Wednesday, January 25, 2023

It took me ten years to recover from the cheating scandal, but Djokovic is not a "villain" Azarenk

Djokovic is no 'villain' - took me 10 years to get over cheat storm: Azarenka


MELBOURNE: Victoria Azarenka defended Novak Djokovic, who has been accused of exaggerating his injury during this year's tournament, and she stated that it took her ten years to get over being accused of cheating when she won the Australian Open for the first time.

The 33-year-old, two-time champion, defeated Jessica Pegula 6-4, 6-1 on Tuesday night at Melbourne Park to reach the semifinals for the first time since 2013.

Azarenka took a nine-minute medical timeout in the semi-final against Sloane Stephens during her run to the second of her back-to-back Australian titles that year after failing to convert five match points.

Azarenka went on to win the match and take the trophy, but she had to defend herself against claims that she had cheated and played games.

Later, the Belarussian admitted that she had a panic attack in court and was unable to breathe, which was the reason for the lengthy delay.

Tuesday, Azarenka stated that she had only recently learned how to deal with the overwhelming self-doubt and anxiety she experienced during matches, as well as the "worst" moment of her career.

She told reporters, "It was one of the worst things I have ever experienced in my professional career, the way I was treated after that moment, the way I had to explain myself until 10.30 p.m. because people didn't want to believe me."

She went on to say, "I actually can resonate what Novak said the other day," referring to Djokovic's response to comments regarding his hamstring injury.

In his first matches, the 35-year-old Serb appeared hampered and in pain, and his leg was heavily bandaged.

However, the nine-time champion appeared unhindered as he sprinted past Alex De Minaur of Australia and into the quarterfinals on Monday, losing only five games.

Djokovic told Serbian media that he was tired of people saying that he might have faked the injury and that these comments only made him more motivated.

Djokovic said this week that he was an "easy target to be the villain" when he plays Russian fifth seed Andrey Rublev in the men's singles quarterfinals on Wednesday.

According to Azarenka, "There is sometimes, like, I don't know, incredible desire for a villain and a hero story that must be written."

After reaching her first Australian Open semi-final since 2013, the 24th seed added, "But we're not villains, we're not heroes, we are regular human beings that go through so many, many things." She will face Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the other semifinal.

She stated that "because nobody's there to see the full story," the "assumptions and judgments" had no bearing.

Azarenka stated, "It didn't matter how many times I said my story, it did not cut through."

"Actually, I was thinking about that, so it's funny that you're saying that. I struggled with it for ten years. I'm finally done with that."

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