BRD Tennis Insider

Sevastova: “If you want to win a tournament, you have to have a couple of tough matches. Getting through them gives you confidence”

Anastasija Sevastova likes Bucharest so much it’s on her very short list of favorite tournaments, together with Mallorca and US Open. A finalist at BRD Bucharest Open in 2016, when she lost to a in-form Simona Halep, the Latvian has gone one step further this year, defeating Petra Martic to win her third WTA title. Immediately after the match she came to the BRD Insider Studio, the daily TV show produced by Treizecizero at Arenele BNR.

“I feel tired, but happy. I need maybe a couple of days for everything to sink in. But I love playing here, there are so many people coming to our matches. They cheer for us, it’s a good atmosphere to play in. Even during the night matches, we played in front of a full house, and it was very late.”

Why does she think she plays so well in Bucharest? “I always come here from Latvia, after having a holiday, a little bit of practice. So I am relaxed. I like it that after Wimbledon we have these two tournaments on clay before going to the US. After this, it’s only hardcourt until next April. And when you play well at a tournament one year, you keep on playing well the following years.”

What makes her game work so well on all surfaces? “I have always played pretty well across all surfaces but I have improved significantly in the last few years. Before my retirement, I didn’t use to play well on hardcourts. My best surface was clay because we grow up on clay. My serve and return have got better. But in Mallorca the grass is different from Wimbledon, and I’ve never had good results in Wimbledon. Because the weather is different: it’s hotter and drier in Mallorca and the bounce is higher. They try to keep the grass the same, but the weather changes things. Also here, conditions are different depending on when you play: at night it’s more humid and it slows everything down, and it is often windy.”

The final was very close in the first set, with more breaks than holds and a very tense game at 5 all. Was that the turning point? “I think winning the first set was the turning point. We both had chances to break until the end of the set, we were pretty nervous. But 5 all was a crucial game for me to win, because it could have changed the momentum. In the tiebreak I was more focused, less nervous. I wanted to start well and it worked. I stayed calm throughout the tiebreak.”

Sevastova had lost the only match she played against Martic – a one-sided defeat in the second round at Roland Garros last year. Did playing that match help her in any way today? “I didn’t want to take anything from that match because it was a bad loss, very quick, so I wanted to forget it. What helped me today was watching a lot of her matches here, because I was scheduled right after her or before her. I knew she would be tired because she played some long matches here. I watched her match against Siegemund, it was long. And that helped me.”

The first set was a tactical battle between the Croatian’s powerful shots and Sevastova’s all-round game. “I had to make her move, because if she is aggressive with her forehand, runs around it, I have no chance: I am the one running. It’s either me or her running. I had to take the initiative first, change the direction, not let her play her game. It worked during the tiebreak. Also, I didn’t start very well, but I played myself into the match. Her serve is very tough to return, you have to be there 100%, because if your return is weak, it’s over.”

The Latvian had a tough first rounder but managed to pull through and now, a few days later, she is holding the trophy. “It’s funny how things turn around. Kerber was match point down in Australia in the first round and won the title, the same with Wozniacki this year. I think if you want to win the tournament, you have to have these types of matches, tough matches. At least one or two – you can’t win a big tournament without that. And if you go through these matches, you have more confidence and belief that you can turn around matches. Also Simona in Australia this year, she was match points down and got to the final.”

“I cannot complain about my year so far: I am still playing well, but mentally there have been ups and downs, we are still working on it. But winning this tournament has brought us a step further.”

Is Latvia becoming a tennis superpower? “Well, not like Romania (laughs). Romania is on another level. Gulbis and myself came up around the same time, went to the same academy. Ostapenko is younger. Maybe it’s belief, maybe its because you can see others have had success before you. It’s the same in Romania, you have so many girls in the top hundred. They see it is possible, they believe and they come through.”

Watch the whole interview here (English) / via Treizecizero.ro

 

 

 

Photo Main: Adi Bulboacă / BRD Insider
Article photo: Șerban Roman / Treizecizero.ro

Editorial Staff | 23 July 2018
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