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January 20, 2009

Elena Baltacha


E. BALTACHA/A. Groenefeld
6-1, 6-4

Q. Must be delighted with that.
ELENA BALTACHA: Yeah, I'm very delighted, yeah. I played well. I played the way that I wanted to before the match.
It's a shame, though, that there's only one of us that got through, though. But then again, you know, how many years have we had all four girls in the main draw?
But, no, I'm very delighted. I'm very delighted with the way I played. You know, I'm looking forward to my next match, so...

Q. How important was it to get somebody through to the second? A lot of publicity, four in the first round, great. You had to watch three of them go out. How much of a blow was that?
ELENA BALTACHA: No, of course, it was. You know, it gave me more motivation actually to kind of keep the flag going. But it's a shame. I mean, you know, all the girls, you know, they fought really hard. They performed well. You know, I think there's a lot of positives to take from that, from all their performances definitely.

Q. Amélie said she knows how dangerous playing somebody coming through qualifying can be. How excited are you to play?
ELENA BALTACHA: Very excited. It's going to be a great opportunity for me. Yeah, I mean, qualifiers are a nightmare to play really because obviously they've had three matches, you know, they can be very dangerous.
I'm really chuffed. I've had four great matches. Physically I feel great. Everything emotionally, mentally, I feel great. I'm really, really looking forward to the match on Thursday.

Q. You didn't seem to mind the heat. Are you quite happy playing in these conditions?
ELENA BALTACHA: Yeah, I've been working so hard on the off-court stuff with Nino Severino down in Ipswich. That's really helped me so much. You know, the fitter you can be, obviously the more you're likely to cope in the heat, in the hot climates.
I actually thought it cooled down a little bit. I was walking around when the first match was on and it was so hot. It was just so humid. Then obviously it started getting really windy. I think the wind just kind of kept the heat. It was still hot, but not as bad.

Q. Do you think a year ago you would have been able to cope physically in those conditions as well as you did today?
ELENA BALTACHA: No, definitely. I wouldn't have said that, no. You know, it's amazing 'cause six months ago I had to make a really big decision 'cause obviously, uhm, Nino Severino, he was traveling with me from the start of last year and difficult really well. I won two tournaments. Everything was going great. It was just a shame that because obviously he runs a business in Ipswich, he looks after some other athletes, he couldn't keep traveling with me. I really wanted to keep carrying on working with him because the movement side, you know, he specializes in movement. It was so key for me. That's what really helped me at the start of the year.
Because I didn't see him as often, it really affected me quite a lot. So six months ago we sat down with Nigel Sears and Carl Maes and we just discussed what would be the best kind of thing, how we were going to do that, 'cause there's a lot of traveling. With their support they basically, you know, for my interests, I spend a few days at the NTC, then the rest of the week I'm down in Ipswich working with Nino, all the movement stuff, all the other areas that he looks after, the nutrition, movement, strength and conditioning side. You know, that has really, really helped me so much.

Q. You've reached the third round before. Considering everything that's happened the last couple years, how much of an achievement will it be to do it again?
ELENA BALTACHA: Oh, of course. I mean, of course it will be fantastic. Mauresmo is not a walk in the park, is she? But, you know, I've got nothing to lose. I'm playing good tennis. I'm in good shape. You never know what can happen. I'm more confident, as well, now. So, yeah.

Q. How pleased were you today the way you responded from 0-3 down. You didn't let that affect you?
ELENA BALTACHA: No, not at all. Like yesterday I was chatting to quite a few players about Groenefeld. I knew I had to stick to my guns. I knew that I had to stay aggressive. You know, I did. I stayed very positive. 'Cause, you know, you know a lot of things can change. You know, one point here and there, it can change a lot of things.
I think I played very smart today with the conditions. It was very windy. I think it did affect her game a little bit.
But, you know, I'm so happy and delighted 'cause, you know, she's a good player and she's obviously coming back up again. So it was a really good win for me.

