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INTERVIEWS

March 16, 2007


D. HANTUCHOVA/N. Li

7-5, 4-6, 6-1

An interview with:

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Daniela, please.

Q. You turned it around pretty quickly from the second and third set, so what were some of the key things you did there?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, I was -- I mean, it was tough because it was so hot out there and the conditions were very, very difficult. So I knew in the third set it was going to be a battle, but I felt like physically I was feeling much better on the court. Especially the first few games in the third set were very important, and I just tried to, you know, save my energy for the points, not to waste it in between, and just tried to play very smart and not to -- not to waste too much energy or giving her too many points.

Q. She looked like she might have been more affected by the heat than you or did you see that?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, I definitely felt like I had the edge in the third set. And I felt very, very good. And also mentally it helped me that I felt like, you know, I could have stayed there for -- as long as I could -- as long as it took to get through.

Q. How did the heat affect you?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, as I said it was tough. I mean, it was the same for both of us. And I just tried to use the heat break and, you know, get some energy back and drink a lot, and, you know, just try not to think too much about it 'cause it was the same for both of us.

Q. What did you do during the break exactly?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I changed my dress and tried to drink a lot and had a banana, Gatorade. And, yeah, just tried to stay calm and stay cool.

Q. You have been on the court for many hours this week, including five hours and 12 minutes just in your last two matches. How tired are you?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, as I said today, even though conditions were tough, I still felt like I had a lot of me in the third set. But, of course, it's, you know, tough having to get through matches like this.
But I'm enjoying it a lot, and from every match I feel like I'm getting more and more confident, and it feels great.

Q. So what does it mean to you to be back in the finals kind of where everything really started going a few years ago?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, definitely there is something very special about this place for me. And it's just fantastic feeling to be back on the court in the finals once again, and I'm going to enjoy it and have a great time there and really it's -- it's amazing.

Q. You've had a lot of ups and downs between then and now. Can you describe how you've changed since you were last here and won in 2002?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Oh, I think I have matured a lot. I gained a lot of experiences and, you know, I -- I've learned some lessons, not only on the tennis side, but also in my life. And I feel like I've been -- you know, all these experiences I had to go through, you know. I feel like now, it's starting to pay off, and definitely I think when you have to, when you want to have ups in your career, you have to also go through the difficult and low times. And as long as I accept it and I know how to deal with it, I think it's okay.

Q. What were some of the lessons that you've learned?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: You know, on the court, especially even if I don't play 100 percent, it's okay. And I can still win matches playing maybe 80 -- 80 percent of my game, and always, you know, just try to figure out how I can get through matches. Even though I don't feel great, no matter how good the opponent is, how well they play. There's always a way how I can get through.

Q. How about off the court?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Off the court I think everyone learns with the years. And definitely I feel like I'm more mature and I think much, much smarter with making my decisions.

Q. Kind of following up on that, does that sort of -- does it seem to be curbing your perfectionism?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, I felt like when I was younger, I always expect everything to go my way and always being perfect. And I realize it's okay not to be like that all the time. Of course, you look for it, to be as good as you can every single day, but if it doesn't happen, it's still okay.

Q. You don't appear to be carrying too much weight around. Do you suppose your body type might enable you to resist the heat better than others?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Like I said, I think I was prepared very well, especially for today and overall during the whole tournament. I felt like I was in great shape, and no matter how difficult it was getting in the matches, I felt very good physically. And that gives me a lot of confidence mentally, as well.

Q. How does your coaching situation work now, Daniela? You're listed as having various coaches. Are people kind of coming in and going out and you're having different coaches for different surfaces? How is it actually working?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Basically I'm working with Emilio Sanchez at Casal Academy. There is always someone from the Academy traveling with me. They are Angel Jimenez, Eduardo Nicolas. And so basically every tournament I'm with one of these two guys, plus I have my trainer here, Marco Panichi. It's been like that since last year, so...

Q. Do you spend a bit of time at the academy as well?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I did spend some time in Barcelona, but most of the time I prefer to be in Monte Carlo.

Q. You mentioned before that you learned how to win matches without being 100 percent. Was that the case today?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, definitely. I don't feel like game-wise, my game was right there. But, I mean, I just tried to fight through and wait for the right opportunities to come out with some good shots, which I did. And definitely, I felt it was a very tough match, but I think I've played much better probably against Hingis or the day before.

