MARTINA NAVRATILOVA

 Q. Just analyze the women’s draw, how you thought it played out, yesterday’s two matches, obviously Maria’s progress, and maybe a little bit on Errani. And talk about Petra, too.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Three out of four people that we thought would win the tournament were still in the semifinals. The top half was different, and the bottom half kind of went into disarray when Serena lost. I said from the start I think Maria has a very good chance to win if she doesn’t have to play Serena, because clearly she’s had a hard time with Serena in the past, but she’s had everybody else covered, winning record against everybody else. That’s how it played out. Serena lost early. If she had gotten through that first match, probably would be talking about a different French Open, but she didn’t. So the path opened for Maria. She’s played just amazing tennis. She had that one hiccup match against Zakopalova. She’s been dominating winning 80% of the games on her opponents’ serve, which is ridiculous. I think that will be the key to the final. Errani, as amazingly as she’d played and played really brave tennis, I just don’t see how it can be enough for Maria’s return of serve, which is her best shot, and Errani’s serve is her worst shot. So that’s a really bad matchup. When you talk about somebody that has a better chance of breaking their opponent’s serve than holding their own, in my eyes, then it’s not looking so good. But this is clay. Their nerves will be there, I’m sure, for both of them, with Errani having nothing to lose, everything to gain, and Maria has a lot to gain but a lot to lose, as well. So it’ll be interesting how the psyche plays out, but, you know, on paper Maria wins match, no doubt about it. They’ve never played each other, right? Yeah, first meeting, which amazing for the Grand Slam final, two people who have never played one another and, you know, hung out at Bollettieri’s at the same time. But Kvitova, I was disappointed with her effort. She’s been streaky all along, and yesterday the streakiness cost her the match. Maria handled the wind better. She’s got a little more margin for error. Kvitova, the streakiness, she gets away with it against players ranked lower, but against somebody like Maria, it’s going to cost her and it did. She would play a few good games, but then she’d have a bad game on her serve, and there is the set. She needs to clean up her game a little bit. I would still like for her to be a little bit quicker on her feet. In the wind, the better footwork won yesterday. Stosur doesn’t like the wind. Errani, clearly better footwork. Doesn’t bother her as much. The same with Sharapova/Kvitova. Better footwork on Sharapova’ part in the wind. That pays off. Anything else? Did I cover it pretty well?

Q. You know everything about tennis as a player, but do you learn something looking at the other players?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I’ve changed my technique quite a bit the last 10 years, especially. And even the last couple years, after I retired, I use my wrists so much more. The strings kind of dictate that. You can’t hit flat. It flies on you. You have to put topspin on the ball. You know, you see the court differently. I watch guys, I watch the women, and I’m like, I can try that. Of course, I don’t hit it as hard but I can still find that part of the court because of the racquets with the spin. So the game has changed. Those that have been able to evolve with it are succeeding. So, yeah, I learn. I learn watching. You know, I try to kind of import the good from the old days, you know, playing with the wooden racquet and finding parts of the court. Now you can find it in different ways, but the strategy is still the same. So it’s kind of, you know, try to find a happy medium there. But it’s fun to see how the game has evolved. Now the all‑round game is starting to win. With the men, they started maybe five, six years ago. Roger Federer brought that in with sort of an attack from the baseline and having all the shots. Just the big hitters doesn’t cut it anymore. You have to have more. It’s making its way in the women’s side as well. You see a lot more variety, a lot more slices, dropshots, et cetera. I was comparing a match that Kuznetsova played against Dementieva, the final of the US Open 2004. There was one volley, one dropshot, and two slices the whole match. Nowadays you won’t see a match like that at any level. It’s nice to see that. The racquets kind of changed the sport in a bad way for a while, but now I think it’s becoming a more all‑round game.

