November 23, 1997
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, NEW YORK
Q. Jana, that must be one of the most pleasing days in your career, wasn't it, by the way you thought the match out and then delivered it?
JANA NOVOTNA: Definitely, John. This is probably one of the greatest moments of my tennis career, there's no question about it. I think during the whole tournament I played really well, and I was able to come out today pretty strong, even though I had to play five set already yesterday because of the doubles. I was just really focused and I really wanted to win this title very much, because I felt like I was playing the best tennis of my life. And I wanted to do it until the end.
Q. Jana, was it the best you've served in a big match like this? You had the break points at the end of the first set and the ace and the tiebreak with the ace?
JANA NOVOTNA: I will tell you like this, I think I served really well towards the end of the first set and for the rest of the match. I don't think I served the hardest, but the placement was really good, and I made aces, so I got plenty of free points, and it was important today because we had to play the best of five. So I knew I would have to get some easy points, and it was really good.
Q. How much did winning that first set do for you in terms of confidence and momentum?
JANA NOVOTNA: Well, it was the most important thing today because I was down most of the time in the first set. Mary had chances to break me in the beginning of the set and I was down in the tiebreaker. I was able to come back strong and win the first set. And from there on I felt there was nothing that could stop me anymore. I started to serve better and was winning my points much, much more easily.
Q. In that first game she's suddenly at the net on every point, is there a point you looked up and said what's going on?
JANA NOVOTNA: I wasn't as surprised. I knew she would have to come up with something new to beat me, because I've never lost to her. Whenever she played from the back she lost quite easily. So I knew she would have to be quite aggressive. But I didn't know she was going to be that aggressive. I like to see the statistics on this, I felt she was more at the net than I was, but in the beginning it took me some time to get used to it, but when I started to play better it was much better.
Q. New York just offered you $500,000, what are you going to do with the money?
JANA NOVOTNA: You know, tennis is not only about money, and that's how I always looked at it. Tennis for me was always about winning trophies, about winning Grand Slams and winning tournaments. I think the financial part always comes afterwards, like a nice reward, but it was never the most important thing for me. It's a huge check and quite a lot of money, but I don't see myself going to the city tomorrow and spending it all or at least part of it.
Q. Does this victory at all ease the pain of the three Grand Slam finals?
JANA NOVOTNA: I have come a very long way, there's no question about it. I made it three times to the finals of the Grand Slam and twice I was really very close to winning it. And after today's victory and winning this tournament, I have proved to myself that I am a great champion, and even if I don't win a tournament from now on, even if I don't win another match, I just proved to myself that I am the player who I expected to be, and that I am a great champion, there's no question about it.
Q. You said you played her before. It's the end of the season, you've been playing a lot, and then look what happens today?
JANA NOVOTNA: You know, it doesn't happen from one day to another, there's no question about it. I had a very successful season, I was playing extremely well throughout the year and I just was able to maintain that form when I needed it the most, and I think that's what it is all about. As you know, I love this place, I love to play indoors. I love to play on the Supreme Court. It was a matter of putting it all together and being able to just be able to use my game the way I need to.
Q. Jana, when you went down 4-2 in the tiebreak, you had the serve, and what's going through your mind at that point, did you have an idea of how you wanted to play that point? If she wins, that it's 5-2 and it's really tough?
JANA NOVOTNA: Again, you don't think about it, really, you don't think about the score, it's 4-2, you simply go to the other side and you try to get red and I try to win the point. And I knew that I would have to be aggressive because I felt in the beginning of the set and throughout the whole first set Mary was really the one who was aggressive. She was at the net and I wasn't winning points there. I knew that I would have to be faster at the net than she is, and I played a couple of good points and I said to myself, "just whatever happens in the first set it doesn't matter, you have another two sets to go, and if this one doesn't work, there's plenty of time for you to get ready, find your timing and play better tennis and find a way to beat her."
Q. As that first set droned on and it was looking longer and tighter, was there any moment where you were thinking this could be five sets of this, and look at how much tennis I've played in the last two days?
