|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
March 13, 2004
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Could you tell your story.
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: Okay, let me start. I still can't believe I won. Let's make it clear from now. It was unbelievable. It was unbelievable. I was down 5-3 in the third set, then 5-4, 30-Love down. You know what, I didn't came all the way to California to lose. I just got myself together. I said to myself, "No more misses, just concentrate on your game," and it worked. I guess mentally I got my game up. I didn't give up. I got myself together. I put everything, and just got the most unbelievable result I have for now. The 25th in the world, I mean, I'm still kind of shocked. But, you know, that's what I came for.
Q. Isn't that what champions are all about: when you're down, you still hit the ball you have to hit?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: Yeah, true. I just showed myself that I'm not winning only when I'm winning, I'm winning when I'm losing, too. It was important that I prove I'm not only strong mentally when I'm winning, I'm also strong when I'm losing. I think that's a very important thing that a player should have. I think this is a mental thing that some player don't have. I think that's the thing that makes a lot of player the player they are today and destroys a lot of players that we don't know of.
Q. I've seen a lot of matches, and there's always one match where the player plays and realizes they can play with the big ones. Was this one of those days?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: You know what, I always believed I can play with the big ones, I just never had a chance to play against the big ones. That's why I came here. I came because I want to win. You know, it's working for me. I'm going to keep on going. That's very good.
Q. How many tournaments have you played and how many more can you play this year?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: Okay, I played by the rules that are today, I have right to play seven tournaments. That includes only one WTA tournament, what means from 75 up like. So basically it says that I have to have the right to play only one WTA, but only by wildcard or feed-up. So that's the last one. I've already played six tournaments, so that's the last tournament I can play until I turn 15 on August 8th.
Q. What are you going to do in between this tournament and August? Are you going to play junior Grand Slams?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: You know what, I still don't know. But, you know, I'm just kind of, you know, going to chill out, keep on practicing hard, concentrate. I'm not going to think, "What am I going to do in the future?" I'm just going to concentrate on what I'm doing in the moment. You know, just keep on putting more and more at my strokes. I'm going to work hard. Whatever comes, whatever life brings me, whatever happens.
Q. Have you ever played a player like Serna who has so many different spins and varieties?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: You know, before I left for here, I played against a guy that had like very similar game to hers. I don't really know his name, but he was my age, 14. He had really good first serve. He would play top spins. He would play slices. He would come in the net. And I lost, I really did, I lost two straight sets, 6-3, 6-4. The thing that he had and she didn't that I didn't expect when would he hit the ball and when would he won't. With her, I can kind of like get to know when she's going to hit, when she's going to keep the ball in play. Him, you just hit a ball from nowhere, then just not hit the ball. You know, it's hard to know, especially against a guy, what he's going to do. They're just, I don't know, different kind of type of players.
Q. Would you like to tell your story from the beginning in tennis.
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: I started when I was five and a half. I'm telling you right now I hated tennis. I thought this is the most ridiculous, boring, unbelievable game anybody ever made in this world, okay? It wasn't even funny. I'm like, "Why am I wasting my time instead of going to the movies, playing with my friends?" Then when I started getting better eventually, you know, when I started actually winning some matches, it was like, "Hey, that's not that bad." People come tell you congratulations, parents are happy, you get everything you want, that's all I need. I was like, "Yeah, why not?" Basically like the age of seven, I start liking play tennis. By the age of nine, I start actually want to play more and more. When I got like the age of 11, I was like, "You know what, that's the thing I want to make my life with. That's the thing I'm going to prove I'm something in this world."
