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2004 US Open (New York): win over Elena Dementieva in final (RUS)

11th September, 2004


Moderator: Questions for Svetlana, please.

Q: I assume you know Elena's game very well. You've played her before. Did it help you, because you tried to attack her serve as often as you could.

Svetlana: I mean, of course I knew her game before, you know. I played her twice this year. We had long matches, both ones. Last one I lost, but, you know, I still felt like I had so many chances to do this, you know. Because if I play my game, I just have good tennis, you know. My serve is good now. It's much better than it was before. Her serve, mostly she serves only to the forehand, so my forehand is my best, you know, shot. So I knew if I do my game, I don't rush, I don't get nervous, I just gonna win it, you know. So, I mean, I was thinking about this match, you know, those days. I've been nervous, but I was trying to stay concentrate and just to do my game, you know.

Q: When you finally scored your matchpoint and you knew you were the US Open champion, what went through your mind?

Svetlana: I was like, "I'm just one more match." I didn't realize that I win US Open, you know. First, when I played first game, I was, "Wow, there are so many people out here today. It's just good atmosphere." You know, I was so nervous. But after I just forgot. I just didn't want to think about it. I was just playing one more match. I just couldn't show all I felt inside, you know. I just put my hands up and that's it. It's not really what I was feeling, you know, but I just couldn't do anything else. I was just so excited. So I don't know, maybe shocked.

Q: Do you realize what you have accomplished yet?

Svetlana: You know, I mean, my friends, my coaches, my friends they have been telling me long time that I can make this result, you know. First I didn't believe, after when I saw so many people doing this, I said, "I can do it, too." I had a feeling I could do it here.

Q: Have you ever hit your forehand any better than you did tonight?

Svetlana: Well, it's difficult to say this. I think I just hit it great, you know. I just knew I had -- I was going for maximum I could on my forehand today and it was going well. Sometimes I was hitting -- when the ball was too low, I was missing. But the rest of the shots, I was just going as fast or as hard as I can and the ball was going in. So I was just keep doing this and keep hitting harder and harder.

Q: Was there any moment where you were nervous, whether it was this morning, before the match? Didn't show it during the match?

Svetlana: First game. I was just like, "Wow, what should I do here today? What I'm doing here?" I was nervous this morning maybe. And I went to practice, I was a little bit stiff in the morning after I came back to hotel. I was like -- it was weird, you know. I was like... But something was -- inside of me was telling me I be fine, you know. Sometimes you afraid of this feeling. You too calm, maybe you go there too relaxed. Something was saying, "No, it's different. You just be fine. You just do your thing. You don't get so nervous." So I did this.

Q: What did you do the rest of the day?

Svetlana: I waked up, I went to hit. I came back, I watched Lleyton's match. I've had lunch. I've been talking with my friends on computer. I was just trying to figure out how do I play tonight. For me, it was very important the support of people who are around me. After I went, I warm up and I play the match.

Q: What happened after the first service game where you got broken, to the next one where you broke Elena? What changed in your mind?

Svetlana: I was fine. I knew, I mean -- I know that I have to win my serve because I serve well, you know. But, still, (inaudible) I know I can break her pretty easy. Sometimes it's even easy to broke her than to keep my serve because she has very good returns. So if you don't mix up your serve, it's tough to really know your service game.

Q: Who were all those people you were hugging? Are they family, friends, coaches?

Svetlana: It's my coach, Sergio Casal, my agent, he's out there. My friends who I get to know in States here. Some friends, they've been watching me while I played Juniors, I played final of 2001 US Open Juniors doubles and singles. It was just, I don't know, people who I meet here in US, you know, always who I'm really friendly, some of guys I was staying in house in Southampton. I mean, just was my friends. And Martina, of course. She came after. She told me she gonna stay in the suite, but after I saw her there, I said, "Okay, this is a moment to get."

Q: You always practice with your coach in Barcelona. What did you learn from them?

Svetlana: I don't practice only with them. Since I came to this club, I been practicing with many coaches. But most of them, they have the same style, you know. They keep in the same way of work. So I hit with Amir (phonetic), with Sergio, with Angel, with many other coaches, you know, with Antonio, with other Antonio. There's just so many, I just don't know really to whom I have to say thanks, you know. Because all of them, what was very important for me, they believe in it, you know. And they were telling me that I can do it, you know. They always wanted to help, you know. It's the people who always, like, around, you know.

Q: Before you moved to Spain did you play a lot with the other Russian girls that are now in the Top 10?

