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THE LIPTON CHAMPIONSHIPS


March 27, 1997


Jana Novotna


Key Biscayne, FL

Q. Good match.

JANA NOVOTNA: Thank you.

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Q. How do you account for making 49 unforced errors and still being on the brink of winning?

JANA NOVOTNA: Is that right?

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Q. She only had 23.

JANA NOVOTNA: Really? I had a lot of winners then. Did I have a lot of winners or no?

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Q. You had a lot of winners.

JANA NOVOTNA: And good net play. That is what my game is all about, right? Definitely, if you say so, if that is the number, that is very high. Even though it was a long match. Still, the only thing I would change about my game would be probably if I could return better, especially off my forehand side. I have made a lot of errors there. Otherwise, I thought I played really well, especially the end of the second set. Maybe there I should not have take that break, maybe I should have continued. I was feeling a little bit tired after yesterday. I decided to take the break. Maybe I have lost a little bit of the momentum there. Nevertheless, she's the kind of player that is very unpredictable. She has a good variety in her game. She wasn't afraid to come in when she was down. I think that's why she won today.

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Q. It was your option to take the break, is that it?

JANA NOVOTNA: Yes. It's my option, or if she would decide to take the break. If one of us choose to take the break, it has to be the break.

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Q. She looked tired near the end?

JANA NOVOTNA: She was getting tired for sure. We both were. Conditions were hot.

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Q. How windy was it?

JANA NOVOTNA: I thought today wasn't as windy as it was yesterday. I wasn't really sure if that helped me or no. The wind is blowing a very funny way. When you're sitting in the stand, it feels like it's not blowing at all. It's going this way (indicating). From one side it was hard to play down-the-line shots. You always have to think and calculate a little bit what the wind is going to do.

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Q. Talk about the quality of the match in terms of your play, her play, particularly in the third set?

JANA NOVOTNA: What do you think? It was a good one or no? Are you asking me if I think it was a high-quality tennis?

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Q. Yes.

JANA NOVOTNA: I don't know. I thought that we had some really good rallies. I thought that the quality of this match was probably a little bit higher than it was yesterday against Iva. I would say there were more better shots than yesterday, but some of them are really poor. I thought it was very good match, very high standard, especially the second and the third set for sure.

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Q. Did the miraculous shot in the third set surprise you, the one that prompt --

JANA NOVOTNA: I'm not getting surprised any more by my actions sometimes. It was always a nice one, especially the one when I broke her back for 2-All, when I have covered that overhead, then the next shot when I made it. It was really unbelievable. This is what I said. I always consider myself being very athletic. That's what I like to do. I'm glad the people enjoy that, because I did, too. That is the most important.

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Q. What's the difference between Martina Hingis and the other players? What does she have that other players don't?

JANA NOVOTNA: She has everything else than other players. As I said yesterday, nobody really plays like Martina. I think what she has, I don't want to repeat myself, but yesterday I said that she has something special the way she's playing. She's unique in her own way. Nobody can copy her style. She's playing at her age also very experienced tennis player.

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Q. Now she's No. 1. Who do you think will be the closest to take that ranking away again? Who will be the most dangerous?

JANA NOVOTNA: I think if Steffi is healthy and if she is going to keep on playing, then definitely it will be a great challenge for her towards the end of her career to try to overtake Martina from the No. 1 spot in the world. You know, there are many other players. The way to the top is always easier than to stay there. We will see how well Martina can cope with that, being at the top and performing on a daily basis as the No. 1 player in the world. That's yet to be seen if she can do that or no. It's too early to talk about. I'm sure she will be really pleased with herself by getting No. 1 ranking in the world. I think, again, the most important things for her will be winning Grand Slams. The rest of us will try to stop her.

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Q. Jana, on grass, this match, if it had been played on grass.

JANA NOVOTNA: Interesting.

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Q. Same story?

JANA NOVOTNA: You never know. You never know really. I thought if Martina had a tough way to the semifinals, she had a tough road. I had some tough matches to get to the semis. We were playing almost every day. The schedule was definitely really tough. At the Grand Slams, it's a different story. Usually the top seeds or the top players play better at bigger tournaments, at the Grand Slams. We may see even a higher quality of tennis there. First comes French Open, so let's focus on that. Then when it's the Wimbledon time, I will go for it.

