2001 Australian Open – 4th Round Interview

Melbourne, Australia
January 21, 2001
Monica Seles defeats Henin 4-6,6-4,6-4

Q. You said a couple days ago you’d have to raise your game today. And you did, just about.

MONICA SELES: Well, I think I did when I was in desperate trouble, really, when I was down a break or when it was like a do-or-die. But, you know, I don’t think I felt the ball out there. It’s probably — Justine’s playing really well, and even if I’m feeling the ball, it would be probably the same score. So I was just really, just fought out there and tried to stay in the point and not get down on myself and just see what could happen out there.

Q. Sandy Harwitt. Was that a case of your experience being able to get you through at all?

MONICA SELES: Not really. ‘Cause I played her at Fed Cup and it was a very close match, I was up 5-love, and I ended up winning 7-6, 6-2. But over there I was playing better tennis. I think coming into this tournament, Justine has been playing better tennis with her confidence coming in, winning two tournaments. Mine is probably a low point, and it’s been for a while. I just try to stay in there with her, as I said, and not get too down on myself. Take it as a point as it would come. She was playing unbelievable at times and then I played really well at times, too, so it was a very see-saw match.

Q. If there was a turning point, was it that point in the middle of the second set when she didn’t put away that smash and missed the volley at the net?

MONICA SELES: I really don’t remember, no. I really — no, I really don’t remember just because I was so much within myself. Just trying, fighting my own demons in there. So I really would not remember that.

Q. She’s not altogether accustomed to winning back-to-back titles yet and things like that. Is that something, when you first do it, that takes a lot out of you?

MONICA SELES: I actually think it’s better because you’re thinking less when you’re a child. I remember when Martina and Chris used to tell me that, I’d say, “Oh, yeah.” But really later on, it’s actually a lot tougher because you’re just so much more aware of things and different stuff than when you’re young and your whole future is ahead of you. Each player’s different. I mean she is an unbelievable player. I mean she’s going to be, I think, the by the year’s end Top 10 if not even better. I mean. And she’s only I think going to get better if she can stay healthy. I practiced with her about two years ago and I felt it at that point. But then she got a couple of injuries, and I think she’s just really coming into her game and everything the last couple of months.

Q. Charlotte James from Tennis.net. Is there a match throughout your career, your whole career so far, that stands out to you as the very best match that you’ve ever had or the one that you’ve enjoyed the most?

MONICA SELES: Probably one of the two toughest matches I’ve had, one would be probably Steffi at the Finals of the French in ’92, then probably playing Martina Navratilova at the Garden in ’91, then probably Sabatini in 1990, also at the Madison square Garden.

Q. You got Jennifer next up. What are your thoughts on that?

MONICA SELES: Well, Jennifer’s been playing unbelievably well at this tournament. She’s really had easy matches except her first-round win. She has a good result here. I think she got to semis before losing a close one to Lindsay. So it’s a tough match. I mean, both going to hit the ball hard and both be fighters. Obviously we played a lot against each other. It’s going to be very difficult for both of us.

Q. You’ve beaten her about five times in Grand Slams. Is that a psychological advantage that you think about, or is that not important?

MONICA SELES: Really no. I think each one is so individual. I’ve never played her in Australia and I know she likes the court surface here, too. And obviously, you know, she wants to do well because she had a lot of points to defend. She’s just been playing better. I think it’s great to see that again, that she’s put her game together and, you know, that she’s made it.

Q. Do you all practice at all at home, or is she too far away?

MONICA SELES: I only been to Saddle Brook once in the last five years, so really, I mean, I really don’t venture out much there. It’s like an hour. When I’m home, I just really want to stay at home.

Q. You said a few moments ago you’re at a low point in your form at the moment. When was the last time you felt like that about your game?

MONICA SELES: Like this, probably in a year and a half this time. I mean last year, I had a pretty consistent feeling of my game and everything, and so these past two weeks have been really very difficult for me in terms of my game and just everything.

Q. Can you explain that.

MONICA SELES: I just really, you know, a lot of things came into play unexpectedly and everything, and I like my schedule planned and everything and I really haven’t had a chance to hit much the last two weeks. I feel that in my game a lot for different reasons, and I don’t like that, you know. And that’s one thing that will not happen, you know, for another Grand Slam, whatever, you know, I have.

Q. So does it surprise you or make you happy that even under those conditions you’re still here?

MONICA SELES: Well, I think that just really comes down to fighting. I think that’s one good thing that I have in me, just natural, I just try not to give up. Today I was lucky that that was enough to pull me through the match, because really that’s all I had — really I felt out there today. Just never gave up, and, you know, and that’s one of the attributes probably that you have to have even if you’re playing well.

Q. Do you think that it’s getting better? Do you feel it getting better with every match?

MONICA SELES: You know, it’s hard when you haven’t played points in two weeks and you just play points when you’re in a match. It’s been very difficult. I don’t know, everything’s been a little different, so I just got to say this is how it is, just play with it. Keep improving, I’m trying to hit as many balls with Harold as we could, and, you know, hopefully I’ll get my timing back is what I felt I had let’s say in New York or in the summer tournaments last year.

Q. Are you putting in more practice as a result? Tomorrow will you do more than usual on the practice courts?

MONICA SELES: Well, I have my doubles match, so we’ll see, you know. We’ve been warming up with doubles with Martina a little bit, too. So I don’t want to try to overdo it. It’s really the first time probably like ever in my career that I’ve played singles and doubles three, four weeks in a row. So I’ll see how I wake up tomorrow, but definitely we’ve been practicing every morning early for a long time. I will just try to stay positive and hopefully things will turn around. I’m just happy that I pulled this one out today.

Q. Do you think it will just click back into place?

MONICA SELES: I mean, as an athlete you hope that. But I mean I don’t know. I’m a human being, too, all I can do is just work really hard and try to change that and take it a day at a time and really just practice, I guess.

Q. I noticed Mary Joe was out there supporting you today. Going back a long way, you had a great semifinal here ten years ago where you came back from matchpoint down. Is that one of your best escapes or your best escape in your career?

MONICA SELES: Well, I had a few tough ones, I mean, against a few other players, but against a friend of mine, yeah, definitely.