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March 10, 2018

Elena Vesnina

Indian Wells, California

E. VESNINA/C. Bellis

2-6, 6-1, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How relieved are you to get through that one?
ELENA VESNINA: I'm really happy that I won this first-round match. It's never easy to play first match in any tournament, and in this tournament especially for me.

So I'm really happy that I won, because CiCi, she's having a great season. She's only 18 years old. You know, when they announced that and they said highest ranking is 35 in the world, I was like, whoa, that's impressive. On the warmup I was thinking about that.

She has a bright future. She's a really talented girl, good fighter. Yeah, I'm just happy that I won this match.

Q. What was going through your mind after the first set? It went fairly quickly. What did you do to turn it around?
ELENA VESNINA: In the first set, I was actually doing everything right. I was just, I think, trying to hit very close to the line, because I know that she's a really good defending player. She's moving really well.

I was trying to be too close to the lines, you know. In the end of the first set, I called my dad and he told me just give your some space before the line. You have the whole court. Don't try to be too clean. And that's actually worked.

When I won those two games in the second set, I felt more confident after that and I started to play more free. Because in the first set, I was kind of tight and not really precise with my shots. Then the second set and the third set it started working well and my serve, as well.

Q. How does it feel to have a mural of you here?
ELENA VESNINA: Feels great (smiling). I'm having, like, a piece of art with my picture in it, I mean, with me on it. I just signed it, by the way.

It's just amazing, you know, and thank you very much to Mike Sullivan for this, for his work, for his time. I don't know how much time it took. It's really huge. Yeah, and I think I will have some little copy so I can put it in my house maybe somewhere, and it will remind me about this week.

Q. Talk a little bit about what it means to come back as the defending champion and if that adds more pressure or enjoyment or somewhere in between?
ELENA VESNINA: Everybody thinks that -- I mean, definitely pressure is here, yeah, but everybody is telling me, Oh, my God, you have to defend so many points, kind of we feel sorry for you.

I'm, like, Guys, we have to defend points every single week. I'm actually trying to get as much joy as I can from these two weeks here as a defending champion. I have portraits next to Roger Federer here. I have the mural, as well.

And a lot of attention, you know, people happy to see me back. You know, lots of fans coming for my practices and saying that they are big fans since last year. They remember this win and they wish me luck. I mean, that's great. I have to enjoy it now.

As well you need to find your game in the same time. It's not easy, but doesn't matter how it will go. I will enjoy my time here in Indian Wells, and I want to stay here as long as I can. And, yeah, that's what it is.

Q. Is there anything special about Indian Wells that you think that suits your game, would you say?
ELENA VESNINA: Yeah, I like the surface. I really like the surface.

You know that I didn't have a great record before here in singles. And I think my best result was third round couple of years in a row maybe. Doubles I, won like, three times. So I always thought that I like this tournament and it's great for my game, but only in doubles it was working fine.

So last year, you know, I already had some great results in the past, you know, in other tournaments. This tournament was always, for me, like one of the favorite. I was always happy to come back here, and I was always enjoying my time here. It's just, like, you know, just clicked. Everything worked in the right way for me this last year.

I knew that I could beat the good players. I knew that I have a game. This is the most important. When you know you have a game and you had some wins already in the past, just go for it, you know.

It's not easy to have, like, two weeks like I had last year. It's not easy to have it every single week, but you have to try, you know. You have to go for it, have to work in the practice, have to believe in yourself, and it's gonna happen.

Q. You said that CiCi has a bright future. Could you talk a little bit about what's strong about her game and the challenges facing her?
ELENA VESNINA: She's very concentrated on the court. You know, she can hit as many balls as she can on the other side of the ball with the same rhythm. You know, she's not getting panic, you know, like a lot of young girls.

Yeah, maybe today she was missing a little bit more, but I think because I put a lot of pressure on her with some of my shots. She was not feeling in her zone, you know.

But when she's running well, you know, putting a lot of balls back, and very, very concentrate. This is what I actually saw from the past, as well, from her matches on the TV and on some other tournaments.

Q. There aren't that many male players or ex-male players coaching on the women's tour. Is there anything with Dmitry that you feel you kind of want to teach him about women's tennis or change his mind about women's tennis?
ELENA VESNINA: Yeah, it is a little bit, because as I spoke with David already about that. Sometimes he's asking me to do some kind of shots or things on the big points. You know, you have to be like this, like that, and just hit harder, you know, just go and accelerate with the ball.

