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May 15, 2017

Angelique Kerber

Rome, Italy

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How are you?

Q. Better how? How do you feel better?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I'm feeling much better. I mean, I did, like, a check after my match in Madrid, and I was actually lucky that it's not too bad and it was just like a muscle strain.

I had a lot of treatments the last days, a lot of hours with doing things. I'm feeling much better. I mean, I arrived last night. I practicing this morning. I'm feeling good.

I mean, yeah, I'm feeling good now after few days of really rest and treatments and checking with my doctors and everything. It was maybe a little bit more a shock moment in this moment, because -- yeah.

Q. So it just happened very suddenly at the end of the last game?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, it happened the last two points suddenly. At the end I think it was a good decision, because you never know what's happen when I'm playing and just making some movements or just a step, because it was -- I was feeling it, and I was still feeling it, yeah, few hours and few days after.

I think the treatments and everything I did the last days and hours, it helps me a lot.

Q. Did you get an MRI?

Q. As the No. 1 player in the WTA, do you have an opinion about Nastase participating in the ceremony at the tournament in Madrid?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I think it was, for sure, not the best reaction and also what he did. Yeah, I don't know exactly how everything happened and how he is because I don't know him, but for sure it's, yeah, not the best reaction and it's also a little bit sad at the end.

Q. Roger Federer is skipping pretty much the entire clay court season this year, maybe the French Open, also. Have you ever thought about doing that? It's a thing that players used to do a lot. Players who didn't like clay would skip all the tournaments and focus on Wimbledon for a long time. Does that idea appeal to you at all as a strategy?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Not really yet. I'm trying to just playing these tournaments, the bigger ones, and not more. But actually, I like to play a lot of matches. For me, it's important to have a lot of matches before especially a Grand Slam, to having a lot of confidence, and this is also the way I plan it. I planned it also last year. But I don't know to playing not few weeks. I don't know if I can do this.

Q. So you say "not yet." Do you think later in your career?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Maybe later when I'm getting older and need a little bit of rest, then yes.

Q. How hard would that be to take off, like, two months or more and just practice a lot, like an offseason, and come back, ready to go? For you would be Birmingham or something like that.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I never did it, but I think it's not so easy. Really, if you do like two months of just practice and time off and then going to a tournament, starting playing matches, it's not so easy. But I think everybody has their own schedule.

I think Roger is so great that he actually cannot play two months and then he is on court and he is just playing again the best tennis.

Q. As someone who is obviously a leader in the locker room and everything, when the tour turns to clay, I'm curious, who are the players that you, as a kind of collective group of players, think, oh, yeah, she's probably going to play well on clay regardless of form, regardless of everything? I mean, who are the players that the other players respect as clay-court specialists, in a way?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I don't know if I can say names now. I think there are a lot. I think there are a lot of players they are loving to playing on clay, running, playing like three hours' matches, and just, yeah, having a lot of rallies.

I mean, if you're on tour, you know who loves to play on clay and who not, really (smiling). But at the end, I think, for me, it's like, okay, it's not my best surface, but I just try to, yeah, to try my best on these few weeks and few months and I'm on this surface.

But I know also in the past I played good. I had good matches, as well, on clay. I just try to coming back there and, yeah, playing good on clay. You know actually who is playing better on clay.

Q. But do you think that you would have better results on clay if the clay season was longer, or would you be perfectly fine if it was shorter?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I don't know. I think I'm perfectly fine with this (smiling). But it's always, you know, how you do your schedule. For me, this year and also last year, I didn't have too many weeks to really getting ready for clay.

I mean, it's just after the U.S. trip you have to be ready for the clay court season, and if you have maybe like two, three more weeks to getting ready for the clay, also with your movements and to getting used to everything, and also, for the weather here in Europe is a little bit different, maybe this will be helping to playing then better the tournaments.

Q. Overall, how are you feeling about your year, 2017, so far? Obviously starting the year No. 1 there is a lot more attention on you than there was starting last year. How do you feel you have been dealing with all that? How do you feel about the results and everything overall?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I think of course it's maybe not the, yeah, the start I was wishing for when I start the season, but overall, I think that I have to get used to everything. Sometimes it's not so easy to doing everything and to getting used with the pressure and with everything you have on the shoulders as a top player, as well.

