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Day 12 - An interview with Ana Ivanovic - Thursday, June 7, 2007

Q. Some people might say she didn't play well; others will say you didn't allow her to play well. Where does the truth lie for you?
ANA IVANOVIC: I think I played pretty good match. She's a tough player, and I was expecting very tough match. But I knew I had to be aggressive from the beginning. And that's what I tried to do, and it worked well for me. I didn't make many unforced errors and trying to put more pressure on her. And my serve worked well.
So I was really happy to get through.

Q. Was there anything about the way she played that surprised you?
ANA IVANOVIC: Well, I played her couple of times before, and we always had very interesting matches. And as I said before, she's aggressive player and she likes to dominate. And I knew she was not a great mover on the clay, so I tried to play more, yeah, just deep balls and put her under pressure and move her little bit more.
And yeah, sometimes I think she was going for some bigger shots, but, yeah, I was there, so it worked well for me.

Q. Looking ahead to Saturday in the final itself, we don't know who your opponent is going to be yet. Could you give us an assessment of Justine and Jelena?
ANA IVANOVIC: They're both great players, and they've both won lot of matches lately. And no matter against who I play, it will be an amazingly tough match.
And Justine won this tournament couple times before, so she's playing good on clay. And Jelena also had some great results this year and have a lot of confidence.
But on the end of the day, I think it's most important for me to play my game and to move forward, and just to be focusing, I think, too much. Not to get overexcited about the finals. So yeah, just take it step by step.

Q. How well do you know Jelena, and how much have you seen of her during the two weeks here?
ANA IVANOVIC: Well, I know her for a really long time. She's two years older than me, so we never played much tennis back home against each other. And she lived also in different part of the city, so we never had chance to practice with each other. And then later on she went to America, and I based myself in Switzerland. So, again, we didn't have much chance to catch up.
And now, these days, we both have our own teams and our own part and ways, which works well for both of us.
Yeah, this week, we played different days, so I didn't get a chance to see much of her.

Q. Did you know before the match that Novak Djokovic went to visit your match?
ANA IVANOVIC: No, I didn't. I was really focused on my match, and realizing what's happening on the court, not to look too much around. But that's very nice of him. And tomorrow, I'm going to try to see some of his match. And, yeah, he's great player and great friend of mine.

Q. When you served for the first set, did you have a little nerve attack right there, as you had against Kuznetsova?
ANA IVANOVIC: Yeah, well, um, when I was serving for first set, I think my attention dropped a little bit. And on 30-15, when I was serving, I was going for a little bit too much, and then she made couple good points.
But I just tried to focus again, because I know that during the match, you will always have these ups and downs. But it's very important when you have down, don't go too far down, and just, yeah, try to stay positive. And I still focused on what I had to do, and what I was doing so far.

Q. Your great love of tennis began when you were very little girl and you saw an advertisement on television. Could you tell us what you think your life would be like now if you hadn't seen that advertisement?
ANA IVANOVIC: Well, definitely a lot different. But since I was kid, I was always interested in sports and I was always very active. I never really played with dolls or anything like this. But my father was a basketball player, and my uncle a football player, so we were really sport country, and I would probably do some other kind of sport or study.
But it's very hard to imagine, because tennis, it's my life, and that's what I've been doing for so long, and I love doing it. And I'm really lucky, you know, to do something I like.

Q. What role has Dan Holzmann played in your life?

Q. What role has Dan holes man played in your life?
ANA IVANOVIC: It's huge. He's such an important person for my career. Yeah, because it very tough, especially beginning. I was young, I was 14 when he started managing me, and it was important times, because that was just when I had to start competing internationally. And it was tough situation back home. We didn't have much money. So it was very lucky for me that he was there and he supported me from the first moment. And he always believed in me, that gave me motivation.

