At the previous press-conference you said you had not played against Daria before and that it would be an interesting experience. What would you say now, after the match?
Daria is a great tennis player, we all know that. She definitely plays her own signature game sticking to her off-the-beaten-path style. She uses a lot of spin and varies the speed. When you watch her on TV, you do not see such variations in her game, but when you actually play against her on court – well, then, of course, you just feel it. All in all, I was ready for it. It was for sure an interesting match. She fought from the very first rally till the last one. I am happy that I took risks at the right time and made the right moves and executed everything I planned.
What did help you to outplay Daria?
There were many nuances at the right moment, I took my risks and did not wait for errors. I managed to play actively and won the rallies which were needed to be won.
In the second set you held two match-points, but both games were lost. Was it hard to compose yourself when the victory was so close?
No, I did not think about the score. I knew that Dasha could return very well. It is very hard to win a point when you serve. Because she reads your serves well. She played a little bit more actively on key points. I didn’t have a sufficient first serve percentage throughout the match, but I knew there was nothing wrong with that. There was still a tie-break ahead. Even if I were to lose a tie-break, there was still a third set ahead. I just tried to fight for every ball.
You have already played in semifinals in Shenzhen, but the match didn’t go your way. Have you analyzed it? What were you lacking there to win? Was it some heath issue that made you pull out of that tournament? What mistakes will you take into account tomorrow to win the match?
First, I need to have appropriate recovery. Of course, after Shenzhen certain conclusions were drawn especially in terms of preparation. My injuries were also taken into consideration, that’s why after that tournament I worked diligently with physical therapists and a fitness trainer to recover from all my injuries, and to improve my fitness level so that I could withstand many three-set matches in a row. In that match, I was just not ready to play. Before that, I had very tough matches, moreover, I got injured and just couldn’t play at the right level. I hope that tomorrow I will manage to avoid these problems, that I will recover and will be 100% ready.
Have you reached your optimal physical shape at this tournament?
It is very difficult to talk about optimal physical shape. In tennis it so happens that you come to a tournament, and it seems to you that you can’t hit the ball properly, that you don’t feel the ball, but at the end of the day you win one match after another. Or vice versa: you think that you play great, and then you lose 6/0, 6/0 to someone and think to yourself: “How could this possible have happened?!”. Tennis is an amazing game in this regard, so I don’t think about the physical form I have and how optimal it is. Probably one of my goals is not to even think about it. I want to think only about what I need to do so that tomorrow I can show my best tennis, and create as many problems as I can for my opponent.
Tell us a few words about your next opponent Donna Vekic. She plays a somewhat different game.
I don’t know Donna so well. I guess, we played once, many years ago when she was so young. I think it was at Wimbledon, on grass. I don’t recall anything about that match. She plays well here, she defeated Petra, period. I’ll try to analyze her game. I have a sparring coach who noted some details, we will draw up a plan for the match.
You played more aggressively in the 2nd set rushing to the net more often than in your previous matches. Why?
I can’t say that I advanced to the net more often. Maybe we need to look at the stats. Of course, I tried to find opportunities when I could to go to the net and finish the point. Daria played well in defense and it’s tough to play only from the baseline against her. So I could finish the points.
Whom do you say St. Petersburg crowd supported more today – you or Daria?
I think, both of us. It’s great that we had lots of spectators and a great atmosphere. Somebody had to win, it’s tennis. Today it went my way. Daria played well, and I’m sure, that she would reach great form and the wins would come.
Jazz sounded during the changeovers. Is it attractive for the crowd? Did you like it or not?
The music during changeovers is not something new, but a live jazz band is new as far as I remember. It’s really great. I think, jazz lovers appreciated it.