Q. Where was all this happening?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: Back home, Bulgaria.
Q. What city?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: Sofia, the capital. Then when I was 11, my dad was always, by the age of 14, 15, need to prove in the pros that you're something. Then I decided start playing ITF. I did pretty well. I did pretty well, won a couple grade three tournaments when I was 11. Then when I turned 12, I decided when I like turned 13 to go play under-18. I got the ranking. I got into the main draw. Then last year -- no, not the last year, the year before, December, I went to Eddie Herr. I didn't do good. I lost first round. But then I saw Nick. My dad was, "Go talk to people. Speak to him." I'm like, "Dad, that's Nick Bollettieri. You just don't go to speak to him; you have to have like a special request to go talk to him." I just went. I was like, "Mr. Bollettieri." He was like open, really nice. He was like, "Yeah, hello." I was like, "Whoa, really nice." I was like, "How much will cost for me to go to Bollettieri tennis academy?" He said, "Three weeks for free. I'm going to give you a scholarship, see how things going to go." I still don't know what I did. I still don't know what game I played then, but he liked it. He was like, "You can win everyone. You can have scholarship. I'll be coach. I'll travel with you." Then last year I decided to go start playing WTA tournaments. My first WTA tournament I won in Greece when I was 14. That's when I started. I won two more tournaments, one more 10,000, and then one 50,000. That was my big shot, when I won the 50,000 in China. Then I came back. You know, honestly from the whole academy, even how unbelievable it sounds, Nick the only one who thought I would win. Every single coach was saying, "She's too young. She's just 'boom boom,' she doesn't have anything in her head. All she knows is smack the hell out of the ball. No way she going to make it." So, you know what, I went, I made it. I came back. Nick was, "I knew you were going to make it." He supported me. Then I got offer from IMG to sign a contract. It was unbelievably excited. Now Nick is my coach. I have a contract with IMG. Everything's going good for me. I showed that I came here and I didn't screw myself up, I actually did something. I'm proud of it.
Q. Do you know what it means to be a California "knock-out"? You're wearing that T-shirt.
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: You know what, I bought it because I liked the word "knock-out." You just go there, knock them out of the ring, okay? Just knock them out of the ring. That's why I bought it.
Q. Where did you find it?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: I don't know. I bought it in Ross, I think.
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: In Ross. But I like it. Those two boxing things. My dad teaches me how to box.
Q. Speaking of just beating the hell out of the ball, you play Sharapova next.
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: You know what, that's the match I've waited for very long time. So, trust me, I won't play 100%, I'll play 200%.
Q. Tell us what happened.
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: I was actually supposed to play in Bollettieri Tennis Academy. I was so prepared. I mean, it was unbelievable. I was just, "Come on the court, you'll see what happen." Then I was, you know, talking to people. You know, I was really into the match. I was like, "You know, I'm going to get there and play my best tennis, I'm going to do everything I can." The day when we were supposed to play, two hours before the match, my agent comes and he goes, "She called it off." I'm like, "Why did she call the match off?" "Because you said you going to kick her ass off." I'm like, you know what, it's my business who I'm telling I'm going to kick his ass off or not. If I said it, I meant it, and I'm not sorry about it. If she's too scared to come on the court, her problem - her problem. I was like, "Whatever. I'm going to get you."
Even then I said, "I'm going to meet you soon." It comes right next to me, right here. She can't call it off this time, that's for sure (laughter).
Q. When did that happen? How many months ago was that?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: Probably like a couple weeks ago.
Q. Couple weeks ago?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: Yeah, a couple weeks ago.
Q. She was at the academy?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: Yeah, practicing. You know what, it was probably like four days before she was going to come down here. So it was probably like two weeks ago.
Q. So you think she was really afraid to play you?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: You know, I really do not know. But I don't think that a player from her rank can call a match off only because somebody said it's going to kick her ass off. If she had the guts, she's going to come kick my ass off and leave.
Q. This is your agent who told you that?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: Yes.
Q. What is his name?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: Oliver Vanlindoff. I definitely don't think that's the way.
Q. What did Nick tell you?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: He's like, "Pass it away because you going to get her. You know, calm down. Keep on practicing. Your time is going to come."
Q. Have you seen her here?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: Yes, I did. Not really charming. Not really charming. Not really charming. That's what I can say, not really charming (smiling).
Q. She knows who you are?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: I don't know. I mean, you know, who knows. I mean, if she's too scared come on the court play against me, hey, she must know me.
Q. You're saying when you play her tomorrow or the next day, you're going to kick her ass?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: You know what, I say I'm going to play my best tennis. Normally when I do that, I beat people that are very good. You know, I believe in my game. I believe that my game is something I worked on a lot. I think that if I play it and if I concentrate a hundred percent on something, I can do something unbelievable tomorrow. I mean, that's the way I think. Yes, I do think I can kick her ass off. Yes, I do think that. I'm saying that, I can kick her ass off.
Q. Did you speak English when you left Sophia?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: Yes, I did. I know, I am really talkative right now.
Q. How old were you when you left?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: I've been going back and forth a lot when I was young - Turkey, Greece, listening to Spice Girls, 24/7. Trust me, you learn it quick. It's like boom, boom, boom. That's how I started basically. I never went to school teach it, never, ever.
