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June 22, 2004

Daniela Hantuchova


THE MODERATOR: Can I present Daniela Hantuchova. Who would like to ask the first question.

Q. Wimbledon last year wasn't a particularly happy experience for you, but you seem a lot happier this year. Could you talk us through what's changed?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I feel really great and really happy to be back. And I have just put totally the last year behind me, and I'm just focused on my future, you know, making sure that I do everything that's in my control, you know, to get where I want to be. And everything seems to be in place now, and I think, you know, things are going the right way now.

Q. How did you all of a sudden find your game in matches last week as opposed to just playing well in practice?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: As soon as I started to hit on grass, I had a really good feeling. And it was a little bit of bad luck for me in Birmingham that I got sick and was not able to play. But then when I came to Eastbourne, I was -- you know, right after my first match, I said that in the press conference, that I was really pleased the way I was playing. I played couple of practice matches. And I don't think I have lost one. And that gave me a lot of confidence. And I just knew that it was a matter of, you know, bringing it to the matches. And that happened last week, and I was really pleased with it.

Q. You talked recently about the tough times you had to go through. What exactly were those tough times?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, I don't think I have to go, you know, to the details again. I think, you know, everyone saw it last year, that I was struggling a little bit, and that, you know, things were not going the way I wanted to. But, as I said, it's behind me now and I'm really focused on what's happening now.

Q. Outside of the grass, you were saying even at the beginning of the year, so much of it was confidence, going for the lines, knowing you could hit your shot. At what point last week did you say, "Oh, look, my shots are back. I can hit the corners when I need to now"?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I think right from the first match, I felt very good on the court. And I had to play really well to get through all of my matches because the opponents were not easy at all. And right from the first round, I think I had a really tough draw. So, you know, making the final, that hard way, gave me a lot of confidence. And, you know, it just shows what a difference it can make when you feel confident and you just know that you can trust the shots. And that's what I did last week.

Q. And no nerves?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: No nerves. I mean, I think the main thing for me is really just enjoy what I do on the court and have fun and being relaxed because I guess that's where I play my best tennis.

Q. You also talked about no longer panicking. What technique have you used to get over that?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, I think experience is the main thing that's helping me with that because I have been in those situation many times before, and not really dealt with it well. But now, you know, I'm more aware of what I'm doing on the court and know exactly what I have to do in those situations. And I think it's more about being calmer and just trusting my game and just playing every point as it comes and not to get ahead of myself.

Q. Do you feel having dropped off in the rankings you could be quite a dangerous sort of opponent for some seed fairly early on?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, definitely. It takes a lot of pressure away from me. And I feel, you know, like now I can kind of just surprise and be really dangerous, and I've got nothing to lose, nothing to defend, so I'm really enjoying this position to be at right now.

Q. You've talked about being focused. How do you actually relax when you leave here and go home at night? Do you put a movie on, listen to music? How do you chill out?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: You know, there are many ways how you can relax, but there's not too much time, especially during the tournament, you know, because you try to be focused as much as you can - even though when you not playing, making sure you do the right things, making sure you have a good time to rest. That means having massage, maybe stretching. You know, when it's possible, you train. And basically you go home, you know, you come back very late, and then there's not much left to do. You have to have a good dinner and be ready for the next day.

Q. In terms of turning things around, was there some one place where you were getting a lot of support or was it a matter of you almost breaking away from people and doing this on your own?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Actually, I have to say it really helped me a lot, the support that I got from my whole team, you know. I did have some terrible losses, but they never stopped believing in myself, and always, always told me, you know, that I just have to keep going and work hard. And without them, for sure, I would not be able to turn it around. Especially, I would say the turning point was at the French Open this year where, you know, I lost first round again. But all the people around me, they were very, very supportive, and I have to thank them for that because that gave me a lot of hope for the future.

Q. Can you just name them. Who were those?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: My family, my agent, my coach, and many of the people that I have known for a long time and that has been on the tour. And it was very nice to see them, you know, still supporting me, believing in me, even though it was not going my way. And I think, you know, now I showed them that they were right.

Q. Have your tennis ambitions changed as a result of going through the difficult period?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: No. I mean, the ambitions are still there, very high. And I always have had a high expectations for myself. And that's maybe sometimes why I put so much pressure on myself. So now I know how to deal with those things better. But, you know, I'm still aiming very high, but I think now I know what to do, you know, a little bit smarter way than I did before.

Q. How high?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: How high? Well, No. 1, for sure (smiling).

Q. Was there a time in the last month or after you lost first round of the French Open where you stopped believing that maybe you could do it?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, of course, when, you know, you're struggling and things are not going your way, you start to doubt yourself. That's, you know, where the confidence goes down. And that's where you can't, you know, make those shots that you always used to because, you know, you believed in yourself. But, yes, I did maybe for a while, but it was maybe usually just like right after I lost the match. But then, you know, after one or two days, I got back and started to work hard again. So it was not really like, you know, I say, "I'm stopping, that's it." I never thought about that.

Q. Is it too early to say you've turned the corner now, after last week and this win, now it's going to be all up for the rest of the year for you?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, I mean, this is exactly what I was waiting for and hoping to, you know, happen as soon as possible. And I'm really, you know, glad things have been going last week. But it's still just a beginning. I know, you know, the way back, it's going to be really hard. But definitely, you know, a week like last week and a win today helps. And I know what I have to do to get back to where I want to be.

Q. Do you see much of Martina, has she been a role model for you?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, I've seen her after the match. I was very impressive what she's done. It's unbelievable to do something like she's doing. But we haven't had much time because I was still waiting for my match and she had other things to do. But I'm really pleased for her.

Q. You can't see yourself playing at 47 then?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I'm not sure about that. I mean, I think she's the only one that has ever been able to do something like that. I don't think that's happening that often.

Q. With Martina, the mental program, has she been able to help you over this last year coming back?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, she's been a big help for me over, I don't know, the three, four years. You know, there are still so many things to learn from her, and it is very exciting, you know, to see my mentor still playing in the same tournaments as me. So I think that's quite impressive.

End of FastScripts….

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