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March 19, 2017

Elena Vesnina

Indian Wells, California

E. VESNINA/S. Kuznetsova

6-7, 7-5, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Congratulations. Can you put your sport psychologist hat on for a minute and tell us how you were able to mentally turn that around in the second set?
ELENA VESNINA: Ah, I was down the whole match except the first set. I was up with a break twice and I had set point. I didn't use my chances there, and then she won the set and was 4-1-up.

I was kind of fighting to just stay longer on the court, you know, just don't give it so easy. I was telling to myself, You're 4-1 down. Nothing to lose. Just fight for each game, you know, try to win every point, you know, try to deserve every point, because she will not give you anything.

When I was down 4-2 in the third set, I know these kind of feelings when you're having so much chances and you're not using them, then your opponent will have one chance and she will use it.

So I think that's the situation what happened with Svetlana and me today, because she was up the whole match. She was up set 4-1, then 4-2 in the third. She had so many break points on my serve. She was 30-Love up couple of times on her serves.

And I always keep coming back. I stick there, you know. I was just not giving anything, you know, that moment. I was just -- I didn't thought about, like, the end of the match. I was just thinking about how to kind of get back into the game. You know, I was just thinking about that.

And when I broke her at 4-All and went to serve for the match, I had this in my mind. You know, I was, like, I'm not gonna give it. I went to serve, and I was, like, I never gonna lose this game.

I don't know how I have it in my mind, you know, serving for the championship point, championship game, you know, and don't be so nervous, you know. I was really -- that game, I was really calm. I was not thinking that if I'm going to lose this game it's going to be 5-All. I was not afraid to lose, you know, maybe for the whole match. I was just trying to play.

And I think Svetlana, end of the match, she was afraid to lose the match, and this is the difference maybe.

Q. Your serve has been so good throughout the tournament, but today it kind of wasn't, to put it nicely.

Q. What's your approach when you're relying on your second serve to keep you out of trouble? What kind of approach do you take?
ELENA VESNINA: Svetlana was returning really well today. She was putting a lot of pressure on me, on my serve, with her great returning. Sometimes she was going with the high, deep, topspin return. Sometimes she was going with the really sharp and flat crosscourt, you know.

She was always kind of keeping me, like, you know, keeping me kind of in the situation that I was not quite sure where should I serve, you know, in the big moments and the key moments. That's why I had couple of double faults on game point for her, because I was just kind of not sure, you know, where should I go?

I think I was just trying to serve more wide serve in the middle of the second set. I was going more wide. In the end of the match, when I kind of felt it, you know, I start to go more T. I was just trying to go for the flat, big, good serve. And even I was missing it, I was keep going there.

I mean, with Svetlana, you know, she's always -- she's such a fighter. She's always playing great in the finals and she has a good record against Russians. Somebody told me that -- I don't know why -- before the match. (Laughter.)

I was, like, Good to know. She has a good record against Russians. Okay.

She's a very smart player, as well. She makes you sometimes look silly on the court, you know, because using the spin slice. She's running around hitting amazing forehand inside-out winners.

And then she's changing her serve, as well. She was not serving all the time, you know, in the same directions and same speed, you know, same speed.

She was serving slices, topspin, flat, you know, all the time changing, all the time moving me around, you know. So it was really physical match today, as well.

In the end of the match, to be honest, I felt tired. But I was just not thinking -- I was, like, come on, don't think that you're tired. Maybe this is the only chance you can get in your life, you know, and you're thinking that you're tired? Just forget about that. Just fight and don't think about tiredness and about anything right now. Just play.

Q. You said when you beat Venus Williams, you said how proud you were about yourself when you handled the pressure at 5-3. Could that be the key moment? The turnaround of your tournament?
ELENA VESNINA: I think the turnaround of my tournament was when I beat Shelby Rogers. And I lost to her two times, and I beat her finally.

Hey, Shelby (smiling).

I mean, I guess every win for me here was a turnaround. Big win for me was against Angie Kerber. She's No. 1 in the world next week. She's a great player. I showed good tennis against her. I went there, and I just played really solid, clean, smart. I used my chances.

And against Venus, you know, it's never easy to play against her in the big stadium when everybody is supporting her. With her, you need to serve good, because she has the best serve, you know, on the tour.

