Victoria Azarenka divulges how she is taking inspiration from Novak Djokovic

Ewan West
Victoria Azarenka and Novak Djokovic
Victoria Azarenka and Novak Djokovic

Victoria Azarenka has revealed that she is taking inspiration from Novak Djokovic and the way the great Serbian continues to improve his game at this stage of his career.

The Belarusian highlighted the changes Djokovic has made to his game technically, with his serve and with “some of the movements” and described this as “pretty impressive.”

Azarenka, the current world No 27, won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, while she was a runner-up at the US Open in 2012, 2013 and 2020.

The 34-year-old has made a positive start to the 2024 season, winning 10 of her 13 matches and reaching the quarter-finals or better at two of her three completed events.

The 21-time WTA titlist is in action at the WTA 1000 tournament in Dubai this week, where she defeated world No 43 Arantxa Rus 6-2, 6-4 in the opening round today.

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In an interview with WTA Insider, Azarenka expressed that she is embracing the approach of making changes to the formula that has brought her success previously to make improvements.

“When you have success, you become quite conservative. It’s something that you probably rely on, something you’ve learned, something that worked. And then things change. The physicality of the sport changed — balls, surfaces, players, and game styles change,” Azarenka said.

“If you have an open mind and you’re able to apply that objective criticism and understand, yes, I can probably beat 90 percent of players playing my old game, with what I learned and based on experience. But there’s that 10 percent and those are at the later stages of tournaments. What do I need to be able to do to win against those?

“I think that really is something that I try to understand and shred those walls of that conservativeness and what I know and what I’m really good at. It’s scary. It’s not easy, because it’s one thing to understand that quite well, but another to be able to go and dare.”

Azarenka added that she is learning from Djokovic’s adaptability and how the 24-time major champion has made key adjustments in recent years.

“I’m not sure how many people actually do see the changes that he made, even technically, with his serve and some of the movements in the game. It’s pretty impressive,” she continued.

The Belarusian also spoke about her start to campaign: “I feel like I’ve adopted a good mindset in the way that I can work on things and through things in tournaments, which I think was a bit less before where it was like you prepare before and then in tournaments you’re just trying to play the way you can.

“I think that’s a better approach going into this year. I feel like I’ve been able to do that so far pretty well. But I definitely want to clean up some things, make sure that when I play big matches, I’m able to convert some of those opportunities that I create.”

After Djokovic won the 2023 ATP Finals, Azarenka identified the way the Serbian is able to respond and improve following defeats as the most overlooked quality in the sport.

“Novak’s ability after a loss to elevate his level of play and determination to win no matter what is the most underrated thing in my opinion I have seen in tennis! Congratulations on another record breaking performance @DjokerNole,” the 34-year-old wrote in a post on Twitter / X.

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