Anna Kournikova 1996 US Open 2nd-Round Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

1996 USTA US Open at Flushing Meadows, New York on Thursday, August 29, 1996
Anna Kournikova defeated N. Baudone, 6-3, 6-3


Q. You're now two for two in Grand Slam events. How are you feeling about that?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I have to start somewhere. Playing this, it's just a normal tournament and I'm excited about it. It's good.

Q. Any nerves?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, not really.

Q. You said it's a normal tournament, but it's really not the kind of normal tournament that you play. Are you distracted by all the people around, the noise?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No. I've been playing a lot of junior tournaments, Grand Slams, so I'm used to that.

Q. When you served for the match at 5-Love, second set, you rushed to the net on the second point as if you were in a hurry to get it over, then you lost the game. Were you too quick at that point? Were you rushing the game?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Just trying to get to the net.

Q. You don't think you were in too much of a hurry at that point?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, I was serving and volleying.

Q. Your game seems to be in transition right now. You're trying to become more of a full-court player, do more things. Can you talk about some of the things Nick is working on with you?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I've been -- I've always been playing all over the court, coming in, staying back. I'm just now doing it in matches.

Q. Not hitting the ball as flat perhaps?


Q. For people who have never seen you, might not have seen you, what are your strengths? What do you think you do best out there and to get better, where do you have to get better?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think I'm doing everything, whole court game. That's the best part of my game. I just have to prove, get experience, learn.

Q. Learn what?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Learn how to play, how to win matches.

Q. It seems amazing that you've been playing tennis in the public eye for almost six years. One wonders what you think you're missing from your teenage years that other girls or boys might be gaining not playing tennis.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think I'm not missing anything because I'm traveling around the world, meeting a lot of different people, seeing everything. Any teenager can wish to travel -- can wish to travel around the world and love to do what he loves to do, playing tennis. I love playing tennis, so.

Q. Do you have time to go out?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah, why not?

Q. Some players doesn't go out.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I guess they don't want to.

Q. Apart from this Tour, what is your timetable? Do you have in your mind set when you want to be Top 20 or Top 10, win a title? Do you think about those things?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, I'm not thinking about it. I'm just trying to play match by match, trying to play the tournament.

Q. Anna, when you were quite young, 10 or 11 years old, you got an extraordinary amount of publicity for someone so young. Many of the articles portrayed you as a little spoiled, a little arrogant. I'm wondering whether now five years later you regret having been portrayed that way, whether you've changed?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I don't know. I didn't read all those articles. Anyway, I think it didn't hurt me a lot. I'm not against that people are saying about me. If that's what they see, they say that about me. I think it's not what's being in me.

Q. Anna, your coach Nick and your support staff has always told you you could be a world champion, how good you could be, but the most important thing is when you start to realize that. Have you realized that yet, that you could be a world champion?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, you know, as Nick tells me what I can be, and after he's saying to me how hard I have to work for that. I'm just trying to work hard and be the best I can be.

Q. Where is your confidence right now?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: It's very good. I have very good confidence. I won five matches here.

Q. What about studies? Are you doing any study courses by correspondence?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yes, I'm taking from the Russian school.

Q. Perhaps one of the low points in your tennis career came here two years ago when you played Martina Hingis in the final of the junior tournament and were beaten very badly. Can you tell us a little bit about how you felt, what your feelings were after that match?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, it was not certainly the low point of my career. We played a very good match then, not that the score was so bad. We had an unbelievable match, very good. She was No. 1 at that time, and I was playing my first year on the junior circuit. She was No. 1. I think we had a very good match.

Q. What was the low point then in your career?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I don't think that has been. I think I'm just going straight down the line (indicating).

Q. You and Martina and Venus Williams are in a group. Do you think one of you or maybe a couple of you, how long do you think it would be take for you to be at the top of tennis?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: We have to wait to see what's going to happen. Can't say anything now.

Q. By 18 would you hope maybe some of you could be there?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I don't know what's going to happen. Maybe the world is going to end. Have to wait and see.

Q. Do you have role models, somebody you base your career on?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, not really. I've just watched all the top players playing on TV. I admire all the top players.

Q. When did you actually start playing, Anna, and how? How old were you and how did it come about?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I was about six or five years old when I started playing tennis. I started playing at a tennis club in Moscow.

Q. Why? Did somebody else in your family play, your dad or mom?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, yeah. I think we had some friends, so I was just playing.

Q. Did you immediately like tennis?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I don't remember back. Yeah, I think so, I liked it.

Q. What do you like about the game?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think because it's -- first of all, I like it because it's a personal game, one-on-one. I don't know. It's just -- I love to do it.

Q. Are both your parents able to be here at the US Open?


Q. Do you remember at what point you went from being just another kid playing tennis to someone who was going to dedicate a lot of their time and energy?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, I don't remember.

Q. Do you think sometimes the media builds young players up way too high and puts great expectations on young players who have early success who may or may not develop into great pros?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, that has been always like that. When players come, the media has always talked about them. I guess that's just the way it goes. You can't do anything about that.

Q. Would you prefer it be another way? Would you prefer not being up there answering all these questions, just sort of be another player who doesn't have this glare cast upon her?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, it's hard for me to say. I don't mind all that stuff. If the media wants to, I guess we have to do it.

Q. During your match today, you were talking to yourself a lot of the time. Is that normal?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah, I guess. I'm just trying to say what I have to do, concentrate.

Q. A long time for the year you stay in Russia?


Q. For every year.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I come very often there, go very often there.

Q. You like the publicity, don't you, Anna, to have people know that you could be, as you say, an actress perhaps one day or a star tennis player?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: You know, that has always been around me. I can't change that. It's just the way it is.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself off the court, what sort of things you like doing in your leisure time?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I like to roller blade, swim, I like to play with little kids, you know, tennis, teaching. Just normal stuff all teenagers do.

Q. How many regular Tour events are you able to play under the age restriction rule?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: You can play ten tournaments from my birthday until the next birthday.

Q. Where will you play the rest of the year, just challengers?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I haven't decided where I'm going to play yet. It's hard for me to say where my ranking is, in which tournaments I'm going to get in.

Q. Are you going to hockey match Russia-USA?


Q. Are you going to the hockey match?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I guess I'm Russian so I go.

Q. How often are you in Russia? Do you feel Russian or American? You've been here so long now.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I still feel Russian.

Q. Nick said sometimes he thinks you might practice too much. Do you feel that way?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I've been cutting down my practices really a lot. I practice not that much.

Q. What separates yourself from Steffi, where you are now to the very top?


Q. What separates yourself from Steffi, where you are now to the very top?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I guess the experience she got. She's a great player. I mean, there's a big difference.

Q. Physically?


Q. There was one point in the match today in the first set 3-Love, a breakpoint for you, when the judge or umpire overruled the calling and you lost two games in a row after that. How much does that affect you right now when somebody does something not your way?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: There was nothing not my way. It was just another mistake, I guess. I didn't really lose because of that, so it had nothing to do with that I lost two games.

Q. Back to that Hingis final a couple of years ago. Here you are in the final of a junior tournament, US Open. I know you must have had high expectations of doing well. To lose that badly, did it tell you how far you had to go to catch up with Martina, who was a contemporary of yours?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: As I said, I played very good with that first year on the circuit. I was not upset about that I lost. I think that I played a very good match. I didn't have any expectations. As I said, it was the first time playing the tournament.

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