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Old Apr 1st, 2006, 03:35 PM   #88
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S. KUZNETSOVA/A. Mauresmo
6-1, 6-4

An interview with:

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Svetlana, please.

Q. Got to be a pretty good moment for you?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, definitely, I'm pretty excited with the way I played. You know, I been dictating the match almost all the time. I could have done better, as always, you know, but I mean, I am pretty excited with the way I played.

I played very well first set. Second set was pretty close, but I knew I have to hang there. Otherwise, if I let Amelie play a little bit, I wouldn't get it back, I wouldn't have another chance.

And I think I did pretty well, and I knew I gonna have other chance if I can use it. It's look to me I did use it.

Q. What did you do exceptionally well today in particular with your tennis?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I guess I didn't want to go over shot, you know. I didn't want to overhit the ball. You know, I think I was pretty well playing the shots, the selection of the shots, I was doing it pretty well. Because sometimes I can see balls easy and I know I can do so much, so many things with the ball, that I like want to break it, you know.

Today I was just playing the space I have to play. I was choosing the right shots and I was pretty calm with myself. I just was staying there, playing the match.

Q. You get a lot of confidence from having beaten her earlier this year?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, I mean, definitely. Because I played Amelie three, four times before this year and I always lost close matches. I had lots of break points and I never could manage to break her serve, maybe because it was something about believing me or whatever.

You know, this year in Dubai I managed to beat her. I mean, today was tough 'cause before the match I didn't know what will go on there, you know. I didn't -- I knew I have chances, but like I also know that she's No. 1 player in the world - she can play very well. So I just wanted to go out there and play my best game.

Q. Do you think that she was off her game today?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It's pretty hard to say, you know, because I been dictating a lot in first set. In second set, she got better, definitely she played better. But I also let her play a little bit more.

I think if I wouldn't win first two games on her serve, it would be completely different match, you know, because I get 3-Love and she got beaten I'm sure. Maybe she was not at her best, I don't know. When you lose, you're never at your best. But other opponent can also play well.

Q. Does your family travel with you? Can you talk a little bit about your background, so immersed in cycling.

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, no, nobody travels for me, with me, from my family. I don't need it, you know. I don't feel like. I don't like -- my dad, he never saw me play in life, tennis, because he works a lot. He wanted to come when I played Kremlin Cup maybe like two years ago, one year ago, and I said I don't want you to come because, I mean, he never been in my matches before and now he gonna come and I didn't want to put the ball in, no.

And my mom, she put a lot on me, you know, a lot of effort. "Til I come to Spain 14, 15, she was always there with me. Then she would travel with me in the start and then I wanted to travel with coach, you know. Because mom, it's a mom. I cannot take my mom as a coach. Of course both my mom and dad, they always watch the matches and were always trying to tell me what to do. You know, I not trying to help them how to ride the bike, you know, how to win six champions of the world. They do it good, why I have to tell them? You know.

So I really had little bit of conflict with this about my parents but everybody got to understand what everybody want to do. I had my choice and I decided to travel alone. I'm pretty happy - I have great family, they help me a lot. They teach me how to work hard, how you really want it badly, you got to work for it. You got to work every day. Because my dad's team, they never have rest. He has likes six Olympic or seven Olympic champions. And his bicycling, he won like five or six Olympic medals, he's very good. He made cyclists from ten years old to Olympic champions - not one, not two, about five or seven people.

So, you know, he is very good in cycling. But tennis, it's a bit different. He coach my mom, he coach my brother, but not me. He send me to play tennis. In the end I decided to play tennis by my own.

Q. Before you got into tennis, did you have big cycling trips with your family? When you were a little kid, was cycling a huge, huge thing in your family?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, of course. I didn't live with my parents. I live with my parents, but not in the same room maybe with my mom, and then I start to live alone. But my dad, he never leaves his team alone. He always lives with his team. He has a base like in Spain, in St. Petersburg. They have big house where everybody lives.

