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July 20, 2003

Chanda Rubin


MODERATOR: Chanda Rubin and Zina Garrison for questions.

Q. Chanda, can you talk about the gratification of advancing the United States with your win.

CHANDA RUBIN: It feels great. I definitely wanted to come out and get the victory and really just end the matter, even though we're still playing the next two matches. I wanted it to be 3-0 when Meghann went out there. So it was important for me to really get it together after a shaky start. I was happy I was able to do that and run the third set out.

Q. The basic forehand into the net seemed to plague you for about a set and a half there. What adjustment did you make, if any? Was it driving you crazy that you kept hitting that shot right into the net?

CHANDA RUBIN: I think the biggest thing for me was the backhand, and I thought I was missing a lot more backhands. Actually started pressuring myself a little too much on the forehand when I did get a shot. I just had to stay relaxed out there and really look to try to attack and not get in so many long, drawn-out rallies. But, you know, she really slowed the pace up and she really made me grind in a lot of instances. So for me, it was just giving myself a little more space and really being able to hit out on my shots, and mainly the forehand, which I started hitting much better.

Q. USA has been undefeated since 1963 versus Italy. Did you feel any kind of pressure coming into today's game because of that?

CHANDA RUBIN: No, I didn't realize that (laughing), no. I mean, you know, as a player, you just want to go out there, you want to win. You want to win when you're in the U.S.. And it is Fed Cup, so you do feel the fact that you're playing for your country and under the flag. But you still want to just go out and win - just like any other match and just like any other tournament. You want to go out and play well and have a victory.

Q. Chanda, you watched the first set yesterday. You've never played Francesca before. What were you expecting coming into this?

CHANDA RUBIN: I knew that -- she served well yesterday, which surprised me a little bit. I shouldn't have been as surprised today when I saw it, because she served well today as well. And I also knew that, you know, she would try to slow up the play a little bit. She likes to hit her forehand, likes the forehand cross-court, and she actually played that pretty well today. But, you know, for me, was just a question of how many errors I was gonna give her versus the winners and versus me really attacking and letting that play a larger part of my game. I was a little bit slow getting to the net early in the match. I think in the third I definitely attacked more, and, you know, it showed in terms of the score.

Q. Chanda, could you talk a little bit about game ten, when she had the breakpoint to get back on serve and you turned it around and won the set to even it. And then in the third set, could you just talk about, she kept it close, all those games were close, but could you tell a difference there?

CHANDA RUBIN: I felt like I had more momentum in the third set. And I believe, you know, the game where I served for the set was an important game and I really needed to stay on top and keep that advantage because I was able to get the break, finally, after struggling with some breakpoints on her serve in the first and second set. So it was important for me to close out the set at that point and just stay relaxed. It was easy for sort of nerves to come in when it's real close to leveling the match and, you know, you want to win, you have the crowd, the fans and everyone behind you. It's a very different experience for me. But, you know, was just a question of really staying relaxed at that point. And once I did that and I got the second set, I really felt more confident and I felt better. I knew that, you know, I wanted to be even more aggressive. So that's what I focused on, and it worked out.

Q. Can you talk about coming on to this team a little late, and then ending up being one of the big anchors on the team, winning two singles matches, playing in the third doubles match. Talk a little bit about the difference between team tennis play and individual tennis play.

CHANDA RUBIN: Well, I was late coming on to the team, but, you know, I'm happy to have been able to come out and really play such a large part, and in the victory. And, you know, that was the goal. Once I decided I was gonna play, that was my focus, you know - coming out, giving my all, and, you know, hopefully making that translate into victories. But in terms of the comparison, you know, from team play to regular tournaments, it's totally different. It's something you just have to accept going out there. For me, I'm usually pretty mild-mannered and try to stay fairly calm, so it's very crazy out there when you hear all the drums and all the people. But, you know, I just tried to use it when it got really tough and just tried to stay focused on what I really needed to do, and appreciate that the crowd is behind me instead of the other way around, because I've played in situations like that. So it is different, but you try to, you know, just accept the differences and look at it in a positive way as much as possible.

Q. Your coming to net in the second half of the match, was that a result of a weakening of the hitting by your opponent, or was it perhaps as a result of advice from your captain, or just your own decision to overcome your laziness? How was that?

CHANDA RUBIN: I think she continued to play pretty much the same way. I had a few more opportunities, I think, on her serve to attack. But I think I definitely raised the level of my game a little bit. I kept being prodded by Billie Jean to just keep trying to be aggressive, keep moving my feet. It's tough on some shots where you can sort of get lulled to sleep with the pace and with the spin. You have to take your time. But, for me, I still have to look to do something. Sometimes it's a tough, tough mix for me, but, you know, I feel like I handled it pretty well.

Q. Zina, can you just speak to what this says about the depth of Team USA, the depth of the game, in terms of you put this team together at the last minute, you didn't have Serena or Venus, you've advanced 3-0. And, can you comment on your next opponent, Belgium.

