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June 26, 2000

Mirjana Lucic

WIMBLEDON, M. LUCIC/D. Chladkova 4-6, 6-2, 6-2

MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. A relief to get that win?

MIRJANA LUCIC: It was, really. It's been a while. I haven't had too many matches this year that I won, only one. But I was getting help from Harold Solomon this past couple of days. He helped me a lot to realise that it's not just about that, you know, just winning a match. Just he believed in me. Everyone that's working with me told me, "It's just another match in my career. Doesn't matter that I played her semis or anything. Just go and fight this match." I did that today. I did that well today.

Q. Is that going to be an ongoing relationship?

MIRJANA LUCIC: I hope so. We just started here. We'll see how things go.

Q. What has been the problem here, in your head or in your game?

MIRJANA LUCIC: It's been in my head. That sounds a little too harsh. But, I don't know, I was putting too much pressure on myself, didn't do the work I was supposed to do. I didn't do things the right way.

Q. Was that because you were feeling lazy, just had bad advice?

MIRJANA LUCIC: No, I'm not a lazy person at all. I haven't had someone with me, like a really good coach. It was difficult for me. I'm a person who needs to be pushed a little bit. I don't know, I just need the right advice. I believe I've had a lot of coaches. It's hard. I need to trust someone, have respect for someone to really do exactly as they say. It's been really working well with him the last couple days.

Q. Was Wimbledon almost peaking too early in your career? Was it difficult to progress from the success of last year?

MIRJANA LUCIC: No, not at all. I mean, last year after this tournament, I think I relaxed a little, and I learned a lot from that because I thought I could just show up and I will just win matches just like that instead of working ten times harder. I have learned that. I know that now. Whatever happens here, I know after I'm going to work really hard and get ready for the summer season.

Q. Is Steffi still your idol as far as tennis is concerned? Is the poster still on the wall?

MIRJANA LUCIC: What do you mean?

Q. Steffi Graf has always been your idol.

MIRJANA LUCIC: She was always. I also have to include one more person, Monica Seles. I had a chance to meet her, I played with her the last couple days. I had a chance to meet her over this last year a little better. I have to say, really she's an incredible person. I think she's such a big champion. You know, I practised with her. She just comes to the court and gives every single time a hundred percent, every single minute on the court. She's so happy to be out there. She really loves the game. I respect her so much as a player. I think she's a wonderful person.

Q. Did she offer you any advice?

MIRJANA LUCIC: Here and there, nothing special. But I think just being in her presence, you can learn a lot of things and take a lot of good from there.

Q. Last year you were thrust into the limelight. This year you're sort of a known quantity here. How do you feel about that?

MIRJANA LUCIC: I feel great. I mean, it feels so good. I almost started crying when I got here the first day because, I mean, this place has always been so emotional for me. So many always good things happen here. Just to be here, I feel like this is my place. This is the place where I play good tennis. I just came here positive, even though I haven't played well at all this year. I just came here positive. I'm feeling good. Just go out there and really have fun and try to win every match.

Q. This is the first time you will play against a Croatian girl. What are you expecting from this match?

MIRJANA LUCIC: I'm expecting a good match. I mean, I know Sylvija. I know how she plays. Of course, it won't be easy. She has some good results lately. I mean, as I said, I'm feeling really good and positive. Coming into that match, I feel I'll be very prepared.

Q. This year you felt you lost your way. You could only win one set in the whole year up to now. It is fascinating that it seems to be a mind game with you.

MIRJANA LUCIC: Well, it is, for sure. I won only one match this year. I lost I think ten. If you look at it on paper, it really isn't good. The last couple of matches I played, I really totally wasn't in there. The last match I lost in Eastbourne, I lost 5 and 6. I was really fighting. I mean, I didn't play a good match, but I was fighting. That was the most important. I came here positive, as I said. It's just a matter of going in there and fighting for every point, just wanting to do that. I realised that that's what I want to do. I'm sure things will change from now on.

Q. How do you think you might have reacted if you'd have lost the match today?

MIRJANA LUCIC: I have talked to Harold last night. We said, whatever happens, I win tomorrow, great, we prepare for the next match. If I lose, I'm going to just go and do whatever I need to do to get myself ready for the next tournament and just really work hard. In my career, just looking at it right now, this is just - if I lost that match today, it would be just one of the matches. That's all. That doesn't mean anything in my career to come.

Q. You say you put too much pressure on yourself. Working with Harold Solomon, does that mean the pressure is off now, when you say, "It's just another match"?

MIRJANA LUCIC: I think pressure, I'm the only one who can put it on myself. Obviously, I can't play tennis like that. I didn't really know why. I haven't had anything figured^ out in any mind. The last week, the last couple weeks, I've been training hard. I mean, I realise what I wanted to do. I know how good I'm playing, and I just decided, "That's it; from now on I'm going to be a real professional and do things the right way."

Q. Solomon is just at Wimbledon for the moment?

MIRJANA LUCIC: We'll see. We just started here. Basically it happened so quick. We're working good together. Things are going really well.

Q. How did it happen? Did you talk to him or did he come to you?

MIRJANA LUCIC: I mean, my agent, we talked.

Q. Do you feel you've settled down in the States, you've made a home there?

MIRJANA LUCIC: Yeah. We live there now already two years. The whole family is settled.

Q. No matter what happens, you're staying with Harold?

MIRJANA LUCIC: Definitely, that's the plan.

Q. Mario will stay on the team?

MIRJANA LUCIC: Yeah. Outside my family, he's the best friend I ever had. I appreciate his friendship. He's a really cool guy. It's important I think to have someone with you can talk to, you can run with, you can work out with. I think it's very important. Our relationship is going good.

End of FastScripts….

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