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January 20, 2006

Daniela Hantuchova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What was the secret of your success tonight?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Heart, I think. Just really being mentally strong and resistant and just, you know, keep fighting for every single point and not giving up in any kind of situations, even though it was getting really difficult at the end. But I'm just really glad the way I handled it.

Q. When she saved those three match points in the twelfth game, did you tremble a little bit?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Actually I just tried to forget about that as soon as I could. I guess I did nothing really wrong. She served three unbelievable serves. And on that one point, I guess everyone thought it was going out. I thought so, too. It was kind of hard to get over that. But I'm really glad the way I handled that and just tried to really focus on the tiebreak.

Q. What does this win mean to you?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I mean, it means a lot. I mean, finally I can say that, you know, I'm able to play and beat anyone, and it just gives me so much confidence. You know, I had so many matches like this where I was really close of beating the top players and finally I did it today. So I'm just really extremely happy about that.

Q. Do you believe that Serena was at her best tonight?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, I don't think she was hitting the ball as well as she could. I mean, I think we all know how well she can really play. But to her credit, I thought she kept fighting till the end. She never gave up. And, you know, at the end of the second set, it could have gone either way, so I really did feel the pressure of her really competing. I mean, that's something that you can never take away from her, and she did it again tonight. But game-wise, I felt like I was the better one tonight.

Q. Did Serena seem a step slow out there to you tonight? Compared to the other three times you played her, seemed like it might be an issue for her?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I don't really want to comment on that. I did feel like that was my goal. But I guess that's the way I try to play against anyone, to make them move and try to find the spots where I can hit the ball so they can't get to it. Yeah, I don't think, you know, she played her best tonight. But still, you know, it's Serena Williams and she knows how to compete, so I had to be tough mentally and physically. Definitely I felt like I was really, you know, moving well on the court. So maybe that's why I made it a little easier for myself.

Q. Did you watch her previous two games? Did you form a strategy from what you've seen?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I didn't watch it. I just tried to really be focused on my next one because it was completely different match tonight to my previous (indiscernible). I was playing completely different player. I just tried to learn from the things I haven't done well in the last two matches and tried to make it better tonight.

Q. You played very well. Maybe the only exception was the service. Was that a sign of nerves, the double-faults?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Not really. With her I knew that if I was going to hit like nothing second serve, she was going to attack that. So, you know, it was about finding the right balance between going for too much and not putting enough on the serve. So maybe on couple I did try to hit it too hard or, you know, being not patient enough. But that's the risk you have to take if you play someone like that.

Q. She likes to play fast. Do you feel you slowed her down with your pauses?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: That's the way she plays. That's the way I play. So I guess everyone's different.

Q. Was it at the end a big win against yourself as well?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Uhm, actually, this time not really. I was not fighting myself at all as I used to. I was actually really just trying to be focused on every point. As I said, on those match points, I don't think I did anything wrong. She really hit some huge serves. To her credit, that's what she can really do when she's under pressure. So I just, you know, tried to keep hanging in there and wait for my chances, and they came.

Q. When did you stop fighting yourself?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I guess tonight (smiling).

Q. Just tonight?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: No, I think I did change that a lot in the maybe last couple of months, tried to learn from the matches where I was really, really close of beating top players, and maybe all the experience I could have used tonight.

Q. Was that just a conscious decision on your own or talking with Nigel or anyone else?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Out there on the court, I'm on my own. So I guess it was my decision.

Q. What do you mean by "fighting yourself"?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, I mean, so many times in my matches, especially when I was coming up and I was really, really young and not having the experience, I was sometimes beating myself and not really playing the opponent, but myself because I had so many high expectation of myself. Those times were difficult, but I guess everyone has to go through them.

Q. And now?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Now it's good (laughing).

Q. And now Maria.

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah. Another match to look forward for me. I mean, I can't wait to be out there again. As I said on the court, the crowd has been unbelievable. The support I've been getting here is just amazing. So I just can't wait to be out there again.

Q. Will it be a completely different sort of match against Maria?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Oh, yeah, definitely. I mean, she hits the ball -- I will think she will hit the ball much harder than Serena did tonight. I have to expect a tough match. But I feel like if I keep doing the right things that it's going to be a great match.

Q. All the doubles, all the mixed and women's doubles you're playing, does that translate well into your singles game? Your volleys are crisp these days.

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: That's what I've been always saying, that I was always using the mixed doubles especially to improve my net game and being able to return a guy's serve, 'cause then when you play someone like Serena, you are little bit more prepared for that. As I said, that has always been so much fun for me, playing the mixed doubles. I have so many great memories from that. But this year I tried to reduce that and really focus on my singles.

End of FastScripts….

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