Anna Kournikova 2002 Italian Open 2nd-Round Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

2002 Italian Open (Tennis Masters Series) at Rome, Italy on Tuesday, May 14, 2002
Anna Kournikova (ranked 68th) defeated Lilia Osterloh (ranked 62nd), 6-1, 4-6, 6-1

[Anna was scheduled to play Venus Williams, who had a 1st-round bye, in the 2nd-round. However, Venus withdrew just minutes before the match, citing an injury that had been bothering her for some time. Venus was replaced by qualifying "lucky loser" Lilia Osterloh.]

An Interview With Anna Kournikova

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Anna, please.

Q. Can you tell us, when did you find out that Venus was not playing? What time?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Five minutes -- five, ten minutes before.

Q. Were you shocked or...?


Q. Somehow did you expect that something like this could happen?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I sensed that there was something going on because, you know, I saw there was some commotion with the people around, you know, the locker room and stuff. But I tried not to think about it. Because, you know, I saw her warming up before, so I didn't think that something is gonna happen.

Q. You sensed something strange only ten minutes before?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah. Everybody does their own thing. So you don't, you know, try to look at your opponent before you play. So I didn't really pay attention.

Q. How is your tennis in this moment?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: In general or...?

Q. Yes.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: What do you mean by "my tennis"?

Q. How are you feeling at this moment?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I won today so I feel good. I mean, it's... I wouldn't be able to, you know, to say that I'm in the best shape or perfect shape. But definitely these two matches, yesterday and today, have been, you know, one of the best matches probably I played this year after let's say Tokyo or something like that - those matches in the beginning of the year. So these are definitely the best matches I played in the last three months. And especially they're on clay. And I'm happy to win two matches back-to-back finally.

Q. You were more disappointed, pleased, or surprised about what happened? What were your feelings?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I tried to not feel anything because I was just getting ready for a match. I tried not to think who I'm going to play against, you know. Because obviously when you get ready to play Venus, you get a little bit more, like -- it's a different feeling, you know. And then when I found out that I have to play another girl, I have to tell myself to be even more focused. You know, so I really had no time to feel that much because it was so close before the match. It was, you know, five minutes, and we went on the court. So I just tried to forget about it. Actually, when I was playing, I didn't even remember that I was supposed to play Venus. So I guess that's good.

Q. After the first set, when you lost that second set, was it a nightmare?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No. Actually, I was -- you know, after playing so almost nearly perfect the first set, I was doing - you know , everything went in - I was doing everything I wanted, it was a little bit tough to keep the concentration towards the second set, you know. It would be a perfect, perfect match if I would finish it, you know, 6-1, 6-3. I was up 4-3, 40-15. But, you know, that's where I have to improve, is, you know -- that's when I'll be playing my perfect tennis, if I would finish the second set 6-3. So it wasn't a disaster because I felt like I was doing what I had to do. And I wasn't nervous at all. And I felt that if I just concentrated a little bit more for, you know, a short period of time, it will start going well again. And it's not like she overpowered me or she made the winners. I just went a little bit for too much and wasn't as maybe on my toes as I was the first set. So... I wasn't really disappointed. I mean, I am disappointed, but I wasn't...

Q. One year ago Venus Williams withdrew in Indian Wells just five minutes before a match against Serena. Then, Serena had to play two days after, one day after, and the crowd were not kind to Serena. There were some people whistling and so on. Tonight, everybody here was generous - I mean more generous. Nobody whistled - or not many. Are you surprised about that? What do you think was the better reaction?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, Venus is not my sister so we couldn't have, you know, talked or do anything before the match (smiling).

Q. That's a very good answer.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Thank you (smiling). So, but... I don't know. Well, first of all, I wasn't playing, so I don't really know the story. You know, just from hearing. And, you know, injuries happen. I just wish that, you know, we would know a little bit earlier. It's just for the people. But, you know, everybody has to make their own decisions.

Q. That means that the people were here to see you and not Venus.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Thank you (smiling). That's great.

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