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March 14, 2011

Dinara Safina


D. SAFINA/S. Stosur
7-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You had quite a look of relief and happiness after the match. What's it feel like?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, definitely it's a nice feeling to get it back. You know, it's been a while since I didn't have these feelings, you know, after winning the match that, you know, you really can smile and you can enjoy the win.
You know, many things happen, so I really -- I want just to enjoy the moment.

Q. And you won in spite of your serving? 16 double faults.
DINARA SAFINA: Well, you know, and I still managed to win a match, so that's a good thing, you know. Apart from that, you know, still stayed tough mentally, said, Okay, it's not my day on serving, but it's might be on the baseline.

Q. It's been a while since you beat a top 5 player, too. So going out tonight, did you feel confident for the first time in a while? Real confidence?
DINARA SAFINA: I felt -- I think the match yesterday was pretty good. Two days ago was pretty good. And going out today, I was like, I started to get at least the rhythm of the matches, you know. At least I start to know what I expect from myself.
Of course, after Australia it was tough. I remember I went out to play in Kuala Lumpur first-round match. It's funny thing, because after so much experience playing for so long in the tour, you still go and I was so tense. But I went through, so now I have three matches.
So at least I start to go into the court and then feeling better each day.

Q. Did you get some good advice from your coach before this match? Were you a little nervous going in?
DINARA SAFINA: No, he told me what I have to do on the court. He always tells me, It's normal that you are going to be nervous because you are missing the matches. I mean, I didn't have as many matches last year and starting also this season.
So he's like, It's okay. Accept this thing, that you're going to be nervous. Just try to think what you have to do point by point. I mean, basic things. There is no secrets.

Q. Can you tell us what the new coach has brought to you since you started working together?
DINARA SAFINA: I don't know.

Q. Is everything still the same?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, no, definitely it change from Australia.
I think he started to put me back in the track the way I should to play. I went away from my game completely, and he's trying -- of course we still didn't have too much time to work, but at least day by day he is forcing me to be back again aggressive, because he knows that's the way of my game.
And also working day by day, it's showing up.

Q. It sounds like even though you had a really quality game today, you still feel like you're a long way away from where you were maybe a year and a half or two years ago?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, I think so. I think I'm still -- so that's a good thing. You know, you're in a match and you think, Thanks God. I still feel deep inside that it can be better.
Like I tell you, the serve could be better. Maybe also to use a little bit better the chances in the first set, like when I had like 15-40 on her serve. Like maybe it was also lack of matches, you know, like didn't play, so sometimes I'm rushing a little bit too much when I have to be calm; maybe opposite when I have to go for it and I'm a little bit passive.
But in 2008 it was going like this, you know. I mean, sometimes I watch my matches, like, God, I didn't even think. Like now sometimes I think like five times before the shot what should do I at that moment the ball was coming and going from my racquet.
But this because I have in two months 15 matches, and now I have six.

Q. You suffered from well-documented back injuries last year. When did you first feel free of back pain?
DINARA SAFINA: Last year it was -- it was back all the time, basically. It was tiring that every morning basically whole last year, like every morning you have to come to the gym, you have to do stretching, all this. You cannot do this exercise because it's bothering you like this. Then it's going to the hip. Then you start to correct every -- and then it was a disaster last year, you know.
So I guess from the beginning of this year, like when after the vacations I took last year and then I had the practice, basically this year I can say like pain-free. It still can get the muscle tight, but it's nothing to compare like how it can be like.
So this is like normal pain that every athlete has after every tough match. Like glutes are tight, back is...
But how it says, if something hurts you're still alive, but in a good way. Not in a bad way, the back injury I had.

Q. Is one of the reasons you're having problems with your serve is because last year you had to adjust the serve because of the back pain?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, honestly, I changed the motion because of the hip. Because after my back, it went into my hip. I was so painful, my hip, so I could not serve.
I remember playing US Open. I played on painkillers again because it was -- I mean, to stand up from the chair, it was terrible. Like I had to go like slow, and it was -- it was horrible.
And then after the US Open I was practicing one week with my brother, and he told me, Try this serve. And since then, maybe the motion is not perfect, but at least I have no pain. So I have to now to get more used to it, playing the matches.
Because one is practice, yes. If I go now to practice, I will not make one double fault. But to play more matches when you're in tension, like how to control, so this I have to get used to it still.

Q. Is your brother helping you a lot? What kind of a relationship do you have with him now?
DINARA SAFINA: We have, I must say, unbelievable relationship.
He's really like helping me a lot, and he's behind me. He's supporting me all the way.
It was not the same when he was playing, because, you know, it's tough to come to him after the match, and he has his match and you come with my problems, you know. So now at least he has time, and he really always like, You need me? I'm there. Whatever. You need to practice, like, I help you. I do whatever I need to help you.

Q. You talked the other day I guess about, you know, quitting or thinking about quitting, so does a win like this sort of remind you why you're a tennis player or give you sort of new resolve and this is what you want to be doing?
DINARA SAFINA: It's a relief, like you said, at the beginning. Because, I mean, at one moment I didn't know if I would be able to come back, because, I mean, to pick up the games, it was -- I mean, I was not for that.
I was like, if I'm losing to everybody like 6-Love, 6-Love, 6-Love, 6-1, I better do something else. It was happening not -- I understand if I would be injured. I mean, after two months of offseason, you go and you pick up the games. Then I was like, I was shocked.
This for me was like -- and for me it was tough, because I went somewhere like away from home for two months to practice, really with a big desire, and then you have such a crush in Australia.
Then it was for me like, Okay. So what to do? I split with the coach and then I had to start with a new coach, so it's everything from the beginning I have to start. You don't know this person, so you have to get to know him.
So this was a little bit for me tough, because I was like, Okay, how is it gonna work? What we gonna do? How? And that's why I decided like after we -- when we started to work like not to play Paris, Dubai, Doha. First of all, I was not in shape. So I was like, Okay, I go there for what?
Again, being a hitting partner for the other players? That's not the way I want to play. So I was like, Okay, I will not go back until I don't feel like at least I can compete. So that's I think was at least the right choice that I did.

Q. Now with this fresh outlook and having a new coach and just having this win, what are your goals for 2011 as far as your ranking is concerned? As far as your game is concerned? Do you have anything that you really are looking forward to?
DINARA SAFINA: You know, it was the question last time, the other night, and I said the health is more important. Doesn't matter the results, you know. Being happy and healthy. I think this is the basic, the most important two things in tennis.
If you are happy, healthy, enjoying what you are doing, the rest should come.

Q. Last time you played Maria, who you are going to be playing, was 2008 French Open, which was shortly before she underwent her surgery. You guys have kind of shared a lot of ups and downs together. Just talk about your feelings about playing her and the rivalry and long history between you two, similar age.
DINARA SAFINA: Well, yeah, it's another tough match. I just see her. She's another athlete. She is also coming back from an injury, but she's a little bit higher ranked than me, just hundred spots. (Laughter.)

Q. 90.
DINARA SAFINA: 90. Well, she's a great player. She's a great competitor. I hope really that tomorrow gonna go out there, do my best, we'll fight like I do, and, you know, who's gonna be stronger gonna win tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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