Safina interview after the match against Dokic

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Q. You said you weren’t happy with your match against Cornet. Mentally you weren’t quite with it. How was tonight’s game?

DINARA SAFINA: Well, I don’t know. It’s tough to say. It was not easy to play, you know, having the whole crowd against. Because when you have the whole crowd on your own behind your back, whenever you do a great shot, they pump you and then it makes you go for more and more.

When you make a great shot and basically only my box is clapping for me, this was, I think, a little bit tough conditions compared to Cornet. Against her I had also some support from the crowd.

Q. Did you go in today with a game plan?

DINARA SAFINA: Well, a game plan. Of course you always have a game plan. Basically I was trying to just find my game and going for my shots and just be aggressive, not let her dictate.

Sometimes I was doing this, and sometimes not. If I let her play, she’s a great player. She makes me move around. She was going for her shots.

Q. What do you think about Dokic’s future in the game? Do you think she can get up to the top of the women’s game again?

DINARA SAFINA: She was No.4 in the world, or even higher. She’s a great player. Just a matter of time and she continues working like this, working hard, and, you know, you can see that she’s a great player.

Q. You played once six years ago. Can you make comparisons to her game then and now?

DINARA SAFINA: That time I wouldn’t say it was a great match. Jelena was missing a lot, and I think today was completely different match. I would say this time she played much better than last time in China that we played against each other.

Q. Can you compare her game now to other players you’re playing on circuit, other top players?

DINARA SAFINA: Well, she hits the ball great. She moves good. She serves good. She’s a very solid player. She reads the game. She knows what’s the game, you know.

I mean, she beat Wozniacki; the girl is 11 in the world. So she belongs to be there.

Q. That experience, you being out there with the crowd, does that help you?

DINARA SAFINA: Well, no. Already I been through this in China. I knew that I had not ‑‑ I didn’t have to react. She’s playing, she’s coming back. Of course the whole crowd gonna support her.

As I said on court, for sure after this match you going to support me, and this I hope will help me.

Q. Is that a match you would have won a year or two years ago?

DINARA SAFINA: I think so I would not win, because now I hang in there. I push myself and I try as best as I can this day, you know. Before I would just not be able to, let’s say maybe to even handle the whole crowd is against me.

Then I would go against them and then ‑‑ because once you go against the crowd they kill you. Not in a bad way. Then you just start ‑‑ you will feel smaller and smaller, because every time they start to cheer more and more for her.

I was just trying to stay mentally tough and doing the things that I can do this day.

Q. Are you happy with your level of aggressivity today, or do you need to get more aggressive to win this tournament?

DINARA SAFINA: Definitely much more aggressive. Next round I play Vera, and she plays very good. I have to take the time off her and take the balls much earlier. Definitely I will have to be much more aggressive than today.

Q. Do you let yourself dream about finally winning one?

DINARA SAFINA: Dream is always there. But, you know, now that it’s semifinal, whatever happens, happens. I want to go out there and play my game, and let’s see who is gonna be stronger that day.

Then I will think about ‑‑ if I go through I will think about the final. Now it’s semifinal, and I don’t want to think about further than this.

Q. What about No. 1? You smell that a little bit yet?

DINARA SAFINA: Well, smell, of course I smell. But as I said, you know, now it’s semifinal. I’m trying ‑‑ you know, if I play my game and I win ‑‑ keep winning matches, the ranking will come.

Basically what I’m trying to focus is just play my game and keep winning the matches, that’s all.

Q. Do you feel like your own worst enemy out there sometimes? Is it sort of you against yourself sometimes?

DINARA SAFINA: Most of the time it’s me against myself playing. You know, I play against me, my shadow, myself, everything against me. If one day I will play only against opponent, this will be the perfect day.

Then it’s the crowd and the Open and me. I hope the next match is going to be ball and the Open and nothing else.

Q. Have you been in contact with your brother over the last few days, and has he given you any advice as you get towards the business end?

DINARA SAFINA: As I said already before, actually we been today in contact because today is his birthday. Second, nobody is allowed to give me advice except my tennis coach. I don’t want that somebody mess up these things.

It’s my coach, he’s the only one person allowed to tell me something and nobody else.

Q. Tell me again, where did you spend the off‑season? You lost seven kilos or something like that.

DINARA SAFINA: Not enough. It’s been already since Wimbledon that I lost seven kilos.

Q. Where were you training in the off‑season?

DINARA SAFINA: This time I been in Valencia. It’s the only place you can hit outdoors. It was cold, but still you can hit outside.

Q. What do you think is the difference in your condition. I know you lost seven kilos. Do you physically feel anything different?

DINARA SAFINA: I try to put seven kilos on yourself and run.

Q. It’s not easy.

DINARA SAFINA: You know, I just cannot imagine ‑‑ because sometimes you take five kilos, oh, it’s heavy. Then you start to think, I been carrying this the whole time. You don’t feel it. But definitely I would not want to go back to that shape. I prefer to go now the way I am now.

Q. Your next opponent has been in great form. She hasn’t dropped a set all tournament. How do you see that matchup?

DINARA SAFINA: Well, it’s another match. You know, how do you say? Two great players there. Just we will go out there and play our game, and who is going to be stronger on the day gonna be win. Not much, you know.

012709 tuesday /info-photo via Australian Open / Getty Images

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