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March 12, 1999

Sandrine Testud


Q. What happened from 5-5 in the first set?

SANDRINE TESTUD: Well, I think it was important for both of us to win this first set. Afterward, I felt a little bit tired. She just played so good. I mean, she didn't miss a ball. She got very confident after winning this first set. It was getting much harder for me to play. I'm just disappointed in the way I serve at 6-5. I didn't put the first serve in. Against her, it's just so difficult because she just go for it on the return of serve. Put me so much pressure. That was the point. It was important for me to put the first serve in.

Q. What makes her so tough? What are her greatest strengths?

SANDRINE TESTUD: Well, I think I played her a few times now. Today, she was very consistent the whole match. It didn't happen that way in the past. She could play unbelievable shots, play great games for like a few games, one set maybe. But she was never going to play her whole match like she did today. I think she's very confident. She won much matches now in the last two weeks. She's much more concentrate on her game. That's make a big difference, you know, because she's so powerful. There's nothing much you can do when she play like this.

Q. She's also still very young. In five years from now, if you had to choose between Venus and Serena, who do you think would be the best player and why?

SANDRINE TESTUD: I don't want to get them upset (laughter). I don't know. They're both great players. Venus is already in the Top 10. Probably Serena will be in the future. They going to be tough opponent for everybody.

Q. Did you find it tough to serve from the sunnyside today?

SANDRINE TESTUD: It was not that much, the sun. I would say more the wind. The wind was blowing quite a lot, not in the same direction all the time. I found it a little bit difficult to serve. That's the way it is.

Q. Do you find her much more aggressive and confident on the big points now than you did, say, last month?

SANDRINE TESTUD: Yeah. Like I said, I think she was very confident, very confident the whole match. She didn't have a loose point. She can get upset sometimes. She was just so focused. I never seen her play like this before. I mean, she could play a great few games and win one or two. Today, she was very tough.

Q. French women have been coming up in the rankings a lot in the last six months or year. Why, in particular, would you say that's happening?

SANDRINE TESTUD: Well, why? Because we improving (laughter). There is older players like myself, Nathalie Tauziat, Mary Pierce, that have been here for a few years now. There is all the young one coming up, like Mauresmo, Dechy. We are pretty lucky in France to have all those young players. That's just the way it is.

Q. Do you have a specific program that's cultivating new players that's been successful?

SANDRINE TESTUD: I would say the Federation, the French Federation, is helping a lot. Young kids in the clubs, trying to help everybody from different levels, try to improve. There's many centers in France where kids can practice. There is mini-tennis, we call it. I think they're doing a lot to get the kids to play tennis. It's looking pretty good.

Q. Do the French players, like the Spanish men, tend to hang out together? Do the French women get along and support each other?

SANDRINE TESTUD: Yeah, we do. Tennis is an individual sport. Everybody in tournament is doing his own stuff. I have my friends on the Tour. They are French,and they are not French. It's just the way it is. Everybody's doing his own business.

Q. Speaking of hanging out. A year and a half or so ago, there was a lot of talk about how Venus and Serena just stuck to themselves, were aloof, didn't talk to the others. Is that still the way it is or has it changed?

SANDRINE TESTUD: I think they doing, like I said before, their own life. I think they hang out together all the time. They're not really much with the other players. But that's the way it is. In the past, Steffi Graf never talk much. That's probably the personality also. But they're okay. I don't mind.

Q. Considering how well Serena is playing, what do you think is going to happen in the final?

SANDRINE TESTUD: It's going to be tough for Serena. She's going to have to play maybe at least as good as she played today. She's going to have to be very focused the whole match. Like you see in the match yesterday against Chanda Rubin, Steffi didn't play very well at the beginning. But she hang out there and she fight back to win this match. I think Serena has to be aware of this.

Q. Is Serena as fast as Steffi? Does she get to the ball as quickly as Steffi does?

SANDRINE TESTUD: It's totally different fitness, but, yeah, she's very quick. She's very quick around the court. She's stronger than Steffi on the groundstrokes especially. She can hit the ball so hard from both sides, backhand and forehand.

Q. She's as strong as Steffi on the forehand?

SANDRINE TESTUD: I would say probably. I think she takes the ball earlier than Steffi. You know, Steffi is Steffi. She's been on the Tour for so many years. She's probably the greatest player we ever had. Serena is going to have to play a great match I think to win.

Q. What's next for you? Are you playing Lipton?

SANDRINE TESTUD: Yeah, I'm going to go to Lipton.

Q. I'm still not quite clear on the big forehand question here. Steffi's forehand is often said to be the foremost weapon in women's tennis. Are you saying that Serena's forehand is better?

SANDRINE TESTUD: No, I won't say it's better. But she can take the ball so early that it makes it more difficult for the opponent. As soon as you can hit the ball, it's more difficult for the opponent to be ready. I mean, the forehand of Serena I think is even better than the backhand. But they got both very good forehands; just a different style.

End of FastScripts....

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