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March 18, 2008

Daniela Hantuchova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. So Sania didn't work you out hard enough, you had to go hit, huh?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: It's kind of my routine. I always do that after every match. Doesn't matter if it's easy or tough.

Q. Does it work well for you, or are there sometimes after a match you think, I'm not going to do this?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: If it's really long and my coach sees I'm exhausted then we don't do it, but usually it's nice to clear the game and get the rhythm back again.

Q. You didn't need too much cleanup today? First set was great, and the second set was pretty good moments and the big points and played well.
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Definitely. I thought it was a great match. Sania is a great hitter. I was expecting really a tough one, and just being able to be in the quarters without losing a set feels really great.

Q. It's not that often you get to the quarters without losing a set, huh?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, I know, that's why it feels so great.

Q. She says that because you hit a little flatter she thinks that the climate here and the altitude and the courts suit your game really well because your balls go deep and they're penetrating.
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Actually, I would think on this court I'm actually able to hit with a little more spin than I'm normally used to, and I think especially also my kick serve, I think the court takes the bounce very well.
I think more than the air is the bounce of the court that I like so much.

Q. Can you talk about the potential challenge ahead potentially facing Maria.
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, it's going to be an exciting match. She's playing obviously in great form, so it will be a good test for me. I feel like I own this place. I'm here and anything can happen. I'm confident, but obviously if I want to win I have to play my best. Let's see if I will be able to do that.

Q. You've talked about this before, but just a little bit about your forehand, which over the last couple years, maybe since you started working with Sanchez-Casal, seems to be a bigger weapon and more consistent, too.
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Definitely. I feel I've improved it so much since I started to work with Angel, and I've been able to put more spin on it, especially when I needed to. I was able to, especially today, to just make it to the quarters before where I made mistakes and make it more difficult for myself in the matches.
Having a bigger forehand definitely takes the pressure from my backhand away. So I want to swing out more, and it's just a nice, nice balance to have.

Q. I presume you're going to represent your country in the Olympics; is that right? Can you understand players that don't want to do it?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, I guess when they have different priorities probably, you know, playing for the country is not as important. But personally it's going to be the highlight of my year. Olympics are actually the reason I started to play tennis, because it was the first time I saw tennis on TV when Miloslav Mecir won gold medal for my country.
I asked my parents what kind of sport it was and I asked them to buy me a racquet so one day I could make it to the Olympics.

Q. That was your first conscious memory?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, I was five years old. It was '88 in Seoul.

Q. Have you ever told him that, that he was your inspiration?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: He knows, yeah. Yeah, he was in Athens with me, so it was kind of special moment.

Q. Can you talk about Maria's intensity level on court and how it can be difficult to match that, not just balls and where you're hitting it, but just how she stays in?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I think mentally she's one of the toughest players. Even though sometimes her game is not there but she never fights against herself. She is always on her side, and that's what makes her so strong.

Q. At this point in this tournament, compared to your two championship years, do you feel you're playing as good or maybe better than you were in those two tournaments at this point?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: It's tough to compare. I mean, every year is different, but I feel like I'm hitting the ball well again. I'm doing it the same way as last year, so those two are pretty good signs. We'll see what's going to happen.

Q. You said this is sort of your magic court and you own the place. Are there tournaments you go to and you think, No way can I win on this court?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, there are a few places that are just so, so tough to play. Some places you just feel so, so great about. Nothing that's better than this one here, that's for sure.

Q. Watching Monica tonight?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, for sure. I'm so happy I finished early so I can stay quiet and watch it for sure. What time does it start? 8:00?

Q. Probably 8:00, yeah. Do you dance?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Little bit, and it's actually something I so much wanted to do one day. They did it in our country, but obviously you have to stay there for I think a month or two, at least, to be able to train and everything, so it's impossible. But I love the show.

Q. So they have a version in Slovakian?

Q. Would you do it?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I would love to. It's fun.

Q. Would you do it with Matt? (laughter.)

Q. You're going to have to give me lessons. I'm the less than professional one. Who was the last big celebrity in Slovakia who won? Do you remember? Or anyone who participated?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, all of them I think are celebrities.

Q. A lot of hockey players?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, it was -- yeah, there were a few athletes, then kind of also like TV commentators and stuff. I don't remember.

Q. Any of the hockey players get up there and dance?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I think so, yeah. Because we already had two years of this. I'm trying to remember. Yeah, there were a few athletes for sure. I don't remember the names, but it was fun.

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