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Azarenka on Pain and Pride of Epic Final


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Victoria Azarenka's bid for history was denied, but her inspiration shined in Indian Wells.
Victoria Azarenka endured emotional extremes in the Indian Wells final with positive perspective.

The former world No. 1 was two points from a historic third BNP Paribas Open title serving at 5-4, 30-0 before Paula Badosa fought back for a 7-6(5), 2-6, 7-6(2) triumph.

More: Badosa Makes History with Indian Wells Title

The three hour, four-minute epic was the longest women's final in Indian Wells history and longest on the WTA Tour this season.

"I would agree with comparing it to the match of the year. I think the entire match the quality of tennis was super high level," Azarenka told the media in Indian Wells. "We were both going for our shots, really pushing each other to the max. I think that's what made it super entertaining, that competitive spirit, really fighting for every ball, not giving in anywhere. It's very challenging to maintain that. I think that we both did that really well."

Azarenka experienced pain and pride as Badosa paid tribute to the two-time champion as her inspiration.

“Vika congratulations; I remember I was 14, 15 years old seeing you winning Grand Slams,” Badosa said after hoisting the crystal trophy. “I remember saying to my coach, one day I hope I can play like her. “So it’s amazing. Thank you for inspiring me so much. I wouldn’t be here without you, really, really, so thank you.”

The 27th-seeded Belarusian said Badosa's words make her even more motivated to continue competing.

"Honestly very touching. I think that's also part of my motivation also to play, is to inspire people to be in our sport, not necessarily in our sport, to go after their careers, keep pushing the boundaries for women in sports, careers, anywhere," Azarenka said. "It's very touching. It's always important to be a good player, a better person off the court. If I inspire people with my tennis, that's only even more motivating for me to keep doing what I'm doing."

Photo credit: BNP Paribas Open Facebook