Interview of the day - MONICA NICULESCU

21 September 2010

Romanian player Monica Niculescu is a colourful figure on and off the tennis court, her unorthodox style of play on the tennis courts has left many amazed, one of the few regulars at Tashkent Open , Ranked 81 in the world and seeded fifth here Monica spoke to the media team after she managed to overcome youngster Zarina Diyas in a close match.

Excerpts from the Interview
By Sunder Iyer /Micky Aigner
Tashkent Open Media Team.

Q: Your thoughts on today’s match, did you expect qualifier Zarina Diyas to be a tough opponent?
I always knew that she was playing very good know she is young. I did see her about a year ago when at Prague she reached the quarterfinals by beating some good players which includingPetra Kivitova, a Wimbledon semifinalist this year. I did not expect her to play so good.

Q: You were sailing comfortably and suddenly lost your way, You seemed to be getting tense in both the second and third set?
I had my chances, and also committed a few mistakes as well. Like the second set when I lost momentum when I was up 2-1 (40-0). Instead of making it 3-1, it became 2-2. I lost my concentration at that point and found it hard to regroup. Then in the tie-breaker too, I was up 5-3, 6-4 but then she was playing well and thus I fell back eventually. In the third set, I was pushing hard and out all energy to finish off after opening a 4-0 advantage. I guess I did too much and thus she came back. So I am happy that I won and hope to forget what happened and do well in the next round.

Q: So is it like a wake-up call for you and How would you rate your opponent today?
Yes sort of since the US Open I did not play much and was relaxed, until I came into Tashkent on Thursday and began preparing, I feel better and in rhythm after the match.
She is young and is going to be a great player and I am sure she has it to be in the Top-100 for sure if she is free from injuries. She has a good first serve, which I must say was very good during the second set and good ground strokes as well.

Q: What do you feel are her strength?
Her first serve was very good, particularly she served very well in the second set. I felt her return was equally good which at times I felt was quite strong when I played the ball back to her at shoulder level, but when I mixed the strokes she was uncomfortable. She also moves very well on court.

Q: Any thoughts about your next match with Ekatrina Ivanova ?
Firstly, I hope the blisters I have on my hand don’t affect me much. I have played her (Ekaterina) before on clay and lost, these are hard courts and I hope to take revenge.

Q: You have been here before , your thoughts about the growing popularity of Tashkent Open ?
I enjoy coming here because it is truly a very nice tournament , the people the organisation ,everything is perfect. The newly laid courts are very good , and I like it. I’m impressed with how the city is getting more beautiful, especially the beautiful musical fountain right opposite the hotel, I would love to play here again. and do well in the event .