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."

15-love: Top tennis romances

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."

Monfils pulls out as Roddick battles through in San Jose

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.


    • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

      What does 2015 hold for Rafa?

      Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
    • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

      Love game: Andy Murray to tie knot

      The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
    • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

      'Crocodile' who broke all the rules

      His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
    • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

      Serena savors U.S. Open win

      Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
    • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

      The amazing life of Althea Gibson

      Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
    • Courting couple at match point

      "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
    • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

      'Baby' Sharapova's big moment

      It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
    • 'Swiss Miss' follows mom's lead

      Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.