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Azarenka driven by new memories, not past glories

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus is interviewed during a media availability at the BNP Paribas Open WTA tennis tournament in Indian Wells, Calif
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus is interviewed during a media availability at the BNP Paribas Open WTA tennis tournament in Indian Wells, Calif

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - For a second successive year, Victoria Azarenka brings red-hot form to Indian Wells for the BNP Paribas Open but the confident Belarusian has no desire to reflect on past glories.

Rather than look for motivation in a perfect 14-0 record in 2013 as she prepares to defend her title at a venue where she feels extremely comfortable, Azarenka prefers to focus on the present in her bid to create even better memories.

"I never think about how I played yesterday and trying to bring good memories with me too much because it doesn't really matter," world number two Azarenka, 23, told reporters at Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Wednesday.

"I prefer to make new memories. You always remember when you win the good things that happened, you never remember how you couldn't make a forehand or you couldn't make a backhand at a tournament.

"So for me, I am really excited to be here and hopefully I will continue to play well. I always look forwards to my first match and we'll start from there."

Twelve months ago, Azarenka clinched her fourth title of the year with a 6-2 6-3 demolition of an error-prone Maria Sharapova in the final of the Indian Wells WTA tournament, improving her record for the season to 23-0.

That unbeaten run eventually ended at 26-0, the best start to a season since Swiss Martina Hingis recorded 37 consecutive victories to launch her 1997 campaign.

Fast forward one year and Azarenka is back at it again after successfully defending her Australian Open crown in January before going on to win last month's Qatar Open by outclassing Serena Williams 7-6 2-6 6-3 in the final.

PURPLE PATCH

Asked to compare her glittering early form this season to the purple patch she delivered last year, Azarenka smiled: "I don't compare my form. I try to just improve my form.

"I have improved a little bit in all areas - in my movement, hitting shots, being more aggressive, my serve and my return. I am such a perfectionist all the time that I always try to work on everything because I feel like I have room to improve.

"And that's what excites me even more, knowing that I have that ability to improve more. But you can't just jump in improvement. If I can improve one, two or three percent in every area, it's good for me and then I will try to build from there."

Asked what goals she had set this year, Azarenka replied: "The ultimate goal is try to make it to the (season-ending) WTA Championships, that shows your consistency during the year. But my main priority, my focus, is on the grand slams."

In January, the Belarusian clinched her second grand slam crown by retaining her Australian Open title with a tense 4-6 6-4 6-3 victory over China's Li Na.

While Azarenka sat talking to the media, one of the interested onlookers was her boyfriend, American musician and rapper Stefan Gordy, who is better known by his stage name 'Redfoo'.

Asked what it was like to have a celebrity as a romantic partner, the Belarusian beamed: "Well, it makes it more difficult to go have a coffee, that's for sure.

"And for the rest, I really don't pay attention to that so much. We just enjoy each other's company, having fun. Redfoo, I don't even call him that. I just call him Stefan."

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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