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January 23, 2008

Daniela Hantuchova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Was the match as easy as the scoreboard indicated?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, definitely was a tough match. I mean, I really had to play well in order to get that score. I was real proud how I handled the situation. I felt like I had a great opportunity to win this match, but I still had to go out there and play my best, which I think I did at times.
Yeah, I'm just extremely happy to be in the semis.

Q. Is this an extension to your good form of last year?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I don't know. I don't look at it like that. I just try to give my best in every match. Obviously it's a great start for this year. I couldn't ask for anything better.
Yeah, I mean, it's been great the last few months. I just hope to continue like this.

Q. Do you think it might be a different story if you didn't get rid of your doubles game?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I don't really think about that at all. I think all the top players do that. Once you know you are in the later stages of the singles tournament, you want to just focus on that.
Yeah, I think it was important that I save my energy for this match today.

Q. Is it a nice change to have everyone talking about your tennis as opposed to things going on in your personal life or your appearance?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, definitely that's what I always try to say, that I think we should be recognized more for what kind of athletes we are than perhaps the way we look and what kind of stuff we do outside the court. I think all of that, once we get on the court, we just want to play our best tennis, and don't really care what we look like.

Q. You've been playing a number of years now. First Grand Slam semifinal. What does this mean to you?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: It means a lot. I guess I had to get through all, you know, the tough times and get experience in order to be able to get to this stage. That's why I can appreciate moments like this much, much more. I'm definitely enjoying it and really happy.

Q. Do you notice anything you're doing differently this time that got you to this stage?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Like I said already a couple days ago, I think I realized that it's okay to do mistakes and it's okay to not always play my best tennis. But, you know, it's a nice challenge to have to always find a way how to get through a match, even not playing well. And I think it's something that I've improved a lot the last few months.

Q. In the past, when you would make those mistakes, what would go through your head?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I would just get too hard on myself and was not able to forgive myself any mistakes. I always wanted to have everything perfect. Yeah, I just realized that, you know, things are not always going to your way, and sometimes you have to work for them. And sometimes it's going to be tough, but it's the same in life. You have to get through some difficult times.
But at the end of the day, if you always give your best, you can feel good about yourself.

Q. How much do you miss Kim Clijsters?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, I've been thinking about her a lot because last year I lost to her here. Now she's expecting baby. She's been such a great friend of mine. I was just so happy the way things worked out for her. She's very, very happy with her family and the baby and stuff.
So, yeah, I'm just very happy for her.

Q. Are you in touch still?

Q. Have you spoken to her during the tournament?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Not during the tournament. But before we texted each other.

Q. Did you get nervous serving for the match the first time?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Not really, no. That's always going to be the tougher side because of the sun. So I didn't really see too much after hitting the serve. I was kind of just guessing where the ball was going.
Yeah, I was not really too tight.

Q. Is it tough playing out there? The match at the moment, six of the first seven games went against serve.
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: It's not easy, especially on the side you are against the sun, especially this time of day, it's really tough. Sometimes people don't realize, you know, that there are effects like sun or wind that we have to manage. Yeah, it was also pretty hot. But thank God there was no wind. So no complaints.

Q. Can you tell us how working with Marco has helped you out?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, he's been such a great help to my game, too, obviously joining the Sanchez Casal Academy has helped me incredibly improve my game. I think physically Marco has been a great help for me. Having a team around me like this gives me a lot of confidence and I'm really happy with them.

Q. How did you come across each other?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: A friend of mine suggested him. I mean, I heard that he was very, very good, which he obviously is. We tried it for a couple of weeks and it worked out well so we kept going.

Q. Are you surprised a little bit that, as good as you were even five years ago, that it took you this long to reach a semifinal of a Grand Slam?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Not really. I mean, I guess everybody has different times when they mature more. And I guess, like I said, I had to go through all those times and opportunities that I missed to be able to get here.
I do think a lot about things, so maybe it just took me a little bit longer. But I'm happy for every experience I had to go through.

Q. You see other players walk around, like the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova. They give the sense they feel as though they should be in Grand Slam finals. Do you feel you should be in a Grand Slam final?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Oh, definitely I feel like my game always belonged there. I just needed I guess to improve myself mentally, to believe it. I had people around me saying it to me. It was a matter of time actually myself starting to believe that, too.
I definitely feel like I belong there, as well.

Q. Was there a moment that you can remember believing that, a specific moment made you think you do belong?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, it's tough to say. I don't really remember the moment when it happened. I think it was just a matter of time, as well.

Q. You'll face a stiff test either way in the semifinals. You'll probably know whether your game is at the point you can beat an elite player. What do you have to do to bring your best?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, it's going to be, again, a new experience for me, which I'm really excited about. Either way, whoever I play, it's going to be a tough match.
But I've got nothing to lose. I'm in a great position. I'm feeling like I'm playing well. I'm just really looking forward to be out on the court again and give my best and see what happens.

Q. Could you clarify for us how many languages you speak?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Slovak, which is my native language. Obviously, with that you can understand Czech, Croatian a little bit. German, English. Little bit Italian as well.

Q. How would you rate your opponent's game today compared to your last meeting in Zurich last year?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, I knew I had to play really well to be able to Agnieszka. That's why I'm really proud the way I handled it. She's tough. I thought she was playing well. But I felt like I didn't give her too many chances to get into the match. I felt like I did everything right that I supposed to.
I think tactically I played quite a smart game.

Q. You said it's taken you some time to build the maturity and experience to be able to play at this level. Have you got any regrets from the past five years?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Absolutely not. I do believe strongly that everything happens for a reason.

Q. Do you still have any time to play piano?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Not too much any more. I mean, occasionally sometimes a little bit. But, yeah, I've been pretty bad on that.

Q. Is it something that in the past helped you to relax?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, it was a great way to relax, especially after a tough practice, tough day at school. I came back home and I had to practice for like 45 minutes every day. I was always so tired and sometimes falling asleep there.
But, yeah, it was really helping me to relax and just completely get away from everything.

Q. What are your favorite types of pieces to play when you do have time?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, I used to play all the classical things, so Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, that kind of stuff.

Q. The easy stuff?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: That's more difficult than I think the normal songs.

Q. For your home country I think you're the best Slovakian player so far going that far. Does it mean something for you coming from that small country?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, obviously it makes me very, very proud. I think, like you said, we are a small country. But I think we've got a great people. Being, you know, one of them, it's a great pleasure and honor. I always said it's so nice to be able to represent my country.
I can't really say if I'm the best or not. I'm sure there's been a lot of great players before me and hopefully after me. But it's definitely nice to be part of that.

Q. Will you celebrate this victory or do you have to put it behind you immediately and focus on the semifinals?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Just focus on the semifinals. Obviously there will be time after the tournament when I can sit back and enjoy all this. But at this stage of the tournament, I just want to focus on my next match, relax as much as I can tonight. But tomorrow is another day. I want to make sure I'm prepared as well as I can.

Q. How much does the doubles game help you to be successful in singles?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, I think definitely it helped me a lot to improve my game, coming to the net, having to serve and volley. Especially playing mixed doubles, having to return the guy's serves.
For me doubles and mixed doubles, it's just been always about fun, going out there and really enjoying the game.
Yeah, I had some great memories, especially from the Grand Slams. It's been nice to be able to play those parts of the events, as well.

Q. You're not playing mixed doubles here. Is there any reason?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: After winning all four Grand Slams, I kind of retired, felt like it's time to move on and focus on my singles.

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