So until like I left, I was staying with the team all the time. I was living with guys, biking all day long. I go to school, I come back, I train, and then what I saw, it was only bikes.

But I love to do. I had preseason, so you wake up at 7 o'clock in the morning and I had to go for a jog for an hour. They had like four practices in a day, every day, and they never have break. I love to do it. I was waking up at 7 o'clock in the morning, was going to run. On Sunday I played football with them. I just was exciting to do this, you know, and the guys were telling me, you know, like, What you doing? Just go to the bed. We wish to be in the bed. We wish to have you a chance in bed. And I didn't like to do it - I wanted to do sport. I wanted to move. I always wanted to move on bike. I had like five of them.

Q. You had five bikes?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, like five. Because the guys always working something about the brake on the bike or the seat, you know. I always wanted to change something on my bike. So couple times I changed my brakes and I completely fell because only forward worked, you know (smiling).

Q. So, first of all, two questions. Were you really into cycling at one point? Why were you staying with your dad's team, just to spend time with him?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: No, because my parents stay there. Like I cannot -- my dad staying in this house, like my mom also would stay there, you know. We cannot leave out there.

Also, I like to hang out with guys. And I was like, you know, I was like -- they were afraid of my dad, but I was daughter of his, you know. But they still trust me like their sister, you know, because they knew I never gonna say nothing to my dad. I was on their part.

Q. How old were you during this?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Since I was seven, six, five. Like, yeah, I been traveling. We went to championship of the world in Moscow, and we went there. And I also saw them cycling. I tried it. I really did some races. I was maybe like 10 and the other girls were 17, but I still loved to do it. I loved this thing. And people would come to watch you when you do cycling.

Then one day suddenly my dad said, you know, You got to do something else. Because when he had my mom on team, he had women's and men's team, and then one day he decide it's too complicated to have both because it's tough.

And then he said he gonna have only guys and he didn't want to open ladies' group, and he send me to play tennis, yeah.

Q. Are they in Russia?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: They both place. They stay sometimes in Spain, in Tortosa, it's in between Valencia and Barcelona. And St. Petersburg. Now, he work so hard for bike, you know. His life is not about, like, money or something. He has such a different mentality. Now he is building a huge complex in St. Petersburg, the biggest in Russia. He looking for sponsors to invest, you know. He's looking for something to do for cycling in Russia. He likes so much in cycling.

Q. When a player wins a Grand Slam at a young age, sometimes it takes them a long to realize what's happened. Your results after the US Open and in 2005 were pretty inconsistent. Now it seems like you're reaching a more consistent level with your play. Can you talk about the change.

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, you know, once, I was so curious what was going on, you know, because you're like 19, you win US Open, and you don't win anything and you have so much pressure. I was one day reading interview of Marat, and he said the same thing. When he won the Open, he was not ready for it. The same did I.

Like, yeah, I played good. I was Top 12, Top 10, and then suddenly everything comes and you play so good and then you win, and then everybody expects more. You play so many tournaments in a row and you cannot, you just don't have energy. Then suddenly you lose your confidence, and this is where it breaks.

You cannot go, you cannot lift your head up, and you lose confidence. I start to get injuries and I was not that ready to handle this pressure. I didn't work with any psychologist. I was just on my own. I had many people telling me different opinions. I didn't know where to go. I didn't know who's part I have to take.

The end of 2005, I just took my time. I just decided, you know, I have to change, I cannot have this match anymore in my head. I just have to go somewhere. I took very important decisions for me outside of the court.

Q. What did you do outside of the court?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I don't want to talk about it, but, I mean, I did very important things for me in my life. I decided with whom I will have to work. I had lots of opinions of people around. I decided the way I have to go, and this is what worked for me. For the moment, it's working. I'm very happy. Finally, I start to play I think for my own, for me, because I had motivation different parts, what I have to do, for who I have to play.

Now, I just do it on my own. I do it for me. I do it with my coach and I work hard and I enjoy every day of my life. I enjoy being out there every time, because it's great pleasure, no, to play tennis and to be a professional athlete.

