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Roland Garros: Dinara Safina, May 27, 2008

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Roland Garros
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 started.

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 back.

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.

Q. Sciatica?

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 her decision.

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 plays, so...

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 other night?

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 countries.

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 this?

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 outside.

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.

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