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August 28, 2008

Dinara Safina


D. SAFINA/R. Vinci
6-4, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Are you quite pleased? Straight set victory again second round? Feel pretty good about the way you played?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, I think it still could be better, especially I was 4-1 up in the first set and then I let it go to 4-All.
I was lucky that I hold my serve, because it was 15-30 on second set and I served well there. But still, I think there is much more room that I can play better.
So hopefully, next match I can do better.

Q. You've talked a lot about how hard you worked the last few years. What do you think is better about yourself? What do you feel is the most obvious thing that's improved recently for you?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, I guess a little bit of everything, but I think also on the court, I'm much more aggressive than I used to be. I've been working a lot on every shot.
Then also physically, I think I also spend lots of attention on this, because for me I think this is the key of my game. If I'm faster, it helps me to play my game, to be aggressive on the court, to come and get better for the shots.
Now I have tennis coach and fitness coach. They are working together to get me better, so now I guess I have team that works for me.

Q. You talked a little bit about that few days ago the team around you, about your coach in particular, and that you feel you're on the same page. What has that relationship been like?
DINARA SAFINA: He was also a player, so he knows exactly how I feel. For me it's easier to communicate. I found a person I can trust, and I can say, Okay, I'm getting nervous. At least he knows what is these feelings nervous.
It's not somebody who never played. He cannot get exactly these feelings what you can feel on the court. So with these kinds of things he helps me also to control my emotions.
Okay, I never seen him play. Actually we played one year the same year, but I never seen him play. But he said that I'm on the court exactly like him. So I guess he knows what I was going through or what I'm going through some moments on the court.
He tries to help me, so I think this is the good thing that he understands me.

Q. How did you guys find each other, or you how did that work out?
DINARA SAFINA: Whew. It's a funny story. Last year I knew that after US Open I'm going to stop with my ex-coach that I had. Then I wanted to work with Heinz Guenthardt, and he could not travel a lot.
So we needed to find a guy who could, like, they could both work with me. And I need to thank Ivan Ljubicic, because he advise me him.
We started to work after US Open. After Australia, I felt like with Heinz it was a little bit difficult to work, because he could not spend so much time with me, like basically full time I needed coach.
Then I decided, okay, I'm going to work with him. First we give a try until French Open. Oh, well, it turned out really good, and now we working together.
So I think even Ljubicic I need to thank or invite for a dinner.

Q. You talked the other day about Marat, one of the things he worked with you when you were younger, was that you would cry and get very, very emotional. I think he said, as an example, don't act like me. He talked about that, also in his press conference shortly thereafter. Is that a bit of a family trait, to sort of wear your emotions on your sleeve? And if so, is that something that you really work really hard on keeping in control, so that when things don't go so well you can regroup?
DINARA SAFINA: Yeah. Because this thing I can say that the tennis coach he help me to kind of to keep more quiet, because sometimes I would get very disappointing on myself or be very hard on myself.
It was kind of like I would play the match and I would show to everybody like, You see. I'm trying hard and it's just not going my way. Then I would kind of show it to everybody.
He would say, You don't need to show me that you are not feeling. I can see it. And try just to don't show to your opponent. So these kind of things he said, like, I know how you feel.
So to me you don't have to impress or whatever, or start to cry that you are tired. I know that you're tired. Just go out there, do what you can. And somehow with the talking, communicating with each other, I think this is the main thing we communicate with each other and he's understanding me.
That's why I start, like, kind of, okay, you know, he knows that, I guess, I don't feel maybe one of the shots. He sees this. I'm trying to be positive on the shot, and then of course the match finish.
Okay, we discuss about the match and we go straight on the court and work on the shot what was missing.

Q. Your summer really took off after Roland Garros. I mean, obviously you're playing extremely well. What was the turning point this season for you? Do you think it's learning to control your emotions? Is it something you've learned in your coaching? What happened midsummer when you really started playing so well?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, I guess just knowing what to do on the court. I found my weapons on the court, and I know when to use them. And I think this is -- and also by controlling my emotions.
So I guess like found when to use which shot and how to play, and that if something is not going well maybe this day that, okay, I'm still there. If this shot is not working, I will try to play it with other shot. That is also my good shot.
So somehow with emotions I start like to be more positive on the court.

Q. Did Marat have a lot to do with that?
DINARA SAFINA: It's not -- I would say more my tennis coach had to spend time with me, because I think my brother would not have so much patience (laughter.)
Because, I mean, I would never imagine that one tennis coach would have so much patience for me that I would scream, cry, whatever, and he would say, Okay, let's go. Keep on going.
So I think that he has patience for me.

Q. How long has he been your coach?
DINARA SAFINA: Just one-on-one that we work since February, but we started after US Open. So I think in this kind of way it's better, because before he was not the main coach.
Before it was main coach like Heinz, so he got to know me already through that period. It was three months we had been working together with Heinz.
So in this period he could see who I am. I think it was easier afterwards to start working with me.

Q. And you made that decision on your own to change coaches?
DINARA SAFINA: Mostly, yeah.

Q. Was it a question that you just had heard what your other coach had to say for so long and it wasn't quite working so you needed to try something else? Had you known your present coach for a while or several years or just...
DINARA SAFINA: What do you mean?

Q. In other words, your old coach, you had heard what he had to say for several years.

Q. Did you think that you had heard everything from him that you could hear, so you needed to have someone else tell you something different?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, I mean, I was working with the Dutch guy almost two years. Just at the end we just stop listening to each other. He would not accept what I would say. He didn't want to hear my opinions. So.
This was tough, you know, when a coach doesn't want to hear a player opinion, even if I'm wrong, but at least he can talk -- he can listen and then we can discuss and not always say his opinion.
So I think this is the reason, like, why we started to fight a lot on the court. And then it was not -- I mean, I have enough stress on the court playing a match and if I go on practice and I'm still fighting with my coach, I don't need this.
So I decided, like, okay, right or wrong decision. I mean, we had with the Dutch coach some success, but after it was going ups and downs.
So I took a decision, like, okay, I better try with somebody else maybe who would listen a little bit more to me.

Q. Would it be the same with your at this fitness coach?
DINARA SAFINA: Of course. I mean, same with the fitness coach. He needs to know how I feel. It's not possible that I come to practice and I'm really tired and he would get me suddenly to run like some crazy things.
Or one day he can say, Okay, today I don't care that you are tired. We have to do this, because tomorrow you have day off. So he also needs to feel me, to know how I feel.

Q. The fact that Henin is not there anymore and there's not one clear player, does it make a difference for you and the other players if there's not one clear person who maybe seems to be above everyone else?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, now it's so much wide open to get to this No. 1 spot in the world. But we still have Williams sisters, you know. They're still dangerous.
I mean, I think now it's kind of changing a little bit. So many more young and young players coming through, so I think it's just changing there, the youngers coming now.

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