Anna Kournikova 2000 Chase Championships Semifinal Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

2000 Chase Championships at Madison Square Garden, New York, on Saturday, November 18, 2000
Martina Hingis defeated Anna Kournikova, 7-6(2), 6-2

An Interview With Anna Kournikova

Q. In general how do you feel about the way you played and do you feel any letdown after that first set?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think today was our best match out of the last three that we've played, and I'm just happy that I'm improving every time that I'm playing Martina. I think that I played, in general, really well, except my serve as well as I served the match before. And I think that we just had some great rallies, and we really used the whole court and moved each other around a lot. We did a lot of running and we were both sore afterwards in the locker room. You know, in general, I'm just happy with the way that I've played. I think I've improved, like I said in the last two months especially a lot. I felt really confident. I wasn't nervous at all. I was just out there having a good time and trying to outplay each point.

Q. Where did you feel that the match turned?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think that with Martina, every time that you're up -- every time I was up like four three, 5-4 in the first set, she completely raises the level and just starts making no mistakes and playing really aggressively, and come to the net on everything, and that's kind of tough. You feel like you're ahead, but still, you feel like she's coming right back at you. I think in the tiebreaker, also, I made a few mistakes, but she played really solidly. It's not like I missed all of the shots. She played really solid so the tiebreaker is where you felt the tide turn. Well, that's where I lost the set. I think that up to the tiebreaker, we were pretty even.

Q. Is that the level that you are starting to feel that you're reaching, that you're winning those kind of matches now, on the big points and things like that?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah, for sure. And like I said, Martina, she raises the level of those points in important games, and she has so much experience to do that because she has played so many big matches. So, you know, definitely she has got a lot of experience, and it helps her, I think, a lot.

Q. Do you think you're learning how to beat her each time you play her that you're getting closer and closer?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I've beaten her before. But for sure. Every time, you know, it's a different time. Like we played in the beginning of the year, I think in Hamburg and it was close, three sets and after that, just the last two times, it was, you know, close first sets and then the second sets were pretty easy. And this time, it's close again, so I'm happy to finish the year at this point and feeling great and confident, and just playing some good tennis.

Q. The second set on the ball you thought was clearly out was called good, it seemed like you lost focus for a while. Did you?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, I don't think so. That point, of course, would make me 5-4 -- would make Martina lead 4-2 instead of 5-2, but I don't think it had to do exactly with that point. There were a few calls in the match that I think went both ways.

Q. Have you allowed yourself to think about the possibility of winning for the first time or did you not think that far ahead?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I didn't think that far ahead, first of all. I just found out I was playing Martina, and that was on the court, giving the interview on the courts. I didn't even really look at the draw. I just was getting ready for each match. I knew that I had to play good tennis to beat Jennifer. I knew that I had to play very, very patient and solid tennis to beat Conchita. So, I didn't even look, you know, I was just getting ready for each match, and I'm happy that I got to the semifinals and to lose to Martina, it's not bad.

Q. It looked like you were really aggressive in the first set. The fact that she's so unbelievably consistent and steady, does that make you take more risks or go for more?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah, for sure. But maybe it looks like she is steady and consistent, but she hits the ball really deep and really uses the court, and she really is always, maybe ahead during the point, because she takes it on the rise.

Q. What is more beneficial for you, to play with her in doubles or to play against her in singles?


Q. How do you feel about your net game, and are you deliberately trying to come in on bigger points now?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think that, you know, I've been coming to the net a lot, especially against Conchita, and I -- most of the time I'm at the net I win the points. It's a pretty big percentage that I win the points. So my game has always been consistent and I always try to come to the net as much as possible. I think that the fact I am playing doubles with Martina, and playing doubles in general, really helped my net game, and I am really confident. But against players like Martina, it is really difficult to come to the net. They play really deep and they make you run, and it's very rare that you get a short bolt that you get to attack and come to the net.

Q. There is another Russian player here -- (inaudible) -- does it take more pressure off you or does it help you?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, not at all. I think that's the way it was before, when Elena Likhovtseva was in the top 16. So it's none of those. It doesn't help. It's no pressure.

