(after her 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 win against Maria Sharapova)
QUESTION: Congratulations. Can you talk us through those last two games serving and not making it and then breaking her serve?
MLADENOVIC: Yes, that was a very long match, a lot of ups and downs and just to answer the question, the last two games…the game at 4-2 was extremely important and I managed to hold it. If I’m not wrong I saved a couple of break points and that was really the key. Even at 5-4, on my chair at the change, I was pretty sure she will come back strong and that it was not over yet. You know, she played a solid game at 5-2 with her serve and 5-3 I’m not sure, except the double fault I made, I’m not sure I did anything wrong, she just played very aggressive, made some winners. My memory is not that good but I remember one serve of mine I was quite satisfied about it, I think it was quite fast, like 189, and she came with the forehand return winner. So, you know she is the kind of player that always pushes you to the extreme and I’m very kind of proud that I actually managed to close it out the next game which was very difficult.
QUESTION: What kind of adjustments were you starting to make in the second and third set? Your mother came down, it looked like you guys were looking at statistics and things like that. Can you talk through … because the numbers started to change quite dramatically in the second and third sets?
MLADENOVIC: Yes, I think, you guys obviously watched the match, I think, like I was saying at the beginning of the week, those conditions, we are indoor and it’s quite fast and Maria came out with such a strong game, like decided to be aggressive. I mean it’s her game plan A, she’s mastering that very good, like big serves, big returns and there were not a lot of rallies and the first set was just about one game, one break, I had a couple of easy mistakes, made the double fault and that made the difference. And I just couldn’t return well, she was serving amazingly well. That's what I said to my mum. On the second serve she was going 170, that was huge. I also tried to be consistent on my serve and we had both of us lots of unforced errors, mistakes, lots of returns flying very long and like huge mistakes but it’s because she puts so much intensity going for every single shot that it doesn’t give you space to think about your game, to be able to have time to rally, to construct the point and everything. So, it was very difficult. I was just trying somehow to read that serve, to return, to play rallies and apparently were showing that every time I managed to go in a rally, I would be positive and I just tried somehow to read her serve and eventually she had a lower percentage and I managed to build more my points. Honestly, it was just about fighting there because percentage-wise there was a lot of ups and downs from both sides, lots of unforced errors and it was more a match of like dramatic nerves, like who will end up to put that super-fast shots in the court basically (laughs).
QUESTION: Was it also the plan to elongate rallies, to throw in maybe a couple of more different spins, a couple of slices, a couple of higher balls, just to give her a different look at ball in order to just to test her and how much she can go for it?
MLADENOVIC: Yes, exactly, that’s what I tried to do. I’m not sure the conditions were perfect for me. As I said, it's quite fast. She has big groundstrokes, we are indoor with no sun or wind to disturb that. So, I had myself somehow to make those balls, those changes, change the pace with maybe loopy balls, spin, drop shots, even if it’s not that easy because she is playing very fast and all those slices, she started to give me some unforced errors when I sliced the ball. Once again, it wasn’t easy to do that because even if I tried she would either kill it with a winner or unforced errors and I would never be in the rhythm. So, it was really about trying to find the right adjustments because even myself, I was doubting, I was like should I also be like her, put pressure on her all the time, like smashing balls and hitting very hard. That was not working really well, my returns were flying to the fans, to the crowd (laughs) sometimes and sometimes I tried to be more patient, tried to work the points. I think it was small details today and I’m happy I was just luckier this time to get the win.
QUESTION: It seemed as the crowd at the beginning or in the match tried to encourage you and supported you all the match long. What do you think of that? What do you make of this?
MLADENOVIC: I really love the crowd here. They go nuts (laughs) if I can say. They really put on a great show. I know also the scoreboard and the lengths of the match, it was kind of nerve-wracking I guess for everybody. I really love playing in such a nice arena with a great crowd. It’s very enjoyable and German fans are very nice.
QUESTION: After you won you did this sign (shows). What does it mean?
