2002 Pacific Life Open – QF Interview

Indian Wells, California
March 13, 2002
Monica Seles defeats Aranxta Sanchez Vicario 6-3,3-6,6-3

MODERATOR: Questions for Monica.

Q. Talk about the conditions out there today. What was it like playing in that kind of weather?

MONICA SELES: Well, all the years that I played here, I never seen anything like today. It was just extremely windy, but also the sand in your eyes and on the tennis court, being slippery. So it was really difficult for both of us out there.

Q. Did playing in the Middle East earlier this year help you prepare for today’s match?

MONICA SELES: The wind definitely helped me prepare, even though not the sand. That, i’ve never had to deal with before.

Q. Did you ever ask them to suspend the match? They suspended the ones on the outside courts.

MONICA SELES: I don’t think we had that option because of TV.

Q. Was it kind of a culture shock to play such an old player?

MONICA SELES: Definitely. I think Arantxa has gone through a very difficult draw, I mean beating Srebotnik, who won the tournament last week, then beating a player like Bedanova and Farina. I knew she was playing well.

But I think today both of us — I think the toughest part of today’s match was really just the elements for both of us.

Q. What are the keys if you play Martina? Seems like you’ve done better against her in more recent months.

MONICA SELES: Yeah, the last couple times we played, one I won, or she won the last. It’s always been like 6-4 in the third. It depends. I’m hoping there’s normal conditions so — there will be decent conditions out there. Just definitely have to play better than I did today.

You know, same as always.

Q. How did you adjust your game today to compensate for the wind and the bad conditions? What did you do differently?

MONICA SELES: Well, I think Arantxa did a better job of that today adjusting than I was.

But I just tried to stay as centered as I could, because I was losing it a little bit in the third set there. You know, it’s just one of those days that you do the best that you can. I think when I was up 40-Love, you have those double-faults in a row, just stay positive and try to finish the match off.

Q. Is it frustrating playing a player like Arantxa where she gets so many balls?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely, especially in conditions like today because it’s so hard to judge if your ball is going to go this much from the line in or out, so many miss-hits. Puts a little more pressure on you when you know someone is running down every ball.

But at the same time I played her so many times that I kind of knew what to expect.

Q. How did you feel towards the end? Did you have plenty of gas in the tank still?

MONICA SELES: Oh, physically I felt fine. Really, I was happy with that. I wasn’t tired at all. But, you know, mentally there was a little bit up and down.

But, you know, both of us played well at key times, and sometimes we just didn’t play as well. So a little bit of a seesaw match.

Q. Have you changed strategy at all against Martina over the last few years, or is it just a matter of you playing a little bit better?

MONICA SELES: I think not really. I’ve never been a player to strategize too much. I think the more I do that, the worse I play. Kind of for me doesn’t work.

But I think a few things in my game, if they go well, then I play well against Martina. If they don’t then, you know, she wins easily against me.

Q. Is that, what, movement, serve?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, I think a combination of everything: serve, returns, definitely the movement portion, not making as many errors and stuff like that.

Q. What’s the key in the third sets?

MONICA SELES: She just plays better. She holds those key points better than I did the last two times, in Australia and in Tokyo.

Q. For those of us behind glass upstairs, how bad was the sand blowing itself? Was it in your eyes? Was it hard to breathe?

MONICA SELES: For me it was really bad. Every other changeover I had to take a wet towel and just take the sand out of my eyes. And I still have it. Especially when you were facing into the wind, that one side was very difficult.

Q. Why did you continually stand between the changeovers?

MONICA SELES: Just because I was getting cold today. I know it’s going to sound weird, but I like to stand up anyway, because I think the changeovers are so long, especially when you have TV time. I was just feeling really cold out there today.

Q. Would you rather see changeovers reduced time-wise?

MONICA SELES: Personally, yeah, definitely. I don’t think we personally need changeovers.

Q. How long do you think is really necessary?

MONICA SELES: I think obviously because of TV and revenue and things like that, they should come up with something that’s amicable to the players. I know all the players get up earlier, and the chair umpire says, “Can you please stay seated till I call time?” Something that will make everyone happy.

