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Kovinic: “I am having difficulties scheduling a practice on Arthur Ashe and I’ve never experienced a 20,000 people match”

The Montenegrin says she’s excited to play Serena Williams at the US Open on Monday night but would like to have a hit on Ashe first

Danka Kovinic, US Open 2022 Danka Kovinic, US Open 2022 | © Julie Jacobson/AP/SIPA

Serena is definitely a legend of our sport – a fact that she lasted so long at the highest level is a testimony in itself to her greatness,” Danka Kovinic told Tennis Majors from New York as she braces to face the great American in what will be the last tournament in the career for the 23-time Grand Slam winner.

Kovinic, who currently sits at number 80 in the world, has had it tough since Roland-Garros because of the injury she suffered just before Wimbledon.

After a one-month break, she came back, only to lose all three matches since then. Switching back to hard courts did not prove lucky either – she lost to Nuria Parrizas-Diaz in Cincinnati qualifiers (6-0, 6-2) and to Magdalena Frech (7-6 [3], 6-2) at the Granby Challenger.

The good news, though? Kovinic is healthy and good to go now. Speaking to Tennis Majors, she spoke about the difficulties she encountered in the past two months, her memories of Serena Williams, things she needs to do in order to have a chance to win, and she also revealed her troubles with booking a practice session at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

First of all, how are you physically? When we spoke at Roland-Garros, you were on a roll, but after that…

Kovinic : Thank God, now I am all good physically. The injury is a thing of the past. It lasted longer than expected, I struggled a lot during recovery, but it is fine now. My back got stiff a few days before Wimbledon and, unfortunately, I have only had a handful of matches since then.

How excited are you before the match with Serena – are there jitters, do you believe that you can win?

Kovinic : I believe that I can play a good match and win. I just hope that my emotions won’t be affected by playing in the evening at such a big stadium. I need to be completely focused solely on what is happening inside the court. Arthur Ashe Stadium will be full, more than 20,000 people, which is something I have not experienced before. I believe that I can handle it.

Danka Kovinoc at Flushing-Meadows on Saturday | ©  Julie Jacobson/AP/SIPA

Speaking of "inside the court", what will be the key tactically to beat Serena?

Kovinic : Oh, what should I answer to that, I mean – tactics for Serena… Honestly, I would love to be focused on myself, my game and my emotions, precisely because I know that lack of experience at this kind of stage can negatively affect a player’s performance. I will try to enjoy and to fight for every point. My first serve percentage needs to be really high, I think that is one of the keys, perhaps the most important thing. Also, if I feel it during the match, I might use dropshots as well.

I am very much aware of my position and who I am, but I feel they need to show a bit of professionalism and more respect towards the players who are not in the Top 10 too. 

Danka Kovinic on her difficulty getting to practice on the Arthur Ashe

You were not even five years old when Serena won her first US Open in 1999. What matches of hers do you remember?

Kovinic : A lot! What first comes to mind now is her Wimbledon final with Venus, I think it was 2003 (it also happened in 2002, 2008 and 2009, editor’s note). I was just making my first steps in the tennis world, and Serena was one of the great players that were always on TV. She is definitely a legend of our sport – a fact that she lasted so long at the highest level is a testimony in itself to her greatness.

You have received a lot of attention from the media in the past few days, did you find it a bit unusual?

Kovinic : No, not unusual – I have done a few interviews, very pleasant interviews I must say, but now is the time for me to focus on the upcoming match.

I would love to do so at least, but I am having difficulties scheduling a practice session at Arthur Ashe Stadium. I have been trying for a few days now, but without success. I hope that I can get at least an hour in the days before the match. I am very much aware of my position and who I am, but I feel they need to show a bit of professionalism and more respect towards the players who are not in the top 10 too. 

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