How was your match with Natalia Vikhlyantseva?
When you play qualification matches, especially when you’re coming from Australia, it is important to get a feel for the court and your rhythm, your game. The most important thing was to find my rhythm in the game, because yesterday’s match was terrible for me. The most important thing is to win. Because you understand that in the next match you can improve your game, you understand what you need to work on. I expected the match to be difficult. We are friends with Natasha outside the court, but today we played with each other for the first time. We both play aggressive tennis, our games are similar in some aspects.
And yesterday’s match with Daria Mishina?
You know, I forgot about it, I don’t want to remember it at all. I did not even discuss it with the coach. All I can say, Thanks God I won it – and that’s it.
The court is slow enough for your aggressive game, have you had time to get used to it?
It is really slow for a hard court. And the balls are rubbed off quickly. Therefore, you have to hit harder, attack all the balls. Because if you don’t play with enough pace your opponent will hit a winner. Indeed, the court is not so fast. Probably for those who like to spin, it will be good. And I love the pro-active game. Today was easier than yesterday. Today I played better, so I’m happy with my result.
How can you evaluate your physical form?
Before the tournament, I thought I was in a good shape, but I played the first match, and already began to doubt (laughter). In Australia, I also approached the major in Melbourne in normal form, but we played with Danielle Collins for three hours, and, unfortunately, a couple of points predetermined the outcome of the match. We can say that if the opponent was better, it would be easier, and I could win. But it is as it is. My Grand Slam draws are hardly good for me.
You are already quite a mature player, what are your goals for this year and the future?
Improve the ranking and not stagnate. If you stagnate and don’t improve your ranking for a whole year, then this is a bad indicator. If you are not injured, then you must rise.
Who is your coach now and where exactly are you training?
My coach is from Ireland. His name is Gary Kahl. We rarely meet together. He travels with me to Grand Slam tournaments, he was with me in Australia. But travels with me randomly, maybe he will be at the tournament in Lyon, maybe in Miami. I’m already used to travelling alone, and I won a lot of tournaments alone. Therefore, I am comfortable being alone. The training process itself takes place in Moscow. I have a physical trainer there, I train a lot at the Alexander Ostrovsky Academy and at CSKA.
At Roland Garros, you played against Serena Williams, whom you admire. How was it?
I really wanted to win (laughter). I really wanted to win, but I probably missed my chances, I was a little bit confused. She gave me a chance to win the first set, she had not found her game yet, I needed to take advantage of that which I did not do. In the third set, she already played very good tennis making it difficult for me to play because I was a little tired. I hope next time I will win.
And a small personal question. You are engaged to an athlete, a hockey player. Sportsmen often find a partner in sports, why do you think?
I think that two athletes understand each other. If we talk about tennis, then we travel a lot. It is difficult to find a person who will not travel with you, because he also has to do his stuff – otherwise the respect in the relationship disappears. Your partner has to understand, empathize, respect what you do. My partner respects what I do. We do not get to see each other for months, sometimes for three months, some believe that this is not a real relationship … But I do not think so. Because we play, respect our sport, help each other. We always call up, tune up each other before the match, and then support each other after the match is over.