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Wednesday January 19, 2011


Elena Baltacha's interview after her lost to Justine Henin at the Australian Open 2011

By LadyDragon

Australian Open 2011

MELBOURNE, Australia--( Baltacha's interview after her lost to Justine Henin at the Australian Open 2011

Q. How do you feel after that?

ELENA BALTACHA: Uhm, I feel great actually. Feel great. I mean, I knew going into the match it was going to be very difficult and it would have to be an unbelievable performance.

But it was quite interesting actually. I learnt so much about the match, like really positives of what I'm improved in my game from kind of like last year playing, you know, a top player, and also things I've got to get better at.

And, you know, it was quite unusual. I went out there and I thought, Right, I've got to really kick it; I've got to really do something quite, you know, extraordinary here.

Then I kind of got into the match, and then it kind of just like went away from me. Went a bit too quick.

In the second set, I was like actually, Just get into the match, get into the rally. You don't have to do anything unbelievable, just get yourself into the points and then see what happens. I managed to do that in the second set. I mean, I really managed to really, like, get into the zone, which kind of slipped away from me in the first set, towards the end of the first set.

Then I really started enjoying it. I got the fist pumps again. I felt I really was in the match. I mean, in the first set I did have some kind of 40 30s, 40 15s where I could have held and made silly decisions.

In the second I felt like I was in. At 4 3, she stepped it up a notch, broke me. I had some opportunities, but just, yeah, couldn't hold it.

Yeah, but it was an amazing experience, really amazing experience.

Q. (Question regarding respect.)

ELENA BALTACHA: I wouldn't say it was respect. No, I don't really have a problem kind of with that. I think I kind of thought I needed to do more. I think I was just kind of trying to overhit it, trying to go for like tighter margins, where then in the second set I realized I didn't have to.

It was just trying to get more comfortable in the rally. Then if I did enough, go for the right ball, but not off the first or second shot.

Uhm, I think she returned really well. Every time I gave her a second, it was like, All right, right, she's going to be all over it. That kind of not rushed me but put a little bit more pressure on my serve. Especially I knew if I missed the first serve, I knew I'd have to put more onto the second serve. So that was definitely an area that I can really improve.

But, uhm, I think, like I felt playing on Rod Laver again, last year I felt it was like, Oh, wow, it was just too much. But I really felt like I stayed in the match the best I could. The court didn't affect me like it did last year. I tried 150% all the way through. Even till the last point I believed I still could do it. So, I mean, a lot of positives to take away.

Q. Do you find going into the match like that, you have an 11 seed, someone who won 12 majors, you could be feeling a little hard done by?

ELENA BALTACHA: That's the draw, isn't it? I mean, it was a great opportunity for me. I mean, of course, if I had a choice, would I have picked another seed, yeah.

But, you know, it's a wonderful experience to play someone who's done all that in her career, is an unbelievable legend.

Yeah, I mean, it was a great opportunity for me.

Q. You've obviously seen and read the Henin backhand. When you're actually out there playing it, how good is it?

ELENA BALTACHA: Yeah, it's very good. She picks her spot and goes for it. You can't really read it. I mean, she's got every shot off that side. I mean, line, angle; her slice is very effective as well. She makes you rush off that side.

But, you know, her forehand's not that bad as well. It's not the worst kind of side. But, yeah, I mean, she's got a wonderful backhand.

Q. When you're serving against her, do you have to pick in your mind perhaps the best place to place it?

ELENA BALTACHA: I try serving it more to the forehand side. I knew she could rip the line, but only if she knew I was going there. I knew I would have to vary it. I couldn't keep going forehand because she'd start picking it up.

When you miss your first serve your first serve has to be good, otherwise if you miss it and you're in trouble. I knew if I missed my first serve, she's going to be literally all over that second serve.

I think just knowing that puts that little bit more pressure on you, which in a way I kind of quite like, because I haven't quite been backed into a corner like that, to that kind of extent.

It's just another area for me to work on, but...

Q. 3 All in the second set, and you mentioned you got the fist pumps going; you were up at the net. Is it a delicate balance trying to show you're up for it? She came out and aced the game and won the next game quite easily.

ELENA BALTACHA: I think it is very individual. For me, I always find if I do go a little bit too over the top, like I kind of lose a bit of control in a way, 'cause I need to be very energized.

I'm kind of a very energy oriented player. I've learned that balance like year. Having the wonderful year that I did, I did learn kind of how to control myself much better.

Yeah, I think I did that well today.

Q. You mentioned Justine's forehand and backhand. She had seven aces. Is her serve so difficult to read?

ELENA BALTACHA: Yeah, I mean, her serve is quite difficult to pick up. She served great today. She served well. Her second serve, she did mix up the pace on her second serve where she caught me quite late on the backhand where she really hit it.

And then other times she kind of softened it up a little bit. I think she served very well today.

Q. Every time you leave a Grand Slam you want to take positives away from it. What would be the positives from the experience this year?

ELENA BALTACHA: Another great year here for me. I always love coming back here. I've got very special memories here. You know, I'm very happy. I'm very happy. I gave it everything. I managed to win a round.

Okay, I faced Justine. But it was a wonderful experience to play a legend, and I gave it my all. I can't complain about my week. It's been wonderful.




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