Svetlana: I moved to -- well, I move. I went to practice in Spain when I was 14. When I went there, I was not that good, you know. Juniors, I was losing to Dinara Safina. I lost to her 6-1, 6-Love Juniors. I been under my age was like 14 or 12, I was like No. 14 in Juniors in Russia. So it's not really well, you know (smiling). Like girls who was like No. 1, too, they were like so good, you know. "Oh, they will be great." To me, they saying, "You just okay, you know. You have made something but you just not concentrate on the practicing, you know" and stuff. "You get so frustrated when you play your matches." But I move to Spain. You know why you grow so much in the level, because you have competition between other person, you know. Doesn't matter who is there, you just get, "I want to beat her." I had one person in Russia when I was so close, you know. So when I move to Spain, I was just trying to get better and better, you know, thinking to beat these people. And after, I went to first my tournament under-16. It was great feeling. I made finals. My parents, they were really happy that I did this result. I stayed in Spain first three month, I was staying with Spanish family. I didn't speak English, I didn't speak Spanish, you know. You know, Spanish people, they speak only Spanish. Doesn't matter what you want, you know, they gonna talk to you fast Spanish. Doesn't matter you understand it or not. So you have just to go and try to understand something. But I could have handle it, you know. I just been practicing so much, was all the day on the court. So my mom was coming to me Saturday and Sunday to pick me up from there and to be with me little bit. So after I moved to Spain, I played Juniors. My parents like the result. I keep practicing there. I started to play in under-18. I start to doing better, better and better. I was like 30, I thought, "Wow, to be one day No. 1 in Juniors will be great." You know? I was playing -- once I was playing with one girl and she said, "Ah, I've been to final of Orange Bowl." I said, "Wow, it will be great if one day I can make it." I was like, "Okay." After I made the Orange Bowl, "No, it's not good. I would happy to be like No. 100 one time." I get to No. 100. It's like nothing, I should do better. I think these things always bring me up, so...

Q: You've had a good year on the regular tour events this year, but at the Grand Slams, you didn't play up to your potential. So what changed at this US Open with you mentally?

Svetlana: I mean, this year -- last year, I had age-eligibility rule. I couldn't play so many tournaments. And after, when I was -- then I had limit of tournaments, I was saying to my partner, Likhovtseva, she remind me to this year that I was saying, "Oh, when I finish my age eligibility rule, I'm going to play all tournaments. Doesn't matter if I'm tired or not. Just gonna play them, you know." And this year when I travel so much, when I play, I said, "I want to go home. I want to rest." Before coming here, I was like, you know, I was just realizing what I did this year and just do what I have to do just different next year. I thought, "I have to just prepare better for Grand Slams," you know, "Maybe not playing so well in other tournaments, but just have better preparation for Grand Slams." Because I was doing very well in other tournaments and I couldn't really make it well in Grand Slams. So this is what I was really thinking, you know, just to get prepared for next Grand Slams. And here, it happen, and it's really like shock me, you know.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about your parents. Your mother is a cycling champion?

Svetlana: They all been cycling. My dad -- well, the story is like my dad, he meet my mother because he been coaching her. They get married. So she was like six times champion of the world in closed, you know, track, sprint. So she won six champions of the world. She made like 20 world-records in cycling. So my father, he had -- I mean, always, when you are coach of good cyclist, you know, you have problem in Federation. It usually happen. They didn't let her to go to Olympics, but she was really good because she made 20 records of the world and she won six champions of the world. So after my mom quit, maybe the cycle of women come to Olympics, my dad decide to have just man thing. Before he had women's and men's. My brother, he been cycling my father team. So he won silver medal in Atlanta.

Q: Your brother?

Svetlana: Yeah, in cycling.

Q: What is his name?

Svetlana: Nikolay Kuznetsov, my brother name. My mom, she always has different surname, Tsareva, T-s-a-r-e-v-a. I have to spell it because you can't write it. It's too complicated. It's even more complicated than mine.

Q: Which event?

Svetlana: It was cycling for people for kilometers in the track, you know. I mean, they all cyclists.

Q: Why are you playing tennis?

