2000 Italian Open – 3rd Round Interview

May 18, 2000
M. Seles defeats Sidot 3-6,6-1,6-1

Q. Monica, you almost lost the first set against Maleeva and you did lose the first set today. What’s the problem, slow starting or what?

MONICA SELES: I think it’s a combination of two things, slow starting and maybe being a little bit tired, I think not playing as aggressively. Both matches, the first set really I was just kind of staying in, and Sidot ran away with a couple of games there after I was up, and then I think I got a little bit frustrated with myself and said, “Well, just try to play your game.” That’s why I think the second and third set was a lot better.

Q. What’s the problem with your serve? Is it a problem of timing or rhythm?

MONICA SELES: I’m just trying to change my serve a little bit and it’s been going on for quite a few weeks now and I’m trying not to make it — it’s not an issue. But it’s just not where it is. But I really want to stick with it because I really feel I can get a better serve. But it’s very difficult because as soon as the match — I serve differently than in practice. But that’s one reason I decided really that — where did I play — Hilton Head, when I served all those double-faults, that I’m just going to stick with this and that’s my mindset, so we’ll see.

Q. You’ve been talking about this new service action for a long time now. In Indian Wells you talked about it.

MONICA SELES: Yeah, well that’s where it started. (Laughing.)

Q. It’s giving topsy-turvy results?

MONICA SELES: Yes, definitely.

Q. Then winning a tournament in the middle?

MONICA SELES: Well, I don’t know. I mean each match is different. I think when I played Martina, it was a totally different circumstance, or winning Amelie or losing to Mary. I would not put it on my serve. But I do feel I want to improve my serve. I mean we talked a lot with my coach about this and had a lot of conversations and we still keep talking. I really want to stick with this. So, you know…

Q. How long are you going to persist with the experiment? Are you going to give up before Roland Garros or not?

MONICA SELES: No, I’m going to go through with this. I mean I just really don’t want to make it an issue, trust me, because it’s — I think about it and everything. But I really don’t want to put more emphasis on it because I have seen that it just gets worse. My theory is just keep practicing on it. That’s one of the reasons I decided to play doubles here, to serve under pressure situations. And just keep serving more and more serves, and I think I’ll get more comfortable with it.

Q. Monica, please explain exactly what this technical change is. I wasn’t in Indian Wells, so I don’t know. Tell me if it’s the toss, the grip, whatever.

MONICA SELES: No, it’s like four or five things.

Q. All together, okay.

MONICA SELES: Yes, all together. All the things that really my coach and I feel get me a better serve. I mean, I feel I can go back any time to my old serve and, you know, if my serve really starts going bad I’m going to go back because I know I have that serve in my pocket, but I’m trying to weather the storm through. Because I really want to have a bigger serve. I think to compete with the girls, you need to have a bigger first serve and at my height, at five-ten, I need to change my technique and then a few things, shoulder turns. But for so many years you serve a certain way, so your rhythm is a certain way and now you suddenly are changing it and sometimes everything just goes off and goes into no rhythm.

Q. Do you think you might be reduced to serving underarm like Hingis did last year at Roland Garros?

MONICA SELES: I didn’t see her serves, so I don’t know. I’ve never done it, so I don’t think so.

Q. What are you looking for most, Monica, as you go towards Roland Garros? Is it consistency in your game or what?

MONICA SELES: Really consistency. I mean I played pretty consistently this year, but then I had some weird matches against some good players that I really wished it was just the other way around. So probably improvement on that, and I’ll have a good week of preparations there. Really I’m just happy that I got to play this tournament coming in, because it’s a lot of pressure, I think, when you just play Paris. I think that’s really it.

Q. Monica, when you are off court now, you do different things from what you used to do five years ago, let’s say, or exactly the same? I mean nothing has changed, you’re more mature, things like that?

MONICA SELES: No, I pretty much do the same things. Rome, for me, was very hard to come back to because I had — two years ago it was a very difficult time. So I really wanted to come back this year just to pass through that hurdle. And besides that, this week I really have done the same things, and it’s been great. So really most of the year, too, I mean obviously a few tournaments I didn’t have anyone with me, then I stay more in. But if I had my coach or my mom or someone with me, then I do the same things.

Q. Monica, there are two Top 10 players who won the French Open, you and Arantxa Sanchez. Do you think the example of Steffi last year could inspire one of you — you?

MONICA SELES: Well, there’s four years between Steffi and I, so I have four more years to do it. I can’t speak for Arantxa, I can just speak for myself. To me, I just enjoy playing tennis. I take it each match at a time. If something like that happens, fantastic. For me, the biggest things in tennis are Grand Slams, which every one you win it’s fantastic. That’s one of the reasons, I think, that keeps me really wanting to push myself and try to get better. So I hope that answers your question.

Q. If everything’s working properly for you, do you regard Roland Garros as being winnable again for you?

MONICA SELES: Well, I mean realistically my best chances are there, the Open and Australia. But I heard the courts are very fast in Australia this year, the surface is the same. I think the least chance I have in my career is Wimbledon. So in terms of that, all those three Grand Slams are the best chances, so…

Q. But not the French more than any other?

MONICA SELES: I really don’t believe so. I believe those three are equal, but Wimbledon, definitely, I think I have a lot less of a chance.

Q. Can you tell me something about the fashion of this tournament and the city?

MONICA SELES: What do you mean the fashion of the tournament?

Q. The people, the arena, the place.

MONICA SELES: Okay. Well, I mean obviously Rome and Foro Italico holds a very special place in my heart because ten years ago I really won my first tournament when I beat really my idol, Martina, and then went on and just had a fantastic year. It changed my life in a lot of ways. I’ve gotten to meet quite a lot of friends here in Rome. I had some, you know, sad memories also from Rome in some ways, but I always love coming back here. I come back here sometimes just to visit, too, which is much better than when you’re playing, when you have all the pressure. So it’s one of my favorite places, obviously, really in the world I would have to say.

Q. Until ’93 you were winning all the Grand Slams with the exception of Wimbledon. Do you ever find yourself on occasion looking back and thinking “what if”?

MONICA SELES: I think there are definitely times when I say, gosh, why did that have to happen, if I continued my record would be very different than it is now in terms of history for sure. But that did happen, and, you know, you can’t change that. So from that point of view, yes and no.