Interview with Dinara Safina after her win
over Olivia Rogowska at the
2009 US Open
Q. What's your feeling about how
it went today? Tough one?
DINARA SAFINA: Very tough one. Well, I made it, you know.
I made it into the second round, and you know, that's a
positive thing, because tomorrow is another day. Another
chance to step in the court and you know, definitely play
a better match.
Q. Seems like you're fighting
yourself a little bit.
DINARA SAFINA: Well, there is moments like this that you
have to dig in there and, you know, swallow everything
and just fight. You know, yeah, still, I had to do more.
But, you know, it was a day that this I could do today.
Could I do more? I guess so. If I would do less, I will
I just made it through, and I'm happy. Now tomorrow is
day off. I can come down, practice, and look for the
match after tomorrow.
Q. What goes on in your mind
after you lose the first set, it's the first round, and
you're seeded 1?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, I'm just like I had so many
opportunities, the set just didn't go into my hands. 5 3,
two balls that she hit, one on the line, one return, and
then she kind of frame, I don't know what, and the ball
touched just a little bit, you know.
Played terrible game on 5 4, Love 30 on her serve, and
there I didn't do anything and I would say poorly
tiebreak from my side.
But, you, know, I lost it, and definitely I would never
give up. Just okay, second set, okay, just try to do
Q. How did you feel when you
looked over at your coach at times in the match
presumably for support, and he had very negative body
DINARA SAFINA: Well, I guess I had to think what I'm
doing wrong that he's so negative. (laughter.)
Q. Do you respond more to a
negative approach or a positive?
DINARA SAFINA: We'll skip this answer.
Q. Can you talk about the battle
with yourself in your mind? How do you win that battle?
DINARA SAFINA: What do you mean? Like battle because
I fight to the end, or just I play against myself?
Q. Well, when you play against
DINARA SAFINA: Well, I don't know. I try to do something
good, but when it doesn't go good, then I go like too
much into myself, what I'm doing right, wrong, instead of
thinking more what I have to do with the ball.
I don't know. I guess it's just the time, you know, it's
just there and you're playing. Sometimes things go, some
balls doesn't go. Then, you know, I hit I don't challenge
the ball and the ball is like this out. Then she
challenged the ball and the ball is like this in.
Just like everything goes wrong, but you still somehow
manage, you know, to pull the match out, you know. I
guess, you know, I had to do everything today. It was a
bad day and then some good points. So hopefully from
today on it's going to get better.
Q. Do you have any simple
positive phrases that you tell yourself when things are
going wrong? Are there any basic things you tell yourself
that are good and encouraging?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, today I was just, Come on, just play
point by point. You know, stay there and because I would
not give up, so I will still give her hard time to win
the match. So basically was just I mean, fight and go
Q. You had a love service game
to end the match.
DINARA SAFINA: Thanks God, yeah.
Q. How did that happen?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, it happened the game before when I
was 4 3 down on my serve. I was just like because I serve
and then sometimes I don't even think what I'm doing, and
I just like I double fault and I look at my coach, like
and he's like...
I know what I have to do, but I just don't do it. And
then at the changeover, it's like, Please, like just look
at the ball to the end. Don't go down. You know, stay
there. And I didn't do any double fault, and hopefully
next match is going to be a little bit less double
Q. You've talked about it being
a dream of yours for a long time to be the No. 1 player
in the world, which you are, and also a dream to win a
Grand Slam. What did you think about both of those things
as this match was maybe, say, in the second set?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, if I would lose a match, it would be
I lost to myself, you know. It's me, myself, and I
playing on the court. (laughter.)
So what I could say, like swallow it next year and work
even harder? There is not much you can do, you know. You
have to take it. It would hurt a lot, but there is no
other way. Just forget and move on.
Q. You've made so much progress
in the last year and a half. How do you think the Dinara
two or three years ago would have dealt with the
situation like this, losing the first set of your first
round match of the US Open?
DINARA SAFINA: Definitely I would still fight to the end,
you know. That would be no doubt, really.
It would maybe just, you know, would be more crying, you
know, I would say. And more like today I was like really
like I would scream here and there, but overall I was
just in the match.
I was trying to do the best I could this day. So maybe
that time I would go much more down and much more
Q. Are you enjoying your tennis
anymore, or is just the pressure of being a top player,
lead player, some days just too much?
DINARA SAFINA: I do enjoy. You know, if you take like
this, of course I'm enjoying what I'm doing.
It doesn't you know, it happens that you have a bad day
and you want to send everything and say, I hate
But at the end of the day, you know, you win the match
even like this, I would say a little bit ugly. But you
come in the hotel and you are like, I made it. Like at
the end of the day, that counts. I made it. I pulled it
out, and that's what counts for me.
Q. Some other players and your
countrywomen, Svetlana or Myskina have won Grand Slams,
but not achieved as much as you have in the rankings. How
do you rationalize that, or how do you feel about that,
DINARA SAFINA: Well, I mean, Sveta was No. 2 in the
world, and last year was also No. 2 in the world. They
were close to get to No. 1.
I don't know. Now that I'm No. 1, I want a Grand Slam.
There is no doubt for me. Like this is what is missing
for me. I would like to win.
But I don't want to say like it has to happen. I know
that I will work until the end of my career hard. When
it's going to happen, I don't know. But I'm sure it will
happen, because I've been very close to winning. I been
in the three finals, so just one step. Sooner or later, I
will have to make it.
