1999 U.S. Open – 2nd Round Interview

New York, New York

September 02, 1999

M. Seles defeats Farina 6-2,6-3

Q. Monica, after what happened at the Fed Cup, did you come out today with an extra sense of purpose? To make sure you took care of it?
MONICA SELES: Definitely. I didn’t want to have a repeat of that match. I got a little bit — my mind left me at 5-1. So I was just happy that I toughened it out there, that 5-3 game.

Q. How do you guard against your mind leaving you?
MONICA SELES: Well, I just think it was, you know, 5-1, I thought this is going to be it, I’m serving with the wind, this is going to be too easy. It was really windy out there. It was very good to see me this early on while I can still pull out a match as the rounds go along, those things can’t happen. It’s good that it happened today.

Q. Monica, are you satisfied with your fitness level at this point?
MONICA SELES: I’m really happy, yes.

Q. Can you elaborate a little bit?
MONICA SELES: Hmm? Yeah, I’m feeling fine. I’ve been playing two hard weeks. I’ve gotten to play a lot of matches, both singles, doubles, I feel fine coming into this tournament. I have no injuries. You know, just look forward to playing here.

Q. Do you feel like you’re the overlooked commodity in this tournament? All the focus is elsewhere? And is that okay with you?
MONICA SELES: I think definitely — there’s a lot of focus on Martina, Lindsay, Venus and Serena. They totally deserve it. They played better tennis this summer than I have. I only got to play really two tournaments.
So definitely they’re more favorite than I am. But as always, it’s a two-week event. I think as all the players know, anything can happen. I just look forward to the next match.

Q. Does that motivate you at all?
MONICA SELES: No, it does not matter. I don’t care. Doesn’t matter.

Q. What is pushing you right now?
MONICA SELES: I just love to play. I mean it’s definitely not matches. It’s nothing like that. I just love to practice.
I think I enjoy it more than probably a year ago, because I think probably the last four weeks of this summer for the first time in my life I really have no outside problems. And it’s been really nice. I’ve really enjoyed the last four weeks of my life. If I can just have this for the next two years, I’d be really happy.

Q. What kind of goals do you have? Is it another Grand Slam?
MONICA SELES: Just to have no other problems in my life. Just to really be able to play and focus on my tennis fully, like every other player — not every other player, but the majority of the Top 10 players right now.

Q. How does the US Open compare to the other Grand Slams?
MONICA SELES: It’s one of the toughest Grand Slams just because of the wind. For whatever reason, since they built the new stadium there’s just so much wind there. You have to be playing smart tennis out there, which if it would be a neutral court it would be a lot better. The courts are playing fast this year, which I like, but it took me a little while to get used to coming from a very slow court last week.
And everything else is fine, I mean it’s a Grand Slam and you have to like everything about it, at least you try.

Q. Is there a prevailing wind there?
MONICA SELES: It is. It’s just constant. You talk to every player. One side, you’re just so much wind to wind. The other side you’re so into the wind. I’ve never played on a single court in my life that has this much wind.

Q. It’s totally different from the old Armstrong?
MONICA SELES: Totally different. It’s really weird, if you open the doors down where the level is, then there’s no wind. But if the doors are closed, the wind just gets stuck and it’s terrible.

Q. Can you get them to equalize it by holding the doors open?
MONICA SELES: Definitely. I think if they would do that — but I think all the players need to get together, but all the players are just complaining right now and doing nothing about it. So we just have to depend on that.

Q. You talked about the problems of your life, and there was a time when you came here and you said that one of the ways you dealt with it, I know with the stabbing, was to sort of — I think the term you used was to “put it in a box and lock it away.”

Q. Do you still treat — do you still work that way, that you compartmentalize problems that way?
MONICA SELES: I still do. It depends which ones, obviously my dad’s death is totally different than that and other things. So I try it. I mean that I definitely do, because that’s a different type of memory for me.
But my father passed away, that’s a little harder. I truly miss him at the tennis court and at my practices. It’s just really hard, kind of. It’s been hard to find direction, where my tennis game should be leading, where my dad would lead me. Like Martina, her mom in Wimbledon, it was hard for her. I lost him for the rest of my career. That’s a little tougher.

Q. Did Steffi’s retirement bring anything back? You saw her career, you guys have been on the same track.
MONICA SELES: We have been on the same track in some ways, some ways not really, too.
But I was, you know, I just think it was terrific she retired on her own terms at a great point in her career. And I just felt you could see that she was so much content with a lot of things at the French, even before she won it. It was just great to see that side of Steffi. She just did what you can do in tennis. There’s not much you can do. She has a fantastic life ahead of her. I just think that’s great.

Q. Can you make a comment on Silvia Farina and the way she played you.
MONICA SELES: Well, I think my condition was very different. It was one of those matches that I hate to look back upon. Silvia is obviously a very tough player. She’s a Top 20 player. And obviously she and I had some weird matches or very easy or very difficult. And I think she played very well today. It’s hard for me to compare to her to Antonia, that was just a very painful match for me to be in.

Q. What kind of challenges would somebody like Farina present for you that you could use in your next match?
MONICA SELES: I think my next match will be similar to Farina, it’s going to be with a Top 25 player, either Habsudova or Sugiyama and both like to play on the surface. That should be a really good match, a very difficult match for me.

Q. Speaking of the surface, she beat you of course on play, you were fairly dominant here on the hardcourt surfaces. Is this testimony that this is a good surface for you?
MONICA SELES: It is, but really before Fed Cup I beat her on clay 6-Love, 6-1. What happened there was difficult. I just had all those hand problems. But definitely, still it’s always good to come out against a player that you’ve lost to and you’re playing in a stadium and it’s really high stakes, just to know that you could play well, the key points.

