Diana Shnaider: “I hope that my brother will follow in my footsteps and we will win Grand Slam mixed doubles titles together”

– There was a feeling that it was a great battle, despite the fact this is an exhibition tournament. What do you think?
– Of course, we both were fighting really good. Everyone wants to win and bring a point for the team, especially when the tournament score was equal. Every point matters for the team’s victory, it gives the confidence to the player of the team who is going to play next, so I had to give my 100%.

– This is not the first time you are playing against Vera [Zvonareva], did your previous experience help you? Maybe she surprised you with something today?
– I wouldn’t say that I was surprised today. Vera is a very experienced player. She was sick when we had our last match but I hope that she has recovered. Today’s match it was quite difficult, but she played brilliantly, I have huge respect for her for that, but for both of us it was a difficult match.

– The format of the tournament is quite unique. I’m sure you have a team chat. Are there any team jokes or maybe some funny situations have happened during the tournament? Please share with us.
– We communicate, but there is no a team chat. Yesterday there was a funny situation when Anastasia Potapova and Alexander Shevchenko went on stage, Nastya had a bouquet in her hands. I was standing next to Dusan Lajovic and he said: «It’s good that my girlfriend stayed in the hotel room and doesn’t see the ceremony. So, I'm safe». We had a good laugh. Apparently, he is not ready to propose yet.

– Who came to St. Petersburg with you?
– I came with my parents and my younger brother.

– Please tell us how the players’ party went. You mentioned earlier that the food there was delicious, but maybe there was something else interesting?
– Everyone was very beautiful and elegant. We talked a lot. We didn’t dance to give our best on the court.

– This is not your first time in St. Petersburg, you played in St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy tournament. Do you think you have grown or changed since then?
– I’ve definitely become taller. Of course, yes, I played for a year at the WTA level, that gives results. I have a better understanding now but I still have to grow both physically and mentally. Little by little I will try to become better in all the components.

– You are still new to the professional tour, so I can ask you what exotic countries on the tour surprised you from the point of view of organizing the tournament?
– I didn’t play every possible tournament this year because I was in college, so I missed many tournaments. I will learn new things next year. I really enjoyed the WTA 500 in Charleston, USA. Green clay, very specific, which is not suitable for everyone and not everyone likes it, but the organization of the tournament itself was good and the place itself is very interesting. There are a lot to see. I liked being there a lot.

– Please tell us which college you ended up going to? What are you studying?
– I spent a year at the college in USA, played matches for the college and studied. I left during the spring, before the French Open. In USA during the first two years of college you don’t have to choose an occupation, you get to know yourself from different sides. They help you to choose different subjects to broaden your horizons and after two years you need to decide on your specialization. I'll probably take psychology. This will be useful in sports.

– You had a good series in China. They say that Chinese fans are crazy in a good way. Did you have fans there and did they present you anything?
– I guess I agree with this statement. China is a very specific country; it takes time to get used to. They have a completely different mentality, very different from European, American and ours. It was a little difficult at the beginning, but then I got used to it. They were supporting, it was nice, they are waiting for me there next year, so I will come back there next season.

– Your talisman is your headscarf. Did you save the very first one?
– Yes, I have my first headscarf, but it is already very old so I just have it in my closet like a rarity. So, I see it and remember my younger years.

– Do you keep all your headscarves as a collection?
– Yes, I have all the headscarves that I have ever had.

– Do you also wear headscarves in your everyday life?
– No, in ordinary life I don’t really like any kind of hats. I don't have caps or hats

– What can you let yourself do in the off-season that you are not doing during the season?
– I love to eat, so I always eat what I want. Off-season for me is an opportunity to spend more time with my family. The WTA calendar is organized week by week, there is very little time for family, so I spend time with my family.

– You were going to the ballet show “Cinderella” yesterday, did you manage to go? Some players visited the Hermitage. How often do you manage to participate in a cultural program during the tournaments?
– Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to go to the ballet show yesterday. I decided to stay and support the team. Yulia [Putintseva] got the first point to the team. I supported her. But my family went to the ballet. They were impressed. Today I was in the Hermitage. I would say that I have not yet grown up to this kind of art that St. Petersburg famous for. Maybe it will come with the time. I would say that only St. Petersburg offers such a good cultural program.

– You told us that your younger brother Lev was also interested in rackets and tennis. How is he doing in tennis? Aren't your parents afraid that their second child will choose this sport?
– I don’t think our parents think about whether he will choose tennis or not. What's more important to them is that my brother likes it. My parents won't force anyone to do anything they don't want to do. My brother plays tennis, practices. I hope that he will follow in my footsteps and we will win mixed doubles Grand Slam titles together.

– Please name your main tennis and non-tennis achievement this year.
– In terms of tennis it is probably the Chinese series, that was a success for me because after all I was completely alone in Asia for six weeks, and reaching the finals and semi-finals was really worthy. This is my achievement this year, I hope next year there will be more achievements in different tournaments. In ordinary life the fact that I managed to combine matches for college and professional tournaments. It was very difficult but I was able to cope with it.

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