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September 1, 1998

Jana Novotna

U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. Did you know what to expect out of her today?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think is always difficult to play somebody who you didn't play for a while. No question about it. Going out there I had spoken with some players who already played Jennifer this year, so I have been asking around a little bit how is she playing and all that, but you never know. I pretty much expected what I got on the court today. She was hitting hard from the back, you know, not consistent enough to beat me today. But she is definitely on the right track. I see that she lost some weight, she was moving much better. I think, in order for her to get better or get her ranking back, she needs to play a lot of matches and just simply get a little bit more patient and little more consistent.

Q. Your game today?

JANA NOVOTNA: I felt pretty good about my game. It wasn't easy to play against Jennifer today. Obviously everybody was rooting for her so it wasn't an easy first round, but I thought I handled myself very well. Played reasonably good and just happy to be in the second round.

Q. You were up 5-0 second set, looked like you lost your concentration. What was going --

JANA NOVOTNA: I think I got up in the second set really easily and I was -- within 10 minutes I was up 5-Love and I didn't really have to put up a fight. Then I had a match point and I missed that volley and suddenly everything turned around; she started to put everything in and one let cord there, one line there, and you know, just for a moment maybe lost my concentration a little bit, but then I got it back right away.

Q. You have had a lot of big matches in that court. Does it feel different now that it is smaller?

JANA NOVOTNA: It feels much better, much better. The court is much better now. I feel like it is more cozy and it is not as open and it is definitely a very nice court to play on.

Q. Do you find yourself feeling inwardly any different being a Wimbledon champion? Does it affect the way you carry yourself around the courts or on the tennis premises? Is there a different feeling at all?

JANA NOVOTNA: I think there is generally a feeling -- yeah, I definitely feel much more relaxed and very confident going into the matches. Again, I feel like I can just go out there and perform good tennis and just look forward and, yeah, I do feel different. I feel better. No question about it.

Q. As Wimbledon champ are you then a little surprised by the round of applause after the match that was given for Jennifer --

JANA NOVOTNA: You have to realize that Jennifer has been through some tough times and I guess it is very natural that she got such ovations and people wanted to see her go into the second round or they wanted to see a breakthrough and finally, you know, that something is going to happen for her in a good way, but you just have to deal with that. I mean, what can I do? I won Wimbledon, but I can't expect everybody to root for me at every single tournament. I think that is very natural that she was the underdog today and people wanted her to see win, and, you know, it is just fine with me.

Q. Would you assess how Steffi Graf's game is now as opposed to before the knee surgery and her layoff.

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, the funny thing was when I saw her for the first time in Eastbourne this year, that was probably just her second tournament when she played after the surgery, I already dare felt that she is playing really well, but obviously she was losing matches to players that she never lost before. I think it was just a matter of time for her to get, you know, into the match groove and start to win more matches and keep on winning. I played her last week in New Haven and she played a tremendous match against Lindsay Davenport; then she played a great match against me. So in my eyes I think she is back and she is going to be very dangerous.

Q. Do you think as Grand Slam champion now that you might want to reassess the usual plans you have not playing at Australia?

JANA NOVOTNA: No, really I haven't thought about it yet. I think it still enough time for me to decide if I want to go to Australia or not. But I have been asked the same question in the last week and now when me and Lindsay are pretty close to Martina and there is a great chance that one of us could become No. 1 in the world if that could be the case, it would be a matter of a few points here or there, I would maybe decide to go to Australia, but if -- that would be the only reason. Otherwise I still won't go because my indoor season is very, very busy and I need the time off.

Q. Is that the next big goal in your mind to be No. 1 in the world?

JANA NOVOTNA: Not really in my mind. I always said that in order to become No. 1 player in the world you have to keep playing good tennis and you have to keep on winning, so, for me in order to become No. 1 player in the world I only need to focus on myself and focus on winning and playing good tennis. And I think that ranking would come automatically, so, there is something that is going on that I know about it; that there is a great possibility for me to become No. 1 player in world but it is not like a major, major goal in my career.

