Anna Kournikova 2002 Toray Pan-Pacific 1st-Round Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

2002 Toray Pan-Pacific Open at Tokyo, Japan, on Monday, January 28, 2002
Anna Kournikova defeated Cristina Torrens-Valero, 6-3, 6-0

An Interview With Anna Kournikova

Q: Could you tell us which specific part of your game you were working on in the preseason, because your serve looked very solid today?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I was just working obviously on my whole game in general, because I had not played for such a long time, for eight months. I was just trying to start playing tennis all over again. I felt like a beginner when I came back and I had to get used to the feeling of moving on the court and feeling like a fish in water again. It has been a long time. I wouldn't say that I worked on a specific thing, but these are very fast courts and you obviously have to get a lot of first serves in and I tried to attack today as much as possible and be aggressive on these courts. And that is what I did and I think it worked.

Q: Anna, what you did today made me remember that you are one of the top players of the world. So what is up with your injury?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think that if I hadn't been injured for so long that I could still have a pretty good ranking. But, right now I am like one hundred or something like that. Well, that is what happens when you don't play for so long and finally my foot is feeling good right now and I pretty much don't feel anything anymore, except sometimes when the weather is bad. But other than that everything seems fine and I just need a lot of match practice and need to play matches to feel comfortable and feel 110% and the matches will come only when you keep winning them, so I just need to go on and keep playing as much as possible. And if I play enough matches, I will start playing my game again and hopefully start climbing up the rankings.

Q: What percentage did you play today?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Oh, I think I played, today, a great match. Of course, not perfect, because I made some unforced errors. But if I didn't make them, I wouldn't make so many winners. So I had to go for lots of shots and I played about 75%, something like that. I think I played pretty well.

Q: I want to know what you think about the comments made by Marcelo Rios that women's matches are one-sided and not competitive and are not interesting as a result. What do you think of these comments?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, first of all he is a good friend of mine, so I don't think that I would tell him too much. But, I wouldn't say that it was one-sided. I just think that I played really well and she probably felt like there wasn't anything she could do after the first set. It was not like she didn't try or anything. It was just that I was playing my own game and when the top players--like Martini, or Jennifer, or Lindsey, or whoever the top players are--when they are playing well, it is tough to beat them in the first couple of rounds. But that doesn't mean necessarily that there is no depth, it is just that there. . . For example, in my first set today we had 2-0 and that was like the breaking point and once you get past a certain game and you break your opponent it is tough to come back. And of course, in grand slams, sometimes you do have some easy matches in the beginning but that doesn't mean that there is no depth. Like right now, number one hundred, like me, I could probably beat somebody who is ranked good. So, I think that women's tennis has a lot of depth. I will also say that people misunderstand him a lot, especially you guys. You know, I don't think that he meant it in a bad way or something.

Q: Do you think it was a joke?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: That's Marcelo, he's having fun. He's relaxed, he's cool. I don't really think he meant it in a bad way.

Q: What do you think of the men's game?


Q: It is a different game from the women?s, do you appreciate if for the serve or volley or do you like the mixed doubles, too?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, you know, every player has to work so hard to have a certain game. Either it is serving or volleying, or playing at the baseline. He still has to go and work on his serve and volley. It just depends. The players have different styles. The guys are obviously huge and they can use their power. If they can win easily serving and volleying, why not? It is actually, I think, not bad to have different kinds of players who can play the baseline and who can serve and volley. That way you get variety and it is not the same thing, everybody just keeps the ball in play from the baseline and it takes forever?ten minutes for a point. So, it's a game. It doesn't matter how you win, as long as you win.

Q: You had an eight month layoff and you talked about the physical difficulties of coming back, how about the mental aspects? You have had a lot of time to think of tennis and other things than tennis, has it changed the way you look at the game?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, obviously I did miss it a lot. When I first got the injury, it is going to be a year and one week that I got the injury, so it has almost been a year. First they told me it was going to be six weeks, so I thought it was going to be relatively fast, so I didn't think it was going to be that bad. But once it past six weeks, twelve weeks, then two-three months, and then they decided to do the surgery and then it really became frustrating. Because once you have the surgery you really don't know when you can start playing again. And that was the worst thing, the not knowing. Is it going to take one month, a year, or eight months? So it was really just waiting everyday for some kind of improvement and that was the worst part. But other than that, I knew that was all I wanted to do, to come back and I was going to rehab everyday. I stayed in a hospital for three months, just in the hospital and just doing a lot of rehab the whole day and walking on crutches and being in a wheelchair. Not much to do, just eating popcorn and watching movies.

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