Wimbledon, SF: Vera def. Pironkova 3-6 6-3 6-2
V. Zvonareva - 1 July 2010
Thursday, 1 July 2010
Q. What does this mean to you and what does it feel like?
VERA ZVONAREVA: You know, I'm very excited. I think I haven't realized it yet that I will be playing in the final.
But, yeah, it's one of my dreams to be out there, to be on the Centre Court, and play in the finals of Wimbledon.
So at the moment, you know, I think I'm thinking too much about my final. But I'm sure when the tournament finishes, finally I will realize that it's, you know, one of my dreams came true and I was able to make it to the final.
Q. If it is Serena Williams as your opponent, how would you describe the challenge before you?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Well, it's going to be a tough challenge, for sure. Serena is great player, defending champion, and very tough to play against.
But, you know, I always believe in myself. I think I will just have to go out there and try to play my best, like I did in previous matches. We will see what's going to happen then.
Q. You've been a very good player for a long time. You've been working towards this moment for a long time. What in particular in these last two weeks has worked so well for you?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Uhm, I don't know. It's hard to say. I think I'm more experienced right now, even though I had a couple bad losses, you know, at the French Open and then Eastbourne I lost first round. But I thought I was playing already much better tennis much, and I knew I just had to keep working hard.
I knew few things that I have to improve. I was trying to go on the court and try to bring it out of myself. And if it wouldn't work that day, it wouldn't work. But I just knew I had to keep going for my shots and play the way I play.
Q. Have you worked with a professional on the mental side of your game? Is that just poise and maturity, or have you worked with a sports psychologist or performance coach?
VERA ZVONAREVA: I always believe in myself. I always know that, you know, I can do anything. For me, I think it came with an experience and I know better how to handle different situations.
But, uhm, I don't care what people say around. And when they do, I can get ‑‑ I can break the racquet, but it doesn't mean I'm not there in the match. I'm trying all the time.
But I think right now experience helps me a lot. I've been in a lot of different situations in the past of my career, and I think I know how to turn the matches around much better now.
Even if something is not working, I think I know in my head that I just have to take it one point at a time and just keep trying. In the end, we will see what's going to happen.
Q. Do you think the injuries might have been almost like a disguised blessing, that it gave you time to reassess?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Injuries are never good. You never want them. But I think definitely, you know, when you have bad injuries, you appreciate the opportunity to play out there on the court. You really appreciate that you're able to do this.
Even if you have bad losses, I think you're able to bounce back quicker because you know, you know, you're still healthy, you're still playing. You get the chance to go out there and play better.
If you're injured, you're not able to do it. So I think, yeah, maybe in a way it helped. But I don't wish anyone to get injured (smiling).
Q. Can you describe how you felt emotionally today versus how you felt when you played Dinara in Australia in the semifinals and didn't play your best.
VERA ZVONAREVA: Well, it's two totally different matches. It's very tough to compare those. I think Dinara played really good tennis that day. Maybe I did not expect something from her.
But today I think I was prepared better. I knew what to expect against Tsvetana. I think in the beginning was very difficult because she's very difficult opponent, especially here on the grass. But I managed to turn it around.
That match with Dinara, I think she was just too good that day for me. It was very difficult for me to turn it around.
Q. You spoke earlier about how tough a challenge Serena Williams would be. Can you get more specific about what the key to you possibly having success would be against her?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Well, I will have to stay aggressive no matter what and not to let her dominate. Because when Serena dominates, she's very difficult to play.
So, I don't know. It's too early to say. I will have to sit down and just talk to my coach a little bit and see what the best things to do.
But I know that she's a great fighter. When I go on the court I will have to expect a very tough match, I will try to fight for every point, and I think try to make it difficult for her on every point. Try not to give her any points.
Q. How much of an advantage does her serve give her against anybody?
VERA ZVONAREVA: It's a very big advantage, I would say, especially here on the grass. But, uhm, I think if you can find the timing you can return it.
You know, it's very difficult when she's serving well, but there are moments where she may not serve as well. You just have to use those chances. You know, if she served well, okay. You go to the other side, try to return the next one.
But there will be moments where she doesn't make a first serve. I haven't seen anyone make a hundred percent of first serves. So then you will just have to take your chances then.