Q. I just had a question about both Kvitova and Stosur. There was a lot conversations about Petra’s confidence. When you have all the shots she has and so much power, how difficult is it to create a plan B or learn a Plan B even when you have all that power without the confidence?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, confidence is a hard thing to come by and an easy thing to lose. But I would like to have her problem. It’s a good problem to have. Too much power and too many shots. You can always learn to tone it down a little bit. As my coach used to say, It’s always good to hit the ball long on the baseline. You don’t want to hit it short, because you can always shorten it up. It’s the same with this kind of problem, quote unquote, as you learn to tame the beast, so to speak, and learn the proper shots. You know, Petra needs to have a little better 80% game. She’s got a great 100% game. But with the 100‑percenters, the redlining doesn’t go in, she needs to be able to tone it down a little bit. And she will, I’m sure. I’m sure that they’re working on that. Also on the clay it takes a lot more shots for her to win the point. You know, her game doesn’t translate well on clay, just like mine didn’t for different reasons. But she can still win on it. Just gonna take some time to develop a little more of a median shot, groundstroke, rally shot, and kind of tame the wanting to go for the big shot too early in the rally. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should, and she will learn that. I mean, clearly she knows ‑‑ I think she knows when she’s going for too much, but she just can’t help herself.

 Q. How good do you think it is for the women’s tour to see Sharapova back at the No. 1 spot?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: You know, she’s a superstar, and it’s always good if a superstar is at the top. So if it’s Serena Williams, and Williams sisters ‑ Venus as well ‑ but neither one has been No. 1 for a while. Maria also what was the last time, 2007 or 2008? And then amazing store on top of everything else. Coming back from shoulder surgery where most people would have called it a day, she stayed with it. I was really impressed with not just the physical and mental focus it takes to rehab and believe and keep coming back and keep doing everything that you have to physically, but then to overcome the mental aspects of the game. Obviously she had issues with her serve after she came back with the bad toss and technique, and, you know, very predictable on the serve, double faults all over the place. She completely conquered it, and kudos to that. When your serve goes, it’s so easy to lose the rest of the game. That’s a much more difficult beast to get through than the rehab and the physical fitness. Because you know if you do the physical fitness you’re going to get there. You do the surgery and rehab, and eventually, slowly but surely you will get there. If the body doesn’t default on you you’ll be okay. But the mental aspect is much more difficult to conquer, and she did. Great for the sport, I think, and good for her. All respect to her for getting it done. I wouldn’t have thought she was capable of doing that two, three years ago. I don’t know if very many people did. She did, that’s all that matters.

Q. What do you think about Errani in the sense of she’s very small. They’re so always bigger and fitter player, and she play in a different way. Do you think is a new way is an exception? Which is the reason why? She’s very good tactic?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: That’s why. She’s hits all the right shots. Sara Errani has great shot selection. She plays so well within herself, doesn’t go for too much. I mean, yesterday at the very end of the match she hit couple nervous shots, and maybe beginning of the third set there was a shot that she should have made that she missed. It was the first time. She missed a backhand crosscourt into an open court. I was like, Wow, this is really the first shot that she missed that she should’ve made the whole match. She plays really well within herself. Good technique, great technique. She’s got that grip that works okay. Because she’s short, but she can hit a high ball that way. She’s got a lot of confidence now. I don’t think it’s a misnomer. I think you will see more and more of that. I mean, still the taller players have such a huge advantage. You have to be that much better, that much quicker when you’re that short. I mean, she’s giving away half a foot, at least, with just one step, if not more, on reach. So she’s got to make up for that. Justine Henin did it, and now Errani is in the finals. Amazing stuff. It takes a lot of hootspa, so to speak, to think you can compete with players that are a foot taller than you are, but she’s doing it.

Q. What about the chances she has in the final with the pressure all on Sharapova?

 MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah, like I said, I don’t think it’s the last chance. Maria is 25 years old. She’s been around for a long time, but she’s 25 and she’s healthy. I don’t think she needs to look at it, Oh, this may be my best chance ever, but this is her best chance up to now because she’s never been in the finals. If she was to look in the draw and who would she want to play in the finals, probably Sara Errani would on that list be just because of the serve and she can really dominate it. But at the same time, she was like ‑‑ was she 8‑1 or 10‑1 against Stosur, I think so I don’t think she cared much who she was going to play against. Anything can happen in a final. Maria is so tough and it took her so much to get to this point, I don’t see her being overawed by the occasion. She’s got a chance to be in the history books as one ‑‑ now she’ll be I think the 11th woman to have won all the slams. More power to her. It’s going to take a monumental effort on Sara Errani’s part to win that match, but she’s played well enough to get to the final. She’s probably playing well enough to win as well, but it’s going to be difficult.

