1997 Family Circle Cup – 2nd Round Interview

April 01, 1997

M. Seles defeats Shi-ting 6-3,6-3

QUESTION: Monica, how do you feel like you played today? You got down 2-0 in the first set and sort of picked up your game after that.
ELES: I took two days off after Family Circle Cup, and it was really the first time I got to play some points on the clay, and I was pretty rusty starting off. She has a good forehand, and I was just trying to stay in the point, and we had some nice rallies in there, so it was a good, comfortable second-round match.

QUESTION: Seemed like once you got 3-3 in the first set, you started taking control after that.
SELES: I had to wake up pretty soon because I could have been in trouble. So I just didn’t want to go a set down.

QUESTION: Has anybody officially said welcome to Hilton Head, since you’ve not had a chance to make it here in a while?
SELES: Quite a few people, yes. Everybody has been so nice. It’s unbelievable. Wherever we go, to the restaurant last night, with Buddy and everybody has been amazing.

QUESTION: How does it finally feel to get here? You’ve been entered three times and you’ve had to pull out.
Family Circle Cup SELES: I know. It feels great. I love the stadium court. It’s beautiful, and the fans seem to love tennis and they seem to also know a lot about tennis, just when they talk to me. So it should be a great week. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere. It’s really nice.

QUESTION: You looked really good towards the latter part of the match. How did you turn it up?
SELES: I played a little bit more freer, not so tight like in the beginning.

QUESTION: How would you compare the way you played today versus Saturday?
SELES: Well, it’s a different match, different player. It’s a big difference between her and Martina. I thought I did my best that day. It’s a tough loss to take, but she definitely just played some great tennis.

QUESTION: Where is your game right now, do you think, in comparison to where you want it to be?
SELES: I think for me the key thing is to play a couple tournaments and also practice the off weeks because I took a long time off because of my finger, and I got to hit two weeks before Family Circle Cup. So I feel I’m playing well comparing how many weeks I played, but there’s a lot of work ahead of me if I want to be ready for the French and Wimbledon.

QUESTION: When you have a layoff and then you come back, what’s the most difficult aspect for you? Is it physically getting it back or is it mentally or emotionally?
SELES: I think it’s both. Definitely physically, too, just the ball feeling you lose from not playing tennis. You gotta spend so much time with the ball just to feel the little changes, how soon you close the racket for the ball to go in or out. Mentally, too, the match play, lack of match play definitely is a factor.

QUESTION: When you have a match like Saturday, do you find it hard not to start thinking ahead to a rematch or to not get distracted by wanting to sort of do that again?
SELES: No. No. I really don’t think about that because that was then. That wasn’t Saturday. I thought about it for a couple more hours, tried to learn from the mistakes I made and go on.

QUESTION: You wouldn’t secretly like a rematch with Martina Hingis here?
SELES: There are a lot of players here I would love to play because last year I had some troubles playing them, and I lost to a couple of them. But it’s so far away, in this one it’s not on my mind at all.

QUESTION: Are you hitting more one-handed forehand now on wide balls than you used to?
SELES: I try to a little bit because of the time off that I had, I wanted to play a little, so I hit a little more one-handed shots, and I think it would help me because obviously being two hands on both sides I’m a lot shorter. I’m not able to get to a lot of balls, so yeah.

QUESTION: Is that something you’re going to work on trying to do more and more of?
SELES: Yes. I think so.

QUESTION: Are you going to play a lot more doubles on an ongoing basis?
SELES: I think I’m going to try to because the main reason I want to play here and Family Circle Cup last week is to get some match play. I really feel like I missed that, just to spend the most time with the ball that I can.

QUESTION: Do you feel it helps your game in singles?
SELES: I think so, and it’s fun and it’s very relaxing compared to singles, and I think I need that when I don’t have that many matches under my belt.

QUESTION: How much did you practice on clay coming in this week?
SELES: I hit about half an hour at Family Circle Cup, and about half an hour here on Sunday.

QUESTION: Is there any difference in your mental approach or how you prepare mentally comparing say going against Steffi as opposed to Arantxa or Martina now?
SELES: I think you try to go in a little bit differently because every player has their weaknesses and strengths. Sometimes I do and sometimes I do not. Sometimes I just try to go in and play my game and let them adapt to it.

QUESTION: Not worry about anything other than just playing your game the best, but other times you do think about trying. Can you give us one example, without giving any secrets away, as far as any specific situation where you do plan on a little variation?
SELES: I think most players on the Tour know each other’s games because we play so much, against Steffi what you need to do to have a chance of beating her. So sometimes I would, but sometimes it can also mess up your game because you’re just thinking about what you need to do. You’re not in the present playing the point.

QUESTION: But can you give an example specifically what that variation in strategy might be on certain matches —
SELES: Oh, sure.

QUESTION: — with Steffi as opposed to Arantxa?
SELES: Well, probably not sometimes just hitting the ball hard each time. Gotta play more like the pace, other things like that.

QUESTION: Like with Steffi?
SELES: Yeah. With Steffi, Martina, I think.

QUESTION: Do you sense any new fan enthusiasm with Martina, your return, Steffi?
SELES: Definitely.

QUESTION: That there’s something happening in women’s tennis right now?
SELES: I think the future of women’s tennis looks really bright. Just the young faces that are coming up. Having our youngest ever Number 1, and you still have the other generation of Steffi, and I do hope that maybe we can still bring back Gaby and Kimiko because that would add even more depth to it, and really when you look at it, top players before the quarters or semis had no tough matches. We had a lot of upsets at Family Circle Cup, a lot of tough first or second rounds. So I think the future looks really good, if we all stay healthy. Hopefully a little bit less tournaments, I think the next ten years should be great.

QUESTION: Martina is obviously Number 1 now. How do you see it playing out between you and Steffi? Do you think the three of you will be battling all year for Number 1?
SELES: Well, it depends a lot. I’m going to have a little bit of a problem missing because I didn’t play Australia. See, Grand Slams play a lot of points. That’s going to be tough to make up. I have to do really well at Grand Slams and hope the other two don’t do as well. But that’s unrealistic. It’s going to depend, I think, how many tournaments Steffi is going to play and Martina and I a lot with the new ranking system. But if Martina is going at a rate that she’s going, winning every tournament, I think it’ll be no contest.

QUESTION: Can you get back to Number 1 personally do you think?
SELES: This year? There’s always a possibility, but I think realistically it’s very difficult with the way the points are set up.