Anna Kournikova 1999 Lipton Championships 3rd-Round Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

1999 Lipton Championships at Key Biscayne, Florida, on Monday, March 22, 1999
Anna Kournikova defeated Julie Halard-Decugis, 6-4, 7-6

An Interview With Anna Kournikova

BROOKE LAWER: First question for Anna.

Q. Last year you had one of the most incredible runs in one tournament, knocking off all these top seeds. This year Arantxa losing, it opened up the draw a little bit. Which do you prefer?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, like if I would prefer something or I would be wishing for something, I don't think I'd be able to change it. It's not up to me. So I'll just take it as it is. I'll take it as it is. You know, it doesn't matter who you play, you really have to concentrate a lot. Sometimes when you play the top players or the lower-ranked players, you have to concentrate even more when you play somebody, you don't know what to expect. But I played great today. I felt very well. We'll see what happens the next match.

Q. Next match you play Barbara Schett. You've had a lot of success against her. Can you talk about her game?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, she's obviously a very powerful player. She hits the ball hard, from the baseline. I think I played her twice. I won both times. Of course, it's going to be a new match. We all have to work hard and play as well as I played today to win. Everybody knows how to play tennis here in this tournament, for sure. You just really have to concentrate. I have to keep my concentration and work for each point.

Q. Are you disappointed that nobody was able to hold serve, especially you, in that second set? There were like six service breaks. There were six straight breaks in the second.


Q. Yes. Three each.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I don't think I was disappointed. I was not thinking about holding or breaking or whatever. I was just thinking about winning the point. That was important for me to win the game. As long as I was in the set, in the match, it didn't really matter. It's women's tennis. It's not really men's tennis. There could be a lot of breaks and everything. So it didn't really bother me.

Q. I have the impression that you play your best tennis when you're under pressure, like relatively easy balls. You sometimes miss them. But when the heat is on, you're there.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: That's true probably. Always the easiest one is always the most difficult ball. The most hardest one is the easiest. You don't think, you just run there and play, you don't think. When the ball is easy, you're like, "Oh, it's easy, what am I going to do? Where should I play?" You have a choice, cross-court or down the line. When the ball is tough, you don't have a choice, you just go for it. Probably it's not just me, but most of the players. Also Julie today, she had easy balls she missed. The difficult ones, she passed some unbelievable shots. It's like that. When you don't have a choice, you just go for it. When you do have a choice, you're trying to think and change your mind like that.

Q. What did this tournament do for your confidence last year? You did very well here.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, obviously, it was the best tournament I ever had. Of course, I had gained all of the confidence that I had from this tournament.

Q. Does that bother you that you didn't win yet a big one?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, not at all. I don't think about that. I just think about playing. When the time comes, you know, it comes. It doesn't matter. Sooner or later I'm going to be playing better and better.

Q. You live in Miami or Miami Beach?


Q. Does it help you at all to play close to home or is it a distraction?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, I feel great. It's great staying at home. I'm enjoying it. It's really great to be, you know, somewhere that you know. Also staying at home, like I said, not in the hotel, it's great.

Q. Does it feel like home already?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I've been in Florida for eight years, so it feels like home.

Q. How much of a Russian girl is left in you?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, there is half and half probably. I still speak Russian with my parents, with other Russian players and everything, eat Russian food, of course, go back to Russia. It's both. I'm an international person. I travel 20 tournaments a year. I'm everywhere, in every country. You eat different food, see different cultures.

Q. Do you still follow what's going on in Russia on the news and so on?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, they don't show much on the news about Russia.

Q. But probably you will call your father from time to time?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: My father is here. I don't need to call him.

Q. During the year when he's not here.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: He's always with me.

Q. Your father and mother are here with you?


Q. Talking about traveling, what are your next plans? Europe, the clay court season.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: There is some more tournaments here in the States.

Q. But you live here so long. Do you prefer clay or you're used to the hard court now because you live in the States so long?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think I have the best of both. I grew up playing on clay, then I moved to the States. I also grew up playing on hard. I got them both. I have really no problem. My game suits well both grass, I love grass, and clay court also. I can do the dropshots, angles and everything. For me, it doesn't really matter to play. I don't try to think, "Oh, my God, this is hard court, I play better here, I play worse on clay," or the other way. I try to take the best what I can use on a different surface.

Q. You might meet Martina if you win your next match, and she wins. She's playing a qualifier. Can you talk about playing her?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, because I have to talk about playing my next match first. I don't look that far.

Q. You've become closer friends with Martina, yes?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: We've always been close friends. We've always been nice to each other. It's just the media that made this big rival in everything. We never had difficulties talking to each other or anything.

Q. Is that something you would look forward to, playing the No. 1 in the world?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, obviously everybody does. But, like I said, I'm concentrating on my next match. For you, you cannot say that to me, talk about the next match that I'm not even looking forward to. For you, it's writing a story that you have no idea what you're writing about.

Q. You touched before about winning your first tournament. Does it bug you at all to see Serena Williams starting to win, and yet it has eluded you one time?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, it's good for them if they won. She's 17 also like me, still lower ranked than me. But it's okay. I'm glad that the younger people are winning. It doesn't bother me. Like I said, Martina won her first Grand Slam when she was 16, 17. Lindsay won her first Grand Slam when she was 22, 23. Everybody's different. For everybody, there is their own time.

Q. Billy Jean King once said about you, "How badly does she want it?" As a tennis player, do you want to be No. 1 or make as much money as you can?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: When I was five years old, when I started playing tennis, I don't think that I thought there is any money in tennis. I'm still thinking that way, that I'm playing for tennis and for nothing else.

Q. So your ambition is to get as high ranked as possible?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think everybody who plays tennis wants to be the best as possible. Where the result is, there the money is, of course. You have to have the result first. You have to have the result first.

Q. Next you're playing against an Austrian. Do you come to Linz this year?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, I don't know yet. I haven't looked that far.

Q. It's October.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: It's not close.

Q. What part of your game do you feel you're doing very well now, today even?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think just overall I've been playing better. This was just my fourth match, I think, in a month or even more. In Indian Wells, I had the flu for three weeks. This is, like I said, my fourth match in four or five weeks. I'm feeling much better with each match. I'm feeling much, much better than I felt in the first round. I felt like I was just playing my game, was attacking and hitting the ball. But I feel like I'm doing all parts of the game pretty good.

Q. What are your goals for this year? Why did you move here?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, my goals are, of course as last year, to improve, to go on and win as many matches as possible, play well, feel good. Why I moved here? Just because I was in Bradenton for a long time. I just wanted to stay in Florida, somewhere where there is a little bit more of everything. Plus the airport is really, really close. It's 20 minutes to the airport. It flies everywhere. It's very comfortable. But I'm basically never here.

Q. You told earlier that your father is living here now with you. He quit his job in Moscow?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, he travels with me to the tournaments. No, he doesn't quit his job right now. They have vacation now. He's a professor in a Russian University. They have a spring break or something.

Q. Most of the time he's living in Moscow?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No. He has classes, I don't know, some. But he's at all Grand Slams except Australia, it's too far. He's at all Grand Slams, mostly in Europe all the time. But here in Lipton. He travels to most of the tournaments.

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