Q. With this 25th anniversary of equal prize money, men and women here, do you feel -- do you have any feelings about the other Grand Slams kind of getting with the program? Do you feel is it fair unfair? Any strong feelings about making it equal as well?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think, yes, I think it would be fair enough or it would be great for women's tennis to have equal prize money at every Grand Slam, but every tournament, every country has a different view over this, but I think that nowadays, as women's tennis is as strong as ever, I think the possibility of having equal prize money at every Grand Slam is very near and I am sure it is going to happen in the near future.

Q. Obviously at Wimbledon you had such a huge triumph, but looking ahead where do you envision yourself possibly being in say, five years or so?

JANA NOVOTNA: Where I would be in five years from now?

Q. Yes.

JANA NOVOTNA: On the court. (smiles).

Q. Still playing?

JANA NOVOTNA: Yeah. (smiles) No, I really don't know. That is really -- you know, this is really funny. I think when you are young, when you are 18 years old or 20 years old you can easily answer that question just going to say, you know, I know exactly where I am going to be; I know exactly what I will be doing when you get to my age, I think that I am taking my tennis career as it comes and I cannot look at this moment five years from now because it is just too far away. My next goal or as far as I look is the end of the season and then I will take it from there. And you know, I will see if I am happy, if I am enjoying tennis, if I am healthy enough, or if I am good enough to compete against all these other players and if I am, then I will make a decision and I will go on and play another season or so. But I cannot tell you where I will be or where I am going to be five years from now.

Q. Your goal at the end of the season?

JANA NOVOTNA: I will finish this season, definitely, and I will then sit down and just, you know, see how I feel about next year and about next couple of years and I will make a decision. But I feel pretty good and I do see myself playing for another two or three years, but I cannot really tell you what is going to happen. I may get injured, you never know.

Q. Getting back to Steffi for a second, what did you see in New Haven is that you didn't see in her game at Eastbourne that has changed or improved in terms of confidence?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I don't know because I didn't play her in Eastbourne and I only played her after a while just now in New Haven but what I meant to say that when I saw her in Eastbourne, I thought already there that she is playing extremely well. The only difference was that she was still losing these matches so it was a different, one or two points here and there. Now, what I saw in New Haven is the old Steffi. She was very -- she was moving very well. She was hitting hard and she was very confident, very aggressive, so, there is nothing new about it. I mean, nothing new that we didn't know already. But it is finally back and that is why she is playing so well.

Q. Is there anything different about Jennifer's game as opposed to five, six years ago that you notice or -- whether it be style, demeanor?

JANA NOVOTNA: As I told you, I saw her for the first time now, I didn't see her for half a year, maybe or so when I haven't played her for years, but what I see, which is already a very positive sign is that she lost some weight, I think that she is more focused than she was before. And I think that she is really trying hard to come back. I just told you, I think if she is going to stay on the right track it is just a matter of time when it is going to happen for her because she still has a great ground strokes; she hits the ball very hard. She hits great passing shots. I think all she needs to get is little more consistent, confidence back and win a couple of more matches. But that shouldn't be that difficult because she has been there before. She knows how to handle big situations and she knows how to play on a big occasion. So for her, it is a matter of consistent work from one week to another, playing as many matches as she can and then I am sure that she has a great future ahead of her. She is still very young, and that is the great advantage of that.

Q. Do you see this U.S. Open as a chance to become a household name aside from just the prize money, household name like Graf or Seles or even people who don't follow tennis would know the name Novotna, do you see that as that type of chance to become a household name?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think -- I always said that you have to do well at the Grand Slams to get your recognition, I think that I have been playing this tournament for many, many years. I have made it to the semifinals here and I am sure that people know who I am. It is just a matter of playing well here. I think the New York crowd is a little bit different from any other crowd. They will love you when you do well here.

End of FastScripts....

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