this has been gone a long time mainly due to Natasha playing last yr
now that she's officially retired its back
she got tired of touring and said it wasn't fun any more.
here we post some of Natasha's classic interviews
some great one replies
THE LIPTON CHAMPIONSHIPS'94
Key Biscayne, FL
March 19, 1994
S. GRAF/N. Zvereva
4-6, 6-1, 6-2
AN INTERVIEW WITH
Q. Natasha, you expended a lot of energy in the first set, did you tire later in the match?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Sort of like in the middle of the second set. I knew, you know, I knew she would get better, eventually, you know, and she did. She stopped making any unforced errors and she was more aggressive.
Q. You played extremely well in the first set, you have to have some satisfaction coming out of this?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Yes, I'm a hundred percent satisfied with this match.
Q. You knew you were the first one to take a set from her this year, did you have anything to -- say anything to yourself after the first set was over?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: I said, yes. No, not really. I did not say anything; it was pretty emotional, though.
Q. Did you feel any sort of -- a little bit of a let down after the first set and the crowd reaction?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: No, it wasn't a let down, but I thought the crowd started expecting me to win or something this match, you know, just like win it, you know. But it wasn't a major deal, didn't really bother me or anything.
Q. Is there anything wrong with that, though, them expecting you to win this?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: I can't say anything about that. I'm not -- I wasn't out there watching. If I was out there watching, I probably would, you know, give you a comment on the question.
Q. You, yourself, after you won the first set, did you feel inside that perhaps you could have won the match; did you believe that you could win?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: No, that was too early. I mean, I always believe in myself and my ability, but I was not particularly saying, oh, I'm going to win this match.
Q. Seeing how the match went along, you had a little problem hitting your first serve in and it was harder to put pressure on her?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Yeah, right. I didn't think my percentage of my serve was very good today in the whole match cause I knew I should have gone for it, and then I started mixing it a little with my first serve and she got aggressive.
Q. Did you plan to do and have the success of hitting backhand approaches to her backhand and coming right up to the net, and was that part of the strategy?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Yeah, that was major, that was a major part, very important.
Q. Did you think -- you did a little bit of a wiggle one time when you brought it up to a breakpoint to get back in the second set; do you think maybe you did that a little too early in your mind, from that moment on she really took charge? You hit a backhand down the line winner, then you did a little bit of a boogy dance?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: So?
Q. I said, do you think you may --
NATASHA ZVEREVA: What's the problem with that?
Q. No, I -- I just asked maybe it came a little too early?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: For what? For what?
Q. Well --
NATASHA ZVEREVA: A little too early for what?
Q. A little too overconfident that you could take her?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Oh, please. That's the most ridiculous question I've ever heard.
Q. All right. What were your thoughts in the third set when you got it back to 4-2 and you had a couple of game points to make it 4-3 and it just kind of got away?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Yeah, I had a lot of chances. I was coming in with my forehand, I think, in a bit of the wrong direction. She returned short and I thought she would go the other way, she'd be running the other way, and she just stood there and I missed the ball. I should have come in on her backhand.
Q. Natasha, two days ago, after Lindsay played Steffi, she said she got tired and you got tired today. What is it about Steffi that, you know, exhausts people?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Well, her constant ability of moving an opponent around very, you know, she moves opponents around very well, and it just, you know, wears people out.
Q. She said one of the things that may set her apart from everybody else is that she works harder than everybody else on the tour. Do you think that's true, and did you, maybe, learn something from today?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: If she says that she's working better than anybody, then I guess she is. I mean, I don't know, but I did learn -- but I don't think I would do anything differently anywise. I don't think I would spend more time on the practice court because there is no point in it. I've learned a lot, and I don't think there is a point for me to just, you know, practice a lot more than I do right now. I have my own little routine and I go through it every day, you know, unless I'm really relaxing or vacation or something, so --
Q. Where would you put -- where would you measure your performance today, the way you played, and where would you put Steffi's performance in the previous matches she's played against you?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Well, there was a couple of pretty close matches, like three-setters before, and if you want me to give you a percent standing, I can't do that.
