Stevenson Stops Dementieva
American Alexandra Stevenson won a hard-fought, yet topsy-turvy battle against Russia's Elena Dementieva on Sunday, advancing with a 6-4, 0-6, 6-4 win over the No. 8 seed.
6-4, 0-6, 6-4
An interview with:
MODERATOR: Questions for Alexandra.
Q. What happened in the second set? Kind of odd.
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: It was an odd score. My serve went off. I kind of just stopped going up to my serve. I lost my focus a little. I got a little tired. I just had to pull it back together.
She played well the whole match. I just let it go a little bit, and she ran off with the set.
Q. And then the third set?
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: I took my time. I changed my shirts. I just said, "You're not losing your serve." And I didn't lose my serve.
Q. Can you talk about the strategy on your serve? These days it seems to be a bit different. You're mixing it up a lot.
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: Yes, because if I don't mix it up, they read it. Today's game, the women return very well. The girl I played today, I think she returned my serve very well. She got it deep, deep to my backhand. It was tough.
But I just had to mix it up. I've been working on that a lot.
Q. It must have been nice to close out a match against a good player?
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: Yeah, it was great. Because last time I played her, I didn't close out the match. I lost to her in Moscow. I had chances to on my serve, and I didn't do it. This time I was just like, "You're closing it out, you're not walking away losing your serve." I'm happy I did that.
Q. Were you nervous in your last service game at all?
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: Not really. I just thought -- I was thinking about Moscow. I was like, "Don't think about that." You get a little bit tight because you're thinking you're up 5-4. I've lost so many sets over the last three months or six months being up 5-4. Shaughnessy, I was up 4-1 and 5-4 I think in Australia, and I lost that, too. Seles, I was up 6-4 in the tiebreaker, lost that.
I've been really trying to win my serve. So I went up to the service line and said, "You're winning your serve, you're not going to lose it," and it happened.
Q. Do you feel you're hitting the ball harder than ever?
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: I think I'm hitting the ball the same, I just think it's controlled. I'm bending my knees more, moving my feet better. I'm able to control the ball and put it where I want to put the ball, aim it where it should go. It's not as wild as the last couple years you've seen me.
Q. At the end of the second set, it did look like your energies were ebbing a little bit. When you came out for the third set, you were hammering them again.
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: I figured last set, I'm either going to be out of the tournament or I'm going to keep going forward, I want to win. So I had to pull it together.
Q. You went from a one orange shirt to another?
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: The color of Nike this season is orange. I'm looking forward to Key Biscayne to get new clothes. I've been wearing stripes for too long.
Q. Is orange one of your favorite colors?
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: Actually, pink is my favorite color. Orange is kind of a family of the pink. I guess they're all kind of similar, so it's not that bad. Orange looks good on me, I think. But I'm ready for new colors.
Q. What do you say to yourself, you've gotten fairly deep into a big tournament, you've got probably a winnable match against a decent player, next match, then you might be seeing Hingis in a few days.
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: One match at a time.
Q. How do you keep yourself focused knowing that?
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: Well, I'm just going to go back and get a massage, finish my homework. I just keep thinking, if I play my best, then I can beat anyone. I feel comfortable now out there on the court knowing that if I play my best, I 90% will win unless someone plays so much better, then they should win and they should walk off with it. If I give a hundred percent and fight hard, then things are going to go well for me.
Q. How much of winning and losing is dependent on how well you serve?
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: I think it depends a lot because if I don't serve well, then they get a present, they get a game from me. I think I've been working really hard on not just focusing on the serve, but everything. So if I do lose my serve, I can come back in the return game. I've been trying to work on that a lot.
But I think the serve is key. Just like Sampras, his serve is key. So it's a big part of my game.
Q. What kind of homework do you have to go home and do?
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: I have to write. I finished my fairytale, I did that paper. Now I have another paper in composition and communications. I have to ask discussions with my peers online.
Q. Do you like to watch men's tennis?
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: I like to watch men's tennis. I think it's exciting. A lot of people come up to me and say, "I love watching the women's, it's so much more exciting." I think that's because we're women and we just have attitude. There's something about the female species that people find intriguing.
But I like to watch the men because I like to see how they serve. Whenever you watch men's tennis, they usually always hold their serve. I mean, I guess you can't say always, but a lot of matches goes to 6-All. When you watch women's tennis, they don't hold their serves.
I like to see the men do that because it helps me with my serve. I say, "They hold their serves and go 6-All, 7-6. I can do the same thing."
I like the power of how they play, how they get to the net, some of them. I find it interesting.
Q. Do you watch women's tennis when you're not in tournaments?
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: Usually when I'm not in tournaments, I'm not watching TV. I'm off dancing or singing or going to work out.
But I tape some matches to learn and to see what they're doing, to see what I should do against other players. So I do watch it occasionally, but I don't go home -- if it's ESPN versus MTV, I'm going to watch MTV.
Q. Can you enjoy it from a fan's perspective or are you too personally involved to say that, "This is a great match"?
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: I enjoy it from a fan's perspective. I don't really cheer. Well, I cheer for Venus and Serena. Unless they're my good friends. I like to observe and see it. Now that I'm learning the game more, it's very interesting to see the shots.
Like watching Martina Hingis play, it's interesting what shots she picks up, how she returns people's serves. I'm learning a lot from that. I used to just not watch at all, but I'm getting better at it.
Q. Who is the fellow in Beverly Hills you've been working out with?
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: His name is Gunner Peterson.
Q. How were you directed to him?
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: Well, I put my mother on a job to find a good trainer. She called Kurt Rambis at the Lakers because she knew him from her reporting days. His wife told us to go to Gunner because Gunner trained some of the Lakers and the Clippers, also trained Jennifer Lopez, which I think is so cool, and Sylvester Stallone, throw a little Hollywood in there.
He has the best gym in Beverly Hills. He has a degree from Duke University. He's very smart. He's not your average trainer. He just really helped me a lot.
Q. In what areas?
ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: Everything. He's made me quicker, stronger, so I can come back and win third sets. We're working on fast-switch muscles. It's not perfect yet because I'm on the road 26 weeks, so I don't get every day with him.
But we're still working. I just started with him in November. Working on court stability, everything, so I can sustain playing well for a long amount of time.
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