2002 U.S. Open – 4th Rnd Interview

September 03, 2002

Seles d. Hingis 6-4,6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Monica, please.

Q. How did it feel out there today? Looked like you were dictating the points pretty well.
MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely was a good match. I played better on the key points.

Q. Chanda talked about how playing Venus, she kept a lot of pressure on her, pressure, pressure, pressure. Is that an approach what could be useful to you? Or is your game different than hers?
MONICA SELES: Definitely, you got to just play your game. You’re playing another person. Venus has a fantastic serve and great movement. Those are her strengths. But just got to play as anybody else. I mean, that’s how I view it.

Q. How excited are you right now?
MONICA SELES: Really good. I mean, I was very happy to come out, win it. It was one of those matches that was see-saw, especially in the first set. We kept breaking each other’s serve and waiting for it for so long. It was just good to get out there and play.

Q. What’s the key when you play Venus? What was the thing that helped you to victory in Australia?
MONICA SELES: I think for me key is really serves. Her serve is obviously very powerful. She’ll hold the games easier than I will. So that was — that went well in Australia for me.

Q. Is Martina much off form? Can you put a percentage on it?
MONICA SELES: It’s hard to say. I mean, really, I don’t think today was the greatest tennis of both of our careers out there, that’s for sure. But I think, you know, she has struggled some this year, I have struggled some. I think if she just keeps playing more matches, she’s just gonna get better and better.

Q. You said that the key was whoever came out playing their A game. Did either of you play your A game? Both of you?
MONICA SELES: I don’t think so. It was a see-saw game. Some points she played her A game, some points I did. Some points we just made a lot of errors. I think it was one of those matches who will stay steadier at key times, a lot of 30-All games and stuff like that. Today I think I played better at the important points than she did.

Q. Martina talked about how much the game has changed in the last three years. She has to reinvent herself in a lot of ways because it’s faster. Is that something over the last three or four years you’ve seen explode?
MONICA SELES: The game has changed. I mean, the game went for a very stagnant period from ’93 to ’96 I think. In ’97 the girls started to get bigger, stronger, faster. You see the girls now are six feet tall, everyone has a 100 mile-per-hour serve, that’s the lowest. It’s changing. It’s so much more even now. Anybody on any given day can beat most of the top players. That’s why it’s so exciting.

Q. How would you describe the dropoff from Venus’ first serve to her second? How important is her not getting in the first serve to having an opening to beat her?
MONICA SELES: Well, Venus against me serves really well always – in most of the matches. So, I mean, it depends what stage of the match I guess you are. With me, she serves always very well. I couldn’t say there has been a dropoff between her first and second. I didn’t see any of today’s match. I could not comment on that.

Q. In both these big tournaments and smaller tournaments on the circuit, we wear these badges.
MONICA SELES: I wear mine this tournament. My mom has it for food.

Q. What would it mean to you if you could get a badge that said “I am not retiring” and just wear that?
MONICA SELES: It’s one thing that I think with past years of my career I felt it’s been a question every time. I’ve seen it with Agassi and I’ve seen it with Pete.
I mean, being asked. I don’t know why, I do believe tennis is a young game, I mean, definitely the younger, the better, everything is more attention, more sponsors and all that stuff.
But you look at other sports, you can peak later on in your life, till really 30, 33. You look at Olympic athletes. But I think it all depends because we start the game so young, how long we want to stay so focused. You have to have a very focused life-style really. In tennis you have no off season. It’s very different. How long are you willing to sacrifice that stuff?
For guys it’s easier. They can have their wives and kids travel with them. For women it’s a lot tougher for a lot of different reasons. It depends on that.
In my case I said always I’m just going to play it competitively as long as I enjoy it, as long as my body lets me play it. But I do know one thing, that I’ll play tennis for ever, really. It’s a sport for me that I love. I don’t view it as retiring, you know, because that’s retiring from something you never will do again. That won’t be in my case with tennis. When that time comes, I really have no idea. It could come after this tournament, two years after this tournament from now. I have no idea.

Q. You said on air after your pro career, you’d play at the club level.

Q. Do you think that would be fair? How do you think you would do?
MONICA SELES: I’d be playing right-handed I think (laughing). Seriously, playing right-handed.
But, I mean, I’m lucky enough, someone like Mary JoeFernandez, BetsyNagelsen can play with me. It’s impossible, I think, since age six, seven to do something you love that suddenly you stop at 28 or 30 or 32. It’s been too big of a part of my life and I think I would really miss it.

Q. Some great athletes quit, retire when they can’t beat a champion anymore, can’t be a finalist. If you were a quarterfinalist, can you deal with that?
MONICA SELES: It really depends. I mean, I know this is hard. Each time I say it people just roll their eyes.

Q. I won’t roll my eyes, I swear.
MONICA SELES: Okay. I really never played tennis for winning the Grand Slam or to be No. 1 and stuff like that. Maybe it was a very naive thought to it, maybe. I don’t know. But truly it’s really not the driving force in me today.
I love to play tennis. I said it many times. I wish we didn’t have to go out there and win and lose, because that part is very tough emotionally. If you win a tournament, next week you have to kind of play again, you never get time to enjoy it.
So I would say, I mean, that’s been my case really when I started playing tennis, then whenever I played very well, and then since I’ve come back.

Q. What’s the aspect you love most about tennis? The competition? Being on the court?
MONICA SELES: Just really hitting the ball. That’s it. I never liked the competition part at all because it’s hard. I mean, I’ve seen it in the junior level, I’ve seen it in the pro level. Obviously at this stage of my career, you know, you see more stuff than before. I think that’s hard. It’s a tough one mentally.
But, I mean, yeah, depends how you view the game I think.

Q. Yesterday CBS showed the match. Did you watch it?
MONICA SELES: Yeah, I did watch it. Yeah, it was hard not to.

Q. Did you watch the whole thing?
MONICA SELES: Almost, back in my hotel, debating whether I should watch or not. One of the best matches I think in women’s tennis. Fun to see Jennifer and I hit the ball. One of the first matches that the ball was hit hard. Now you look, it’s even being hit harder. I’m curious, ten years from now, it’s gonna be even harder. How far it’s gonna go, it’s exciting to see that.

Q. Did your stomach get knots as you were watching?
MONICA SELES: No, I could see some of my family members, hers. They were more nervous than we were. I think we’re so young and we just wanted to crush every ball out there, and that’s how we were playing. No matter 30-All, Love-40, we were going for our shots. It was great to see that.

(Note: this is a partial transcript)