2002 Nasdaq-100 Open Pre-tournament Interview

Miami, Florida
March 20, 2002

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Monica, please.

Q. Monica, how do you feel you’re playing, what do you think your chances are in this tournament?

MONICA SELES: I feel I’m playing good. I had a good tournament last week. I’ve been playing a lot of matches, and I feel happy to be back here. I played well a couple of years ago. And I just look forward to my first-round match. I mean, I live close to here, and so I like it down here. So, I’m looking forward to it.

Q. When you prepare for this tournament, is it more like preparing for a major just in terms of it is a bigger field than your normal 32-draw?

MONICA SELES: I think you know that you’re going to have to have a lot of more matches back-to-back which I think is really tough, last week at Indian Wells and then this here in Miami.

But it’s a big tournament. Always has been. And you have to be really prepared for it.

Q. Monica, what can you say about Jennifer and the way she’s come back and played the last year or so?

MONICA SELES: Oh, it’s been terrific to see that. I mean, she obviously — the way she started in Australia last year, and I think to defend that this year is huge. I mean, that’s as difficult if not more than winning it the first time. And she’s been playing some great tennis. Haven’t seen much of her since Australia, so it’s nice to see her back playing here.

Q. Do you feel at all that you’re a different player or a different style of player than you were, say, five years ago?

MONICA SELES: Well, I’ve changed some things to my game that probably are better than before, and I’m missing something that I probably had before. So, it’s a combination of both.

Q. This is going to sound a little off the wall. But you see these kids running around with these gigantic tennis balls to get autographs. As a player that’s going to sign, is that easier than signing somebody’s arm or scrap of paper? Do you get a kick out of that?

MONICA SELES: I think all players love the big ball because it’s really easy to sign. It’s a great invention.

Q. With Daniela winning last week, what do you know about her? Have you played her? Is she one of the up-and-coming players you’ve seen?

MONICA SELES: I never played a match against Daniela. I’ve practiced with her a couple of times. She’s a terrific all-court player. I think it was a long time coming. She had a lot of three-set losses last year against top players where she was up, and I think was just inexperience that she lost them. It was great to see her break through like that. She played some great tennis all throughout the week.

Q. In a tournament like this where you get men and women playing together, there’s sometimes an inevitable comparison of the games. How do you feel about women’s tennis?

MONICA SELES: Most people would agree the women’s tennis is doing so well right now. It’s more popular than men’s tennis, which is great to see. A long time, it was vice versa. There’s just such excitement.

It’s great to see this week all the top players being here. I think that’s just going to create even more, and there should be some fantastic matchups in the later rounds of the tournament.

Q. How do you feel with your situation right now, it seems that you’re still playing great tennis, but the focus is a little bit more like on the Williams’ and maybe Jennifer? Do you enjoy being a little bit away from the spotlight?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely. I mean, there’s a lot less stuff for me to do and that’s great. It leaves me more time.

But, you know, it’s, for me, it’s good. It all depends how you do. And, you know, each player, when they come on the tour, it’s new and it’s fresh and so, yeah.

I really don’t think too much about this, so I don’t know what else to say.

Q. Without getting, I guess, too strategic, you say there are some things that maybe you’re not as good at or don’t have that you didn’t have five years ago. What are those things you feel and how do you compensate?

MONICA SELES: Oh, it would be a long answer. So I won’t go into details (smiling).

The level of the game has gone really up. I think all the girls are a lot bigger and taller than beforehand. They’re hitting the ball harder. You have to make an adjustment to it. The game has evolved to a positive way, and that’s why I think it’s so exciting to watch women’s tennis right now. Because the balls are being hit very hard. But at the same time, it’s not only serve and volley like what you see in the men’s on a fast court.

Q. Have you been involved with the women’s development program in a mentor basis? Have you taken somebody on that you’re working with?

MONICA SELES: I don’t think I’m allowed while I’m playing to do that. Once I retire, yeah, if any player would want to, I would love to. I think it’s a fantastic thing the WTA created. I wish I had it when I started on the tour. It’s just really fantastic.