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January 19, 2007

Nadia Petrova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What happened after the first set?
NADIA PETROVA: Well, all I can say is that Serena a little bit raised her game, and I started to be a little bit more careful on the court. Yeah, she started putting more pressure on me and she broke my serve.
I haven't been serving great today. The first serve percentage wasn't high enough. Yeah, but still, I fought my way back, was serving for the match. But if you watched the match, she came up with some unbelievable returns. She just went for the balls and she produced unbelievable backhand winner up the line from far behind the court.
Unfortunately I couldn't bring it -- that set to tiebreaker. I served at 5-6, a very poor game. And yeah, that's what gave her confidence already for the third set.

Q. How surprised are you that she could produce that kind of tennis?
NADIA PETROVA: You know, not surprised at all. They've always been tough competitors, her and her sister. And I also find that they usually have a bit of a struggle in the first rounds against average players.
Whenever they have to play a tough opponent, they are raising their game, and they feel a bit more free and are going for the shots.

Q. It seemed like once she raised her level that you couldn't match it.
NADIA PETROVA: Not that I couldn't match it. I must say there were a few unforced errors produced by me.
And I will say it again: I didn't serve as great as I did the previous match. That's why I know she just got ahead of me.

Q. Can you just talk about her running, because her conditioning obviously isn't 100 percent, but she's pretty fast still, huh?
NADIA PETROVA: I must say we were both moving a lot open court, and I really couldn't spot in her body language that she was exhausted. She looked fitter to me compared to what I've heard from other players the way she was playing in Hobart.

Q. Do you think she still has the best serve on the Tour?
NADIA PETROVA: She served extremely well today. It's not coming as hard as it used to, but yeah, the placing was good. And the most important points, the serve was there.
So it's really hard to say if it's still there or if she just had that kind of day that everything seemed to be working for her.

Q. After beating a player as good as you, I guess it's probably fair to say that you can't count her out of the tournament now, huh?
NADIA PETROVA: That would definitely boost her confidence. Yeah, I wish her good luck, and hopefully she can produce a bit of tennis and see how far she can go in this tournament.

Q. How much does it play on your mind, if at all, that she has a pretty big career advantage on you in matches? Does that come into your thinking, or do you think it affects the situation at all?
NADIA PETROVA: Well, whenever I went on court I felt very confident. And basically, I mean, if you look at the rankings, because I've been doing much better and I had a good season last year.
Yeah, I felt like I have a good chance. I mean, the match was -- it was fun to play it because you're still really two players fighting for it. We all gave 100 percent today.

Q. At 6-1, 5-3, are you thinking this match is on my rack or she's coming now?
NADIA PETROVA: Not really. She really started hustling and running for every single ball. I made a big mistake at 5-3. I had to probably step in the court and hit a couple of drive volleys, and I haven't done that.
I was pretty confident that I would be able to finish the match with my serve, but she came up with a few unbelievable returns and just really put me on the back foot.

Q. Was it a problem that the first set was so easy?
NADIA PETROVA: Oh, it absolutely wasn't. I played well. I didn't give her any chance to play. Maybe I just surprised her with the way I was playing, the way I was confident. It took her a while to find her game.

Q. How was the heat?
NADIA PETROVA: Yeah, the heat was -- yeah, it was fine. The only mistake we've done this morning is warmed up without any tape, so I started feeling it a little bit, so I had to tape it up for the match.
But besides that, it wasn't really bothering me, and I was moving very well today.

Q. If Serena plays as well as she did in the last two sets today, does she beat Jankovic?
NADIA PETROVA: I would say -- well, she has a chance if she can really start from the beginning, being very aggressive and take the lead. She has a good chance.
But if it comes to the third set, then the question mark of her fitness point will come.

Q. Were you surprised in this match that she didn't fade more in the third set?
NADIA PETROVA: She had no other choice. She had to -- she really had to fight for it, and she had to stay mentally strong, and I'm sure she knew it. She had no other option, and she did it today.

Q. Just coming in with your seeding and given that you had a good year last year except for the couple months you were injured, is this disappointing?
NADIA PETROVA: I mean, it's disappointing to drop out that early here in Australian, because I felt like I'm in very good shape. I had very good two cruising rounds. I've been unlucky here with the draw, but still, I had my chances.
There are some positive things which I can also take from this match, because I behaved there as a professional (laughing). There was not much body language or some emotions. I was very calm, I was in control of myself, and that's a positive thing I can take from this match.

Q. What was your plan tactically, strategically, going in against her today?
NADIA PETROVA: Moving her as much as I could, thinking that she's not fit enough, and try to create some angles. Yeah, put pressure, do what I usually do.

Q. Given the question marks about her commitment, how surprised were you that she was able to produce that level of tennis?
NADIA PETROVA: I'm sure she played some practice matches and some points, and she has such a long career. You know, she had so much experience. She won many tournaments, many matches, she's been through difficult situations, and she has a couple of matches already. So that definitely gave her a good feeling for today.

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