Reem's Diary: Azarenka rediscovers spring in her step at Aus Open

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Victoria Azarenka was the last woman to hold the No. 1 ranking before Serena Williams.

Victoria Azarenka is a changed woman. She’s gone a journey of self-discovery, got through injury, depression, and a slip down the rankings only to come back stronger and happier.

Azarenka can be seen dancing in the tunnels of Melbourne Park ahead of her matches, she does the dab – a hip hop dance move made famous by Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton’s celebrations – after her wins, she created, directed and produced a video of her training and most of all has been ruthless and inspired on court.

The ex-world No1 says she never worked with a psychologist to improve her mindset but instead draws inspiration from people around her, or in the sports field.

“I think for me what works the best is communicating with people. Listening to other people’s experience, athletes… documentaries are also one of my favourite things and seeing what people are going through.

“I watched documentaries on Tony González. He’s a friend. Cam Newton, on J.J. Watt, like football players. On Kobe (Bryant). I love watching not only documentaries but interviews, because when it’s one on one, I think it’s really interesting for me. I love to share that experience.”

On what she enjoyed about Watt’s story, Azarenka added: “It was interesting for me to see his story, the way he approached from when he came as a kid and how he went all the way through. The part of the journey, that’s what’s most interesting for me. Not really what particularly they are doing right now, but what led up to all that mentality.”

She also says she has lots of respect of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

“There haven’t been many more players who actually had an opportunity to do that, but his transition of moving to the pros (straight from high school) was so dominant that that was really remarkable. As always, will have my respect for that,” she said.

Azarenka Aus. Open facts

  • Played in 10 tournaments.
  • Singles winner in 2012 & 2013.
  • Doubles finalist in 2008 & 2012.

Leave the dab to Cam

Meanwhile, Panthers super fan John Isner has a good problem ahead of him. After advancing to the fourth round, the American might end up being on court during his beloved Panthers’ game on Monday.

“Maybe go to the tournament desk and ask for a late start. I’m serious actually. We’ll see if I can get that done,” Isner said amidst laugher in the press conference room.

“(Craig Tiley, the tournament director) would probably just laugh at me. He’s going to do what’s best for his tournament. I won’t do that. I was kidding.”

Asked if would join the dab craze and do it to celebrate his wins, Isner gave a strict no and prefers if no one else did other than Newton.

“No, I’m not going to do that. I said ‘you should have put a patent on that or something. He (Newton) does it the best. Vika’s (Azarenka), no offense, is not quite as good as his. But I won’t be doing that, for sure,” said Isner.

Luck of the Chinese

Elsewhere, Zhang Shuai continued her dream run into the fourth round of the Australian Open after coming to Melbourne with 0 wins in 14 attempts at grand slams. She revealed what could be a secret to being lucky this week.

“Normally I start here play not really well. This year I play amazing. I want to keep win, yeah. Zheng Jie (Chinese former semi-finalist), she always very lucky. She play well in Australian Open,” explained Zhang.

“But this year she didn’t come. This year I use her lucky locker. I don’t remember the locker number, but she said ‘okay, I give you my lucky locker. I hope you can be lucky this year’. So I think from her a lot lucky this year.”

Well that was certainly nice of Zheng Jie.

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