1999 Family Circle Cup – 2nd Round Interview

March 30, 1999

Monica Seles defeats Olga Barabanshikova 6-3, 6-0

QUESTION: Must have been a relief with the forecast for rain today —

SELES: Yeah.

QUESTION: — just to get out there.

SELES: I was very happy, definitely, even that I was playing the first match and obviously when I woke up with the rain, that we even just got onto the courts, I was really happy.

QUESTION: And the performance, you must be pleased to get through.

SELES: I mean it’s always a tough match the first time you play on clay every year, and today was really the first time, and I wasn’t expecting to play so well in doubles at Lipton, so I really just had the last day and a half to practice on clay. Still have to make some adjustments, but I think by the second set I started playing a lot better.

QUESTION: About today’s match, it seemed the first couple of games were good and then she just fell apart.

SELES: Yeah. Pretty much, yeah.

QUESTION: How were the court conditions? Was it heavy?

SELES: It was very heavy. It was very slow and a lot of uneven bounces, but it’s still amazing that the grounds people got it ready for us to play after so much rain. Definitely give them a lot of credit for that.

QUESTION: Your one-handed shot seems to be hitting a lot better now. Are you working on that a lot?

SELES: Definitely. I really enjoy hitting it. It’s something new that I’ve been hitting more, but I always hit it. I just never used it. Kind of like Steffi, her top spin backhand is great, but she never uses it. That’s kind of on my one-handed forehand. But I really would like to use it more.

QUESTION: You hit a couple winners off of it, I thought.

SELES: Yeah. I’m trying.

QUESTION: Is this just to add more dimension to your game?

SELES: Definitely. I think it’s — you know, as a two-hander, you’re really shorter running side to side by quite a lot, and I think on certain balls it would definitely help me instead of having to run all the way outside of the court just to save probably a couple feet. So that would be my ideal thing.

QUESTION: When do you decide to use it? I mean how do you — you don’t do it every time you get a wide ball.

SELES: I use it a lot really. Not that much, but in practice when my dad was to hit it. And then really it was Mr. Agassi, I saw him in Vegas and he said, why don’t you use it more, and I said, yeah. And then I used it a lot in Australia and it kind of gave me confidence, and I’m pretty good with it, and I just started using it more.

QUESTION: You might be facing Likhovtseva or Sidot. Do you know either one of them?

SELES: Yeah. I played Likhovtseva a couple weeks ago at Indian Wells. It was a very tough match. Obviously it was on the hardcourt. She had some good wins at Lipton. She beat Mauresmo. If I play Sidot, I played her last August in San Francisco, and she’s a left-hander, so it’s a totally different style game, but I think Likhovtseva won the first set 6-1, so it looks like I’ll probably play her.

QUESTION: Was the wind a major factor out there today?

SELES: No, no, no. It was just a little bit at the end it started picking up, but nothing compared to yesterday. Gosh, I was really happy I wasn’t playing yesterday.

QUESTION: How did the court play considering it was damp?

SELES: The court played really uneven, but after so much rain, as I said before, it’s still great that we got to play. Literally the rain stopped at 8:30 and we played on it at 10:30, so that’s a great effort, and I’m sure the court’s going to play differently depending on the weather.

QUESTION: Are you going to play Fed Cup?

SELES: I think so, yes. I told Billie that I’m available. So it’s up to her.

QUESTION: They moved the match from Croatia.

SELES: Yes. It will be played in the South. Somewhere in this area, I guess.

QUESTION: Is this tournament that much different than a lot of the others because of being the first one on clay? Is it that tough for the top seeds to be confident when you step out there?

SELES: It’s a tough tournament. We were talking, a few of the other top players, in the locker room that we have three Tier I events in a row, Indian Wells, then we fly all the way to Miami and then you move to clay. So it’s very difficult. So we’re going to try to change it a little bit schedule wise, hopefully that one. But it’s always tough the first clay court tournament coming from hardcourts. It’s just totally different, but all the players who decide to do that, you know that. We’ve done that over the years. But it always takes a little while.

QUESTION: Monica, you mentioned you did well in doubles at Lipton. How far did you get in the doubles?

SELES: We lost in the finals to Martina and Jana. I played with Mary Joe.

QUESTION: You weren’t expecting to do that well?

SELES: No, no, no. It was such a tough final because we had match points and everything. So I just didn’t think I would get to the finals. I was hoping after my singles, I’ll come here, get ready for clay. But it didn’t go as I planned.

QUESTION: Did that ruin your preparation for this tournament?