Q. Where is your confidence now compared to when you won the Open?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It's different. It's just -- I find myself completely different person, you know. I was a kid and I won, I was excited. Nothing else. I didn't understand what was going on with me. I deserved to win because I was working very hard, but I still was not sure in myself. I didn't believe that much. Now I feel much better.

Q. The changes you made that you just referred to, were they tennis-related or personal-related?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Both. Everything. Everything completely change from night to day more or less. Yeah, it's about everything. It's about training, where I have to train. It's about my private life. It's about things out of the court. It's about things where I have to live, where I have to stay. It's about everything.

Just, you know, just my thing. I just don't want to go out and tell it to everybody. But, I mean, I had really important decision for myself.

Q. Which you made entirely by yourself? You just sat down one day and said, "I have to make this decision"?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I do it with my heart, as I feel. As I feel. I know what my heart wants, and I need to live for me, you know. I don't have to live and listen to people, even they important, you know. I have to know what listen to myself, what I want to do, because you have only one life.

Q. So before this tournament you'd never been to a Tier I final. Besides the US Open, you've never been to the semifinals of another major. How important is this win and getting to the finals of a tournament of this stature?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It's very important. I'm very excited, but I don't want to think about it. Before I would go, "Wow, I did already enough." You know, it's enough. If I play well, I play well. Now, it's not like this. It's completely different. I am just there and have fun, you know. I am playing very good tennis. Why wouldn't I enjoy it? Why would I have to put pressure on myself? I just go and I play. I keep my forehand. I hit very good backhand. I come to the net. I enjoy the game. I hope that people also enjoy it. I'm just excited to live with it.

Q. When you won, you were very serious. Your face, you didn't seem to get excited. I know that Mauresmo is your doubles partner and I guess you're close to her. How difficult was that? Was it kind of awkward? Did you guys talk? Talk about the doubles aspect, you're still playing with her.

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It was very hard. I am kind of sad, you know. But I know I come to the gym and I said my coach, you know, I a bit sad because I don't want to -- Amelie is different to me because she's my doubles partner, she's very nice to me. But he said, "Look, you got to do what you got to do. You had to play, you played well." I had mistakes before because I played with people who very close and I cannot play.

But this is, like, look, do the job and outside we are friends. I don't want to yell "C'mon," I didn't do it once in the match, I didn't say anything. Because I don't feel like this, you know. I do as I feel, and I play as I can, you know. I played my best, and I am sad that Amelie lost, but I am happy for myself because I work hard enough and I think I deserve place in the final.

But, you know, she's my friend. I'm not gonna go there and be an animal against her.

Q. Can you talk about playing Tatiana or Maria.

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I mean, both gonna be tough because it's a final of Tier I, you know. If you get there, you deserve it, I think. Maybe you had easy draw, whatever, but you won like six matches to get here.

Maria is very tough opponent. She played final last week, last tournament. It's gonna be both very tough. Both hard hitters, hit very flat. I have to move both around. And tactics is gonna be pretty different. I have to change a space a lot and just to try to play my game.

Q. How different is your everyday life when you're winning consistently as opposed to when you're losing first, second round, being out of singles? Are you happier every day? Do you have more energy? Do you do more things? What's it like?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: This is pretty complicated question. Because I was thinking about a lot. I am a person, I cannot, when I (live/leave), I need every day to be something different. I cannot -- I have this routine, like I practice, but I practice like for one month and a half in Spain, I get completely nuts because I want to play tournaments, I want to win matches. This year I really want it badly, you know, just to play, enjoy, and do my best. By this, I gonna win many matches.

When I won tournament, when I lose, it just looks like just brings me down. But this down makes me understand how bad I want it, to be back there, and how hard I need to work and what I have to improve. It's makes me learn.

And if I win, it's like normal day, you know. It's happy, I am happy because I am success, you know. I am doing the right thing. I am improving. I am very happy. Especially when you win top players, you are more excited because you feeling the level, you feeling you coming back to your shape, you improving your game and just live.
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