Azarenka – Following her 7-5, 6-4 loss in the first round at the Australian Open on Tuesday to American player Jessica Pegula, Victoria Azarenka said her preparation for the year’s first major was adversely affected by the 14-day hard quarantine period she had to endure.
“Of course, it has impacted [on the court],” she said during her postmatch news conference. “Somebody who’s coming out of hard quarantine and maybe has been able to adjust well, they’ll go, ‘Oh, maybe it hasn’t impacted.’ Somebody who lost early will say, ‘Yeah, of course, it’s impacted.’ It would be hard to say, ‘Was that the best preparation for me?’ No.
“But try to sit here and find an excuse because of quarantine, and this is just something that, as I said, it is what it is. I am disappointed that I wasn’t able to perform [like] I knew I could. That’s a bit hard to accept today because I know I can play better, a lot better. At the same time, I feel that I’ve tried everything I can to be able to be prepared, but unfortunately, that hasn’t worked out for me.”
One of 72 players who were forced to self-isolate for two weeks following positive tests on three charter flights to Melbourne, Azarenka had to train from her hotel room. Many players, including Azarenka, hit balls into mattresses, pillows, or walls and converted their living spaces into makeshift gyms in an attempt to stay match-ready.
“I mean, the most creative way possible is hitting against the wall and soft cushions,” she said. “Doesn’t work. But I think the biggest impact for me personally has been not being able to have fresh air. That really took a toll. It really took a toll for me to adjust.
“At the same time, it’s something, like, I don’t know how to prepare after two weeks’ quarantine to play [a match] in six days or five days. I don’t have a blueprint of how to prepare. So it’s all about, like, trying to figure it out. I did not figure it out, not this time.”