SELES: It didn’t ruin it, no, because I truly enjoyed playing doubles with Mary Joe. I had so much fun. It’s just in terms of I didn’t get that many days on clay. I arrived here Sunday afternoon, Sunday night. So but that’s fine. It’s Wednesday today and I’m playing tomorrow again, playing doubles one more time today. So that’s fine.

QUESTION: Could you talk about the Williams sisters a little and what do you think their potential is and things like that?

SELES: Well, I think I mean they’re just great. That’s all you can say really. They have such a great future ahead of them and I think it’s already happening. You can’t say, oh, they will be in the next year or two. And really I mean I think both are really good. People say Serena is going to be better than Venus. I really don’t know. I really think both are going to be at some point in their careers No. 1 if they keep going the way they are, which I’m sure they will because they really want to be.

QUESTION: Monica, of all you’ve accomplished what motivates you now as far as tennis is concerned? What do you play for?

SELES: I just really enjoy playing. I can’t say I enjoy tournaments that much, but I really love to practice and I love to play some matches that I really have to be up for, like at Grand Slam tournaments or some matches that are three sets and it’s really tight, those are the matches that really you like because you’re emotionally so involved in them. But I just think I just enjoy playing tennis. It’s very simple.

QUESTION: Monica, have you seen enough of Mauresmo to comment about her on the tour and her potential?

SELES: I just hit with Amelie a couple days ago. She has one of the best hands on the tour right now. She has so much talent. Her backhand is just so beautiful to watch when she’s hitting a top spin. So obviously she didn’t have a good tournament here, but I don’t think she likes to play in wind. So I’m sure going to European season, red clay is probably one of, I think, her favorite surface. We’re going to see some more results from her.

QUESTION: Obviously you’ve been in the United States for a long time, but your home land, Yugoslavia, everything going on over there right now, is that on your mind at all?

SELES: Oh, definitely. I think it’s really on everybody’s mind. It’s a very sad situation.

QUESTION: Do you have any relatives back there?

QUESTION: Is it surprising to you that since she (Mauresmo) won in Paris she’s had some very poor results over here?

SELES: I think in Lipton she lost to Elena, which Elena is a tough player. Elena had beat a lot of top players. So that’s not a loss — she lost to a pretty good player, and she lost I think in a tight one, 6-4 in both matches in the third and I just don’t think Amelie likes to play in wind. She’ll have to correct that if she wants to be a top player for sure. And she definitely prefers indoors, and it’s tough to play every week well, but you know, she’s a Top 10 player for sure.

QUESTION: Some of the players’ comments about her at Australia they were very clear about it. What is your take on that?

SELES: I don’t know. I mean I thought it was great what she did in Australia. You know, she obviously deserved to be in the final. I mean I can’t imagine how difficult it was for her with so much media attention there. She never got any media attention, suddenly before the finals of your first Grand Slam tournament you have to change practice courts. To go 45 minutes out of the city to practice must have been very tough. So I think she’s one of the hardest working players on tour. I mean really it was the first time I got to hit with her last week, so I don’t know her as a person, but she seemed very nice to me.

QUESTION: Monica, what about coming back here? It’s kind of a working vacation for you to stay in Haig Point. Can you talk a little bit about that?

SELES: Well, I enjoy staying there. I’ve stayed there the last three years, and the residents are just so nice to me. It really doesn’t feel like you’re at a tennis tournament, which is great. We don’t have too many stops like that on the WTA tour. So it’s a very easygoing week in terms of all that. It’s such a change from Miami, one extreme to the other, but I really love it. So I’m happy with that change.

QUESTION: Monica, you mentioned earlier about some of the top players talking about the possibility of changing one of those Tier I events in a row. Would this be one of the tournaments affected, do you think?

SELES: I don’t know because it’s very difficult to change things on our calendar. We’re trying to get an off season for the past eight years, I think, and maybe we’ll have one in 2001 for like two weeks, but it’s not really an off season. So I think just the players are saying it’s very difficult to have three such important tournaments in a row different parts of the country, different surfaces, bam, bam, bam. And I don’t think it’s needed to cram them this much in.

QUESTION: Monica, what’s your mind set this year going into the clay court season? You look to be in great shape and healthy. You must be positive looking ahead.

SELES: I’ve been really lucky. I’ve been injury free the last two years and that’s been a huge thing for me, but I really would like to play very well obviously at the French. That’s kind of my main goal in terms of working towards that. I would love to do well in every other tournament, but if I could pick, that would be the one, and obviously for Wimbledon. And those are the toughest ones because everybody wants to win those two tournaments, so I’ll just have to keep working hard, I think, fitness wise, tennis wise and I have like ten more weeks, I think, till the French, and just go in there really prepared.