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June 27, 2008

Svetlana Kuznetsova


S. KUZNETSOVA/Zahlavova Strycova
6-2, 6-4

Q. Could I ask you how you felt about your game today and what do you think needs improving?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Well, I think it was a bit rough start because I didn't play her for a while so I didn't know much to expect. I had problems with my return games, and then I get used to it.
I was one set 6-2 and it was 2-Love and then rain start and it was really dark out there. I get some food, and straightaway we went on the court, so I was not feeling the greatest. But still, I had to play.
I was not moving well in the end, I think, and that's why she broke me two times. She was doing many unforced errors and I was not serving that well, and I was missing so many approaches.

Q. Were you put off by her fury, if we can call it that, in the first set?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Well, it was weird, because I was just looking to the fans, and then I see one linesman coming to the chair and saying something that was weird, and then her reaction was even more weird to me.
But I know she was like this since juniors, so that's fine.

Q. Do you feel you've now got the game and the capability to progress beyond the quarterfinals this year?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Well, definitely I can progress. I have very tough next round and looking forward, but I feel every day more comfortable playing on grass. This is what's very important for me.

Q. When you're playing a singles match, what's the most important aspect of this sport, this one-on-one competition?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I guess when you play one-on-one, it's like yourself. You have to lay all on yourself. It doesn't matter what people say. It doesn't matter the recommendation you get before the match. It's only yourself and your opponent who is fighting against each other. It's a lot of mental stuff.
Also when you play you've got to control everything you feel inside. So this is for me very special, because it doesn't matter how many people come, it's only yourself who can change everything.

Q. And how does that distinguish maybe what you do from other sports and other pursuits?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: From other sports? Which? What? Like soccer?

Q. Sure.
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I was thinking about it today because we play, okay, Grand Slam final, like US Open is 25,000 people watching, right? It's big, and there's only two plays.
But then there is whole soccer stadium. It's a lot, but it's also many players. So it's slightly different, but it's great, you know, to play in front of a crowd for any sport.
I think when you're young, you're growing up, first you get scared when you play in front of big crowd. Like first time I remember me playing I couldn't sleep the night after. I was so excited. I also won and everybody was watching me, and it was, like, amazing.
And now when it's not many people you're not so, so pumped up. But with many people you have so much pleasure to play, so I think it's very different.

Q. Is there anything you would compare it to, that one-on-one aspect of singles tennis?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I think it's lots of mentally. You compare it to another one-on-one sports, but, like, I don't know which one are they. Like maybe badminton, maybe table tennis.
But it's different because it's mentally, but also physically.

Q. Do you think you get the recognition your seeding and your ranking possibly deserves when you come here? You sometimes seem to get overlooked with Ana or Maria. Do you feel jealous?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I cannot say, because I don't know what they get because I'm not on their sport. You know, I'm my sport. I'm fine with whatever I get. If I get more it's fine. That's the way it goes. And if I get less it's fine. That's the way it goes.
I cannot change the way it goes, so for me it's worse not to put attention on that. I guess she get more attention, but also Ana is No. 1 now. She won French Open.
And Maria, she was also No. 1. They have maybe different marketing than I do. They are maybe more commercial. But, you know, I come here, and I think for everybody and for me and for Ana and for everybody, is how we play tennis. Outside is outside.

Q. There was a certain degree of warmth in the crowd's reaction after your game today, wasn't there, when you were throwing the sweatbands into the crowd and they responded to you? There seemed to be a degree of warmth from the Wimbledon crowd towards you.
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It's great. For me it's not about how much attention I get. It's not about how people treat me. You know, I like to be nice to people, so I think you always would get back these things.
For me when you play and you play in front of crowd and you get connection, this is very special. This is what's important for me.

Q. Do you feel you'll never be a complete tennis player until you have a Grand Slam?

Q. Sorry, to have Wimbledon.
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Well, I mean, I think Justine never had Wimbledon and she was No. 1. She won many other tournaments, other Grand Slams.
For me she was one of the best players, you know, so it's hard to say.

Q. Is it like a holy grail for every player?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It's really special, but I don't think one is bigger than others. I cannot put it bigger. There's four Grand Slams, and for me they are completely even, every one.

