2002 French Open – 1st Round Interview

July 17, 2002

Seles d. Montolio 6-7(4),6-3,6-0

Q. Are you ready?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely the way I came out today, I for sure wasn’t. I wasn’t ready for the conditions. They really surprised me.
I wasn’t thinking ahead of time. You know, my racquet tension, the balls were coming back different from Madrid. But I’m very happy the rain came at the right time, from my point of view, that I just came back out there and played some better tennis.

Q. Are the conditions out there so heavy that you have to adjust your game a little bit, be a little bit more patient, put a little more air under the ball?

MONICA SELES: For me, definitely. I mean, I really haven’t played two years on red clay besides Madrid. Madrid was very different altitude, 35 Celsius heat. I was used to hitting winners. Today my winners were not being hit. But that’s a good lesson for me. Hopefully next match I can improve upon that from the beginning.

Q. Did the changing of yesterday to this morning, any change in yourself, in your game?

MONICA SELES: No, not at all. I mean, coming in, I’d like to practice more. I didn’t get a chance to really practice on these courts. That’s maybe the only disruption I had. I was fine to wait last night. Fine when they canceled. That comes with it. I was just happy that I was first today. It was just more disappointed in myself, I guess, how I started the match.

Q. 10 years since you last won this title. How would you compare your game now to then?

MONICA SELES: I have absolutely no idea. Making a lot less unforced errors than I am now. It’s hard to go back. At this point I don’t want to go back, just think about improving for the next match.

Q. Are you aware of your mental approach being different these days?

MONICA SELES: No, mental approach is the same. Even in those times, I had tough matches. Down to Kellesy, Manuela Maleeva. Tough pull-outs, too. That comes with it. Not easy wins like 6-0, 6-1, like people think.

Q. After the break, you really came out super-aggressive after the break, yet didn’t make any errors the rest of that set, then sort of roared into the third set. Did you recalibrate the way you hit the ball? What did you do?

MONICA SELES: Took a little bit my racquet tension down. I think that helped. My balls were flying. I think I just refocused. I think in the beginning I was being very negative with myself. You can’t do that. I mean, everybody wants to win this week. Every match is win or you’re out, so there’s more pressure. I think I just calmed down and started to play a little bit my game.

Q. You’re a seasoned professional. I’ve gone down Love-5 many times, then lost the next game, of course. You were disappointed in yourself. Is there a point for even someone like you who says, “What’s going on here?” Double bagel? Does that ever enter your mine?

MONICA SELES: This year I’ve been struggling on a few things – my game and injury-wise. I had some tough matches the last couple months. Today, too, I was lucky the rain came and I got the trainer to help me out because I was in trouble there. But for sure, you know, in a match when you’re down 5-Love in probably 20 minutes, it’s happened the last three matches before Madrid. But I try to regroup and just try to stay positive. I guess I did. I don’t know.

Q. For those of us who haven’t seen you in a while, can you talk a little bit about Fed Cup, how that whole week was?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, they asked me not to talk about it, so I have to respect the USTA’s wishes on that matter. Hopefully, we’ll do well against Israel and get back into Group A.

Q. When did they ask you not to talk about it?

MONICA SELES: Right after I talked about it I think one day (laughter).

Q. Can you talk about your play and just sort of what happened there?


Q. Yes.

MONICA SELES: I think my result spoke for itself – my play, my mental state there. You know, Barbara just played really well to both beat Meghann and myself. It was one of the toughest matches of my career, from all different aspects. I think that’s understandable.

Q. You mentioned injuries earlier. There seem to be a lot of injuries in the women’s game at the moment.

MONICA SELES: Yeah, it’s hard for me to speak for someone else. I know about Lindsay and Martina. Obviously, I think the tour will have to look at that, because they’re really young players and having some very serious surgeries, coming back from them. I think it’s a very grueling schedule. In the early days, I think it was very different than it is now. Hopefully the tour I think is looking into it and will make some adjustments.

Q. You’d be in favor of maybe cutting the schedule back a bit and having a longer off-season?

MONICA SELES: I think so. And I think just the number of tournaments that you have to play to qualify for the rankings are really tough I think year in, year out. I have younger players coming up to me and they’ve been a few years on the tour and they’re really dead tired. Gosh, they should have at least another good five to seven years in them. You know, just tough.

Q. How do you shorten the schedule and compensate those promoters out there who have sunk millions of dollars into tour events after the US Open?

MONICA SELES: I think that’s what’s so difficult. I think all those tournaments that they were with us, when women’s tennis wasn’t popular, stuck with us. I think it would be very unfortunate to, you know, kind of cut them out right now. But I think the tour was trying to buy back some tournaments. I don’t think they had the financial capabilities to do that. That’s going to be their job to find the balance that you’re protecting the players, the tournaments who stuck with you when women’s tennis wasn’t as popular as right now, the Federations which Fed Cup play, the whole one week of Fed Cup, and pretty much you have all the other Grand Slams which are highest on the list of all the players, I think.

Q. Do you give yourself a chance here title-wise or do you say, “The last couple months, it’s been a bit too tough, I need a couple wins here and there to get my confidence back in general”?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, I really was doubtful to play this year at the French. So I think just getting through those couple weeks has been really good. Going to Madrid, I wasn’t expecting much. Playing well there, it was good. I mean, gosh, night and day different conditions than here. Had a tough draw. But right now I look to the next round. You know, that’s really as far as I want to go at this stage.

Q. Where would you say percentage-wise you are physically?

MONICA SELES: It’s hard for me to put percentages. I hate to do that because I don’t want to believe something in my mind. You know, I wish I was a better percentage than I am now. I’m struggling a with a few things. I can toughen them out with a good trainer’s help. Hopefully I will.

Q. When did you come down with the stomach virus? How long did it keep you off the court?

MONICA SELES: I came down with it probably about two or two and a half days before Rome. Pretty much it was just one thing after another there. I started practicing probably about four or five days before Madrid.