Q. After you lose the first set, is it hard to keep going, after losing a close first set like that?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Against Martina, it is definitely tough to come out there and come back out there and have the same focus and the same intensity and the same level, because you know that you just had a really tough set and you were close, and she won; and you feel like you're a bit down and a bit tired, and she starts to play even more solid. But I just tried to go back there and just play again, just try to be aggressive, and maybe make her move a bit more because I felt like she was a bit tired in the first set.

Q. Did you enter that match with a particular strategy? It seemed in the first set you were really trying to go after your backhand?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think she was trying to go after my backhand. Well, yeah, of course, we know each other's game really well. So I kind of knew that what I had to do, you know, I had to move her around, for sure, and not give away any easy points. Be steady, be patient and try to bring back as many balls into the court as possible, because I knew that she was going to move me around a lot, with her angles and with her deep shots and playing behind me and everything.

Q. With your kind of game is it hard for you to be patient? You seem to be getting much better at that?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think that before I was kind of hard -- before, I would probably go for too much, for sure, and miss, maybe somewhere, but that's my game. I'm used to playing, you know, kind of aggressive and sometimes you have to take risks. Sooner or later, it's going to pay off. It's going to be -- I'm going to be feeling more confident and it's going to go in.

Q. You talked to Martina in the locker room afterwards, is it tough to talk to somebody after you've lost a match like that?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Not to her, no.

Q. You were saying a little while ago that Martina is able to raise her level of play, and at this level of tennis, everybody plays great tennis, but does she do that better than anybody else at this level?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, like I said, I think that she is the most tough -- she is the most tough mentally. She really -- when she is done, when she's up, she's really, really tough mentally and it's very difficult to get her out of the mental balance. That's why she's No. 1. That's why, you know, she can play the whole year and be really strong and mentally tough.

Q. What did you guys say to each other in the locker room? Was she impressed with the way you played the first set?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: We were just kind of sitting down. We were just tired. We said that we had to play one more match today that we have to win and she said that she has one more match tomorrow and that's it.

Q. But did she tell you she was impressed with the way you played?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: We didn't talk about that. We don't usually talk about tennis. We talk about fun stuff.

Q. You seemed to be really focused on court the whole week really well more than in the past, did you work on anything special?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, I think I'm doing pretty much everything the same. I think that people are just noticing it suddenly. I think that I was always very concentrated when I am on the court. It just was a matter of winning or losing. Maybe sometimes I lost, but it doesn't mean that I was not concentrating. I'm just probably more experienced now and I'm more calmer now when I'm on the court, and just playing a bit smarter, every point, and just thinking a bit more before each point.

Q. What do you think about your season?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think this was one of the most -- the most consistent season that I had. I had like eight semifinals, one final, and a lot of quarterfinals and we played some good doubles at the end of the year. So, I think that this tournament -- this year was definitely very consistent. I'm very glad that I didn't have big injuries like I did the past three years, except that I had a torn ligament in my left foot in the summer. But I didn't do so well in the Grand Slams, the US Open, the French Open and Wimbledon. So it's a good thing for next year. I can improve. And other than that, I'm really, really happy. And to finish the year at 8, I'm really excited. That's my highest ranking, so I'm happy.

Q. Is there any disappointment that now that you seem to be hitting some momentum that you're going to be off for a while?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, I'm happy. It's good to take some time off. Just get back into working, on physical conditioning, and maybe take some days off and just, you know, not go anywhere and be in one place for a while.

Q. Are there any of these young newcomers who particularly impress you like Dementieva or Clijsters?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: They are all good, tough players. Like we saw yesterday, I think that Kim was a little -- when she was up and she was a little bit, maybe, overexcited. I think that I was the same way, too, and sometimes -- when I was up. But they will definitely get better. They are playing really well and they will definitely get better.

Q. Since this is the last tournament at the Garden, the Chase moving to Munich next year, would you consider coming back to New York besides the US Open, maybe for an exhibition?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: An exhibition, well, we'll see. It's too far to say. We'll see.

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