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Elena Dementieva - US Open 25. August Interview

Q. How did you feel out there today? I'm just wondering if you felt a little sluggish.
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: Well, you know, really it's very hard not to think about the Olympic Games, you know, and very difficult to refocus and just to get ready, you know, for the Open, because it's -- still, I mean, all my thinking is there in Beijing.
Yesterday I was trying to go to sleep, but, I mean, I couldn't go because I was watching, you know, the closing ceremony, and, you know, my mind is still there.
I was trying to, you know, to stay focused as possible as I could, and the court was not easy. I think the first round is never easy.

Q. When did you arrive from Beijing?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: I arrived on Wednesday because I went home for one day. I was there without my mom, so I wanted to celebrate it with my family a little bit and to see my friends and just come back to my tennis club and do a little celebration there. I came here on Wednesday.

Q. So what type of reception did you get at home from your family and friends?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: Oh, it was very, very nice, you know. It was a lot of people in the airport. A very nice welcome back, and lots of flowers, you know. It was very special moment.

Q. With your countrymen out, rotator cuff injuries, the Olympics, but winning the US Open, would that be important from an American business perspective to get the endorsements from certain watch companies and other major corporations that other tennis players have been getting up to this point?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: Well, you know, since I was a little girl I was never -- it was never a goal to me to get big endorsements, you know. I was always dreaming about winning Olympic Games, you know, winning something big, and, you know, play well for my country. So this is so much important to me.
Well, I know that tennis isn't over yet, that's why I'm here. I like to play in New York. In the beginning of my career I played the first semifinals here, so I love to play here.
Just try to continue to play well. But the biggest goal for the year was Beijing, and I did it as best as I could.

Q. Once you are able to refocus, how do you think that experience will help you in big events like Grand Slams?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: Well, it was quite an experience, you know. We played six matches in a row in Beijing, and, I mean, best players in the world were competing there. It was big challenge for me, and a lot of confidence for sure after this big win.
So it just -- right now it's a matter of, you know, umm, how fresh I can stay, you know, for this tournament. Just want to take some rest, you know, and make sure that I don't practice as much as I did in Beijing. I need to save some energy for this tournament.
But I feel good.

Q. Do you feel like more of a winner?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: Oh, I mean, it's -- I don't think -- I mean, I don't think that far. I just want to take one match at a time.

Q. How important was that for you mentally with the pressure you put on yourself? You're saying all year Beijing is it for me. This is the important thing. Then to actually go into the final and win the match.
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: Well, actually, I think the experience of my first Olympic final in Sydney eight years ago really helped me this time, because I did not feel this pressure at all. I was so focused. I was thinking about every single point.
And I mean, all these matches against Dinara this year, especially losing in French Open, you know, when I had a match point, I was -- I didn't exactly know what to do. I was staying aggressive and I didn't wait for the mistake. I was doing the whole thing, you know, the whole match.
So it was important for me. Yeah, I mean, without that experience, probably I wouldn't be able to do this.

Q. Serena Williams said on Saturday that when she was a little girl growing up that she had so many dreams of winning Wimbledon, winning the French Open, winning the Australian Open, the US Open, winning a lot of tournaments, Grand Slams. She said she never really dreamed of being an Olympic champion. That wasn't part of the plan. Obviously she won gold in doubles. She said it was kind of a special feeling, one that she hadn't really thought of as a little girl. When you were growing up, I mean, I'm sure you dreamed of Grand Slam titles, but did you ever dream also? Was Olympic gold always something that you dreamed of?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: Well, in Russia, if you stop anyone in the street and ask what is a Grand Slam, I don't think many people can tell you what is this. But everyone knows what -- I mean, Olympic Games. There is nothing bigger. There is nothing more important than Olympic Games for an athlete, for a sportsperson.
So I was watching a lot, I was dreaming a lot, and for me, that was once again the biggest goal for this year.
All my preparation, you know, from the beginning of the year, you know, was playing singles only because I wanted to make sure I saved some energy for the start. I didn't playing any of the tournaments, you know, in the summer that I like to play, you know, in the US Open Series. I didn't play any of them. In Montreal only.
But I was getting ready. For me, this is the biggest, biggest event.

Q. Have things changed in Russia with so many wonderful Russian tennis players? You know, there has been such great results in the last five, six years. Have things changed since you were a very young girl growing up in terms of regarding Grand Slam tournaments?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: Well, for sure, tennis is getting bigger and bigger in Russia and very popular right now. We got so many great results in the last few years, and for sure a lot of people are involved in tennis. They watch a lot, and this is one of the most popular sports in the country.

Q. Is there a fatigue factor? This has to be a letdown after the Olympics. Is there mental and physical letdown?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: I don't know what is the best, you know, to be a little bit tired but very comfortable and very positive, or, you know, just to be fresh and not to play in the Olympic Games.
So I don't know what's the best, so... It's just another challenge, and we'll see if I can handle it.

Q. You have a chance to be No. 1 at the end of this tournament, and there are several players in the same position. Why doesn't anyone want to keep No. 1 in women's tennis?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: Because Justine is not here anymore. (laughter.)

Q. What's your explanation for how open it is?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: Well, I think we don't have a player who can be very consistent during the year. I mean, it's been ups and downs and some great matches, great performances from a lot of players, from top 10, but we never had anything like Justine who was able to, you know, win every single tournament that she was playing.
So maybe that's the...

Q. Prior to winning the Olympics, you were perhaps a player that could go deep in a tournament, semifinals and finals, but hadn't won that big tournament yet. Now that you won the Olympics, do you feel weight has been lifted from your shoulders, maybe you can play with a little less pressure on the court?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: Well, you know, people just come to me and say, Oh, I'm happy for you. You're always losing in the final. It's so great that you finally win something big.
But I never thought about this in that way, you know. I was thinking that it was a great experience in French Open, US Open. I didn't think it's such a bad results to be in the final of a Grand Slam.
It just took me a long, you know, a lot of time. It was a long way, you know, to the big win. But without this experience I wouldn't be able to do this, so it's just my way.

Q. What makes a tournament important? Is it the money? Is it the crowd? Is it the dream of the players? What is the most important?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: Well, I think it's a very special feeling when you play for your country. I just feel like I'm playing so much better when I'm playing Fed Cup, when I'm playing Olympic Games. From the beginning I was playing so much better. I don't know why. Just gives you so much extra energy, extra power, and you're just so focused, so positive.
Just really want to do something good for your country, and that's what makes you feel stronger on the court.

Q. What have you done with the gold medal? Are you sleeping with it?
No, I'm -- actually it's at home in Moscow. But, yeah, I mean, I was holding it for three days, and it was like, make sure it's not a dream. Just -- it's real.

(via ASAP Sports, photo/Elsa/Getty Images)

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