August 26, 2002
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. She looked quite dominating.
NICOLE PRATT: Yeah, she didn't give me much room to do much today. I probably let her get an early lead that she shouldn't have got. Had her play a little better but certainly she played very well today.
Q. She seemed to hit a really heavy ball. Was it mostly her, I mean, or you just never got in a rhythm?
NICOLE PRATT: I don't think I got into the type of rhythm that I wanted it, like the points to be set up. I mean, she hits the ball fairly flat. Like I wouldn't say it's a heavy ball. It's flat, she takes it early, takes time away. That's certainly her strength. Also, she can pretty much go any direction she likes, and that's probably what threw me a little bit today. I hadn't played her before and her patterns were unpredictable, so...
Q. How's the foot injury going? You took time off after Wimbledon.
NICOLE PRATT: Yeah, I had five weeks off after Wimbledon. I played LA. By Montreal I was pretty much pain-free. So Montreal, I've had the last two weeks pain-free. My lay-up here sort of wasn't ideal, but certainly I was very happy to be out on the court again basically.
Q. It wasn't hurting today?
NICOLE PRATT: No, not at all.
Q. If you look back on the year, look at the Slams, how do you rate it this year?
NICOLE PRATT: I think I'm disappointed with my results at the Grand Slams this year. I think I've been very consistent at other tournaments throughout the year, and my goal this year was to do better in the Grand Slams than I had been. You know, the way my form had been going into the events, certainly, you know -- I mean the foot injury at Wimbledon certainly didn't help me at all. But I guess there's next year's Grand Slams.
Q. But your form was pretty decent?
NICOLE PRATT: Yeah, I mean, my form's been great all year. I've been really, really consistent all year. I still have a goal of reaching the Top 30 by the end of the year, and I think I'm sitting, I don't know, mid 40s. So that's certainly still achievable.
Q. Where do you go from here?
NICOLE PRATT: I'm doing Asia, the Asian circuit.
Q. You look very fit, though.
NICOLE PRATT: Yeah, I'm in probably the best shape I've ever been.
Q. What do you put that down to?
NICOLE PRATT: A lot of hard work, yeah.
Q. What kinds of things are you doing, weights?
NICOLE PRATT: I was five weeks - four - five weeks out after Wimbledon so I couldn't do any lower body stuff. So I did a lot of upper body work, and my strength has improved a lot in my upper body. But that's kind of an asset that I want to keep and I work hard at. There's other areas that, you know, I'm continuing to work on.
Q. So you were saying before next year you'll come back for the Grand Slams. Does your timing press your mind at all?
NICOLE PRATT: Not at all, uh-huh. Every year I've gotten better and better for the last five years. So, you know, I guess long-term goal, I've set the Olympics in Athens for myself. You know, I think if I can stay healthy, you know, I should be a consistent player within the Top 30 next three years. That's my goal. At the end of this year I'll sort of look back on the year and reflect on I think what I need to do in order to -- because the only thing holding me back is basically beating Top 10 players. Once I think I start to do that one or two times, hopefully that will get the ball rolling with where I think I can get to. I think it's achievable to be Top 20, it's just going to take a lot of hard work.
Q. How do you think Daniela can go against the Williams sisters?
NICOLE PRATT: I don't think she's quite ready right now. I think she's a little -- her game, like I said, she doesn't hit a heavy ball. It's sort of a little bit of a -- compared to the other girls, like I played Kim Clijsters a while ago, she hits it heavier. Then you've got the Williamses who hit it heavier again. There's no weaknesses with Daniela's game - no weaknesses at all. She's only young and she's going to get stronger and she's going to get better. She's obviously got a great, great future ahead of her.
Q. Do you think the Williams sisters are beatable?
NICOLE PRATT: Yep, they are. But they're beatable in the earlier rounds. As soon as they start to get their teeth into the tournament, that's when they do very, very well.
Q. Who do you think is a contender for them here?
NICOLE PRATT: I think Capriati is always in for a shot. Monica will always be there I think. Yeah, like I said, if they don't get knocked out in the first week, I'd say I'd put money on both of them getting through.
Q. Which one do you like for the tournament?
NICOLE PRATT: I've always liked Serena's game better than Venus', yeah.
Q. Based on power?
NICOLE PRATT: I think her technique is a little more solid than Venus'. I think she wants it more. So that's where I give the edge to Serena.
Q. Do you think the secret to beating the Williams sisters is them crumbling in a match?
NICOLE PRATT: I think "crumbling," I just think they -- crumbling isn't the word.
NICOLE PRATT: Flighty. I'd say flighty. If their mind's not into what they're doing out on the court, they tend to spray balls. But, yeah, it's, like I said, they have to get themselves through the first week. Once they do that, then the focus is narrowed down to, you know, seeing the final at the end of the day. Whereas I think in the earlier rounds, they think they can just go out there and win based on who they are and how they might be playing at the time. But there's a few girls out there that can give them a run in the first few rounds.
