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September 1, 2009

Dinara Safina


D. SAFINA/O. Rogowska
6-7, 6-2, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What's your feeling about how it went today? Tough one?
DINARA SAFINA: Very tough one. Well, I made it, you know. I made it into the second round, and you know, that's a positive thing, because tomorrow is another day. Another chance to step in the court and you know, definitely play a better match.

Q. Seems like you're fighting yourself a little bit.
DINARA SAFINA: Well, there is moments like this that you have to dig in there and, you know, swallow everything and just fight. You know, yeah, still, I had to do more.
But, you know, it was a day that this I could do today. Could I do more? I guess so. If I would do less, I will do, so...
I just made it through, and I'm happy. Now tomorrow is day off. I can come down, practice, and look for the match after tomorrow.

Q. What goes on in your mind after you lose the first set, it's the first round, and you're seeded 1?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, I'm just like -- I had so many opportunities, the set just didn't go into my hands. 5-3, two balls that she hit, one on the line, one return, and then she kind of frame, I don't know what, and the ball touched just a little bit, you know.
Played terrible game on 5-4, Love-30 on her serve, and there I didn't do anything and I would say poorly tiebreak from my side.
But, you, know, I lost it, and definitely I would never give up. Just okay, second set, okay, just try to do more.

Q. How did you feel when you looked over at your coach at times in the match presumably for support, and he had very negative body language?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, I guess I had to think what I'm doing wrong that he's so negative. (laughter.)

Q. Do you respond more to a negative approach or a positive?
DINARA SAFINA: We'll skip this answer.

Q. Can you talk about the battle with yourself in your mind? How do you win that battle?
DINARA SAFINA: What do you mean? Like battle because I fight to the end, or just I play against myself?

Q. Well, when you play against yourself.
DINARA SAFINA: Well, I don't know. I try to do something good, but when it doesn't go good, then I go like too much into myself, what I'm doing right, wrong, instead of thinking more what I have to do with the ball.
I don't know. I guess it's just -- the time, you know, it's just there and you're playing. Sometimes things go, some balls doesn't go. Then, you know, I hit -- I don't challenge the ball and the ball is like this out. Then she challenged the ball and the ball is like this in.
Just like everything goes wrong, but you still somehow manage, you know, to pull the match out, you know. I guess, you know, I had to do everything today. It was a bad day and then some good points. So hopefully from today on it's going to get better.

Q. Do you have any simple positive phrases that you tell yourself when things are going wrong? Are there any basic things you tell yourself that are good and encouraging?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, today I was just, Come on, just play point by point. You know, stay there and because -- I would not give up, so I will still give her hard time to win the match. So basically was just -- I mean, fight and go more.

Q. You had a love service game to end the match.
DINARA SAFINA: Thanks God, yeah.

Q. How did that happen?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, it happened the game before when I was 4-3 down on my serve. I was just like -- because I serve and then sometimes I don't even think what I'm doing, and I just like I double fault and I look at my coach, like -- and he's like...
I know what I have to do, but I just don't do it. And then at the changeover, it's like, Please, like just look at the ball to the end. Don't go down. You know, stay there. And I didn't do any double fault, and hopefully next match is going to be a little bit less double faults.

Q. You've talked about it being a dream of yours for a long time to be the No. 1 player in the world, which you are, and also a dream to win a Grand Slam. What did you think about both of those things as this match was maybe, say, in the second set?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, if I would lose a match, it would be I lost to myself, you know. It's me, myself, and I playing on the court. (laughter.)
So what I could say, like swallow it next year and work even harder? There is not much you can do, you know. You have to take it. It would hurt a lot, but there is no other way. Just forget and move on.

Q. You've made so much progress in the last year and a half. How do you think the Dinara two or three years ago would have dealt with the situation like this, losing the first set of your first-round match of the US Open?
DINARA SAFINA: Definitely I would still fight to the end, you know. That would be no doubt, really.
It would maybe just, you know, would be more crying, you know, I would say. And more -- like today I was like really like I would scream here and there, but overall I was just in the match.
I was trying to do the best I could this day. So maybe that time I would go much more down and much more negative.

Q. Are you enjoying your tennis anymore, or is just the pressure of being a top player, lead player, some days just too much?
DINARA SAFINA: I do enjoy. You know, if you take like this, of course I'm enjoying what I'm doing.
It doesn't -- you know, it happens that you have a bad day and you want to send everything and say, I hate everything.
But at the end of the day, you know, you win the match even like this, I would say a little bit ugly. But you come in the hotel and you are like, I made it. Like at the end of the day, that counts. I made it. I pulled it out, and that's what counts for me.

Q. Some other players and your countrywomen, Svetlana or Myskina have won Grand Slams, but not achieved as much as you have in the rankings. How do you rationalize that, or how do you feel about that, that discrepancy?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, I mean, Sveta was No. 2 in the world, and last year was also No. 2 in the world. They were close to get to No. 1.
I don't know. Now that I'm No. 1, I want a Grand Slam. There is no doubt for me. Like this is what is missing for me. I would like to win.
But I don't want to say like it has to happen. I know that I will work until the end of my career hard. When it's going to happen, I don't know. But I'm sure it will happen, because I've been very close to winning. I been in the three finals, so just one step. Sooner or later, I will have to make it.

