BEIJING, China – a few notable quotes from Friday at the China Open.
Q. I will say that in the first several rounds in China Open you have a very relaxed performance and the single‑largest opponent of Williams didn’t participate in China Open. Now do you have much more confidence to win the title in China Open?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I wouldn’t say it was easy, because even though the score is like that, sometimes it doesn’t really say the whole story about the whole match. I felt like, you know, I was playing well, and that’s what gave me an advantage to go and play and have that scoreline after the match, but it wasn’t easy.
It’s never easy to go in the tennis court and win the match even though the score is like this. Sometimes it’s important to stay tough and have that concentration to make sure that you can win every ball and every point.
Concerning Williams sisters, or Serena ‑ I don’t know who you meant in particular ‑ I don’t really think of it that way. I’m just here to play the tournament and anybody who is across the net. As mentioned before, if she would be here, I would be happy to see her and play against her, as well.
Q. Is it hard at this time of the year to kind of still stay focused on tennis? All the Grand Slams are done and stuff. You don’t think about the end line and vacation?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I always think about vacation. (Smiling.)
It is tough, but I think everybody’s a little bit tired, you know. It just feels like, you know, there is couple more tournaments there and there are, you know, couple more weeks, but they seem to last so long that you kind of don’t feel that finish line yet.
Especially, you know, having Istanbul right in front, it feels like, you know, you still have to be very much prepared. I’m actually really excited to go back there because I had such a good time.
Here, I’m also showing some finally good results in China Open. I’m really excited and motivated, you know, to finish the year strong.
Q. Also, it is reported that the women’s players council will have a meeting in Istanbul later this month to discuss about the prize money increase for next year Grand Slams. Do you know actually about this?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Not really. I think it’s just so recently, you know, been announced about it. I’m not really good with following up on that. But, you know, if we have a meeting, I’m definitely going to attend, because I would like to be involved in our sport as much as I can.
If there is anything, you know, we as the players can do to help, you know, the board and the tournaments, you know, to create a better tour for us, I’ll be happy to do that.
Q. If it turns out to be Marion, how difficult is she to play? Besides her game is unorthodox, she does all those shadow strokes and jumping around in between points. Is it hard to like not see that and just to do your own thing?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I would say it’s impossible not to see that. (Laughter.)
Yeah, as I said, she’s very unique in her own way, you know, what she does and how she prepares, but I have to respect it. It’s something that makes her play good, feel good.
You know, it doesn’t really matter for me, but you definitely cannot miss that. (Smiling.)
Q. As the world No. 1, do you have a general idea about what needs to be done with the prize money stuff and what things you would like to see with the changes for next year?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I guess everybody wants more money, so that’s what we’re going to try to do.
How exactly it’s going to be done, I guess, that’s why we’re going to have a meeting, to discuss that. I feel like all the players need to, you know, come together and speak their mind.
After, we’re going to discuss with the board, but I feel like it’s not supposed to go out in the press or somewhere outside the doors before it’s all discussed between all of us.
Q. Last question should be a fun question for you.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Thank you.
Q. So you’re having a good week here in Beijing. Are you making any progress on your Chinese?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, oh, my God, I’m going to remember. One second. (Speaking Chinese.)
Q. Got it. Thank you.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: This is my new word that I learned from Li Na that she made all of us say.
But I’m actually having the best week, you know, of all of my stays so far. It’s been really great. I feel like every year the tournament is becoming better and better and more popular, which makes all the players feel good.
You know, the fans are coming more. The attendance is so much bigger. That’s what excites me the most to see. So far I have been playing great tennis, so I do enjoy my time here.
Q. Can you translate the word?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It means “too expensive.” (Laughter.)
Q. Is there anything that you noticed in particular that was different playing against her today than maybe like in Paris when she got you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I beat her after Paris. I don’t know. You keep referring to the time I lost. (Smiling.)
Yeah, I mean, look, she’s sixth in the world. There is a reason why she’s at that spot and why she’s been so consistent in the last year.
Her results have shown that, you know, she’s beaten some really great players. I mean, she’s so consistent on the court and makes you hit so many balls that sometimes you almost go a little too much for it and end up making a few more errors than usual.
But I really tried to stay aggressive today, really did a good job of moving the ball around and being solid and moving in when I could.
