March 13, 1997
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
Q. The first set you were kind of like spraying balls all over the place or hitting them in the net. You kind of regrouped. What happened there?
IRINA SPIRLEA: I don't know. I had problems to see the ball. When I came on the court, I was like, you know, it's too dark out there. I never played a night match. I was trying to be more focused on the court. Spending the whole day waiting for the match, it's a long day. You cannot be very concentrate when you get in the court, if you are not used to. I was a little bit confused. I was looking all over. I was trying to get in the match, even if she was a set up.
Q. You never played a night match here or you never played a night match before?
IRINA SPIRLEA: Here never. I mean, last year was the first time when I played. I played only once on the stadium, and it was like first match at 10 o'clock or something. Night matches, I don't know how many. Maybe I played one. I cannot remember where. I don't think I played another.
Q. Were you nervous when you started out?
IRINA SPIRLEA: Well, I mean, I know with Arantxa, we have very close matches. She's not the kind of person who lets you go very easy from the court. I think I was a little bit nervous. But playing, I was trying to, I don't know how to say, liberate yourself from the tension.
Q. You've now beaten her three times in a row. You seem to know how to do it. What is your secret here?
IRINA SPIRLEA: Well, I don't think she's trying to miss a lot of balls because she's playing high, low, running a lot. I had the problem, you know, to get in to the ball, be the first one who is making pressure. I think I have a better forehand and I can make her run, try to move her a little bit. But I had problems to move my feet. I think if you make a little bit of pressure, it's okay, even if she's running.
Q. The third set she kind of starts coming back. What did you have to tell yourself or change?
IRINA SPIRLEA: I think she lost her concentration after she lost the second set. I was up 4-Love, you know. I mean, she missed few easy shots, so she was confused, then she was just serving, bam, bam, bam. I lost the game Love. I think she was kind of coming back. I was a little bit shaken when I served, 4-1. I was like, "No way, you have to be concentrate." It was impossible. I knew the game at 4-3 was very important to win. If it was 4-All, you never know what's going on.
Q. What happened on those service games? You had a lot of momentum, but then you played a couple of service games that didn't look so good.
IRINA SPIRLEA: I lost my rhythm, you know, with my movement, everything. I was confused, completely confused how I hit the balls. The last match when I played with Tauziat, I was very well coordinated. I don't know. From the first game when I started to play, I was not serving very well. I was not feeling, you know, that I can serve like I used to serve also in the practice. I was a little bit nervous.
Q. If your game isn't completely working the way you'd like it, are you surprised to be in the final here?
IRINA SPIRLEA: No. I mean, like when I played with Tauziat, I had a very good match, I hit everything, you know, very well. You cannot play every day the same, you know, because you never have the same opponent in front of you. With Arantxa, it's difficult. I mean, she's not giving you the rhythm to get like I like it in my game. If it's quicker, I think I like it better than when she's playing high, low, no power into the ball. I mean, let's say I was lucky that the first round I won the first match after I was 7-6, 5-1 down and match point. I think you got to call it lucky this.
Q. How good do you think you can be?
IRINA SPIRLEA: Well, I think everybody is thinking that you can be good, you know, like the others, you know. You try to do your best when you're on the court, you try to make a goal, you know, I want to reach Top 10, Top 5. You try to make it step by step. Last year for me was to reach the Top 10. I've done it, so now I want to be top 5. I look forward after I go there.
Q. Do people put pressure on you because you have a nice game, you have some power, people tell you you can be very good? Is it tough?
IRINA SPIRLEA: Everybody is saying, "You can do this, you can do that, you can be very good." The problem is you have to believe it. My problem before it was that I was like, "Yeah, yeah." After I start to work with my coach and manager, they're telling me, "You have to do this, this, this." They're trying to give me a lot of confidence, which I hadn't. I was having problems at the beginning. You like it when the peoples are saying, "You can be good," but you cannot listen only; you have to do it also.
Q. Is there anybody you think you can't beat? You played a tough match with Hingis in Australia.
IRINA SPIRLEA: Yeah, you made the point.
Q. You don't think you can beat her?
IRINA SPIRLEA: I play her so many times, I never won a set. It's not that I cannot beat her. She played so well against me and against everybody, I think she's in a good, you know, period that she won so many matches. It's not that you cannot beat anybody. I think everybody can beat everybody, so it's not that like it was before, Steffi cannot lose to anybody for I don't know how many years. I think now everybody can beat everybody.
Q. What have you done here besides play tennis?
IRINA SPIRLEA: Pardon?
Q. What have you done in Indian Wells besides play tennis?
IRINA SPIRLEA: I have been hitting few golf balls. I'm so hopeless. I was like, "Okay, next time." I've been lying at the swimming pool, working on my tan. Nothing special. It's not that I have so much time, you know. I like it here. It's quiet. You can be relax.
Q. Getting back to what you were saying about the confidence and your coach trying to get you to be more confident. How confident are you? Do you still have to work on that?
IRINA SPIRLEA: It's not that you can walk on the court and say, "I'm confident and I cannot lose this match," and you're not going to lose. You know, I was refusing to work a few things. I said, "I cannot do it." He was trying to say, "You can play the topspin backhand." I was saying, "I cannot do it." It's not because I cannot do it; I was not confident with myself doing that shot. He was trying to change my mind, to change my mentality. I think he's right.
Q. You said when you came onto the court, it was too dark out there. What did you expect at night?
IRINA SPIRLEA: Well, I know that it's night, but I was expecting like more light or something, I don't know, to see the ball. I was like, "It's a little bit too dark." I was expecting that the lights were, I don't know, different or something. I've never even watched a night match before so you can say how the court looks like. I think that was my problem. I should have watched a little bit the other matches, other night matches.
Q. Nastase was a great player from your country. Not that he affected your game, but did you know about him? Did you ever see him play? Is he a big star? People talk about him a lot?
IRINA SPIRLEA: At home, yeah. He's a star. I mean, I like Ilie because he's great. He was very funny on the court. He's a nice person. I mean, I met him a few years ago. I have been watching him after the revolution in Romania, because before it was impossible to watch the tapes. I couldn't get the tapes. I saw him in Australia first time on the tapes. I like it. It's fun to watch them play.
Q. You mean Australia this year?
IRINA SPIRLEA: No, four years ago or something. We had the tape and video, I put it because I never saw him play, final Wimbledon.
Q. Against Stan Smith?
IRINA SPIRLEA: Yes, when they had no seats at the change over. I was like, "What's this?"
Q. You weren't allowed to watch the tennis?
IRINA SPIRLEA: I couldn't get. Everything was Ceusescu. They were taking on his videos Ceusescu's conference or whatever it was. It was impossible to have a tape with him and watch it.
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