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September 3, 1997

Jana Novotna

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. How difficult were the playing conditions? We saw some very erratic tennis from both ends.

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, absolutely. It was really difficult. This morning when I was warming up, I knew that it's going to be really hard because it was really windy. Basically the wind was coming from one side of the court. So you felt like when you were on the other end, against the wind, it would be really difficult to return or to win the games. That's how it was, basically. It felt like on one side you couldn't win your serve, you couldn't break. On the other side, everything was coming really easily. But you know, there's other things you can't influence at all. You just have to go into the matches and you have to know that is something you have to deal with. Unfortunately, Lindsay was better in doing it today.

Q. Do you really think she was better in doing it? Was it a hundred percent even match, when you have match points on either side?

JANA NOVOTNA: Absolutely. I think it was a great match, especially the end of it. I definitely didn't start the match very well. I lost the first set very easily. I was able to find my game. Started to be a little more aggressive. You know, from then on, the match came to be really even. When I was down in the third set 1-4, battled a couple breakpoints there, I thought it was a fantastic comeback for me. Unfortunately, on the approach when I had match point, I mean, the wind just blew it away one inch beside the line. There's nothing you can do. I kept on fighting. It was a great match towards the end. Then, especially at the tiebreaker, I think we both played really good tennis. You know, at the end there is nothing to be really disappointed about.

Q. When the conditions are bad and in a tight match like that, does it make it tougher mentally, because there's certain things you can't control?

JANA NOVOTNA: Absolutely. I think it makes it really hard because you can't basically play what you can play. I mean, you have to play, you know, with the wind or against the wind. You have to play the conditions, and that's not good. You don't only have to think about your game; you have to think, "How am I going to do from this side? Which way the wind is coming from?" That's really hard. We played there for two and a half hours. I am tired, all of that, but it's just really hard. Because you cannot concentrate only on your game; you have to think ahead.

Q. Jana, I think you served and volleyed only once in the whole match. Was that something you planned beforehand or because of the conditions today?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, first of all, yeah, the wind has a lot to do with it. I couldn't go really for my big serves because I didn't want to take a chance of, you know, not serving high percentage of the first serve, because I knew that Lindsay would take advantage of my second serve, she would be really aggressive on that. Besides, from one side of the court, it was not possible to serve and volley at all because you were serving against the wind. By the time I would get to the net, I mean, the ball would be, you know, already behind me. So it was definitely -- it wasn't the part of the plan, I mean, coming into this match. I just had to deem with the circumstances, and that's the way I end up playing.

Q. Does that take a lot away from what you can do, obviously?

JANA NOVOTNA: Oh, absolutely. I know that Lindsay could serve harder than she did today, of course. I can serve harder than I did. We couldn't, we had to go for the first safe serves because nobody wanted to take the chance of making too many double-faults or giving each other the opportunity of a second serve. This is exactly what I mean by saying how difficult it is to play in the wind. You basically cannot play your game. I couldn't do that most of the match today. I only started to play really my game towards the end of the match when the wind was maybe slowing down a little bit or we just got used to it.

Q. This is the first day that a match has been played when it's really windy on this stadium.

JANA NOVOTNA: It's really unfortunate, yeah.

Q. Was it harder on this stadium than the other one?

JANA NOVOTNA: I think it was about the same, the wind was really strong today.

Q. Jana, are you surprised it's taken Lindsay this long to reach a Grand Slam semifinal?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, yes and no. I mean, I would expect Lindsay to do her best right here, on the hardcourt. I know she doesn't really like to play on clay. She doesn't really like to play on grass. I mean, this would be her tournament. Maybe the Australian. But, you know, you never know. I mean, I don't definitely think it's taken that long. She has her whole tennis career ahead of her. I think it doesn't really matter if it's going to happen this year or if it's going to happen next year. She has the potential to win a Grand Slam. If she keeps on hitting the ball like she was today, then she definitely can do it.

Q. Jana, hand-in-hand with that, are you surprised as how quickly Venus Williams reached her first Grand Slam semifinal?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, again, yes, I am surprised. But, on the other hand, if I look at the draw, I'm not that surprised. I mean, she didn't really have a tough opponent. To play Sandrine Testud in the quarterfinals, I think that's a very reasonable draw. To play Irina Spirlea in the semifinals, that's not even better, but it's very reasonable. So you have to be very objective. I mean, you can say, "Oh, yes, it is fantastic for her to reach the semifinals." On the other hand, who did she beat on the way to the semifinals? You have to look at it from both sides.

Q. Do you feel that her game --

JANA NOVOTNA: I really don't know. I never saw her play live. I never played against her. Only from what I saw on TV or what I read in the paper. But it would be really difficult for me to judge.

Q. Jana, Lindsay has beaten Hingis before. Do you think that she's mentally strong enough to beat Hingis in a Grand Slam semifinal?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, coming into the quarterfinals, I think that Lindsay had maybe only one tough match against Schnyder or something. Never had a tough task. I think it could be a turnaround. I think that this match will give her a lot of confidence for the upcoming semifinals. Don't forget that first Hingis has to beat Sanchez. If she can do that, it will be an interesting match-up. Also depending on the conditions, if it's going to be windy like this. I told you, the wind is the biggest equalizer in tennis. Then anything can happen.

Q. The angled backhand you had, volley, at match point, how much did you miss by? Did you get a good look at it?

JANA NOVOTNA: Just like this (indicating).

Q. No question in your mind it was out?

JANA NOVOTNA: It was out. The only thing was that the wind was blowing from that end (indicating). When I hit the approach, I could see that the ball just, you know, drifted away. There was nothing I could do. But it was no doubt that it was out. It was out.

Q. And on the first match point, looked like had you a makeable volley, but you netted the ball. Did it dip on you at the last second?

JANA NOVOTNA: The first match point? That was the only match point I had. That was the only match point I had.

Q. You had --

JANA NOVOTNA: This was the only one. Unless I don't know about it and I played one (laughter). Then I really want to go back out there, really, and do it again.

End of FastScripts…

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