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November 21, 1997

Jana Novotna


Q. Jana, do you think there's any significance in the fact that all the youngsters have been falling by the wayside, people like yourself and Nathalie are still going strong?

JANA NOVOTNA: How come the older players are surviving still? You know, well, I think my answer would be to this question like this, coming into this tournament we had players, some of the players playing best tennis of their whole year. Lindsay Davenport was playing extremely well, Arantxa started playing really well, and myself. So I think this tournament was pretty much very open, right from the beginning. And it's always like that. Things can happen, and I think it's great for women's tennis, to see different people in the semis, different people in the finals, and that's what's going to happen today. You've met Arantxa so many times. Is it -- Who did I meet? Arrest?

Q. Yes, you've played her so many times. Is it an advantage or disadvantage to know each other so well?

JANA NOVOTNA: I think it is in a way a disadvantage, because if you play somebody for so many times, and you always try to come up with something new, and that's sometimes not good, you don't stick to your own good, and you try to do extraordinary things, which is not always right. The most important is just to know and remember how to play the player, how you beat the player, and just stick to your game, don't think about it too much, don't try anything special unless the way you have been playing doesn't work, then go for something else. But otherwise stick to your own way of playing tennis.

Q. What's the secret to your beating Arantxa that you've learned over your 17 or 18 meetings or whatever it is?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think, I guess, I have a mental edge over Arantxa lately, and I think -- I like the way she plays and she doesn't like the way I play. I really do like the style of her game, and I can be aggressive, and if I serve well, I can come in and I can play my game. And I think that's the secret of that.

Q. Tomorrow, you'll play Spirlea or Fernandez, who do you prefer?

JANA NOVOTNA: It's up to them, really, to be out there and whoever wins I will be ready for them. I really have no preferences whatsoever.

Q. Jana, I think in the final set we thought we were in for another thriller, what do you think happened to those final 5 days, could you up your play, did she go off?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think today there was an interesting combination, because I played really good tennis in the first set, and Arantxa picked up her game tremendously in the second set. She started to serve much better, and she was definitely more aggressive. I think the important turnaround was when I got a pretty easy break in the beginning of the third set, and from then on I felt like I have picked up my game, and I was able to do whatever I wanted to do and I was able to finish her off right away.

Q. What do you think it's going to take for you to make it even higher up in the rankings, to win the majors, what's it going to take for you?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I always said for me all it takes is to be happy and to play good tennis and to have a good timing, because my base is pretty much based on timing, and if I can do that then all my aspects of the game are working and I can play well, then I can play the best tennis and beat all the players. But because I have so much variety in my game, sometimes it happens that I don't play as well, and that's why sometimes I can lose to lower-end players, even though it hasn't been happening for a long time already. So for me the ranking is definitely not the most important thing. For me, as you all know, probably it would be the most important thing would be to win a Grand Slam. But on the other hand if that's not going to happen, I know in my mind that I worked very hard for it and I gave everything and if it doesn't happen, then life goes on.

Q. Would this be the next best thing to a Grand Slam?

JANA NOVOTNA: Yes, definitely. This would be really nice, and also very interesting because I always wondered how does it play best of five. And that would be something I really would like to try.

Q. Jana, are you ready to win the championship this year?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, we'll see. Let's talk tomorrow, and if everything goes well tomorrow, let's talk on Sunday. And I feel like I'm ready. I think I'm playing great tennis. I like to play indoors. I particularly like this tournament very much, because it's a great atmosphere. And if I'm ready, that we will see tomorrow.

Q. Do you miss Martina?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think that this tournament was -- I answer like this, I think Martina lost, I thought it was a fantastic match, and Mary who hasn't been playing well the whole year, raised to the occasion, and she did really well, she just beat her. But I think Martina had a wonderful year. She can be satisfied and not look back and go and rest. And now it's up to the others and get to the finals and whoever wins this tournament, good for them.

Q. Do you think it was a disadvantage, because you're so talented and you have such variety in the game it might have affected --

JANA NOVOTNA: No, no, I have never considered this as a disadvantage. It's a wonderful advantage to be able to know that you can beat anybody in the world like I did in the past. And that's a wonderful gift that I have. But I'm just saying that I need to have everything together to win a major. And there are so many things can go wrong during the two weeks of the Grand Slam championship, that sometimes things happen. But it's definitely not a disadvantage. I really like the way I play, and I wouldn't change it for anything. And for me the most important also is not just to play well for myself, but also to play for the fans, to hear from the people that like to watch my tennis, that this is the kind of game they like to see and would like to see it more in the future.

Q. Your mental edge over Arantxa, is that just technical?

JANA NOVOTNA: No, I don't think it's technical, I think it's a combination of things. I was talking about -- right, the technical part, but a lot has to do with it, because Arantxa had a couple of years ago she had a mental edge over me, and we played many matches and many battles we had and most of them I lost. And now I have been able to turn it around. Last year, here, was the first time when I finally broke that line when I was losing for so long. And it seems to be hanging onto that. And I keep on playing well, and I'm going into the matches really positive, really confident and I know what I have to do to win it.

Q. Why have so many favorites lost this week?

JANA NOVOTNA: I don't know. I really don't know. That's a tough question. But nobody lost just like that, they always have put up a fight. And I think that is the most important. If somebody just lose 6-2, 6-2, and they wouldn't be playing well, that would be too bad. But all these matches and all the seeded players, whoever lost, it was a great match, it was a great battle and I always felt that the players who won, they won it for themself, that the seeded players just didn't give it to them. It happened, they were just better on the certain day.

Q. Pardon me for mentioning it, but you're 29 years old, younger than most of us. As you look ahead to 1998, what do you see for yourself, for the Tour, for these youngsters?

JANA NOVOTNA: What do I see for myself? Well, I think it's going to be interesting to see, because, yes, I will be probably the oldest remaining player in the draw, but since I am playing so well, and hopefully I will stay healthy and I will still enjoy playing, then I don't see a reason why I shouldn't continue. Maybe -- but nowadays it can really change from one month to another, you can get injured and maybe never come back again. I see my future now, if I look ahead, I would say, yes, I'd love to continue if I play well for another two or three years, that would be really ideal. Because I am playing the best tennis of my career, so why not to take advantage of that? Why not to keep on working hard and make that dream come true and win that Grand Slam tournament? But again anything can go wrong at my age. It takes longer to recover, you have to really work harder because these young players, they just go out there, they have no fear and continue to play well. If I can find the right combination, of staying in good shape and using my experience, plus the way I play, there's nothing should stop me.

Q. Lots of players were injured this year. Do you think the caliber of play is higher this year?

JANA NOVOTNA: I think it's very individual. I think it's hard to say. I think part of it could be that all the players play definitely more tournaments this year, because of the ranking system we have to use the first time this year. Everybody played definitely five to ten tournaments more than they would. So this could be part of it. I think it's individual and I think it's up to everyone to take care of themselves and stay in shape, because it is possible, we have proved this year that if we keep the ranking system like it is right now, we saw the best draws and the best matches, you know, if I look back for the last couple of years. And I think that's great. And we see so many different winners in the tournaments. And we saw players not being afraid to play, and they were -- they kept on playing for weeks in a row.

End of FastScripts....

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