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October 29, 2015

Chris Evert

SIngapore, Singapore

THE MODERATOR: We would like to welcome back to Singapore our WTA Finals official ambassador, Chris Evert.
CHRIS EVERT: Official. Official. There are a lot of ambassadors here this week. Just one of 'em.
Hi, guys.

Q. Talk about Halep. Has she had a good year? Great year?
CHRIS EVERT: I don't think she's had a great year, Simona. I think there have been‑‑ I think she had a great year last year and she got to a certain point, level, where she knew she would have to make some subtle changes.
I think that at times she's progressed in the sense of I've seen a bigger serve and I've seen more aggressiveness from her.
But it's also rattled her base game a little bit more. She making a few more errors and she's getting a little more emotional on the court. So good news, bad news. It's been a year of making those subtle changes, and it's hurt her in certain ways. But maybe that's what she needs, to take two steps back before she takes three steps forward.
I think she has the right idea and the right team around her. It takes time. I mean, she got to a point where she's No. 2. Okay, now what am I going to do to become No. 1? I am going to have to make some changes. And she's made that effort, so that's good.
Hopefully next year she'll settle down a little bit and you'll see the game begin to resonate a little bit more.

Q. About Garbine and then potential you can see in her and then in this transition period of the game ‑ she is of course a power player ‑ and if you can check her, like achieve into the top 3 for a number of years? If you can foresee her like a potential No. 1?
CHRIS EVERT: Garbine, I think very impressed with her. Very, very impressed with her. Started slowly after Wimbledon and then we thought, Oh, here we go again. It's that success at Wimbledon, and all of a sudden the pressure is on her. She didn't really do that well in the summer series.
But she's come back strong this fall, and I think she's got a great attitude. From what I've been reading, she has a great attitude and is very positive and isn't going to let the momentum slip like maybe a Genie Bouchard did or other players in the past have let that momentum slip.
It's I think made her more determined than ever to get to that next step. She has all the makings of a No. 1 player; whether she'll be No. 1 is another question.
She certainly has all the makings. That was evident watching the Wimbledon final and the power that she had and the big serves, the good attitude. I think that's only going to go up.

Q. Who would you compare her to in your times?
CHRIS EVERT: My times? Jeez. So long ago. You're asking me a tough question here. She's not your typical Spanish player obviously. In my day it was Arantxa and Conchita and players like that who were wonderful counterpunchers and very, very good defense players.
But she's sort of cut through the mold there as far as the aggressiveness and the strength and how tall she is and her aggressive attitude.
Is there another player like her? I'm racking my brain here. You know, I would say like a Jennifer maybe. You know, as far as the ground game and the power and the tenacity and going after shots, you know, I think more‑‑ probably Jennifer. Anybody else say her? Am I the only one?

Q. You're the only one. Hello neighbor?

Q. We have a number of champions through the years, yet there seems to be, even within the circle of champions some might go to a different level. Seems like Maria has a competitive drive that she comes in here cold but she is going to get run over by a bus before she goes away.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about that aspect of Maria.
CHRIS EVERT: Yeah. You know, I think it's hunger, too. I think that's really what has been missing from a lot of the women, the top women.
When I think of the word "hunger," I go back and I think of myself and I think of Martina and Steffi Graf, you know, that reflects the mental part of the game.
But really up until now the only two players that have shown that consistently have been Maria and Serena. Maria has that gift. She has that is hunger. Maybe it's because of where she's come from and she doesn't forget her roots. She doesn't forget that she came over with or dad and her dad had to have two jobs to support her being at Bollettieri's. They really scratched and clawed their way in those early years.
Maybe her memory is short. She'll never forget that. But for whatever reason, she is unbelievable. Even more so than Serena, I find. Because Serena will go in and out of hunger, but I think Maria always has it every match, every tournament. I've never seen her play a match where she even gave the slight indication of, Well, whatever happens, happens.
I mean, she just makes things happen, and it's phenomenal. I really admire that. That's her best quality.

Q. The other day Martina and Tracy and Arantxa were in here talking about aside from Serena the current generation they were incredibly surprised at the level of fluctuation in rankings and how everyone is bouncing round. There are new people in the top 10 all the time. They thought maybe some of the women didn't cope with pressure as well as other generations. What do you think when you look at the girls currently tour, aside from Serena?
CHRIS EVERT: I saw that interview. Somebody brought up the point that the men don't have that fluctuation. To me, a lot of that has to do with the serve. I mean, I think, again, men hold their serve. There is a lot more predictability that men will hold their serve and matches will go to plan.
Versus women who can be broken any minute and their serve isn't as dominate. Evens the playing field a little bit. That's what I think, you know, there is that fluctuation in the women's game right now. I think it's all about the serve.
I think Martina was right when she said that. But you're always going to have it. You're always going to have that fluctuation. I think as long as‑‑ I mean, you don't see the fluctuation with Serena because she holds serve.