Q. You wanted to be No. 1, your
great dream, and of course you've put a lot of pressure
on yourself to win the Slam; French didn't work out for
you. You want it so badly. Is it less fun being No. 1
than you imagined before you became No. 1? There's so
much pressure you've put on yourself.
DINARA SAFINA: I don't know. Maybe it's different. I
don't really like think let's say I'm No. 1 and like
I think what I have to do. So it's not really that I step
on the court and I'm thinking, oh, I'm No. 1. I cannot
lose this match. I mean, definitely, nobody is unbeatable
in this world. I just think what I have to do right.
That's the only thing.
But not really that say like, Oh, I cannot lose. More I
think like what I have to do.
Q. Did you have something happen
to you when you were down 0 3 in the third?
DINARA SAFINA: 15 40.
Q. So you remember the moment?
DINARA SAFINA: Very clearly what happened.
Q. Tell us about it. What
DINARA SAFINA: Then she gave me one free point. It was
like, Okay, I pull this game somehow, because 4 Love,
it's too much already. But I knew that it would not be
easy for her to close it, because I would I still, you
know, still be there and I would still fight.
Well, I don't know. Just point by point. That's basically
that was it. And not make a double fault.
Q. Can you imagine a week from
Saturday night lifting up that trophy, and how sweet
would that be to you after all these questions, all this
DINARA SAFINA: You know, not think about this because I
pull the match out, and so I have a chance to play
better, you know. You know, one step closer to it.
But if it happens, definitely it will be the best day of
my life, because it will happen here where my brother won
So for me it would be even more special, but I will do
everything to hold it.
Q. A lot of observers say that
sometimes when a player has a really tough scare, when
she's almost out of the tournament, sometimes that helps
the player go on. Do you think that could be the case in
DINARA SAFINA: I would take it like this, yeah.
Because in the French Open, I won all the matches 6 Love,
61. Did it help? Not really. So I mean, definitely it
happens like this, like you pull the match somehow, like
God knows. Like, I mean, God knows how I pulled it out.
Not me. (laughter.)
But definitely it happens sometimes, and I know that it I
mean, my brother, when he won US Open, he almost lost to
Grosjean in the first round. He won 7 6 in the fifth set,
and they finished, I think it was 5 4. He was up and the
rain started, so they finished another day.
So and then he had another like difficult match against
Pozzi. So I remember he said he was struggling from the
first round, but he made it. So maybe I'm following his
steps this time.
Q. What about she had a pretty
standard, makeable overhead, and followed it up with two
pretty standard volleys she didn't do much with. Were you
pretty pleased? What you went through your head when they
came back so tamely at that point?
DINARA SAFINA: First, I made so soft the passing shots,
because I had a chance like to hit them harder. But when
it comes like this tight, it's not easy to swing. But I
saw that she's not like because she hit a smash and I hit
pretty nothing special, the passing shot.
I saw like her volley was not good. I was like, Okay, so
she's not so comfortable. First of all, she had easy
smash and she didn't went for it. Then when I made it, it
was like, Okay, come on. Make this break now.
Q. During the regular WTA
tournaments when the coach comes on court and you're not
playing well, like you lost to Jankovic in the final, you
yell, get upset. Here he can't come on the court. When
you look at him in the stands, can you hear him yelling a
little bit in your head?
DINARA SAFINA: Actually, today he wasn't saying much.
Today he was quiet on the court.
Q. Do you have any advice from
your brother inside your head?
DINARA SAFINA: No. Sometimes it's not easy to
understand him. (laughter.)
I prefer to be on my own. I know I have my coach who can
give me advice, but sometimes it's not easy to understand
Q. What do you think about your
next opponent, Kristina Barrois? Do you know her?
DINARA SAFINA: Oh, she won?
DINARA SAFINA: Okay. Because I knew she won a set, but I
have no idea how she finished. Well, I know her. I saw
her playing. She's a great player. Like very good serve.
She does everything on the court.
So it's not easy match, but I still think that I have to
focus more on myself, what I have to do, than to think
what she can put against me.
Q. Just to go back to an earlier
question my colleague asked, is there one thought, one
word that you can say to yourself kind of like a mantra
that will calm you down?
DINARA SAFINA: Mantra?
Q. Something that you keep
repeating, like somehow I'll be able to pull this out?
DINARA SAFINA: No, for me, I mean, fighting, I will
never give up. So it doesn't matter how I'll play, but I
will run and I will stay there forever. I will do
everything to win the match.
So this is not the case. So I don't know. Basically I
play point by point, and that's it.
Q. As much as you struggled
today, I mean, it seems like it's a huge positive that
you pulled this match out. It would have been easy to
just give in to your emotions and give in to all that was
going on. So how much of a positive do you take away from
that, or does just the negatives outweigh it?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, the positive let's say, worse it
cannot be. It was already. So for now on it can be only
better. I think that's it.
Q. You said that you realize she
wasn't as confident. What did that do for you when you
realized that maybe she was nervous?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, of course it's makes easier for
DINARA SAFINA: Because I was not playing good and I
then see she's nervous, so it calms me down. So okay,
she's not very comfortable to close the match. So I'm
there. Like I will like I said, I will not give you easy.