Q. You go to school now, don't you?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: Yes, I do. But two years ago, I was taking school in United States and I passed the 8th grade. Now I'm like a senior back home, I'm supposed to graduate in December.
Q. Do you get your personality from your mom or dad or both?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: You know what, they don't know where my personality came from. They really don't. I have problems with my dad that I'm way too, like, independent. I had a couple fights with him about it. I want to be by myself. I want to be independent. I just want to do everything. I think I'm old enough for everything. I'm never wrong, I'm always right. Whatever I say, that's it, point, no more. I've had couple troubles with that. My mom, she has no power to argue with me. Whatever, let it go.
Q. Is that who you called? Did you call her? Is she here?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: No, I called her. I called her. But she is excited about it. But she's never been that into tennis. But she's always been like, you know, "Congratulations, good job." She's always like, "We need to go get your haircut, girl." Then like, "You need to start wearing some clothes on." She would talk about shopping, everything else except tennis. I'm like, "Mom, I'm a tennis player, I'm not a model. If you want something else, you have my dad for it."
Q. Tell us how you practice.
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: Let me see. I'm practicing every morning from 8 to 10. Them I'm having conditioning: weights, sprint, depends what the day is. From Tuesday, Thursday, we're doing weights. Monday, Friday, we're doing movements. Then I'm doing this from 10 to 11. Then 11:30 to 12:30, I have lunch. 11:30 to 3:00 where I don't have to play matches every afternoon, I normally take a nap or run around the academy. That's a good run. Just take a shower, relax, listen to music.
Q. How many balls do you keep in practice when you tell them?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: One.
Q. The contract with IMG, how did that come about?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: I knew since I'm from Bulgaria, I have to work harder than other people. If I want to do something, I need to like improve 10 times more, work 10 times more, be better 10 times more. I know even maybe I'm a little bit better than them, that's still not going to work for me. I know my country is a fact. I know that. It's something that even a little, it's not like saying that I am from France or United States or Germany, you know. It's a country that it's not really -- you know, people don't really, I don't know how you say, they don't really appreciate it, like you respected in other countries. I know if I want to be something, I have to work my way up. Nobody is going to come to me and say, "Here is this." Even Nick did it. Even that, he did it. Now for 10 years playing tennis, eight and a half, nine, he's the only one whoever gave me something without wanting anything back. You know, him and my dad are the only people that ever did that for me. You know, then I knew after the 50,000, that was the point where IMG offered me a contract.
Q. If you hated tennis, why did you continue?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: Because when my dad was little, he wanted really to be a tennis player. Because all my family is sports people. My mom is a volleyball player, 20 years on the national team. My father was a rower in the boat. He's like strong, big guy. And, you know, he knew I'm not going to be a math genius. He knew I'm not going to be sitting in one chair, writing. He knew I had to be sport person. That's the sport he thought I would be good in. I was athletic even when I was little. Then, I don't know, he just let me. That's how my story started.
Q. At a local club or playground?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: At a local club, local club. First I just started with groups and things. I guess coaches saw. But even when I started, he knew he wants me to be a professional. He said something that I appreciate. If whatever you start, you know that you want to be No. 1 in it, otherwise just don't start it. There's a lot of people, coming, hope I'm going to pass first round, win a set, I hope I'm not going to lose 0-0. That's not a mentality that a player should have. You go to win or you just don't go.
Q. Did you play with the Maleeva sisters?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: You know what, I've never played her, like practice or in tournament. But we're friends. We talk. You know, I mean, nothing personal, nothing special. Just, you know, "Hi, hello, how are you?"
Q. They don't inspire you?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: Our culture is a very special one. People do not want you to succeed. People want to screw you over. People do not want -- if a parent -- if a parent has a player, for example, back home, a father like my father, for example, like there's a lot of parents that have daughters, sons, when they see somebody succeeding instead of theirs, they're not, "She's from Bulgaria, come on, let's go, she can make it." They're, "I hope she brokes her knee so she doesn't make it." For example, my Federation never did anything for me. They even destroyed a lot of my junior tournaments. I'll go in a tournament, I'll go all the way to Italy, play a tournament, then I won't be in it. My Federation wouldn't even like sign me in it. So, you know, it's nothing that I really expect. I like my country because I'm born in it. But, you know, I go there only because my family is there and because it's just still my country. But the people are not nice.
Q. Will you play Federation Cup for Bulgaria?
SESIL KARATANCHEVA: You know what, they still haven't offered me. But I believe after this, you know, they'll be -- they'll knock on my door.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.