I'm like, Dimi, I'm not you. I cannot hit ball as hard as you are hitting that. I cannot play maximum from what I have, you know. This is my normal level, and this is how I'm going to play.

And he wants me to be more, like, more aggressive, you know, trying to be -- use more head of my racquet as much as I can. I'm like, I'm trying, but this is maximum I can do. He thinks that I'm not doing enough, you know. He thinks that I'm not giving it all. I'm, like, I swear I'm giving my all right now in the practice. I just can't do more.

Yeah, I mean, it's not easy for him, definitely. He needs some time to get used to woman tennis, but he's watching a lot of matches and knows a lot of girls already and he's getting better and better every week. Trust me, yeah.

Q. Your potential next-round matchups, one you know pretty well, and you've played Angelique a few times. What are your thoughts?
ELENA VESNINA: I know both of them really good. Ekaterina is my partner. And Angelique we played last year here. I definitely know I'm going to play against a lefty. That's for sure. So I know how to prepare already (smiling).

But it's going to be tough match for Ekaterina and Angie as well, because they played many times against each other and they have some history in the past. I don't know who's gonna win this match, but Angie is having a great beginning of the year and Ekaterina as well. She had some good wins already start of the year.

So it's going to be a very exciting match, and I don't think it's easy to pick the winner right away. We will see.

Q. You talked about calling your dad down. How do you make that decision to call him down versus Dmitry? Because obviously you have spoken with both of them?
ELENA VESNINA: I decided my dad would go on this tournament with me because he was with me last year here and it was working really good.

And I said to Dmitry that, yeah, let my dad be with me on this tournament because he know me so well. You know, that's why I call him in the end of the first set. He came and he was very calm, was very, like -- Dimi sometimes getting nervous when he's getting this on-court coaching thing. He has maybe lots of things to say and he need to pick the right one.

So my dad, he's coming. He knows already he will say this, that, and that. That's that. Just focus on this no matter what's gonna happen. Just focus on this. And I'm focussing and it's working. I'm playing tennis for so many years. You can't teach me to do something new, you know, when you're on the court, when you're a set down and nothing is working for you. You know, you can't do something incredibly, like, I don't know.

So you just have to think about point by point and think about something that has to, like, take your mind away from the score, you know. You just need to think about your game.

Q. Dubai. I just wanted your thoughts on Dasha's week there. How do you see her game developing since you're her "tennis mamma" and all?
ELENA VESNINA: "Tennis mamma." (Smiling.)

She's a very talented and sweet girl and big fighter. She's a fighter on the court. You can see that in the week of Dubai she had great comebacks in all the matches she played. She beat some great players over there when she was down in the set and the match point, like, couple of match points, and she was still able to, like, come back.

This week was really great for her and I'm really happy about her new partnership with her new coach. I think it's working really well. Yeah, she's 20-year-olds, and let's see, you know. I think this year she will break through. She needs to have results in the big tournaments, you know. She has the game for that.

Q. You have the potential of the doubles bonus. Is that in your mind at all?
ELENA VESNINA: Yeah, kind of. People telling about that, you know.

But, you know what? I never thought about money, you know, about prize money when I play tennis. It's always somewhere -- yeah, I know if I'm going to win the tournament, I'll get the big check. That's great. It never should be on your mind from the beginning. First you have to think about your game, about winning matches, tournaments, Grand Slams, gold medals.

You have to set these goals first, and then you need to think about that, because if you're gonna win that then you will get these kind of checks.

Definitely few players have the chance, and it's gonna be very difficult to win at both events. But we're still here, still alive in both events. I will try. I will try to do my best with my partner, you know. So we will see. Definitely it's a great bonus, and it will bring some more players in from singles to play doubles.

Q. Do you remember what you treated yourself to last year with the paycheck from here? Did you buy yourself anything?
ELENA VESNINA: Oh, yes. I bought a lot of things (smiling). I was keep going, you know, like the week later, two weeks later, this is I'm going to buy from my Indian Wells win. Like normal stuff for the girls. I got a lot of gifts for my husband, as well.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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