renewal. Already a lock to make the Hall of Fame, the Belarusian does not want to rest on her laurels. She wants to find a way to get the most of herself and her tennis in the years to come.

Last year, she started to take a different approach to the sport, insisting on going forward and taking a more aggressive stance. It’s a work in progress to make such changes, but it’s psychologically in the wheelhouse of Azarenka. She’s all about evolution and would much rather thrive on tour than just survive.

“For me it was really important how I was able to change my mindset so that I learned to be more daring, to be more open-minded, to try new things, not to back down when it doesn’t work, maybe the first try, “she said of her 2021 season.” I think that’s the positive I took from the end of the season to go from there ‘before.

“The goal is always the same: what can I add to my game? I think my goal at the end of the season was already to try and implement new things: getting into the net, using my serve more, being more aggressive, movement, efficient movement.

The season is young, but in many ways Azarenka sees 2022 as a continuation of 2022. So far, everything is fine with that.

“I feel like I kind of laid the foundation for the end of the season and kept doing more rehearsals about it. Always try to push a little harder, ”she said. “I think physically at this point it’s very important for me to be very smart about my training program, which is another adjustment learning curve as well.

“Yeah, I think the groundwork for implementing new things was laid last season. .

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