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May 27, 2015

Mirjana Lucic


7-5, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Weren't you worried that because of this surface instead of hard courts at the Open it was going to be a more complicated match?
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: I mean, I wasn't worried. I knew it would suit her better than me, this surface. But I love clay. I grew up in Croatia playing on clay my whole life. I'm really comfortable. I do prefer it much faster, but I played really well. When I play really well, it works on any surface.

Q. If you see, Martina Hingis is playing here in doubles. Do you look at each other and say, Hey, we're kind of eternal forces, we will never leave the game?
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: No, I don't think so. Yeah, we have been out there for quite some time, and I'm really enjoying my career right now, especially.

Q. Simona Halep must bring out the best in you after a difficult period, again.
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: Yeah, I mean, today when I saw the draw and I saw who I was playing second round, I knew it was going to be really tough. I was going to have to play a great match again and back up sort of what I did at the US Open. Because, you know, sometimes people say, Oh, it's one day everything went in, and I don't look at it like that. I know I played really well. I have been working really hard, and I knew today I had to play some great tennis. I was ready for it. I have been feeling really good also in practices. Even though my results haven't really been that great lately, I have been feeling great. I knew just it's a matter of a moment coming, you know, winning few matches and results are gonna come. I'm glad I was able to do that again today.

Q. Speaking of your results, last week was obviously one of the toughest matches probably to take.
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: Yeah, I was so hoping nobody brings that one up (laughter).

Q. Sorry, but my question is positive. How do you turn that around? That was tough mentally.
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: It was really tough. I mean, I would like to say that it's, you know -- I would like that nobody saw the result, that nobody knows about it, but it's obviously tough. I was playing amazing tennis last week, and so is Madison. She's playing best tennis of her career and very confident. I was playing great, and at 5-Love she let her hand go and started hitting some winners. I had one bad service game and then I got a little bit tight. Nobody likes to admit, but it happens. Still I was happy because we played a really competitive third set, as well. So that shows mental toughness on my part that I'm really happy with, that I have been working on. Even though I lost, I had a couple of glasses of wine that night (smiling). I knew I am playing good tennis, so I said, Okay, fine.

Q. So it is the French wine after all?
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: Maybe it's the French wine (smiling).

Q. When you had those great results in New York, seemed like it was a real emotional kind of breakthrough for you and maybe something released after all those years away. Is this a bit more sort of like business that you are sort of delighted to have won but it's not quite such a landmark? How does it compare?
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: Well, I mean, at the US Open was the first time in a really long time that I've had a really good result like that. So I was extremely emotional. Everything just kind of hit me at once. Now I'm, after seeing that video a few times of my press conference, I'm trying to hold it together a little bit better. No, I don't hide my emotion. This is who I am. And I was really so happy I shed a few tears today on the court, as well. I don't try to hide that.

Q. Did some publisher ask you to write the biography about your life?
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: A few times, yes. But I feel until it's the end, really the end, and if it goes kind of the way I would like it to go, maybe one day. But it's still not -- it's still not something I'm interested in at the moment.

Q. What did you see from Halep today? Anything different from New York? Seems like a lot of times she was keeping the ball pretty much where you like it, right in the middle of the court in your strike zone, and you were doing whatever you wanted.
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: Yeah, I mean, she was -- I think she was trying a couple of different things, and I was just trying to stay aggressive and play smart and serve smart and not so much -- anyway, I can't tell you what I did because -- no, I just tried to play really smart, really well and aggressive, not let her do what she likes to do. She moves the ball around really well. She's an amazing athlete and super tough opponent. I was glad I was able to stay aggressive but not make too many unforced errors. That was the key for me.

Q. You said when you play well you can play well any surface, doesn't matter. How do you explain you keep this confidence and how do you keep the patience for the sport after all you have been through?
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: I really do love this game, especially after last week when I must have said that night a thousand times, I hate tennis more than anything in life (laughter). You know, it's a lot of emotions, for sure, up and down, but I really do love the game. I always did since I was a child. Sometimes the way things happen in life, it's difficult to handle everything. There is a lot of pressure on the court as it is. I really do love the game. So as long as I can and as long as my body allows me to, I'm going to keep fighting and keep playing. It's moments like this, like today, it's just so amazing, full court playing against one of the best tennis players in the world and winning. It doesn't get better than this.

