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French Open (Paris): win over Aiko Nakamura (JPN) in first round

27th May, 2008

Q: Very strong serving performance today under very heavy conditions on the court. Were you concerned about the conditions on the court? Were you concerned going on court with the conditions, because you hit the ball so big, that it would not be your best conditions?

Svetlana: Well, you know, I hit the ball big, but I also do hit heavy. And when the ball with these conditions was very heavy, it was very comfortable for me. Her ball was flat and slow, and I had -- I did so many errors not going to the ball, because it was way slower than I expected it to be. And then it was just weird. I was starting to imagine it was raining a little bit, and I was, like, Oh, I hope we can play. What we do? We go? And thinking about this I realized I lost first game. I then I said, Come on. I got to play the match. I got into the game. I was a bit weaker in the second set. First few games I didn't play very well. I could've break her. But in the end I was pretty consistent, and I'm pretty happy with the outcome.

Q: Do you know that Justine Henin just picked you to win this tournament? She said that she would like you to win this tournament.

Svetlana: No. I spoke to Justine before, and I had very good relationship with her, respected her when she played. Now I respect her with her achievements. She was one of the best athletes, and it's really sad she leaving. But I respect her decisions, and I had a short chat with her when she was here. She said, Come on, maybe it can be your year. Yeah, she cheered me up, so it's good. So I thank her for that.

Q: You have had some awfully good results going back to last August at New Haven. You've reached three finals already this year, so you're playing very good tennis. At some point, we're waiting for that one major victory that gives you a title. Have you thought about why you're not able to go that final step? Are you thinking about what you have to do more?

Svetlana: Definitely I am thinking. I'm thinking about being consistent and hoping this moment will come. I think working hard and doing things every day, and reaching finals, I going to get this stage one day. Because I do the best effort I can, and one day should happen. I was thinking about it, trying to improve things, and I'm pretty confident with myself.

Q: How much does this surface matter here amongst the top players? Do you still expect all the top 5, top 6 to go deep in the tournament, regardless if it's clay?

Svetlana: It's very important. With these balls, if you serve well, you're pretty in control of the point.

Q: No, what...

Svetlana: Sorry. Maybe I didn't get the question. (Laughing.)

Q: What I'm getting, is with the top women's players, does having clay really matter, or do you still expect yourself and Maria and Ivanovic and Jankovic...

Svetlana: Did you ask us how serve is important?

Q: Surface.

Svetlana: Surface.

Q: Surface, I'm sorry.

Svetlana: It's different. It suits more to some players; it suits less to other players. Like for Maria, it suits more maybe grass court. For me, maybe more clay court. We're all different. It's all different draw, different opponents. Everybody is different players. So it's pretty unpredictable now with things, I think, because everybody can play really well. And I think last month before French Open the results were pretty also unpredictable. The top players didn't win much tournaments. So I think a really unpredictable tournament can happen.

Q: How many, with Justine out now, realistically, how many players - and you don't have to name them - do you think, realistically, could win this tournament?

Svetlana: I think five, more or less.

Q: And those would be the top five or...

Svetlana: You say you don't need names. I say five, and then you say it's going to be top 3 or top 2. So, I mean... (laughter.)

Q: Not names, numbers.

Svetlana: Numbers. You guys always want numbers, but it's nothing about numbers. It's about the day and about how you play and about how everybody going to be in shape or not. Definitely, it's one of top -- it can be won maybe black horse out of 15, and three, four, five players out of top 10. That's okay for numbers.

Q: When you played Serena in Miami, you really, really fought hard, even though you lost. Did that match mean anything to you just in terms of how well you battled against her?

Svetlana: Yeah. I think I had my chances. She played better on that day, and I was -- I had really long run. I played four weeks in a row, you know. I was pretty -- in pretty good shape, so definitely matter, that match. It was a big match. I was fighting hard. For me it's very important that I go out there and do everything. Going out on the court some days opponent can play better and you can do some errors, you know.

Q: But she intimidates a lot of people. Seemed to me in that match you weren't intimidated by her at all.

Svetlana: I don't think I get intimidated by anybody, you know. The top players intimidate the rest. But top players don't get that intimidated of top players, no? I don't know. It's how seems it to me.

Q: You say you were close with Justine, respect her a lot. Given your record against her, is there a little part of you that's not disappointed to see her leave the game?

Svetlana: What you want me to say? I'm happy she left or I'm not happy I cannot battle her again? (laughter.) Which one you want to hear? No, I mean it's happened. It's past. It's past. I cannot change it. You know, she decided to leave. I respect that, and that's it, you know. I'm not going to say I'm happy; I'm not going to say I'm sad because I'm not going to play her again. It's not about that. It's just about one more great player leaving the game.

Q: What did you do this morning, waiting for the match to start?

Svetlana: I was chatting with players in locker room a little bit. I try to stay inside in locker room because it was so crowded in players' lounge. I read, I listen to music, eat, warm up. That's it.

Q: Things you usually do?

Svetlana: Yeah.

Q: Often when we show up at the Slams we see two or three new Russians that maybe we have never seen before, know very little about. Is it the same for you? Do you come to the tournament and then you see girls from Russia that you've never seen before in your life?

Svetlana: Some of them. Some of them, but only few. I know more or less juniors who are coming, and before I used to know every single girl because I was interested in the results and other tournaments and checking every time. Now I never check, and I don't know. When I see some girls talking Russian, or when they walk in the locker room I try to figure out if it's Russian or not. So I make sure I ask somebody, who is that, that does understand me. But there is few players I don't really know. In Grand Slams there are more players like that.

Q: The weather is pretty unpredictable out there, and you're very fortunate to get your match in today. It's still early in the tournament. There are still 12 days after this. But is it significant that you got your first round match in where other players still have not played?

Svetlana: Yeah, definitely. I think it's very important, and I'm really happy. I had to wait a little bit. I was first. I was lucky with that, that I haven't been cancelled. I get in my match, so I have the rest of the day to relax, to take it easy, and tomorrow I practice and get prepared for my next match.

Q: There is three players from Serbia here, you know. Can you see any of them as a winner of Roland Garros?

Svetlana: Yes, definitely. Ivanovic or Jankovic going to win. We are losers. No, I mean, definitely I think they all have good chances. Jelena plays well, Ana plays well. And Novak, he won in Australia. Definitely it can happen.

Q: Is it possible to see both of them, a man and a woman?

Svetlana: Everything is possible. Nothing is impossible, right?


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