Q. (Regarding mentality. )
CHRIS EVERT: It has to do with mentality, but I also think if you're going to get to the top 10 or top 20 you have to be mentally tough anyway.
There is no flakiness allowed at the top there. I think training‑wise when I look, the women are all in great shape, great condition. I mean, that's another story as far as the injuries and pullouts, because the year seems to be a little too long and challenging for a lot of the women.
But for the most part, I just think there is more of an even playing field because of the fact that the women don't have dominating serves.

Q. When you talk about hunger and stuff like that from the top 10 and also issues of fluctuation, who are the players that you identify, outside of Serena and Maria, who if they could deliver on a pretty consistent basis the sport would be kind of better off in a way, whether because of where they're from, personality, that you will sort stuff?
CHRIS EVERT: Good question. I think Muguruza now. I think she's definitely ‑‑ don't want to say potential because she's there. She's arrived already. She's looking more and more like somebody who has tremendous potential and ability to not only play great tennis, but to have that personality and that leadership that we need.
But, you know, it's interesting. It's kind of a double‑edged sword, because you get these players that all of sudden have a great uprise, and then you want to introduce them to the world. You want them to transcend the sport and get on covers of magazines.
But at the same time, it's great for the sport to get their names out there and their personalities out there, but it seems to hurt them. You know, like when example: Genie Bouchard. It seems it hurt them a little bit and maybe kind of dilutes the hunger a little bit in the process.
So you got to find that right balance of getting that player's name out there but not letting it affect their tennis also.
You know, I think Simona can develop something there. I think her game can develop. She's got a cute little personality. Very positive and friendly. I think very relatable. I think she's going to be one of the more consistent players in the future.
Who am I missing here? Yeah, no. Yes, no. (Laughter.)
You know, the other interesting thing is that somebody brought up in one of the press conferences I think with Steve Simon about the ATP, something about ATP, the top players and to how come they seem to be doing better.
The thing is that it's such a great era for the men's game, because three of those players you could very safely say are the greatest of all‑time. Right now you have one in the women's.
So there is a little bit of a difference in that sort of‑‑ at the top basically.

Q. I have a couple questions: One...
CHRIS EVERT: You're just dominating this press conference, aren't you?

Q. You have good things to say. Obviously Singapore is really nice and everything, but other day Martina and Tracy and Arantxa were reminiscing a little bit about what it felt like to play at Madison Square Garden. I know you've done that. If you could look back to that. Also, as somebody that runs an academy, what kind of traits are you seeing or coming up with the young players who are playing now? Anything particularly stand out with the crop that are trying to come up?
CHRIS EVERT: Okay, so Madison Square Garden‑‑ you know, I read their press conference too. It was all in my room when I got in. I mean, there is nothing really I can add.
To play there was an honor. To play there was an honor. It's an iconic place. Tracy said you walk in and see the pictures of everybody who has performed there. The atmosphere in Madison Square Garden. You grow up learning and reading about Madison Square Garden when you're a kid.
It's held some of the most iconic sports events ever. So that's sort of a separate place to play compared to any venue.
As far as the kids at my academy, you know, I think we're trying to develop all‑court players, first of all. I see that you've got to develop‑‑ yes, you've got to have your strength and you base and your core. If that's being a groundstroker, great.
At the same time, you've got to work on approach shots and coming to the net and you've to work on touch and dropshots and lobs.
We're trying to maybe work on an all‑court game at a little bit of a younger age instead of waiting until 16, 17 and they're No. 1 or 2 in the country and then ‑‑ we're trying to do it at a younger age, I think.
And emphasizing the thinking process on the court. You know, emphasizing that as far as being solid and consistent and not really going for the big winner unless you feel confident you're going to make that shot.
So I think it's just to be really consistent, to learn all the shots, and also to be aware of your opponent. I think a lot of kids nowadays go out‑‑ even the pros. I hear them say‑‑ the press will say all say, What are you going to do against so and so? Their answer is, I'm just going to go out and play my game.
I'm like, Really? Is that all? Boy, that sounds easy. There is so much more to that. It's peripherally seeing what is going on with your opponent. Oh, my heavens, they look like they've lost confidence; they're starting to miss their forehand a little bit; they are not moving as well.
Yes, you've got to play your game and put your best game forward, but you can win two or three games a set by exposing your opponent's weakness, too. I see that lacking in the game.
I'm always trying to‑‑ I'm the mental person at that academy. I have no idea about grips and open and closed stance and all this. You got to use your hips more. We have coaches for that.
I just try to talk to the kids about the mental part.

