New York, New York
September 06, 1992
Monica Seles defeats G. Fernandez 6-1, 6-2
Q. I noticed your drop shot twice in a row there in the second set. Were you hoping her leg was going to fall off?
MONICA SELES: No, I mean, she tapes it always when she plays. I don’t think it was major– she was standing so far back that I thought, you know, if I just keep hitting, you know, try to mix a few up, that, not much– it was pretty– 5-1, so it was easy to see to drop shot then.
Q. The fact that six women seeds have lost, Monica, and you and Steffi are going to have tough matches and Gaby has almost been beaten, is that part of a trend, do you think, or is it a–
MONICA SELES: I still don’t think it is going to happen very often, but I think it is going to, in the future, happen or– and more, because you don’t have that many easy rounds anymore. Before, you would know the first round will be 6-0, 6-1; now they can be 6-2, 6-3. They are a lot closer. Ten of the players who are kind of floaters can get in the first or third rounds; who, if they have a good day, they can beat any of the players. I still think it was a little bit unusual, such good players would lose early on. I don’t think that it’s going to happen that often.
Q. Did you ever feel like players like Gigi come out on the court and assume they are not going to win because they are playing you? Sometimes they don’t make as much effort as they should?
MONICA SELES: I don’t think so. Because I played her sometimes. Gigi, I think it is the opposite. When you play somebody like her who you played for many times and always pretty much had easy matches, she just goes out and gives– you know, she has no pressure. She can start playing a lot better than with pressure.
Q. Is it becoming less of an effort for you to play quietly? Is it becoming sort of your routine?
MONICA SELES: I don’t worry about it. It doesn’t matter if I am grunting or not. Even today, I might grunt. I didn’t– I don’t know. I don’t want to think about it. I am not making an effort not to grunt. But maybe the next match I will have a tougher match, maybe I might have to grunt, but if I don’t, that is fine.
Q. You said you don’t want to think about it. Do you find yourself thinking about it sometimes?
MONICA SELES: No, not at all. No.
Q. We know every little detail about players who grow up in America. Agassi hit with Gonzalez. Capriati started with Jimmy Evert; so forth. This is definitely not a political question by any stretch. Could you just tell us a little bit about your early years in Yugoslavia, how you started?
MONICA SELES: Started playing tennis when I was like six. I played for about four weeks. My brother just starting to be pretty good in the juniors, we went on vacation; my brother won a tournament. I just start playing a little bit. After four weeks, I just said to my dad, I want to do this. I don’t want to stay out there on the court hitting against the backboard. I hated it. I didn’t play for about a year and a half. Then my brother won a national championship. He got a nice trophy. Then slowly I just started liking it more. I was going with my brother to tournaments or just practices. I would always pick up a racket; just playing around with it. I slowly started liking it. Actually, I never liked it until like age 12 to be on the tennis court. I always wanted to play against the backboard, or just a tennis court that we would grow up in different places, I didn’t like — plus, tennis, you only had four courts in the city. It was still very much for recreational use. Especially at age eight, who knows, what is going to happen to me. Since then, I started playing tennis. I played my brother, players who he would practice. Pretty much, I think, for my whole career, my dad was always the one who was always there. My brother was there on and off. My dad was the one who, I guess, he always stuck with me. Then from there on, I had just played juniors; become slowly better and better.
Q. Did you play matches against your brother when you were fairly young?
MONICA SELES: No. I started out– I was like 12, because whenever himself and I would play, you know, there were no umpires. My dad was the umpire. It was just not worth, you know, I would be mad at my dad if he would call the ball close, and my brother, so we would not go happy home. We said we wouldn’t do this anymore. We just start not counting the score. If we did, we have another person there.
Q. Who would win?
MONICA SELES: Oh, well. In the beginning — I don’t like to say that because I don’t think it is fair to me now, and then you know, to my brother either. He doesn’t like to say it. I won’t say it either. But he was a good player because he was like number 3 in Europe when Edberg was playing and Becker, so he was pretty good, so–
Q. Nick Bollettieri was a help to you?
MONICA SELES: No, Nick actually saw me ’83, ’84 when I won the Orange Bowl. That is when he said– invited me to come to the academy to practice there.
Q. As a young kid, did you follow tennis? I mean, did you–
MONICA SELES: Pretty much growing up, the only matches that I got to watch was the finals at Wimbledon. So I got to see Martina and Chris. Whenever my parents would you know, travel out of the country, they would bring back Chrissy’s racket or Martina’s poster. Few years ago, when I went back, I saw Martina’s poster in my room. I was like, that is pretty different. And then just really grew up more watching Borg, because he is my brother’s idol, and wear the same clothes and play with the same racket, everything, he is a big Borg fan. That is only tournament I watch. I didn’t have an idea what you had to do to become number one. I pretty much thought there were the finals of Wimbledon; not six matches before to win it. I didn’t know pretty much ’till I was 14, the ranking system; I still don’t get it. I still have a few years to go.
Q. Are you saying what Zoltan was ranked three behind Becker and Edberg?
MONICA SELES: In that generation, he was third and fourth when Edberg was playing and Becker, but he lost to them always.
MONICA SELES: 16.
Q. Did you play another sport as a little kid?
MONICA SELES: Yeah. I loved ice-skating actually wanted to be an ice skater. To me, it is just– it has something that I like both it’s a sport, but it still has a very feminine side to it and the dresses and everything, I loved it. But, you know, with conditions like that you couldn’t, there is no way, I guess, you know ice skating was even harder than a tennis court, so, maybe after the Olympics, it was easier, but beforehand, not much.
Q. Did you skate quite a bit?
MONICA SELES: I skated quite a bit when I was like five, six.
Q. Were you good?
MONICA SELES: Pretty good. I don’t remember much. I just see the little dresses at home, just little stuff. I don’t — I always like basketball, and as a youngster I always loved to watch gymnastics, but I knew I never could be one because I was too afraid to do those flips. I was still– fascinated when I go in gyms to see them, it is incredible to me. I had a friend, she was a lot older, six years older, she is pretty good track and field, high jumper. I used to watch her. In one year, I wanted to be that. That is just phases passing through.
Q. Did you play any basketball?
MONICA SELES: Just in the school. High school champions.
Q. Jim Loehr has said he has never seen anybody work harder than you; that you hit all day; that you wear out pro after pro?
MONICA SELES: I enjoy that. I like to stay out there. I don’t practice as much as I did when I was younger because of the tour and everything, you can’t. I just love it, to me, when I go out there, I don’t try to look at the hour, oh, it is ten o’clock, you know, eight or ten, you got to finish. If I am feeling that day — I will play as long as I am feeling good. And if not, then I take a lot of days off, like a lot of afternoons, because I am just not up to playing, so I don’t have put a tight of a schedule.