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November 17, 1998

Jana Novotna


Q. How bad is the injury?

JANA NOVOTNA: I don't think that you can call that injury. I think it was pretty obvious that toward the end of the second set I got cramps and unfortunately the fact that both my legs, both my calves, affected both a couple of times, I have stumbled there and almost sprained my ankle, so I knew that it is going to be hard to continue and because I didn't want to get hurt even more. Simply because I didn't have the same feeling in my legs like I have and it was pretty frustrating, I must say, because I think that I played really well. I think that I do have the game to beat Steffi. Unfortunately I didn't have the physique to finish her off today. It was a good match. I have a pretty good feeling about that. It has been difficult. It has been difficult and a very long year. And the end of the year was a little bit frustrating, so, that is what you have to deal with.

Q. Why did you keep playing when it was pretty obvious that you just couldn't move too much anymore? Why?

JANA NOVOTNA: I don't know, you always - you never know what can happen. I was kind of hoping that she will pull out. (Laughs) Well, you know, I just felt that I didn't want to discontinue to play. You just wanted to finish it off even though I knew that it was almost impossible to continue and almost impossible to run to the balls. But I still didn't feel like I wanted to just default the match so that is why I decided to continue.

Q. Would it be, by any chance, for respect for her, to Steffi or by respect to this match which was very expected in New York?

JANA NOVOTNA: That is why I didn't default because I had so much respect for this match?

Q. Yeah.

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think that could be part of it also. I know that it was a tremendous buildup about this match, especially when Steffi has been playing some great tennis lately coming here basically undefeated, and beating the No. 1 player in the world. So that is an impressive record. But nevertheless as I said, I think that the reason why I didn't default probably could be one of the reasons that I had too much respect for this match. I didn't want to finish it this way. But I just, you know, felt I wanted to finish it in a decent way.

Q. You said the end of the year has been disappointing?

JANA NOVOTNA: I think it was very frustrating.

Q. Why has this year been different?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think that this year was different because so many different reasons. I think I had a wonderful year, there is no question about it. I won Wimbledon. My biggest dream in my career came true. And unfortunately after US Open, I had a great Open, I got injured and, you know, I had to skip four tournaments, indoor tournaments, which as you all know I love to play that. It was just very hard to come back after a back injury and, you know, it takes time. Unfortunately there is not enough tournaments for me to get better. Again I am looking forward to have a nice break and just come back again strong next year.

Q. Do you remember the last time you cramped in a match?

JANA NOVOTNA: No, I actually don't remember that. Because, yeah, I have - I am always staying in very good shape and I do consider myself, you know, physically fit. I don't remember when was the last time that I had cramps.

Q. Is it possible that it is never?

JANA NOVOTNA: No, I definitely had cramps before, but it has been a year or a year and a half since I had that. But I definitely had cramps before.

Q. Was that the reason that you fell on the serve? What happened on that serve? Is that the cramps?

JANA NOVOTNA: Yeah. I mean, you can't push off and you know that I have pretty deep knee bend and it was just difficult to serve.

Q. I am speaking when she almost knocked you over --

JANA NOVOTNA: Oh, that. That was unbelievable serve right into my body. All I had to do was just duck in and hide for cover.

Q. What did your trainer say?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, there could be so many different reasons why I cramped and as I said I think that I didn't have enough time to prepare for the tournament in Philadelphia and also here. And simply because of my back injury and, you know, with Steffi you have to bend extremely low and have to run from one side to the other because her balls really stay very low and, you know, I just got tired. But it could be many different reasons for you to cramp in the match.

Q. Do you feel that the injury you had in October, the tournaments you had to miss might have cost you the No. 1?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I am not really sure if that would be possible at all. But I think I had a pretty good chance at the Open, even I lost to Hingis. But that doesn't really make any difference. I won my Grand Slam title. That was the most important thing to me to do in my tennis career and again, if I stay fit as I said, women's tennis is so open nowadays, anybody can be No. 1 and anybody can just take over Lindsay any time soon. So I think it is just a matter of time and if it is supposed to happen, it is going to happen. And if not, it's not going to happen but it is not going to be the end of the world for me.

Q. Would you reconsider going to Australia?

JANA NOVOTNA: That is often the question asked lately really since I had this unwanted break, if I am going to go to Australia. No, I still believe that I need my time I need to get some rest get ready and start to play in February.

Q. Is this the Steffi of old? When you play her, do you think of her as the same, as the same power?

JANA NOVOTNA: Yes, I definitely think so. Although you cannot say that from one week to another since she has been so unpredictable and so unstable one week she could play really well, next week she got hurt, then she didn't play for two months or something, I think when she is fit, when she is playing like she did today. I think she is playing like the old Steffi but the question is how long could it last? Could it last for the whole year, could it last for a month or something? Only when she plays well, she is the old Steffi, no question about it.

Q. Nathalie Tauziat was talking today about the very busy calendar for you players. She skipped the Australian Open too at the beginning of her season like you. What do you -- do you think that players should ask for a break - longer break than three weeks or one month or is it only because you are 30 years old and --

JANA NOVOTNA: I think that everybody should, you know, once the schedule is out, you know, you know how many tournaments -- how many tournaments there are and I think what everybody needs to do is to find what is good for them. I definitely agree with you that the season is too long. I think we should have at least two months off-season, that is no question about it. But since this is the way it is, then everybody has to find a way, what is the best for them. That is what I have been able to find for last couple of years. It really worked for me. That is what I will do. So instead of complaining, instead of complaining that this the season is too long that is not going to change. Instead of that, players have to find what is best for them.

Q. But you have to skip a Grand Slam.

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, that is very unfortunate, yeah, but that is my choice. That is my choice to do that. You know, it worked for me.

Q. A lot of players are complaining about this, it came up two years ago the same question. Is anybody actively trying to get the system changed?

JANA NOVOTNA: I am not really sure, but I think that, you know, not everybody would agree with you necessarily. I think that some players feel that the season is too long, some players don't feel that way. Players, you know, most of the top players feel that they need more time off simply because they do play more matches. Some other players disagree and they are happy to continue to play in January.

Q. What do you do when you take the time off? We asked Steffi and she said she is going to be practicing?

JANA NOVOTNA: Good. Good for her. (Laughs) I am going to take time off.

Q. At some point were you afraid of your participation in the doubles match?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I am afraid of that. But on the other hand, I know the doubles is a different story and cramps do come and they go away very quickly. So I am hoping to be fit tomorrow and all I have to ask Martina to run, that is all.

End of FastScripts....

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