at Paris, France
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Interview with Dinara Safina
Q. So how do you feel after your break, and what
do you think of your chances this year with Justine
retiring and those sorts of things?
DINARA SAFINA: I think it was a pretty good match
for the first round. She is not an easy opponent
because she's a very aggressive girl. So with her
you really have to dominate first.
In the second set that's what happened. I got a
little too passive and she won the break on me, so I
had to turn it again. I'm really happy that I could
go through in two sets, especially before the rain
And chances, it's really open, the tournament. I
just really want to take one step at a time. I don't
want to think about too much. It's next opponent
because it's so close, like I always said.
You know, like you really have to play 100% against
every opponent. There is no easy one, so I have to
be fit for every match.
Q. You pulled out with a back injury from Rome. What
did you have to do to get that better, and how does
it feel now?
DINARA SAFINA: I have it. This is my weakest part of
my body: the back. So I really had to go home and I
had to take some care of it. I'm tall, so not always
I can bend my knees, so I use really a lot my lower
This is the part that got really so sore that I
really can't do anything. So I think it was good
that I had to take some time off and really to work
on it, and now I have to, every time, do exercise to
get it in shape stronger.
Because sometimes it happens that I touch the nerve.
That happened to me once, and it goes into my knee.
DINARA SAFINA: Yes. That's the problem that I have,
so I have to really take care of it.
Q. After Berlin and then during the time off when
you were doing the rehab, were you thinking maybe,
I'm entering a new phase of my career? Can you talk
a little bit about that?
DINARA SAFINA: It's every year, new phase of my
career. Also I was saying in 2006 when I played
final in Rome. I guess I'm a little bit more
experienced, so hopefully I will not do the mistakes
that I've been doing before.
That's the only thing I hope. And I hope it's new
me. God knows (laughing).
Q. But on court, are you feeling more of a sense of
confidence because you're more experienced or things
are working better?
DINARA SAFINA: Yeah, of course. Like especially
playing like three good matches I really played
there. It's not if you play one good match and then
you lose next day and then like, Okay, every once in
a while you can win a match.
But there, really, like I show that I play for three
matches really consistent and on a pretty high
level, so I just show that actually I'm ready. I
think it's just a matter of time.
Still I need to work on things to get better.
Q. So just talk about your understanding of the
sport. You grew up as a tennis player. Your mom,
obviously, is a famous coach and Marat. You've been
around it all your life. Are there still things you
feel can you learn, or has it been with you forever?
DINARA SAFINA: I think can you learn every day
something new. There is nothing that is going on in
this world that you cannot learn. There are many
things that you can learn.
Also on court. It's not only by hitting forehand,
backhand, maybe just understand game a little bit
more. To read a little bit more the game, kind of my
behavior on the court. It's little details that I
still have to improve a lot.
Q. So when you're saying you matured and got more
experience, is it more on court, or did you have to
learn more things about yourself as a person?
DINARA SAFINA: Myself (smiling.) I need at least a
little bit to hide my emotions. I'm still learning,
but still have to work on it. But at least a little
bit I'm improving.
Q. You played Justine in Berlin and you beat her,
and that was her last tournament, as it turns out.
What was your reaction when you heard about it? And
what do you think about her career and what she
brought to the game?
DINARA SAFINA: I think when it's enough, it's
enough. You cannot really say to the girl, if she
feels she cannot give anymore. She steps on the
court and she really feels like, I can't give my
hundred percent. I think this is really like it's
I hope that she just stays happy with this decision
and she just goes forward in her life what she's
planning to do.
Because I really ‑‑ okay, I have one brother who
also says sometimes that he wants to retire because
he says that he has enough of it. But he still
But she's, I think, stronger. She said okay, I
retired. That's all. So I just, you know, when you
hear like seven Grand Slams, so many tournaments
won, what else can motivate you? I don't know. I
guess that she just stays happy in her life.
If she wants to achieve something different, it's
good for her. I'm really happy for her.
Q. So you believe her more than Marat? When Marat
says he's going to retire?
DINARA SAFINA: He's retiring every tournament
(laughing). Every time. But I just ‑‑ and then I see
him play and I'm like, You play so good. You just
keep on going. He's such a good player. I don't
know. I don't know.
Just missing maybe some good wins, okay. Now in
Hamburg he had a good win, so I hope it gives him
some confidence, because he really played good. Just
matter of a little bit of patience. I mean, he knows
best. Because he is really ‑‑ like when you see him
play, it's just amazing.
Q. When you played Justine, did you have any sense
that there was something missing in her drive or
desire in that match?
DINARA SAFINA: Actually, that match I was more
focused on myself that I still can win a match. I
don't worry. Actually, I was playing it and it was
like, I can win this match. I was not really
focusing on her. It was just about myself.
It's not easy to believe when you play No. 1 in the
world. Even you know inside that you can win, but
still like to win the match. So it was at that
moment I was just more focused about myself.
Q. Did you have a chance to watch the Eurovision the
DINARA SAFINA: Yeah, I did watch.
Q. What did you think?
DINARA SAFINA: I don't say any comments. Good that
Russian won, but I don't give any comments. I really
liked Greece, actually.
Q. What did you think of the Russian song?
DINARA SAFINA: It's okay. I have it on my iPhone.
But, I think that Greece was more ‑‑ just that song
that has like a sad story. If you see the video, as
in Russia we have this video for this song, then you
understand a little bit more because they really
could not do much on this small place.
But as entertainment, I think the Greece were
better. But the problem is too many countries before
belonged to Russia they could not vote for other
Q. Due to the bad weather condition, do you feel
relieved that you finished your game today?
DINARA SAFINA: Really, I was really happy, because I
saw in the first set it was like I saw some guys
putting the gloves ‑ like normally they put just to
cover the court. I was like no, no, it's okay. It's
still like raining a little bit.
I'm really happy that when I finished then it
started to rain. It's so good that you can at least
have ‑‑ that you know your day's finished. Now few
girls are still sitting and waiting to go on court,
it's not easy.
I've been in this place. Last year I also had to
wait like six hours for my next match or next to go
on court, so it's not easy.
Q. What do you usually do when it's raining like
DINARA SAFINA: There is not much to do. Just stay in
the locker room and try to relax as much as you can.
Just to not hang out, because it's too many people
Once you go to the restaurant and everybody comes to
you just to say, hello, and this disturbs your
concentration. So it's better to just sit in the
locker room, read or listen to iPod, whatever. Stay.
For me, just stay with myself.