Q. You have been away for so many years. Do you have the feeling time is running away and you have to enjoy every day of it or is it different, I can play tennis until I'm 40 or whatever?
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: I don't think I'm going to play until I'm 40 (smiling). I'm going to enjoy right now as much as I can. Yeah, I missed a few years, and it's unfortunate. I feel like I missed my best years, for sure. There is nothing I can do right now. There is no point of thinking about it too much. Just enjoying right now where I am.

Q. Do you still look back at the 17-year-old sometimes and see what she did? Is she still inside of you or did you forget all about the past?
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: Well, I mean, it's a part of my life, so of course I remember it very well. When I look at it, I'm very proud of the things I have achieved so young. I was a little kid. When you're a little kid -- it's amazing really to me when I look at young kids, if they are 150 and improving, I think it's amazing. I think it's a lot of pressure. It's not easy to do that. When I remember what I did, it's, I mean, I'm very proud of that little girl, yeah.

Q. It says in your bio if you weren't playing tennis you'd want to be an archaeologist. Can you talk about that and your love of history?
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: I love history. Since I was a very little girl, it was something I was very interested in. We have some ruins in Croatia, some old Roman ruins, and when I was a little kid I wanted to dig. My parents were like, You cannot just go dig. It's not allowed. I said, Why not? It's there. It's nobody's. I was a little bit stubborn as a child. It's something I really love, I love finding out about history, finding out the way people lived. It's one of the reasons Rome is my favorite city. I would pay just about anything to be able to dig around a little bit there and experience that part, as well.

Q. You are Croatian, and then you became American. You have an Italian husband, as far as I know, a restaurant or something. I would like you to tell us what you have of each nationality. What is your best Croatian quality and weakness, and what is best Italian and best American and worst?
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: Well, when people ask me, I say I'm international. I lived for 16 year years -- I was born in Germany, first of all. So you forgot that, as well. I was born in Germany. I lived my whole life in Croatia, my parents are Croatian. I am 100% Croatian through and through. I think my temper proves that. So that's the good and bad. We are stubborn, we are tough, we are fighters. Mostly positive things. Sometimes it can be little negative, you know, being temperamental, but I'm very proud of where I come from and who I am. And then, of course, living in States, I think it's the greatest country in the world. I think there is so much freedom and there is so much acceptance and there is so much -- you can just live your life free as you wish, how you wish, and I respect that. I appreciate that a lot. I really miss it, also, when I travel. One bad thing about States, I would say a little bit, they miss really good salami, really good cheese. No, but my husband's restaurant, that's good. We have that. But, yeah, I miss a little bit of culture, of course. That's why I love coming to Europe always. Yeah, my husband is Italian. I don't know what to say. My sister also married an Italian, so we have two in the house and my mom said, Please, to our third sister, just don't bring another Italian in the house. Too much. Three Italians would be too much.

Q. I have no chance with your sister?
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: No. You are already Italian, so not good. No, I'm very lucky. I have a husband that loves me and that I love more than anything in this world. I feel happy. Yeah, I feel like I'm international, a little bit of everything.

Q. You said only good things about Italians. Some wrong ones --
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: No, Italians are really good. Only they should open stores before 3:00. They shouldn't be closed that much.

Q. And Monday?
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: And Monday and Sunday. They should take a little bit from Americans, have little longer open hours.

Q. You say how happy you are with your life now. I just wondered, can you pinpoint the moment at which things began to turn again in an upward direction for you after the tough times you had?
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: Well, I mean, that's kind of a difficult question. I don't think there is a date or something. The day I left Croatia was 24th of July, 1998. I left my family, and I was able to have peace and love. I was able to live with my family really happy, and I think that was when everything went good for me.

Q. You talk about history. What do you carry on from your past, from your story, which is the good things, you carry on useful now for the present and future?
MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI: A lot of strength. I take a lot of pride in what I went through in my life, the difficulties. And I know -- I think I know for a fact that a lot of people couldn't do it, what I went through and come back and fight the way I did and do things. So I take a lot of pride in that. That I was stubborn, that I believed in myself enough and I was strong enough to be here today, because it's really pretty nice.
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