Q. How difficult is it going to be not to get too excited between here and playing the final and to try and keep everything in check so you can play your best game?
ANA IVANOVIC: Well, to be honest, it's hard. But, I think it's very important because, obviously, yeah, it's hard to play. It's my first Grand Slam finals, so I'm very excited to be here, and have chance to play against some of the top players.
And it's hard not to get overexcited. But I think for myself it's very important to think more about my shots. And once I'm on the court, to think more about moving and placement of shots, shot placement, shot selection, rather than think emotionally, oh, to win this point or a game, yeah.

Q. Three Serbian players in the semifinals. Is there a system in Serbia that's produced this or is it something else that's produced three Serbian players in the semifinals?
ANA IVANOVIC: This never happened before, so I'm very lucky to be one of them. But, no, I mean, we have very tough system now back home, because there is no facilities, and it's very hard for us to practice back home.
But tennis is becoming much more popular sport now. So I hope they will build more facilities and more places where we can practice. Because we are struggling a lot with the hard courts. So it's very hard for us to base ourselves there.

Q. So you've managed it without a system, in other words, you're saying?
ANA IVANOVIC: Yes, yeah, I think all three of us, and also other players, we all try to find a place, somewhere elsewhere we could practice where we'd have a perfect club and fitness where we could base ourselves. Because back home was very tough.

Q. Do you have a sense of how excited people are back home about what's going on here?
ANA IVANOVIC: Probably not. No, not at all. Because I am very excited here, and I don't spend much time home, so every time I go back, I'm very surprised to see the reaction of people and to realize how much they actually follow us.
But, yeah, I'm very excited to go back there and see again my friends and family. They're all looking forward to seeing me.

Q. Are you getting messages on your cell phone or Blackberry or anything?
ANA IVANOVIC: Yes, a lot on my cell phone.

Q. Can you tell us how many?
ANA IVANOVIC: Well, I still haven't checked my phone. But the other day was about 15, 20. But after the tournament, there's usually much more.

Q. We can see that you are very excited and beautiful as ever. And we would like to know also, if you always talk like that. You always talk like you are overexcited, without breathing, or, when you talk to your mother, do you relax a little bit more when you talk to your friends?
ANA IVANOVIC: Yes, I do. But it's -- everything went so fast. And obviously, after a match, I had a little bit time to stretch and to relax and to, yeah, to cool down.
But yeah, it's very exciting times for me. And I won a lot of matches lately, so it's a great motivation, great excitement. So it's a little bit hard to calm down. But probably later today, I'll be very tired from that.

Q. Before you went to Switzerland, can you tell us what the facilities were like back home where you practiced?
ANA IVANOVIC: Well, to tell you the truth, I grew up playing in a swimming pool. It's a club where they had olympic swimming pool, and then it was very expensive to keep it warm during the winter, and there was not many people using it. So they emptied the swimming pool, and they put carpet inside, and they placed -- (laughing) it's true. They placed two tennis courts and that's where I grew up practicing.
And it was impossible to play crosscourt, because it was this far from the wall. So we had to keep playing down the lines. And that was the courts we had during the winter.
In the summer was better situation. We had a lot of other clay courts. But still, these days we have maybe one or two hard court, outdoor. And it's very -- it's very hard for us to practice there.
But indoor, also we are struggling with the hard courts. But clay, it's much better, much better courts.

Q. Did you practice after school, weekends or what?
ANA IVANOVIC: Yes, I used to practice -- up until I was 14, I used to practice in a group with another three kids. And we used to practice usually from 4:00 to 6:00. And then we would do conditioning. And school would be in the morning. Or other week, we would go to school in the afternoon, from like 1:00 until 7:00. So we would have to practice from 8:00 to 10:00 in the morning, and it was five times a week.

Q. Three years ago, would you have expected the dream to come true? And who were your inspirational favorite players, male or female?
ANA IVANOVIC: I start playing tennis because of Monica Seles. She was my -- she was the woman I always looked up to, and I always wanted to achieve what she did. And also, later on when I start competing and start playing more tournaments, I really admire Roger Federer. He's a great athlete and great person, so I think we can all learn a lot from him. And he brought so much to tennis.