Q. Is there anything in your background, in your experience with her, that might give you particular confidence going in against her?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Uhm, I remember I played a very good match against her in Cincinnati one year, and I was able to beat her. It was a very, very tough one, but I think I was able to play the right way against her.
So I will just have to try to do it again.
Q. You've had three coaches now in the last eight months. Can you talk about that. Was it difficult for you? Can you talk about your new relationship with Sergei, who has just come on the scene.
VERA ZVONAREVA: Like you said, yeah, I changed three ‑‑ I don't think three coaches. I actually just worked with one coach. I think it was Antonio in the beginning of the year.
VERA ZVONAREVA: Yeah. Well, Sam was able to help me out during Charleston because Vika was injured. Thanks a lot for that. But after that, I just started working with Sergei right away. So I didn't really change that many people.
I've known Sergei for many, many years. We actually won mixed doubles Russian championships one year. I think he was a good player. He stopped playing himself like a year ago, and I think he really enjoys coaching.
He's also the one who can hit with me on the court, so I don't really need to find hitting partners. It's very helpful.
So for me it's always a tough challenge against him. He's playing good tennis. So, yeah, so far, you know, it's working quite good.
Q. Are you still a student?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Yes, I am.
Q. What are you studying?
VERA ZVONAREVA: I'm studying international economic relations at the diplomatic academy back home in Russia.
Q. Do you do it online?
VERA ZVONAREVA: No, I have to take classes over there and I have to take my exams when I'm coming back there.
Q. Why did you choose that subject to study?
VERA ZVONAREVA: I don't know. My first degree is in physical education. You know, I need to keep myself busy. I always love studying. It was always very important for me to keep my head busy with something else.
And traveling around the world, meeting different people, I just thought that international economic relations is something interesting, something, you know, close. I have a lot of experience from around the world. Maybe this way, you know, I can use it a little bit.
Q. What will you get? Is it a full degree? What is it called?
VERA ZVONAREVA: It's going to be like, I don't know, master's degree. I don't know how you call it. Yeah, diplomatic academy, it's the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Russia. It focuses a lot on international affairs, as well.
So I was doing a little bit of work with UNESCO back home. I think my experience at the academy, what I'm studying, helps with that.
Q. So how is the economy looking?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Well, I don't think I have enough experience and knowledge yet to tell you what's going on (smiling). I don't know. Maybe when I graduate I will be able to answer that better.
Q. I saw you on the BBC talking about Robin Van Persie, the Dutch football player. Did you meet him in Amsterdam somewhere during rehab?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Yeah. We were actually doing the rehab together. I got the surgery, and then he got injured and he got his surgery, as well. So we were at the same place doing rehab. Yeah, in Amsterdam. I got the chance to meet him.
He was working very hard. I was working very hard out there. He was working very hard. It was a pleasure, you know, just to have a fellow athlete next to you working. You know, I wish him the best at the World Cup.
Q. Are you still in touch with him somehow?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Well, sometimes, you know, our physio back in Amsterdam will tell me, Robin said hi; congratulations. I will sort of send him message this way, as well.
But when I was back there in Amsterdam for regular checkup, I saw him, as well. It was a couple months ago. He was there. But, uhm, yeah, other than that, we are not really in touch.
Q. Are you going to watch the game tomorrow?
VERA ZVONAREVA: I might.
Q. He'll be playing tomorrow.
VERA ZVONAREVA: Yeah.
Q. Studying economics, how much of tennis is a business and a job for you and how much of it is just love for the sport?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Uhm, I think it is both. It is very difficult to say because our job, tennis, is our life. You cannot, like, separate it. But when we go on the court, when we practice, it's more a love of tennis. You don't think about any other things.
When you go out there, you play your matches. You want to win not because you will get better prize money, just because you want to win. You want to see that hard work paying off. It's just a joy of winning. That's the most important part of it.
I think everyone works very, very hard. When you go out there and you see the result of it, that you're able to win and you're able to play good tennis, you can really enjoy, you really don't care about anything else.
Q. At this point Serena Williams is considered maybe the biggest favorite to win the title in the last 10 years, maybe in history. When you think of the possibility of an upset, you against her, what goes through your mind?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Uhm, you know, I always believe in myself. I don't care about what everyone says. I'll just have to go out there on the court and try to play my best tennis.
I know if I play my best tennis I can beat anyone on the other side of the net. That's what I'm gonna try to do on Saturday. I never look at any odds or comparisons. It's not important to me.