With an impressive showing as a member of Canada's Fed Cup team over the weekend, Blainville, Quebec's Aleksandra Wozniak reflects on her play and her preparation for Roland Garros in her personal blog on RDS.ca and TSN.ca.
We took advantage of the opportunity to advance to World Group I at the Fed Cup for the first time in history by beating Slovakia last weekend, so we're off to play next season as one of eight finalists in February!
Playing at PEPS Stadium at Laval University, the facility was expanded to accommodate 3,500 people. While the stands weren't completely filled as they were in Montreal last February, that didn't hold back the great atmosphere. People were encouraging us, shouting out our names and having fun on each point (though I had a very long match where I had to battle until the very end). My family and my friends were also among the crowd and it was really fun to learn as much as I did there.
It wasn't just about me as I was playing - it was about playing for my country and all of those watching. The viewing public is important and I don't want to disappoint them, but I wasn't really dwelling on that kind of pressure at the time. I tried to stay in the present moment and simply enjoy the energy to try to give a good show and play a good game. It's always very important to do my best to win. People were just happy to be there and support us and it made for a crazy weekend!
Just before the tournament, we spent several days training together in Quebec City and we had our official team dinner on Thursday night. We also took the time to work with Iris Setlakwe, as the fashion designer helped dress us for this special event (as was the case a couple of months ago in Montreal). We also got acquainted with other players and sponsors - a tradition followed by every delegation during the Fed Cup. It was also at this time that we did our traditional gift exchange. Our gift for the Slovaks - maple syrup!
Never Give Up
It was a bit hard early on in my opening match when I lost the first set. Jana Cepelova, ranked 52nd in the world, was very tough and had lots of confidence after a strong performance in Charleston. This is a player who went to the net a lot and never hit the same ball. She's already beaten good players like Serena Williams and has the ability to change speeds during a point. She can make three rhythm changes by alternating her slice, or cushioning her forehand before suddenly attacking with lots of force and precision in the corners. It's not easy to guage a girl like this, as she was very gifted.
That being said, it was necessary for me to raise my game up a notch and find my pace to reverse the trend. As this was the first time I was facing Cepelova, I was trying to get a read on her game at the start. It took me a little while, because it was not easy adjusting to the ball. I was hooked as I tried to avoid my earlier mistakes while trying to force errors. In short, it was a physical and mental challenge, coming back twice - in the second and third sets - as she was serving for the match. And that first victory on Day 1 was very important to set the tone for the competition.
And all this time, captain Sylvain Bruneau was at my side to motivate me, telling me to remember what I should do and to always be alert. It's good to have the opportunity to rely on a coach and his advice during a match. In other tournaments, you can't ask for that much help so frequently.
Finally, my next next Grand Slam stop is at Roland Garros. The challenge will be to adapt to the change from hard surface to clay. I'll be in full preparation this week in Montreal, playing on the clay courts of Uniprix Stadium at Jarry Park. I'll then fly off to Cagnes-sur-Mer in France, for the qualifications next week and then make a stop in Prague before the qualifications for the Internationaux de France - which begins on May 21.