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January 23, 2007

Nicole Vaidisova


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Was your serve and return the key to your win today?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: Well, it's definitely always a big key, my serve and return. But, yeah, I served pretty well. I'm really happy the way I returned her serve.
She's tricky. She's a lefty. She can have those weird rotation slices. I read it well. Happy about that.

Q. Going into a semifinal now, are you happy with your game overall?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: Definitely very, very happy and excited. The first Grand Slam of the year, you have some off-season. You don't know how you're going to come back.
But I had a great start of the year. Now just keep improving.

Q. Does it feel different or better than your last semifinal?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: No, I mean, it's both. I'm very happy. Maybe that was the first time. You're so, so excited. Now you try to be calm more about it. Just go back, relax. There was a little different. I had my whole family there. Here, it's my dad, my agent.
But still very, very excited.

Q. Do you think you can draw from that experience?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: Definitely. It's a position I've been before, so I know how to handle it better.

Q. How do you assess Lucie's performance?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: She played well, I think. It's always good when you play the way you don't have anything to lose. You're playing up, so it's always a little easier. But I think she played very well.

Q. How close are you to Safarova? Are you friends?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: We know each other. We played the Fed Cups together. We say, Hi, but we're not very close friends, no.

Q. Can you tell us about each of the two opponents you might play?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: I still haven't seen a point. I've been running around doing everything, treadmill, trying to get some lunch. It's a semifinal. It's going to be tough no matter what.
I've never played Serena before. She's definitely a great champion. I expect a tough match from her.
Shahar is a great fighter. She keeps fighting till the end. She proved that here. Either way I'll have to step it up, play a hundred percent again.

Q. Must feel strange never having played Serena.
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: I know, definitely. But I would be excited to play either one. At the end of the day, when you step on the court, you don't look who's against you, you just play your game and try to win.

Q. What was the first time you saw Serena?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: Probably in Bollettieri's. She came and practiced, or playing matches. I was definitely a big fan of hers, admired the way she played.

Q. Was she especially intense in practice?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: Yeah, I watched her practice. I was 11 years old, 12. I was very excited to see her play, to see her there. Definitely very impressed with her.

Q. Was it one of those, Wow, I hope to hit the ball like her someday?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: Definitely at 12, you don't get to hit as she does, no. We'll see if she gets through. I could face her in the match.

Q. How much mental work did you do in the off-season as opposed to training?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: Not too much crazy. Nothing in particular. I think as you age, you get more mature, I hope. But, you know, it's definitely, you know, improving everything, just getting better.

Q. Do you feel more composed on the court when the big points come?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: I think, yeah, I'm definitely able to handle tough situations better, breakpoints better. I was down, as well, a couple breakpoints today. Handled that well. Got my first break back. That makes the match.

Q. There are so many Russians and some Czech. Sharapova and Vaidisova from American school. In which sense do you think you are still Czech?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: I think in every single one. I think deep down I'm Czech. Czech is home for me. Every time I go back to Prague -I try to go as much as possible - that's home. Family is there. Everybody is there.
I'm very proud to play for Czech. I would love to play in the Olympics. Didn't get a chance last time. But, of course, Florida gives a great opportunity for practice. Some great conditions. Try to use those.

Q. How well do you assimilate in the U.S.? When you're in Florida, do you feel like one of the other teenagers?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: Yeah, I try when I get off the court. I do things I think everybody else does. I go to movies, hang out with my friends, my family. I try to have as normal a life as possible.

Q. Maria said she feels a little bit bi-cultural. She feels Russian, but also feels when she's in the US that she's just somewhat of an American.
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: Of course, you get the thinking. You speak with them a lot. You get a mix of both. So you're definitely influenced by it a little bit, yeah, for sure.

Q. How difficult is it to change from America coming back to home? Everything is different.
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: Everywhere I have a Czech mind. It's not like when I go to Asia I try to change to my Asian mind, then I use my Australian mind. You feel the influence, so you have different points maybe a little bit.
You have different views, maybe more views because you see it from both sides. Yeah, I'm definitely influenced by America, but still keeping my one Czech mind.

Q. In looking forward to the semifinal, do you look at previous matches, tapes of other tournaments, or do you just look at their results from this tournament?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: I just prepare. I don't really look who they've played before, how they do. Like I said, I haven't seen one point of their match yet. Just try to do my thing.
Of course, my dad is probably going to go see them play a little bit, give me a couple pointers. That's it, just try to do my thing.

Q. You played Shahar once. Do you think you'd have to take a slightly different approach against her than Serena?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: Well, I haven't seen the match so I don't know which approach Serena is taking so far.
Like I said, she's a grinder. She definitely fights for every point. You have to keep playing. You can't give loose points. You have to commit a hundred percent and just keep to it.

Q. Is Serena still intimidating?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: I think for some people, yeah. On the court, when you play, you don't think if she won a Slam or not. I block that out. I have a lot of respect for her. I don't think I'll be going out there, if I play her, scared. But, of course, a lot of respect for what she's done.

Q. What point do you start to contemplate being a Grand Slam champion? Do you start to think about that possibility now?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: I think I would start to think about that possibility in the final at match point. So far you say one or two matches, but now those are the matches that are so tough. My whole approach was, as before to a Grand Slam, take it match by match. I'll give it a hundred percent each and then we'll see.
I'm going to stick to it and keep doing that, not look ahead.

Q. Did you do that at the French Open?
NICOLE VAIDISOVA: Not really. I really tried to just focus on that particular game, not get too excited what could happen. Just keep that in mind, this is a match now. If I win, then I'll think about the next one.

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