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January 25, 2008

Ana Ivanovic


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. With 24 hours to go, how are you feeling?
ANA IVANOVIC: Uhm, yeah, I feel good. I had a good practice this morning, all the stretching and recovery. So I'm really excited for tomorrow's match. I think it's going to be a great one.

Q. Do you think a lot about the match? Do you look back on last year's Roland Garros final and try and take something from that?
ANA IVANOVIC: Yes, for sure, because, you know, I was in that situation once before and I know I was very emotional and I experienced lot of things during that final.
You know, that's something I have to take from it as a positive. You know, tomorrow, when I walk on the court, I know a little bit what to expect. So in that way I can deal with it.
But, you know, I just don't want to get emotional. I want to just focus on my game and what I have to do, you know, to play like I played my previous matches and just think tennis and tactically.

Q. What was the most difficult thing for you last year during that Roland Garros final?
ANA IVANOVIC: During the whole tournament, I really took it match by match, and really tried to enjoy each match separately. You know, then in the final, I was thinking more, Oh, my God, maybe I can win a Grand Slam. I start thinking more emotionally. It was very overwhelming. Whole atmosphere, everything, was just too big to that moment.
So, you know, that's something I definitely have to learn from and this time hopefully deal with it better.

Q. Are you confident you will react in a different way tomorrow?
ANA IVANOVIC: You know, I just want to go out there and try to perform the best I can because, you know, it's another experience for me and I just want to go for it and enjoy it. I'm sure I'll have plenty opportunities in future tournaments, as well.

Q. You said you reacted too emotionally. But you're an emotional player who also uses energy and positive emotions, celebrating. How do you balance that with trying to keep calm at the same time?
ANA IVANOVIC: Yeah, emotions are definitely not a bad thing. It's something that actually got me where I'm here today. It's just important to learn how to make it work for you instead of against you. And that's something I've been working on really hard because, you know, sometimes if I make a few mistakes, in the past, I used to get very upset about it and sort of got on that bad roll.
But now, you know, I can control my emotions a little bit better and just to direct them in a positive way. I really hope I can be mentally strong out there tomorrow and do the same thing.

Q. We see a lot more fist pumping. Is that part of it?
ANA IVANOVIC: Yeah, definitely, I try to support myself and just be positive. You know, even if I make a mistake, just try to have short memory and forget about it and move on to the next point because, you know, in the tennis, you get opportunities every time. It's just important to stay alert and, you know, realize that opportunity and make that step to take it.

Q. Maria's performance, is this the best you've seen her play?
ANA IVANOVIC: Yeah, she's definitely in a good shape and she's been playing some good tennis this last couple of weeks. Yeah, she improved her movement. And her serve, it's very high percentage, really strong.
So, you know, it's going to be interesting match. We are 2-All in victories. I managed to beat her before, so that's something I have to look for and try to perform like I did that time.

Q. Have you been enjoying writing your newspaper column here in Melbourne the past couple weeks?
ANA IVANOVIC: Yeah, definitely it's just a way to make fans aware of what we do in our off time. It's very interesting, like, in the mornings, when I go to get juice, they always come up and say, Oh, we read your columns, it's great.
You know, it's just I think a nice thing, a nice thing to do, and I've been enjoying it a lot.

Q. Do you think it's created more attention about you?
ANA IVANOVIC: Yeah, it's so exciting. Yesterday, when I was in the court, I was so surprised to see how many people, you know, supported me. They helped me so much to win that match yesterday. It's obviously a great feeling because I feel so comfortable out here, you know, just having so many fans. It's another positive thing.

Q. No doubt you get nerves before a big match like this. When do they take effect? How do they affect you? How do you control them?
ANA IVANOVIC: Well, it's very individual. Everyone gets, you know, in its own way a little bit nervous and tight. I tend to stop moving. Just very important for me to get that, you know, good rhythm from beginning and to have a good warmup, to get, you know, a little bit sweating before walking on the court. That's something I find works for me to help me prevent getting really nervous.

Q. Do you find anywhere Maria is vulnerable? Do you have anything you have to do particularly well?
ANA IVANOVIC: If I say that now, when she reads paper tomorrow, she will know my tactics (laughter).
No, it's definitely a tough opponent. And I think the first shots will be very important tomorrow. You know, serve return will be one of the key strokes out there. So, you know, I just want to focus on that and, yeah, from first shot on, to be alert.

Q. What would it mean to get a Grand Slam win so early in your career?
ANA IVANOVIC: That would be amazing. It's a dream coming true. But as I said before, I just don't want to think about it that way, just as, you know, satisfaction to win another match, that's how I want to walk out there.
Yeah, it's going to be a tough competition. But I look forward to the challenge. I love challenges.

Q. Tactically do you feel like you're a much better player now? If you're not playing well in the middle of the matches, are you able to think your way through and change things around better?
ANA IVANOVIC: That's something that I feel more comfortable with, with the way I became fitter. Even if I have a few bad games, I still know I can come back because I have energy to fight through it. That's something I haven't experienced in the past. It's definitely exciting, you know, to realize these new things about myself and my game.
That's something I can hold back on, too. But I just want to, yeah, try to take basically chances and don't get in situations like I was a little bit in yesterday's match.

Q. Maria spoke a lot about her mother yesterday, the relationship with her mother. Can you talk a little bit of your relationship with your mother, how she supports you off court, anything on court? Is it more mother/daughter or is there a little bit of coach/daughter?
ANA IVANOVIC: No, it's like mother, daughter and friend, because she's like my best friend, too. It's so important to have her on the road with me because it's already a few years now that she travels. If she wouldn't be with me, it would be much harder.
You know, it's hard enough already being so much away from the rest of my family. So, you know, whenever I go back, I have someone to talk, not only in my mother language, but also to ask for advice. Because who can give you more honest advice than your mom?
It's such a great thing to have her there. And she's also my biggest supporter. You know, she never really, you know, beat me up or gets upset on me (laughter). So it's great because I feel like she understands me.

Q. What is her advice for tomorrow?
ANA IVANOVIC: Every time I go on the court, she say, Just enjoy, try to play own game. She hates to see me getting upset, hitting my racquet. But, you know, now I'm controlling that a little bit better. So she just say, Be happy, smile and enjoy.

Q. You've spoken in the last few days about the improvement in your movement. Other than that, what else have you improved in your tennis and how you approach your tennis?
ANA IVANOVIC: Since I change racquets, I feel my backhand improved a lot. I got much more work on the ball. That's something I noticed a big change. It obviously gives me a lot of confidence because now, you know, I always had quite a good forehand, but now I feel also very comfortable on that backhand side. It's definitely just another shot I added.

Q. Is it the racquet or the strings and the racquet?
ANA IVANOVIC: I'm still playing with the same strings, so I think it's the racquet definitely. Since I start playing, you know, tried it for the first time, straightaway I felt different on my backhand. You know, it helped me with just my swing and my work on the ball. Obviously, that worked well for me, so I was really happy.

Q. Is it stiffer or heavier?
ANA IVANOVIC: Heavier, much heavier. The balls are coming much heavier. Also, you know, on my forehand and serve, I got much more margin and work on the ball.

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