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June 23, 2008

Elena Baltacha


6-2, 2-6, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Elena.

Q. What was going through your mind at the end?
ELENA BALTACHA: Well, you know, it was quite funny because when the draw came out, you know, I was looking at the draw and I thought, Okay, she'll be tough, but it's a very winnable match.
There was a bit of pressure there on me because it wasn't a top seed and it was very winnable. I was nervous, emotional. When I finally won it, you know, it was just pure relief, to be honest.

Q. Says a lot you can come through a match as tough as that at the end.
ELENA BALTACHA: Yeah. I mean, I thought I lost it three times. I got broken pretty much at the beginning of the third, and then again I think it was at 4-All or 3-All I lost my service game.
I thought, Oh, no. Then I played a good game, broke back, and then lost my service game again. You know, I just fought and fought today. I'm just so chuffed that all the work I've done at the NTC has really paid off today. You know, everything, the nutrition, the gym, on the court, so I'm really delighted.

Q. There is a bit of a rough deal in NTC, LTA, about your split from Alun Jones.
ELENA BALTACHA: Yeah, I split. It was a really difficult decision for me, but I really wanted to move on because we were together for a long time. I wanted different things. Just a new challenge really.
Yeah, the LTA has been fantastic. The facilities at the NTC are just world class. It's helped me look at not just tennis but other areas of my game, other areas off court, that I could improve on that will help me become a better player.
I've got a great team of people working with me on the strengthening and conditioning side, Nino Severino and Ben Haining are absolutely fantastic. Nigel Sears. The nutrition, Becky, and the recovery, so it's been fantastic.

Q. Has it been too easy to knock them? Is it time to give them a bit of credit now, the LTA?
ELENA BALTACHA: Yeah. I mean, you look at four or even five of us girls, we're coming up. We're all based there, apart from one. We're really pushing each other. The LTA have been fantastic. They really have supported us so much and really are backing us up. I really do thank them very much for that.

Q. What are you changing with the nutrition?
ELENA BALTACHA: Basically with the nutrition, I added quite a bit of weight end of last year, you know, because of my back. I had other kind of problems and stuff. You know, I wasn't fit.
I went to Doha just before I went to the NTC. Both of my legs completely cramped up. I was in last round of qualifying, and at 5-All I had to pull out because I just was in tears. I just couldn't believe it. My whole body just shut off. I knew I was unfit and I needed to do something about it.
But the nutrition side, what I'm kind of doing is just knowing what to eat at what time, what food does what to your body, and how it affects you. I've trimmed down a lot. I feel really fit. Physically-wise I'm at my peak at the moment.

Q. Have you had to cut anything out that you particularly like eating?
ELENA BALTACHA: Yeah, pizza. I'm really gutted. I'm sure I can have it as a treat.

Q. What type of pizza?
ELENA BALTACHA: Pepperoni. It's got to be.

Q. Are you able to tell us how much you lost?
ELENA BALTACHA: Do you know what, I actually don't know exactly, because they're basically measuring me on body fat percentage. But I've lost quite a bit, so I'm really chuffed.

Q. You spent a long time in the gym, as well?
ELENA BALTACHA: I do the gym maybe three, four times a week. I do a lot of prehab stuff on my back just as injury prevention. I take much better care of my body now, especially my back, so other things won't break down as well. Obviously, weights and some other stuff as well.
So, yeah, it's pretty much full on.

Q. You're a very emotional person. Do you tend to burst into tears when you're watching films, reading books?
ELENA BALTACHA: It depends, I guess. I am very emotional, because this does mean a lot to me. I love playing tennis. It hasn't been an easy kind of road for me.
But I think today more so it was just the relief that I knew that I could, you know, win today my first round, and it was just pure relief really.

Q. Can you remember the last time you cried?
ELENA BALTACHA: Probably a couple of days ago (laughter).

Q. What about?
ELENA BALTACHA: I don't know. Probably just had a couple of tears.

Q. You played a very entertaining match against Kuznetsova last week in Eastbourne. How does that make you feel, that you can really trouble a Grand Slam champion?
ELENA BALTACHA: No, it was really exciting. I mean, it was an exhibition match, but I knew that Kuzy was taking it seriously.
I had points to go 5-2 up in the first, lost 6-4, and then I won the second set after being 4-Love down in the tiebreak. Then the third set I had points for 5-3.
You know, it was an interesting match. But, you know, I took a lot of confidence from that.

