2003 Toray Pan Pacific – 2nd Round Interview

Tokyo, Japan

January 29, 2003

Monica Seles defeats Ai Sugiyama 7-5,5-7,6-1

Q: Just about your ankle, was it really strapped today? Was it bothering you, or was there anything left over to from Melbourne then?
Monica Seles: Oh, I think right now just once in a while I feel pain and this is such a sticky surface, but it’s more than I’ve done here for the past since really it happen much to the last few days. So obviously I’m not as ready as I would have want to but since this is an important tournament and I wanted to give my best effort to come.

Q: Today was actually the 10th times you’ve played against Ai. But in total of 31 games that you had on court today, did you notice any changes, differences from the past?
Monica Seles: It’s hard to say last time I played Ai was in Wimbledon. We played tough 3 sets. And you should be extremely tough on this surface. So I was really lucky there to win the first set, and just try to stay in the match and I was a little bit lucky in the third set.

Q: In the beginning of the match, it didn’t seem like you had the usual strokes and serves. So want to know what you thought of it. And, second set when you were down 1-3, it seemed like you slowed down the pace a little to take control, that’s what it looks like, inspector’s side.
Monica Seles: Oh I mean today on this match after not practicing is much I’m not player that feels really confident out there. After the Australian Open, it’s been a little bit tough for a few weeks. And I really didn’t go out there thinking A or B. I just try to play the best that I could have every single point and not put too much pressure on myself and I tried to be maybe much stronger mentally in the third set, not get broken early on as in the first two. But at this stage, I wasn’t comfortable with my game so I just try to hang in every single point and do the best job that I could.

Q: You’ve played many Japanese players in the past and of course as mentioned you’ve one-ten in row against Ai, and former top Japanese player Date also, you did very well against her. I think one time you were forced out of injury and she might have taken a match. But other than that you have almost perfect record against these players. Do you have a word of advice for Japanese players in general?
Monica Seles: Oh, I don’t think it would be fair me offer someone like Kimiko No.4 in the world and Ai No.1 doubles. But I think I both like the style of Kimiko and Ai and I probably play some good tennis always against them.

Q: Could you say what aspects of their games might have been suited for you?
Monica Seles: I like that they hit the ball both pretty flat at the both sides and I like the pace that they gave me. Also I can be pretty aggressive since their serve is not such a big weapon a part of their game.

Q: It’s probably quite difficult coming from the Australian weather to here and the differences and everything. Why do you choose this tournament among many that you could be going to after Australian?
Monica Seles: Oh, really like to come here, I mean, I always played well in Japan. My sponsor Yonex is from this area. So I’m always happy to come and try some new products, like my racket and shoes. And just really try to come as much as possible for great support, probably it is the main reason why I come year after year.