1999 French Open – QF Interview

Paris, France

June 01, 1999

Monica Seles defeats Martinez 6-1,6-4

Q. You usually beat Conchita handily. You played a lot of long points today, especially in the second set. You came through at the end. Why do think you do so well against her?

MONICA SELES: I don’t know. I think today she’s definitely been playing a lot better than the past matches. I think she’s gotten a lot of confidence built up over the course of a couple matches coming into today’s. The court we played on was so slow, I think my shots, I just felt were not going anywhere. I just told myself, “Try to hang in there, there are going to be some long points, and just run for every ball.” I think that’s what really got me ahead a lot in the first set. In the second set, I maybe started doing too much defensive work a little bit.

Q. You were looking very fit out there today. Have you done anything extra to improve your fitness?

MONICA SELES: Well, I’ve been working on my fitness for the past month now a little bit. I’m just trying to improve upon that area. I think I would just feel better, and obviously it’s going to help me in my tennis game, too. So a combination of those things hopefully will get through in my head that’s not bad.

Q. Talk about playing Steffi specifically on clay and how that changes your match-up, what you think you have to do to win the match.

MONICA SELES: Well, I didn’t get to see really Steffi’s matches any full. I just got to see points at a time. I watched a little bit against Lindsay today. She’s playing really well. I think both of us are really strong mentally, and we both want to win, and we both play at a very high level. So whoever is going to be making the shots on that day probably is going to come the winner out of that match.

Q. When you play her, do you look at it any differently? Do you look up to it any more?

MONICA SELES: No, I mean I try to look up to whenever I play a Top 5 player because you know the level of the game is going to be very different. If I play someone like Martina, Steffi, Jana, you know, you have to really be playing the best tennis if you want to come out a winner out of that match.

Q. But nothing about her in particular?

MONICA SELES: Well, with Steffi I played some fantastic matches. I think a couple of the matches are probably the highlights of my career. But you never go into the match thinking that this match is going to be great because it could be a terrible match. I think, you know, both of us are probably just going to go in there and, as always, do the best that we can.

Q. There was one here, the long one?

MONICA SELES: I think we played two long ones really here, in 1989, and then one in 1992.

Q. Have you had much time to get away from the tennis and do other things while you’ve been in Paris?

MONICA SELES: Not as much, I think basically because I play doubles. I was trying to save a little bit more of my energy because coming in here I was unsure, physically I was still taking antibiotics. But I did go to a few places. I went to the Louvre, but obviously it was on strike. With my mom, we just walked, the usual, the same streets, the same thing every year. We keep the tradition going every year (laughter).

Q. Can you talk about your health this year, injuries, and also sickness?

MONICA SELES: Well, I haven’t been injured this year, so I’m really happy. I really have been injured the past two years now, so I’m really happy with that. I’ve changed a few things. I take better care of myself, so I think that has helped. And I just had a terrible cold really, that’s why I couldn’t play Rome this year. So you try to minimize those things. Sometimes they just happen.

Q. What about the changes in your fitness like in the last month, what have they been?

MONICA SELES: Oh, just trying to become faster, be a little bit stronger and all those things.

Q. Weights?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, uh-huh, both.

Q. What can you take from the Australian Open match?

MONICA SELES: It’s such a different surface here, and obviously even here it depends if the court is watered a lot or if it’s dry. I think centre court is a little bit faster than Suzanne Lenglen. I only played the one match on it this year. You just have to play really a hundred percent well if you want to come out a winner. I did that in Australia. We’ll see if I can do that on Thursday.

Q. You mentioned the slow court on Suzanne Lenglen. Will it be another one for you against Steffi on centre court?

MONICA SELES: Well, I prefer it fast. I think both Steffi prefers it fast, too, I think both of us. It will be different, not as fast as grass, because I think grass would definitely favor Steffi’s game more with her slice and speed. But just a normal clay court would be nice. But Suzanne Lenglen has always been slower. I mean, all the players I think know that.

Q. Can you explain why they are different? I guess they prepare it the same way.

MONICA SELES: I think Suzanne Lenglen was built two years ago or three years ago. I just think it’s a newer court and it’s a lot slower. Like Court 1 is faster than stadium. I don’t know why. Even at Wimbledon, centre court and Court 1 are quite different. So I don’t know. I mean, here, I would have thought clay would have been the same. But for sure Suzanne Lenglen is slower, and heavier balls. The balls just become very fuzzy, which on centre court doesn’t happen except if it’s just been raining.

Q. Playing somebody like Steffi or Martina, obviously maybe they’re the toughest opponents. Do you get nervous, excited? What are the next couple of days like going into the match?

MONICA SELES: I think everything that you just mentioned will happen. I will get nervous, I will get excited. You just hope that all the combination of all those things brings the best out of you because you really have been working hard towards peaking at a semifinals of the Grand Slam. Like in Australia, I played fantastic fourth and quarterfinal matches, and then my semifinal match I like deflated against Martina. I didn’t want to do that. You never know, but that’s why you try to learn from a match like that, and hopefully I can come out and be very different in this semifinal of this Grand Slam.

Q. Are these the kind of matches you appreciate the most when you’re actually playing?

MONICA SELES: Definitely. I mean, I talked to Steffi once about it. I think both of us, when we decided to come back, because we had done all these other times in your career, you really come back because of matches I think that you play in the semis and finals when you know you have to be a hundred percent physically, mentally and game-wise. The crowd is in it, you’re playing on centre court. Those are the times I think that you just really love to play.

Q. And when was that you talked to her?

MONICA SELES: Probably right after Australia.

Q. How much interaction do you guys have, your relationship with her?

MONICA SELES: We talk to each other, I mean, whenever we see each other. Obviously here we played the same times. It’s so weird to talk about that in the press. I personally hate to do that. What will I say, what we talked about? That’s between us two.