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Tuesday April 16, 2002

7-6 (5), 6-1

Q. What happened out there?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I lost the match.

Q. Why?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: What do you mean?

Q. Why do you feel like you lost? I mean if you look back, what was the turning point or what ??
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think in general it was a pretty close one, you know, especially in the first set, of course, I had some chances. And I didn't play too many matches in the last month or so, and I think that was pretty important. But in general I think that I played much better than last week, and the last few matches that I played. And obviously Conchita is a very tough player, especially on clay. You know, she's not the kind of player that I love to play against. So I think that I did pretty well, you know, tactically and in general. Even though the score in second set is 6?1, I think that it was much closer than that, and we had some tough games, and she just won the important points.

Q. Did losing such a close first set kind of in the second set the way you played, did that kind of dictate the way you played in the second set? Was it tough to lose that and then come back?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, it's definitely, you know, hard. I was up 5?4 in the tiebreaker and lost that set, but like I said, even though the score is 6?1, I don't think that was the actual score. I mean the games were pretty tight and we had some deuces, and I was up 1?0 and 40?15, so I did have my chances, but yeah, definitely it's a little bit difficult coming back and playing after such a long and tough first set.

Q. Did you expect the comeback from the injury to be as hard as it's turning into or you kind of expected it was going to take a while or you hoped it went faster?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I mean I definitely knew that the longer you're out, the longer it takes to come back, and every month I'd probably take ?? every month out probably takes two to three months when you're back; and I was out eight months, and that's a really long time. And I didn't play so well last year at the end when I just started, and then I played pretty good in the beginning of this year, and now again, kind of feel a little bit difficult, I feel a little different, and it feels difficult in some matches.

Probably also the reason, like I said, I haven't played too many matches with these big tournaments with Indian Wells and Miami, there's two weeks ?? the tournaments are two weeks, so that would probably be also the reason. In the beginning of the year, I played every week, so that gave me a chance of going back and playing. And I'm just looking forward to the European Tour now, and that way I'll get a chance to play every week, and you know, start playing better.

Q. What does a first?round loss like this do for you? It can help in some way and hurt. Does it help in maybe the fact that it drives you more to win that first title?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, right now I'm just looking at getting back to where I was before injury and getting back winning matches and playing some of my better tennis.

And you know, I can't get any more disappointed or anything. I've lost four straight first rounds, so I don't feel bad or anything. I know that I'm going to continue working. I'm going to go back and work and start practicing again and just, like I said, get my game ready and ready to go for the European Tour. It's not like I'm playing bad. It has to come together.

And you know, I was fighting out there today. It's not like I gave up or gave it away, so you know, then the day will come together and I'll play the way I want to play again.

It takes time after such a long period, such a long break, and just maybe unlucky a little bit sometimes somewhere, like, you know, the first set today was very close, and that's it. I'm just going to work and it will come together.

Q. Coming together, does it make it tougher being under the spotlight like you are?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think I'm used to everything right now. I mean, you know, of course it's tough. Of course it's difficult, but you know, any athlete goes through a point in their career where, you know, it kind of gets difficult and that's where you have to show that you can ?? you know, just show yourself that you can do it and get back to where I was before.

Q. Are you encouraged by your progress considering the opponent and the surface today?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah. Definitely. Like I said, I played definitely much ?? today I think was the best match that I played in the last four tournaments that I lost the first rounds, and especially against Conchita. You know, like I said, she's as experienced as you can get on clay. So I'm definitely happy with the progress.

Q. What are your short?term goals after today's loss that will pull you through for the next tour?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Like I said, go back, work, maybe like 100 hours a day. Practice, working some little things and get ready. I have a tournament in a week and a half, and that gives me ten days or so to prepare, and I'm looking forward to the next tournament.

Q. Do you feel like your opponents have extra motivation when they play you because of some of the media spotlight and so forth?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I don't know really what to say about that, but I think that any time you go out there you want to win, and doesn't really matter who you're playing. And that you're going to have to ask them.

Q. Do you think you were fully mentally prepared for the match today?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Why do you think I wasn't?

Q. No. I'm just asking.

Q. Yeah. I mean what do you go through to get mentally prepared for a match on any given day?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, you just have to focus. You know, you kind of have your own routine and just try to think about the things you want to do in that match. And everybody's different, and I have my own routine and stuff.

Q. What particularly pleased you about your play today?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think that I didn't make too many unforced errors or, you know, like I said, she's not the kind of player that I love to play, but I was playing pretty patiently against her, and I was fighting real good and I was moving well. And it seems that I'm in good physical shape, so that was good. And I did make some good shots and some good points, and just didn't really come together in the beginning of ?? you know, in the end of the first set.

Q. Your drop shots, is that a new part of your game?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No. I think I've always had that part. I think that I've always had good drop shots and just have to use them more.

Q. What prompted your call to Harold to come have a look at your game and stuff?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I didn't really call him, but he's just consulting me here this week.

Q. You didn't call him to consult?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah. Well, of course I did, but just to help me to see what's going on this week.

Q. But why him as opposed to?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I don't really know. It's just really early, and you know, just to talk about that. There's nothing really going on right now.

Q. So you're not even possibly looking for a deal with him?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No. No. I really don't know.

Q. Anna, looking forward to our U. S. open issue in September, we're asking this question of all the players. Where were you on September 11th, and how has that changed your life, perhaps the way you view other people, perhaps your travel?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I was in Germany. In fact, I just arrived from the U. S. on the 10th, and I was actually sleeping. And when my uncle and my aunt came and woke me up and said that something has happened, and I was in close to Munich. So and of course, it changed everybody's thinking and everybody's lives and as well, mine, you know, and just in a way that I can't really explain. Just it is different, and you know, that's all there is.

Q. Compassion toward others or people have more compassion towards you or maybe trying to find less of your time?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I'm sorry. Less of my time?

Q. Less of your time, like media, like us trying to find too much of your time and ask questions, or even fans.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I don't think that has to do anything with that.

Q. Do you enjoy the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island or Hilton Head better?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, it was great the way it was, you know, but obviously this facility is much nicer, and it's perfect for a big tennis tournament like this is.

Q. How do you feel when the fans, the children fans come into the practice court like yesterday?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: It feels great. The kids all are always ?? you know, it's very important, and hopefully it's fun for them, and I'm glad that they're interested in tennis, and I'm glad that, you know, they have something to do.