Q. Based on today, do you think you have good chances to go deeper?
ELENA BALTACHA: Well, you know, my next opponent is really, really good. She's beaten Cibulkova. She's a good player. She's coming up the rankings. It will be a tough match.
As long as I just keep fighting, show my personality, just keep going, you never know. If I play really well it will be a really good match.

Q. About five players in the top 200. Are you optimistic for the future of the British women's game?
ELENA BALTACHA: I am, yeah. Yeah. Everyone's working very hard. I mean, I see -- obviously one of the girls isn't based there, but I see the other four. We're all working much harder.
The LTA are really backing us up. They're really supporting us. You know, and it's great rivalries. We're all kind of pushing each other up. Anne's broken into the top hundred. Katie is not far off. Hopefully I'm on my way there, as well.
So, yeah, I think it is looking much brighter.

Q. Do you think there's going to be a bit more pressure on you now, a Brit in the second round? Are you ready for it?
ELENA BALTACHA: Am I ready for it? No, I think it's -- you know, I think it's fantastic. The first hurdle was the first round. I managed to get through it. It's going to be a really tough match, but, you know, I don't know what's gonna happen.
As long as I fight, like I said, give it my best, you know, you don't know what's going to happen. I could have another surprise win.

Q. When you've had so many setbacks, have you ever thought, I just can't do this any more?
ELENA BALTACHA: Yeah, there have been times where it has been very difficult. But, you know, I still love tennis and I still think that I haven't fulfilled my potential and there's still a lot there, you know, for me to fulfill. I think that, my opinion. I think I still can be dangerous.
So I think purely for the love of it, as well. I'm constantly searching to be better, and hopefully I haven't run out of time. I'm 25 this year. But I am very positive about it. So hopefully injury-free another few years, and hopefully it will be a good couple more years.

Q. Do you think you tend to play your best tennis when your back's against the wall?
ELENA BALTACHA: I don't know. I think I probably relax a bit more because it's kind of, Oh, God. But I don't know. It's difficult to say because, you know, I'm always giving a hundred percent. I think it's probably -- I know I've come back from quite a few matches where I've been down.
But I think that's my fighting spirit. I never do give up. It would help if I start a bit better so I don't get myself into that kind of situation.
But, you know, I do fight all the time. You know, I'm just really chuffed that I can, you know, get it together at the right times.

Q. Would your father have been there today? And given his past as a professional sportsman, does he sort of play any role? Do you talk to him a lot about what you're doing, or has he stepped back?
ELENA BALTACHA: Actually, my dad wasn't here today because he couldn't get out of work, funnily enough. But he should be there on Wednesday.
Yeah, I mean, I speak to my dad quite a bit. My dad doesn't live far from here, so I meet up with him once in a while, especially I'm based at the NTC now, so I see him quite a lot.
Yeah, I mean it does help. My sporting background, my family's background is very sporty. So of course that helps, whether I speak to my mom, my dad, or my brother. So I get quite a lot of good feedback from them.

Q. Are you going to be able to celebrate with a slice of pizza tonight? Are you allowed?
ELENA BALTACHA: I don't know. You've got to ask my coach that (laughter).

Q. Was anyone else here supporting you today? Do you have a boyfriend? What happened with the towel at the end?
ELENA BALTACHA: I couldn't believe it. They took away the towel. I was so gutted. But at least, I don't know, Wednesday I can hide one or something when I walk on.
No, I had -- I only had three -- well, I had a few people watching. I had Stephen Marks, which is French Connection. He's my main sponsor, which was great to see him. Obviously Nino Severino. Ben Haining was there. Nigel Sears, and my mum.

Q. Do you have a boyfriend?
ELENA BALTACHA: No, I don't. To be honest, I actually don't really have time because I'm literally at the NTC like six days a week, and my days are very long. So I don't really -- I don't really have a life, to be honest, to put it bluntly (laughter).

Q. What happened with the towel?
ELENA BALTACHA: I don't know. I don't know why they took it away. He put his foot down. That was it.

Q. You were talking about how much you went through physically and emotionally. Does it make you a bit fed up when players say English girls don't want it enough? Clearly you do.
ELENA BALTACHA: Yeah, it does. It does, to be honest. But I think a lot of the attention is around the grass courts, and there's quite a lot of pressure, you know, with the media that is put. There is other tournaments during the year that we play that we've done well in, but everyone's got an opinion.
You know, I know that I'm the hardest worker. I always sacrifice and I always give my best. So, you know, as long as I know that I can look in the mirror and I know that I am always giving a hundred percent.

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