MLADENOVIC: (laughs). I don’t know, just I fought and I hung in there. Not easy, such a big match, important match, such an important stage, semi-final, to go to the final of a big event and playing that kind of dramatic match, being down a set and a break, not playing my best tennis at all, struggling to find a rhythm, fighting with myself to just be there and play well and eventually I got the solution, got the win. It was a huge fight, mental fight overall because I think both of us we are able to play better than this but you have some days like this where you just need to be a little bit better somehow and win the match and it’s also the magic of this sport. Everything cannot be very easy and nice and you have to fight through this. I don't know, it’s king of a … I don’t know. I don't think about it, maybe it’s kind of a signature. I don’t …. (laughs). I have no real answer. It’s just that I’m fighting, that’s all.
QUESTION: During the change-over everyone is sitting on their chair, you seem to relax really. You were watching the crowd having fun. Other players are sitting there highly concentrated.
MLADENOVIC: I am concentrated.
QUESTION: Where do you get the concentration?
MLADENOVIC: I am concentrated. It’s just … I actually realized myself, when I know the song, I start singing, it’s just like automatically. If I don’t know the lyrics of the song, I'm quiet as well. It’s very entertaining. I mean it’s a sport. I love like … I’m coming from a family with collective sport and there’s always like noise and music and entertainment. I think it’s great, the atmosphere. When I’m on my chair of course I’m focussed but it’s also a moment where, I don’t know, like I’m enjoying, it’s my job, it’s my passion, I’m enjoying being in such a difficult match with a great crowd, music, like it has to be a show and I love to try maybe to be different and show that we can also be relaxed but always with still a great attitude. You have to humble and respectful. Yes, it’s my way. I’m enjoying it. Sometimes maybe you can see me singing (laughs). I mean how can you not laugh, when you have a super huge screen like this and the entire arena is laughing about people who are kisscam or whatever and I’m there on the court and, of course, I want to laugh as well (laughs). I'm not going to stay there and focus not to laugh. I’m enjoying it as well.
QUESTION: You obviously had a good season. You won the tournament in St. Petersburg, made semis in Indian Wells, had a couple of big matches. How much confidence does that give you going into tomorrow’s match regardless of whether you are playing Siegemund or Halep?
MLADENOVIC: Yes, it’s true that it feels great for me. Obviously, the first time in my career I’m having such a great period of the season and I’m getting my best ranking, going up the rankings. It feels great but on the other hand, it’s something new and also something I have to get prepared. Tomorrow, is probably the most difficult match. You want to stay focussed in the tournament and try to get that last push, like last swing. And this tournament is extremely tough. All the players are great. I was having a very tough tournament, beating very great players. I had a very long and tiring match today. I will really have to focus on myself, try to recover because it was quite intensive two weeks for me because I'm also coming from Fed Cup where I gave a lot of myself there. The most important for me will be to work on my recovery first of all because there are lot of things going on, ankle, this, all the body is a bit sore (laughs), especially after today’s match and we’ll see. The two girls are battling out there now and both of them are playing really good tennis. I just hope it’s going to be as exciting as today.
QUESTION: If you should have had any funny incidents, funny encounters just let us know but anyway I guess you won't be that unknown when you leave Stuttgart as you thought yesterday?
MLADENOVIC: If I get the beautiful car maybe I would be more recognized (laughs). Well, it’s still the same. After here, I’ll probably go to my room. I will not meet a lot of people. But, yes, I did receive lots of funny messages of other players and people. It’s nice to get that support.
QUESTION: Is that the first time you've used the i-pad during on-court coaching?
MLADENOVIC: Yes, my mum came with the i-pad (laughs) and she was like, ‘look at this.’ She was using it like a game. She was like ‘this is quite easy, look, she is serving here and there.’ I was like ‘mum, I cannot tough her serve but fine (laughs)’. She was like ‘you see, she is perfectly mixing it. It’s not that easy to read it.’ But I love all these tactics things and I’m aware of this statistics systems and everything. I think it’s great. At some point, I had to focus and look at the i-pad and I think it helped me but on the other hand, because like I was saying previously, I like of kind of relax and think in my own way. So, she disturbed that, like maybe I wanted to listen to the music and sing (laughs) and she came with kind of a homework, school, i-pad, statistic, look, do this and that (laughs). But it’s also funny and part of the new technology. I think tactic-wise it’s important, too.