US Open Interview: Dinara Safina August 29, 2009
Q. How do you like the state of your game right now?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, I think I had a great year, so I’m playing pretty good. I had a great tournament in Cincinnati, so I’m really looking forward to start this tournament.
I’m feeling pretty good.
Q. What do you think about Kim Clijsters’s comeback?
DINARA SAFINA: I think I already answered it 100 times.
Well, you know, I cannot talk for her, you know. If she’s happy being back on tour, I’m very happy for her. For me, I don’t know, she’s a great player, great athlete. So from, as a friend, I can only say if she’s happy doing this, coming back, I’m honestly very happy for her.
Q. Were you surprised at all at the kind of results she came up with right away back on tour, beating some top players like Kuznetsova, Bartoli?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, she’s a great player, you know. For me, nothing changed, no? She didn’t play for two years, but she knows us very good, no? She played against us so she knows how we play.
I think just matter of time, and she’ll be back on top. So I see her, that she’s playing exactly the same as she would be playing before.
Q. How important is the No. 1 ranking to you?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, that’s the dream of my life. It was a dream of my life to become No. 1 in the world.
Q. What were your thoughts after Wimbledon when Serena Williams spoke about the controversy surrounding No. 1 after she had won that tournament?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, you know, I’m not doing the ranking system. You know, what can I do? There is ranking, and if you look at the ranking, I’m No. 1 in the world. (laughter.)
Q. What do you think of your draw? You’ve got possibly facing…
DINARA SAFINA: Wait, wait, wait. First round. First round, just tell me.
Q. First round – I don’t have first round here. Possibly in the second…
DINARA SAFINA: I don’t look so far away. I take one step at a time. I look first round, focus on the first round. One match at a time. I don’t like to look so much forward. Makes no sense because many things can change. So I just take one step at a time.
Q. What have you been working on most in preparation for this tournament?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, first of all, for me, it was definitely take some rest, because, you know, I played too many matches, too many tournaments, I was just going from tournament to tournament, just packing up and packing up, playing, playing. At least here I had like 10 days I’m in one place, and I don’t have to rush anywhere.
So I just slow down, and of course just basic things I was doing, you know. I was working also on my fitness, you know, to level out before the Grand Slam, that I had some days that I could really push, you know. So basically just a little bit of everything to get back in the best shape I can for this tournament.
Q. And your brother? This is his last Open, right?
DINARA SAFINA: Yeah.
Q. What are your thoughts on that?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, I still cannot imagine that, let’s say, next year I’m going to be alone here by myself playing, because I’m so used to have him next to me.
Well, I guess that’s it, of his career. It’s sad, because he’s a great player, and I think it’s fun to watch him. I know when he plays good, you know, you can see how he fights and like he kind of also an entertainer on the court. You know, a lot going to happen with him. So for me, it was nice to watch him play, but, you know, that’s it. As a sister, I can only say that hope that he’s happy after tennis career.
Q. Will you be trying to watch some of his matches or will you just try to focus on your game?
DINARA SAFINA: Not really, even now I’m watching my tennis matches. Sometimes if I have to see something. You know, of course, like sometimes when they show like on the TV, like this memories, you know, it’s always like that. I don’t know. I watch some of these moments like when he won US Open or when he won Australia, Davis Cup. You know, just too sensitive for me. You can imagine how hard work was behind this, and when it pays off, it just unbelievable feeling.
Q. What do you think it says about your family that both of you have achieved the top spot in the world?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, we’re first ones in the history. I hope we’re not the last ones. We want to be, you know, like a good – being like, like the kids can, brother and sister can look at us and say we also want to be there, so we can push some other families, some brothers, sisters, that they become also after us.
Q. Now, earlier you said that you don’t set the rankings. That was your reaction to what Serena Williams said. But what were your thoughts about the fact that she did make those statements?
DINARA SAFINA: I don’t care. I don’t care. Really.
Q. There’s a lot of young players that are coming up. You played Azarenka twice this year, once on a hardcourt, once on clay, what’s your take on her game?
DINARA SAFINA: She’s a top 10 player. She’s a great player. Great competitor. I would say, like, very hard worker, you know. She knows what she wants, and she’s working very hard for it, you know. I just – I have lots of respect to her, and she’s a great person.
Q. Every Major has a different feeling. How does New York and the atmosphere here fit or not fit with your personality?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, you know, for me, this is the first Grand Slam where I just played the first time main draw, you know, in the Grand Slam. So it’s special. And of course my brother won here, so it just makes me something special.
You know, I always had good results here, so, you know, I don’t know. I like playing here, either like also – that we have, let’s say, hotel pretty far away. I don’t care, staying downtown Manhattan you always have shopping. If you make some cash, you can go and spend some.
Q. What memories do you have of his championship here? Were you here?
DINARA SAFINA: No, no, I wasn’t here.
Q. Did you watch it on TV? Do you have any memories what that was like seeing him, your brother, win a Grand Slam title here?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, it was unfortunate, I didn’t watch it live. I watched it after, on TV.
I don’t know. Just the way he played. I don’t know. Just so good, you know, to see him after, you know, holding the trophy. Just being a sister, some unbelievable feelings you get.
Q. When you look at this tournament, how much talent does it take to win the US Open compared to maybe the other Majors?
DINARA SAFINA: Of course, every Grand Slam you come, of course you want to win. But as I said before, like this one, it’s something special for me this Grand Slam, because of my brother, and also I started basically my professional career here in the Grand Slam main draw, and I won doubles here. So why not singles?
Q. You mentioned that you needed kind of a bit of a breather coming into this tournament. Do you wish you had maybe played less earlier in the year and maybe skipped a tournament here or there so you feel a little fresher?
DINARA SAFINA: Sometimes I look at the schedule. It’s not really like you skip something. Maybe I shouldn’t play the week before Wimbledon or some other tournament. But from other hand, you cannot not play because it’s preparation for the Wimbledon. So you don’t know. So I don’t know. Maybe at the end of the year, this year we’ll sit down with my team and we’ll see like, okay, which ones are really important and which one maybe we should not play really, like does it make sense to play this tournament? Does it make no sense to play?
So I think next year I will change a little bit that also, like, I have a little bit more rest between the tournaments, because once I started the clay court, I didn’t stop for one day.
Q. As of 2014, the US Open will be the only Slam without a retractable roof. What are your thoughts about that? Should the US Open have a retractable roof?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, based on today’s weather, yes. (laughter.)
I mean, they have kids day here, the kids, they can’t even have fun because of the rain.
But for on the other hand it makes also something special, you sit in the players’ lounge and, you know, you wait. I don’t know. Took away the roof on Wimbledon. Yes, we keep on playing, but then it keeps away the tradition that people are sitting and waiting until the rain stops. So I don’t know.
It doesn’t rain so often here, so I don’t think they should change something.
Q. What are your thoughts about on-court coaching here at the Open? It’s not happening now. Do you think that should be something that maybe the USTA should explore sanctioning?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, but then they have to make it in all the Grand Slam tournaments, not only here, to be fair to other Grand Slams.
Interview from ASAP