When I had kind of couple of tight moments, I couldn't serve it out, you know. In the second set she came back, you know. And then I had this third set momentum when I was a bit kind of not sure, you know. I was still keep believing in myself. Even I knew that she's coming back. But I knew that I'm serving for the match. I'm up in the score. She needs to kind of fight it back, you know.

It's different when you're up in the score and when you're down and saving match points or set points. So, yeah, this is maybe -- I mean, all the matches were kind of the turnaround for me. Every single match was so difficult against such good players, you know. Every win for me here is just really, like, I will remember every win from this tournament here.

Q. Speaking of belief, and you mentioned Venus and also your opponent today, Svetlana, they have gotten back into the top 10 recently. Now you're on course, as well, to have one of your best singles years ever on tour. How have their examples helped you with belief in yourself?
ELENA VESNINA: They are the great examples. You know, Serena, Venus, Svetlana, there is a few other girls who is more than 30 on the tour, and they showing really high-level tennis. They are really fit and strong.

I think also in the mind, you know, they appreciate more what they have. They trying to enjoy more what they have.

Because when we were juniors, you know, all of us, I think, we were not kind of understanding, you know, the value what we have, that we are so lucky, you know, to play such a great sport. This is the best woman's sport, I think, for me, you know, in the world.

Right now, you know, everybody is really taking care of their health, you know, trying to recover. The level of the physical fitness and recovery is really on a different level now.

Everybody taking care of their health, about what they eating, same with Svetlana. She really change her diet, I think, for last couple of years. Me as well. I'm more healthy eating than when I was 17, 19 years old. I was eating all the crap. And now I'm also trying to be fit at the same time (smiling).

I think all these little things that makes the difference. That's why when you're 30, we are all 30 and showing our best tennis now.

Q. What was your reaction to that net cord at the end of the first set?
ELENA VESNINA: End of the first set? Oh, it was such a heartbreaking moment for me. I was, like, Oh, my God, I was fighting so much. We played set for more than an hour, This is how it's gonna end?

Q. After that net cord...
ELENA VESNINA: I kind of -- I even spoke with my mom after the match, and she was, like, Oh, my God, the net cord, the set point, and you looked a little bit down, she told me, in the beginning of the second set.

But that's true. I kind of lost that momentum, fighting momentum that I was taking to each game. I was playing kind of solid. I was trying to be consistent, you know, not giving her a lot of errors.

Even I knew before the match that I will have more unforced errors than Svetlana, because she's kind of -- she's really good on defending. I was watching her match against Karolina Pliskova, highlights. She was getting everything back. Same situation happened with me. She was making me play one more extra ball, lower ball, high ball.

When I lost first set, I kind of -- I started giving her a lot of unforced errors. I start missing a lot, started missing a lot of shots from -- first or second shot. It was no long rallies like we had in the first set.

Then when the score was 1-4 and I was 1-4 down, I just thought that I had to stop doing so many mistakes. I have to stay a bit longer on the center court, you know. I was not thinking, you know, that I will win this match in that moment, to be honest. I was just thinking that I want to stay longer. I just want to fight. I just -- I don't want to give it back so easy.

Q. A year ago you leave here after losing in the qualifying. Could you have even, in your craziest moment, think you'll be leaving this year with the trophy?
ELENA VESNINA: Tennis is awesome, I can say. That's what we have, you know. I think that my example is the good kind of self-belief, like, good kind of vibe for all players, you know.

All other girls, you know, on the tour who think, Oh, my God, this is the end of the world, end of my career, I lost first round of quallies, what can be worse than that?

You can regroup and get back. You know, you can just play the best sport you have, what you're doing for all your life. You know, you gave so much to tennis. I gave so much to tennis.

As I said before, I had, last year, kind of few tough momentum when I was playing, coming from qualifying, having a lot of matches and trying to kind of win these matches. I was not thinking about my ranking at that moment, I swear. I was just thinking about my game, you know.

When I had couple of good wins against the good players, I was, like, Okay, this is it. I have it. So just remember this. Remember your shots. Remember your kind of feelings on the court when you were winning these matches. Try to keep it as long as I can.

But it's difficult. We have a lot of tournaments, and I had a lot of matches. And even when I thought that, you know, I kind of lost this kind of feeling, then the Wimbledon came. I made that semifinal run, and it gave me a lot of confidence, because I was waiting for this kind of Grand Slam run, you know, long run for all my life. I was kind of going there. It was close but not close enough, you know. I couldn't do that.