Svetlana: And my dad, he decided, "She has to do something different." I was, till like four, maybe I was staying with my grandparents. Now it's Ukraine, but before it was Russia in Sevastopol. It's in the sea. So the one who teach me to ride the bike, it was my grandfather, you know, so it was weird. After, I moved to -- well, to St. Petersburg with my mom, because I couldn't stay with her because she was still riding, you know, while I was young. So I moved and I was staying with the boys, you know, all day long on the bike. You know, when I go to practice maybe on the bike, I come back from the bike, all day long just doing these things. It was -- I was trying -- I was swimming sometimes, you know. But one day, he said, "You know, they earn so much money in tennis. You should go there." (Laughter). I mean, it was joke, you know. It was joke. It doesn't mean the he was really think I gonna win this someday. So after, when I was traveling with my mom, he was paying all the expenses. I never had sponsor in my life. He was saying, "Unbelievable, I think you win so much but I didn't know you have to spend so much. You spend more than whole my team traveling," you know. So I was like, "Okay. So what you want me to do, you know?" We was just doing this. My mom, she puts so much into me, you know. I just, now it's unbelievable to remember because when I was young -- I mean, when the kid has like 7, 9 years old, you just don't realize what you want to do in your life, you know. Of course I come to practice thinking, "Oh, I have to go finish practice and I have to go to play Nintendo," whatever, you know. So the coaches, they would tease. But I don't think it's right because they have to make practice interesting for the kids. My mom was all the time with me. Sometimes she was against the coaches because they were saying, "No, now she has summer vacations," you know. She been on the top level. She said, "What's summer vacation? Tennis is summer sport. You can't have vacation holidays in summer." We change coaches. We been changing, changing. I remember how suffered my mom. I just remember she was crying, you know, during night because I was not doing so well because she wanted so much for me, you know. We didn't have so many money in the family 'cause all was going to tennis, you know. She never ask for something; she just was really the normal things. She didn't buy nothing for her. I mean, just unbelievable to remember these things.

Q: What do you love about tennis and what do you hate about it?

Svetlana: I hate - I don't know what I hate about tennis. But what I love, I mean, that you really -- like I think I can express myself in the court, you know. It's not just because it's goes like this, I play this tennis. I think I express myself with my game, you know. The same as singers sing songs what he really feels, not somebody else writing this song, you know. I mean, I'm just feel like playing. Each year, I play more. I just start to enjoy it more. I don't know why. Before I was not enjoying it, you know. When I came to Spain I was practicing, it was hard, you know. But I still was keep trying doing this. And when I had days off lately, I was just missing tennis, you know. Days off I just want to go and play more, you know, I was missing to go to club. So now I've been traveling so much. Now maybe staying away of St. Petersburg, staying away from home, I don't like it too much. But I really think I have to do this effort, you know. Sometimes you have to do effort. Without effort, it's really can -- you can have nothing in your life. And I think the tennis is good because if you put something into it, you always gonna get it back. So if you work hard, I mean, you always get -- it's always coming back.

Q: What did Martina tell you? You had said you talked to Martina. Was it right before the match?

Svetlana: I mean, you know, before the final, before final you just don't know what to think, you know. You just don't know what's going there, you know, what's gonna be there. I was like, "Man, what I gonna do?" I was talking to everybody, "What I should do? What's gonna be there? What's gonna be there?"

Q: In the locker room?

Svetlana: No, to my friends, not to the other players. Definitely they're the ones that (inaudible) good things. I was like -- here, I was like, they say, "Two minutes." I'm like, "Okay, ready, ready." And here Martina is. I go "Martina, what you doing here?" "I came to watch the match but I gonna be in the suite." I said, "Okay, cool." So she's there. She go, I think she look at me and she think I was maybe green color, maybe blue. She said, "Okay, look, remember, I did it when it was my first final, and I won my first final. So you can do it, too." You know. I mean, maybe she wouldn't be so happy that I said this, you know, especially in ceremony and now in press, but it's little maybe help me a lot, you know. Just lot happens today. You know, I think I was asking so many people what it's gonna be out there today. I spoke to Aranxta today half an hour in the phone -- no, yesterday. But I was so nervous.

Q: You've had an incredible two weeks. If you had to sit back and try and summarize your two weeks, your triumph, in just a single word or two, what would that word be?

Svetlana: Like what?

Q: A single word, a single phrase that you could summarize.

Svetlana: Unbelievable (laughter).

Q: How so? Can you explain?

Svetlana: I mean, just, you know, the feeling inside of me, it was one way I was like, "I'm a bit tired. It's the end of the year." Another thing was, "I feel I can do it, you know." So I really happy. I really had just great two weeks. If you see my days, it's from Tuesday I started the tournament. Today it's Saturday. So these two weeks I had one day doubles, one day singles. I didn't have any day off. I just had doubles, singles, doubles, singles, double singles till today, you know. Yesterday I had doubles. Today singles. Tomorrow doubles. So it's just like, you know, you just play some game, you know.

Q: Where are your parents now? Have you already spoken with them?

Svetlana: I speak really quick with my mom. They both in St. Petersburg. That's it.

Q: Was that on court?

Svetlana: My mom, no. They, you know, in the speech of my cell number, they think I'm not gonna pay my bill, you know. Last day, lately nobody can call me, you know. And I have now an American number but from America number I don't know what's going on, they don't let you to call to Russia. I can't call to Spain and I can't call to Russia. I didn't to talk my mom and my dad. I talk once with my dad during this tournament, you know.

