Re: Pre-YEC interview with Svetlana Kuznetsova
Thanks! Here it is -
When a player is so young when she wins a Grand Slam title like you were at the US Open 2004 it sometimes takes a while until you realize what has really happened and you start losing matches. This year, you are playing much more consistent than in 2005. What are you doing differently this season?
Svetlana Kuznetsova: Sometimes, you have a good game, but you are in a period were you don’t have a real idea what you’re doing. That’s what was my problem in 2005. I still had a good serve, for example. I knew more or less what I was doing. But when an opponent was getting used to my game, I didn’t know what to change. I didn’t think about what I would maybe be able to do on the court. I was maybe to afraid or so. I didn’t have the consistency. This year it seems to be so much different. Now I know exactly what I’m going to do in the match and what I could change if my game doesn’t work. And I’m always fighting, of course. No matter if I’m playing good or bad.
: Can you explain what you’ve changed in your strategy? In which aspects do you change your game on the court when it’s not working?
Svetlana Kuznetsova: It’s hard to say. But it’s, for example, that I’m not only hitting the ball. I’m doing angles, I can serve different types. I just mix it up.
: Not only full speed.
Svetlana Kuznetsova: Yes. And I can come to the net, too. And it’s also that I have learned that it’s not necessary that you play 100 % every time. Maybe you want to keep some energy for the future.
: Would you say that the US Open-title in 2004 was a burden for you?
Svetlana Kuznetsova: Somehow yes, because I wasn’t expected to play good at this time of the year. I played many tournaments in that season, and I played them good. And then I was just thinking: ‘Well, it’s one Grand Slam left, I will try to keep it up and see what happens.’ And then I was feeling so good, I wasn’t missing any ball and won the tournament. But after that, I ran out of gas, of course. Everyone was expecting a lot from me in the next tournaments, but I was so tired. I was asking too much and had too much pressure. I didn’t know how to handle pressure at that age, and maybe I did some things wrong then. That’s why I had a tough 2005, but then I took a long break at the end of the year because I had to clear-up thing to myself. Like what I want to do, where I want to keep practicing. Many people wanted to help me, but I had to take these decisions for me. I think I took the right decisions, and I’m very happy about how everything is working now and I’m very excited about being on the court. I think I have a great life and I can’t wish for a better.
: Did you ever think about leaving the Academia Sánchez-Casal in Barcelona?
Svetlana Kuznetsova: No, never. I’ve been there all the time since I’m 13/14 years old. I’m there between the tournaments and whenever I prepare myself for the next ones because I feel it’s the best for me. It’s my base. I try to go to Russia when possible, but I feel much more comfortable to go back to practice in Spain. I mean, I have to prepare well, I cannot say: ‘O.k., this week I go to Russia.’ I want to play my best at every tournament, and I want to go prepared best to every tournament.
: Who decided that you travel with one and same coach – Stefan Ortega – now?
Svetlana Kuznetsova: I had already worked with Stefan for about a year before, and then in 2004 I started to switch between 3, 4 coaches from the academy: Emilio Sánchez, Sergio Casal, Ángel Himénez – who is working with Daniela Hantuchova now, by the way – and Antonio Hernández – the ex-coach of Arantxa. That’s one of the important decisions I was talking about earlier: I went to Emilio and said that I wanted to travel with only one coach, which is Stefan, because he understands me totally, I feel very comfortable with him and I’m happy with his job.
: Are you still in contact with Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario?
Svetlana Kuznetsova: Yes, of course, although we don’t talk that much anymore because we both have our lives. But I know that when I need any help, I can ask her. Arantxa is the director at a small tournament in Spain now, and she asked me to play there next year, after Roland Garros. I might have done it, although it would have been difficult because I must prepare for Wimbledon at that time. But my WTA commitment group, the Gold group, isn’t allowed to play low tournaments.
: What are you thinking about the tests that have been made at the last tournaments, that coaching is allowed, for example?
Svetlana Kuznetsova: I used it in Montréal, some people like it, some don’t. It’s right that we have to try new things in tennis, but I feel pretty comfortable without coaching. I like to play on my own, because it depends on me – although I have a good coach to help me out, of course (smiles). A new thing I really like is the Hawk Eye.
: Let’s talk about the Year End Championships (YEC) in Madrid. Does it feel special for you that the tournament is held in Spain, although it’s not Barcelona?
Svetlana Kuznetsova: Well, I’m happy with Madrid. I don’t support this competition between Madrid and Barcelona. I’m especially very happy that it’s not in L.A., because it would have been so much travelling. I feel comfortable everywhere in Spain, because I speak Spanish. Yes, I’m looking forward to play there.
: Has it been some extra motivation for you to reach the YEC because it’s in Spain this time?
Svetlana Kuznetsova: Yes, I think so. At home in Russia it would be too much pressure, but in Spain, it’s very good.
: What do you think about it that they will have those model ball”boys” there?
Svetlana Kuznetsova: Well, it’s something different. It can be interesting. But I’m not sure that they can really be that fast and professional as they are models (laughs). I hope they’re not going to walk, but run (laughs).
: Thank you very much for the interview and good luck.
Svetlana Kuznetsova: You’re welcome and thank you, too.
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