Q. Just sort of vague, how you felt?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Yeah, I thought it was a good match, yeah, I've given my best.
Q. Did you receive any unsolicited advice in the last 24 hours on how to play Steffi Graff today?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Give me a clue on unsolicited.
Q. You know, players come in and say, why don't you work on this or try this; things you didn't ask for, but people just wanted you to beat Steffi?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Not a lot, no. Just a few close friends, yeah, just a couple.
Q. Will you share some of the tips they gave you?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: I can. You really want to know?
Q. That's why I asked.
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Okay. Well, I've been told I should play twice to the backhand, then go really sharp to the forehand.
Q. You're being serious now?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Yeah. And then I was talking to the person and he said, twice to the backhand, then one sharp to the forehand, and I go, and then what? He goes, well, then you have your situation, it's open. I'm like, oh, really? That was funny.
Q. Did you go and do it?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: I was not particularly focusing on two to the backhand and one to the forehand, no. I go with what I feel naturally on the court, and there are sometimes I have to push myself to do some certain things that I don't really -- like I am used to do, I don't do usually, but not a lot of times.
Q. Was today one of the best times the public was behind you? Do you think it happened to you, that the public was really backing you up?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: That was --
Q. You really felt that?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: That was huge, that was so great. I appreciated it so much, yeah. They were very loud and a lot of them behind me, I don't know what's the reason, you know, but I liked it a lot.
Q. Did you at all notice that you kind of won them over because it didn't start that way. I distinctly remember they came on Steffi in the first set, then finally you made it clear you were in control of that set, you ended up winning that set, then they went to your side; did you notice it wasn't instantaneous?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Well, I was not expecting them to be -- to root for me at the beginning because, obviously, you know, Steffi is a great player and she's a great personality, and she's the number 1 tennis player in the world, but as the match came along, you were right, I think they started rooting a little bit more for me; sometimes because -- obviously, they -- I guess they wanted me to win, at least the first set or at least some set.
Q. Davenport came close to taking a set off her in the previous round; did you talk with her much before this match to get her opinions or views?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Not at all, no. We went out two nights ago to Coconut Grove and we had a great time, but we didn't talk about tennis.
Q. Did you go to the Hardrock last night?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: To where?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Yeah, that was a few days ago.
Q. Not last night?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Last night, no, we went to South Beach last night.
Q. Natasha, we've all seen in matches where someone has two or three or sometimes even four set points in a row and can't convert them; there is a feeling that you've blown your opportunity and now you're not going to win the set, but you did hang on to win the first set. Was that particularly a confidence booster for you, that on the fifth set point you did get it; you didn't relinquish?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Well, it's really tough to overcome the feelings and emotions that are inside you, you know, that you have to go for it. But still there is a little bit of this, you know, a little bit of afraidness creeps in, and that's where you start to, you know, kind of tense up a little bit. But the main thing is just hanging in there and see what happens. But it did give me confidence, just, you know, obviously, if I win the first set I can see my ability to win a set or a match, you know, like Jana Novotna here who is top ten, so, yeah.
Q. You have a big doubles semi-finals coming up in a little bit. I guess, after a three set match it's got to be tough not to play there, but with all the importance and emotion of this one you just finished, it's got to take quite a bit out of you?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: It probably will. There is nothing I can do about that, but I'm looking forward to any match in the future, every single match, and that's what I'm going to do because I'm just going to try to do my best.
Q. What do you do for the next hour or so to get you prepared?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: First of all, I would love to finish that apple. There's sort of like three quarters left of it, then I'll see what I can eat some more.
Q. Has doubles made you a better singles player?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Maybe, I'm not sure -- probably, yes.
