April 20, 2000
Monica Seles defeats Elena Likhovtseva 6-4,2-6,7-6
QUESTION: Monica, the last two times here you’ve had a third-set tiebreaker. You lost both of them, so how does it finally feel to win this one?
SELES: It feels really good. It was such a seesaw match out there today. Elena was playing some great tennis. I had to battle my own things. And it’s just really lucky that last few points went my way. I mean it could have gone either way.
QUESTION: Did you think about either of those other two times against Hingis or Spirlea when you were going to the third set? Did that enter your mind at all?
SELES: No. Really I think I just tried to stay in the present, and really my main thing after that second set was to kind of regroup because it went by so quick that I was like, wow, I better calm down here, otherwise I’m going to be out really fast.
QUESTION: Were you having some physical problems earlier in the morning or were you okay?
SELES: No. Absolutely fine. No, nothing.
QUESTION: You mentioned about how tough and how it could have gone either way the last few points of the match. I guess you were up 6-3 and you lost. What’s going through your mind there, just to please end this thing?
SELES: Well, no. It’s just more I think I was really frustrated with my serve today and it just let me down a lot in the match and let Elena come back tons of times and here I said this is happening in the tiebreak. I lose two points in a matter of seconds that I fought really hard to win, and then I was lucky that she just missed that shot on match point.
QUESTION: Couple double faults.
SELES: Oh, many. I think. Not a couple. I mean I served a couple in my own court which I’ve not done I don’t think ever in my career.
QUESTION: Monica, how much did the crowd help out? They were obviously way behind you.
SELES: Tremendously, especially in that second set when I really felt I got down on myself and then I just kept rolling like that more and more, and suddenly the second set was gone so fast, and it really helped me to regroup a lot there and just know that, okay, people are still believing in you even if you are not at this point in your own self, so that helped a lot.
QUESTION: Did you see the guy with the sign in the stands that said “Monica rules on clay”?
SELES: Yes. Thank God that’s true today.
QUESTION: Monica, you got up pretty quick in that first set. You came out pretty well and Elena got back into the match. Was there a point in that — I mean obviously that third set went to a tiebreak. Was there a point where you felt like the momentum was finally starting to shift back your way?
SELES: Well, when I lost that service game, I was up a break on love again. I had two double faults. In a match against a player like Elena you really can’t do that. She’s a very good returner, and then I think I had both of her service games 15-40 at key times and then I just absolutely lost it and that one game she played very well. So that’s a different story. Those are things if you want to win a match like this without coming down to tiebreak you can’t let go, but I think it was very — at least I raised my serve and my game when I was down both 5-4 and 6-5 in the third set. So that tremendously helped me out.
QUESTION: How much of a motivating factor was it she beat you in this round here last year?
SELES: I really did not think about that. That was a very tough loss, but every day is a new day and I knew she would be a tough opponent. She played well last week and she obviously likes to play here. So I just said just come out there and treat every ball like it’s the last ball.
QUESTION: Do you think you’re at the top of your form now —
SELES: Oh, no.
QUESTION: — coming back after several years?
SELES: No. No. I’m playing some good tennis periods, but also I have huge drops in my game. Today I definitely had some huge drops and then I had some really good highs, so hopefully I’ll get a little bit more consistent in a couple of aspects of my game.
QUESTION: How does it feel to win a match like this when it’s close, coming down to a tiebreak and then go to the next round?
SELES: Well, it feels great to come through, especially because it’s such a long match and really every point, the first set and the third set every point was so hard fought, and against a player like Elena you always know you have to play well and it’s always a tough match, and I seem to play a lot of three-set matches here at this tournament, so it’s nice to come through and win some.
QUESTION: Why do you think that is?
SELES: I don’t know. I don’t like that. Trust me. I wish I didn’t have to do that, but for some reason it just seems to be happening over the last three or four years here.
QUESTION: With your experience when you get to a third-set tiebreaker, do you generally feel like, okay, now I’ll kick it in high gear? I mean do you feel confident once you hit a tiebreaker?
SELES: I really just think about the point ahead. I really don’t think I have to get to seven. I just know that every point is very critical. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes you stiffen up. So today I stiffened up in the beginning and then she let me go with one or two errors to get back and then I think she stiffened up to go down to 6-3. So it’s really a battle of nerves to some degree, I think, a tiebreak.
QUESTION: When you get down 2-0, is it difficult not to think — you said you think point by point, but it’s gotta be —
SELES: Oh, yeah. Oh, for sure. That’s true for both players, both are out there two hours in the heat and you know it comes down to one or two points and both of us had chances maybe to win the match, so you know one is going to be very disappointed.
QUESTION: Monica, her serve on the deuce side seemed to get you a lot.
SELES: Oh, yeah.
QUESTION: What point was it, was she mixing it up a lot? Was it just the power of it?
SELES: She just really served well. I had a hard time reading her serve, and even her second serve was going in the 90s there, and I just really could not attack it, and there was two key games in the third set that she aced me, I think, four — not aced, but almost aced me four or five times in a row on the deuce side there. So she’s a good server. I mean her serve can break down, but otherwise it’s a tough serve to return. It’s a fast serve.
QUESTION: Monica, what are the players feeling this week? Are you all feeling a bit mixed emotions knowing this is the last year this tournament is being played here on this site?
SELES: Definitely. I think not just the players who are playing the tournament, but also the previous players who have been here. I’ve talked to a few and they said, oh, we might just want to come just to be here one more time because I think all players have such great memories of this tournament, and it’s just going to be hard not to come back here. It’s been such a great tradition, and you wish it could be kept going, but you know, as everything changes or on its way and for whatever reason, the change has affected this tournament, too.
QUESTION: You would play Kournikova next if she wins.
QUESTION: Just comment on her game. I know the last you played her at the Ericsson Open recently. How do you see matching up with her on this surface?
SELES: It’s going to be a very difficult match. I don’t think I’ve ever played Anna on clay. She’s a very tough opponent, so I’ll just have to go out there and play my game.
QUESTION: Monica, you made a fair number of drop shots in the third set and I could hear the crowd behind me going “get it, get it.” And you’d get it. That was late in the third set. Obviously you must be feeling pretty physically prepared.
SELES: I’m actually fine physically. I think more just a little bit emotionally just because I was very frustrated out there a few times today and that’s unusual for me. But physically I’m sure I’m going to feel it a little bit, but if I get a good stretch and I’ll get some treatment on my foot and I’ll have tomorrow almost 24 hours to recover, so I should be fine.
QUESTION: Monica, do you have any future goals you’d like to achieve in the next year?
SELES: In tennis or besides tennis?
QUESTION: In tennis.
SELES: I think to win a Grand Slam tournament. That would be really one of the things that keeps me going at this point.