2000 Italian Open – QF Interview

May 19, 2000
M. Seles defeats Dokic 6-1,3-6,6-3

Q. Difficult match today?

MONICA SELES: Definitely. I started out playing really well, then I let Jelena in and she started playing some amazing points at some key times.

Q. How much did your experience help to beat her?

MONICA SELES: I don’t think that was the key in this match. It was just better play from the ground strokes I think, and just really better play overall.

“I think people put too much emphasis on experience and all that stuff.”

Q. You must have been happy with your serve, Monica, 69 percent serves in and five aces, that’s good?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, it was one of those days. I knew I had to serve well because she’s a very good returner and she was attacking. After looking at Venus’ serves last night, I knew my serves weren’t going to be as fast and you had to serve a high percentage in.

Q. She gives that ball a pretty good wallop. How hard is it compared with the other top players?

MONICA SELES: I was very impressed with how well she played under pressure. Whenever she was down, she served unbelievable. But I knew it; she’s one of the toughest fighters out there on the Tour. She’s a hard hitter. If she’s playing well, she’s a very tough opponent.

Q. In certain moments the match reminded me of your semifinal with Jennifer Capriati in 1991 at the U.S. Open. I never saw a match …

MONICA SELES: Yes, we were going at it pretty hard. Each of us were hitting hard. It was similar to that match, right, yeah.

Q. You were playing a lot to her forehand. Do you think her backhand is stronger or what?

MONICA SELES: I think it was just one of those days that I was playing that side more. I’ve never seen her play. I played against her in Australia – yeah, Australia – a year and a half ago. A year and a half ago, yeah. But today I wasn’t really doing that intentionally. I kind of wanted to test out – I knew she liked pace, I knew that. I’m a player that gives you pace. I’m not going to play like when she does suddenly.

Q. Can I ask you what you consider to be her best stroke?

MONICA SELES: I think she’s all-around a good player, I really feel. I think mentally she’s very strong. I think that’s really her best side, me personally. And that she’s a fighter and then she expects a lot of herself. I think that’s a very good attribute. In terms of her stroke, that’s tough. I think at key times her forehand was worse and at key times her backhand was worse. I don’t know the total unforced errors, I haven’t looked at the sheet. Same thing with her serves. She definitely goes for her second serve very hard, too.

Q. What does it mean to you to play against someone who says you are her idol, and did you know that before the match?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, I mean I think it’s – I’m just really very happy about how well Jelena is doing. Obviously she was doing this well a year and a half ago in Australia when she played great ones against the Top 10 players. She was born in the same country as me, probably started playing tennis when I was doing well, so probably she got to see me. And obviously I got to know her dad and her mom, I talked to her last year. She had a very tough French Open match there and I talked to her for quite a while there after that. I just really like her, you know, her attitude and how much she wants to be a top player. I think she has a great future ahead of her.

Q. There were some very demanding rallies. How did your stamina hold up?

MONICA SELES: I think I was fine. I really feel fine. I had a good stretch and everything. Obviously it’s been tough playing so many matches three sets the last 24 hours and all that, but I felt I was running out there. I think I had more trouble a little bit this week with my mental lapses than physical ones. That’s one area I’d like to really improve upon for tomorrow’s match.

Q. Except for the press conference, what is boring in your tennis life now?

MONICA SELES: Which is the most boring thing in tennis now for me? It’s not a press conference. It’s waiting around for a match. Like today, when you’re waiting there for two and a half hours, you know. But then I saw – I’ll never forget, last year, I think Steffi and Venus were playing. I remember thinking, “Jesus,” because I think they went back and forth across the court many times. That’s part of it. If there would be one thing I’d love to change, that would be that you know when you play, a set time. But I think that’s really for all the players. That’s the most boring thing for sure, waiting.

Q. Do you think that today it is more difficult for a 17-year-old girl like Dokic than the old time when you were 17, or nothing has changed?

MONICA SELES: I think it just depends on the individual. I think both are hard on their own. Sometimes when you’re 17, you don’t think, you just hit the ball. Sometimes you don’t have the experience. Sometimes when you’re 26, you think, but you have the experience. I mean, I have a lot of these conversations with Martina and I don’t know. I mean, I think when you go out there, I still believe that day the better play is going to win without experience. I think people put too much emphasis on experience and all that stuff. I understand maybe if – I really don’t buy into that experience stuff personally. I think the better player wins on that day. That’s just my theory on that.

Q. Which particular aspect of your mental attitude do you think you need to improve for the semifinal?

MONICA SELES: Disappearing from the court, my mental part. Just flying away, I think, because the first two matches start out very slowly. Today I started off really well. Then at key times, you just wander off. And you can’t do that. I mean, I had that problem for a while at different times and I just got to be more consistent. But I think – I mean I’m human, so it’s hard to be up every day, every single minute for the match, too. I don’t want to put unrealistic expectations on myself, too. But I do believe you can try always to improve.

Q. You won this tournament ten years ago. How far is it in your memory?

MONICA SELES: In my memory it’s not too far. Just really, truly I keep bringing this up because the first time that I beat Martina, someone that, growing up, really I admired, I had her poster in my room, and suddenly it was a really easy match. I never imagined that. Then going on and beating Steffi and winning the French were things that I never believed or imagined would happen to me. Then when that finally happened, I was like, “Wow, this is pretty great.” And I think – I believed a lot more in myself after that. So that match will hold a very special place in my heart, I think, forever. I mean it’s up there with winning the French Open and then all those other ones.

Q. When your concentration goes, where is it flying away? Where?

MONICA SELES: Oh, to problems in my life (laughing) pretty much.