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August 27, 1996

Monica Seles


Q. How do you assess the match today, Monica?

MONICA SELES: It was a really good match. I had to hit a lot of long points. She didn't give me too many unforced errors. There were a lot of close games. Stayed out there for quite a long time, a long match.

Q. You looked as if you didn't even want to give up a point.

MONICA SELES: No, not really. I was just trying to stay focused. It was really hot out there. First round match. I hit only once on the stadium this year. I'm not used to it a little bit. I just wanted to finish this as quickly as I could.

Q. Comparing your physical condition, notwithstanding your shoulder, but your fitness level, today with a year ago when you were here?

MONICA SELES: Well, last year after every match I would be getting cramps, from the first round on. My muscles were like this (indicating). Obviously, not playing tennis for two and a half years, only being in World Class Tennis, it was too much. I was relying more on mentally being strong, the adrenaline for being out there for the first time in many years. I felt really good physically. I felt good physically all through the French, Wimbledon, and through Montreal and for the Olympics. I played a lot of tennis this form. Of course, the Open is one of the toughest because there's so much going on. Even on the court, you have to keep playing while there's noise and people moving. That takes even more out of you. I mean, I stayed focused on my match, points, not worry about anything else. Try to save some energy there.

Q. How much less weight are you carrying, Monica?

MONICA SELES: I don't know. As I said, I never put on a scale and I never will be in my life. I really don't believe in that, so..... It's just my opinion on that.

Q. How is your shoulder right now?

MONICA SELES: My shoulder is the same. It's not better, but it's not worse. That's good. Of course, after we play Spain, Federation Cup finals, obviously that's what I want to do, how I want to enter the new season. I think this tournament is going to be the same as it's been the last three months.

Q. Is it more difficult? Obviously, you've been through all different variations of this, but after all the excitement last year, like you said, the adrenaline, to walk out today and start the tournament, early match, very small crowd, is that difficult?

MONICA SELES: Not really. Almost when I step on the court, I try to focus on my ball and my opponent, because I had some pretty rough first rounds the last two Grand Slams. I probably will have here, too, no matter how hard I try to concentrate. You know, always the 11 a.m. matches, you get very few crowds. At the end, they started coming more. It was still fun. I like to play in the morning, I'll be honest. I like to practice in the mornings early. I like to play in the morning. You have the rest of the day off. It really doesn't matter. I'm here for two weeks to play tennis. Whenever I play, it's great.

Q. Do you look forward to those matches where there is a lot of adrenaline?

MONICA SELES: Definitely. I think, for me, maybe in the beginning of my career not so much. I think the highlights definitely that I remember in the time off, and now when I look back, are the close matches when the crowd was involved, 6-All in the third set, one or two points deciding the match. For me as an athlete, that's what I love the most.

Q. How do you compare your form to your form in '92 and early '93?

MONICA SELES: That was very different, obviously. It would have been a lot easier if I continued that and didn't have to struggle back, relearn a lot of things. I don't like to compare stuff. I'm here; just look towards the future; still believe in the present, this second.

Q. Anne said whatever she hit, good cross-court shots, you seemed to hit back harder. Did you feel your game was on?

MONICA SELES: I really felt I played well today. I had to play good points to win the points. She hit hard, didn't serve any second serves, or she would hit a strong 90 miles an hour second serve or she would miss it. I just tried to mix it up. I had a hard time holding my serve a few times, but I was lucky to pull out those games and go up to 3-Love, in the second set 1-Love. She hits the ball very hard, flat and hard.

Q. If you decide to have surgery on your shoulder, what's the name of the doctor who will perform the operation?

MONICA SELES: Well, I don't know. I think I've seen all the time Dr. Steadman and Dr. Hawkins.

Q. In Colorado?

MONICA SELES: Colorado, yes.

Q. Do you know Anne at all?

MONICA SELES: No, first time I met her. She was really nice. She smiled during the match, which is very unusual for most tennis players. Seemed very down-to-earth.

Q. You came here last year determined to really enjoy yourself and do things off the court, sort of taking in the whole experience. I don't want to say you weren't focused on tennis, but this year rumor (indicating).

MONICA SELES: I think I'm a bit more focused once I get here. Last year I was more happy go lucky. This year before my match, I'm going to stay more focused. I don't want to get too focused because I get stiff and when I go out there, I play bad. I'm still going to try to do a lot of things on my off days in between, so.

