Victoria Azarenka extended her unbeaten streak to 23-0 in 2012 by defeating Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-3, to claim the BNP Paribas Open title.
Itâ€™s the best start to a season on the WTA since Martina Hingisâ€™ 37-0 start in 1997. Itâ€™s also the fourth tournament win for 2012 for the World No. 1.
â€œWell, I was really actually nervous before the final,â€ said Azarenka. â€œYou know.Â Um, I knew Maria played some excellent tennis this week.Â She’s always very tough opponent to play.
â€œWhat was important for me, you know, to try to put as much pressure on her, not to really let her into the match, because, you know, when she has a little window open she always gonna take the opportunity and she’s gonna fight no matter what the score is.Â I always know that.
â€œSo I really had to stay on my feet and keep putting that pressure and playing my game.Â It was a little bit difficult with the wind to control, but I handled the situation really good, and I’m really happy that I went through with this determination.
â€œI actually haven’t thought about it, but I think it would be really interesting to play myself, you know, just actually for my own improvement to see to figure out the way to beat myself so I can improve even more.â€
“Yeah, she’s extremely solid, and, you know, she makes you work for every point,” said Sharapova.Â “You know, ultimately I think, you know, maybe she forces you to want to do a little bit more than either you should or would want to.
“Yeah, she’s really fit, as well.Â You know, playing with a lot of confidence, and you can definitely, you know, sense that when she’s moving around the court and hitting the ball.
“Yeah, I still feel like I just made too many unforced errors at the wrong time and wasn’t solid enough.
“I still don’t think I was as aggressive as I should be, as I can be.Â I think that’s the key really right now.
“But, yeah, it’s okay.Â I mean, we’re gonna play against each other a few more times, so I’ll have time to change that.
“Well, I think she’s alwaysÂ she was one of the players that has always had extreme potential to win a Grand Slam and be No. 1 in the world.Â I think actually many people expected that to happen sooner for her and were expecting her to, you know, to get to a final of a Grand Slam earlier than she did.
“But I think everybody has their time of when they achieve that.Â For her, it was this year.Â You know, to see that level of tennis from her has been great consistently, as well, because, I mean, in the past she would have done that a few rounds and then wasn’t as consistent.
As far as Azarenka being the No. 1 player she says:â€It doesn’t hurt.Â (Smiling.)Â Trust me, it doesn’t hurt.
â€œBut, you know, it’s a number.Â It’s what it is.Â This is the position that I work really hard for.Â It’s always been my dream to be that.
â€œI just try to improve myself every day, you know, to hopefully hold it for as long as I can.
“Last year was a learning experience for me. Every loss I analyzed and step by step just built on everything, just daily hard work. I had a lot of tough losses last year and so now I’m really trying to turn it around in my favor. I just try to be consistent and professional every day. I never dreamed this would happen.”
Results – Sunday, March 18, 2012
Singles – Final
(1) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. (2) Maria Sharapova (RUS) 62 63
Doubles – Final (played Saturday)
(1) Huber/Raymond (USA/USA) d. (2) Mirza/Vesnina (IND/RUS) 62 63