 Q. A word maybe about Rafa Nadal. Everybody is saying that he seems to be unbeatable here, since now at least. Your opinion about Nadal?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, the only time he lost was on two bad knees and a lot of stuff going on in his personal life ‑‑ or I should say his parents’ personal life. That’s the only time he lost here. He hasn’t even lost a set. Last year it took him a while to get used to the lighter balls, but this year he just had the ground running and hasn’t lost a set on clay all year. What can you say? He’s amazing. Almagro plays great tennis and still doesn’t win a set. So I think the guys are getting pretty frustrated, but at the same time it’s like we’re not worthy because he’s an anomaly. He is just outstanding. Thank God they’re not playing all the tournaments on clay. I’m sure the guys are happy about that. He’s amazing. Best clay courter on the men’s side, as Chris Evert was the best on the women’s side.

Q. Can you assess Novak? Do you think he’s feeling a lot of pressure, or do you think coming back against Jo makes him turn it around mentally? I guess you could see it both ways here, right?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Pressure is off him now for sure getting to the semis. The pressure was on him against Tsonga and he played well enough to win at the end. Played amazingly when his back was to the wall with the match points. The pressure was on him to get to this stage. Now if he loses to one of these guys, it’s okay, you know. But different kind of pressure from last year. Last year he comes here unbeaten, and I think that cost him in the semis. I think he was nervous about it. Now he’s going to be the four slams in a row which hasn’t been done since ’69. As we say, pressure is a privilege, and he earned it. So I think heal play his best tennis now because the pressure is off. It’s going to take an amazing effort from Federer to beat him. But, again, in the finals, I think pressure is off for Djokovic. If he gets there ‑ presuming Nadal wins ‑ he’s playing the best clay‑court player ever, so he can go for broke even if it is going for four in a row. But it’s amazing, isn’t it? I mean, nobody can be counted is as a favorite against Nadal on clay no matter what the ranking is.

Q. Obviously Sam has so weapons. It was a shock what happened yesterday. Where do you think she is at the moment? Is she perhaps trying to convince herself still that she can win more of these slams?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: She just won a Grand Slam, what, eight months ago? (Laughter.) Of course she can win. She’s 27 years old, in the prime of her life. I would like to ask her what the heck is going on with her at Wimbledon. She’s 5‑9 at Wimbledon lifetime. It’s like she should be winning there more than here, but she has more confidence on clay. Yesterday obviously she didn’t play her best. She was nervous playing somebody that she’s never lost to before, she should beat. She would have been better off playing Maria or Kvitova in the semifinals. But, you know, you have to win the matches that you’re supposed to win, and then you have to win the matches you’re not supposed to win to win slam. She did that last year at the Open against Serena, but couldn’t find her best tennis. She’s still streaky, and I don’t understand ‑‑ she’s not a good wind player. She doesn’t like to play in the wind. Again, that’s the footwork. If I were her coach I would concentrate on footwork, just becoming lighter. You know, more of a featherweight boxer rather than a heavyweight. She’s powerful, but she needs to feather it. If she would have been able to do that yesterday I think would have been a different story. But with the footwork ‑‑ and then you get nervous the feet stop moving even more so. But if you’re light on your feet to begin with, even if you get nervous, you can still handle it. So techniquely [sic] just needs clean up her game a little bit. But most of all, she just needs relax a little bit and not put so much pressure on herself. She did that great in New York; then she failed in Australia. Very similar surface. Here, her best surface, I mean, she’s great getting to the semis, but she should have won yesterday. Again, you have to give credit to Sara Errani. She just did not give one inch. You had to earn it. I think Sam sensed that and she just didn’t have the confidence that she could do it time and time again. But there’s not much wrong with her game. She’s 27 years old. She’s got plenty of time. She’s in her prime. She’s got like four, five good years left.

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