Anna Kournikova 1998 French Open 2nd-Round Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

1998 French Open at Roland Garros, Paris, France, on May 28, 1998
Anna Kournikova defeated Katarina Studenikova, 6-2 7-6(2)
Anna's rank: 13th   Anna's seed: 13th

An Interview With Anna Kournikova

Q: Anna, how would you sum up your performance today? Looked as if everything went pretty well until a little spell in the second set when she started to pick up her game, but you also lost it a little bit.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think I played very well in the first set. She probably had little chance. She made a little bit too many mistakes. But in the second, you know, she probably adjusted to my game. I started probably going for too much. But even, you know, when I was down 5-4 or something like that in the second set, I was confident. I knew that, you know, I'm playing well.

Q: How did you spend your time waiting and rain time yesterday and this morning?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, yesterday I had to stay here until like eight o'clock at night doing nothing. Just sitting, you know, waiting. But today I was preparing for my match. I knew that I would play, because I was playing first, so. Nothing special.

Q: Can you talk about your forehand? It seems like you're either hitting it a lot for winners or you're missing it, and your backhand is a lot more consistent. She seemed to be playing your forehand a lot, too.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think that's because her game, her forehand, can only go cross-court. I think, you know, her best shot is cross-court, so that's why she was playing cross-court to my forehand. But I don't think that, you know, there's a big difference between my backhand and my forehand.

Q: If you were in a tight situation and you had to hit a winner, would you rather try to hit a forehand or a backhand?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Depends which side the ball is on (laughter). If the ball is on the right side, I can't hit a backhand from that.

Q: If you had your choice?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I can't have my choice. She has the choice. My opponent has a choice.

Q: Anna, can you tell us what Pavel has added to your game in the last couple of months?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, it's difficult to say that he added something, like one thing. But, you know, I think he just helped me, you know, with my confidence and my game, all-around, you know, working on improving everything.

Q: Do you still have a dialogue going with Nick, as well?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah, I always talk to Nick here every day.

Q: Where do you feel that perhaps you would most like to improve your game?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, like I always say, I can't really say, like, if I need to improve one special thing. Because, like I said, you know, sometimes something is going well, the other times something different is going well. I have to just really concentrate and probably progress and be more patient on the court, not try to go for too much.

Q: You're doing fairly well right now. A year ago, did you think you should be doing as well as you are now? Was it frustrating then? Did you know you could be this good as a player? Are you happy it's sort of arrived?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: You know, I always played tennis, so I always wanted to be good. But last year it was difficult for me. I didn't play many tournaments, you know, I couldn't. I still can't. I'm still two weeks in the restriction. Of course, I'm glad, you know, finally I can play a lot, like as many tournaments as I want. It doesn't mean that I have to play 30 tournaments. But, you know, I'm very glad. I think that, you know, I could be better last year than I was if I would be able to play more.

Q: Anna, how much did your experience at Wimbledon last year, going to the semifinal, help you feel that you've got the mental and physical toughness to go seven rounds in a Grand Slam?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, it was very tough, you know, playing there. But being in the semifinal of a Grand Slam gives you, I think, some confidence. It gave me -- I understood that I could go and play many matches in a row well, just like I played at Lipton many matches in a row well. It's not that, like, I play one match great and then second one bad. So it gave me confidence that I can play a lot of matches in a row well.

Q: Anna, Arantxa just came in, half the people were in here, only five people from Spain. They announce your name, and half the press room is here. Does it make you feel any pressure? How do you feel about that? She's won it twice.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I haven't seen how many people were here.

Q: I'm telling you.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I don't really, you know, follow that. I try to concentrate on my tennis. It's not my fault that you guys are all here. They probably came -- I mean, what can I do about it?

Q: Anna, in that vein, are you a person who doesn't easily get distracted? You can concentrate when you want to concentrate? Can you turn all of this off?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I have to teach myself to do that, you know. I have to concentrate. I know that I'm still not the perfect at concentration, you know. It's difficult, even on the court. But I'm trying not to think about anything except playing.

Q: Anna, to what extent are you conscious of the fact that you are so popular with everybody? Do you enjoy the limelight?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Like I said, I cannot change it. I don't know, you know, how it feels or whatever. I'm just a normal person, trying to be normal. I'm trying to play tennis.

Q: But some people hate it. Some people enjoy it. Everybody is different.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Even if I hate it, everyone if I like it, I can't change it.

Q: I appreciate that. Bearing in mind you can't change it, do you enjoy it or not?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I can't say yes or no. There is good things about it and bad things about it.

Q: May I know your opinion about Marat Safin's game?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I know Marat since we were like five years old, because we're from the same club in Moscow. We went to America the first time with a group together, it was like fifteen kids. I know him very well. We are almost the same age. You know, he's been practicing in Spain. He was always a great player. I practiced with him, you know, in Russia many times. I think he's got a great game. Probably help him a lot that he's practicing in Spain, not in Russia. It's very difficult conditions practicing in Russia.

Q: Yesterday Martina Hingis said that despite what a lot of people think, Marcelo Rios is not that bad of a guy. You're a player of the same generation as him. Would you say he's a good guy?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: He is, fully. They asked me before if Marcelo Rios was the bad boy of tennis. I don't think so, because, you know, some people are just trying to find a bad guy in tennis. They happened to pick Marcelo. He's really a nice guy. I mean, I haven't ever seen him being something unnormal. He always says hello, always nice.

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