2000 French Open – 2nd Round Interview

June 01, 2000
M. Seles defeats Gagliardi 6-0,6-1

Q. You seem to have pretty much your tracks on the Suzanne Lenglen court. Do you like this court? Is it a special court for you?

MONICA SELES: Obviously because of what it’s named, it’s a very special court for me. In terms of court surface, I probably still prefer center court. Besides that, it’s definitely my favorite court out there.

Q. How is it to be one of the favorites of the tournament? Is it difficult to handle or you don’t want to hear about it?

MONICA SELES: I really don’t think about it, when I’m a favorite, when I’m not a favorite. I just try to look forward to my next opponent and next match because in a Grand Slam, it’s a long tournament, two weeks, and anything can happen.

Q. So what do you think about your game? What do you think it has been so far?

MONICA SELES: I’ve been playing really well. The last two matches were really good. Now I just look forward tomorrow to my next opponent. Hopefully I can just slowly start playing better and better as the matches go.

Q. You won so many early round matches by scores like 6-0, 6-1; 6-0, 6-1. Do you think a lot of the younger players are intimidated by you?

MONICA SELES: I really like Emmanuelle. I think she was very nervous today, a touch bit, I think. But I’ve been in that situation. All of us will go through that situation at some point in our careers. Not just playing me, being on center court, but probably having her family and friends match watch. It’s a tough situation.

Q. But you have no mercy?

MONICA SELES: You try not to. No one has taken mercy on me when I was in that situation. But at that point you try not to think about it. I mean, you’re hoping that they’re going to calm down. But, I mean, I’ve lost matches when I was up quite a lot. Since then I just decided as long as you don’t shake hands, the match is not over.

Q. Are you a little bit like Jimmy Connors, he always seemed to “boom” from the get-go? Some people have to be inspired.


Q. How do you do that?

MONICA SELES: I love Jimmy’s game, the passion he had for tennis. I’ll never forget at The Open in ’91, at his age, how well he was playing, how hard he was competing. His heart was always on court. We both play pretty aggressively. My theory is each time you go out there, try to be the best you can to your ability on that day.

Q. But the actual start, the first two games –?

MONICA SELES: Well, it’s hard, especially when it’s cold like that today. But my goal has been to have better starts. Last week in Rome, I had horrible starts in all of my matches. I was down 5-2 or 4-1. My coach really wanted me to improve upon that. Today it worked. I just tried to keep it working for my next match.

Q. Where are you in terms of the level of your play? Is this the best you’ve played since you’ve gotten over the foot injury? Are you happiest right now?

MONICA SELES: I really think I started playing really well when I came back. It surprised me because I haven’t touched a ball for about a four-and-a-half-month period there. I think switching racquets has helped me tremendously. I mean, I played really consistent. I played well. I’ve lost only to really the top few players. I mean, I could play them here also in the third round, just because my ranking has dropped. Obviously winning Amelia was really great, and then Rome. But I truly take each match on its own.

Q. Can you explain a little bit about the racquet?

MONICA SELES: Well, I used to play with my Yonex, which was a 130 head. I moved down to a 110 head. Really the change started when I played in Tokyo after The Open when the head of Yonex, he just felt that my balls did not have the same amount of power on them, the same control that I had. He decided he’s going to try to create a racquet that has the qualities that I liked in that big one, into a smaller head. Everybody was giving me a hard time with the big racquet, but I still love that racquet. Probably against a few players, I need more maneuverability I think with the head size.

Q. As well as you played here the last two years, it seems like deep in the matches that you lost, conditioning became a factor.

MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely.

Q. Is that going to be the case this year or do you feel you’re in good enough shape to last the two weeks?

MONICA SELES: Well, hopefully not. Both the last few years that definitely has been a factor. This year I think I got a little bit worried when I had my cold because it does get me a little bit more tired, so I’ve been trying to rest a little bit more. But it’s been hard. I mean, the last few years I played here since ’97, I’ve lost in very close matches, all of them in the third set like 6-4 or 7-5. So coming in, I knew that I have to improve that. I really started improving that about a month ago. So I still have a long way to go, but it’s better than it was a month ago.

Q. Who is your coach now?

MONICA SELES: I work with Bobby Banks. Used to work with Mary Joe.

Q. What did you say about him?

MONICA SELES: I’m just really happy working with Bobby. He’s always trying to improve my game. We have very similar goals I think in mind. He’s I think just similar as a person, too, that I can relate to him a lot, which before was a little bit harder. He’s a hard worker. He knows a lot of the players, obviously working with Mary Joe. I can just only say really great things about Bobby.

Q. You said that you’re working on your debut of match, to start much more faster. How do you do? Is it just mental or is it during the warm-up? What do you do different from Rome?

MONICA SELES: I don’t know. I mean — I don’t know. Rome was very different. It depends with me. I don’t know myself when I wake up. My coach always says, “Start soon, fast.” I want to start fast, too. But sometimes there’s just days I can’t start fast. But as an athlete, you try to improve upon that, especially a big tournament like the French Open you know that you better start fast from the first ball on because anything can happen out there. But I don’t know the secret. If someone knows it, please tell me.

Q. Seemed a little bit funny, not that you really disappeared, but you’re really right back in the center of the mix now. Maybe last year with the injury, the Williams girls being there. All of a sudden you’re up there with Martina and Conchita as the favorites. Does it seem funny?

MONICA SELES: Not so much. I really felt I had a good chance last year at The Open. When I lost that match to Serena, I physically got tired. I think Serena ended up winning The Open. Unfortunately, my foot has been nagging me back and forth. It’s an injury, as a stress fracture, you have to be very careful. I think it all depend on me, what I want to do, how much I want to commit to it, in all the different aspects, how much do I want to dedicate my life to it. I really don’t believe it’s up to the other players, how they’re playing; it’s really my own merit, what I want to do. I think only time will tell if I’m going to rise up to that challenge or not.

Q. Do you know?

MONICA SELES: I know what I need to do, but I think I need time.

Q. Do you feel like you have that motivation now?

MONICA SELES: I think finally in a long time, it’s been great to have people around me who I really trust and believe that they can help me, which I’ve been searching for since my father passed away. It’s been a very difficult situation having a coach for so many years, suddenly traveling on your own, being on your own. I’m a strong person, but you still need guidance.
It has helped having my mom come to more tournaments, just for my peace of mind, and making some decisions in my private life that I think have helped me refocus back to tennis, just trying to prioritize certain things, if you want to be the best player in the world.

Q. Are you tough on your new coaches?

MONICA SELES: I’m very tough because I’m just tough on myself, too. I truly think that Bobby is very tough on himself, too. I think both of us, when we step on the court, we each bring our own energies to it and we both expect a hundred percent. We’re very competitive when we play points or when we work out. But you have to be. I think if you see any of the top players, as a player and a coach, they’re tough cookies.

Q. Do you go back and forth pretty hard on strategy or more on technique?

MONICA SELES: Both a little bit. Both a little bit. I think pretty much equally, depending kind of that week what’s the problem. Like in Rome I feel I had a different problem with my game than here, and depending so much who I play, too.