MELBOURNE, Australia —
Azarenka hadn’t helped herself in a second television interview after the match when she said she couldn’t breathe.
“I had chest pains,” she said. “It was like I was getting a heart attack.”
She tried to allay any negative perception with her explanation that the choking was related to shortness of breath from the rib injury, not her faltering game.
“When you cannot breathe you start to panic,” she said. “I was really panicking, not because I couldn’t convert my match point. That’s not the case. I mean, I’m experienced enough to go over those emotions. But when you cannot breathe, when something’s really blocking you, the stress — that was the stress I was talking about.
“What I said — that I was stressed out and choked — was not because I couldn’t finish my shot. It was just so stressing me out the pain that I had that, maybe it was overreaction, but I just really couldn’t breathe.”