But I think it's really a big challenge for me this year. I learned so many things every tournament. Every tournament I learn, and this is what I will try to take it from this year. I mean, we have still few more weeks, but yeah, I mean, I tried my best.

Q. Has the pressure been different than you expected, the way it feels, you describe how you sort of sense that pressure?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, it feels different. I mean, of course, last year I just played and there was pressure, but this year is more like, okay, the expectations are bigger, I think, that I have to, yeah, maybe not winning every tournament but going far in the tournaments.

And this is what I'm trying to not putting on myself right now, because I did it also the first weeks that I put from my side a lot of expectation. But now, especially also on clay, the expectation, okay, but I'm really trying to doing my best the best I can. And this was also last year which brings me the best results and the best, yeah, year of my career to going there without pressure, without expectation, playing match by match and having the fun on court. This is what I will try to going back for it.

Q. Do you notice the pressure from media, from other players talking, friends, coaches? Where do you receive the pressure from?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I think this is tough to say from everything. I mean, of course from the media, the fans, from the coaches, the people around. I mean, everybody. Especially I think the biggest is from myself, because of course I know what I did last year, and I will try to do it again. But, yeah, the pressure and the expectation cannot be the biggest thing, because at the end you have to work hard on court during your practicing and then going out, playing every single point, because there are no presents, there are nothing. You have to be ready 100% in every single match. This is what I try to going back like I did it last year.

Q. Talking about the pressure, if you look at Murray or Djokovic and the problems they had to handle that kind of pressure, where do you see yourself? Closer to the situation of Djokovic that after he won Roland Garros in a way he was relaxed because his biggest goal that was missing, or Murray becomes No. 1, like you did, and also, after that, he has problems? I mean, between the two, just two different situations. They are not exactly the same. Would you say your situation is closer to one of them more than the other?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I don't know if I can say that I'm closer to one of them, because, I mean, for me it's also like a completely new situation. I mean, they are for such a long time -- I mean, Novak, he won everything. He played so well. So, I mean, he is also just a person.

Yeah, it's just trying to -- for me, I can't say where I am like closer, because I have a completely other story than they have.

Q. You got to No. 1 the first time at the US Open last year. You're back to No. 1 this week. Serena lost points from defending here. Champion here last year. Is it exciting for you to be back to No. 1 from No. 2 this week? At this point, does it not make a big difference in how you feel?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: You know, it's nice to being again No. 1, but this is not, you know, the goal. I mean, it's really important to having the wins on court. That's why I'm practicing again really hard on my practice sessions. And, yeah, you are looking forward to really winning big tournaments, winning matches, and having the feeling on court. This is what I'm looking now. I mean, of course it's a great feeling to being there again, but this is more where I have the goals right now.

Q. Do you think you're close to that feeling right now? Do you feel close to being back in that feeling of where you were last year and winning everything?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I think I'm getting closer. I'm getting closer step by step. Like I said, it's a new year, new challenges, but I think that I getting closer.

Q. Novak was saying that tennis tours are like machines and engines never stop, and that he needed some time to reflect on his achievements last year. Did you get this time to do that? Because you have achieved a lot last year.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I think after like everything I achieved last year, I had my time, but of course maybe it was too short a little bit. Maybe I was, like, when I'm looking back now to maybe taking one, two weeks more, to really, like, getting used to everything, but, yeah, you have to take your time. You have to take your time off during the year, as well, because every week we have tournaments, and if you achieve something, you have to really also have the feeling when you go back home and not, you know, going then again. Just being in the moment for at least few days.

Q. You could play Andrea next. I know you guys have had tough matches before. Can you talk about possibly playing her? She wrote an article about your rivalry. I don't know if you knew about this.

Q. Just talk about playing Andrea.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I saw it, but, like, we played in Indian Wells I think against each other, as well.

Yeah, I mean, if we are on court, we know each other -- actually, we know how the other is playing, but on court we try of course to win and to give our best, but off court, I mean, just directly after we are still talking and going for a coffee or something. We are still in touch.

I think there is not a big deal for us, because we played so many times against each other.

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