The Spanish player, who is currently at her highest ever position in the world rankings, gave an interview to the Mutua Madrid Open website in which she gave a detailed analysis of what has so far been a season to remember and spoke of her hopes for the future.
Carla Suárez is currently is currently in the form of her life. A few weeks after reaching the quarter finals of the US Open, the Spanish player is now at number 14 in the world ranking, her highest ever.
Carla has grown as a player in recent years and now competes on equal terms with the best players on tour. Before embarking on a tough home straight of the season during which she will play four tournaments, the Canary Islander answered some questions for the Mutua Madrid Open website to discuss the highlights of her career and, in particular, her great 2013, and to talk about her future goals on tour.
We’ve heard that one of your first times on a tennis court was as a ball girl. How did you start playing tennis? Who were the players you followed closely when you were getting started?
I started playing tennis as an extracurricular activity when I was 10-years-old. Bit by bit I started training more and more until I got to the point where I am today. I was a ball girl during the final of the Federation Cup when it was held in Gran Canaria. When I was a small girl I looked up to Justine Henin and Steffi Graf a lot.
When you were 19-years-old you reached the quarter-finals of the 2008 Roland Garros in your first ever Grand Slam outing, beating the likes of Amelie Mauresmo and Flavia Pennetta. What was that experience like? What memories do you have of that tournament?
That was the first time I had ever been to Roland Garros and I was really motivated to do well and give a good account of myself. That whole week went really well for me. I remember not wanting to leave the venue until it was night time. I spent the whole time watching the best players in the world, but above all else I watched the Spaniards. It was an unforgettable experience.
Just a few months later you were once again in the spotlight after reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, and this year you made it to the fourth round in Wimbledon and the quarter-finals of the US Open. Has your playing style evolved to allow you become an all-terrain player?
My playing style has evolved bit by bit. Tennis is always evolving and you have to work hard every day. Nowadays I play more aggressively than before, I try to take the initiative in matches.
You have reached five WTA finals, all on clay, but are yet to lift your first title. What do you need to improve on to make that final step and start winning trophies?
I’ve lacked a killer instinct in tournaments. I have a good knowledge of the opponents I’ve faced in those finals and I know what things I need to improve on in order to win titles as soon as possible. Mentally, I’ve made big changes and hope that will help me pick up my first championship.
You’ve played in the Mutua Madrid Open on a few occasions. What’s it like playing a tournament on home soil in front of the Madrid crowd?
For us Spaniards it’s a really special tournament. We’re at home and the crowd is on our side. I love playing in Madrid. Sometimes I get quite nervous, but I try to play my best tennis every year and improve on the last year’s performance. I really appreciate having a Spanish tournament to compete in.
You recently reached the quarter-finals of the US Open for the first time thanks to some great performances in the early rounds which were followed up with a victory over the eighth seed, Angelique Kerber. How was that tournament for you and how would you evaluate your own performance?
The US Open left me with a good taste in my mouth. My first few matches were very intense, and that helped me clear my head before taking on Kerber. That was my most important match of the week and I was able to do enough to turn things around in the final set after having gone behind. That victory was a small step in the right direction for me. I don’t want to be content with just reaching the quarter-finals, I need to continue working hard to improve.
You suffered a heavy defeat to Serena Williams in that quarter-final, which was also played on your 25th birthday. What was it like bowing out in that manner after having played well in the tournament?
Defeats like that always leave a bitter taste in your mouth: the situation, my birthday, being on the largest court in the world. However, you learn from everything, and I should now be able to draw on that experience for a lot of things.
Is Serena Williams the best player you’ve ever come up against?
Serena is the true no. 1 as far as I’m concerned. I’ve always said that she’s on a different level to the rest of the female players and she’s definitely the toughest opponent I’ve ever faced.
You are currently ranked 14th in the WTA standings, your highest ever position. Can you break into the top 10?
I’ve still got four tournaments to play this year and will do everything to finish as high up as possible. If I don’t manage to break into it this year, then it will be one of my objectives for next season.
What are your goals for the end of this season?
My main objective is to keep working hard, give 100% and to do my best in the four remaining tournaments.
You have been part of the world tennis elite for a long time now, and in the last few years have seen the likes of Lara Arruabarrena, Tita Torró and Garbiñe Muguruza also make the step up, as well as Sara Sorribes who looks like a promising young player. What does the future hold for women’s tennis in Spain?
I really rate the players who have been coming up lately. I think all four of them are good players and each has her own unique playing style. Hopefully they all hit form together and start fighting it out to be one of the world’s best players.
Carla, you were part of the Spanish Federation Cup team that managed to secure a place in the World Croup again. What’s the mood in the camp like now after the recent arrival of Conchita Martínez as captain, the involvement of new players, and the victories that helped Spain return to the elite of women’s tennis?
Spain has a good mix of players, some with loads of experience, some hungry up-and-comers, and others who are turning into leaders for the team. Personally speaking, I think Conchita’s arrival has been really good. She’s really passionate about her work and is in constant communication with the team. We did great work this year so hopefully we can carry that over into next season. The tie against the Czech Republic at home, where a semi-final place will be at stake, should be an interesting one.