Anna Kournikova 1998 Pilot Pen International 1st-Round Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

1998 Pilot Pen International at New Haven, Connecticut, on Sunday, August 23, 1998
Anna Kournikova defeated Barbara Schett, 6-3, 6-2

An Interview With Anna Kournikova

Q. How do you like your role, I mean, I guess that the press has kind of made you women's next tennis sex symbol. Do you like that or would you be rather known how you play tennis rather than you how you look?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think if I wouldn't be playing tennis I wouldn't be noticed at all, right. So I think that I am here because of tennis and I am concentrating only on tennis.

Q. How long did it take to you get over that injury that you had at Eastbourne?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I played my first tournament last week and it was eight weeks, I think, since Eastbourne, so...

Q. Can you tell us what you went through while you were rehabilitating?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I was missing playing and I was just trying to stay active doing some things, working out and doing roller-blading, all that, to be outdoors; not to just stay home and do nothing. But I was definitely missing to play.

Q. How long before you could hold a racket again?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I started -- I played a tournament last week before last week before the tournament, I probably practiced maybe ten days or something, a week. It was two weeks ago I started playing.

Q. It was four or five weeks before you could pick up a racket?


Q. Were you surprised that it took so long to heal? When it happened, you thought it would be okay the next day?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, I didn't think it was going to be that bad, but kind of -- I probably realized that it was not so good.

Q. Did it hurt when you fell?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah, I felt something different. Of course it hurt. It is like you fell down and it felt like it was a bruise, like something like that.

Q. Considering you missed Wimbledon, which you play very well on grass, how important is the US Open to play in?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, any tournament is real important, especially the Grand Slam. So it is a major tournament.

Q. How important is it for you to do well this week with the Open only about a week ago?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I hope to play as many matches as possible. It is a great preparation. Also it is a great tournament here and I hope to play as many matches as possible.

Q. How did you feel your game was last week?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think for the first week after not playing eight weeks I think I played pretty well. I won two good matches and then played against Conchita, so I think it was a good start for me.

Q. You mentioned this is a great tournament. The familiarity with Lipton, part of reason you decided to come here?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Definitely, I feel like it is a little bit similar so I feel great. It is a great atmosphere here. Very nice stadium.

Q. You beat Martina Hingis in Berlin; you know quite a lot about her. Since you beat her she has had quite a lot of losses, a couple of them surprising, the gap at the top now is quite small. What do you think the reason is for that?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think that people get more used to her and playing against her and they are probably getting more and more confident that she is beatable, like anybody else, so that is why probably.

Q. Jennifer Capriati is playing in a qualifying here this weekend. Do you feel it is important for younger players like yourself to learn from, I mean, she has achieved a lot of success when she was very young and then she really went through some tough times. Do you think it is important for younger players like yourself to sort of learn some of the lessons from what she went through?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think that everybody is different and I try not to look at other people, you know, I try to look at only good stuff from other people. It can happen to anybody. It doesn't mean that anything that happens in tennis means that it happens everywhere outside the sport, in the streets and every where, so I don't really think about that. Everybody is totally different. Everybody has different personality, different mentality and everything.

Q. Does it sometimes to get old or bother you that the media, the public kind of portrays you in the light that they do, as far as maybe not so much focus on your tennis as opposed to everything else?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Like I said I wouldn't be here if I wasn't playing tennis, so, I am here because of tennis.

Q. Do you mind all this, you smile and the cameras go off and I guess you are pretty much a recognizable --

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I wouldn't be No. 15 in the world -- if I would be No. 500 in the world, nobody would care about me.

Q. Do you feel your game is making a lot of progress? Do you believe you are a Top 5 player or potential No. 1?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I am practicing for it. I am going to work hard and I feel that I feel confident that I can beat all the top players.

Q. What is it going to take for you to break into the Top 5, say?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, got to play a lot of matches and win a lot of matches.

Q. The impressions some of us had since you have been with Pavel is that you were better able to think on your feet in a match and that you were able to tactically be more complex. Can you tell us some of the things that he has been able to do for you since --

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Of course it helps a lot, somebody is with you everyday; you work on the same thing that you have been working for like last month or something, and somebody is always with you and helping you and mentally and on the court and off the court with everything.

Q. What do you think has made a real difference?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: You can ask him.

Q. I will.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Can you go outside? I will answer. (laughter). They are all scared now of Pavel.

Q. Leave the room. (Pavel exits interview room) What is the main benefit he has given you apart from being with you?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Definitely he has so much experience. He is a very nice person. He is really calm and relaxed always in any situation. Sometimes I am upset or excited or something, he always calms me down.

Q. Tell us one aspect of your game he has helped you with in particular?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think that he tried to improve my all-around game because I am a playing -- I try to play on the whole court and come to the net and baseline so I think that he has just improving everything just to bring my whole game together.

Q. Is he good to practice with?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah, he hits the ball quite well. Actually last time I beat him was 7-6. After eight weeks not playing.

Q. Was he still calm after that?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Not really. (Laughs).

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