1997 Italian Open – Pre-tournament Interview

May 05, 1997

Q : You were in Rome in 1992. What do you remember about the crowd, about the city?
A : I don’t remember many things. I remember two great finals with Gaby in 91 and 92. I’m glad to see a new court. This is a new start for me.

Q : You lost two finals to Martina Hingis. Are you sorry that she is not here?
A : I’ll meet her at the French Open, anyway. But I don’t like to think about the future. I prefer to think about my next match.

Q : Monica, can you tell us anything about your physical condition?
A : I’m very good. I’m not injured anywhere. I’ve been practicing for two weeks.

Q : What do you think about the new court, the new lighting?
A : I haven’t played under the lights yet. The court is beautiful although I find it slippery and quite fast for a clay court. But I understand that’s done for the men players.

Q : Martina Hingis and Steffi Graf will not be playing in Rome. So you are quite obliged to win.
A : I got a very tough draw. There are very good players even in the first rounds. However I don’t like looking forward to things, that puts on me a lot of pressure.

Q : You played Martina twice. What was so different?
A : I was surprised too. I don’t really know. It was only one week difference. Obviously I played a little better. I was less nervous than I was in Key Biscayne. I had played a little more matches.

Q : Did the surface had something to do with that?
A : No, I don’t think so.

Q : The Italian crowd love you. What do you remember about the crowd, about your supporters in Rome? What do you expect from them?
A : They’ve been very nice and very welcoming in the past. I keep getting thousand of letters from them. Yesterday ,after practicing, I met two girls that I had met in Rome in 1992.

Q : Who do you think is the best emerging player?
A : Martina Hingis, definitely. She is really mature now and it is amazing how she can play under pressure.

Q : What about Venus Williams and Kournikova?
A : They are the same age as Martina. We’ll see.

Q : There are lots of young players in the circuit. Do you fell proud when people ask you to judge them or does that bother you?
A : Neither of those. What I do is mere guessing. Many things can change. I’ve learned not to expect much from kids. What I don’t like at all is parents putting their children as soon as they’re born on a tennis court and force them to like tennis.

Q : What changed over the last five years?
A : Five years is a long time. Many things happened, like the incident in Hamburg. I was 17 then, I’m 23 now.

Q : If you could go back to the age of 16, what would you change in your life?
A : Certainly the stabbing. I also regret rebelling to my parents. 16-year-old kids just want to have fun and I think that’s what they should do.