Azarenka comes through loud and clear
FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. -- If you are the top seed at the U.S. Open, it's perfectly fine to tote a rock star along to your news conferences.
After all, Victoria Azarenka did it after a 6-2, 6-2 win over Anna Tatishvili in the fourth round.
Azarenka pulled a day-glo Redfoo from LMFAO up with her at her post-match news conference. The Party Rock singer looked through the nametags, cracked open the bottle of Evian left for Azarenka and nonchalantly drank it as she talked about the match.
Maybe the two don't seem to have much in common, but look at it this way.
Azarenka, a player who might prepare for matches by drinking hot tea with lemon and running through vocal warmups. Known for prolonged shrieks, her voice gets as much of a workout during the average tennis match as Redfoo's might during an LMFAO concert. And she was in his color scheme as well, wearing a florescent yellow tank just a smidgen louder than a tennis ball.
Azarenka is the No. 1 seed at the U.S. Open this summer, and still she may not be getting all the respect that number usually commands. Her win took place on Louis Armstrong Stadium -- after waiting out another women's match -- so that Maria Sharapova's night match could go off on time.
Despite winning her first Grand Slam event in Australia last winter, she may not have completely distinguished herself to your average tennis fan. Her news conferences haven't been packed. Even on Armstrong, a loud segment of the crowd was rooting for Tatishvili.
On the court, neither Azarenka nor Tatishvili distinguished themselves particularly well. In the second set, it took five games before either could hold serve.
"There were a few things I felt like I could have done better," Azarenka said. "Could have been more aggressive and step up a little bit more when I had the chance. But in the end I found that rhythm that I was looking for, and that's important."
She held her last two service games for the match.
"I let my racket talk, not really me talking," Azarenka said. "I think that's important. You really show when you're on the court are you a favorite? Are you not a favorite? Are you playing well? Are you not playing well? In the end of the day, your game is what shows, you know, who you are in the tennis world."
Azarenka will play No. 7 Samantha Stosur in a quarterfinal. Redfoo has been a big Stosur supporter, but now said he just wants to see a good match. He was ubiquitous at the Open on Sunday, popping up on the Tennis Channel and on the grounds. It was only natural he'd find his way to a crowd of reporters.
Borrowing Stosur's supporter was a good move for the Belorussian player, humanizing her a bit and letting her personality come through a bit more. At 23, she is enough of a veteran to have gotten some notoriety, but she can be a bit bland, to put it delicately, in her responses during news conferences.
A berth in the quarterfinals assured, a wild-haired screamer at her side, and it allowed Azarenka to uncork a little. Trading a little unscripted banter with Redfoo, Azarenka revealed that she uses LMFAO's song "Shots" to warm up to on the court sometimes.
"I'm just remembering the time when I was listening to the song," she said. "When I was listening to it before the match because, I don't know, it's really "
"Aggressive," Redfoo said.
"I think it's really fun," Azarenka said. "Actually my manager likes to dance to it, too. See, she's embarrassed."
Hmmmm "Shots." That sounds like a song about tennis, I said.
"Well it is," Redfoo said slyly.
"But somebody at the bar will think differently," added Azarenka.
If being the top seed isn't enough, then perhaps a few more clever retorts, more consistency on the serve and a Redfoo or two in her player box -- and it may just be harder for anyone to deny Azarenka the broadcast window on Ashe.