COACH ZINA GARRISON: First of all, I think that's been the great thing, that the United States has had the depth. We were very excited that Chanda said that she would play, and we knew that she would be a great leader, a great team captain, which she did. She showed today when things got tough why she's 8 in the world and took advantage of that. I think overall the team really gelled together because of the fact that we had to go down the list the way we had to. And everyone, like Chanda said, once they decided to come here, they wanted to win and show people that, you know, you didn't have to be at the top, but the next step was just as good. As far as Belgium is concerned, naturally, Kim Clijsters and Henin, it's going to be very, very tough. But I think the great thing about USA, we're always competitors, we're always looking for the challenge. I know Billie Jean for sure will be looking for the challenge because you want to beat the people that are at the top.

Q. As a general question both to Chanda and Zina, how would you judge the quality of the Italian team in general? Chanda, specifically, how would you assess the way that Schiavone and Grande prepared differently for their matches against you?

CHANDA RUBIN: How would I assess the way they prepared?


Q. The approaches they took in playing you.

CHANDA RUBIN: I think you definitely don't take any team for granted. You know, they are two tough competitors. I think they had good game plans coming in. In terms of myself, I mean, I feel like they really tried to slow things up a lot and really take advantage of that aspect of the play. But in the end, I feel like as a team, I mean, we're better than they are. You know, in the end, I think that's what you have to use even when things are tough; and even when you're in a different situation, just remember that, and remember that, you know, in terms of myself, remember why I am where I am, you know, Top 10 in the world, and remember all the victories that I've had coming into here and use that.

ZINA GARRISON: And as far as the teams are concerned, we were very prepared and knew that Italy was going to come in and be very hyped up and excited to play. Schiavone basically is basically herself - a lot of energy, a lot of drama. Grande just basically is going to be smooth and kind of mixing, and kind of get things going. Overall, I thought Chanda and Meghann handled things very well. They stayed very calm under crucial situations, and just like Chanda said, took advantage of using the crowd.

Q. Last night Billie Jean had some glowing words for you, talking about your comeback, all that you've gone through. The two victories this weekend, where do they rank in the comeback? Does this sort of cement what you've done to get back in the Top 10? Also, if you're needed for the semifinals, would you be willing to play?

CHANDA RUBIN: I'm still dealing with this match here, so...(laughing). So we'll wait on the semifinals. We'll see (laughing). But I feel like this was a really important weekend for me. It was important to come out and really show, you know, not just other people, but show myself, I mean, what I'm made of and what I'm capable of doing. You know, it's not easy out there in these type of conditions. And as I said, I mean, there is some different kind of pressure out there. It was important, as I said, for me to really come out on top in those conditions. I feel like it has been important, and it is a good thing for me going into the summer. I'm going to try to use that in these next tournaments, going into the US Open. I can definitely get better, but it was great to do the things I did under pressure. You can't simulate that. I think that's what, you know, in the end is gonna be important for me.

Q. Describe your Fed Cup experience, with your coaches, your teammates, the city of Washington.

CHANDA RUBIN: Well, it's been a super experience. And, you know, Washington, D.C. is a great city, first and foremost. I haven't been here in a long time. The last time I was here, I wasn't here very long. So, you know, it was really special, a special occasion for me. As Zina said, it was a really great team, we really worked well together. I think we all appreciated what, you know, each other, what we all brought to the table. We worked hard. Win or lose, we knew that's what we were gonna put out there, is our very best. I think that's what Fed Cup, in the end, is about. I think it's been a great experience.

Q. I want to ask about two things real quick. The challenge in the semifinals Henin and Clijsters will present, no matter who represents the United States, and just the emotion, the pressure and attention of Fed Cup late round, especially if it's on foreign soil.

CHANDA RUBIN: Well, I think, you know, in terms of playing Kim and Justine, I mean, if that were the matchup and if they were able to play, I mean, as Zina said, they're two highly-ranked players, very tough. One is a Grand Slam champion, you know; the other is a finalist. They know how to play, they know how to play under pressure, they know how to win. I think as a team, whoever plays for the U.S., I mean, we're gonna field a good team. We have also some of the best players in the world, and the most depth in the world. So, you know, however it goes and on whatever soil we play on, you know, it's just gonna be about bringing the best competitors and bringing your best to the match. I think we're fully capable of doing that and fully capable of winning.

Q. Can you speak to having Billie Jean King on the sidelines, the greatest women's tennis player ever. That's got to be unique?

CHANDA RUBIN: It is unique. And I think even, you know, the other teams looking at our bench, I'm sure it's got to be intimidating. So, I mean, you not only have to play against a really good player, hopefully, but you have a great coach. So I think we really use everything we have, and, you know, as a U.S. team, we're bringing the best in the world. It's unique, it's a special situation, and I try to appreciate it.

End of FastScripts….

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