1999 Australian Open – QF Interview

Melbourne, Australia

January 27, 1999

Monica Seles defeats S. Graf 7-5,6-1

INTERVIEWER: Monica, congratulations. Was it a perfect match, you would say?

MONICA SELES: No, I mean I don’t think I started off really well. Obviously, Steffi started off so well, and I just kind of hung in there. Once I changed to a tighter racquet it helped me a little bit. But I had some brilliant points; but I also had some not so brilliant points, but I think this was a key time to have good points.

INTERVIEWER: Was this like old times – Flinders Park, Monica, and Steffi?

MONICA SELES: Not for me. I just went in there and played the ball.

INTERVIEWER: Is there still something special, though, about playing someone like Steffi?


INTERVIEWER: Do you still get a special feeling when you know you are going to play Steffi?

MONICA SELES: I really get a special feeling when I play any top players. I don’t exclude or include Steffi in that. I just go out there and play, and I know it’s going to be a tough match, and I expect that a quarter final of a Grand Slam to be tough and I just do, try to do the best that I can that day.

INTERVIEWER: Could you sense that she was lost today after that fourth game in the second set? She seemed to lose focus on the match that after that?

MONICA SELES: Not really, because she was fighting. I mean, she didn’t didn’t even give up at 5-0, so I couldn’t feel that. And, you know, a month, or whenever, two months ago, when I played her in the championships, I won the first set 6-1, and I had the match in hand and I lost it. So I think, with Steffi, till you shake hands the match is not over.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, how did you turn it around, after losing to Steffi two months ago. Did you change anything?

MONICA SELES: Well, it was tough. I mean, it’s so different, because this was a very strange match at the championships, so I really don’t know, no.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, no autographs at the end of the match, no giggling, no smiling. What happened to you? You are not happy now?

MONICA SELES: Nothing, no, I’m fine. I mean, to me, it has to be based on my tennis game, so I’m really happy I played a good match today. I feel I – the majority of the time I did what I wanted to do. But for the autographs, that’s not the reason. I pulled my shoulder muscle and I just don’t want to go up high on it, so I haven’t signed after my Sandrine’s match and today’s match, just to be safe.

INTERVIEWER: Were you surprised, Monica, that when you had that run, that eight games, she didn’t try and slow down, she didn’t try and do anything very differently?

MONICA SELES: I mean, Steffi will never do that so – I mean, it’s just Steffi’s personality. She’s going to go quick, and just go about her own business. So I think that – I just knew that I had to worry about what I can control, and that was just my game. I can’t control Steffi?

INTERVIEWER: Eight games in a row against Steffi. Has that ever happened to you before?

MONICA SELES: I did win a couple, I think, I’m not sure if it’s eight, when I one the 6-Love set, in New York, I think, a couple of years back. But, you know, when you are on a roll like that, I’m not thinking “Gee, I’m winning. This is my sixth, seventh game in a row against Steffi”. It doesn’t feel like it. It feels you are fighting for every ball.

INTERVIEWER: That second set you were hitting close to the lines, all the things that you did when you won here. Do you think you were getting close to playing the way you did when you won the title?

MONICA SELES: Well, I definitely feel my game is getting better. Obviously, I still have a way to go in some ways, so it’s just, every match is so different. I mean, I have to come out and just play the best that I can, and hope that mentally, physically, my game will back that up, like the last two matches, you know. But Steffi is not the best player in the world. It’s Lindsay, and Martina. So it’s a different level that they are playing now.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, are you doing any work with Harold Solomon?

MONICA SELES: Harold has been kind enough just to help me out this week, but not like that, no.

INTERVIEWER: Have you been hitting with anyone specifically?

MONICA SELES: No. As always, with Zoltan, for the last two and a half years.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, after you played Testud you were very, very upset with your tennis. Since then you played two fantastic matches. Do you like getting upset like that? Does it get you psyched up?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, I think what was difficult against Sandrine, it was it was so windy that day, and playing another leftie, I couldn’t find my timing. And once the match was over I said, “If you can’t find your timing against Testud, you’re are going to be out of here pretty soon, and you’ve come a long way”. So I kind of, that helped me, just to calm down a little bit, not be so anxious about trying to win every point and be really tough on myself if I don’t; but just to relax more, and I think that attitude definitely helped me against Sandrine, and I tried to carry that into today’s match. But I wasn’t as even with it as I was when I played Sandrine.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, there was a moment when you had 11 winners with backhand, only with one with forehand. That means there’s now a big difference between the two shots, or it has always been like that?

