Ambitious Azarenka downplays the pressure of being No. 1

Victoria Azarenka moved into the Qatar Open quarterfinals after a comfortable win over Simona Halep.

Story highlights

  • Belarusian Victoria Azarenka says her world No. 1 ranking is just a number
  • The 22-year-old breezed into the quarterfinals of the Qatar Open Thursday
  • Azarenka hit No. 1 after winning maiden major title at the Australian Open
  • She will now face Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer in Qatar last eight

Victoria Azarenka's peerless run of form in 2012 has seen her secure a maiden grand slam title and cement her place as the finest women's tennis player on the planet.

But after the Belarusian took her record this year to 14 straight wins on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Qatar Open, she downplayed the pressure she faces to continue that success at the top of the rankings.

"It's really just a number," the 22-year-old told reporters.

"It's a great feeling to have, but I have so many more goals, and I just want to keep working hard and keep improving. I feel there shouldn't be a limit to how much you can push yourself."

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Azarenka's latest victory was a comfortable 6-3 6-1 success over Romanian Simona Halep, just 24 hours after she had disposed of Mona Barthel.

She has barely had time to toast her maiden major victory after beating Russia's Maria Sharapova in last month's Australian Open final -- but she did manage to head to Los Angeles for a few days immersed in the world of Hollywood glamor.

"I didn't really get too much time to enjoy the moment. I had to leave (Australia) the next day, and the next day I already had to do a lot of things," Azarenka said.

"It was really fun for me to go and watch the men's final, but it was so hot I couldn't sit any longer!

"I went to LA for a few days. I went to see the Lakers play -- Kobe Bryant is one of my favorite basketball players. That was really, really fun. I also attended the Ellen Show. She's one of my favorite TV anchors. That was really fun too."

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Azarenka is relishing her return to action after being forced to sit out Belarus' Fed Cup tie against the U.S. -- and a potential meeting with the Williams sisters -- earlier this month due to a back problem.

"If I was looking for more holidays, trust me, I wouldn't be here," she said.

"I was excited to go out there and finally play again, because it has been a little while -- it seems like it was just yesterday, but it has been over two weeks. I was really looking forward to playing again and I'm excited about my next one."

Azarenka will face Yanina Wickmayer in the last eight after the Belgian beat Ksenia Pervak of Russia 6-4 6-0.

Elsewhere, Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Varvara Lepchenko of Uzbekistan 7-5 6-1 to set up a quarterfinal clash with American Christina McHale, who beat Israel's Shahar Peer 4-6 6-3 6-4.