Q. Do you feel like you’re playing your best tennis now or do you feel like there’s something you could be doing that would be more effective?
MONICA SELES: That’s so hard for me to compare. Sorry, it’s hard.

Q. You said you had no — you had no one to lead you in tennis now. Who do you travel with? How many people do you travel with?
MONICA SELES: (Laughing.)

Q. Who do you travel with?
MONICA SELES: I usually travel with my hitting partners, Elton (ph), and then the last two weeks I had Jim Arias with me. It’s been really great. You know, to have someone who can help me with my game and everything. You know, we’ll see after the Open who I have but I definitely need somebody.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Jennifer Capriati’s comeback?
MONICA SELES: I think it’s terrific to see how well Jennifer is playing and how focused she is. A lot of credit has to go to her coach, Harold, who’s done a terrific job with her. I’ve got to see her play in Toronto, two weeks ago, and she’s just playing better and better.

Q. Is Jimmy with you now?

Q. Does his past in seeing you, does that give him an insight that a lot of coaches won’t have?
MONICA SELES: Yeah. I mean Jimmy’s hit with me when I was a child at Academy and he has hit with me when my dad was coaching me. He’s hit with me when I came back and he hits with me a lot when I’m home. He lives close to me. It’s been great he could come to the next few tournaments, he’s playing the over-35s, and he’s played last year on the Tour.
I’ve been lucky with that. It’s great to have that insight, what I need to work on my game, what the other players are doing. I didn’t have that really for quite some time, and it’s nice that I have that right now.

Q. What kind of memories do you have for that Semifinal match you played against Jennifer here?
MONICA SELES: Just some really great memories. It was such a tight match, to finish in a tiebreaker and go to the Finals was really big for me because I never kind of thought I would do well at the US Open, especially the year before when I lost in the third round, and I kind of didn’t like the tournament.
And to win that match, when I lost to Jennifer the week before, was terrific. And it was a very hard hitting match and all that stuff.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about how hard it is to come back like she has? I mean you had to come back from being off. But it’s been seven years since she won a match here.
MONICA SELES: Wow. Wow. I didn’t know that. Wow.
It’s hard, because I can’t relate to Jennifer. I mean it’s hard for me. I’ve never had those problems, so I don’t know. But I just think it’s terrific that she’s trying to put her life back together. She’s still so young. And even, you know, once her tennis career is over, it’s great to see that in general her life is going the right way.
She’s a very tough competitor and she definitely has the game. I think it’s terrific that she realizes she needs to do things now and not wait too much longer.

Q. You mentioned that hitting is much more fun now and you just feel a little bit lighter. Maybe describe what’s going through your mind when you step on the practice court, and off the practice court. What is more fun for you?
MONICA SELES: I truly just love to hit. I really never enjoyed playing matches, even as a youngster. I just loved to practice and drill and that stuff.
Off the court, I mean I like the same things as everybody else. I love to go to movies, spend some time with my friends, my dog, and just really being home. It’s so nice when I get to be home. A couple of my friends have babies, and just spend some time with them. Very simple things.

Q. What’s different about those simple things now?
MONICA SELES: It’s really the same. I’ve done the same thing when I was 15, 16, maybe it got a little bit difficult there at 17 when I had to deal — when I withdrew from Wimbledon, suddenly that whole hoopla thing there. But next year I got it back. It was same. Probably only things that were not same for those two and a half years, maybe then it was a little different, my life.

Q. Why don’t you enjoy matches? Is it because you’re beating someone else?
MONICA SELES: No. I just hate the whole thought that one is better than the other. It drives me nuts.
But I just, you know, never liked it. So…, yeah.

Q. Why are you so good at it?
MONICA SELES: I don’t know (laughter.) Maybe as a child that’s how I was brought up.

Q. You don’t lack a killer instinct?
MONICA SELES: No, no, no. It’s survival out there. If I don’t, then the other person will so you go into that automatic mode that you have no choice.

Q. Is it possible to be too nice? Are you too nice a person?
MONICA SELES: I sometimes am and I’ve been working on that (laughter.) But it’s a hard one.

Q. How do you become nasty?
MONICA SELES: I don’t know. I want — I don’t want to get to that. I just want to be able to say “no” more to people and “I don’t like this,” not I like this just for them to be happy. I really don’t want to do this, or just be able to say to certain people that even are close to me, that I just don’t like this, I don’t want to do this. And just part of growing up, I think, and not be such a pleaser.

Q. Martina made some comments yesterday about Richard Williams’ prediction there would be Serena and Venus in the Finals. She was critical about that. Do you have any comment on what he said, what she said yesterday?
MONICA SELES: I didn’t read today’s papers, I played my first match at 11. I really don’t like to read the paper before I play.

Q. Do you like 11 o’clock matches?
MONICA SELES: I like it. I know Steffi and I would love it. I do. Some players don’t. Martina does not like to play them. I prefer them just because then you have the day to yourself. Or then you play your doubles match. But I just think it’s better.

Q. How does that compare, you know, you played night matches in other —
MONICA SELES: I love night matches, too, though, by the way.

Q. How does it compare here as to any other place?
MONICA SELES: The difference here, there’s a lot more pressure. You’re more nervous if you play at night because all day you’re just sitting, waiting to play. You come out here, when you play a Tier 1 or Tier 2 event, there’s little bit less pressure and you’re more relaxed during the day.

Q. You might be meeting Jennifer. How would that strike you?
MONICA SELES: That would be an unbelievable match for sure. But I don’t like to go there. I just like to look forward to my next opponent.
Thank you.