Anna Kournikova 1998 Lipton Championships Final Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

1998 Lipton Championships at Key Biscayne, Florida, on Saturday, March 28, 1998
Venus Williams defeated Anna Kournikova, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1

An Interview With Anna Kournikova

VERONIQUE MARCHAL: Questions for Anna.

Q. Anna, did you get very tired in the middle of the second set and was there a special reason for it?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think that it was a very long week for me. I mean, I've played a very tough job compared to Venus'. I played Monica and everybody, Davenport. It was very difficult for me. My fifth day playing, I got a day of rest yesterday, but still, you know. So it was a little bit difficult. It was very hot today. All other matches I played kind of later in the afternoon. But I think just I got a little bit tired physically. But it's good. It shows me that I didn't -- she didn't beat me; I lost. That means I'm better a little bit than her.

Q. What means the last word?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I said that it's good that she didn't really beat me, I made all the mistakes, right? So that gives me, you know, some confidence that I could play better.

Q. Anna, 2-1 in the second set, you were broken. From then on, your game seemed to change. You started slicing a lot more, not going for winners. Did something happen physically at that point? You ran into the locker room for about 30 seconds.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No. I think I sliced also in the first set, as much as I did the end. I just had to go to the bathroom, bathroom break.

Q. When you say that she didn't beat you, do you give her any credit at all?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Definitely. I say she played a great match. It was a great comeback. Like I said, you know, you could probably see that I made all the decisions on the court.

Q. Anna, did you feel like your lack of experience in a big final affected the match today?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, you know, I think so. But, you know, she played finals of the Open and some other finals. Probably she was a little bit already calmer than I was. I was, of course, very excited about being in the final, you know, beating such a great players on the way. I've had a great week. I really worked hard this week.

Q. Are you saying that you're a better player than she is?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I didn't say that. I'm just saying that, you know, it shows me that I can play better than I did today.

Q. Were you aware how tired she was getting during the match? Did you see anything on the other side of the court?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I didn't try to look at the opponent, you know, who I was playing. If I would be thinking that I was playing Venus Williams, I would probably be intimidated. But I tried not to think who I was playing against. I tried to focus only on my game.

Q. You seem to be blaming this loss on the fact that you got tired, weren't physically --

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I'm not blaming anything. I lost.

Q. You seem to be talking a lot about how physically difficult it was for you to play all these matches. Isn't fitness level just as much a part of the match as whether your backhand is good or bad that day?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Of course. But I think, you know, there is a big difference if you play somebody No. 40 in the world and somebody No. 2, No. 9, No. 8, and No. 4 in the world in a row, four days in a row. You have to be really concentrated with your mind, first of all. It was a great week for me. I cannot say anything. I don't blame anything. I think I did great here. I really enjoyed it.

Q. Anna, do you think all the slicing affected your regular groundstrokes, your power groundstrokes?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No. It was part of the game. It worked in the first set, right? So I don't think it really affected. I just started to play probably a little bit more passive. I should have played more aggressive toward the end of the second set.

Q. What was going through your mind after you had won the first set, you were up by a break in the second, and you had a chance on your own game?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Nothing really special was in my mind. I was just thinking about the match. I really tried to enjoy out there. It was my first final. I really had fun.

Q. You think you had it, though?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, no. I knew she's a tough opponent. I knew, you know, she won't just give it to me. When you're in the finals of such a big tournament, I don't think anybody would give you anything. You really have to fight till the end.

Q. You say you try not to think of your opponent because she's intimidating. Are you saying that Venus is intimidating?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think any of the young players I had the first round also very difficult, I played against Lucic, it was also a little bit pressure there. She's also young, you know, coming. So it was a little bit. But I tried to block, you know, the intimidation away.

Q. Play anybody as tough as Martina Hingis?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: What do you mean? I didn't play her here.

Q. She played Martina Hingis a couple days ago.


Q. Your opponent today.


Q. And she won.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: What's the question? I didn't understand, sorry.

Q. I'm just asking you whether or not it's equal for both of you? You had some tough opponents here; she had a very tough opponent also.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think there is a big difference if you go mentally into the first round and you play Lucic, second round you play Seles, third round you play Martinez, fourth round you play Davenport, in the semis you play Sanchez. Venus had first round, I don't know. Qualifier, second round somebody, third round somebody, fourth round somebody. Semis you should get a tough player, tough opponent. It happened to be Hingis. She did a great job beating her, but, you know, I'm not saying anything. I think that I just got tired mentally and physically during this tournament.

Q. Anna, do you think this is the first of many finals, you and Venus?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I certainly hope so.

Q. Do you find you have more pressure playing the younger players than the old guard, the upper ranks?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Not really. It depends who and what circumstances.

Q. Since you played so many top players recently, and you lost against one, would you like to pick who's really very good, who is not so good?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I had the most difficult -- the most exciting match for me was against Monica. Probably the hardest to play against was Davenport. But, you know, I tried to survive this week. When I saw the draw, I was like, "Wow." I was not very excited about it. But I got through to the finals, and I'm really happy about it.

Q. Anna, you said like you felt you were in control of most of the points. How do you accomplish that against Venus?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Did I say I was in control?

Q. You said you made the decisions.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I was really prepared for this match mentally. I tried to take everything, you know, that she doesn't like. I tried to put it in one. I did everything that I wanted to do in the first set great. Then I probably, you know, thought I had to do even better or something, or I had to change something.

Q. What was it you tried to do in the first set? Could you define your strategy for us?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I was, you know, making her play, playing my game. I was playing aggressive. I think she wasn't really ready for that. In the second set and third set, I started to be more passive, I didn't play as aggressive.

Q. What was it like for you in the second and third set? Seems like Venus was getting everything you hit. These long rallies, you kept making unforced errors. What were you thinking at that point?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I mean, she started to play great in the second and third set. Like you said, all shots, she ran them down. I had to play more aggressive. I had to come to the net or do something. I shouldn't have just rallied probably.

Q. Anna, what do you think you learned today?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I learned something from each match, for sure. I haven't lost yet out to a person for like a year -- today is March, for a year and three months, to somebody out of Top 15. You know, I'm just trying to play match at a time. I really, really had fun at this tournament, enjoyed the finals.

Q. Anna, for a long time people have been talking about players like you and Venus, someday you're going to get to the top. This week it seemed to happen. Do you feel like this is a different time now as of this week?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think, you know, maybe after the semifinals, everybody thought it was a surprise, a fluke that I got to the semifinals or something. Here I showed to everybody that I can play good tennis in a row, I can beat top players, I beat four Top-10 players in a row. Every time, like I say before, there is a new generation coming, new players are coming, and you can't be surprised at that.

VERONIQUE MARCHAL: Any last question for Anna?

Q. You now live down here full-time?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I travel full-time.

Q. But you make your home in Miami Beach now?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah. Well, I guess so. But, like I said, I travel all the time. I've been here -- this is the longest period I have been here, during the tournament.

Q. Have you bought a place on the beach?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I have an apartment.

Q. Anna, what is your relation currently with Nick? Is it finished?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No. I mean, he's done so many great things for me. He always will be my friend. Nick is a great person, great friend. I still talk to him. I could go to academy to practice and everything. We're still friends, great friends.


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