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August 31, 2002

Chanda Rubin


MODERATOR: Questions for Chanda.

Q. Tough conditions today, wind and everything?

CHANDA RUBIN: A little bit tough. A little blustery out there. You know, Lisa also had something to do with that. She has sometimes a difficult game to play, great slice that can really neutralize her opponent. Definitely a little bit difficult, especially early on.

Q. How important was it to win that first set?

CHANDA RUBIN: It was more important I think just to make a better stand, because even if I had lost the first set, you know, make it where it's tight and where I started feeling my shots a little bit more so that if I had lost the first, going into the second I could have really recovered a lot better. So that was more important to me than actually winning it. You know, winning it definitely was nice in the end.

Q. Winning the tiebreaker kind of handily, how did that affect the second set?

CHANDA RUBIN: I think the first couple games it gave me a lot of momentum, which I tried to capitalize on, really try to run the second set out. Definitely had a couple opportunities, especially off the return, you know, at 5-2, then on my serve. I think winning the tiebreaker handily, it just kind of solidified, you know, and I relaxed a little bit more after winning that set.

Q. Did you feel her deflate after that?

CHANDA RUBIN: I think a little bit. She's up 5-2, served for it one time. You know, all of a sudden you're in the tiebreaker. To lose it 7-2, I think it was, I think definitely deflated her a little bit - for a moment.

Q. Playing Venus in the next round. What do you take out of the French Open match you had against her? I realize it's a different surface. Do you take anything mentally out of that match?

CHANDA RUBIN: I do. I take a bit from a number of the matches that I played, you know, the first match being there because it was against her. But also since then, a few matches that I've had against some top players, Serena a couple of times. There's a lot I take from each match. But I want to first, you know, going into the match just get a better start. That's going to be my biggest focus going into it, starting off well, really keeping the pressure, which is what I didn't do as well at the French when I had an opportunity early on in the match. I want to do that a lot better.

Q. It seems like people have a difficult time getting started against Venus. How much of that is Venus and her game? How difficult does she make that for you?

CHANDA RUBIN: Well, she makes it difficult. I mean, she doesn't hand the early games to you. If you don't start off quick, you don't start off really seeing the ball, picking the ball up quickly, you can be a little bit behind the curve on a lot of shots. A lot of it has to do with her, but I've also had some slow starts just in a couple of my matches. For me, in my mind, it has more to do with me than with her going into this match.

Q. Do you feel like you've been playing some of your best tennis in a long time the last few weeks or so? And why is that?

CHANDA RUBIN: I have been. I haven't quite reached my stride here yet. I don't feel like I have. It's gotten better since my first round. Overall, I've been playing really well over the summer. It sort of peaked a little bit at LA with some really top wins. I just feel like coming back and starting to play, having the opportunity to play, I really just tried to, you know, focus on what I need to do going out in a match. You know, the first thing is giving the point a chance to evolve, then my game can sort of open up. I can attack more, I get more opportunities, you know, just to be aggressive, moving forward. A lot of things that can sort of happen in my game, if I'm negotiating those earlier stages of the points, really being a little more solid. I focus a lot on that since coming back. I just want to take advantage of every opportunity I have. I'm a little more focused on that.

Q. After winning LA, you beat Serena, Dokic, Lindsay. You were thought of no longer just a dark horse in this tournament. A lot of people thought you were more in the top group. Do you feel that way or do you feel just going out against Venus and playing her tough for a couple of sets is good enough?

CHANDA RUBIN: No, definitely not. I feel like, you know, I'm up with the top players that have a shot at winning this event. For me, it's been taking one match at a time. I haven't looked too far ahead. If it happens, great. If it doesn't, it's still going to be important for me, you know, to focus on what got me here and how I've been playing, you know, how I want to set up the play once I'm out on the court. That's going to be my focus. I feel like if I don't go out and win this match, I'm going to be very disappointed. It's going to be a tough match. I'm going to have to compete hard. I'm going to have to really raise my level just a little bit more. But that's what this game is about. I mean, it's about putting it on the line. These are the big events. Nobody wants to lose. Nobody wants to go home early. Go out and give it your best shot.

Q. A lot of people look at Venus and Serena as a big psychological hurdle in any draw. You being more of a veteran player, do you look at them as more of an opportunity as opposed to these big hurdles you have to get over?

CHANDA RUBIN: Well, they are hurdles, so to speak. You know, when you compare to any other player in the draw, first and foremost, they're two of the biggest players out there, athletic, physical, you know, really great athletes, hitting the ball big. You have the physical aspect, but you also have the fact that they're playing the best tennis right now. They're the players to beat. You know, it's a combination of things. It takes an effort to beat either one of them. It takes an effort to beat a couple of the other top players, as well. You know, it's just where the game is right now. It happens that I'm playing Venus in the Round of 16 instead of someone else. You know, you've got to go out and compete every match, take care of whoever you have in the draw.

Q. It sounds like you sort of relish the challenge. There's some women who come in and sound like they're not relishing the stage that that presents.

CHANDA RUBIN: Well, it is a challenge. I've never, you know, sort of backed down from a challenge. I mean, that's the not the way that I go out there and the way I'm made up and the way I feel about myself. A challenge is just that: something you have to push yourself a little harder to overcome, you have to work a little bit better, be a little bit better. You know, that's important. Otherwise, you know, what are you doing if you're just going to stay at the same level and not push yourself?

Q. What do you mean by "negotiating the point"?

CHANDA RUBIN: Just letting the first few balls -- letting the point sort of, I guess, evolve. That's probably more a word my coach says (laughter). Don't tell him that. Just letting -- you know, making those first few balls from the return. I definitely want to be more aggressive on the return when I have a chance, really attack second serves. But you have to make those first few balls and allow the point, you know, to just play itself out so that you can sort of get into the middle of the point and be looking to really attack, move forward. That's how I've tried to approach playing, approach individual points.

