1999 Australian Open – 4th Round Interview

Melbourne, Australia

January 25, 1999

Monica Seles defeats S. Testud 6-0,6-3

INTERVIEWER: Monica, you have played Steffi six times in Grand Slam finals. Does it feel strange to be meeting her so early in one now?

MONICA SELES: No, because I met her in the quarter finals of the championships also. So obviously Steffi hasn’t played last year and her level of play isn’t perfected, and I think the same thing maybe for me, I haven’t played the first three and a half months of the year, so it’s expected.

INTERVIEWER: Is that a special match, I mean, do you get more up when you see Steffi?

MONICA SELES: I mean you try to – you know you’re going to have to raise your level of game but I try, I try to be up for every match, so obviously that one, each – some of the matches get tougher and tougher as you get further along in the tournaments.

INTERVIEWER: But don’t you have opponents that – some opponents that kind of move you more than others?

MONICA SELES: No, never, no.

INTERVIEWER: Steffi said, Monica, that she thought the conditions suited you better here than they do her. What do you think?

MONICA SELES: That’s a tough one. Obviously so much depends on the weather and how you’re playing. I’m sure Steffi likes faster surfaces like the championships, but, you know, that’s a tough one. I mean, if it would be clay, I would agree. This one is kind of, I think, a 50-50 I think, because it’s not too fast, not too slow.

INTERVIEWER: Do you think that you have reached your peak at this moment?

MONICA SELES: I knew I had to raise my level of game after I played against Sandrine because I always had tough matches and she’s such a good player and a fighter, and thank goodness I was able to do that, but I really should be able to do that every match at this level. I feel the more I’m going to play and practise, it’s going to be more of a reality, more consistent, which I definitely miss the consistency, and today it was there, but it’s going to need to be there every day, every match like this.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, this match with Steffi has been hanging there since the beginning of the tournament. In some ways are you happy that it’s there and were you aware of it right from the beginning that it was a strong possibility?

MONICA SELES: I mean, I really absolutely look to my next match, always; I’ve always done that. My dad taught me just never to get too confident or look too far forward because the few times when I’ve done that I’ve just lost like at the U.S. Open in 1990, third round and all that, so I’m just looking forward to playing her. Obviously, it’s going to be a very difficult match, and as always it’s such a great challenge. I mean, I think both of us, when we start playing again, we really just play because we love the game for no other reason, so I think we both want to have challenges likes we’ll have on Wednesday.

INTERVIEWER: Is there any reason why both of you didn’t maybe play quite so well in the last match and both really stretched and all of a sudden you’ve both played terrific today?

MONICA SELES: I think both of us – I didn’t see Steffi’s match so I guess I don’t know what happened there, but I – we both knew we had to raise our level of the game and we both I think lived up to that.

INTERVIEWER: Is this match a way for both of you to gauge how good you are right now in your comeback?

MONICA SELES: I don’t know. I mean, against Sandrine I had some tough results. She has beat me a couple of times and then I’ve played well against her a couple of times. You can’t gauge, I think, from my game on one match or one tournament. Every day is a new day, so many things can happen. As long as you just play the ball, I don’t care about anything else.

INTERVIEWER: I didn’t mean today’s match. I mean the one you are going to play against Steffi, the way the two of you gauge yourselves?

MONICA SELES: How do you mean?

INTERVIEWER: Well, how good you are in terms of reaching your peak and the same with her?

MONICA SELES: Obviously, the way Lindsay has been playing she has been beating Steffi and Martina really easily, so there’s a long way to go there. I think Martina too. I think the last time she and Steffi played, Steffi won, but that was indoors, so I mean obviously they are the top players there, it’s just different, it’s not just Steffi and me any more; there are five other players playing the same level and better right now than Graf and Seles.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, if you compare your game now with when you first won in Melbourne, in what ways would you be a better player and in what ways would you be not as good?

MONICA SELES: I mean, obviously the movement is not the same and the consistency of my shots in that I was hitting the ball harder than I am doing right now. Looking at tapes back, I really can’t say I improved much, but obviously I have to keep in consideration the hours I spent on the court and the hours I spent on the court the last two years. So that’s one thing I really would like to change for 1999 and going into 2,000, but it’s tough. I mean, I’m playing with a different racket. I haven’t played as many good matches that would – that I would feel, okay, I can close my eyes and I know the ball is going to go in, which I had four years ago. Now I’m not so sure because I haven’t hit enough balls to feel that way.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, each Grand Slam has its own character. If you take a step back and look at the Australian Open, is there a certain essence about it you can put your finger on?

MONICA SELES: I think the fans are really very supportive. I think you get all different categories, I mean, from ages to personalities. I think because Melbourne has a lot of ethnic people living here. It’s definitely one of the toughest just because it’s so hot and that court gives you blisters on your feet and that’s a nightmare to deal with. And it’s the first tournament for me, it’s a tough one because I don’t play anything, it’s the first tournament of the year and you come all the way here and you can lose in the first round and it’s a long way home. But it’s a great tournament. I always loved playing it, even the first year in 91. I enjoy spending time both in Melbourne and Sydney. So I really love coming to Australia.

INTERVIEWER: You sat for quite a long time the other night watching Steffi in the arena. I’m sure you don’t do that quite often?

MONICA SELES: The reason was to support Mary Joe.

INTERVIEWER: No, I know, but when you sit and watch her actually in the arena not on TV or something, are there any little things you can pick up in a scouting kind of way that you might not pick up on TV?

MONICA SELES: I wish I had done that now. I was just really supporting so much Mary Joe and kind of saying “Come on, come on”. I got sort of caught up in that, so, no.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, that 1993 title here, was that particularly significant because it was a 3-set final against Steffi? Do you remember it as being any more enjoyable than some of the others?

MONICA SELES: I just think going back 93, I just remember I was finding it really happy being number one and playing some good tennis, and I was just – hadn’t lost to Steffi in a long time and everything was going really well. So it was just one of the very few Grand Slams I think when I was No. 1 that I really enjoyed. Yeah?