WTA Mallorca, Goerges “finals feel special”, Sevastova “it will be tough”

di - 24 Giugno 2017
Anastasija Sevastova - Foto Mallorca Open

by reporters in Mallorca Open, Giulio Gasparin and Michele Galoppini

At the Mallorca Open we are only one match away from knowing who will follow Caroline Garcia in the rolls of honour of this grass tournament on the Balearic Islands. The defending champion was taken down by whom she defeated 12 months ago in the final: Anastasija Sevastova. The Latvian said to have felt tired in the morning, but produced great tennis to take a two set win and secure a place in the final. She will face a first time finalist on the surface, Julia Goerges, who left only few games to all of her opponents en rout to the last stage. The German demolished the resistance of Catherine Bellis in less than one hour and could not contain her happiness for this result.

Congratulations Julia, it must be feeling very special to be for the first time on a grass tournament final?

Actually, I think it feels very special overall, it doesn’t matter on which surfaces, because it’s been a while now and I just feel great on the grass here. It’s been a solid week for me and I am very happy to be in the final.

You’ve beaten the top seed and gave very little games to any opponent during the week, does that give you confidence?
I don’t think it’s about being seeded or anything right now in women’s tennis: it’s always very wide open and you know you can always have your chances. I’ve been trying to play every match as well as I can and see what the outcome is, but at the end of the day I can say I played 4 very good matches so far and obviously I am very pleased to be in the final tomorrow and head to Wimbledon on a high.

What in your game is making this week so good to you?
My game has not been effective on grass for a long while [laughs], but now it is! I am a very aggressive player and I have a very big serve, both being very important things on grass, but I also think I am returning well, which also is important. If you are aggressive but yet consistent, this makes you a complete player and I think playing doubles helped me too: on grass it is important to approach the net well and have a good reach also.

Today, you’ve been using these skills as well as the dropshot, how important is it to keep your mind concentrated and chose the right shot without getting confused?
Today I think it took me a while to get used to how she plays, because I had never played her before as she is very young and I think she will have a bright future ahead. Of course I had watched her a few times, but it is not the same as playing someone. But then I figured out that if I played to her, she likes to redirect the ball and she does it very well, so I tried to mix it up a little bit with dropshots, slices and volleys, and not just serve bombs, but use the kick and the slice too. I realised she did not like whenever I changed the pace, so I tried to use this as my weapon.

When you approach the grass season, do you set the bar lower than you do on clay?
Yes [laughs], my team does not, but I do. They always told me that I am a very good grass court player, but I did not quite believe them… but maybe after this week I should believe them! From my self, I know I am always very dangerous because I am a complete player, but it is not enough, you have to prove it and show your skills. As I said, I am very pleased to put that in 4 matches in a row and try to get a 5th one tomorrow.

What made you believe you didn’t stand so many chances on grass?
Results, obviously [laughs]. But the problem was mostly the footwork, but I think it improved a lot over the past 2 years and it makes the difference, because if you move well and have the skills, you can be very dangerous.

How different it is to play on grass without the shadow of rain and by knowing there is going to be good weather to both train and play?
A lot, really! [laughs] It is not really just about the weather to play, the event has the vacation side and though you are still doing your job, you can enjoy being on a nice place. But the security of the weather helps you being relaxed too, because when you play in England you know you could be playing three matches in a day or just sit and wait for 5 days to play. This is a really beautiful place and I think it’s also great to see more people coming and getting into the tournament.

Did you check already the Eastbourne draw?
I actually checked it after the match and not before… now I know why, maybe it was some strange energy or something that told me to. Sometimes it happens to play the same opponents in two weeks, but it will be another place and another match for sure. But I am still here, so I don’t want to think about next week right now.

Any prefernece on whom you want to find in the final? Because they have different style for sure…
Not at all, actually. But I know both of them very well from the past and obviously Caro from the doubles. But I haven’t played either for quite a while, so hopefully may the better one win today.

Congratulations Anastasija for being in two finals!
Yeah, it’s my best tournament here [smile]. It’s great, really. I didn’t think to have a chance today in singles, cause I was very tired from yesterday match. I just played really relaxed and didn’t think too much… and I am happy I don’t have to play anymore doubles today [laughs, she reached the final in doubles thanks to Goerges/Knoll withdrawal].

Is JJ happy for this final?
I think she is happy, she is very motivated for doubles, she trained again today… and she gave me tips for singles too. She lost to Garcia here last year, I used today some tips she told me [smile].

How did you feel today, given the fact you woke up tired?
I was tired from the match played yesterday, but somehow I entered on centre court in another way. I feel pretty well on these courts, I like the conditions here and I found a way to play as I wanted.

What changed from last year, when Garcia beat you in the final?
I think I improved a lot since last year. I am returning better and I am moving quite good, also the serve is better. The serve was part of the keys for this match, together with trying to get every ball, to be the wall, to don’t give her too much rhythm.

Today, not only you reached a final after a period of retirement. It’s happening also to Barty today in Birmingham. How does it feel? To come back from retirement and having a second career?
For me or for Barty? No I’m joking [laughter]. I like to be here competing again, to have the adrenaline to play again on centre courts. That’s the best feeling. I don’t think about money, about titles. I just enjoy playing tennis.

And about pressure?
I don’t think anything changed about pressure. Of course you have expectations, it would be stupid having none, but I don’t have many and like this I don’t put pressure on me.

Last year was the first big year on the tournament after your comeback, but this year the situation is different. You are here defending points, you are having your first season constantly on top and so on, how does this feel?
Of course it feel different, but after all every year you start with 0 points anyway. I am managing it well, of course I know there are points falling off, but I don’t think about it. If you play well and you keep improving, results and points will come.

Which is the hardest final to win tomorrow? Singles or doubles?
I think singles [laughs]. Also cause JJ will put pressure on me. No I’m joking, she is easy to play with. For sure singles comes first, then I will just hope to have some break before the other final [smile].

Have you ever played both singles and doubles finals in same tournament?
Yes! It happened last year, in Trnava ITF. I remember it quite well, cause I twisted my ankle in singles, they put me pressure to play also doubles… and then I lost doubles, after I lost singles. Yeah, I managed to lose both [laughs].

You keep reaching finals here in Mallorca. Is Mallorca Open your favourite tournament?
I think they still have to improve some things in this tournament, they didn’t improve that much since last year, that’s my opinion. But I like this tournament, I like conditions here, the weather conditions also of course. Also cause I played so many hours under the sun, 30°C or 35°C doesn’t matter to me [smile].

Your tennis has a lot of variety. Where does this variety come from?
I don’t have any power, that’s why I tried something else [laughs]. I don’t know, I always played like this since I was a little girl, I was even serving underarm. My backhand has always been like this, I improved a lot on forehand side, but anyway I never tried to be a big hitter. For sure I worked a lot on my serve, from underarm to what it is now. I use a lot the kick serve, it is very important in my opinion, mostly on clay but also on faster surfaces.

What do you think about tomorrow’s final against Goerges?
She has been impressive all week long so far, there is going to be a lot of 200km/h serves. The ball is going to be pretty fast… and I will play all my variety [smiles]. My serve, as I said, is getting better and better… but it is not 200km/h yet, also cause I think variety and precision are the most important things.

Do you think that playing against 3 big hitters already this week will help tomorrow?
For sure, I am getting used to such speed. By the way it is normal that everyone plays with different styles and it is important to be ready for anything. I trained with many girls, also Lucic Baroni for example, so I think I could be ready for big shots [smiles]. One has to be ready for every style.

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