ISTANBUL, Turkey—Victoria Azarenka admits that one of the reasons she continued to play her final round-robin match against Li Na at the WTA Championships even though her backed locked up in the first set is because she was concerned about the reaction to a retirement. Azarenka lost the match 6-2, 6-1 and was knocked out of the WTA Championships.
Since 2007, Azarenka has retired or withdrawn from singles matches on 27 different occasions.
“There are a few reasons why,” said the world No. 2, who sustained a back injury when she came down hard on a serve in the sixth game of the match. "Because there is no‑win situation here retiring, and it being all discussed, and the other thing is just try to do the best. I don't have a tournament next week. The physio told me, ‘You're really locked. There is no really structure damage, but you can't fix it that quickly.’ The most important, I just wanted to try to do my best for the fans who came and, you know, watched our match, for respect for my opponent. It was just about trying to do the most you can out there.”
Azarenka added that she wasn't sure if she would be criticized if she retired.
“There could be; there could not be. I don't know. It's not like it never happened before.”
The 24-year-old, who has only won one match since falling to Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final, described what was going through her head while on court after the injury.
“I was thinking, how can I stay here, and what can I do to just not feel pain for one more second?” she said. “You know, sometimes when I had to get off the chair, it was really challenging. So I was thinking about position, how can I better get up with less pain. Then you try to see the ball, and you try to still have a little bit of game plan, so it's a big mess of emotions that just your mind goes through.”