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March 28, 2004

Daniela Hantuchova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. First five games were the best I've seen you play in a long, long time. It must have felt good to suddenly be playing on all cylinders again?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, definitely, I was enjoying myself out there tonight. Yeah, the first set I thought I played pretty well. I felt like I had the momentum the first few games. It's just a shame that I didn't get on top of her in the first set. I felt like, you know, if I would have won the first set, that things would be maybe a little different in the second. But, you know, that's why she's so good, because she just kept the pressure on and made me always hit one more ball. And all the credit to her, the way she played.

Q. Was it a confidence thing, where there were a few key points where things didn't fall your way? Or that's the way the ball bounces?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: That's just, you know, that's just tennis. I mean, I think the experience helped her a little, too. And I wouldn't say, you know, that she was more confident than me. I mean, I felt pretty good out there. And I was happy the way I played. In the second set she sort of got on top of me, but, you know, still I kept fighting till the end and she was just too good.

Q. I'm doing a story on momentum, how players build momentum during the season. How do you feel when you go out there on the court as opposed to last year? You could almost see the difference in your posture.

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, definitely I feel like I'm right back and going the right way. I just have to keep working hard. And, you know, confidence comes with, you know, being aware of what you have to do on the court in the important points. And, you know, I know that I have been working hard in the last couple of weeks, and, you know, I just have to give my best every time I step on the court and then hopefully the results will come, too.

Q. Do you wake up these days feeling calmer than before, like the bad times are behind you?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Definitely I would say so. I'm really enjoying playing again, and I was really looking forward to play Venus tonight. And, you know, I have fun again on the court, which is the most important thing for me. I just have to keep working.

Q. What's next in terms of preparing for the clay season. Is clay your favorite surface?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: That's what I was growing up on. I wouldn't say I have any preferences. I like to play on hard, too, and I love grass. I don't mind playing on anything.

Q. Do you have any intimidation at all when you step on the court with Venus?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Not at all. I mean, when I play, I really don't care who is on the other side on the court. The only thing I care about is my performance. And I told you, you know, in the first set it was good. No, I mean, I was really up to playing her, and I think, you know, I proved to everyone in the first set that I'm right back.

Q. In the past, that's been something that other players have said, that even stepping on the court with Serena versus Venus, that there's such an aura to both of them. Would you say that, one, do you think Venus' aura has diminished? Do you feel more confident playing her these days?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I'm the sort of person, as I said, that doesn't really care who I'm playing against. So it doesn't matter whether it's Venus, Serena or Kim, Justine or another girl. I mean, I'm the kind of player that is always aggressive and always try to, you know, play my game. You know, that's why I really don't care who is on the other side.

Q. In a tight match, when there's a crucial moment, do you feel any anxiety like when you're on the verge of winning? Do you feel more pressure when you're on the verge of winning?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I think everyone does because, I mean, those are the most important points of the match and that's something that I haven't done really well in the past and something that I have learned how to deal with. And I think, you know, now I'm more aware what I have to do in those points.

Q. Are you aware of on the reverse side when, say, Venus has an important point and she has to, you know, think about winning that actual point? Are you aware of if she's anxious or not? Both of you double-faulted at times when it was kind of crucial. Were you aware of her...?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I wouldn't say so. I don't think we double-faulted when it was crucial. I mean, we both are pretty aggressive on our serve, so we go for it. And sometimes, you know, we have to count the fact that sometimes we will double-fault, but that's just the way it is because we are aggressive. I don't think either of us showed anxiety. We just kept fighting for every ball.

Q. My last question, so when you're playing your best, those first four or five games, and everything's going right, do you have that sense of, "I can continue this the whole match," or are you in this zone where everything was going too well?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Oh, no, no, that's what I'm out there for, you know, to try to do it for the whole match. Unfortunately, you know, there were few points that I didn't make that, you know, made the difference and Venus started, you know, to get on top of me. Basically, there were just really few points in the first set that make the difference of the match.

End of FastScripts….

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