Q. Talk about Petra Kvitova. Came into this year saying, I'm going to be No. 1; won two slams before. Up and down, up and down. She beat Serena and I know she gets sick a lot, but she's a very good player when she's on. Month to month it's hard to say, no?
CHRIS EVERT: You know, there is a hunger question: How much do you want it? I see the physical aspects of her, the mono and the asthma, and that has prevented her from playing her best tennis and being in the best shape she can be in, no doubt about it.
But if you're hungry and want it badly enough, you make it happen. You figure it out. You figure it out.
So if it means taking three months off and trying to figure out what's wrong or healing, you do it. You come back with vengeance. I mean, Venus seems to have that hunger. She seems to have figured it out. Her back was against the wall and she's figured out.
So I just think the hungry players, like Maria and Serena, I think they just figure it out. And even if all the odds are against them, they figure it out.

Q. Coming back to the coaching aspect, you see a lot of the parents dropping kids off at the academy and coaching schools at about 13 or 14. Is there a chance of coaches coaching the belly out of them, the fire in the belly, ruin the fire completely, making them systematic, them losing the ability to think for themselves in like crucial points or something like that when they grow up?
CHRIS EVERT: Are you asking that at these academies are the coachescoaching too much?

Q. Something like that. Them losing the ability to think for themselves.
CHRIS EVERT: Right. Yes, yes. I think that's why ‑‑ I'm sure at a lot of these academies, in the mornings they train, do drills, work on specialty shots.
But in the afternoon when the kids are playing matches, you know, it's important for them not to be out on the court every other point saying, Okay, you went crosscourt and should have gone down the line.
Yes, I think there is overcoaching for sure. I think in our day, in the '80s and '70s, and I know I've talked to Martina about this, our day consisted of I was just thrown out on the court and played sets all day. Our whole generation did. We just played matches. We didn't know about drilling. We never drilled.
Just went out there and M or W. You know, we would hit two minutes and M or W. Do you want to serve? Okay. We would play five or six sets a day and we figured it out. We learned how to play. We learned from experience and being thrown out on the court.
Nowadays the players are getting maybe too much help. Yes. Yeah. That's why they're not aware of their opponent and not aware of what's going on.
They're just thinking about their own game. That's one example.

Q. Kerber played a lot of great matches this year. Do you enjoy to watch her?

Q. Is it a hunger question, too?
CHRIS EVERT: Love watching her play. And, yes, she has hunger. I knew I for got somebody. I love watching her play. You can feel what she's feeling, the tension.
You know, when I watch her, I'm just amazed at how she can hit the shots that she hits. She doesn't have the most orthodox strokes, everything is very close to her, but she's got those intangible strengths that she just‑‑ it's like a Hingis. Just knows the right shot to play at the right time.
Radwanska is another one. Amazed at her, too. But I think Kerber definitely has hunger, yes.

Q. If you were playing today, would you like a coach on court to come and talk to you? Would you rather think for yourself and work out a match?
CHRIS EVERT: You know, I loved playing Fed Cup and Wightman Cup when the coach was sitting every time I changed sides. I loved that. I'm not saying that that's what I would like that now.
But for a coach to come out once a set, it's not really I don't think going to necessarily change the course of a match. But I think it is‑‑ I would like it, yeah. I would like it. If I like my coach. I mean, if I had a good coach, if I respected him or her, I think it would be great.
Especially if you're down 5‑2 and you get that a little bit of encouragement. I think that can do nothing but good things for a player.
Again, honestly, I don't think it's going to change the whole match. Maybe one or two out of a hundred matches it may change. I like it, and I think it's good for tennis.

Q. What is your prediction for the Fed Cup final?
CHRIS EVERT: When do they play? I don't even know when they're playing. Sorry to ask you.

Q. Czech and Russia; two weeks.
CHRIS EVERT: Two weeks. What happened to Germany? I kind of took a break after US Open. Sorry guys.
Stupidest question ever: Is Maria playing for Russia?

Q. Maria is definitely playing.
CHRIS EVERT: She's on? She's playing? Okay. They're playing in Russia?

Q. No, Prague.
CHRIS EVERT: Okay. Okay. This is showing my ignorance here.

Q. It will be Petra...
CHRIS EVERT: I know. Obviously I know.

Q. Okay.
CHRIS EVERT: Who's playing? Safarova? I will pick the Czech team. I will pick the Czechs. That's really going out on a limb, I'm sure.
I think doubles is so important when you play the Fed Cup, too. Yeah, they'll have a good doubles team.
I did really well until that last question. Just kind of give me a little bit of credit. Been a tough fall for me.

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