2000 U.S. Open – 2nd Round Interview

New York, New York
August 30, 2000
M. Seles defeats A. Kremer 6-3,6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Monica, please.

Q. Haven’t lost a set yet, Monica, feeling pretty good?
MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely. I mean today was a good match to get over it and finish in two tough sets. So I’m just really happy to go one more round.

Q. You’ve got Venus, you’ve got Martina in your bracket, Jennifer’s playing well. Looking ahead, have you made any adjustments in your game?
MONICA SELES: Well, I just think each match I have to play better. I play Chanda, who I think just beat Barbara. So it’s a very tough draw and there are no easy matches. I’ll have to play some really good tennis. But right now I’m just going to focus on Chanda right now because she’s a very tough player.

Q. You’ve had some great success this year. Do you have fond memories of this place?
MONICA SELES: Definitely. Early years, great successes. The later years I’ve lost some very tough matches here, too. So you try to take both in good stride.

Q. Do you like the role of almost being a sentimental favorite, people are really rooting for you to win another Grand Slam at this point in your career?
MONICA SELES: It’s a great feeling. I mean it’s nice to have that support behind you when you go out there on the court and you struggle or — and it’s tough like that — times like that it’s the best feeling. When I go out there and play I try to be so focused. If I’m not, I’m in deep trouble for my style of game and my personality.

Q. Do you get reminders of that?
MONICA SELES: Definitely. I mean there are a few fans that literally they come to almost every tournament I play. It’s really nice to feel that support. Like today when I could have struggled, I start talking to myself and somebody yelled, “Come on Monica.” It brings me back, I’m like okay, stay calm and focused.

Q. Now, as one of the older women on the Tour, have you changed your approach at all as you’ve gotten older? You’ve got some people like Venus and Serena who maybe hit harder than you do?
MONICA SELES: No. I think Steffi was really the first person to bring power into the game, then I was, then now the new generation really you have to say Serena, Venus and Lindsay. They’re much stronger physically than I am, so they’re gonna hit the ball harder. In terms of me, no, I mean I haven’t changed. I just realize I have to get as strong as I can get from my own body and that I’m comfortable with and then just go from there on.

Q. You said that conditioning is so important, you have to try to keep up with these players today. Where would you say you are with the conditioning now? You’ve taken on a trainer, am I correct?
MONICA SELES: Yes, yes. I think I’m in the middle of it. It’s been a learning process for all of us to figure out how much to do when we’re at tournaments and stuff like that. But we’re trying to find the middle ground that I feel comfortable with doing certain things but at the same time you’re fresh and ready to play. I’ve been playing a lot of matches the last couple months. So there’s still a lot of work ahead. I mean but I’m really happy with the progress that I’ve been making.

Q. What sort of regimen are you going through now?
MONICA SELES: Right now it’s just really to maintain it. There’s not much I can do during the Grand Slam tournament or the last three, four weeks because I am playing every single day. That’s one minus, if you get to the Finals and you lose, but you always get to the Finals, is that you have no time really to train. But I’m looking forward to December, when I’ll have a good four, five weeks.

Q. There’s still this hype about Anna Kournikova. Can you understand it?
MONICA SELES: I mean I can just really say positive stuff about Anna. I played doubles with her a couple of times and at different tournaments, she’s out there, practicing, she’s in the gym. I think she really wants to be the best tennis player out there. She’s one of the hardest-working ones. So obviously there’s a lot of attention on her because of her looks and her personality and stuff like that so it’s great for tennis. It’s obviously great for Anna. I think it’s just going to continue.

Q. What do you think, how important is it for her to win a tournament now?
MONICA SELES: I mean I think she’s doing fine financially without winning a tournament. Obviously she wants to and I think realistically she’s going to win not one but quite a few. I really think she wants them very badly and she works hard and she has a good support system who push her to keep advancing. So sooner or later it’s gonna happen. Whether it’s this year or next year, I think it’s really relevant in my mind at least.

Q. You mentioned last week that Martina was probably the most consistent player on the Tour and that you consider her the most dominating. Based on what you know about her game, do you think that she has what it takes for the number of years to be able to hold back the onslaught, the power players?
MONICA SELES: I think only time will tell. Her body seems to hold up with the amount of travelling we do, playing matches, she has the least amount of injuries. If you take the last six months, it’s by far Venus and Serena. Tennis is a year-round sport, but I still think the Grand Slams are kind of an indication of how well someone is playing. I think the last three have been won by a different person. I think the Open is going to be really important for players like Venus or Lindsay or even Serena to cap off the year with it.

Q. How important is it for you to play for the United States in Sydney?
MONICA SELES: It’s a great honor. I’m really excited. Obviously, I mean I really worked hard to make the team. As I said before, when I was — had the six-month layoff last year, beginning of this year, I kind of got nervous that I’m not gonna make the team and thank goodness by the end of Wimbledon I made it by a narrow margin. So just really, as I said, great honor, looking really forward to it. I had a fantastic time in Atlanta and I think Sydney will be even better.

Q. How much has improving your fitness level — has that helped your mental toughness at all? Has that improved your confidence at all?
MONICA SELES: I mean both helped. But I haven’t forgotten about tennis. That’s what’s hard. You play a match, you work out, you practice, it’s a tough area to find a combination that you don’t get overtired, too. But I definitely think the better shape you are, the stronger you are mentally and I think you see that with a lot of players.

Q. Can you relate to what Andre is going through with his family?
MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely. I think all of us have problems in our personal life. At some point it’s very unfortunate. It’s a very difficult time I think for him probably and his family. So — but he’s an amazing person. I think Andre can handle that, so…

Q. I don’t remember exactly how you handled it when you were going through that. How much did you try to continue playing and what effect did it have on you professionally?
MONICA SELES: I really never discuss my outside life at all, and I choose not to because same here. So I won’t go into that again.

Q. In the five years that you’re back, how would you rate this season and why would you rate it that way?
MONICA SELES: Well, this season I think I probably played some of the most consistent tennis for the first time in probably seven years, I could focus on tennis as much as maybe I wanted to. So that has been good. I finally kind of figured out what I wanted in terms of who I wanted to work with and stuff like that. I think what has —

Q. Winning a few titles?
MONICA SELES: A few titles. That has shown probably in my play.
But I struggled against three, four players, I know them, they’re the three, four best players in the world. So that’s a challenge to keep getting better. But obviously everyone’s getting better, too, at the same time.

Q. How do you feel about Ashe Stadium which is sometimes half empty as opposed to Centre Court at Wimbledon which is always full?
MONICA SELES: I mean it’s unfortunate. I understand with the whole boxes and corporations and so on and so on. From a player’s standpoint of view, I never watched a match at Ashe Stadium, I only played in it. From my point, the worst thing is the wind. The wind is constant. It’s hard to play a good quality of tennis there.