2000 Italian Open – 2nd Round Interview

May 16, 2000
M. Seles defeats Maleeva 7-5,6-1

Q. What happened, you went down 5-2? Was there any particular problem?

MONICA SELES: No, really nothing. I mean nothing with the court. It was just really I missed so many balls by a little and then I got a little bit rattled, and it went by very fast. Also, I just came from the States three days ago, so still I’m a little bit slow to start. But thank goodness I started to really raise my level of game quite a lot.

Q. What were you thinking at 2-5? How did you pick yourself up?

MONICA SELES: It was just hard because I was down two breaks, and I didn’t think — Maggie was serving unbelievable. I couldn’t hit a second serve return in the court. I thought at this point I would try to play it a touch bit softer and knock it for as many free points. That game at 5-2, when she had some chances to win, the set was really short, and I just felt I raised my level of game a little bit. That’s what pulled me through to win that first set.

Q. Monica, what do you think about your physical state and your psychology in this?

MONICA SELES: I think your question is what’s my state of psychology like physically? Both, it’s good. I mean, I’ve played about six weeks in a row in the States so I was very happy to have two weeks at home, and I think I’m coming fresh here. Obviously, the red claycourt season is one of my favorite times of the year, so I’m very happy to come in. I’m really not tired physically or emotionally and I’m just looking forward to the next couple of, really, weeks in Europe.

Q. You started the season very well. Do you have goals for this season?

MONICA SELES: Really my main goal is just to stay healthy. I think not playing six months was really tough, being out for the first time in my career that long. And just really stay healthy and just keep working hard pretty much.

Q. Is this tournament a tournament you really want to win or just a preparation for Roland Garros?

MONICA SELES: I think it’s both. I mean any tournament I enter I really want to win. It’s obvious. It’s a very difficult feel. As always, I just try to look at one match at a time. This tournament holds a special place in my heart really because ten years ago was the first time I beat one of my idols, Martina, and truly this match I feel changed my career and I went on to win the French. Then a few years later I lost to Gabby here in the Finals and I still went on to win. So I just really like to play here. I haven’t played here in quite a few years. So I just am really happy to come back this year.Sorry. That was long.

Q. Monica, how are the conditions here now, ball speed, court speed and the rest, compared to what it was like five or six years ago? Is it close to the French now?

MONICA SELES: I think the courts are totally different from the French. That’s my personal feeling. I mean, these claycourts are very — one of the fastest claycourts, especially with how much — they had zero rain here. They’re playing very fast. And there’s not much clay on the court, so you can slide a lot less. I think that a tournament that’s similar to this is Madrid, and I think the French is more, I would say, like Strasbourg or Berlin, more clay on the court. But at the French, too, I feel Stadium and Court 1 is totally different. This court I think feels more like Court 1, faster.

Q. I’ve been watching you play for a long time. Maybe I missed a few matches, but I can’t recall you ever threatening to throw your racket before?

MONICA SELES: I know. That’s still from the jet lag. I am still not quite sure where I am. Especially, I mean, my sleeping has been so weird the last three days, so… Trying not to get mad at myself. I almost threw my racket.

Q. Nothing to do with more desire, maybe more than usual?

MONICA SELES: I don’t know. (Laughing.) I just really — I think when you get less sleep and you’re still really mixed up, I don’t know, maybe I get more frustrated. I think my coach felt that a little bit the last few days. But, you know, maybe that’s not bad. I used to play much better when I got mad. So… (Laughing.)