Q. Is this a good birthday present today?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It's special. You want always to have a win, otherwise your birthday is a bit bad.

Q. Will you be celebrating it tonight?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Well, hopefully I get out of Wimbledon Village. I love being here. It's a nice, quiet place. But today we're going probably for dinner in London some nice place. Some people will come, friends of mine, so hopefully we have a good time.
But I cannot have a big celebration, otherwise it's not Wimbledon for me anymore.

Q. So quite a quiet night for you?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, probably. I still don't play tomorrow, and probably Sunday neither, so just have a little bit of fun, relax, dinner with good company, and that's it.

Q. Where are you going to go to tonight, do you think?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I booked something, but it's some new place that's good. It's probably sushi, because in Wimbledon Village we eat Chinese, Indian and Italian, so I miss my Japanese.

Q. Was your birthday on your mind while you were either on the court or maybe leading up to the court?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Well, you know, it's hard, because I wake up in the morning, and I definitely want to have focus on my game. But I get so many messages, and I'm like -- I was just about to switch off all the phones, but then it's nice because I appreciate people writing about me and thinking about me. So I was trying to reply to people but also stay focused on my game.
I think I deal with this pretty well.

Q. Of all your birthdays at Wimbledon, how does this one rate?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Pretty good. Pretty good. The worst one was -- I remember this one for sure. I won Eastbourne and I lost first round to Razzano here and I had to stay to play doubles. It was the worst birthday and I was on my own in my room.
My friends just called me to have a cake with them so it was nice, but still, it's big disappointment. So definitely it's very important to have a win.

Q. What food slowed you down when you came back on after the rain break?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It's not about food, it's just the timing of the food. I ate a little bit of pasta. But it just started raining and it was so dark. It was fine, so I was eating, and suddenly I see the court open and the sun shining, and I'm like, oh, my God, I've got to go. Anna Chakvetadze was next to me and she said, Yeah, you'd better go warm up.

Q. There are 9 Russian in the last 32 of the women's competition, which is quite something. What do you think the reason is for the success in Russian women's tennis at the moment?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: We get asked this question more than I get asked what's my name, because everybody wants to know why the success. There is success because of mentality, because of how we've grown up, because we had nothing easy. We have no big federation who gives us money or who support us.
There are great people in our federation, but each player has parents behind who push. Nobody had money when we were growing up, so everybody came from very poor things. We were living in bungalows when we were traveling, spending less money possible.
So from this thing when you grow up -- like Kafelnikov. He was traveling with me one, two racquets because just didn't have it. I was practicing in indoors without heat. It was very cold, like zero, three degrees. Because we had no support, so we grow up strong. Definitely passing these times we are very strong. We are very tough.

Q. Does it help your mental strength as well as physical strength?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: That's mental what I'm talking about. Physical, you have to work on it. I'm lucky I have good parents, and I'm very fit because my parents do sports.

Q. How does all that affect the approach to this one-on-one aspect that you were talking about earlier? Is there a connection between so many Russians having success and maybe being trained mentally for the one-on-one aspect?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Well, yeah. I think this -- Russians it's also a lot of part of it because everybody is so competitive and so many Russian players. So I think it's very good, because one push another one higher and higher, and this is what it's about on the court.
Also, when Russians play you push yourself to the limit, but you never play your best game because you know how important it is to win, you know? So this is why I say it's mentally, also. Russians push each other; it's mental game.

Q. Just for the record, what did you make of Maria's outfit?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: (Laughing) Guys, I read the interview that you all did. I think it was good. I really liked it. I step on Maria's side.
But I don't think this is just a sentence to say about somebody's outfit and to do it so big. I think maybe -- I mean, I have respect for everybody, but I think players should respect other players.
And when they say about outfit, you know, it's a stylist who does it. What it has to do it with Maria and her game?
Well, I think it's pretty big what that girl said, and I don't think she has any reason to say that.

Q. Did you see the Ana Ivanovic point the other day, the net court point? What went through your mind about whether you had any experiences at all like that yourself?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Well, I don't remember doing let call, let drops like that, but I had match balls and I was hitting the lines, winners and stuff. It happens. It's ups and downs.
Ana, she was very tough mentally and she stayed good. She was lucky at this point. What else can I say? The luck was on her side that day.

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