Safina interview after the match against Zvonareva

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Q. What was the key to your win today? What do you think you did better than she did?

DINARA SAFINA: Well, I think I was more aggressive today than previous matches. I think I was going a little bit more for my shots than she was going, and I was just really taking all my chances that I had today.

Q. Was it an ideal match to go into a final?

DINARA SAFINA: Well, I think first set was really, I would say perfect. Second set, I had chances to break her like Love‑15 I had ‑‑ 15‑30, there I had to be a little bit more dominate.

Still, I think I played a very good game at 5‑6 down on her serve, and then I played a solid tiebreak to win the second set.

Q. How much of this do you owe to Justine Henin? Since you beat her last year, you’ve become a whole new player.

DINARA SAFINA: I don’t know. Not only Justine I beat, but that tournament in Berlin just turned me completely around. After that tournament I became different player, so I don’t know if it’s Justine or all other players that I beat to win the title.

Q. But still, that victory, I think, gave you the confidence that you perhaps lacked before.

DINARA SAFINA: Actually, I don’t know. Before the tournament started I saw the draw and I said, I really want to play against Justine. I don’t know why, but I believe I could beat her that day.

When I won, I guess it’s the first win I win against No. 1 in the world. Then I beat another great players and that gave me so much confidence that now I can not only play one match, but like three, four against top players and still to beat them.

Q. Here you are where she was five years ago, and you pushed her into retirement.

DINARA SAFINA: Well, I don’t think it was me. I think it was also some kind of her decision.

Q. In that same tournament you also beat Serena Williams. Do you think that will help you going into the final?

DINARA SAFINA: Well, you know, it was a clay court. Now it’s completely different. I don’t know if we’re going to play with the roof open, closed. So let’s see what’s gonna be on Saturday.

So let’s see how it’s gonna be the conditions. It’s different tournament. It’s not only that I played her in Berlin, I played two more times against her. I hope I will use ‑‑ the mistakes that I did after, I will not use it next time.

Q. Do you think at the US Open and the Championships when you played her, you just weren’t physically or mentally prepared for it?

DINARA SAFINA: Well, those two tournaments it’s tough to judge, because playing US Open and Masters, especially Masters, I was just not ready to play at all. I was dead completely. There was nothing inside of me anymore.

And also, US Open, coming after winning two tournaments in a row, playing final at Beijing, that took so much energy out of me. When I got there, I was just not ready to play.

So now it’s different. It’s beginning of the season. It’s another tournament. Just looking forward for my next challenge.

Q. In all the matches so far you’ve been the higher seed and probably the favorite. Is it going to be easier on you to play a final against someone who is seeded higher and has won a lot of majors already?

DINARA SAFINA: I will just take it as another match. Today I can say I really played against my opponent and not against myself.

Q. A lot of errors today. Do you put that down to the aggression that you were talking about?

DINARA SAFINA: A lot of errors?

Q. Yeah, 41 unforced errors. Do you put that down to the aggressive style that you put into winning the game?

DINARA SAFINA: Yeah, today I think I was much more aggressive than my other matches. At least I was going for something. If I was missing, at least it was a winner shot. But it’s not like I was pushing and the ball was flying.

So it was completely different game today.

Q. Serena lost the last three times to Dementieva. You had lost the last three times to Zvonareva. How do you explain how everything changed? You think it’s a reason or coincidence?

DINARA SAFINA: I think it’s coincidence. I don’t know what was the matches against Serena and Dementieva. But, yeah, I lost to Zvonareva three times last year.

But this is another year. I was pretty comfortable feeling today on the court. I was really feeling good today playing.

Q. What would it mean to you to be a Grand Slam champion for the first time?

DINARA SAFINA: Well, it would be amazing, you know, to have the same trophy as my brother have. It’ll be a dream comes true.

Q. Saturday night is a long way away. What will you do in between times?

DINARA SAFINA: Not much. You know, now it’s already 7:10. I still have to do some press. Maybe I’ll go back to the hotel and watch a movie. Tomorrow I will practice and try to take it as easy as I can and just enjoy, to relax.

Q. Do you get nervous at all?

DINARA SAFINA: Still too early.

Q. When you play Serena, how hard is it not to play against her reputation, given that she tends to raise her level and play great in Grand Slam finals?

DINARA SAFINA: I never played against her in Grand Slam final, so let’s see how it’s gonna be on Saturday.

Q. If you would have the choice, would you prefer to play with the roof open or closed? Does that make any difference to you?

DINARA SAFINA: No, closed. It’s impossible to walk outside.

Q. But it’s going to be Saturday night.

DINARA SAFINA: Oh, Saturday night? Whatever.

Q. Doesn’t make any difference to the game? Svetlana said, for instance, that it was a huge advantage for Serena to play kind of indoors because of her serve.

DINARA SAFINA: Well, for her it was different because they started the match with the open roof and then they closed the roof. Then it’s difficult maybe to adjust. Somebody maybe adjusts faster and someone slower.

But if you start the match open or close, the roof, I don’t know.

Q. Where would you have to improve today, if anywhere, to win on Saturday night?

DINARA SAFINA: I don’t know. I think I beat player who has been playing some very solid tennis for the end of the season and since the beginning of the year. I mean, she win all the matches easy here to get to the semifinal and I beat her pretty solid today. I think it was a great match today.

Q. We are too far ahead, of course, but when Marat won his first Grand Slam he had some chilled vodka brought in. I’m just wondering what your preferred celebration beverage might be if that happens.

DINARA SAFINA: What did he brought?

Q. Vodka.

DINARA SAFINA: I’m not drinking any alcohol. The most you will see me drinking is some pure water.

Q. Afterwards? If you won?

DINARA SAFINA: I don’t drink so much. Maximum I can drink is maybe glass of wine. I don’t drink any alcohol.

Q. When your brother won here and the US Open, it was a big celebration in your parents’ house, I imagine. What about you? Would they celebrate in the same way, or a little less because they’re getting used to the triumph of your brother? And do you think they expect more from your brother or from yourself?

DINARA SAFINA: I don’t know. Well, I guess we gonna ‑‑ because my brother is also gonna be in Moscow, so I guess we gonna you have a big dinner together and enjoy the day.

Well, and me, I will leave soon because I will have another tournament coming up, Dubai, and back to train.

Q. My question was if you think they expected more of him or you to win, and it would make a difference for them?

DINARA SAFINA: I don’t think so. Success is success. I don’t know if they expect more from me or from my brother. It’s a Grand Slam. I don’t know. I was not in the position, so when I will be, I will tell you who is more celebration, when Marat won or I won.

Q. If you think back to earlier in the week when you were so angry with yourself after the Cornet match, can you actually believe now that you got to the final?

DINARA SAFINA: Yeah, because I always knew that I’m playing, but I’m not using all my potential that I have. I’m playing with them, but it was not exactly that I was playing with them. I was not aggressive and I was waiting kind of for their mistakes and not using all of my shots. I always knew that this day had to come. Finally I just step in and play my game.

I guess today was the day that I really like was dominant on the court and I just played the game that I know to play and not being passive on the court.

Q. Are you planning to bring one day a bunch of boyfriends to cheer for you?

DINARA SAFINA: No, I’m not this kind of person. No, no.

012909 thursday /info-photo via Australian Open / Getty Images

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