Miami: Victoria Azarenka naturally had a large grin on her face after winning the Sony Ericsson Open on Saturday but she says the key to her success is learning to smile through defeats as well as victories.
The 21-year-old Belarusian, who beat Maria Sharapova, 6-1 6-4 at Key Biscayne for her second win at the hardcourt event in three years, said her lowest moment of the year to date provided her with a fresh perspective.
After going out in the first round at Doha against Slovak Daniela Hantuchova in February, Azarenka had the rare chance to spend some time back home in Minsk.
Away from the practice courts at her US base in Arizona and far from the constant pressures of being on tour, she took the chance to reflect on her disappointment.
"I went home and spent three days at home just by myself and just realised a few things that I want to do with my life, how to really find that balance and to raise my level," she said.
Those moments of reflection also included a brief dalliance with the idea of quitting the sport.
"For a second. For a second, really slight second," she said.
The real process that went through her mind was about gaining a sense of perspective about her performances.
"I guess it takes time and sometimes loneliness to realise what you have to do in your life. So I just came to practice and I just tried every day to be happy, to enjoy myself on the court and just do the best job I can," she said.
Doing the job well, she says, means not fretting about defeats or the possibility of defeat.
"I just don't care if I lose," she said.
"I'm just there to do the best I can. I'm going to fight for every ball, and what outcome comes out, it's not up to me.
"What I meant by not caring about losing is not to create such a big drama out of it. If you lose the match, I mean, you just lose a tennis match. It's not the end of the world.
"You can see so many things happening in the world, and I know it sounds a little bit ‘out there', but look what happened in Japan, for example, and we're here playing tennis, being able to do something that we love. So, I mean, why make a big deal out of it?"
Azarenka could however become a very big deal in tennis herself if she can take her hardcourt form over to Europe for the clay season and then on to Wimbledon.
Time to celebrate
She now has six titles and next week will be back to sixth in the world rankings and she should soon be in contention for her first major title.
But on Saturday, her thoughts were more of enjoying a celebratory drink by the beach and her choice of tipple reflects her new-found emphasis on calm, relaxation.