Anna Kournikova 1999 Italian Open 1st-Round Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

1999 Italian Open at Rome, Italy on May 3, 1999
Anna Kournikova (ranked 13th, seeded 9th) defeated Rita Grande, 6(4)-7, 6-3, 2-0, retired

An Interview With Anna Kournikova

Q. Did you see La Vita Bella? What would you do if you were an actresse what would you play?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, I didn't. I just saw the Oscars. For the moment I'll problably stick to my day job.

Q. Until the injury break she was giving you quite a hard time..

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, until the toilet break. I was giving hard time myself. She played well at the beginning, in front of your home crowd it's always good. For me it's always difficult to play the first match, I haven't played for a long time. The courts were pretty slow, she was playing slow too. I was trying a new racket, when I got back to my old one I didn't lose a game afterwards. Pretty much in control the whole match, up 5-3. In the whole match I was pretty much in control.

Q. Did you find courts slower than last year?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I'm comparing to the courts in America, I don't remember these sincerely.

Q. Why do you play tennis?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Because I've been working twelve years ( thirteen actually! )! You think it's just fun but it isn't! You really have to work hard. You have to enjoy out there. You feel you are playing, doing what you love; sometimes it's hard: you are not playing well, the ball doesn't go in. You try everything but it doesn't work. It's a good feeling when you win tough matches, 75 in the third, you know that you played very hard, the other tried very hard. It's good also when you win easy matches because you feel you are really in control of your game. In anything you can find a good feeling. I've been working for a very long time and very hard. I'm losing seven sweats out there everyday to put that ball between those lines! The feeling must be there always.

Q. Does it bother you to be more famous for your looks than for your skills?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: There are different audiences. People who would never watch tennis might do it because of me or other young players so it's good for tennis that we have different audiences. There are also many people who know me as a tennis player, they know how I work! It doesn't bother me, I cannot change my looks. I'm just out there playing tennis.

Q. Do you feel more like a star or a champion?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: The two go together; you have to be a star to be a champion and vice versa. It depends how you look at it. It depends what you mean by champion: if you win a match you are a champion or you can win anything it depends.

Q. You are more famous than Davenport..

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I can't change it: it's you guys who decide, you are in control!

Q. What about the war in Kosovo and Russia's role?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I've been watching CNN, the other channels are in Italian. It's always very tragic when something like this happens. I'm very sad for those people. For Russia's role I don't know. I'm a tennis player not a politician!

Q. Are you satisfied with you technical improvements?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think I'm playing very well. I was feeling good, I played good the last two tournaments in the States. I'm pretty much in a good shape. As you saw she was very tired, she started cramping; I could go practice now! I'm not tired today. I feel good physically and technically.

Q. Who's your coach?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I don't have one. Yes, I have a hitting partner. He's from the States. He played on the circuit before; his name is Ed Niegel. He went to college. He was at the Bollettieri Academy before me. I met him during a tournament.

Q. Why did you interrupt the collaboration with your coach?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: We both thought that it was time to change and make new things.

Q. Why don't play for your nation ..

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: There are seven other top tens who don't. It's very difficult for the schedule. I've played five tournaments in a row; I would have had to play Fed Cup then come here.. then Berlin, French Open, Wimbledon. It's very hard for your body and mentally. I couldn't physically made it.

Q. Do you rely on instinct or on tactics?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: You have to use both. When you have no time you play on your instinct. When you have time you obviously have to think: it's a combination of the two.

Q. Apart from clay and your racket, why did you made so many unforced errors?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yes, unforced errors, like you said: it's not that she made me make those mistakes. They were all going long ( my shots ), my racket was just very light. You saw: as I changed the racket I didn't make any more mistakes, maybe two. That was the main reason. Anna Kournikova pages at
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