Q. In what respect?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: In what respect? If just -- it gives me confidence and, you know, the more you play, you get fitter and fitter, and that's good for physical preparation. And even if you get a little bit tired or it's hard to get up for every match, it doesn't seem, like, to bother me, get up for every match.
Q. Where are your next three tournaments, Natasha?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: I'm playing Lively next week.
Q. And after that?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Hilton Head.
Q. Amelia Island?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: No, just Hilton Head.
Q. Natasha, you've always had an awful lot of talent, there is no question about it. You were in the finals in the French in '88, two Grand Slams quarterfinals last year; how close do you think you are to possibly getting where you think you ought to be on a more consistent basis in the singles?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: I ought to be? Where I ought to be, tell me?
Q. Well, I think a lot of us think your ranking does not reflect your ability, you should be higher. And I'm just wondering how close you are to getting there?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Well, I can say about the ranking, it's pretty tough, you know, to get back where I was a few years ago just because of the ranking system, it's pretty tough. Even, like, with being a runner-up, which last year I think I lost third round, I would probably move only one spot. So I'll be number 13 instead of number 14. So that gives me an idea how hard it is mathematically. But it does not worry me, you know, I just wish I could play some great tennis out there and see what happens, maybe I'll move one more spot or two or three, you know.
Q. Where do you think you ought to be, not necessarily ranking, but just playing-wise; do you think you should be winning Grand Slams?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: I would be really happy if I can do the Grand Slam-wise, maybe quarterfinals. Yeah, I would be very happy.
Q. Even after beating the players you have this week and the prior couple of months, it appears you can play with any player out there. You pushed Steffi further than anyone has pushed her in a long time. You don't think a semi or final round appearance in a Grand Slam is a possibility for you?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: It is a possibility. I didn't say it's not, but you have to realize how tough it is. And if I can get into the semifinals of the Grand Slam, I would be even more happier than the quarterfinals, but I won't expect myself to do that every time.
Q. There has been a lot in the news about the fact once the Soviet Empire crumbled, a lot of the athletes would never be as good. I want to know, do you feel a sense of pride because the Soviet won the world figure skating championship and the fact you've done so well today is maybe representative of the fact Soviet athletes can survive without the empire being there?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Well, I think, yeah, the ex-Soviet athletes are more independent right now and it is, in a way, their responsibility how they want to do. If they have goals and -- it's pretty much, pretty equal right now, I would think, not maybe financially-wise because, say, a teenager tennis player is used to travel on the money from the federation, from the tennis federation, and now there is no money, so it is very hard to come out and play some -- any tournaments, but I mean, we have a lot of talent, we do, as a nation, as an ex-Soviet nation and now broken up in little countries, it does not mean that it's going to die or anything, you know.
Q. What about in Belarus itself; there a tennis federation?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: There is, Belarus Tennis Federation and we are going to be -- I'm going to be in the team who is going to compete in the qualies for a fed 6 cup, which is two weeks after Hilton Head and I'll be there representing my country.
Q. Who else is on the team?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Tatiana Ignatieva and another girl that you wouldn't really know, I don't think she's on computer. Probably just three of us, I think.
Q. What are your goals now, Natalia?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: What are my goals? To finish that apple.
Q. Apart from that, in the next two or three years tennis-wise and have they changed from the last three or four years?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Just enjoy it, enjoy it, really, and my goal is to play at least for another two or three years. I can't say what it's going to happen to me afterwards, but I would love to stay for two or three more years, play some great tennis, if I can.
Q. What about after tennis, have you thought about what you want to do when you retire, two, three, five, ten years down the line? Family?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Not to do anything.
Q. Not do anything, just lie on the beach?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: No, just enjoy my life, basically, go places, see things, have fun.
Q. Natalia, you are all about fun, you said that a couple of days ago, it's easy to see on the court and in here, how fun has this week been for you?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Tremendous, big amount, I can't even say how much.
Q. But have the parties been more fun than what's going on court?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Not necessary, no, depends where your mind is.
End of FastScripts....