Q. Mel is about one win away from top 100. You're at 134. Do you feel now equipped to get to inside the top 100?
ELENA BALTACHA: I think I'm going to be 110, 115, something like that, which is great, which is fantastic. Hopefully I can just build from this, which I believe I can definitely.

Q. Something about you and Australia, as well, that goes very well together.
ELENA BALTACHA: Yeah, well, it's lovely. It's lovely. I do, I really love this tournament. I've got a lot of very good memories here. Yeah, I mean, it's even more special now to me, yeah.

Q. Was there ever any stage over the last few years with the difficulties you've had that you ever thought of chucking it all in?
ELENA BALTACHA: Yeah, of course. I mean, if I said no, I'd be lying. Yeah, there has been a couple of occasions when it's got a bit difficult.
But, you know, I love tennis. I'm very passionate about tennis. You know, I don't know, I think just something inside me just kind of kept wanting me to just keep fighting and keep going really. I'm really glad I have managed to stick it out.

Q. Can you talk about those low points. What were the moments?
ELENA BALTACHA: Just injuries really. I've really struggled with injuries a lot, with my back. Well, obviously with my health problem, that was a big thing. That was definitely a point where I didn't know what was going to happen. Obviously with my back. And there's been some stages with my ankles.
But, you know, either it makes you or breaks you I guess, doesn't it? I'm just glad that I've managed to stick it out. I know I'm talented. I know there's more in me. I think that's why I want to keep going, because I want to fulfill my potential. I'm getting closer and closer to it now, so...

Q. If you were not playing tennis anymore, what would you have done with yourself?
ELENA BALTACHA: I think I probably would have gone in helping the kids, definitely. I probably would have started coaching. I am very passionate about that. I mean, now I do some stuff with Nino Severino back in Ipswich. We look after a few athletes, juniors. There's actually one in particular who I think she's definitely going to be someone to look out for in the future, Klara Moolman. Really proud of her. She's very young, but she's a little pro already at the age of 12, which is great.
But another thing that actually has been just set up that has worked out really nicely, when I get back, we're going to be visiting some schools just to try to get kids motivated, try and get them going. We haven't got a lot of kids playing in the sport anyway in England. It would just be so nice to get more kids playing.
I am very passionate about that. Even now, when I stop, hopefully it's not going to be for quite a few years, but I think I will go down that kind of route, definitely, to try and get the kids into the sport.

Q. When you were injured or struggling with your health, what was the thing you missed most about being on the tour?
ELENA BALTACHA: I think all the things I miss were the things that you complain about when you're actually on the tour, you know, like the traveling, not seeing your family, not being at home for Christmas, missing birthdays, just stuff like that. Just the actual life, you know, of being a tennis player. All that kind of stuff, I really did miss.
I knew, you know, that I shouldn't leave. I knew that I've still got something left in me. 'Cause I guess when you don't feel like that after some time off, then you know it's probably time to stop.

Q. You've been in this sport for a long time. Do you think on the whole British tennis gets a bum rap or does it get what it deserves sometimes?
ELENA BALTACHA: I mean, that's a difficult question, isn't it? You know, it is very difficult because, I mean, obviously I'm going to be talking from the players' point of view. It's not easy. It's not easy, you know, to try and deliver week in and week out. It's difficult. The game's getting much tougher. There's more at stake, as well.
I can only speak from my kind of -- you know, I can't speak for anyone else. But, you know, it is hard work to constantly keep going. But, I mean, you look at what we've done this week already, the four girls have been in the main draw. I mean, that is definitely something that I believe we're all going to build on definitely. I mean, like you guys were saying, we haven't had that for so many years. It shows that everything is going in the right direction, so...

Q. Where would a victory over Mauresmo rank in your career?
ELENA BALTACHA: I think I played Capriati. I think she was at 5 when I played her. What is Mauresmo ranked at the moment?

Q. 24.
ELENA BALTACHA: At 24. I mean, she's definitely up there. I think Dokic and Farina, I've only played three around there or that have been higher.
But I'm looking forward to it. It's probably going to be a show court, so it will be nice. It will be a great experience for me.

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