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August 30, 1997

Jana Novotna

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. So, Jana, she really hits the ball pretty hard?

JANA NOVOTNA: She hits -- she hits the ball very hard. Well, as I told you, after my last match, I went to look at her because I usually do that. If I don't play -- if I don't know the players I am going to play next round, I do go usually watch them for a couple of games. And, I saw her, so, I was pretty much prepared for her to hit the ball very hard. What I was surprised with was the way -- she started the warmup, she was hitting the balls even in the warmup really, really hard. So I knew right away that this is pretty much going to be a very difficult match. If everything will go her way, then it is going to be difficult to beat her. And, I think in the beginning it was like that. I played my game and she made a lot of mistakes. And, then in the second set, she started to play a little bit better. She loosened up, and, you know, things started to go her way.

Q. You weren't serve and volleying very much, it seemed like, particularly, in the latter part?

JANA NOVOTNA: I think the reason for that was I knew that her best part is probably return and she loves to have a target. So I was going into the match knowing that if I would serve and volley, she would get used to it, and she would probably beat me that way. So I knew that I will have to mix it up. Of course as the match progressed, it was harder and harder to get into the net because she was hitting really deep and really hard. But, I have managed to come in a couple of times at important moments and I think that was really important.

Q. Jana, are you surprised at how close she stands on your serve? I mean, she was standing inside the baseline --

JANA NOVOTNA: I think it is the modern way to play tennis, the way she is playing, you know, it didn't surprise me at all. She is a hard hitter and that is the way she is playing her game. She plays everything on the baseline, on the second serve; she wants to take advantage of the second serve. She tries to intimidate the player a little bit so that is why she is standing so close. I have been really successful serving into her body and that gave her a lot of problems today.

Q. As someone older, not as directly affected by the new age requirement, what is your perspective; are they good, bad that she is limited in the amount of tournaments that she can play?

JANA NOVOTNA: I think it is very good. I think that Jennifer Capriati, in the past, was a very good example that, you know, it is not really good to start that early. And, I think, definitely, the age eligibility to play, you know, tournaments when you are over 16 or something - I don't know exactly what the rule is - but I think it is really good. It is not only about tennis. I think it is about getting some education and then starting to compete on the professional Tour. So I definitely agree with that.

Q. Jana, in the second set you made 9 winners, 23 unforced errors. Yet in the third set you played a brilliant set. You won, at one point, 15 of 17 points. What was responsible for that dramatic turnaround?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think, as I told you, I think at the stage of the second set, I think she just said "I am not playing that way. I making too many mistakes." So, she relaxed a little bit more because I thought that she really wanted to win right from the very first point. She was very ready. She wanted to beat me very badly, and maybe she was overheating a little bit, making too many errors. The second set, she finally realized a little bit more and, you know, all the winners started to go her way. If that happens, there is nothing really much I can do with it. I have to disagree a little bit with you because on the unforced errors, I think when you are playing a player like she is, most of the errors are "Forced errors." You know, because I was way behind the baseline, you know, just scrambling some balls out, so it wasn't like I made all the mistakes and, you know, easy situps. I mean, there is no question about it. So you can call it unforced error. For me, every mistake I today made was really forced error.

Q. It was the scorer who scored unforced errors; not me.

JANA NOVOTNA: I know. I am not directing --

Q. We don't know whether you were nervous or not, but aren't you proud if you were nervous that you were able to conquer your nervousness?

JANA NOVOTNA: I wasn't nervous at all today. I enjoyed myself very much and I knew that everybody would love to see her win because you like to see the players play better at the Grand Slam tournaments, you like to see some upsets, that is for sure. But, I thought that I handled the whole situation pretty well. And, I wasn't nervous at all. I think the way I have played towards the end of the match, I mean, it really showed. I was down Love-3 and I just went for my balls; kept going for the winners aggressively. And, there is no question about it, I mean, my game and the way I played, that was the answer to everything.

Q. How important was experience having been there so many times before yourself, versus someone like her that never had been Center Court at a US Open?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I don't know. I think it could be advantage, you know, for her. I mean, she was really psyched out and she really wanted to win. And, for her not playing in the Center Court never before, I am sure that in the beginning she felt that pressure a little bit or she -- it felt kind of new to her. But, at the end, I think she enjoyed the whole experience and she just, you know, she was just going for it. So, I mean, she has many, many more Grand Slam tournaments to come, so I am sure that she will do well.

Q. Actually she seemed to take the loss pretty hard. She wasn't smiling. She didn't say that, well, it was only my third match at a Grand Slam tournament and what --

JANA NOVOTNA: What did she say?

Q. She said she felt she had the match and she blew it and she feels like the next time she can play better. But she wasn't smiling about it at all. Do you think that that is good perspective for a 15 year old?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I don't think so. I definitely think that it showed even on the court and before the match and after the match that, you know, she was really serious. She was like she was sure she is going to win and, you know, what can I say? I think she should take it much, much easier on herself because, as I told you, she has many, many Grand Slams and many, many great victories ahead of her. I think she should enjoy it a little bit more. I think she should give a little bit more credit to herself and say, look, I played a fantastic match. The stadium was full, played a night match; everybody enjoyed and, you know, next time I play her, or I play somebody else, they will have to be really ready. So, I would have definitely a different approach to that, but you never know in this age. I don't even remember how I felt when I played my first Grand Slam.

Q. Tenniswise, what were you doing at 15 years old?

JANA NOVOTNA: Gee, I was playing some European junior tournaments probably and thinking: Will I ever play my Grand Slam tournaments. (Laughter.) Yeah, so...

Q. What are her strengths and weaknesses in your opinion?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think she has a good serve, very good serve. Good second serve, which is very important and she has a great backhand; great forehand. I think her weaknesses are that she doesn't move too well and I am not sure she has a second plan if the first one is not working. But, of course, there is something -- she has many things she has to work on, gain some experience, and if she will be able to combine all of that; then she can become a good player.

Q. Have you seen many 15 year old women athletes who are that tall and strong in your time?

JANA NOVOTNA: I am not sure. It really depends. I think now it seems like that the youngsters or the teenagers are maturing much, much faster. This may be because they started to play tennis -- they started to do physical activities at an earlier age; that is why they are maturing much, much faster and that is why they are so developed at age 15 or 16. But, you know, it can have advantages and kiss advantages, for sure. But, it is really up to her and up to the family how well she can handle that and how well she will continue with her tennis career.

End of FastScripts…

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