And now here I won the title, and this sounds like a miracle, you know, for everybody, for you guys, for me, for, I think, all the girls out there.

I think nobody could pick me at the beginning of the tournament that I could win this title. Me, also. I couldn't pick myself (smiling).

But then when I was kind of getting closer to this stage, and even today, you know, I knew that Svetlana was -- she was the favorite of the match. I was just -- I was, like, I don't care. I just want this title really much.

Q. We know it sounds like a miracle, but really there is a lot of hard work that goes into what you accomplished today. In the past year, is it more of a physical effort or more of a mentality?
ELENA VESNINA: I think in the last couple of years it's more physical and mental part, as well. Like few -- not few. A lot of people were saying that I got married and then it changed my -- I don't know -- personality. I changed my life.

We better ask my husband if I changed or not before and after the wedding (smiling). Maybe I start to be (growling). No, I'm not. Didn't change.

But in the last couple of years, I didn't change anything in my team. You know, I had the -- my dad is always with me. I'm working with Andrei Chesnokov. I have my physio working with me all the time. My fitness coach back at home in Russia.

They were always saying to me I have the game. You have the game. You have the shots. You are such a positive person. They were always saying to me, You're never going down. You're always fighting till the end.

I have it since I was a kid, but you just need to pull this in the tournament consistently through the match by match. That was the most difficult part for me. I could play, like, amazing couple of matches, and then I can have really frustrating loss.

This is it. This is why top 10 players, you know, they are on this high level, these big champions, because they are playing match by match. Even when they playing bad, they keep winning. This is the big difference between top players and the other players.

I think these two weeks I was playing great. But even when I had the bad moments, I was still winning. I was able to kind of turn it around. Like today, I was not playing, like, the best tennis in my life, like, in the first maybe two-and-a-half sets, but I was just fighting. That's what happened at the end.

Q. Can you make a comparison between what you achieved the last year in doubles and this tournament, this trophy?

Q. Yeah. What could be difference?
ELENA VESNINA: This means a lot. This is the biggest title for me in singles. Biggest title and the biggest final I ever played.

And I won it. Of course it's going to be -- I mean, it's going to take the big part in my heart.

But the doubles last year, it was different. The Olympic gold medal, Courtney, we're talking about that again, the gold medal. It's always going to be somewhere on the top, top level, because it's dream of my life, dream of my life and of my partner. We were going there, you know, thinking about this medal. Then we won the championship in Singapore, which is also huge.

But this win here in BNP Paribas is something I have been dreaming for all my life to have such a big title. Only the Grand Slam is bigger, the only thing that can beat, you know, this win.

I'm really happy about this win.

Q. For the second time in a row I think we have had two very good women's finals and maybe two slightly more straightforward men's finals. There was a lot of criticism on Twitter that the women's final was taking up and delaying the men's final. You were battling out there for three-and-a-half hours. Could you give me your point of view of how frustrating that must be to put it all out there?
ELENA VESNINA: People will always be upset. Either it's a short final, now we have a long final. I mean, they put us in the schedule at 11:00 a.m. We play final at 11:00. We showed the great match out there, you know.

It was a big fight. I think in Russia they showed the whole match. And I will tell you, to be honest, in Russia we don't have tennis at all on the TV live on the main channel.

So I think that's great for woman's sport, great for woman tennis. Me and Svetlana, I think we should proud how we actually were fighting and the quality of the tennis was really high.

Even people will say, Okay, the next final was a little bit delay. Come on, guys. You know, you had one of the best match in the final you can have, you know. It was, like, ups and downs. And the underdog won, you know, (smiling). I think this is the best scenario. Then you still have Roger in the final. You still will see him, you know. I think he won. I don't know if he won or not.

It's always going to be like this. People will be upset about something, you know. But in the end of the day, the woman tennis will play three-sets match, like, nothing -- not many people were expecting that I could win this match. It was so -- I think, till the end, you couldn't pick the winner. I think it was so interesting and so exciting to see this final. I'm proud of what we did with Svetlana today.

Q. Do you think that this is kind of one of those wins that sends a message in the locker room? Like they're paying attention, the lower-ranked players, not necessarily top players?
ELENA VESNINA: Yes. The lower-ranked players always need to believe that they can beat these big players. It's not easy, you know, to beat a lot of them through the whole tournaments, you know, but I think, yeah, this message will go in the locker room.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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