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September 6, 1998

Kimberly Po-Messerli

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. Did you just find a zone in the second?

KIMBERLY PO: No. I found a little more comfort. In the beginning, I was just a little -- going for a little too much, thinking too much about who I was playing rather than what I wanted to do.

Q. What does that mean, "thinking too much about who you were playing?"

KIMBERLY PO: Well, if you think about you're playing Monica versus playing - I don't know - someone else, you start thinking you have to do more, you have to hit better, you have to hit lines, you have to hit a perfect shot, when you don't. You know, if you just play -- I just try to play within myself, and not worry so much about who I'm playing. You'll be able to see that normally, if someone -- you know, we're all good players. If you see us out there, we miss right away, miss everything right away, then that's usually what it is. It's usually just feeling like you have to do more, you know, you have to play better.

Q. But you think simply about her ability as opposed to her history, her background, her personal history?

KIMBERLY PO: No, you think a little bit about both.

Q. You do?


Q. What do you think about --

KIMBERLY PO: For me, it's the first time I've been on that court. I don't know if she's already played on there. I played on Court -- what court did I play on? You know, way out. I walked in, talked to Rennae Stubbs, "Took you a while to get used to the court." She's like, "It's like us playing on Court 18." We're out there, we're more comfortable. I think it's like Lisa last night. It takes you a little while. I mean, I hit out there this morning. Still, when you haven't played a ton of matches on the center courts or the bigger stadiums, it's hard to just go out there and be like, "Okay, I'm ready."

Q. Do you think you exposed some weaknesses in her game, her conditioning may not be totally back yet?

KIMBERLY PO: I think that's still -- I mean, I think she'd probably tell you that, too, that she's still not moving like she used to. Just a bigger person than before. She grew in every way. I mean, she -- before, she was a small girl. I mean, if you see pictures of her, she's like a small girl. And now she's grown up, so maybe that's just hard for her to get used to also.

Q. If she plays Hingis, I mean, do you think it's going to be difficult for her to make that next step in this tournament?

KIMBERLY PO: I don't think so.

Q. How do you see that match?

KIMBERLY PO: Actually, I either see Monica winning in two sets or Hingis winning in like a close three. Like, I think the closer it gets, the --

Q. Why?

KIMBERLY PO: Why? Because I think if Monica comes out and just overpowers her, then she'll have kind of like a mental edge off that, too. She's done it before to her.

Q. What do you think is the deciding factor in the third set? It was pretty close early on. What do you think really changed the tone of the match?

KIMBERLY PO: I don't know if she did this on purpose or not, but at 4-3, I actually thought she was getting tight. And I could see that. So that made me get a little more anxious. She was hitting it not with as much power. Maybe she was doing that on purpose, though. I don't know. But I didn't feel that way. I thought that she was getting a little tight. I just was trying -- trying to hit too much again rather than just doing what I was doing before. That's why I was so pissed off at the end.

Q. Did it look like she was hitting her shots and they weren't coming back, or deliberately stepping back and putting more spin on the ball?

KIMBERLY PO: Yeah, looked like she was just pulling off a little.

Q. After that first set, did you kind of adopt the mind set, "Hey, if I'm going to go out, I'm going to go out swinging and banging, hitting my shots." It seemed like you played a completely different second set?

KIMBERLY PO: Yeah. I got a little annoyed with myself, that I wasn't doing what I wanted to do. I wasn't doing what I came out there to do. It was just like tripping. It was just not -- I was like stuck. I don't know. I was maybe a little nervous. Then I was like, "God, I'm here, I should enjoy this. This is a great experience, and play." I mean, I was getting really annoyed. That probably made me just start going after a little bit more.

Q. The first real solid winner that you hit kind of beget the others?

KIMBERLY PO: Yeah. I felt like I wasn't trying to hit a winner. I mean, I don't try to hit winners. When I try to do that, normally they're all over the place. You know, I'm just trying to hit like a certain pattern, whatever I'm trying to do on the court. They'll just come, hopefully.

Q. How much of that early feeling in the first set is due to the aura that a Grand Slam champion like Seles or Graf or Hingis puts out? How much does that sort of weigh on a player?

KIMBERLY PO: Depends on how much you let it. It's something that I tried to kind of deal with before, because I didn't want to go out there and in the middle of the second set or end of the second set feel like, "Okay, now I'm comfortable." But I still kind of did it. But that's all right. I mean, that's fine. I'm not going to be perfect, and I accept that.

Q. But it sounds like that's part of the package of playing a great player, as well as playing your game, you have to deal with that?

KIMBERLY PO: You definitely do.

Q. You have to get over that hump before you can be there.

KIMBERLY PO: Yeah, yeah.

Q. How did you feel the crowd reacted to you and her?

KIMBERLY PO: I thought it was pretty fair. It wasn't like they were, you know -- I don't remember any cheering when I double-faulted or things like that. They clapped on good points both ways.

Q. I asked you a question earlier about when you're playing her, when you think about her personal history, about the traumas that she went through, stabbing, father. Does this come into mind in any way when you're seeing her on the other side of the court?

KIMBERLY PO: No, not with me. Maybe before. I played her, first match out in Toronto. Yeah, I definitely thought about that then.

Q. When she came back from the stabbing?

KIMBERLY PO: Yes. I played her in her first match after her stabbing.

