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It is all happy and all smiles Sorana Cirstea who came in Upper Austria Ladies Linz 2017’s press room after her win against Alison Van Uytvanck (6-3 7-5). The Romanian, who arrived in Linz after a positive season who brought her close to top30 in the world after years of struggle caused by a nasty shoulder injury, shared with us her thoughts about the current state of WTA and the new leadership spot, who has been taken by her friend Simona Halep, about her season and about her best memories of this long 2017 season.
Congratulation for the win today. You came here in Linz after two quarterfinals in Asia. How do you feel?
Yes, I had good runs in Asia, I played better and better and also reached quarterfinal in Beijing. I hoped to bring that good form here in Linz, playing solid. It wasn’t an easy match today but I am happy for the way I played.
You started past season playing 25k tournaments and now you are again at WTA level. How long was this journey after the injury?
It was very difficult, as I had to start from zero and from small ITF tournaments. But also because of that I am very proud of myself for the way I handled everything and I think injuries made me a stronger person and also a stronger player and now I appreciate a lot more everything tennis is bringing me.
Did you congratulate with Simona Halep for her achievement already? And how much important will, for future generation, the fact Simona is now no. 1 in the world?
For Romania, it’s huge that Simona got the no. 1 but sadly I didn’t have the chance to personally congratulate with her since I left Beijing before that happened. But we are neighbours, probably once I get home I will just scream something from the balcony [laughter]. She has been a great player with great consistency, always top10 and even top5 and she deserves now to be no. 1. For Romania it’s an unbelievable achievement, we are such a small country and I am very happy to see tennis bringing together people, like in a social movement in the right direction and I am happy to be part of it.
You said Linz is one of your favourite tournaments. What does make Linz so special for you?
I love this tournament since the first time I came here probably 10 years ago… and saying that I feel a bit old [smile]. I started to like Linz more and more every year and Sandra Reichel is the best tournament director ever. She is unbelievable, she is so involved and she always tries to make us feel at home. Everything is well organized even if it is a small tournament. I feel like it’s cozy and I like the atmosphere. This is also why I hope to stay here as long as I can.
The picture with you in your black dirndl had lot of success in social media. Did you like yourself in that dirndl?
Definitely, I was so happy to find a black dirndl, that is my favourite colour. It was nice to experience a bit of Austrian culture, but we are lucky to travel so much and to have the chance to experience a bit of so many different cultures. It’s a plus for us.
You are around no. 35 in the Race to Singapore, but also very close to no. 25. You had pretty good results during your season, like in Beijing, in Madrid and also in Australian Open. How would you describe your season, are you satisfied?
I am very critical of myself, generally, and of course I think I could have done much better than what I’ve done. When you look back you always see the opportunities you missed. But one must see also the good parts. I started the year at no. 80, I’ve been healthy for the whole season apart some minor wrist issues (and being healthy is very important for me after all the problems I have been through). Now I will try to push and get the best spot I can. Yes, looking back I could think ‘I could be top20 now’, but I grew up a lot this year, I am thankful for what I achieved.
Which is the best moment or the best memory of your season?
I had many, it is not easy to pick one. I can choose the recent result I had in Beijing, not only because I won against Karolina Pliskova, but also for the way I played for the whole week. I remember I was talking with my family while I was travelling to Beijing: I said to my father ‘I am playing the best tennis I played through all year and I don’t understand why results are not coming’ and he said to keep believing in my tennis. Actually I am a bit said that the season is finishing [smile], but I hope to finish in a good way with these two tournaments I have to play.
And more in general, which is in your opinion the biggest surprise or the best moment of this last WTA season?
Grand slam winners. It was a very interesting and exciting year, from my point of view the level was great and so high. Everyone in top100 is playing so good and it is impossible nowadays to have an easy match. Since Serena Williams stepped back for pregnancy, there have been opportunities for everyone to show their tennis and to feel more confident. From my point of view Muguruza had an unbelievable year and deserved to be no. 1, Ostapenko and Stephens had great moments and played unbelievably in Roland Garros and UsOpen. It is a very exciting year and it brought a lot of good to women’s tennis.
You talked about Ostapenko, who recently have been your doubles partner. How is to play with her? She looks so lively and energetic…
Jelena is a lovely girl. We didn’t know each other very well before playing together in Asia, but she is such an happy person. I always tell her she is like a donkey [smile]. She is such a good person to have around, so positive, I like her game and I was impressed by the way she played in Asia. I lost to her in Beijing even if I played a good match but she had an incredible level. I think she will be no. 1 too.
Your comeback from a bad injury has been pretty successful. Here in Linz we have the comebacks at WTA level of Bencic and Friedsam after their injuries. What would you suggest to them to be back in top positions?
I am not the best player who should give advice probably. I know Belinda a bit more and she is such a sweetheart and a nice person. I am so happy to have her back on the tour, I know she won the first tournament she played and also yesterday she played a pretty good match against Flipkens and I am sure Belinda will be back on top very very soon. The toughest thing when you come back is patience: you want to come back as you were playing before, but you need to find again the right rhythm, the right confidence… and the key is having patience.