MONICA SELES: That’s a tough one. Steffi was – it’s so tough to hit a winner off, off Steffi’s serve slice, the forehand, and I think, sometimes, you know, I wanted to get into that pattern; but, obviously, today the backhand has been working very well, and I’m really happy because I think that really helped me win a lot of points today at key times.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, returning constantly to Steffi’s back-hand, was that a game strategy for today?

MONICA SELES: No, when I hit the ball, I really just hit it, and if it goes forehand, body, middle, it goes there.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, going into the semi-final, how do you look?

MONICA SELES: I look forward to playing Martina. As I said, I mean, I really think highly of Martina. I had some tough matches against her. The last time we played was in New York, and she beat me. So she’s not going to give me any free points, and I’ll just have to play some great tennis to, really, you know, play with her.

INTERVIEWER: Since you beat her in Roland Garros, what is the difference to, play here in cement, or in clay for you? What is the advantage, and for who?

MONICA SELES: I don’t – I would probably say – obviously, the only tournament Martina has not won is the French, so maybe she’s thinking that’s the least favourite surface. But she’s definitely won, like Rome, a tournament, so I think the balls are going to come faster. It depends also so much on the weather here on the court because, if it’s hot or cold; you can like be playing indoors too. So until the time comes, I try not to worry about that because, again, that’s beyond my control.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, you talked about how you don’t think your game is quite as good as it was, say, three years ago, but today did you feel your mental intensity was as great?

MONICA SELES: Well, it just really was good for me to be there, in my head, today, because I haven’t been there all the time in some matches against some players. So I was just really proud of myself today. I just played my game the way I should have played all the years.

INTERVIEWER: Your forehand with one hand has improved; do you agree?

MONICA SELES: Well, I would love to, in a little while, to be able to play one-handed. I have really done very well in practises with it. I think it would help me tremendously, so I hope I’ll be bold enough to just keep hitting them, because it’s a really, it’s a very nice shot. I have hit it over the years. My father always used to tell me “Practise it. Practise, and one day it’s going to come handy”, and I think that one day is kind of now, the next few years for it to come handy so I hope I’ll keep working on that.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, how big is this win, even after six years?

MONICA SELES: Obviously, I mean, I hate to go into that so – it’s great to be in the semis of a Grand Slam, coming down to Australia. I didn’t have too many matches coming in here, and I played really well the last two matches, and I really enjoyed myself out there, which is really important, because when I decided to come back that was one of the reasons I’ve come back, and then obviously I couldn’t because, all those years there, because of my Dad. But now, it’s getting less and less, so I hope I can really just stay focused and enjoy it, like I did in the past.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, what was the thing that gave you the confidence to take the second hand off the forehand?

MONICA SELES: I think just the confidence to hit it in a match. But I think that’s going to come sooner than for me to come into the net so I – and I just really feel very comfortable hitting it. Obviously, I have not hit it as much as I did my two-hander, but it really feels natural to me, in a weird way. I don’t know. But it just feels natural to me.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, when the time does come for you to retire, do you think Steffi will be the opponent that stands out most in your memories?

MONICA SELES: For what reasons?

INTERVIEWER: All the great matches?

MONICA SELES: No, I would say probably my greatest match, I played against Martina, just because we have such a different style of game, and I really looked up to her as a person, as an athlete, so she will probably stand, I think, as that person.

INTERVIEWER: What is it about Australia, Monica? You can’t seem to be beaten here?

MONICA SELES: I don’t know. I’ve been really lucky. I think it probably brings out the best in me, I would say. I really enjoy myself, and I think that reflects on the court. I really enjoy everything about it. I think that just shows when you are playing. You’re more relaxed going for your shots in most matches, so – – –

INTERVIEWER: Monica, you did serve and volley successfully a couple of times today. Could you use that possibly as a tactic against Hingis?

MONICA SELES: If someone would match my practises, you know, if you were to see – you know, there are so many great volleyers. Even Martina said to me “You’re a great volleyer” and a few other people – even guys, who usually do not give compliments to women at all, said “Gee, I didn’t know you could volley that well”. It does hopefully register something in my brain, and I do hope to do that more often. That’s one of the reasons why I decided just to play doubles and not stay back in my doubles, which I’m getting better at. But I do hope, I do really hope before my career kind of is over that I can say, “Okay, I gave it my best shot, the same way I that I can do it in practise”, because there’s no other reason, really, not to translate in the match, except pure nervousness.

INTERVIEWER: Kelesi said something about your plans for Fed Cup. Have you decided yet, are you coming going to play, or not.

MONICA SELES: I haven’t been thinking about that at all at this point. I mean, gee, you know, I’m always available for Fed Cup. I think Billie-Jean knows that, and the entire team. So I see no difference in the situation.