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An interview with Dinara Safina - Thursday, June 5, 2008

Dinara Safina interview after making her first Grand Slam final

Q. Svetlana in her first five matches had been almost unbreakable on serve, and today you dominated her serve. How did you prepare to do that, and how did you execute that so well?

DINARA SAFINA: Well, with her, I really had to be aggressive, especially with return. Just always to keep her under pressure.

Maybe just I had it so much in my mind, so just whatever was coming I knew that I had to hit. I was moving much more aggressive to the ball by having this already in my mind.

Q. Moving to the final match, you're going to play against Ana or Jelena, most probably Ana. How are you going to meet her? Is this the first time you're going to play her? What are your experiences with her?

DINARA SAFINA: This is not first time playing. We already play before. It's still too early to think about. It's still in two days. I still have to enjoy today.

When I will come to the point where I have to think about match point, then I'll think about it.

Q. What is your experience with her before?

DINARA SAFINA: She's up. (laughter.)

Q. What do you think of this final, Slav final? Do you have an explanation why there are so many Russian/Serbian players in the top at this moment?

DINARA SAFINA: This is first time you are in a press conference? Because every time the same questions you ask. I don't know how many times we have to say, I guess from the beginning, that we have a pretty good school for the technique.

I think that, and the old generation, they teach, the coaches, they really learn us how to play, how to play with the ball. The technique is very important in tennis.

I guess that's ‑‑ and then I think just the like the characters. You will see everybody on the tour. Everybody is such a fighter, so I think just that we are really strong personally.

Q. About the match, how do you feel winning that first set for a change?

DINARA SAFINA: I think first set was really important, because I was up straight with the break, and then I lost my serve. Then she was ‑‑ I think she was 3‑2 up. I don't remember.

But it was really like important to go through, because once I went ‑‑ like I had a set, then I knew, like, I can still push a little bit more. Also what it would be for me mentally easier and physically.

Once you sat down, after having yesterday I would think maybe I would go a little bit down. Then you know, like, okay, you have one set in front. Then, of course, fire comes and you really like start to fly.

Q. Sometimes when a player survives a match, had a match point against them, they get freer. They feel like maybe destiny is on their side. You've done it twice in this tournament. Do you feel that way?

DINARA SAFINA: I guess I felt that being two times away from the tournament and still be here, so ‑‑ and God kept me in this tournament, so I could not anymore. So I said, Okay, now I'm not going to be any more passive.

I have to be aggressive, because there will be no third chance that this will happen. And then, of course, after losing this fears, and like playing two times, I was two times maybe a little bit tight.

After going through, then there is no more emotions inside. Like you just know what you have to do.

Q. Were there any emotions when you're serving at 5‑2 Love‑30, thinking about the last couple of matches?

DINARA SAFINA: A little bit. But then I was like first point was way too passive. I was like, Come on. I mean, you are 5‑2 up, double break. I mean, don't be passive like the other ones did with me.

So I said better miss, but do the right thing. Actually then I start to be a little bit aggressive, and I served well there.

Q. Like most matches, there are many crucial moments. I wonder whether you think the sixth game of the second set, that long game she won, might have been the most crucial moment. Because she was beginning to try to get the momentum back from you, and you had to work hard to win that game.

DINARA SAFINA: Yeah, that was important, because first I was Love‑30 down and then I came back 30‑All and then I had game points.

Then on some points she played well, and then also I think was like long rally and she played me dropshot. I got there, and I still missed by a little bit.

But then that's good that I stayed there. I didn't want with my mind like kind of angry at myself. I'm like, Oh, unlucky.

But I stayed there, like, Okay, unlucky, but I still will fight for this game, and that's turned.

Q. You had two and long matches against Dementieva and Sharapova. Today did you feel any exhaustion at all at any moment during the match?

DINARA SAFINA: Actually, I was surprised, like today in the morning, because I really had to wake up a little bit early and to go first I think to the gym to keep my body going. So I started already from early morning to move.

I think that if I would have one day off and then I would have to play tomorrow would be different. Because like this it would relax my mind. But I was so tense that, I'm not tired. I'm not tired. I'm not tired.

So I no even think in my mind that I'm tired. Maybe by the end of the day today I will feel like more exhausted.

Q. It's your first Slam final, and it's a new situation for you. What's going to be the key for you just mentally going into this match?

DINARA SAFINA: I think just take it as another match and just take focus on myself and what I have to do. Like there is only the ball, and I have to do the things that I know to do, and try to avoid thinking as much as I can about, This is the final. If it's like the first round.

Like it's still the same court and still the same ball. It's just how I take it in my mind, how I will prepare for the final.

Q. You looked pretty calm on court today. Is it because you are thankful for what happened in the previous rounds, or just because you have self‑confidence?

DINARA SAFINA: I think I was confident, like there's nothing else can happen. Already being down, and then also winning the matches in two sets and completely losing the match and still ‑‑ so I went through everything until the final, like until now, so I had like confidence in everything.

Q. In the middle of the second set, the double faults began to creep into your game. It cost you a game. Were you getting a little bit tired? And if you were, how did you pull yourself out of that?

DINARA SAFINA: I mean, once I served the first serve, and by the end of the serve I was already one meter behind the baseline. So I was like, maybe at least on the first serve you will jump in the court and not behind.

I was not jumping, I was just turning. It was disaster. And then I was like, Come on, just do the right thing on the serve, and then if it flies out it flies out. But just at least turn your shoulders, go down with the legs, and jump.

And then there was this in long point when I made serve her ace wide. At least I served 150, because the other serves were 114, and my score said that it was at least fast. One was 105.

After that, I really ‑‑ like I turned, I jumped, and I was like, Okay, now you do like this every time. So I think that ace helped me.

Q. What about your brother? What's the best advice he has given you? And will he show up for the final?

DINARA SAFINA: No, he's in England. He won't show up for the final.

Q. But he'll be able to watch it on TV live?

DINARA SAFINA: If it's going to be live, I guess he will watch it. (laughter.)

Q. I saw that you won twice, and you lost once to both the Serbian the girls, 2 to 1, head to head. I'd like to know if that is more an advantage because it gives you more confidence, or it's a handicap in a way because puts you more pressure knowing that you had won and so you should repeat yourself. What of the two things?

DINARA SAFINA: Pressure, no. I mean, they're the ones who are better ranked and better players, so all the pressure has to be ‑‑ they have to prove.

And for my ‑‑ as I said, I'll just trying to concentrate on what I know how ‑‑ what I know to do on the court, and just do have I would be able to do that day.

Just, like, give everything I have. Because there is no more like I have ‑‑ if I have to die, I will have to die on the court, because there is no more ‑‑ there is no ‑‑ to save energy for nothing, so I have to give all my energy out.

Q. You're probably not the fastest player in women's tennis, but you're probably faster than you were a couple years ago. How have you improved your quickness around the court?

DINARA SAFINA: Well, this is the thing that I started to work on, and I have a new fitness coach. So this is for me the key: The fitness.

So when I feel like light on the court, yes, I'm not the fastest, but I still can read the game. I'm big, so I can still cover the court, so...

I'm working on it, and I still ‑‑ I think I can be still ‑‑ there is lot of things that I can improve.

Q. Have you ever thought that Marat saved a match point on a Slam event and then he won it?

DINARA SAFINA: Yes. It was against Roger in semis.

Q. Does that help your confidence?

DINARA SAFINA: We will see.

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