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THE LIPTON CHAMPIONSHIPS


March 27, 1997


Monica Seles


Key Biscayne, FL

DEBBI EDWARDS: Questions for Monica.

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Q. Was that her or you? You really seemed to just roll?

MONICA SELES: Well, I think I took control a little bit more than in the sets before. I really wanted to do that today. Otherwise with her ball, she would just throw me way back. We had these long points, started the match late, it was humid. I just said, "Go out there and play your game, don't have any long points," that was my goal.

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Q. When was the last time you got that much satisfaction, that dominance?

MONICA SELES: I played pretty well against, I don't know, 6-Love, 6-1, win against Coetzer at the US Open. Obviously I haven't played too many matches.

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Q. Pretty excited to play Martina?

MONICA SELES: Yes. I think a combination of being in the finals and playing Martina again, definitely. She's playing some great tennis. I mean, she hasn't lost a match this year. That speaks for itself.

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Q. You were not 100 percent when you played her in Oakland? Would you look at that score and say, "That maybe wasn't the real Monica"?

MONICA SELES: I don't know. I went out there and tried to do the best that I could, and she was clearly better that day. She creamed, whatever word you would use, me on the court that day in Oakland.

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Q. Does that make you more eager to go up there and take another shot at her?

MONICA SELES: Each time I go up there, I don't like to think of the past match, even if I won or if I lost, because it's a new match, new site, new surroundings, all those things. But try to maybe improve on the score would be great, of course.

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Q. How much more special would a win over her be, if at all, because she's going to be No. 1?

MONICA SELES: I think that's very special for her, but in my mind that will not make a difference. Obviously the level of tennis she's been playing, it's amazing, and the maturity she shows, it's great, and it's great for women's tennis.

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Q. Monica, what were your expectations coming down here? Are you surprised to be going to the final? You haven't played in a while.

MONICA SELES: Definitely. A week ago, last Thursday when I played Naoko a three-set match, and Friday, I didn't really think I would be here. Obviously, I only had a couple weeks of practice. I just felt I would take it a match at a time and just hang in there. That was one of the key things, and against Spirlea, I would be fine.

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Q. Has your game gotten into shape faster than you thought, or luck of the draw?

MONICA SELES: Both, I believe. Both, I really believe.

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Q. Monica, you just said it's going to be important for her turning No. 1 at such a young age. Put yourself in her place, you're 16, going to be No. 1 on Monday. Would loosing a match to somebody like you, if you understand what I mean, would that make it a little bit of a hollow thing being No. 1?

MONICA SELES: No. I think when I became No. 1, I played Martina in the finals, and it really didn't make a difference. Of course, then I had to beat Martina to be No. 1 that week, which for Martina is not the case, she's No. 1 no matter what. I lost to Martina and it didn't matter. She's the youngest No. 1 ever, and that's great, unbelievable achievement. I'm sure she'd love to have another title, like all of us.

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Q. It wouldn't take any gloss away from it?

MONICA SELES: Oh, no.

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Q. Was there anything you learned or can take from the Oakland match, having played her before, anything you noticed or picked up?

MONICA SELES: In my mind, that match ended very fast. It really was just a blur. That was just over so fast.

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Q. When you play her, do you think about the fact that she's No. 1 also because you want to get back there? Is it a fight for No. 1 in your mind?

MONICA SELES: For me, being the No. 1 position is not a goal; it never has been. Especially at this point, it's not. It's really doing well at the Grand Slams.

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Q. How would you describe your state of mind going into this match, as a challenger, the match against Hingis? How would you describe it?

MONICA SELES: I don't go into any match thinking that I'm favored or anything like that. A lot of players are surprised like when they play doubles with me, the way I converse with them, my thoughts. I go in just a point at a time really. I don't think I'm going to come out a winner or a loser in the match, because I just want to be in the present.

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Q. Monica, you played her before this streak, before the Australian. She's going to be No. 1. Does she gain an aura, do you expect her to have a little more presence out there, or is she just the same player to you or to any other player, when you do what she's done?

MONICA SELES: I think she does gain that. I think I had that, Steffi had that, and Martina has that. When you do win so much matches and tournaments in a row, you do gain that. You also gain that confidence. She's unbeaten.

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Q. So you expect to sense that tomorrow?

MONICA SELES: Yes, definitely. You could see that in today's match clearly.

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Q. Is that enough to intimidate you, Monica, or do you not look at it that way?

MONICA SELES: I really don't look at it that way. I believe you go out there and do the best you can. You fight hard for every ball, every stroke. You give it what you have. If you're better that day, you'll win; if not, you'll have to go back and practice harder.

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Q. Today Jana Novotna said No. 1 is not her goal. You are saying No. 1 doesn't count for you. Who will jeopardize her as No. 1?

MONICA SELES: I don't know. Obviously I can't speak for Jana. I know mine and my own reasons. Steffi I'm sure will be there. Martina is, in my opinion, going to stay No. 1. I can't say for sure, but quite safe through the Open because Steffi has to defend a lot of points. Martina doesn't have that great of results, so she's going to gain a lot of points. She's playing more tournaments than Steffi. I'm not sure how open the No. 1 spot will be till pretty much the end of this year.

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Q. Who else besides Steffi? Do you see any of the young kids who could come up that fast like she did in the last couple months?

MONICA SELES: It's hard to say because when you look at it, Martina has really improved so much the last six, seven months. A year ago today, she lost here in the first or second round. If any other players can make those improvements, yeah. Obviously, a lot of them have the talent, but Martina is there, and the other ones have to get there.

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Q. Who has the best chance to do that from the youngsters?

MONICA SELES: I give equal chance to all of them, to Anna and Venus. I think both have equal chances.

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Q. Do you think Martina can do it on every surface, as well? Indoors, clay?

MONICA SELES: I think so, yeah. I haven't seen her play on grass. That's the only surface I haven't seen. She seems to play very well on it, too. She won the juniors at Wimbledon.

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Q. She won the doubles last year.

MONICA SELES: Also, yes.

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Q. You said Martina should be safely No. 1 through the Open. You mean US or French?

MONICA SELES: US Open, yes.

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Q. Last time you played Martina was in Geneva, an exhibition match, it was your birthday.

MONICA SELES: Great birthday present I got (laughter).

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Q. And the next day during the practice session you broke a finger. What happened exactly?

MONICA SELES: It wasn't the next day. It was the same day. I did not break it during the practice, I broke it during the match.

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Q. It was during the match?

MONICA SELES: Yes. I broke it catching -- when we were warming up for the match, catching her serve. That was it, you know.

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Q. What was the score at that exhibition?

MONICA SELES: I think Martina beat me 6-4, 6-3. I'm sorry, I think it was 6-4, 7-6.

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Q. Have you watched much of her matches?

MONICA SELES: I watched today's match a little. Jana beat her, I know, in Chicago, the last time I saw them play each other. I wanted to see a little bit. I watched a set. It was some awesome tennis.

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Q. Can you see a chink in the armor?

MONICA SELES: No. I mean, maybe with Steffi, you see her backhand is a little more weaker. Martina, I think is all-around really good. She plays the key points great.

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Q. You don't necessarily adjust your game to your opponent?

MONICA SELES: No, I try not to. When I do, I'm in trouble. That's been the problem the last few years, since I came back, trying to do that. That's not my style. I think for me it's better to lose matches playing my game in the beginning instead of playing it just safe like that.

DEBBI EDWARDS: Thank you.

MONICA SELES: Thank you.

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End of FastScripts....

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