Q. How does someone who's been around as long as you have been, how do you look at Anna Kournikova today, losing 3 and love to the young Indonesian girl? How is that viewed in the locker room?
NICOLE PRATT: I think it's viewed as being sad. I think, you know, Anna's -- it's sad in the respect that Anna's like such a good tennis player, but there's just been so much pressure on her to perform. And, you know, today's performance was -- you know, I watched it because obviously she was performing. But her performance today was just all mental. She just -- she couldn't cope with being out there. She just rushed through the match, rushed, "I want to get off the court," "I can't do this." So when a player gets like that, I think all the players recognize that at some stage in their careers, they've gone through that. And, you know, it's sad. It's a sad time where you have to sit back and go, "You know, well, do I really want to ..." It's at the point where it's, "Do I really want to play tennis?"
Q. She seems to be quite a different person now than she was when she first started. She was in her press conference today, was sweet-natured. Have you noticed a change in her?
NICOLE PRATT: Not really. She's always been, you know, quiet - I'd say a little quieter than normal. But generally, you know, she's the same as when she sort of -- in the locker room she's the same as when she came in.
Q. Does she have any more friends nowadays?
NICOLE PRATT: Yeah, she has a few, yeah. She's quite friendly with a lot of Russian girls. That's sort of the group she tends to stick with, so... Yeah, there's quite a few girls.
Q. As a player that's sort of one of the top players but not a Top 10 player, do you sometimes marvel at the way that the Top 10 players don't get along or just have difficulties getting along?
NICOLE PRATT: They're all just so competitive, like, by nature. They're all so competitive. I guess there's certain things certain players want at certain tournaments, and different things happen throughout the year. If one didn't get something and the other did, then there's a little bit of like hostility. And then that just builds and builds and builds over the course of a career. That's generally why, you know, I think, you know, a few of them aren't sort of friends. But I'd have to say in the last year though there's more of a like camaraderie amongst the top players of getting together and being united I guess more in a political sense for "women's tennis," which is a really, really positive sign. We haven't had that in a long time. So I think that's a step in the right direction. With that, they're obviously coming together and not just thinking about themselves as individuals anymore.
Q. Also getting a bit older maybe?
NICOLE PRATT: Yep, yep. Well, Venus and Serena, I think they're two very mature girls now. They add obviously a lot of value to women's tennis. Now they're starting to be quite active with portraying that in the media and, you know, in the world basically. So it's good.
Q. They're still not accessible to the media.
NICOLE PRATT: I don't know. I can't... (Smiling)... Well, "accessible" as probably one-on-one, sit-down. What I mean is they're more visible with pictures here, there and everywhere, and basically that's putting themselves out there. I can't really speak for it.
Q. Do you have much to do with Jelena anymore? She's still talking today about how she won't play the Australian Open.
NICOLE PRATT: No.
Q. You don't talk to her?
NICOLE PRATT: No.
Q. Does it surprise you that she, being one of the very competitive players, would sacrifice a Grand Slam like she is with the Aussie?
NICOLE PRATT: Probably more reasons behind that one than we all know I'd say.
Q. Does she talk to any Australians, or just every Australian is on the other side of the fence with her?
NICOLE PRATT: Pretty much, yeah. No, it's a bit -- it's disappointing, very disappointing. But we all move on, I guess.
Q. You had injury problems, but just in general, what sort of makes this time of year difficult for Australian players?
NICOLE PRATT: I wouldn't say it's difficult. I think maybe like for me, I'm based over here so the travel isn't that difficult for me. But maybe, you know, the other girls, it's been the three months in Europe going right through the French and grass, if they don't get home to regenerate, then obviously they're going to be a bit tired by the end of the US circuit. The big thing is, you know, keeping yourself in shape and keeping fresh. I know I've worked hard on that, and I know Alicia's worked hard on that this year. She'll start to see the benefits of that. And maybe, you know, a few of the other girls will recognize kind of what we're doing and follow suit.
Q. Is there talk about how thin the Australian entry is in direct acceptance into the draws over here, two women and three men? What's been said? Anything?
NICOLE PRATT: I don't know. I don't get involved in the Australian politics anymore. I just go out and do my thing, yeah. I mean, it's disappointing. I mean, last year was a good year, we almost had four girls inside the Top 50. So, you know, we've had I guess Rachel and Evie drop away out of the Top 100. But, you know, it's a bit disappointing that there's not that next generation of girls coming through. So I guess, you know, you need to -- if that generation is not coming through, then you got to look to a much younger generation and bring them through. That's sort of the only thing I think you can do. That's the same for the men, same thing. There's a lot of work to be done there I'd say.
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