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June 15, 2006

Dmitry Tursunov


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You quite like playing Tim Henman, don't you?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: So far, yes. But I think the main difference would be is that this is not a Grand Slam, so the match is gonna be out of three sets.

Q. How special was it for you last year to actually come here and play against him at Wimbledon, beat him in front of the home crowd?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Well, I didn't really think about that before I did it, because then I had some difficulties leaving the country and just going outside in general. So I should have thought twice before winning that match (smiling).

Q. Why? What happened?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: I don't know. I'm just kidding.
No, it was definitely special because Wimbledon, it's the most coveted title, and the tournament itself is pretty special because of the history.
So playing in Centre Court in itself is a pretty big honor. Certain people do it on a daily basis, but, you know, not everyone can do that. So it was pretty special.

Q. Are you the sort of player that either yourself or your coach goes out and scouts the opposition and you really work out a solid strategy beforehand, or do you have just a basic strategy?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Does it look like I have a strategy when I play (laughing)?
No, you know, certain things you want to know about your opponent, but my game is not necessarily based on scouting and playing a certain pattern, you know. Just kind of like a machine gun, you know. If you hit the target -- if you shoot 16 bullets a minute, you're gonna hit a target eventually. Kind of like that, I guess. Just kind of hit and hope that it's gonna go in.

Q. Does that surprise you that you've had the success in the longer matches against him?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Well, uhm, you get a little bit more rhythm the longer the match goes. So, you know, it's hard to tell what the difference would be because I've never played against him in a short match.

Q. Less rounds to fire off on the machine guns.
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Yeah, yeah (smiling). Well, you know, I've been running out of ammo towards the second set for the last couple of days. Hopefully, that's not going to be the case tomorrow.
But, you know, it's going to be a new match. Just because I won the last three matches doesn't mean that I'm gonna win again. He seems like he's doing well. He hasn't -- I don't think he's -- I don't know if he dropped his serve or not, but I don't think he lost a set yet. He's definitely playing well.
In Paris I had some difficulties in the second day of our match, so, you know. He's definitely playing well, and it's going to be a lot of problems for me to play him. But, you know, depends how I'm gonna play, how he's going to play.

Q. Do you look for his name in the draw?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: No, no, no. I'm not that mean (smiling).

Q. Why do you think it is that your game matches up? That can happen in tennis, can't it, one player always fancies himself against another.
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Right. Yeah, I think like Roger and Lleyton. Lleyton has been having difficulties.
You know, just certain players for whatever reason. You know, I think my game might be -- you know, because I'm more of a power player, maybe that gives him difficulties to volley. He's not really, you know -- the way he's playing, he plays with a lot of feel, you know, places the ball. So if the ball comes in at you 100 miles an hour, it's very hard to place it or to, you know, pinpoint where you want to hit it. So I think that has something to do with it.

Q. Of the three wins, would Wimbledon have been the most pleasing for you because it was his backyard?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Well, I think all of them were, you know, pretty special, I guess, because it's another round at a Grand Slam. But Wimbledon would probably be, you know, because of where it happened and, you know, Centre Court, so it's definitely probably the most special one.

Q. Which one do you think you played the best tennis in?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: I would say either Australian or French. You know, the French, it was two different days, so. On the first day I was playing a lot better than the second day, and he did the opposite. I would say that the French I was playing a little bit better, but the Australian I played a difficult match throughout.

Q. At the French, did you want to go off and he wanted to stay on?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Well, I don't think I really had a choice. Once one of the opponents wants to quit - well, not quit, but wants to stop - because he can't see the ball, then I can't really force him to play, or I can't continue to play without him (smiling).

Q. He made the point when you actually went off that the light was better than halfway through.
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Right. Well, it was pretty obvious why he stopped. He wasn't really hiding it, too. But it's up to the referee to see whether it's a viable excuse or whether it's just a reason to stop the match and, you know, just somehow throw me off the rhythm.