Q. The fact that you are playing the final, how do you consider that? Is it a big surprise in yourself? Is it the prize for all the results you did until now? It's what?
ANA IVANOVIC: Well, definitely I'm very, very excited. And coming in here, I didn't expect any of this. I just tried to focus on each match separately. But I put a lot of hard work. Especially lately, I did a lot on my fitness. And on clay, it's very important. And especially Grand Slam, you have to keep the fitness level for two weeks.
So I was really -- and also winning in Berlin helped me a lot. It gave me some confidence beating top players. So those are all little things that helped me focus and helped me get through some of the tough matches I had. And it's very exciting, because I really didn't expect this. But obviously, as matches go on, you always try. Every match, you try to do your best. And yeah, I'm really happy to be here.

Q. You came here without a coach. Do you think that's helped you?
ANA IVANOVIC: Well, Sven, Sven Groenefeld, he's helping me. He works for Adidas. Obviously when I play against other Adidas players, it's impossible for him to coach me or give me any advice. So it's been a little bit tough on that side. But otherwise, he's been really helpful, and I learned a lot from him.
And, yeah, as I said also before in Barcelona, I had a coach there which who I worked a couple of times before I was there before French and before Berlin. So those were all important times. Especially leading up to Grand Slam, I had a very good preparation. And then Sven helped me a lot here with the tournament, in Berlin as well. So, it was -- it was very good to have him on my side.

Q. Was there a point when you ran out of money when you were in Germany where you thought that you couldn't play tennis anymore, unless you got a sponsor?
ANA IVANOVIC: It was tough times, especially 1999 during the bombing. It was really tough. I thought it would be impossible to continue, because we didn't know how long it was going to go on.
And also, after that, we had troubles to travel, because we had problems to get visa to another country. And we didn't have flights from Serbia. We had to go from Hungary, so we'd take a bus for six, seven hours just to catch a flight.
So it was very tough, and I thought it would be really impossible to succeed. But then, luckily, I got managers, and they helped me to finance my coaches and my travel expenses at that time. And I had opportunity to practice in Switzerland, which opened other doors for me. And I would say, that was important moment of my career.

Q. What is your best memory here before today?
ANA IVANOVIC: Probably three years ago, beating Amelie, it was great experience. And I think that experience, and also reaching quarterfinals that year helped me a lot to get through this year.

Q. Can you just tell us away from tennis what you will be doing tomorrow just to try and relax or just to try and occupy yourself and how you'll get through the day?
ANA IVANOVIC: Well, I will, for sure, practice once only, just a little bit to relax and not to get too tough. But otherwise, I will just probably be in the room watching some DVDs or relax, listen to music. And probably I would leave the shopping for after the tournament, or sightseeing for after the tournament. And just, yeah, think little bit about matches and relax. That's most important to recover for a final.

Q. You mentioned the fact that Sven cannot coach you if you have to play another Adidas player. Justine Henin is another Adidas player. Can he help you or not?
ANA IVANOVIC: No, it will be -- I'll be on my own, so, yeah.

Q. Then maybe a few times in the morning visiting Dr. Parra, and he told me if you are going to make the final, he is coming back. Why do you need him? What is your physical problem?
ANA IVANOVIC: Well, in Berlin, in the final, I injured a little bit my left ankle, so that was bothering me for a while. And so after Berlin, I had to take a week off where I didn't practice and just did some treatments. And then I had a week preparation before coming here, and he continued to treat that here. And now, I am fully recovered.

Q. This may be silly, but so many teenagers like you, like "Lost" so much. What is so special about that?
ANA IVANOVIC: It's very exciting. I used to watch "24" a lot. And then I found "Lost." It's something similar and something I really enjoy watching. And it's very exciting. It's also a little bit scary. You don't know what to expect.
And it's nice in the evening, just turn off the lights and watch and get a little bit scared.

Q. Is this year's Roland Garros, a little bit like a Year 3 episode on "Lost"?
ANA IVANOVIC: Well, I mean, no. Almost. No.

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