Zvonareva seeking perfection ahead of U.S. Open

By Matthew Cronin

SAN DIEGO, California (Reuters) - Having scaled new heights with her first grand slam final appearance at Wimbledon, Vera Zvonareva is striving for the peak of perfection as she warms up for the U.S. Open.

"I'm trying to improve every day and I won't be satisfied until I'm playing perfect, but there are only two or three matches a year you can play perfect," Zvonareva told Reuters at the San Diego Open on Monday.

"I'm trying to prepare myself this hard court season to get that perfect tennis out of myself."

The Russian is seeded third behind Serbia's Jelena Jankovic and Samantha Stosur of Australia at San Diego, where she has no chance of meeting her Wimbledon nemesis, the injured Serena Williams.

Although pleased with her run at the All England Club, where she beat Jankovic and U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters, the 6-3 6-2 defeat to Williams in the final still grates.

"It was a great experience for me, and Serena had been in those positions so many times before and she went on court as it was just another match for her," Zvonareva said.

"I should have taken it like it was just another first round, but I wanted to do too well and it was very difficult. I was rushing and making mistakes and not doing the right things at right times like I was in my previous matches."

Reaching the Wimbledon doubles final with Elena Vesnina had also proved exhausting, said Zvonareva, and had left her a bit depleted for the singles final.

"Toward the end I was feeling like it was too much ... When I had to play both semis it was tiring. On the final day my concentration wasn't there. It's like squeezing lemon -- you push yourself and there's nothing left."

Zvonareva did manage to get some rest after Wimbledon when she went to her best friend's wedding on the beach in the Dominican Republic.

At San Diego, with no Williams in the draw, Zvonareva believes the field is wide open. She will face Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova in the first round.

"Serena has been dominating the grand slams, otherwise it's a very interesting field," said the 25-year-old.

"Last week at Stanford, there were so many great matches and you weren't sure who was going to win it. (Champion) Victoria Azarenka played unbelievable, but it's not easy to do it one week after the next."

"As long as I did like I did at Wimbledon and fight in every match and give it all, I'm happy," she said. "I believe in myself."

(Editing by Ian Ransom)