Q. You wanted to be No. 1, your great dream, and of course you've put a lot of pressure on yourself to win the Slam; French didn't work out for you. You want it so badly. Is it less fun being No. 1 than you imagined before you became No. 1? There's so much pressure you've put on yourself.
DINARA SAFINA: I don't know. Maybe -- it's different. I don't really like think let's say I'm No. 1 and like this. No.
I think what I have to do. So it's not really that I step on the court and I'm thinking, oh, I'm No. 1. I cannot lose this match. I mean, definitely, nobody is unbeatable in this world. I just think what I have to do right. That's the only thing.
But not really that say like, Oh, I cannot lose. More I think like what I have to do.

Q. Did you have something happen to you when you were down 0-3 in the third?

Q. So you remember the moment?
DINARA SAFINA: Very clearly what happened.

Q. Tell us about it. What happened?
DINARA SAFINA: Then she gave me one free point. It was like, Okay, I pull this game somehow, because 4-Love, it's too much already. But I knew that it would not be easy for her to close it, because I would I still, you know, still be there and I would still fight.
Well, I don't know. Just point by point. That's basically -- that was it. And not make a double fault.

Q. Can you imagine a week from Saturday night lifting up that trophy, and how sweet would that be to you after all these questions, all this travail?
DINARA SAFINA: You know, not think about this because I pull the match out, and so I have a chance to play better, you know. You know, one step closer to it.
But if it happens, definitely it will be the best day of my life, because it will happen here where my brother won it.
So for me it would be even more special, but I will do everything to hold it.

Q. A lot of observers say that sometimes when a player has a really tough scare, when she's almost out of the tournament, sometimes that helps the player go on. Do you think that could be the case in this tournament?
DINARA SAFINA: I would take it like this, yeah. (laughter.)
Because in the French Open, I won all the matches 6-Love, 61. Did it help? Not really. So I mean, definitely it happens like this, like you pull the match somehow, like God knows. Like, I mean, God knows how I pulled it out. Not me. (laughter.)
But definitely it happens sometimes, and I know that it -- I mean, my brother, when he won US Open, he almost lost to Grosjean in the first round. He won 7-6 in the fifth set, and they finished, I think it was 5-4. He was up and the rain started, so they finished another day.
So and then he had another like difficult match against Pozzi. So I remember he said he was struggling from the first round, but he made it. So maybe I'm following his steps this time.

Q. What about she had a pretty standard, makeable overhead, and followed it up with two pretty standard volleys she didn't do much with. Were you pretty pleased? What you went through your head when they came back so tamely at that point?
DINARA SAFINA: First, I made so soft the passing shots, because I had a chance like to hit them harder. But when it comes like this tight, it's not easy to swing. But I saw that she's not -- like because she hit a smash and I hit pretty -- nothing special, the passing shot.
I saw like her volley was not good. I was like, Okay, so she's not so comfortable. First of all, she had easy smash and she didn't went for it. Then when I made it, it was like, Okay, come on. Make this break now.

Q. During the regular WTA tournaments when the coach comes on court and you're not playing well, like you lost to Jankovic in the final, you yell, get upset. Here he can't come on the court. When you look at him in the stands, can you hear him yelling a little bit in your head?
DINARA SAFINA: Actually, today he wasn't saying much. Today he was quiet on the court.

Q. Do you have any advice from your brother inside your head?
DINARA SAFINA: No. Sometimes it's not easy to understand him. (laughter.)
I prefer to be on my own. I know I have my coach who can give me advice, but sometimes it's not easy to understand my brother.

Q. What do you think about your next opponent, Kristina Barrois? Do you know her?
DINARA SAFINA: Oh, she won?

Q. Yes.
DINARA SAFINA: Okay. Because I knew she won a set, but I have no idea how she finished. Well, I know her. I saw her playing. She's a great player. Like very good serve. She does everything on the court.
So it's not easy match, but I still think that I have to focus more on myself, what I have to do, than to think what she can put against me.

Q. Just to go back to an earlier question my colleague asked, is there one thought, one word that you can say to yourself kind of like a mantra that will calm you down?

Q. Something that you keep repeating, like somehow I'll be able to pull this out?
DINARA SAFINA: No, for me, I mean, fighting, I will never give up. So it doesn't matter how I'll play, but I will run and I will stay there forever. I will do everything to win the match.
So this is not the case. So I don't know. Basically I play point by point, and that's it.

Q. As much as you struggled today, I mean, it seems like it's a huge positive that you pulled this match out. It would have been easy to just give in to your emotions and give in to all that was going on. So how much of a positive do you take away from that, or does just the negatives outweigh it?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, the positive -- let's say, worse it cannot be. It was already. So for now on it can be only better. I think that's it.

Q. You said that you realize she wasn't as confident. What did that do for you when you realized that maybe she was nervous?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, of course it's makes easier for me.

Q. Why?
DINARA SAFINA: Because I was not playing good and I then see she's nervous, so it calms me down. So okay, she's not very comfortable to close the match. So I'm there. Like I will -- like I said, I will not give you easy.

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