An Interview With Vera Zvonareva (after she reached her US Open final with a 6-4 6-3 victory over the top seed Caroline Wozniacki. She will meet Kim Clijsters in the final).
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. What was the key to your victory today?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Um, I think it’s the same probably as the previous match, very similar. It’s the right balance between being patient and being aggressive. You know, with those windy conditions you have to play sometimes ugly, you know. You don’t have to expect to play your best tennis. That’s what I did well. I was not expecting to play my best tennis, but, you know, I was trying to be patient when I needed, and step up when I got the chance.
Q. In what way did your experience of being in the Wimbledon final maybe be a help to you in this tournament so far? And looking ahead to tomorrow, how might it help?
VERA ZVONAREVA: I think it was a great experience overall at Wimbledon. You know, it’s something that I will always remember. But I’m trying to look forward. Wimbledon is in the past. I have this experience. I’m just looking forward. You know, I was looking forward to play my match today, and I’m gonna look forward to play the match tomorrow. I’m gonna take it just as another match. I’m gonna play point by point and not to think about anything else.
Q. It seems to me, having been in most of the press conferences, if not all of them in these last two weeks, that you are emoting tremendous confidence. I feel that from you. Is that a fair assessment of the way you’ve felt in this two weeks?
VERA ZVONAREVA: I don’t know. I always believe in myself. I always believe I can beat anyone on the other side of the net if I’m able to play my best tennis. There is nothing really changed for me, you know. I know I’m not gonna play perfect tennis all the time, like most of the players, but that’s what we all trying to do. I know if I’m doing it, if I’m playing well, I can beat anyone.
Q. What are your emotions right now? Are you happy? What?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Of course I’m happy. I just won my semifinal, and it was my first semifinal in the US Open. Of course I’m happy. You know, I beat a very tough opponent. Caroline played here last year in the finals and she’s No. 2 in the world. You know, I should enjoy this moment.
Q. What does it feel like to be at this stage of the competition again in another Grand Slam?
VERA ZVONAREVA: You know, I don’t really think about what stage of the competition it is. I’m taking it one match at a time. I know that I won my match today. I know that I have to play another match tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day, and I will have to go out there and try my best again. That’s it. I’m not really thinking about what stage of the tournament it is.
Q. Right now you don’t seem to be very, very excited, but normally you are someone who emotionally gives a lot to the public, to the crowd. I’ve seen sometimes crying, sometimes smiling. I mean, what do you think is better, weakness, or is it strength to be very emotional?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Well, I play with passion, but I leave it on the court. Off the court, I’m very calm, and, you know, just not that emotional at all. The tennis is an emotional game. As long as you know yourself and you know which emotions are good for you, which are bad, you can use it to your advantage. That’s it. I think that tennis is an emotional game and that you should show your emotions, because it shows that you are trying your best out there.
Q. Which match provoke you more emotions if you can remember in the past? Which one shocked you a little bit more than others?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Nothing shocked me. Nothing. I’m out there. I’m trying to do my best. I’m trying to play my best. Sometimes I’m happy; sometimes I’m not; sometimes, you know, I have to be hard on myself; sometimes I have to pump myself up; sometimes I have to say to myself that, Okay, it’s time to relax. That’s what I’m trying to do. If I say something wrong to myself, I just take it as an experience, and I know that in the next match I’m not gonna do it.
Q. Last year you were very unhappy leaving the US Open, what is the different circumstances between last year and this year in terms of your emotions and your ability to play so well at a high level?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Well, last year is something that was in the past. I had some experience last year, not only here at the US Open, the whole year overall I played a lot of matches. I take that experience and I try to use it to my advantage. Never look back. I’m just looking forward all the time.
Q. Were you asked about the strings? You broke a lot of strings in the match.
VERA ZVONAREVA: Yeah.
Q. Can you say what happened? Has it happened before? Did you actually take your coach’s racquet?
VERA ZVONAREVA: No, that was actually my old racquet. Yeah, that’s my old racquet. I had five newly strung racquets before the match, and I don’t know what happened. I mean, in one hour to go through five racquets, it’s quite a lot. But, you know, it happens. I will just have to bring some more racquets tomorrow. (Laughter.)
Q. Have you ever broken that many strings in a match?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Not that I could remember, you know. I remember I played a junior event, like I said on the court, but I only had two racquets. Two strings broke. I had to, you know, borrow the racquet from one of the fans, but that’s it. Now I have many more racquets, and still happens to me. It was the first time.
Q. You mentioned you only look ahead. We don’t know who your next opponent will be, so starting with the possibility of playing with Kim, a person you’ve beaten the last two times you’ve played, both in three set matches, can you give a preview of what that match will come down to if you play her?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Any match with Kim will come down to the tough challenge, you know. She’s a great mover on the court. She has a lot of experience. She won here last year. You know, it’s going to be tough. You know, we played a couple of matches for the past couple of months, but those matches are in the past. I will think about what worked the best for me, and I will try to take it with me tomorrow, and, you know, do it again. Those things that didn’t work well for me, I tried to avoid them. That’s it.
Q. Against Venus, if you play her, a person you haven’t beaten in seven years, how would you describe the challenge there?
VERA ZVONAREVA: Well, Venus is very powerful and aggressive player, and for sure it’s a tough challenge to play against her, even though I haven’t won a match in a while against her. I really felt we had a lot of tough, very close encounters. You know, I will just think about it over again. I will think about what I was doing well, and I will try to do it again tomorrow.
Q. I know you don’t want to look back too much but it’s pretty amazing when we look back at that vision when you’re hitting your knees on the court and tears are flowing in this US Open. For you to bow out in the round of 16 there and now in the final is pretty amazing for us. Is it amazing for you? Can you sum it up?
VERA ZVONAREVA: I think I have my team that supports me and believes in me all the time when most people don’t. But I’m the one who believes in myself a lot. I knew that I could be in that position. It’s not easy. Every player is working hard. I’m working hard. It’s not easy to do it every time, but I believe I can do it. Last year, like I said, you know, it happens to everybody. I’m sure there are a lot of players that had a lot of match points and lost that match and broke a lot of racquets and were disappointed a lot. It happens to everybody. So, you know, that’s in the past. It’s just an experience, and I’m just looking forward and trying to, you know, manage it better the next time.
Q. Wozniacki today made a lot of unforced errors, a lot more than she usually does. How much of that was to your credit, do you think, and how much of her level was just below…
VERA ZVONAREVA: You know, I don’t think about it at all. I was just trying to do my job on the court. I knew I had to be patient, and I know I don’t give much rhythm. With those windy conditions, it was difficult for both of us to play each other, because we both don’t give much rhythm. We are very patient on the court. It’s maybe something different. Maybe I was different opponent to her. But I really don’t think about it. I was just trying to execute my game plan and concentrate on my own game.
Q. If you had to go out for dinner with a Russian tennis person, which one do you choose between the women and which one do you choose between the men?
VERA ZVONAREVA: That’s a tough question. We go eat out with a lot of girls, you know, during the tournament, Russian girls. A lot. With guys more…
Q. Pick one.
VERA ZVONAREVA: Why? You need a story? (laughter.) You want a story?
VERA ZVONAREVA: I’ll pick Matt Damon. He might be — he might be Russian in his next movie. (Laughter.)