M. PIERCE/A. Mauresmo
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Between Davenport and Dementieva, which one do you prefer?
MARY PIERCE: Who do I prefer, I don't prefer anybody. They're both great players. They're both difficult to play. You know, I've played Lindsay recently; I haven't played Elena recently. You know, I'm really happy to be in the semifinals. This is the best that I've done at the US Open in my career, which I think is amazing. I'm just really happy, so, you know, anybody I play, I'll be looking forward to it. I'll be excited. I'll be giving everything that I have. You know, hopefully it will be a great match.
Q. James Blake is coming back from travails, Kim Clijsters is coming back from a wrist injury. Most of your career you were coming back from something. What can we say you've been coming back from here at the US Open?
MARY PIERCE: Uhm, I don't know (smiling). I've had injuries, and it's been a couple of years and it's taken me some time to get back into shape and be fit and, you know, be back at the level that I enjoy playing at.
Q. Was this leg strain in California a minor thing?
MARY PIERCE: Oh, totally. That was about 10 days off and then 10 days practice before coming here.
Q. You've played Amelie many times over the years. I know that the last four times she's beaten you, and twice this year. I was just talking to her about the difference in you that she noticed from earlier this year. She said there's a marked difference not only in your physical conditioning, which a lot has been made of your time spent in the gym, but also just in your level of confidence. She said she could feel it out there on the court. Your thoughts on the work you've put in and where you are, how you're feeling physically and mentally right now.
MARY PIERCE: Yeah, that's pretty interesting, you know. It's funny how things kind of go hand‑in‑hand. Physically, how you're feeling, that helps you mentally as well. You know, if you're healthy and you're feeling good, then mentally you're having a more positive outlook, you're happier and you feel good. I think that helps a lot.
Q. Just coming off the match with Justine, how much did that help your confidence level, or were you coming into this tournament feeling that confident?
MARY PIERCE: Uhm, I came in, you know, feeling confident. I've always been pretty confident in myself, you know, my abilities and, you know, just believing in myself and what I'm able to do. You know, I just think that when I come into the later rounds and against the top players, just to continue having that belief in myself and in my game, just going out and playing my game the best I can and hopefully coming out the winner.
Q. You said on court that it's amazing that you're experiencing something for the first time at age 30. Does it actually feel different now than let's say, you know, you were 20 or 25 getting to a semifinals here?
MARY PIERCE: Yeah, it's different. I mean, it's not like it's my first time in the semifinals in a Grand Slam tournament. It's my first time here. So, yeah, it's pretty special. It's pretty neat, you know. I take things a lot differently now than before. I probably would have been all excited and whatever. When you're younger it's normal. But I think I have hopefully things a little bit just in perspective, what's going on here in this tournament. While it's just tennis, we're in a tournament, it's all great and this is what I love to do, and I feel God has blessed me with this gift. So I feel like I'm doing the right thing that I should be doing with my life right now. But, you know, at the same time, you know, there's lots of other things going on in this world. Just, for example, the last hurricane that happened down in the south, you know, there's people struggling with their lives basically and lost a lot of things. I'm very excited and happy to be in the semifinals. It's a part of my life, but it's not everything, so...
Q. Is there anything as a perfect tennis match?
MARY PIERCE: I guess perfect tennis matches will be in heaven one day. I feel like today was not a perfect tennis match, but I felt like I played pretty good and it was solid, and, like I said earlier, that it was good enough to win today. I've been playing well lately and just hope to continue to keep playing well.
Q. On the court you also said that you played for different reasons now. What were you playing for, and what are the reasons that motivate you to play now?
MARY PIERCE: I think before when I was, you know, first coming out on the tour and young, you know, you're very hungry to achieve and to have success and to make money, to win tournaments, to get a high ranking, just to be noticed and get contracts, and all those kind of things you just get caught up with. You know, for me now, it's different because I have achieved a lot of great things in my career, and most of those things ‑ and not all of them. I don't play for those things anymore now. It's not with really what's important to me now. I just play now because when I was injured and I was out with my back injury for a while, I didn't know if I was going to be able to play again or not. There was just kind of like this little voice inside of me that just said, "You know, you're not done. Now's not the time to retire. You still have some great things to accomplish in tennis." I didn't really know what that was or what that could be. I felt, "Okay, I really believe that," I felt it very strongly. I thought, "Well, I'm just going to do everything that I possibly can the best I can to come back, and be the best that I can."
Q. When was it that you had that realization?
MARY PIERCE: I guess it was in 2001 when I had my back injury.
Q. Did the quickness of the match surprise you at all, putting away the No. 3 seed in an hour and five minutes?
MARY PIERCE: No, you know, I noticed a lot that when I play well, my matches go quickly, because I don't have long rallies. I go for my shots.
Q. Amelie said you're playing your best tennis now. What do you feel about that?
MARY PIERCE: Yeah, I've been asked that a bit, and I feel that's probably true, you know. I think I'm definitely, you know, all around a better athlete and a competitor, you know, with experience and maturity. Mentally, I'm stronger. You know, I feel like I've worked on my serve and I've improved that. My footwork, like I'm faster on the court. Women's tennis is a lot tougher now than it was 10 years ago. So for me to be competing in the top now means I need to be stronger and faster and better than before.
Q. Do you feel ‑‑ when you're striking the ball, do you feel differently than you did earlier? I mean, you said how when you're happy, mentally, it translates physically. But the ball's coming off the racquet, is there a zip to it you haven't had in a while?
MARY PIERCE: I don't really pay too much attention to that, so...
Q. Do you feel you're striking it better than you have?
MARY PIERCE: I feel sometimes I've been hitting the ball well. I still have room for improvement, you know. I still think I can do better so (smiling)...
Q. What happened to your right leg in the first set?
MARY PIERCE: Yeah, I felt a little pain in my leg, 5‑2. I kind of was freaking out for two games and thinking, "Oh, what am I going to do? What is this?" But then at 5‑4, I just said, "Okay, you just play with it, and if it's really bad, you can't play, and if it's okay you play." I was kind of hesitating for a couple of games and I just said, "Okay, I'm going to play." It was fine. I put ice on it at the changeovers and it was okay.