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March 16, 2002

Daniela Hantuchova


MODERATOR: 2002 Pacific Life Open champion, Daniela Hantuchova.

Q. If you had to summarize your ten days or so here in just a word or a phrase, what would it be?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, amazing. I mean, it's for me like dream coming true because, you know, this was my first final ever in such an important tournament, and playing one of the greatest player, beating her the way I did today was just unbelievable for me. I'm just glad that all the work that I have done in the practice, in the previous months, has just came out together, especially today. And I'm just really happy.

Q. Has it hit you, sunk in yet?


Q. Has it sunk in yet? Have you realized?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, it's still hard for me to believe what I have done here, hard to believe that I have for the first time play a final and I won such a big, important tournament. It's just something unbelievable for me.

Q. How did you feel beforehand? You must have been nervous. It didn't show.

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Actually, not really, because I was just excited to be out there, and I was looking forward for this match because was my first final. I was just trying to play my best tennis. I enjoy every minute out there. I was really happy at the way I played tonight.

Q. How about any nerves when you were serving at 5-2?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, at that point I just realized how close I was to win this match. I was a bit nervous at that point because I knew that I was just four points away for winning such a big tournament. But then she played couple of good points, then she hold her serve. I'm glad that I won the game by 5-4, especially, you know, the point by 15-All when she was going to the net. I think that was one of the important points in the match. You know, I was just then concentrating on every point, trying not to think too much about how close I am. I was just trying to be aggressive at the end and just to play my game.

Q. There wasn't any thought that you weren't going to let her off a hook in the way that Venus escaped in Australia?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, of course I knew when you give a chance to these top players, they use it straightaway. So I knew that 5-4 game was I think the most important game of the whole match. I was just trying to be focused and fight for every ball.

Q. What did it mean to have both of your parents here for your first victory?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yes, that was for me something amazing. You know, that was always my dream to have both of them on my first final. So I'm very happy that my dad came, too, that they both were watching my match.

Q. Did he surprise you? Did you know he was going to fly in last night?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, I knew he was coming after I won the semifinal. So I was just so excited about it.

Q. Do you remember having been so comfortable with your game in the past in a match?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, actually I think this has been for me the best match that I have ever played because, you know, on the other side was Martina, that is one of the best players. Was tough for me because was final. I'm just so happy that I really played my best tennis tonight.

Q. When in the match did you know that you were playing your best and you could win this match, beat her?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, I was believing from the first point that I can beat her. I was just trying to do the right things, just to follow the tactic that we set up before the match. And it worked out.

Q. Were you surprised in a final that your game came so easily to you?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, not really, because in the practice I was hitting the ball the same way. I was working really hard in the last couple of months, so I knew that -- I was hoping that it was going to come out also during the match. I'm just so glad that it came tonight.

Q. What were the tactics?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, just play my game, to put Martina under pressure, to move her around the court, and just to be myself and fight for every ball. I mean, I was just trying to play my game.

Q. A little while ago we said to Todd Martin who has been on the circuit 12 years, "You lost, but you won $100,000. What does that mean to you?" He said, "It has no meaning." What does it mean for you to win $322,000?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, it's quite nice (smiling). For me, the most important thing is to win the tournament. That's I think what is all about, to win matches like that, you know, in front of such a great crowd on a stadium. You know, just to be out there in that great atmosphere, playing your best tennis, I think that's what's for me more important.

Q. Do you think you'll use any of that money for something special?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, I haven't think about that yet. I'm not sure. I mean, these things, I'm just trying to concentrate on my tennis. Of course it's nice that you get something. But, you know, I'm just enjoying my life so much that these things doesn't matter to me at all.

Q. Are you ready, do you think, for the increased expectations there are going to be on you now? Every time you go out and play now, you'll be in the category that everyone will expect you to win.

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, I think mentally I'm prepared for this. Already in the semis when I was playing a player that was ranked below me, I show that I can handle this pressure. I think I'm much stronger mentally now than I was a couple of months ago. So I think I'm ready.

Q. Any particular reason why you think you are mentally stronger? Is it just that you're growing up and getting more mature?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I think especially the matches against the top players that I have played in the past gave me a lot of experience, you know, just hard work. Working hard especially on the tactic side and mental side has helped me a lot. At this point I know more about the game, know more what to do in the important times. I think that makes the difference.

Q. It was very windy today. Martina was surprised that you could play such a high-risk game, going for so many lines, and be effective. Does that surprise you, too?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, I mean, was quite tough because was really windy tonight so the conditions were hard. I was just trying to go for my shots and play my game. Worked out quite well (smiling).

Q. Were you surprised at how the crowd picked up and kept following you, and today you were like the big fan favorite? How much did that mean to you?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, that means a lot to me. I mean, has been amazing how much support I have got from the crowd. I was just enjoying every second out there playing in front of them. Yeah, they have been great during the two weeks, and I will be always looking forward to come back here.

Q. We know when you were younger you used to watch Martina on television. Who earlier than that were your sort of tennis heroes, if you like?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, I was always watching the top players. But I was never trying to like follow them and to do the same things because I think every player should have his or her own technique and style of play, so I was always trying to be myself. But, of course, I was always following the best ones.

Q. Which ones did you appreciate watching the most?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: The most, I think -- well, I think Steffi was one of the greatest, so I always followed her. I admired her a lot, what she has achieved. I think she was one of the best.

Q. Any men?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Any men? Of course, Pete Sampras. I mean, what he has done, it's unbelievable. I think -- yeah, I think he's just the greatest.

Q. Did your father tell you what is the reaction in Slovakia?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, yeah. I mean, there was a lot of things in the newspapers about me. But, I mean, I didn't really look at a paper, so I'm not sure. I think there was a lot of attention about my name.

Q. We know Martina was born in Slovakia. I don't believe Lendl or Navratilova or even Mecir was. Who are the greatest athletes, greatest people from Bratislava?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I think tennis is pretty good in Slovakia. I think Miloslav is one of the greatest athletes.

Q. But from your city, Bratislava.

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I wasn't born there either, actually. I really don't know. I think the hockey players, they are playing in NHL, like Palffy, players like this. I'm not sure. I don't know.

Q. Do you think hard court is your best surface?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Actually, I don't care about the surface. I like to play on everything. I like grass, too, and clay, too. I really don't care about the surface.

Q. Did you have any special superstitions, anything you ate, or kept doing?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, of course, when you are doing well, you try to do the same things every day. There were a couple things I was following the whole two weeks.

Q. Such as?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Such as taking the shower at the same one that I did from the first day, things like that.

Q. Is that your lucky dress?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yes, also that. I mean, I was wearing it from the first match. I kept winning in it, so I wear it for the final, too. Yeah, that was my lucky dress.

Q. What do you think your greatest quality as a tennis player is?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I think that I just love the game so much that I am just enjoying to be out there, just, you know, always trying to play my best. When I set up some goals, I always do everything for it to achieve them.

Q. Do you think you will have time to regroup before Miami next week?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, I think so. I will take one or two days off and then back to practice again.

End of FastScripts….

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