Practice sessions are in full swings at “SIBUR ARENA” in the run-up to St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy 2020. The Russian Anastasia Potapova (WTA, 101) answered questions from the press service of the tournament.
Anastasia, how is your knee? In the fall at the Moscow tournament you were playing with a taped leg. How do you feel now?
At the “Kremlin Cup” I had no problems with my knee, but my ankle hurt because when I was playing a tournament in Korean I twisted my right ankle after I hit a smash. Luckily, it wasn’t as bad as we thought at first. But the doctor said if I don’t want to undergo any surgery and to make things worse, I have to play in a bandage. I have no injury, it is more like my insurance. And I felt pain in my knee on the practice after Australia, X-ray showed nothing so I suppose it could be a nerve nip. Nothing serious I am good and healthy! (smiles).
How did you spend your off-season?
Tough (laughter). Actually I had 8 weeks of practice. It felt endless (laughter). It was the first time when we had enough time for full practice with my new coach Ian Hughes. We started to work together in the middle of the season so there was no time to prepare well for the tournament. But in the off-season we worked really a lot, we spent enough time for practice working either on techniques or on tactics. I think we had a very good off-season. Hope it will bring us good results very soon.
How did you find your collaboration with Ian Hughes, maybe he taught you something new for you up after such hard work?
From the very beginning we were working on my serve. It happened sometimes that if it is not my day or I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and I serve badly, all then my game is ruined. But during those 8 weeks we improved my serve so much so that during the tournaments in Australia people would come and praise me for this component of the game. And the main thing that Ian teaches me to be a professional either on court or off court, let’s say like that: if a player is in the Top 100, it means she can show something on court anyway but he also says how important it is to think about tennis even when you have a walk with your friends you should know who you are and what you are doing.
It is interesting.
I have never had such a professional person on my team before.
Is he himself like that, giving his 100 per cent to tennis?
Oh Gosh! Yes he is! Sometimes it drives me mad (laughter), because when you win you’d like to breath out and to relax a little bit but when we go to the restaurant to celebrate someone’s birthday he is still thinking about his job. He is thinking not even one step ahead, but rather five and it wows me. For sure I’d like to look up to him and be like him but while I am young and have less experience, I don’t want to go as deep in my mind with tennis. I mean I am having this routine seven days a week, sometimes you want to have a time off all that. But anyway I feel how I am changing under his coaching.
Since you mentioned Australia… We can’t help asking you about your reaction to the Australian Open draw and your first round match against Serena Williams?
You know I am “lucky”. I have never had easy ways – it is not about me. There was no tournaments when I opened a draw and said: “Oh, what a sweet draw!”. Never. I get to play seeded players or the defending champion in my first rounds and I got used to it. And answering your question about Serena I will say I have a good intuition and sometimes it so happens that I predict my first round opponents. My team knows that fact and it sounds strange and even frightful. I can tell them: “I saw it in my dream… or I have a feeling I will play against her”. And sometimes it happens I meet someone quite often and then we play R1 match against each other, so it was like that with Serena. I had my practice 30 minutes before the draw ceremony started my agent Alexander Ostrovskiy came to Australia and was with me on court, he said: «The draw get started. How would you like to take on?». I turned around and said: «It doesn’t matter let it NOT be Serena ». Five minutes later I heard his reaction: “Nastya, loose lips sink ships!”. And I just added that I have told. Ian said I have to stop talking so much (laughter) as everything that I say come true. But anyway it was great experience to play against such a legend, the best player in the world especially at Australian Open and at Rod Laver Arena, as we understand she is 38 and won’t play forever and as people say she is thinking about bidding farewell to tennis. It was a huge experience and a good lesson for me. In the first set I had jitters, you know like it happens when you see a celebrity and you can’t believe it is true, but the second set showed me I can play on the same level and I should improve different components in my game a little bit, to change some things in my mind, she is not as far away from me.
Since you say your prophecies come true, let’s find the right words for you run at the tournament St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy. What will you wish yourself?
To play as many matches as I can and to show consistent game during the entire tournament.