Q: Do you have any special plans to celebrate?

Svetlana: I can't really celebrate because I have to play tomorrow. But next week I have to go to Bali, you know. Maybe I celebrate with Aranxta in Bali.

Q: You had kind of a tough time in the first round.

Svetlana: (Smiling).

Q: When did you start to believe you could win this tournament?

Svetlana: When I win matchpoint (laughter). No, just kidding. I was -- really, I think you shouldn't go to the tournament, if you don't believe you can do this, you know, shouldn't play. Depends what you want to do in your life, you know. Some players playing tennis just to earn money; some players just to do it because their parents want it; some players do it just to do something in their life. I want success. I want to do something, you know. I really want people to remember my name. I really want to do something, and so what I can do, you know.

Q: Three Grand Slams, three different Russian players. Do you have an answer what the success story is of Russian women's tennis?

Svetlana: You know, all the time they ask me the same question about Russian players. All the time my answer is same: It's competition between us. That's why we growing so fast. You see Myskina winning, you think I liked it so much? I had matchpoint against her. I want to do the same thing. I think I am able to do this, you know. The same about Sharapova, the same about all of us. Because when now, I spoke to Zvonareva. Now she says, "Now I'm ranked like Top 10, whatever, Top 12, and I feel like nothing," because in Russia she is only 6. I mean, the thing for us is to be good in Russia, I think. We want to play for our own country, you know. You just feel like this, you know. You want to be No. 1 in Russia, you know, so...

Q: Are you living in Barcelona full-time? What's the connection? Why did you end up in Spain?

Svetlana: I don't know if it's full-time. I just know it's my thing, you know. I have to do this, you know. I don't have chance to practice in St. Petersburg. I would love to go back, I would like to be there. I'm just -- I don't know, to be in Spain is just what people really like me. They want for me the best, you know. I mean, I just feel like this, you know.

Q: Originally, how old were you when you started to live there all the time?

Svetlana: I mean, I can't say I'm living there. I'm practicing there. I'm living where is my house, where is my car, where is my family. There I'm living. There I'm just practicing. I feel great there, you know. I feel like second home.

Q: You said you're going to go to the tournament in Bali. Are you concerned about the security situation in light of the bombing the other day at the embassy?

Svetlana: Did they?

Q: There was a bombing that killed nine people.

Svetlana: No, what happened, I mean, in this world, you never know. Why you don't ask me if I'm afraid to stay in America now? The same if I'm not afraid going to Russia now. It's the same thing everywhere. I went -- when I play here 2001 US Open, I think when it happened, on 11th of September, I left here. It happened with a flight from New York to LA on 11. I left New York 11 -- 10th. I was going to Hawaii to play tournament. When I get there, somebody wakes me up in the morning, says, "Look at the TV." I say, "What movie is that?" They say, "It's not a movie." When I played Bali two years ago, I leave there, after it happened, the party, you know, the bomb they make, you know, so...

Q: You were telling us earlier how you had all these different goals when you were younger, you made the Top 100 but you wanted more. You got to the Orange Bowl, then you wanted more. Now you're US Open champion.

Svetlana: Of course I want more (smiling). You can't get satisfied playing tennis, I think. It's the main thing about it, you know. You just all the time want to do more, you know. I mean, but just remember and think how was it to me. When I was starting, I was just practicing and I knew I have to like -- it's a day, nobody watching. It's like not interesting to play. And like the people who were coming around the court, I played with some like people, like friends of tennis. I had nobody to play with. I was thinking, "This man might be my sponsor, so I have to really try now to do something things good." I know he not gonna do anything. I was just trying mentally to make me work harder, you know, just to do something. And when I was like -- I was like 30, I was like, "No, no, no, I have to do hard. I have to do better. I have to do better." I was 10, "No, I want to do better." All the time, I find new goals for me. I think it's the most important thing, just to live for something.

Q: Now you have new goals? You have new goals now?

Svetlana: You know, I have to think it later on.

Q: Just before this press conference, I believe I saw you out on the practice court.

Svetlana: Uh-hmm.

Q: Why? How did it feel?

Svetlana: You know, it's tennis. It lives with me, it lives in me. I'm happy just to be every day here, just to live this life. After, when you get success, you even more happy, you know. I've been with Sergio playing Eastbourne this year. I had of won it. Every day we practice, and doesn't matter what time we finish, we hit every day. The same we did here. Every day. I have to play tomorrow. I have to clean up my shots. I have to lose everything I have inside, you know. I mean, just to be -- to relax a little bit, otherwise it stays in me, you know. I don't mind doing this, because it's my thing.


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