No. 1 seeded at the EMPIRE Slovak Open 2015 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (20) has begun a great tennis season. She played two WTA tournament finals and she won the first WTA title in Katowice of Poland. Then she became the leader of Slovak Fed Cup team in a tie against Sweden in April. Position No. 46 in the WTA rankings may not be her best this year. She revealed in the tournament bulletin what she thinks about her latest successes and how she felt one year ago, when she won the tournament in Trnava.
You are having a perfect year. You were in the finals of the WTA tournament in Rio, then you have won the title in Katowice and you recently won two important singles matches in the Fed Cup tie against Sweden. Is it surprising for you?
"At the beginning of this year, I wouldn't have believed in it because my second half of the last year was complicated. I was struggling and I lost a lot of matches in a row. However, it also gave me something and now I appreciate my wins more. Fed Cup matches are helping me regularly in my next performances. It's a change, because we are a team and there is a great atmosphere. In the Netherlands, it has helped me before Rio tournament. I believe that success against Sweden will help me, too. I'm going to draw strength from it for a long time."
But these achievements are not only tied to your participation in the Fed Cup... do you feel that you have improved last year?
"I make less mistakes, I feel more confident. It comes from the training and all the matches I have played. The more I play, the better I feel on the court. I have gained a lot of experience. I have had better and worse moments in tennis. I think I have improved my forehand and I feel stronger in my head. I'm looking forward to clay, and I believe it's gonna be ok in Trnava this year."
On what particular areas do you work with your coach Milan Martinec?
"I need to play more aggressively and go for short balls. I have gained confidence on the baseline so I don't make so many mistakes and my greatest weapon is that I move well and my fitness is great. Additionally, my first and second serve works much better now."
What was special about your first final on the WTA Tour in Rio?
"It was one of the nicest tournaments where I've ever been. There was a wonderful atmosphere and a carnival was taking place in the city full of people. They were wearing masks, it was fun. The city, however, I didn't visit, but we often went to the beach and swam in the sea. But mostly, I remember the brutal heat. It was probably for the first time in my life! I had to fight with myself, it was not easy to deal with it, but it gave me a lot of confidence. My fitness was better than fitness of other players. As for the spectators, it is true that there were not many of them because we were playing in the hot weather but I appreciate this success."
And two months later in April you won the title in Katowice, although you played on hard surface...
"Yes, I have proved that I can play on any surface. I was glad that I was there with my mom. I perceived it as a change, there was a great atmosphere there and the people encouraged me. There were more fans than in Rio. Moreover, we could go there by car, we didn't have to fly. "
When someone tells you TC EMPIRE Trnava, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
"Last's year victory, definitely. Also the fact that besides my coaches, my mom and sister were also supporting me and that there was a really great atmosphere in Trnava. It was the biggest tournament I had won until that time and it was in Slovakia, so it is a memorable experience."
Was the last year's triumph at EMPIRE Slovak Open unexpected for you?
"I remember that I came from Canada after the Fed Cup tie where we played for a week on a hard surface. Right after that, I travelled to Trnava, so I went there more concerned than full of some great self-confidence. In the first round I had big problems in the match against Renata Voracova and I could easily lose. But then my performances got better and better and I became very satisfied with my play in the final."
And the final with Barbora Strycova? It's a very valuable win, she is already No. 23 in the WTA rankings...
"Bara is an excellent player. She had an incredible 2014 season, and I appreciate that I won. It was a good match, although due to bad weather it had to be postponed until the next day and that was quite annoying. Bara was nervous about that. There was a possibility to finish the final match in the hall, but it is not clay, it's a hard surface. Then I knew I was less likely be successful."
Do you think that the triumph in Trnava had helped you in the next weeks when you were the runner-up in Prague and then you won against Venus Williams at the Roland Garros tournament?
"The triumph was very helpful. On the court, I felt much more confident. And thanks to the WTA points that I have earned in Trnava, I was not under a lot of pressure in Paris."
How do you remember the atmosphere at Trnava tournament in 2014?
"It was great. I appreciate all the people who came. They helped me in difficult moments during the matches. It's a different feeling than playing abroad. Of course, it's also a bit of pressure, but the fans have given me energy. I wish we had more tournaments at home."
What do you say about increased prize money to 100 000 USD?
"It's amazing! It's a guaranty of great players who will come to Trnava. Slovakia is a small country and it's great that we have such a tournament here."