Q. What was that like?

KIMBERLY PO: That was -- I felt like if I didn't win one point, people would have been so excited. I mean, I walked out on that court, and it was unbelievable. It was great. I got chills. I was thinking, "God, she must feel great." The response for her coming out was unbelievable.

Q. What was the score?

KIMBERLY PO: Oh, I have no idea. It wasn't very close. But that was hard.

Q. She beat you?


Q. She won the tournament, didn't she?

KIMBERLY PO: I think so. That time I definitely thought about it.

Q. In the fifth game of the third set, when she got the breakpoint, and she had to track all the way from one side of the court to get that ball to make that cross-court winner, did you feel something changing in her at that point? I mean, she hadn't gotten to those balls. You'd been doing that to her the whole second set. She hadn't been able to get there.

KIMBERLY PO: I mean, no. She's going to hit some great shots, that's fine. She got to less than she made. I like that percentage. I'll take that anytime. That's fine with me. If she's going to hit a great shot, I'd much rather her hit a great shot on breakpoint than for me to just miss.

Q. From the time you played her in that first match back after her stabbing until now, what are the biggest differences in the way she plays? And also her outward demeanor on the court?

KIMBERLY PO: She had a little less on her serve here. It was real windy out there. I remember when she came back, her first serve was huge. She was serving much bigger. I don't know, maybe she's trying to get more first serves in. She actually moves better than she did. But I don't know, sometimes you can -- I'm trying to be more aware, who I'm playing. Sometimes you can kind of -- I don't know. I don't always feel like she's so confident or so sure. Like sometimes if I'd hit a second serve, before you kind of had this feeling like, "Okay, this is going to be a winner somewhere. Maybe I can guess." Today I was just kind of like, "Well, I'll either get to it or she'll miss it or I'll hit -- I didn't think that every ball was going to be a winner.

Q. Of hers?


Q. You're predicting she's probably going to beat Martina Hingis?


Q. What has been the biggest step in her game from that point when she came back until now that you see her right at that top level?

KIMBERLY PO: I think she was at that top level when she came back. I don't think she lost all that much. I think the only thing she lost was a little bit of movement. It's heart to exploit that. I don't see much difference from when she first came back to now. I think maybe the difference is in players' belief, you know, when they see her play. If you see someone lose a couple times, you start believing, "Oh, they are beatable." If Martina, people start beating her, you just kind of think, "Well, gosh, they can beat her. She can be beaten." Rather than if she goes 60-0 for a year, you go out there, "She hasn't lost one match this year".

Q. Had you played Monica before the stabbing?


Q. Do you see any difference in her strokes?

KIMBERLY PO: Not really.

Q. Did she hit the ball harder years ago?

KIMBERLY PO: Not really. She still hits it pretty damn hard.

Q. Was there a moment today that particularly impressed you about her game, that she got to something you didn't think she was going to get?

KIMBERLY PO: I don't know if it was the same -- I'm thinking of a different one, when I came into net and she hit a forehand angle that I didn't think she was going to get to, nor did I think she was going to hit a winner off of it. I was at net.

Q. When was that?

KIMBERLY PO: Might have been in the first set. I don't remember her doing that before. Like she takes her hand off sometimes and hits a one-handed forehand.

Q. What do you do from here? What is your schedule?

KIMBERLY PO: I am going to visit my boyfriend, take some time off, and then I'm going to go to Tokyo and then Filderstadt, Zurich, Quebec, Philly, maybe Mexico City for doubles. I'm trying to catch up on some tournaments.

Q. Is that it for you then? Are you still going to retire?

KIMBERLY PO: I don't know yet. I haven't decided that yet.

Q. Why would you retire?

KIMBERLY PO: Tired of playing. Other things to do.

Q. You weren't tired today, though?

KIMBERLY PO: No, no, no.

Q. You were up for it?

KIMBERLY PO: Yeah. If I'm playing, I'll play. I'm not going to go out there and just kind of think about it while I'm out there.

Q. When will you decide? Do you know? Do you have a timetable on what you want to do?

KIMBERLY PO: I'd really like to know by the end of the year. It's hard to do when I'm playing. I mean, especially here, I'm not going to do it here. I might take a look at it after this. I have some time, I'm not going to hit.

Q. It's been said on the women's side, she's sort of like Agassi, the purest striker of the ball in the women's game. Is she still, and who is even close to her level in that respect?

KIMBERLY PO: Striking the ball? I thought Van Roost struck it a little more cleaner. She hit as flatter ball, though. Monica hits a little more spin. I haven't played Kournikova, I haven't played Hingis, I haven't played Venus. I wouldn't say Serena is, because she kind of shanks quite a few. Lucic hits it pretty clean, pretty early, too. Actually, I think she's more like that than Monica is.

Q. Lucic?

KIMBERLY PO: Yeah. She hits it so early.

Q. When you came out onto the centre court, you looked around before the match. You felt it was daunting in some way, it was very impressive. What did you see when you looked around? What did you see and feel at that moment?

KIMBERLY PO: I was just kind of wondering how many people there were. I always look around, though. When I'm outside, wherever, I just kind of look around. I don't sit there and just changeovers (indicating).

Q. How did you feel inside before the match?

KIMBERLY PO: I was pretty excited for it, yeah. I was very happy that we were playing on that court rather than two or three, stadium two or three.

End of FastScripts….

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