Q. I know you don't need an invitation to hit the ball hard, but did that give you an extra incentive to hit it hard, thinking he can't see it?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: No, no, no. You know, I realized why he did it, and we actually kind of joked about it in the locker room. He said he didn't even hope that the guy's gonna stop the match because when we went out, it was actually darker than when we stopped. So it was kind of odd, why the referee would decide to do it.
But, no, I mean, he did everything right. I mean, he's trying to stay in the match and he's trying to do everything possible. You know, he didn't have any chances the day we played, so the best thing he could do is stop.

Q. But during the first two sets, your ball was going so hard. He was, "I didn't see it."
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Well, I mean, I kind of generally do that, so I don't think he had anything to do with it.

Q. Do you go along with the belief now that grass is a lot slower? Can you give an impression of when you perhaps first played on grass to what it is like now?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: I've only played for the last four years, I think, on grass. The first year I only played one match: I showed up, I lost, and I left. So I played for two --

Q. Here?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Quallies of Wimbledon.
So the first two years I really just played qualifying and two or three days maximum in one year. So it's kind of hard for me to tell.
But this year I think it's kind of surprising because a lot of people are having difficulties keeping serve, and it has been pretty difficult for me as well to keep serve. Because I've been struggling on my serve consistently, and it seems like it's almost easier to return these days on grass than to serve, which I don't think was the case.
So something has had to change. I'm not sure whether it's the balls, whether it's the surface, whether it's the players that return better nowadays, but something has been changing. So that's also one of the reasons why for Tim it's so difficult. Because his game, his game style is a little bit -- I mean, I don't want to say old-fashioned, but it is because not too many players play like that anymore because it's so difficult to win consistently with that type of style.

Q. Is it fair to say you wouldn't come on to this surface too fearful? You'd be pretty confident of your own ability to play on it given the way --
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Well, I think that a lot of players are proving that you don't have to serve and volley; you don't even have to volley once. The only time you come to the net is to shake hands and for a coin toss.
So that -- I think that fear of not being able to play on grass because you don't know how to volley, not too many players have that.

Q. When we talk about obviously you having a hold over Tim, is there one player that has a hold over you, that you've lost to several times?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Roger Federer (laughing). I lost to him once.
I can't think of one, but it's happened where I've lost two or three matches. You know, I've been on the circuit for only two, three years, so I didn't play one person consistently enough to, you know, have such an outstanding losing record.
But, you know, I'm pretty sure that if I had to play Roger quite a few times, it probably wouldn't be too -- chances wouldn't be too good for me to have --

Q. Do you remember who you lost to the first round in quallies?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Yes, I lost to -- I did. I remembered until you asked me. Simoni from Brazil. I don't know if he's playing or not anymore.
Then in the next year I lost to Karlovic in the second round. That was the year when he beat Hewitt.
The next year I was already in the main draw, and the fourth year was last year. So this is my fifth year at Wimbledon.

Q. How old were you when you came to the realization that you could hit a tennis ball harder than most mere mortals?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Well, I -- there's quite a few players who can hit it pretty hard. But I think that was, you know, probably in Juniors. Because you can -- you obviously compare yourself to people that you're playing against. For me it's hard to tell because when I watch somebody from the side, it always seems like they're hitting a lot harder than when you play against them. Because you're so used to playing against people that when you step outside -- it kind of would be like if you're driving 80 miles an hour, you don't really feel like you're going too fast. But if you stand outside and the car drives by at 80 miles an hour, it seems like it's very fast.
So kind of similar problem when you're playing. I never really thought of whether I'm hitting hard or harder than others, but that's what everybody says, so.

Q. What's made the difference? You've always hit the ball hard. Is it keeping it in court more? Is it more consistent?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Well, that's the general idea (smiling).
Yeah, I would say that the physical aspect of the game is not an issue for me; it's more of how to play, when to go for my shots, when not to go. It's always a fine line between playing recklessly and playing too much percentage tennis.
Certain people have to abide by percentages simply because their game dictates to play like that. But to me, you know, my game is still based on hitting the ball and going for my shots. But, you know, sometimes you just want to cut down on going crazy on the court. Sometimes you don't need to do that. So that has been the main issue in my game.

