On her first outing in US Open, she met Ludmila Richterova. She played fantastically to win in straight sets 7 – 6, 6 – 3. As a teenager she managed to win the match even though she was just recovered from her tib pull injury. She gained confident to overpower some of her opponents in initial rounds in US Open 1996.
Q. Why did you win today?
Anna Kournikova: Why?
Anna Kournikova: Good question. I guess I just played good, and I was very excited about my first match. I just went out there and did everything I could. I won.
Q. I just saw the end. You serve and volleyed once. Did you play very aggressively like that all through the match?
Anna Kournikova: Yes. I was coming in at least one time on my serve all the time. I’m trying to play aggressive.
Q. Came to the net?
Anna Kournikova: You didn’t see the match?
Q. I didn’t see that part. Isn’t that a violation of the Bollettieri code?
Anna Kournikova: What do you mean?
Q. Nobody comes to the net from Bollettieri’s, do they?
Anna Kournikova: I guess I’m different.
Q. How long had you been thinking about playing the US Open, since you’ve come to this country?
Anna Kournikova: First time I came here was ’91. I was here just watching. That’s probably when. I thought about it before when I started just playing tennis. I thought it would be great to play here and everything. I guess it came true.
Q. Is it very different playing the juniors? You played the juniors, had a tough match on Grand Stand. Is it a different experience playing the main draw?
Anna Kournikova: Well, it’s not that different. I feel very — in juniors I felt that I had to win and everything. Here I was really relaxed, just played normally, as good as I can.
Q. Who did you see play in ’91 when you were here?
Anna Kournikova: I don’t really remember. I watched a lot of matches.
Q. You seem a little bit stronger. Am I correct? You seem to be hitting the ball harder, flatter. Was that just the strategy today?
Anna Kournikova: I mean, I’m trying to play every player differently. I guess, you know, I’m trying to change who I’m playing.
Q. So how were you playing today?
Anna Kournikova: Well, she surprised me, you know, because usually she doesn’t come to the net that much. Today she was coming in after every first serve. She served really, really well today; a lot of aces, very big serve. In the first set, we didn’t break; everyone was taking their serve. I just tried to, you know, stay in the match, get the ball back, just come to the net whenever I can.
Q. How far do you think you can go? What would make this a good tournament for you?
Anna Kournikova: It’s already a good tournament for me because I qualified and won my first match, so I think that’s great.
Q. You actually don’t have a bad draw. Have you looked ahead at all?
Anna Kournikova: No. I just know who I’m playing the next match. Well, they haven’t played yet.
Q. Do you want to know anything? We won’t tell you.
Anna Kournikova: Doesn’t matter.
Q. You could play Barbara Paulus and then play Steffi following that.
Anna Kournikova: First I have to win two matches.
Q. Is it a dream of yours to play Steffi on Center Court?
Anna Kournikova: Yeah. I mean, she’s an unbelievable player. It would be really, really unbelievable to play her. I have to win two matches first.
Q. Did you struggle a little bit in the springtime in the junior tournaments in Europe? Was there something wrong with you? You didn’t have quite the results.
Anna Kournikova: No. I was just playing the French Open and then I didn’t play Wimbledon because I had my injury, so it was just practicing. I played the Olympics, which was a great experience for me. I couldn’t play much because of the new rules, so I was just waiting until I turned 15, and then I was trying to practice. It’s hard for me to play a lot of tournaments because of the ten tournaments that I can play. I just had to wait.
Q. First of all, I want to ask you what your injury is. Can you talk about how frustrating it is for you? You’ve basically been ready. You won the Orange Bowl. You’ve been ready for this for a long time.
Anna Kournikova: I was ready. At the beginning of the year I won a 50,000, a 25,000. I was really ready to play seniors; French, Wimbledon, majors. I had to play for the rule until I turned 15. Before that I could only play four tournaments, more prize money.
Q. What was the injury?
Anna Kournikova: Excuse me?
Q. What was your injury?
Anna Kournikova: My ribs. Pulled a rib when I was playing the finals of the doubles juniors of the French.
Q. How many more tournaments do you anticipate this year?
Anna Kournikova: It’s really hard to say. I’m allowed to play 12 tournaments.
Q. Are you playing juniors here?
Anna Kournikova: I don’t know. I think so.
Q. Has your thinking changed in the last 20 minutes?
Anna Kournikova: I don’t know.
Q. Are you scheduled for any more junior tournaments the rest of the year?
Anna Kournikova: I will try to play some, but I don’t know which ones yet.
Q. Do you feel differently now when you play these players? Do you have more confidence all of a sudden?
Anna Kournikova: No. I just feel very relaxed. I don’t have any pressure to beat them or anything like that. I’m just going out there and playing as good as I can.
Q. Do you think this rule was unfair? You were really the first person that it’s affected. Everybody else was sort of stuck in, Hingis. Do you think it was unfair?
Anna Kournikova: Well, it’s really hard to say. I think everybody, they did this rule because of Capriati. Everybody is different. For me it didn’t really matter. I could just play a little bit more tournaments, get more experience until I can play good tennis. I think that I got a lot of experience playing juniors. That was not too bad for me.