Anna Kournikova 1998 Pilot Pen International 2nd-Round Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

1998 Pilot Pen International at New Haven, Connecticut, on Wednesday, August 26, 1998
Amanda Coetzer defeated Anna Kournikova, 1-6, 6-4, 7-5

An Interview With Anna Kournikova

Q. You are normally pretty good at finishing matches you were about to lose. Today it was the other way around. How did it happen?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think that I started off really well and I played well in the first set and second. But it is still my second tournament, so I have to get back into that, finishing matches, and she got back into the match. And I started to stay back, which I should have been doing that. I should have continued to play the way I had been playing before.

Q. Was your back okay? Looked like a few times you were bending over and stretching. Was that just getting your breath or --

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah, just get some time.

Q. Amanda is a tough player who is always going to be in there banging away right to the end. What can you say about her toughness and how she was able to come on strong at the end?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think that she was, you know, hanging in the match and just trying to get all the balls back; not try to make any mistakes, which she didn't -- she played very well the last four games of the third set. She was just being tough out there. She didn't -- I guess she didn't care about the score. She just kept going.

Q. It was really hot out there today. Do you think that affected your play at all?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, not really. It wasn't that hot at all. It was just a little humid, But there was no sun.

Q. You have been outspoken in the past about the age requirements and that that maybe hampered your development somewhat. You weren't able to play as much as you wanted, and now that you are able to play a lot, you got injured and you lost time. You weren't able to defend points at Wimbledon. Do you ever get frustrated like maybe I would be in the Top-10 right now or Top 5? Where do you think you might be if you had had a smoother course?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I don't want to think about "What if," or anything like that. I just want to look up into the future and take it day at a time and just, you know, see what is going on like that. I don't want to say "What if."

Q. In that first set was she hitting the balls pretty shallow because you were hitting them back pretty hard on her?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think because I was hitting hard, that is why she was playing back pretty shallow.

Q. Would you have preferred more matches before going into the Open next week?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I mean, it was fine. Last week I didn't play quite as well as this week. This week I played much better. So it was good for me and hopefully I can progress through a couple of days of practice and keep the same form that I was today and get a little bit more and be happy with my condition.

Q. Usually it seems most of the fans are cheering for you. But did it surprise you that there were a lot of people calling out for Amanda during the match today?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, I wasn't -- they want a good match probably.

Q. Can you talk about mental toughness? I mean, Amanda obviously came back from 5-3 down to win. Is that something you feel that might be something in the part of your game that you would have to work on a little bit more, not letting her back in the way she did?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I haven't played eight weeks, like I said, so it is difficult for me. But I am getting better. Like I said, I am playing much better and feel much better than last week. So other than that, I just have to keep on playing good matches and try to finish them.

Q. Were you surprised that you won that first set so easily?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Not really. I felt like I was playing really good and I was comfortable out there.

Q. In the time that you missed when you couldn't hit with your right-hand, what did you do to maintain your fitness level, like cross training or whatever?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I was working out a lot. Running, and all that stuff, going to the gym everyday.

Q. Do you lift weights at all?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Sometimes. Just a little bit, not heavy.

Q. At 3-Love and 5-3 were you as confident as you normally would be or was in the back of your mind the fact that you haven't played much, obviously, and her reputation is being someone that doesn't give up?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I didn't think at all about her reputation, but I was a little bit nervous to finish out the match - not nervous, but just she started not making any mistakes because she knew that I haven't played probably a lot so she just tried to probably make me play.

Q. You have talked about the difficulty of you having to get back into that mode of learning how to finish off a match. For you to get into that Top 5 or Top 8 players in the world, is that -- is it something that is mental or it is more physical with you?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: For me I just have to get probably maybe matches played and that would be, you know, the mental toughness would be there for that.

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