Q. Are you as happy with your grass court form at the moment as you were this time last year?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Uhm, I would say that it felt last year that I was a little bit more comfortable on it, but I think that everyone is in the same shoes. It's the first grass court tournament. And even though we've been playing for seven, eight days on grass, it still takes a little bit of time and a couple of matches to really feel comfortable in it.
So I think, I mean, you know, winning matches is definitely better than feeling comfortable and losing them. So I'm happy that I'm winning, but I wouldn't say that I'm at my best grass court game yet - hopefully tomorrow (smiling).

Q. Watching the match in Paris, we're very lucky because where we sit is right in front of the court. It's a very kind of intimate court there.
DMITRY TURSUNOV: If you're bragging, I had better seats so (laughing)...

Q. Just watching you, you don't get at all -- you never seem to get upset, you don't throw your racquet. Have you ever been in --
DMITRY TURSUNOV: No, well, I just know that there's some people from newspapers sitting in front of you, I don't want to do anything because I know it's gonna be in press the next day.

Q. You were muttering something in Russian to your coach.

Q. No, you seem to be in total control.
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Well, yeah, I mean, I kind of keep my emotions under control compared to let's say Goran or some other people. But I don't know. What do you want me to comment on?

Q. I just wondered if you'd ever been --
DMITRY TURSUNOV: I was abused as a child (laughing).

Q. Did you throw racquets when you were young?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: I was never like Roger, no.
No, of course I've been throwing my racquets around, but at a certain point I think the biggest problem why people throw racquets is because - especially when you're younger - is because you don't really understand why you're losing or what's happening, so you're kind of frustrated.
I mean, not knowing what's going on and why you're all of a sudden missing compared to four winners last game, (forces?) errors. If you're having that problem, then you're not really understanding what's going on and that's when you get frustrated.
Right now, if I do lose a point or if I miss, if I miss a few times in a row, as long as I know what's happening and why I'm missing, you know, I'm not going to be angry with it. I get more frustrated when I know that I shouldn't be hitting a certain shot and I keep going for it and losing because of it. That's the most frustrating thing to me.
But, you know, couple years ago, three, four years ago, I was going nuts just like everybody else. At certain point, you come to the realization that it affects your game negatively and that, uhm, you know, it's not really good to be breaking racquets because you can't get them back as fast as you can break them.

Q. Just on a biographical thing, it's not clear in the media guy, how old were you when you moved from Russia to California?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Twelve and a half.

Q. Was that a tennis move or a family move?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Yeah, no, no, no. It was a tennis move. It was just me. My parents stayed in Russia.

Q. And, you know, it wasn't a Bollettieri sort of thing. What was it?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Well, it was actually just an individual -- my father met his father in Moscow and they agreed that I will come to United States to try it for a month and see how it goes. And I was just working one-on-one with a coach and, you know, I liked -- well, I didn't really had any say-so, but my dad liked the situation and the coach wanted to work with me, so I stayed there. And soon after I moved, the coach opened an academy simply -- well, he started inviting kids to hit with me and then kind of eventually opened an academy because we had four, five kids training together. So that was --

Q. How long did you go without seeing your parents?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Uhm, well, I think my dad came after about -- I went back for a year, yeah. Once or twice I went back. And then -- so I came in '95. So after '96 I didn't go back for nine years, and my dad came over, I think, four or five years after. Once my mom came once. I saw my dad again a couple of times.

Q. Must have been a tough childhood, adolescence?
DMITRY TURSUNOV: Well, that's what he -- I told you I was abused (laughing).
No, no. It had its own difficulties, but I think everyone has some sort of a story behind, you know, especially tennis players or any other sport. At a certain point you have to sacrifice certain things, so those were my sacrifices.
But, you know, it's actually not such a bad thing not to have parents around when you're twelve and a half, so I wouldn't complain (smiling).

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