Q. What's the major difference between Nigel and Sanchez/Casal, or let's just say Emilio?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I think just looking at things in a little different way. I mean, sometimes maybe hearing the same stuff, but maybe, you know, sometimes when you hear it in different way, it makes you open your eyes a little bit. There's still so much I think these guys can teach me. I think probably this week, you know, when I don't try to be too impatient with my shots and just take my time and wait for the right one to come in or to hit a good shot. I'm not rushing so much as probably I was before and just, you know, playing a little smart tennis.

Q. So is your personality to rush through things or is your personality before to say, "Well, this ball" -- "I can hit any ball for a winner, so I don't really need to be patient"?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I think before it was more -- it was either all winners or unforced errors. There was like nothing in between. Now I'm learning that it's okay also sometimes to hit a normal shot. It doesn't have to be on the line or winner that goes to 200 miles an hour, so...

Q. How do you learn that or how do you learn not to be a perfectionist?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I guess with the time and experiences.

Q. You mentioned off the court lessons. Can you give specific examples of what types of things?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I can't really think of right now. I mean, I think anyone -- everyone is, you know, getting the lessons every day. You learn something new. And right now I can't think of anything because I'm just so happy about the match.

Q. You're only 23 and yet you seem to have been around for an awful long time.
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Um.

Q. Do you actually think that your best years, with all the experiences that you've gained, all the things that you've been through, that perhaps your best years are still to come?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Oh, definitely, I feel like my best times are still ahead. I feel like before, even though I had great results, it was more of a -- it was too much up and down. I was never really stable. But now I know what it takes to, you know, to win big tournaments, to have great wins. And definitely, I think with mentally being much, much stronger, I feel like the best times are still ahead.

Q. You look a little stronger than you used to be. You seem to be moving better on the court. Is this something you had to really work on?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, yeah, I think I work very, very hard the last couple of months with my trainer. He's doing a great job. And I'm really enjoying that part of my game, and definitely, I think it's helping my game a lot.

Q. Can you talk about playing Svetlana, if you play her. She has given you problems in the past and recently this year, so what kind of challenge does she present to you?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, I'm really looking forward to the match. It's very exciting, especially for the academy, to have two players like that. If she wins, obviously in the finals. And, you know, she's a great friend of mine. We know each other's games very well, which can be sometimes little tricky. Because she knows what I'm gonna do. I know what she's gonna do. So sometimes that can play a role.
But, you know, the last two matches we played in series, I won. But now she won in Doha. Both great matches, was very close either way.
So, yeah, I'm just looking forward to it. I don't really care who is on the other side of the court once. I'm in the final, I'm just gonna go out there and enjoy it and play my tennis and see what happens.

Q. So what does Sanchez/Casal Academy do when you two play each other? Do you switch? The same person comes and tells you guys different things?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I know. I mean, I wonder what's gonna happen. But I think, well, I think part of it's a nice situation to have 'cause whatever happens, they gonna have a winner, so...

Q. Given that, are you supporting Murray in the men's? He's another graduate of Casal/Sanchez Academy?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Oh, okay. That's right. I haven't really been following the men's draw at all, but, sure, yeah. I mean, he's a great guy, great talent, and, of course he has a chance.

Q. What if it happens to be Sybille Bammer? What are your thoughts on that match?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Once someone gets to the finals, obviously they have to be playing great tennis. I played her last year once in Filderstadt, I think it was. It was a tough match. She's a very good player. So you can never underestimate her.
And, yeah, it would be a tough match, too, so we'll see what happens in the next semifinal.

Q. I notice in the final set, you added something, some powder to your drink.
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Electrolytes.

Q. What it was? I'm asking because I'm playing in the media tournament.
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Oh, okay.

Q. Could you arrange me?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Electrolytes, Gatorade, a lot of water, bananas, whatever it takes. Good luck, huh? Is everyone playing? Someone need some coaching?

Q. Before the third set, exactly what -- before you went in, had the bananas and the electrolytes, how were you feeling exactly? I mean, your legs felt heavy or you just felt exhausted?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, I was starting to feel a little tired, but that break really helped me. And just mentally, I just tried to forget about the second set as soon as I could and really tried to focus on the third one.

Q. I was wondering if you've ever been able to watch the tape of your final against Martina Hingis here, and if so, what do you think when you sort of see yourself from back then?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Definitely I watched it many, many times, especially after the finals. And it was a great feeling. And, you know, whenever you watch match like that, it brings so many great memories. And I could feel exactly what I, you know, what I was thinking in those moments. It was fantastic.

Q. Do you feel much older now?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: No.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

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