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June 21, 2011

Elena Baltacha


E. BALTACHA/M. Barthel
6-2, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How satisfying a win was that?
ELENA BALTACHA: Very satisfying. Uhm, kind of felt I was playing two people out there actually in a way. One, I was playing Barthel, and one I was playing my demons I think from last year here.
And, no, it's unbelievable to have won that, especially, you know, kind of the same court, uhm, and everything that kind of went on last year.

Q. What did you do to defeat those demons?
ELENA BALTACHA: Well, obviously after this time last year, we went away and we worked on how do I get stronger, the reasons why. I asked myself the questions, Why, why I got really tight, why did it happen, what did happen? And we worked on it for a long time, the whole year, with Nino.
And I got tougher and I got much stronger.

Q. Specifically in the second set when it might have gotten difficult, what did you tell yourself to refocus?
ELENA BALTACHA: Do you know what? I think I said that -- you know, coming into the Championships, I felt much more relaxed, because I felt I did a lot of work on that, on my mental side, last year. And this is the first time I felt that relaxed coming into the Championships.
And when I was playing my match, I felt that I started very well, I handled my emotions very well from the start. It didn't surprise me because, uhm, I did feel pretty relaxed. And obviously when I was serving for the match, uhm, I just didn't let myself go there, of what happened last year. I didn't even think about it.
I just knew that I'm much better than what I was last year as a tennis player and upstairs in my head. I know I just felt very confident. And once I closed it out, I was just very excited that I'm in the next round now.

Q. Seemed a bit like you channeled your aggression.
ELENA BALTACHA: Sorry, say that again.

Q. You were kind of fist pumping, kind of out-psyched her at key points in the match.
ELENA BALTACHA: I thought she started quite tight. She did start quite nervous. Then once I got that lead, I think she thought, okay, we're going to go into the second. I did feel like I just kind of dominated and just stayed much cooler than what she did. Then second set, she definitely got better.
I just felt I was in control the whole match. Yeah, I just felt like, you know, even if it got really close, I felt like I kind of had the better game, uhm, today.

Q. This is the fourth Grand Slam in a row you've got past the first round. Does that show the progression you've made particularly the last two years?
ELENA BALTACHA: Yeah, definitely. It's a really good feeling to be able to come into a Grand Slam on my own ranking. For me, that is just the most important thing, and then obviously to be able to pick up wins, like you said, consistently.
But I think just looking back at what I've kind of done outside the Grand Slams, that's kind of given me the confidence to be able to come into a Grand Slam and think, You know, I can definitely pick up wins here.
You know, I've performed more consistently on a week-to-week basis. That's what's kind of given me the confidence to come in and go, Okay, I've got to qualify. Yep, that's better than getting a seed first round, and let's see what I can do.
You know, I'm much better dealing with that now.

Q. Last year was a car crash obviously. Is there a great sense of relief, I'm in on my merit, through to the second round, we can push that car crash stuff to one side?
ELENA BALTACHA: Do you know what? If I'm being honest, it's something that I didn't think of. I don't know. I can't talk on behalf of other players, other Brits, but I didn't particularly think of that when I was getting into my match.
I was just thinking, I've got to do well, I want to do well, I want to get myself in that second round. I think hopefully it will encourage the other girls that now that me and Anne are through, it will encourage Heather and Laura, give them that real determination to get through, hopefully.

Q. You say drawing a qualifier is more preferable than a seed. That does put more pressure on you, doesn't it?
ELENA BALTACHA: I think I now look at it in a different way, because I've actually had qualifiers. Obviously today, in Paris, and obviously in Australia I drew qualifiers.
I look at them in a different way now where I think that I've made it on merit here, even though you can't underestimate anyone, especially qualifiers and especially wild cards, because they will go out there and they have nothing to lose.
Where they've qualified, they've earned their spot in a Grand Slam. They're going to come in fully confident, completely on high. Even though you can't underestimate them, I kind of feel that my ranking's good enough to put me in a Grand Slam, and that means that I'm the better tennis player. Of course, they can go out there and they can swing, and maybe they have an unbelievable day. Look, that's the way it is.
I kind of have a different approach where I don't think, Oh, no, you know, I'm the one that's meant to win. I kind of think, I'm going to play my game. I'm the better player on paper. I want to show that. I think when you have a mindset of that, you will perform better.

Q. Is that the mindset you developed since last year?
ELENA BALTACHA: Yeah, definitely. That's one of the things that I've been working very hard on. But I think kind of last year was a little bit different where I lost a match where I was two points away from winning.
I think I've always tried to work very hard on when you're the favorite, you know, you've got to go out there and you've got to perform. You can't let that kind of get you all nervous, you know, and kind of push you off track.

Q. John McEnroe was saying yesterday we should get rid of the prematch warmup on court. How important is that to you?
ELENA BALTACHA: The half hour before?

Q. Just on court with your opponent.
ELENA BALTACHA: Oh, yeah. No, I think it's good that you get the five minutes. I think it's fantastic. I think if you asked any player, I think they wouldn't want that -- for someone to, you know, not allow them to do that.
I think it's good, because even though you're warm, you still want to hit a couple just to get yourself in the match, before you start the match anyway.

Q. And to get used to the court?
ELENA BALTACHA: Yeah, definitely. And also just to see how your opponent, what kind of ball your opponent hits, whether they hit it very flat, whether they hit it with a lot of topspin. Just to get a little bit used to it I think is important.

Q. Did you see or hear about Serena's tears on court and can you understand the emotion of a first big win after an illness?
ELENA BALTACHA: I actually saw it. I was sitting watching the match. And do you know what? It was so nice to see her -- not that it was nice to see her break down; I don't mean it like that. Because I really idolize Serena, to see everything that she's been through, for her to come back here and just let that emotion come out, uhm, you know, because I think a lot of people think we're like machines in a way. Just to see that side of her, because she's a very strong personality, very dominant. And to see her kind of break down, it just shows what it actually means to her to be on court again with everything she's been through.
And you've really got to admire that. You really have to admire that. I really felt for her. It actually brought a tear to my eye. I thought, You've got to snap out of it because you've got a match. But, no, it was lovely to see that.

Q. Can you recall feeling that emotion yourself in the past?
ELENA BALTACHA: Definitely, definitely. Obviously with the problems I kind of had, with my liver problem, taking time out for that. Then, of course, with my back surgery, as well, I've been through it as well. So I can definitely understand.

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