Q. Any comments on the men's seeding controversy?

MONICA SELES: No. I pretty much didn't even read about that. That's not my business.

Q. How does the shoulder affect what you want to do with your serve?

MONICA SELES: Pretty much I don't have the power. That's, to me, the hardest. Each time I serve, every third serve, there's just a pain. You're used to it now. I try to mix up my ball toss because I know there's one spot where it's hurting the least. Sometimes I can find it, sometimes I don't. It's just that I cannot practice my serve so I don't have the consistency there. I really cannot do much upper-weight training, which is making it much weaker.

Q. Is it as it was in Australia? Is it worse?

MONICA SELES: It's gotten a lot better. In Australia, after Australia as over and Japan, I think at that point from here I could not lift the shoulder up from this height (indicating). Now I'm probably here, but still far from where it should be (indicating). After Australia, I didn't do anything until like five days before Madrid. In Madrid, it was terrible. In the French, it was slowly getting better. A think a few things the WTA trainer, one of the massage therapists helped me a lot. At Wimbledon it was the same. It's been the same pretty much since. It hasn't gotten better or worse. It definitely did not improve as much as everybody thought in the two and a half months off that it has really doing nothing.

Q. Do you have to hit the serve more flat and try to hit the --

MONICA SELES: Yes. I have the height. There's so many other players that are much smaller and they're serving faster than I am. I need to change. I think I need to hold my serve against top players.

Q. Relative to previous Slams this year, how do you feel about your prospects in this one?

MONICA SELES: My belief is always taking it a match at a time. As soon as I start not doing that, I'm in trouble. Right now I'm thinking of my next round opponent. That's all I'm thinking about. I don't like to look at the draw, who after is coming, so.

Q. Monica, since you struggled to return to the court, how comfortable are you now psychologically to be competing again?

MONICA SELES: What feels great is I'm doing something that I love. That's pretty much where I leave it. That's all I think about. As long as I enjoy playing tennis and I enjoy going out there, playing in front of large crowds, talking to kids or signing autographs, I'm okay. I'll take it a day at a time. That's all I can do.

Q. What specifically is the shoulder injury?

MONICA SELES: It's a tear of the labrial. It's torn.

Q. You say you're looking to do different things on your off days. What types of things might that include?

MONICA SELES: I'd love to see a couple Broadway shows. That's pretty much it. Maybe once go to some other sports game. There's a hockey going on in Madison Square Garden. Like I say, my doubles, singles, what night matches or day matches I play, all those things.

Q. Six-month rehab on that shoulder, is that right?

MONICA SELES: Yeah. It's a long rehab. That's for sure. After the surgery it's a long one. I don't want to think about that because there's maybe a chance of avoiding it, a few other things to try. I heal pretty quick. That's why everybody is surprised this hasn't been healing well. It's a delicate area where you don't get too much blood flow. It's slow. Each time you serve, it's making your shoulder go forward. I need to make it more go backward so it's more stable.

Q. That is relating to the incident at all?

MONICA SELES: I don't think so, no.

Q. You're going to try other things in rehab? You're definitely doing surgery?

MONICA SELES: I'm going to decide after Federation Cup. I haven't seen Dr. Hawkins or Steadman for quite some time now. I'm not avoiding them, but I haven't had a chance to go out there. I've been showing a couple different things that have been helping me. I work with John there who has sent me some stuff that I think might help. We'll see. It's tough if you have the surgery, that's a big decision. Again, for me, I think it's important not to miss again months and months like I've been having this last year. It's so hard both mentally, but physically, to come back each time and play a Grand Slam with no prior tournaments. That's I think asking a lot of myself to do that so often.

Q. The passage in your book about having met the homeless man and his dog, does it help you to be able to talk to people without them knowing a lot about you, who you are?

MONICA SELES: Talking to them about me? You can tell pretty quick, really quick, if somebody talks to you because of who you are, because you're a good tennis player, or somebody talks to you when you're a person. I like it when most people don't know who I am. That's when I feel most comfortable, talk to them with no pretenses involved there. You can pick that up pretty soon. It depends on the other person, too.

Q. Is playing the US Open as a US citizen any different?

MONICA SELES: I went through that last year. Definitely. As I said, I've lived here since '85 or something, so most of my memories are here, most of my friends are here. To me it was just a natural process that I felt for quite some time but I never actually got a chance to become one.

End of FastScripts...

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