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October 27, 2019

Daniel Dobre

Shenzhen, China

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Daniel, when Simona won Wimbledon, she said you were very emotional. Talk about how you felt when she won.
DANIEL DOBRE: All the time when I start coaching, I was dreaming about this moment. It was a surprise that Simona wanted to work with me this year after she start the year alone. It was a surprise. We didn't get big goals. We just get the goals to improve the game.

Arriving at Wimbledon, playing so good, winning the final, it was amazing. Not only the final, also the opponent. To beat Serena Williams in that moment, it was over the expectation.

In the same time, I was let's say happy because it was the second time I was on her side when she beat Serena. First time was in Singapore 2014. It was first time she beat Serena. I was with her that time also.

It was, let's say, déjà vu, but a bigger level because that was a round-robin match, now it was a final. Yeah, it was nothing that you can think about before. It's just a spontain react [sic].

Q. You've known Simona for a long time. How different is she now than she was even back in 2014, or when you first met her?
DANIEL DOBRE: The difference are big. The main things, her main behavior, they are there. She's a fighter, she's very ambitious, focused, very intense in everything what she's doing. Doesn't matter if you are on the court or outside the court, she's all the time 100% there.

But she learn a little bit more about her feelings on the court, about her feelings outside the court. The beginning she was upset if the people were speaking bad, if the people didn't understand her really behavior, her really essence.

Now she can go over. This is one thing that was really difficult for her. She was reading about paper, reading about what the people said. It was not really good.

The other thing, she was upset always she was losing matches. Sometimes you couldn't speak with her after one lost match two or three days. She was really sad about it.

Now it's not that she don't care if she loses, if she loses she cares a lot, but she learned a little bit to control better the emotion. Even today she lost, tomorrow she can start again, she can start preparing the next game.

It's also because she achieved almost all her targets. It's easier for her to accept. The next week it will be another one.

The other thing, outside the court she is more open. She's ready to try new things. Doesn't matter if you speak about a new restaurant, about visiting something. It's open also to meet people. I think you observe already she is speaking better. She is often also with the journalists.

It's something like a maturity, but in the same time she work a lot. She work with mental coach. Darren help her a lot because the Australian style of life, it's different about Romanian. He's more positive. She want this. She know it is better for her. She knows also the behavior outside of the court will help her tennis.

Q. How is she health-wise coming into Shenzhen? How is the back?
DANIEL DOBRE: The back was okay. We played easy five days last week. This week was almost full. We did some therapy in Romania. We did some not injection, but some perfusion, some exercise special for the back. She get rest.

Right now she's feeling good. She's happy to be here. Last year she couldn't play. She's happy to go on the court. We're waiting the first match. We are positive she can handle it.

Even maybe she is not 100% prepared physically, mentally and emotionally she's here.

Q. With Darren being back, how is the dynamic with the team different?
DANIEL DOBRE: Normally it's like Darren was upset for three days and he came back. Look, the contact was all the time there. Even me, even if I wasn't two years in the team, I was speaking with Darren about different things. It's not like a stranger, it's like a family. From the first moment, it's helping us. He was helping the whole year, even if it was a telephone or good advice or just a hello.

Everybody was missing him. It's just welcome. From the first moment, he find his place like before, like he was never gone.

Q. I've spoken to many Romanian journalists. They try to explain to me what Simona means back home, how significant she is there. I've never been there or seen the Simona mania. Help us understand how big of a sportswoman and figure is she back home?
DANIEL DOBRE: First you need to understand the sports situation in Romania. Romania was let's say communist time before '90. It was one of the biggest sport countries in the world. In the Olympic Games we were top five all the time, have champions gymnastics, handball, football, everything. Right now we just have Simona at that level.

We have in handball the women's team. She is about top 10 in the world. One time in the final of the world championship. In the rest they are average.

That's why our like say future good sports champions are gone. Only Simona is there. If you think all the attention that before was for let's say hundred big sports people, now is going to Simona. It's unbelievable.

Right now everywhere she's going, everybody knows her and everybody wants a photo, everybody want to speak with her. She get all the time let's say also some problems with the people because if she won one time, everybody think she can win all the time. When she was losing matches, they were very bad to her, really bad things were written in the newspapers.

After the Wimbledon, her position is much bigger now. Everybody is, Okay, she won one time Roland Garros, it was just a surprise, she's not able to do it. They saw how good she was in Wimbledon.

Nobody won Wimbledon from Romania. Even Ilie Nastase was so good, so big. Virginia Ruzici, No. 7 in the world, won Roland Garros.

So it's very difficult to describe. The presentation of the trophy in the stadium, 30,000 people there. There are football games where you don't find 30,000 people.

Is huge her position because there are not other good sport there. But also because she's like a model, the way she is training, the way she built her career. She was giving everything for tennis. She didn't get lifestyle like other girls are doing. She just focused on tennis.

It's a value of work. In Romania we don't have so many examples like this. Romania is a country where the work is not so good appreciated. If you can live good without working, that is the best thing. It's not nice to say this, but this is Romania right now.

The example that Simona is giving is an example that you can achieve everything if you work hard and if you believe. So many people appreciate this.

Q. You said she's pretty much achieved everything she sort of set out in terms of goals. How do you keep her motivated for next year? What is the plan to look ahead?
DANIEL DOBRE: Normally there are two goals that she can achieve. One is Olympic medal, next year Tokyo. I heard her, she play all three - singles, doubles, mixed - in trying to get a medal. She was playing good with Tecau mixed. Doubles she won some title with Begu.

The second one was the Fed Cup. This year was really close. If you remember the match against France she played singles and doubles, unbelievable. It was a big goal. I hope she will try to achieve this goal next year or maybe two years later, I don't know.

Also it's a goal to play her best tennis. I think she has a lot to improve. She wants to improve technically, tactically. She's hungry to play the best tennis. She won many tournaments she was not playing all the time the best tennis. She was winning a lot of matches fighting, winning a lot of matches being clever on the court. She get a lot of possibilities to improve the game, to play better.

She's very ambitious. At the same time she like the new goals. The goal is to play better tennis. Is not to win this tournament or that tournament, is to play better tennis. I think she's very intelligent and she can do it.

Q. Simona's first match tomorrow is against Bianca Andreescu. What do you make of her game? How do you prepare Simona for that one?
DANIEL DOBRE: Bianca, it was a surprise for everybody. Now everybody knows how good she is and everybody knows how difficult is to play.

The first goal I think is to find her rhythm. The last month didn't play so many matches. I hope she will not get scared about her back and she will go full from the beginning.

Bianca can play unbelievable. If you don't take care, she can go quickly over. I don't know, it's 4-Love or 5-Love if you don't take care of the beginning.

The first thing is to trust her physically condition, yeah, and to find the match concentration. If Simona do this, she can play everybody.

The other thing is to play her game and to not let Bianca to make her own game. Bianca is playing very aggressive, but at the same time she is playing smart. She is talented, can mix the game. That's why Simona need to be focused on each point, she don't need to care if she will get some unbelievable win or unbelievable dropshots. Just focus on the point and try to win the game let's say at the level where she likes, from the rhythm, from the length of the rallies, things like this.

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