2001 U.S. Open – 2nd Round Interview

New York, New York
August 29, 2001
M. Seles defeats Koulikouskaya 6-1,6-4

Q. 47-minute match. I think Davenport’s was 44, Hingis’ was 37 minutes. Any feeling you have to keep up to their standards and work through your opponents pretty fast?
MONICA SELES: Not at all. I think we’re just both anxious to come out here. We had to wait like an extra 15 minutes after we warmed up. You know, I never played her. I never played a person that hits one hands both sides. Going into the match, I didn’t know what to expect. I played so well in the first set. Second set got a little bit closer than I probably would have liked.

Q. I notice that you also had more unforced errors than winners. That’s unusual for you.
MONICA SELES: Yeah, I had a lot of errors today, both on my serves and groundstrokes. At least hopefully errors in a match like today are acceptable. Hopefully, I can improve upon them and not have them for my next match, that’s for sure.

Q. How much encouragement have you drawn from the big wins that you’ve had recently?
MONICA SELES: It felt really great. Last year, you know, I finished so high up in the rankings, I had some good tournaments, but I never got to break through those couple players. It was nice to be able to do that this year so soon after being off the tour for a long time.
So, it just shows that I have a lot of hard work to do ahead of me, to try to stay healthy, and really pick tournaments smartly. You know, each time you beat all those players, it’s a tremendous thing for your confidence.

Q. You feel like there’s something different in your game now? Do you know what the reasons might be that you’re beating these girls now?
MONICA SELES: I don’t know. Probably a combination of not making as many errors as I used to, moving better in most matches. You know, some matches you can’t do it. Like tonight, I definitely was not at a level that I would want to be against a top player. Hopefully, I’ll pull it together.

Q. Was it tough hitting to her forehand or to her forehand (laughter)?
MONICA SELES: It’s very different. She can hit two hands, too. She chokes up on the racquet. She’s a player that has nothing to lose, coming through quallies. You never know what to expect out there. Obviously, center court has a lot of wind, between the two sides, it’s different. It was just a little bit hard for me to read her shots tonight.

Q. Have you ever played a player with more unconventional strokes?
MONICA SELES: No, this would probably be it.

Q. Can you understand what other players maybe faced over the years with your unconventional strokes?
MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely. Take some of my own medicine a little bit (laughter).

Q. Does it change how you feel coming into this Slam, having beaten those players, does it change your feeling about coming in playing?
MONICA SELES: For me personally, really not. I truly just look at part of the draw that I play next. I don’t like to look too far ahead. In a Grand Slam, anything can happen. Throughout my career, I learned that the hard way. Just taking it each match differently.
But I do want to be much more up and everything for matches if I get that far. They’re going to be really difficult for me.

Q. Could you please tell me how you got hooked up with Mike Sell and what he brings to your game?
MONICA SELES: My agent Tony Godsick at IMG got in touch with Mike. I’m really happy. I played against him in mixed doubles, Team Tennis. Obviously, I’ve known him. He’s just fantastic. He’s obviously a fantastic player, a great guy. I’m really happy.

Q. Do you sense at this point in your career, when you come to a major tournament like this, do you feel a greater sense of urgency to win?
MONICA SELES: No, I really don’t. No. Maybe that’s good, it’s not, I don’t know. I really don’t. I just go in, play every match the best I can, practice hard in between. To win a Grand Slam, I have to beat three or four tough matches really at least. Now it’s probably four with the way the seedings have gone up to 32. Makes the first few rounds a little bit easier.
But that’s been kind of my attitude in my career. I mean, in the beginning, you didn’t really get tough matches till the quarters, but now they’re starting from the Round of 16.

Q. Do you like this new 32 seeding?
MONICA SELES: In some ways I like it, in some ways I don’t. It does protect the players out of those few players not playing in the first round. It does take away the excitement of having upsets at the same time. I’m kind of torn between them.

Q. I think it’s fair to say that you’re certainly one of the great players of our era, brought lots of fans, lots of revenue to the sport. The WTA recently decided to take The Championships from New York to Munich. They know full well your position on that, on playing in Germany. At a recent business conference on tennis, it was said that it was kind of a diss to you to do that. In your heart of hearts, do you wish they could have come up with something else maybe?
MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely. I mean, yeah, for sure. I hate to go back and create controversy. I’m not into that.
For sure, it was. It was also tough. I was at that point on the Player Council. I didn’t hear about it from anybody that it was even being talked about.
But that was a decision they made. I’ve made my own decision. What can you do?

Q. You won’t go?
MONICA SELES: Right now, I’d never say never. I don’t plan to go.

Q. This year you’re not going?
MONICA SELES: Don’t plan to go, huh-uh.

Q. You feel uncomfortable going back to Germany?
MONICA SELES: Nothing to do with that. It’s just a lot of things that have happened, that for me just made the incident very complicated. It’s a very complicated issue.

Q. Is that particularly tough since you did so well last year?
MONICA SELES: Definitely I’m going to lose a lot of points. I’m going to have to try to make up for them. It was good that I played well in California. That would be the toughest. Also winning, it’s almost like the fifth Grand Slam really. You know, that’s there for the next three years. For me, that doesn’t exist in my head at least.

Q. Long off-seasons.
MONICA SELES: Yeah, which hopefully I can use for my benefit. I’m going to take two months off, if not more, at the end of this year, just be fresh physically and mentally for Australia.

Q. Have you ever taken that long off?
MONICA SELES: No, not being able to train. That’s why I’m kind of looking forward to it. If my body stays healthy, it will be really good. It will a good way to start the Australian Open, too. Make the most of it, what you can’t change.