Q. The players are eager to get back out there and resume pounding the ball?

MONICA SELES: I think definitely, after you’re playing such intense games, then to just sit there for a minute and a half, it’s not the best thing. Depends what the conditions are. Like in Australia, the players needed that time. But majority of time, it’s extremely long.

Q. In comparing men’s and women’s tennis, there’s some who say that women’s tennis has more interesting personalities. In your own mind, which do you think is the most interesting and the more compelling game and why?

MONICA SELES: Right now I have to say by far women’s tennis. Personally, if I wouldn’t be competing on the tour, I would love to watch a couple of matches. When you see someone like Venus, Serena playing each other, Lindsay, Serena, or Martina, Serena, last week, Jennifer, stuff like that. You just don’t know the outcome. The matches hard-hit and great athleticism. It’s not all serve. Men’s tennis, I think serve is dominating so much. It’s not as exciting personally for me.

I’m so happy to see that because for so many years, it was definitely men’s tennis, and it’s great to see that shift.

Q. Federer the other day said that men’s tennis, they’re better athletes, more athletic. What are your thoughts on that? Do you think there’s a lot of athleticism within women’s tennis?

MONICA SELES: Definitely. Gosh, that has made huge improvement. Before you’d probably only have someone like Martina Navratilova and Steffi. Now you have so many more players. The game is definitely going towards that. You see these youngsters, you know, they’re all like six-feet tall, tall legs and everything. It’s just getting to be more and more athletic.

Going slowly towards the men’s game, I think the serve is going to be a key part of the game.

Q. There was a time when you were one of the larger girls on the tour. You’re not any longer, are you?

MONICA SELES: Not at all. You see these girls who are 15, 16, and they’re taller than I am. Then you see the family members. They’re very tall. They’re going to just keep growing.

It’s great to see that. I mean, that’s where the game is going. You know, each generation is better.

Q. There’s talk now that The Championships may be moved this year already from Munich maybe to Los Angeles. Did you talk with other players about that? What is your opinion?

MONICA SELES: I really didn’t talk to any of the players. I mean, a few players I talked to after Munich, they just said it just felt not as good as I guess playing in New York. But I really didn’t — I had no idea there was this change. They came up to me here in Indian Wells, said it might be.

Obviously, from my standpoint of view, it’s great. I would love to finish my career being able to play in The Championships. Obviously, I miss out — missed out a lot, not being able to.

So that would be great. I really would like to see it back in the US because we have the most top players, and it’s the premiere event on the women’s tour. It would be a great showcase for it, whichever city they end up putting it in.

Q. You didn’t lobby specifically?

MONICA SELES: Zero. I really had no idea till Indian Wells what they were doing. I had no idea they were thinking of changing it. I don’t think it’s sure that they’re changing it even at that stage.

Q. What have you done to improve your fitness? How fit are you now?

MONICA SELES: I worked really hard before leaving for Australia. Truly, after the Australian Open, I played so many tournaments, my main goal was to stay injury-free. My coach and I have done a great job at that.

Hopefully when the next couple of weeks are over, I’ll have another window of two to three weeks of getting ready. Right now I think I’m riding the hard work I put in in December.

Q. Are your feet well enough now you can do any running off court? Are you still doing biking, swimming?

MONICA SELES: Pretty much. I’m not allowed to run. I’m allowed to do sprints. I’ve done those. But no. I do not want to take that risk anymore I think at this stage of my career, to miss other five, six months. I’m just playing it safe. It’s been working so far. So knock knock.

Q. What do you think Hingis’ strongest element is?

MONICA SELES: I think she’s been playing better this year, I mean, winning Sydney, getting very close to Australia, stuff like that. She is I think moving really well again.

Obviously, she’s a player that has everything. There’s not one thing that stands out. She’s a good counter-puncher. She knows what to do with pace. You have to try to be aggressive against her. She’s a player that’s going to make you hit a lot of balls and not going to give you any free points and stuff like that.

Q. Now that you’re this great veteran of this windy sand storm, are you hoping it’s windy next time?

MONICA SELES: No. I’m hoping it’s going to be nice and calm. I think it’s tough for the players, but also for the fans. You really don’t see the greatest tennis match out there. There are not too many rallies going on.

That’s why I love to play indoors. Truly, besides the first — my first match, the conditions have been great so far.