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March 13-21 2021, SIBUR ARENA

JELENA OSTAPENKO: “I HAD TO PUT PRESSURE ON MY OPPONENT TODAY!”

– What has changed after the match when you lost to your today’s opponent Paula Badosa at Roland Garros? Today there was a different surface and it seemed that it was more comfortable for you to play, because your opponent clearly didn’t cope with your  speed. What has changed in your game and in the game of your opponent since your previous match?

– I tuned in better for the match and knew that it wouldn’t be easy, because she serves well, but at the same time I knew that I had to play aggressively. I understood that I could only outplay her with my aggressive game. Today it was necessary to put pressure on my opponent during the whole match and increase speed. I think I did it well. It also seems to me that I served much better today than back then at Roland Garros.

– We remember 2017 very well, when you won Roland Garros, and then we saw you in Khanty-Mansiysk, where you and your teammate Anastasija Sevastova defeated the Russian national team in the Fed Cup tie. It was almost impossible to beat you back then, you demonstrated excellent tennis. But then you went down, but n after today’s match we can say that you are regaining your erstwhile shape. Is this impression correct? And what prevented you from maintaining the level that you showed in Paris in 2017?

– This year I have already had a couple of good matches and a couple of good wins, but I need consistency. I think that these years I was rather psychologically down, but physically I felt great and played well in practice. But when I played matches and weird was happening in my head. Now I try not to think about it. I’m just trying to get back my game, to play more aggressively without being afraid of anything.

– The local crowd here in St. Petersburg rooted for you very loudly today, shouting “Magic! Magician!”. Did you hear that? And how do you like this support?

– Yes, I have heard everything, and I am very pleased that the crowd roots for me here. I also have relatives living here, and they came today to cheer for me. Of course, it’s always nice to have the support of the local crowd.

– You said you had enough time to regain your confidence on court. Maybe somehow this lockdown due to coronavirus brought some benefits to you? What have you discovered from either the tennis side or in your day-to-day life, maybe you have a new hobby?

– I haven’t discovered anything new in tennis as during several months all the tennis clubs were closed and I had no practice. I could only go for a run. And my new hobby is cooking and baking. I was cooking different meals and was baking a lot. I understood I prefer baking to cooking more.  I tried lots of new recipes.

– What is your signature dish?

– I think the cheesecake is my trademark recipe. I was baking lots of desserts: a honey cake, Napoleon cake, cupcakes and many others. Every time I tried something new.  

– You played doubles’ finals in Qatar, in St. Petersburg you teamed up with Valeria Savinykh. Can we say that you are playing doubles that regularly because you’d like to come back to your shape faster? And how did you decide to play together with Valeria?

– I play doubles because I like it and it works my way. There is no such pressure as in singles. Valeria had asked me whether I like to play doubles with her. Actually I was planning to perform with Lyudmyla Kichenok here, but then when I saw she didn’t come I teamed-up with Valeria.

-You’ve won two of your last three matches; your game seems to be going in the right direction. I am sure you are pleased with your victory today. Can you, please, comment on everything that is happening this week?

I think I’ve played aggressively and served well today, I’ve shown confidence and steadiness. Overall I am pleased with my game right now. In Dubai the second match was not great, but in the opening I was playing pretty well. In general, I am just trying to get my self-confidence and consistency back.

– So far this season there has been 11 different winners of the first 11 tournaments on tour. What do you think about it in terms of women’s tennis depth? 

– I believe that even WTA’sTop50 is open. Anyone can get through. And into TYop20 and top30 as well. Of course, there are players like Serena Williams who in a different league But in general I think it creates some good opportunities for me to return to the Top10.

– Marion Bartoli was with you in Dubai and I am not sure if she is with you in St. Petersburg this week. Can you describe your current situation with her and how it has been going with her on your team?

– I think everyone knows that she had a baby recently and it has been hard for her to travel, but I kept in touch with her. She has been helping me in Dubai and I think she will continue to help me in some more tournaments. We are still in touch with her and we will continue working together.

– You have been playing great in the last few weeks. How do you assess today’s match? Could you compare the way you have been playing today with you game you show us in past two years?

– I think I play good matches. Maybe not all of them went my way, but I fought. The main thing for me is to fight in every single match and win. The more matches I win, the sooner my confidence will return, the sooner I will start to show better results.

– How do you feel in the conditions that have been prepared for the participants of St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy by the tournament organizers? The coronavirus pandemic break in tennis lasted almost a year, how can you comment on the conditions of this tournament?

– It’s always a pleasure to play in St. Petersburg. I really like being here – the organization is on the top level, the hotel is amazing, the food and the courts as well. By the waym my relatives live in St. Petersburg. People here speak Russian and it’s one more advantage. I can’t say that I feel exactly like home here, but the feeling is very similar. Of course, the conditions this year are different. For example, we do not have this famous players’ party this year that are always take place in St. Petersburg.  

– Your best result in St. Petersburg is the quarterfinals in 2018. Please, tell us about the goals you set for yourself at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy this year and for the season in general.

– I try not to set any goals, but rather play every single match. If I play as well as I did today, then I’ll have the opportunity to play here to the end and perform well in general.

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