JANA NOVOTNA: No. You don't think that far. You think from one point and one game to another. But you knew it's not going to be like this. As the match goes on you would see less realize, and like I said yesterday, you'd see us going for the winners, and that's what we did. And the match didn't last long.
Q. You were using ice, was it preventive or were you tight?
JANA NOVOTNA: I was already a little sore coming into the match, upper thigh, so I knew that I would have to keep it cool and stretch it occasionally during the match. So I was coming into the match already a little injured, so that was like just keeping everything under control.
Q. Do you take any satisfaction from the fact that people talk about this almost as a teenager's game, the women's, and yet you're a veteran and playing the best tennis of your life and here you won a major title?
JANA NOVOTNA: I think it makes it really interesting and I think it is very nice to see such a contrast in women's tennis. We have been waiting for this moment for a long time, where we see the changing in the generation. Where we see the older players retiring, like this last year, was Sabatini and Date. It's a very nice contrast to see players who are experienced who play a different style of tennis than the younger ones do. Women's tennis needed a boost and we needed the young players, and I'm glad we had them. It makes it interesting for the players and everybody else.
Q. When you went up a break early in the second set it had the feel that that took a lot out of Mary, and it seemed like it was just a question of time now before you finished it out.
JANA NOVOTNA: In the second set, yes, I did feel like that. I felt like it would be really important to get an important break. And I knew she would be disappointed from being up in the first set and still losing. I knew it would be a good thing to do and when it happened I felt like this set will be mine, because it will take her some time before she will get focused again and before she can recover from that. In the third set she started playing much better again and she was going for her shots, so definitely the second set was probably the easiest.
Q. Jana, why do you feel your game matches up so well against Mary?
JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I talked about it already yesterday when I told you that I guess because of my variety. I have a lot of variety in my game. I told you that also if I will be serving well I have a very good chance. And that's exactly what happened today. I was serving extremely well and I was able to break Mary. And that's what it's all about.
Q. You are the first one to win both titles, does it mean that it belongs to the net player?
JANA NOVOTNA: I wouldn't say that, no. It really depends. You can't really compare Martina's era with my era. You can't really do that. But, yes, on this fast surface and indoors, the net players are the players with the good serve and variety, they have a better chance to win this, that's for sure.
Q. Jana, you got very emotional earlier on the court when mentioning Hana, can you talk a little bit about that?
JANA NOVOTNA: Sure. Well, the one thing I have always -- I always thought was that my professional tennis career really has changed tremendously in the beginning of our coaching relationship. And she really brought me to another level. She made me a better player and she made me a champion. And she was a great player, herself. She was a great champion herself and she simply taught me how to be one. There's no question about it. I was really pleased with that. And I wanted to thank her for that, it was a huge occasion. And for me it is like a 5th Grand Slam, definitely a major occasion to do that.
Q. Jana, do you think next year you'll be able to carry on this form and do you think there's going to be a sort of -- so little pressure on yourself, you've proved what you can do, that we could possibly expect even more wins of this caliber?
JANA NOVOTNA: The funny thing is that I've never really doubted that I can do it. I always felt like I could do it, getting three times to the finals of the Grand Slam and making it twice at Wimbledon. And being so close, especially this year. Unfortunately I got injured there. I really have never had any doubt that I wouldn't be able to do it one day, it was just a matter of time, when it will finally happen. So now I'm really glad that I'm not going to Australia again this year, and I'll take a good rest and get in better physical shape than I was this year and get stronger in order to keep up with these young players and just if I will enjoy it, if I will stay healthy then I'd like to continue the way I am playing right now. But you're right, definitely there will be no pressure whatsoever because this is great.
Q. Is it thrilling to play three sets, to win in three sets?
JANA NOVOTNA: It's very exciting, yeah. It's very exciting and I always felt like that even at the Grand Slams that the women should play best of five sets, because this way you have to prove yourself not only physically but mentally, you have to have it all together if you want to beat somebody. I was always for it. It was definitely exciting. I'm glad that I have experienced that in my tennis career. And I'm glad that it ended up so well.
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