Natalia Pogonina - I don’t pay attention to such forecasts. Humans are in charge of all those assessments, and they can make mistakes. For a player there is not much sense in studying such information. Under the knockout system anyone can pull oneself together and do well. One shouldn’t set any limits for oneself. I didn’t have any particular goals and didn’t treat it in the “the minimal task is to reach round X” way. I was mentally prepared to go home after the very first round. If I move on, it’s nice. If not, it’s also fine, because I will return to my family. Maybe this attitude helped me to focus on the game itself instead of dwelling on the results. My attention was on the game, not on the outcome.
Q: Is it even worth it, this endurance test? When watching from the distance one’s hair can turn grey prematurely from the level of stress. And how does it feel to be part of the process? How much weight did you lose during the tournament? I guess it’s entertaining for the spectators to follow all the sensations and the drama, but how does it feel from the participant’s perspective?
A: Don’t blame the format too much. It’s up to you how you react. No one is obliging you to be nervous. This system teaches you to be strong intrinsically. It has its own advantages. In terms of self-development it is very useful not to be distressed and to maintain good self-control. The fact that I lost a lot of weight reveals that I have been making certain mistakes. Maybe my schedule wasn’t good enough: I worked on openings too much and sacrificed time for sleep. One should be able to survive through this without any serious harm, but you have to be prepared in a special way. By the way, Anna Muzychuk told me that Mariya also lost quite a few kilos during the tournament. It’s not only my problem.
Such extreme conditions allow one to test oneself and temper one’s character.
Q: In the international press a few media independently dubbed you the Queen of Comebacks. How did you manage to “return from the dead” three times in a row? This is a unique feat in the history of knockout events. How did you handle the nervous tension between rounds? Did you sleep well?
A: This is a very complicated and personal question. I have my own life philosophy. I can’t give concrete advice, because I slept badly and prepared overzealously. I also didn’t follow such popular advice as “forget about the tournament and do something else”, “watch a movie”, “get a massage”. All I had to do was to fight and to not be afraid, and in the end it turned out I won all the tie-breaks.
See the whole interview part 1 and part 2.