1999 Australian Open – Pre-tournament Interview

January 13, 1999

Seles Answers Questions Before the Australian Open

INTERVIEWER:Well, Monica, welcome back to Australia. You certainly must be looking forward to coming here, having 28 victories, I think, never losing here?

MONICA SELES:Definitely. I’m still a little bit jet lagged, so excuse me if I’m giving funny answers, but definitely it’s very exciting finally coming again after not being here two years. I was looking forward to coming here. I was nervous, nothing happening, but everything went well, and I’m here.

INTERVIEWER:What about the fact that you have done so well in Australia? What do you put it down to?

MONICA SELES:I guess I love the country. I have some friends here, so it’s always nice when I get to come. I don’t always feel like I’m at a tournament. Usually, you have the feeling that you also play more relaxed, and this means you play better.

INTERVIEWER:What is it you like about Melbourne? Is it our climate or is it the restaurants or the – – –

MONICA SELES:It’s just we have friends, you know. You get to know the city more and I really got to know Melbourne and Sydney pretty well. Just everything is really great. You can walk around a lot of places; obviously people are very nice, and just tons of things to do.

INTERVIEWER:What about you tennis? How are you feeling leading into the tournament?

MONICA SELES:I feel really confident. I haven’t played any tournaments prior to coming into Melbourne. So I practiced, have been practicing pretty hard, as well as I could through December, and just feel really ready. Obviously, if I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t have come.

INTERVIEWER:With the depth in the women’s game now, Monica, do you rate this probably the hardest chance of winning the Australian Open?

MONICA SELES:Definitely. I put it up with ’91. That was one of the toughest ones. Everybody was here. And 1993 Australia, and then obviously this year, no question, I think — yeah, so I mean the women’s field is wide open, and I think a real lot of players have a chance to win it, which I think is just great.

INTERVIEWER:Do you prefer to come down, Monica, and not play a tournament prior to the Australian Open? Obviously there’s a lot of players playing in Sydney.

MONICA SELES:I was thinking of playing it, but my grandmother passed away just recently, so I didn’t really think that was a good option. I preferred to stay home. This year was, what I decided to do — I’m not sure what I will do next year — this year I feel fine. I didn’t play too many matches before coming back after the stabbing for a long time and I sometimes play almost better if I don’t.

INTERVIEWER:What about the young brigade that’s coming through in women’s tennis? Jelena Dokic, what do you think of her? Have you seen her?

MONICA SELES:I played with Jelena a couple of months ago in Tokyo. I just think, just a lot of obviously, now so much media attention, all that; but she’s just a very hard worker. I think she knows what she wants out of her tennis career. Obviously, she’s a very good tennis player so I think if she just keeps going she’s going to have a wonderful career ahead of her.

INTERVIEWER:Do you feel there’s much pressure on you, Monica, this time, because the focus might be on other players?

MONICA SELES:Really, coming into any tournament I just worry about my next opponent, and I try to keep the same philosophy right now.

INTERVIEWER:Monica, what is the status with Gavin? Are you no longer working with him?

MONICA SELES:I stopped working with Gavin a couple months ago, but I think very highly of him and everything.

INTERVIEWER:Who do you see your toughest opponent here?

MONICA SELES:I mean, there are probably ten players in the women’s draw who have a chance to win it. So you have to have — all those ten players are very difficult, and there’s probably a couple of floaters in the draw, so it depends on a lot of things. But until the draw is out, and I know who my first-round opponent is, I don’t worry about that.

INTERVIEWER:Have you set yourself any goals for this year?

MONICA SELES:No, I never do that.

INTERVIEWER:What about the rankings? Is that important to you, I mean getting back up to number 1, number 2?

MONICA SELES:Definitely. I don’t think, you know, I would be playing as many tournaments as I have done. Obviously not playing last year, the first three months have hurt my ranking, but still finishing at 6 last year was pretty good. So I’m just looking forward to improving upon that and having some consistency in my tennis career. That’s really, if I have a goal for ’99, that’s pretty much it.

INTERVIEWER:Is that a hard climb to try and get back those points?

MONICA SELES:No. I have a wonderful three months ahead of me, so I have no points coming off so I can just improve on my ranking, if I really worry about that; but if I can get back to the rankings where it really matters. But, for me, I think at this point, it’s just really winning the Grand Slams that would give me the most joy, I guess.