Q. Do you feel like you're better deeper into the point?

CHANDA RUBIN: I feel like I'm pretty good deep into the points. You know, sometimes the early part of the points I'll just try to pull the trigger a little bit too quick, go for something a little too quickly, a little too early when it's not quite there. It's more of just picking the right shots to do it on. You know, once I get into the point, I feel pretty confident. I'm confident about moving forward, I'm confident about volleying, you know, looking to really hit the ball, run around, hit forehands, really be aggressive. You know, it's a question of early on in the points.

Q. Will it be a big factor against Venus if you can get those points extended?

CHANDA RUBIN: I think it will be. She's also very good when points go long. She has a little bit extra, few extra steps on me, a little more reach. You know, it can be a little more difficult against a player like her deep into the points. I'm just going to have to be more aggressive at that time. That doesn't mean go for more, which is what players get into when you're playing someone who gets a lot of balls back, who is strong, who is also hitting the ball. You tend to go for a little too much when they get that extra ball back. For me, I'm going to have to be more aggressive, not go for more, but be more aggressive, putting it away at the net, see where I am at the end.

Q. To have come back from knee surgeries the way you have, do you feel that's made you mentally tougher to the point where maybe challenges don't seem as big to you as they might have before because you've overcome some pretty big ones already?

CHANDA RUBIN: The challenges I've had, I've been able so far to overcome them. There are many greater challenges that people have in life. I try to keep it in perspective, as well. If the worst thing I have to go through is surgery, you know, so I can continue to play tennis, I'm doing pretty well. That's how I look at it now. I don't know what the future is going to hold. Definitely I feel like, you know, I'm strong enough to overcome what I have to deal with.

Q. Is it fair to say you're playing better than you were at Roland Garros or is just a matter of confidence?

CHANDA RUBIN: I do feel like I'm playing better. I do feel more confident. Can't help but feel more confident. I've had a lot more matches. I've had a couple more tournament wins. I'm going to, you know, just continue to use that in my next matches. I didn't have that going into Roland Garros. I didn't have quite as many matches under my belt.

Q. You look at the Round of 16. It's a lot more seeded players. Is there a difference between the third round and the fourth round? Does the intensity pick up? How does that change?

CHANDA RUBIN: It can. Also a lot of it depends on who you're playing. Usually the matches get tougher unless in the second round if you're not seeded or you're not seeded very high, you have the tougher player early on. The matches just get a bit tougher. I played Lisa Raymond today. My next round is a player who is a lot higher, a lot hotter in terms of how she's playing. There is going to be a little more intensity that goes into that match. You know, also because you want to get to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam, there's more intensity because of that.

Q. Didn't you meet Venus when she was quite young at a clinic or something?

CHANDA RUBIN: Well, the first time we met, yes.

Q. How old was she?

CHANDA RUBIN: Probably 11 maybe.

Q. That was in Houston?

CHANDA RUBIN: I don't remember where. I think maybe Philly, something like that. I'm not quite sure where.

Q. Would you mind going over your impressions?

CHANDA RUBIN: It was just sort of, you know, a fun event. It wasn't seeing her play in a tournament or anything like that. She and her sister, at that time they were already tall, but very lean, very thin. It was all arms and legs. You could see that there was going to be some potential. You also could see in terms of Mr. Williams what he felt, already the whole plan that he had put into place for them. At that point, couldn't really know if that was going to come true. I think to a lot of people it was very hard to believe because they didn't play as many junior tournaments, they didn't go through the process that just about every other player has gone through in getting to player play at this level. It was hard to believe, but you could definitely see some potential with it. That's sort of how I look I looked at it.

Q. Did they ask for your autograph?


Q. They already thought they were going to beat you?

CHANDA RUBIN: Yes, yes (smiling).

Q. When you came on the tour, there wasn't this power game. What have you done to adjust your game to deal with the power?

CHANDA RUBIN: Just working on, you know, making my game just a little bit bigger, being more aggressive, trying to move forward into the court, finish off points when I have the chance, when the person is on the defensive. I mean, for me, that's how my game sort of gains a little bit of size. I still like to hit the ball from the ground. I still like to hit my forehand when I have a ball that I can step into a second serve and really pop it. You have to take those opportunities, as well, with the game being so powerful. It's also about, you know, playing a little smarter at times, as well, at the net.

Q. Do you feel like you're hitting harder than you used to?

CHANDA RUBIN: I don't know if I'm hitting a lot harder. Hopefully my technique is a little better. I've tried to work on that more than hitting the ball harder. The pace is there. I've always had a bit of that. But my technique continues to improve, I continue to get that more solid under pressure, then the pace is going to continue to be there when it's tight, 5-All in the third set, deuce. You can keep generating the pace you need to generate to stay on even par with these players.

Q. How is returning serve different, more powerful serves?

CHANDA RUBIN: That's probably the biggest difference. You have to be a little bit quicker, see the ball a little earlier. You know, picking it up, giving yourself as much time as possible to move either way. Sometimes it's just too fast. It's something that I'm continuing to work on. I'm going to try to work on a little before this match.

Q. Does Venus have the best backhand you've ever faced?

CHANDA RUBIN: It's difficult to say. I mean, I think a lot of her other skills combined with her backhand. She gets to the ball very quickly, she has a lot of reach, she has a lot of leverage off of that side. She can make gets, actually come up with a shot that's offensive when you feel that you're in an offensive position. She can sort of turn the tables just because of her speed and size combined with it. I think that has -- the overall effect has more of an impact than just the basic backhand.

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