Q. Can you tell us a little about your candy line, Sugarpova? Are you carrying any bags of candy with you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I wish I could say yes, but I ate it all. There’s none left.
When my manager was in town, I asked him for a few, but otherwise I don’t carry it with me because then it just becomes too dangerous. I’ve got vacation in a month or so, and I need to ‑‑ you know, I’m going to be wearing bikinis, so I can’t be eating candy before. I need to be bikini‑ready.
Q. All this talk about prize money and stuff like that, I’m just wondering, from a personal point of view, do you feel like players are really underpaid? I mean, they seem like “poor little me,” like they make a lot of money.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: We do. We make a really good amount of money. We’re very lucky.
You mean about the Australian Open issue?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, look, I think every athlete should be compensated for what they do and their achievements and their result. There’s no doubt about it.
I’m certainly not sitting in this chair and complaining about my prize money. I’m very lucky with what I have been able to achieve and the compensation I have received, but it certainly is nice to see that the revenue that these Grand Slams are receiving, which is a pretty big number compared to maybe what the athletes get in return, you know, they’re all getting together, and the Australian Open is really the first one that took the stand on it and said, Since we are making really good money and getting so many people, so much interest, why not give a little more percentage to the players, for sure?
Q. WTA has confirmed that you are eligible to play for WTA Finals.
LI NA: Are you sure?
Q. So through a victory today you have already be very much qualified to WTA. You took control of this match. You don’t have to wait for others to fail so you can qualify. Are you pleased? Last year you were not in good form at year‑end Championships, so this year since you are more in form, are you really looking forward for WTA Final this year?
LI NA: You know, previously I only know that I am No. 8. I’m not sure I’m qualified or not. What is in my mind, if I can be qualified, then I go for it. If I’m not, then Beijing is my last stop.
Are you sure I’m eligible for that? Okay. So I have a very high expectation for my performance in WTA Final. I know that Bartoli is right behind me because Bartoli is basically belongs to No. 8, and also Sam is very much close to me, as well.
Q. You have already double‑checked with us whether you’re qualified to play the WTA final. It seems that you’re very much looking forward to that. When looking back on the experience of participating in WTA Final for many years, did you feel that you are getting more and more comfortable to play WTA Final because for a player like your level which became higher, you have a different feeling to play in the WTA Final?
LI NA: I think in 2010, at that time I was No. 9 and I participated in WTA Final as a replacement or as a substitute. My coach say that, Okay, just go ahead. Somebody else could be injured.
Unfortunately, no one get injured, so at that time I think luck is not on my side. I have been preparing for the match, because as a substitute you have to arrive early and leave the latest.
So if this time I am really qualified or eligible to participate in WTA Final, so in that case that’s good news for me because I can participate in WTA as a player. That’s, you know, a reward or confirmed achievement I have already made in last year.
Q. For players that are very much into participating in the tournament organized in your home, you have already win four matches in a row, and all your opponent are very much competent. You show your best side of yourself.
LI NA: Are you satisfied with my performance? I will say that I’m very much satisfied or happy to have this performance, because last year I don’t have very good performance and this year I make some adjustment to such a high level.
Anyway, the matches are yet to be completed. That’s why I still have a lot of expectations for next‑round match.
Q. First, congratulations. We know that the way for you to celebrate success is very much unique. You use Chinese to write a word which is called De. Why did you work out a way to celebrate like that? How long does it for you to work out like this? How many hours did you take to practice? Did you notice I had one more stroke in that De Chinese letter?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s always nice if you have a great motivation and great support from your fans. That’s something that obviously always inspires me to do something unique and something different, so this time I promised to the fans that were coming and supporting me on my practices that I will try to draw this character on the camera next time. I held my promise.
Hopefully they recognize what I wanted to write. I don’t know if I did it right or wrong, but I didn’t practice at all, actually. I actually just once I have seen that sign.
Q. We have the press tennis tournament coming up, and I’m still looking for a doubles partner. Are you interested?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: When is it?
Q. It’s Sunday.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, if I’m still here, and if I’m, you know, having some free time, why not? What’s your side you play on?
Q. Whichever side you would prefer, I’ll do the other one.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Okay. I’ll adjust. (Laughter.)
Tennis Panorama News is in Beijing this week covering the China Open. Follow the updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN.