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Alisa Kleybanova Third Round Press Conference

Indian Wells, CA, USA

March 15, 2010

A. KLEYBANOVA/K. Clijsters
6-4, 1-6, 7-6
An interview with:
 THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

 Q.  So?  How do you come back from Love 4 down in that tiebreaker?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA:  Yeah, well, the whole match today was, you know, with many ups and downs for me.  Some point I didn't play too good.  But, you know, I just said to myself, I got to stay there.  That's what I did until the end of the match, even that I was 3 Love down in the final set, 4 Love down in the tiebreaker.
 But, you know, in my mind it was just until the last point is played the match is not over.  So I just kept fighting for every ball, and finally it worked.

 Q.  So how does that feel?  It's pretty big to beat the US Open champion in a long match like that.
ALISA KLEYBANOVA:  Yeah, well, recently I played many, many long matches.  You know, I won a tournament a week ago, and I didn't think about that I'm playing against such a great player, US Open champion, you know.
 It was just another match for me, and I was just playing against the opponent.  I didn't think too much about who was on the other side.  I think this was the key for me, to stay out there and not think too much, just focus on my game and fight for every point.

 Q.  What are you most proud of tonight?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA:  Well, that I was able to come back from, you know, some downs in the match.  Because obviously against this kind of player, on this high level, it's very difficult.
 Because once you give them a chance to go forward, it's very difficult to take the opportunity afterwards, to come back.
 So this was something very important that I did today.  Because, you know, when you play against some decent player, you can, you know, come back, go forward.  You can play a little bit like that.
 But here it's quite tough.  If you give them a chance to go so far ahead in the final set, like 3-0 or 4-0 in the tiebreak, it's very difficult to pick it up to stay in the match.
 So I'm very proud of myself that I've been, you know, really strong at the most important moments, and I could pull it through and finish the match.  Because obviously in the tiebreaker after 4 0, every point was tough to win.  It was not like, you know, she missed six or seven balls in a row.  It was very difficult.
 So I'm very proud that I was there and I played very, very clean and focused seven points in a row.

 Q.  What was your problem with your serve during the second set?
 ALISA KLEYBANOVA:  Well, it's quite difficult here, because, you know, as soon as I arrived the balls are flying a little bit, so I've been struggling couple of days already for, you know, because usually I put a lot of power in it.
 It's not really working so well here, because, as I said, the balls are flying a bit more.  So as I saw in the match, also in the first round and today, that many players been struggling with the serve.  Because also Kim was, you know, she did couple double faults and also was struggling with the first serve.
 So I just    you know, but I know that I'm confident in my second serve.  So I said, Okay, don't worry about it.  If you don't make too many first serves, you just stay there.  The second serve is good.  It's tough to make a pressure on it.
 So I was not really disappointed about it.  I was more thinking about the game than, you know, struggling to put the first serve in.

 Q.  Your next opponent is a totally different type of player than Kim.  What kind of match do you expect, and what will you have to do to be successful?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA:  Yeah, well, to be successful, I obviously have to play better than my opponent.  (laughter.)
 So I will try my best to, you know, recover well from this long match and to go out there tomorrow and try to play as good as I can for that day, you know.
 So you never know what's going to happen in the match.  Obviously you're right, that it's a completely different player with a different type of tennis.  I played against Carla couple of times in the juniors and also in the pro circuit.
 But, you know, that was quite a while ago.  So, you know, we've been improving a lot since then.  So you never know what's going to happen.  I'm just going to try to go out there and play my game.  Because, as, you know, it's really depending a lot on how I'm going to play in this match, because I think I need to really dictate my game, my power, my speed, and then, you know, we see what happens.

 Q.  You've beaten big players before, obviously, but it seems like now three sets, longer matches, you're looking stronger at the end than you had previously.  Do you feel any difference stamina wise, strength wise, at all?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA:  Well, yeah, definitely, because, you know, last year I've been really working a lot on my fitness and my conditioning, because in a couple of years the tennis has really grown up.  Everybody is so strong now.  It's no more, so, like, easy matches.
 In the first rounds you get all the tough opponents, no matter which tournament you play.  No matter a Grand Slam or a smaller event, it's always difficult.  So you gotta be there like really in good shape to play those long matches, because it's never easy.  And.
 You have to, you know, go through these three set matches and be able to go out tomorrow and the next day and, you know, to play again your best tennis.
 You don't have much time to recover at all.  So it's very important, I think, now to be in good shape, because this is I think also one of the keys to success in this long matches.  You know, it's not every day when you go there and you play your best tennis when you feel everything on the court.
 But if you're physically strong, you know that mentally you can just keep fighting, fighting, running through every ball.  Then you can, you know, even if you're not playing your best, you can go with the physical conditioning, not just like, you know, playing unbelievable balls and making winners every second shot.
 Sometimes it doesn't work.  And if you are strong, if you're mentally there, you can just keep fighting and still pull out the matches like that.

 Q.  What does this win mean for your ambition?  Did you set a goal specific for this year for the ranking?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA:  Well, I don't think too much about the ranking, you know.  I know that the more I win, more higher I'm going to move in the ranking.  But for me, of course, by the end of the year I would like to reach the top 20.  I mean, I had this goal also for last year, but it was quite difficult to achieve it.
 So I said, Okay, it's good already that I was able to stay in the top 30, not to lose my position there, because it was not easy.
 And this year, if I can, I would like to move forward.  You know, one of my goals was to win an event, and I'm very happy that I did it because this really brought me a lot of confidence.  This is something that, you know, I made another step forward.
 It's like you play tournaments, you win against top 10 players, but, you know, once you really win a tournament, you have some feeling that, okay, the week finished out the way it should by winning the last match.  This is something that really brought me confidence into my game.
 So in this tournament, it's a Masters, it's the mandatory big event, and I really came here to try to win as many matches as I can.  I have confidence from my last winning tournament and I feel well on the court, and, you know, I'm really full of energy to keep fighting even if I'm not playing my best tennis, but just, you know, staying out there I really enjoy.
 And I'm happy that this match was tough, because more tough matches you win, more confidence you get.  Sometimes, you know, easy matches don't really help you that much.  So, you know, so far I'm enjoying a lot playing here, so I hope to keep going.

 Q.  It was I think at 5 6; you were two points from losing at 30 All, and you hit that dropshot.  Is that a bit of a chance or did you think about it or why did you play that shot at that point?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA:  Well, you know, sometimes when you're so much into the points, into the match, you do some things that you don't even think about, you know.  I did that dropshot, and afterwards, I was like, What a great shot I did, you know.  (laughter.)  I didn't really prepare it that I'm going to do dropshot, because obviously I didn't make too many successful dropshots today.
 So this is important thing, to be clear, you know, when you're playing these important points.  I mean, everybody stressed at the end of the match.  Everybody felt this tension.  You know, it's really close to finish, two points away for Kim.  So, you know, it's a lot of tension for all of us.
 But I was happy that I was able to be clear on the court without agitated, because that's why I could make it.  If I was trying to keep the ball in the court, you know, to play more careful, it doesn't work against these players.
 There, in important points you have to risk.  You have to do something different, and then, you know, whatever happens, if you are good enough, you can risk and you can win the points without missing it.
 So I just    I don't know.  I mean, I didn't really prepare it too much.  It just came up in the right moment. (Smiling.)

Q. Do you feel like you're mostly playing from instinct, or are you thinking through a lot of the points?
 ALISA KLEYBANOVA:  Depends.  Because thinking all the time it's really, for me, it's impossible.  Many shots I'm doing when it's just, you know, it comes at the last moment and you just feel to place it there and that's it.  You don't know why it comes to play in certain place, but you just feel like this.
 But of course, in general, you just try to play with tactics.  You try to see what's happening in the court, to look where is the opponent, where is the ball, where is more comfortable to hit.
But when you play these long matches, tough matches against the players who run really well and play fast, many times you don't have time, much time to think where to play the ball.  You follow your instinct.
 Especially when you have tension, when it's important point, when everything happens fast, you don't have too much time to make a decision.  Sometimes thinking too much really makes you more tense, so you just    certain moments, you just have to relax and just leave it, you know, leave it for instinct and play as you feel, not think too much where to put the ball.

 Q.  Back in Australia, you were close beating Justine Henin.

 Q.  She also made a comeback, but did you learn something from that match for now beating Clijsters?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA:  Well, I didn't really think about, you know, that I didn't win against Justine and today I play against Kim.  They are completely different players for me, and I've been    you know, I think I've improved a little bit since that match with Justine, because, you know, I wasn't able to finish it the way I should.
 I wasn't set up, and I think it was 3-1 in the second set, 4-1.  It was quite disappointing that I didn't win that match.  But, of course, every time when you lose or win, you try to learn something from the match.  If you did some mistakes, you try next time not to repeat them.
 So, you know, of course I was disappointed that I didn't finish it as strong as I should.  So today I'm happy that at the important moments when I was up I was able to finish the match, you know, without losing match points, coming back and then fighting again.
 When I have a chance, I took it.  So this was the important thing that I didn't do it, you know, at the important moment with Justine in the second set.
 So this was something that I did different today.      

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