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“I was fed up with everything”

“The week before the Budapest tournament, I was telling Kristina (Mladenovic) that I was fed up with everything, that I was playing well but that I couldn’t break through.” At 27, Bernarda Pera did well not to let go. What happened next? A first career title… in Budapest, and a second in Hamburg, the following week! The American even beat world number 2 Anett Kontaveit in the final in Hamburg.

12 games, 24 sets, and not a single loss: Pera is in the form of his life. She even made a giant leap in the WTA rankings. The American, still ranked 130th in the world before the Budapest tournament, is now 54th in the world.

“Entering the Top 50 has long been a goal for me, she tells us, with a smile. I’m about to get there. Then I can focus on other goals.”

Pera was born in Zadar, Croatia. However, she arrived in the United States at the age of 16, to obtain better tennis training. She then decided to play under the American colors. “I am where I am thanks to the training conditions I had in the United States,” she says.

His return to the courts is scheduled for next week at the WTA 125K tournament in Concord. Then follow Cincinnati, Cleveland, and the US Open.

For Tennis Majors, Pera talks about his current form, but also about his work, his father’s place, and his future goals…

How did you find the trigger in Budapest and Hamburg?

In fact, I felt good on the court for a long time. Especially in training. I just hadn’t been able to convert that form into a match yet. I got into a bit of a fight with my coach on the technical aspects, and so he didn’t follow me to Budapest! In the end, it was beneficial to me. I was more serene when I arrived at the tournament.

I came with my boyfriend, who doesn’t know much about tennis, and he was a great support. Things turned in my favor. I played better and better, gaining confidence with each victory. My level was even higher in Hamburg than in Budapest.

We often hear players say “I feel good on the court”. How does this translate to you?

When I string together games and points in training, I feel the ball extremely well. For a long time, I served very well in training, but as soon as the game came, things changed. It took a lot of work. In Budapest, I was more relaxed, and everything was unblocked.

How did you manage to transfer your good level in training to matches?

My game is very aggressive, and I’m very hard on myself. I don’t like it at all when I miss something. I learned to be more forgiving with myself. Because of my style of play, I inevitably make mistakes, it’s normal.

The week before the Budapest tournament, I told Kristina (Mladenovic) that I was fed up with everything, that I couldn’t break through

Bernarda Pera

I like to attack the ball. I like to get the points. So it’s crucial to keep this mentality even if I make mistakes. I must not let these errors disturb me. It suits me very well to be aggressive. It’s my way of playing.

Bernarda Pera, Budapest 2022 – © Imago / Panoramic

You have changed coaches several times (Guillermo Canas, Luka Belic, Kristijan Schneider, Velimir Zovko). Now you have been training for a year with Miro Hrvatin. What was the biggest challenge with him?

Yes, I have changed coaches a lot in recent years. All insisted on a part of my game that did not suit me. I started working on something new, it didn’t bring me results right away, so I doubted, and I didn’t feel good. There was a lot of negativity in my head. I tried to repeat positive things to myself without really believing them. It’s very hard to get out of this vicious circle.

What are you looking for in a coach, and how did it go with Hrvatin (former coach of Miomir Kecmanovic)?

The most important thing for me in a coach is that he supports me. I need him to stay calm, not panic. I can be very emotional so I need someone who knows how to be seemingly calm. It’s a balance.

I got into a bit of a fight with my coach on the technical aspects, and so he didn’t follow me to Budapest! In the end, it was beneficial to me. I was calmer when I arrived at the tournament

Bernarda Pera

Of course, the technical aspects in relation to the game are also important. When Miro joined the team, he asked me to keep the ball on the court, without making too many mistakes. We got a bit carried away with that. I told you what I thought of my style of play.

He had worked with Miomir Kecmanovic, and spent a lot of time in men’s tennis. So we had some disagreements. I believe that we have now found a happy medium for a few months. I always have an attacking spirit, but sometimes I play with a margin of error.

Your first two titles were obtained quite logically. How were you able to manage your nerves?

In reality, I did not succeed. I was very nervous before my final against Aleksandra (Krunic, in Budapest). I even thought it was going to affect my game. In the end, I felt so good on the court that even when I was nervous, I still played well.

Your game is well suited to fast surfaces. So how did you manage to get these two titles on clay? Do you like having time to knock?

Yes, it’s true that I hit maybe a little better. The thing is, I grew up on clay. It was years before I played on other surfaces. I like clay.

You have gone through difficult times in your career. This year, again, with tears after a quadriceps injury after Melbourne, and then the Covid… How did you hold on?

It’s not very hard for me to be motivated. I refuse to give up. I see this as one more obstacle in my way. All players are injured. You just have to do the right things to heal yourself. Then you have to move on! My dad has always been my biggest support. I respect him enormously and his opinion counts enormously.

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