Azarenka shows fighting spirit with UFC star Evans

ESPN staff
March 23, 2012
Victoria Azarenka met Rashad Evans in Miami © Getty Images

Victoria Azarenka demonstrated the battling qualities that have seen her rise to world No. 1 as she took time out of her preparations for the Sony Ericsson Open to train with former UFC light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans in Miami.

Evans, who bids to reclaim his title when he takes on Jon Jones at UFC 145 next month, met the Australian Open champion at the MMA Masters Academy in Miami, where the pair traded tips, and Evans was impressed with the Belarusian's technique.

"This was a nice break from training. It lets your mind go free and gives you a chance to not think about the fight. It was cool that she's another pro athlete, one who goes out there and competes, mano-a-mano. It was fun," Evans said.

"I can tell she's genuinely interested in MMA - it was impressive how she grasps the concepts. I didn't show her too much except for kicking, but she knew a lot more than I thought she'd know. There were times she really looked like she knew what she was doing.

"I love women's tennis. It actually dominates men's tennis in my opinion. You know they're out there giving it everything they've got. They go through the same anxiety we do of not wanting to lose, and I respect that a lot."

Azarenka, who is bidding to win a fifth straight title after an unbeaten start to 2012, believes she could pick up some tips from Evans which would help her on court.

"It was a great experience to meet Rashad," she said. "He seems really nice - I'm sure he's a little bit meaner in the cage, but he's a great guy and it's always great to meet somebody from a completely different field. I love to follow UFC. I invited him to tennis so I hope he can come cheer me on.

"I wish I had time to train more. I'm curious about how these athletes train. I could pick up something interesting for myself."

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