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2007 WTA Tour Champs. (Madrid): Sony Ericsson All-Access Hour

4th November, 2007

Q: Congratulations on qualifying. Many people would say that this is the best season you have ever had. If that's the case, why do you think it's happened this year and not before?

Svetlana: Well it's hard to say. It's my first time ranked No. 2 and I think it's a great achievement but I don't want to stop. I want to keep growing in my game and in my rankings but like 2004 it was a great year for me but I have basically won the US Open. Other tournaments I was not so consistent. It was mainly highs and lows. This year was more consistent and I played so many finals. I guess I have matured. People asked me what happened in 2005 and I say it was a tough year 2004 and maybe I was just not ready to take it as it was. I was too young maybe. Now I guess I take things in a different way. I try to improve on and off the court. I just feel more confident on the court and more confident in what I am doing in my life.

Q: Was that maturity a gradual thing rather than a change in attitude? It was something that happened slowly?

Svetlana: It's everything. I just grow, everybody grows and I think it's a very important age for me and my career and I'm making big changes for myself. I will get to know myself better and how I react. Definitely I take a better attitude to the court. I work a lot more in myself. It's the time to do that because when you are younger you just care about different stuff and now I just care about my achievements, about my future and I just try to do all the things possible.

Q: That working on yourself, do you do it by yourself or with other people?

Svetlana: No definitely not. I cannot do it by myself. I think it's always a team and it's many people involved in my life and even if they don't want to be involved sometimes other people are involved. It's hard to explain this thing. My coach is always there to help to me and I have many people who are there to help me.

Q: This is your 3rd time in the Championships and the last couple of times you went out in the round robin stages. Do you think that you are better prepared this time round?

Svetlana: Definitely. I have come better prepared in this tournament than in other years. I feel much fresher than I did last few years. I have come a better player that I did in past years, that's for sure.

Q: What do you like most about Spain? What are your best memories from our country? How do you spend your free time during this championship in Madrid?

Svetlana: I like a lot of things. I came here when I was 14 and it's just different. Spain is different to Russia and I have learned so much here. Like, just eh, do we have to do it in English or can we do it in Spanish? (To be more humble). I just to be more professional and to respect the people here. What I do in my free time here, well I'm trying to get used to the hours we are going to play because I am used to going to bed early and now I try to change all my day and I train in the night and it's tough because I fall asleep sometimes in the corridor. I am getting better so this is what I am concerned about now.

Q: You're No.2 in the world. Is there a feeling on the tour that Justine is, I wouldn't say unbeatable, but she is unreachable at the No.1 spot?

Svetlana: She is unreachable right now for this year because she has just different range. She played all the grand slams well and this is where all the point are so she has maybe 1000+ points more than me. She is not unbeatable but she has a big difference in the level of game and consistency over other players and she is very tough on the court. It's one of the goals of mine for next year to play good and play better grand slams.

Q: You've learned everything here and have trained many years here in Spain. How would you explain that there are coaches here capable of bringing out high level players like you but there aren't any Spanish players in the tournament, neither did they come close to?

Svetlana: It's a very difficult question. I think, when Russian people come here they are really looking forward to showing what they have. That's what happened to me. I came here when I was 14 and I knew that it was the last time my parents would give me money for training. I never had the chance to be sponsored. It was my last chance so it was matter of "now or never". People who grow up in Russia have a different personality because of the hard weather conditions. There are many rivals and it is this rivalry among Russian players that we grow a lot. In Europe, the personality is different. I'm ok with Spanish girls and they work a lot. But the principle is different in Russia than in Spain, because you want it or not and then you do it. In Spain, Europe and maybe the U.S. too, it is more flexible. You have many other opportunities. If tennis doesn't turn out well then you can do any other thing but for us it was our only way forward.

Q: Could you elaborate a bit about training at night and sometimes falling asleep on the court?

Svetlana: It was a joke. I was not falling asleep on the court. It's just different because normally if you get in a tournament to play one night match it's ok but here you got to play more. It doesn't matter what time you go to sleep, my father educates me to have hours of sleep where I go to sleep at 11 and wake up at 8 so it doesn't matter what time I go to sleep I'm going to wake up at 8 anyway. So if I don't have enough hours to sleep, you feel tired and not so focused so I've got to try to change this.

Q: You had a fantastic season and played some fantastic tennis. But I think you have been in 5 finals recently without winning them. Is there a reason for that or do you think about that at all?

Svetlana: I guess this is what I have to work for next season. I have got some amazing results this year. I've beaten great players but this is a final and I have to switch it on and be more focused. Maybe be more determined at more important moments in the end. This is what is going to make the difference to grow to a better different level. Definitely there is something mental. Every final is different final. I lost to Justine which I don't think it's an upset loss. Some finals I should have been winning and I didn't do that. This is something to work on.

Q: Do you follow any ritual before a match, any superstition?

Svetlana: My coach says I have this superstition if I go the restaurant and I win next day I want to come back but I don't really see the superstition I just want to eat good food. If it works for me it's cool but I'm not going to go crazy if I don't go to the same restaurant. I just like to listen to music before the match on my iPod or whatever and then just to warm up good and prepare mentally.

Q: What do you like least about training?

Svetlana: That some day you have really bad day and you have to pass this day and do it again. It's the most difficult thing for me.

Q: Tell us one of your flaws and one of your virtues, both personally and in your game.

Svetlana: A flaw I think is that I can easily loose concentration sometimes. And in the personal aspect, I think it is an advantage but a flaw as well because I'm really open with people and you have to be careful with that. A virtue, maybe that if I have a good day I can beat anybody. Outside the court, I don't know, maybe that I have a kind heart and never want to be mad at people.

Q: A dream?

Svetlana: To be number 1. In tennis, of course.

Q: There has been a lot in the news recently about match fixing in the men's game. Is that something that worries you in the women's tour as well?

Svetlana: It doesn't worry me as long as I am not involved in it. Everybody has to make this decision for themselves and I don't think it's the right thing to do, to sell the matches. I've never done it and I'm just out of it, I'm cool with it.

Q: Given your first steps in tennis were so tough, how do you feel now that you are number 2 in the world?

Svetlana: It feels great. I feel that hard work has its reward, that anyone can make their dreams come true. This is what I think children should know, that working hard every day as you must do, you can achieve what you want. You must never give up. On the other hand, I'm really proud of myself, of what I've achieved and of all the support I've received from my family. Those hard moments when they have been by my side... They have fought very much so I could be where I am.

Q: You've spent much time with Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in Barcelona. She's been your mentor in the circuit. How much is there of her in your game?

Svetlana: I don't know. I think we are pretty different as players. She plays more on the right. I have a better backhand. Sometimes when I do a parallel backhand I always remember her 'This is Arantxa's'. She did it perfectly. For me she was an example of how to fight on the court because she was always fighting. Even if she plays a different game than mine. I attack more and she was more the defensive type but she was an excellent player and I will always take her as an example.

Q: Next year we have the Olympic Games. Maria Sharapova has been helping as a sparring partner for the Fed Cup Team this year. How would you feel about her representing Russia in the Olympics when she hasn't played for it yet?

Svetlana: There's a rule that you have to play first a Fed Cup at least before being able to go to the Olympics but I'm sure, one way or another, Maria is going to represent Russia. This is my opinion. I don't actually know but this is what I think.


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