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Quote of the Day: Victoria Azarenka applauds Andy Murray’s “grit” and motivation after Melbourne marathon
The two-time Aussie Open winner said she takes inspiration from the teen phenoms and next generation of young champions rising up in the sport. But she’s always taking notes, too.
Published Jan 20, 2023
WATCH: Victoria Azarenka talks about defeating Madison Keys and being inspired by Andy Murray's grit during her 2023 Australian Open press conference.
Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka was not fazed when she found herself down 1-6 on Rod Laver Arena against Madison Keys—a player who is both six years her junior and seeded 14 places higher.
The 33-year-old is no stranger to fighting through a draw full of younger players, and she did so once again on Friday at the Australian Open. Azarenka turned the match on its head as she reeled off eight games in a row in the second and third sets to secure a 1-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory against the No. 10 seed.
During her post-match press conference, Azarenka said she takes inspiration from stories of the teenage phenoms and next generation of young champions rising up in the sport. But like the players from her own cohort still competing at a high level, she’s always taking notes, too.
“I feel like there's so much inspiration around, girls, guys, there's so much talent around tennis,” the 24th seed told press. “For me it's about looking at the new generation, how I can beat them because they're coming with a lot of power, a lot of fearlessness…
“It's [also] about looking at the new generation to see how I need to improve my game because the game is shifting, it's improving. Yeah, it's a challenge.”
When asked about 35-year-old Andy Murray’s late-night heroics against Thanasi Kokkinakis, Azarenka had nothing but praise—and a few questions—for the three-time Grand Slam winner.
Q. Andy Murray last night played his match, an inspiring result for somebody who was a champion alongside you. A lot of the champions alongside you have retired. I'm curious how much inspiration you take out of that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I mean, honestly, I take inspiration from anything really. I really respect Andy and his grit. It's very impressive to see how hard he works for what he is.
I also sometimes question why he [does] it. I'm not going to lie. I'm like, You've got everything. You have kids at home. Why are you still, like last year, going to Challengers? But it's his way of doing it.
We were training in the same place actually in the off-season, and I saw how hard he worked. It's definitely impressive.
I think he's sticking to what he believes, even though different people are telling him different things. That, for me, is admirable…
Murray and Azarenka are among the tennis tours’ growing contingent of working parents, who must balance being a world-class athlete competing against increasingly younger players, with managing the changing needs of their own families. They're also both part of a group of elite 30-somethings determined to end (or extend) their careers on their own terms—no matter how many teens, 20-somethings and critics stand in their way.
The world No. 24 seems to have struck the right balance Down Under in 2023, having started the season with a run to the Adelaide 1 quarterfinals before tearing through the first week in Melbourne.
Azarenka, who lifted back-to-back Australian Open trophies in 2012 and 2013, took down 2020 champion Sofia Kenin 6-4, 7-6 (3) in the opening round, dropped just once game in a masterclass against Nadia Podoroska, and then put Keys’ red-hot momentum on ice.
Through to the second week at Australian Open for the 10th time in her career, Azarenka awaits the winner of Maria Sakkari and Zhu Lin in the fourth round.