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Q. Can you tell me, you're using one of the longer racquets, are you?

JANA NOVOTNA: I am not, no. I am not using the long body, no.

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Q. Have you tried one?

JANA NOVOTNA: Yes, I have tried one. Couldn't really get used to it, didn't really like it much. I always feel that I play my best tennis when I have all the balls closer to my body, you know. Especially when I was at the net, maybe I had a little bit longer reach, but the volleys around my body, I didn't have the same feel with the racquet like I have with the regular old size. I am too old now, so I don't need it. Leave it for the smaller players.

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Q. Jana, how much did it weigh on your mind as the match went on today into the third set that you had played such a long match in the sun in the middle of the day yesterday and were playing another one today, and Martina had a pretty easy night match?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I thought about it, especially before the match. But then I felt a little sluggish or slow in the beginning of the match. I felt like as the match progressed, it is getting better and better, you know. Even though I had a really tough match yesterday, I didn't feel sore. I had a good massage and really recovered quite quickly. Maybe really the last two or three games was when I really felt the heat and when I really felt a little bit tired, that I wasn't getting to the shots like I would like to. But in the beginning, I thought about it. I said, "I must play quick points, I cannot get into the rallies." I really wanted to finish the points quickly, but it didn't work. Then I just completely forgot about it and just focused on my game. That's when I played much better.

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Q. Were you aware of how hot it was on the court?

JANA NOVOTNA: Yeah. Occasionally I looked in the corner. 105, it's like, "Nice, frying, let's pour some olive oil over me." Really, I spend a lot of time here in Boca Raton. I really like this because I always consider myself fitter than the other players. I always try to take advantage of that. I really don't mind the heat at all. I was really pleased that it wasn't as windy this championship. That's when I could play my best tennis, and that's what I did. It was a pretty good week, I'm happy with that. If I can continue like this, being aggressive and playing good tennis against top players like Martina is, or Iva Majoli, that's a good sign.

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Q. Where in Boca do you train sometimes?

JANA NOVOTNA: I'm going to keep that secret from you.

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Q. How often are you down here?

JANA NOVOTNA: For about three or four months a year.

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Q. That's when you take your rest, you mean?

JANA NOVOTNA: Yes, some rest time and some practice time as well both.

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Q. How was your play with Davenport? Do you think you'll be a strong team?

JANA NOVOTNA: I don't think we did so well. I must say that we played on a day when it was really windy and it was really difficult to play a doubles match. Nevertheless, I would just say that, that this is our first tournament of the year, so we just getting used to each other for the moment. We had tough opponents in the second round, so I would not even think about it. We'll see how we will do later in the year. I think we'll see what's going to happen then. You have to realize that doubles is not our priorities, for me and for Lindsay, especially for me not anymore. It used to be really important, but now I said before this year that I would like to give myself a good chance to go into this year and give everything for the singles because my time is slowly running out, I'm already 29 years old, so I don't have much time. I really would like to give a fair chance to myself to play and give all the energy I have into the singles matches.

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Q. I notice when you try to pass once in a while, you come up on the ball, topspin.

JANA NOVOTNA: I don't remember. When was that (laughter). Yes, sometimes I do. Sometimes I do. You know, I'm playing 99 percent my slice backhand, so sometimes for the passing shot I really go for it. I didn't do it much today. It's just the way I play, the way I'm used to it. I must say, sometimes it's better than the topspin.

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Q. Do you consider yourself as a player who is able to jeopardize the No. 1 position of Martina Hingis in this year?

JANA NOVOTNA: Again, as I said yesterday, becoming No. 1 player in the world for me is not a priority really. I definitely would like to give Martina and all the players ahead of me a hard time, but the ranking is not the most important thing. I would say that the ranking is really important coming into the Grand Slams, that you need to be at least top 4 so you can have a good chance to win the Grand Slam. But, as I said, the most important for me is to win one Grand Slam. That's what I would like to do this year.

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Q. What is your program going to be? You say you're getting a little bit older now. You have to pace yourself more carefully?

JANA NOVOTNA: Yes, that's a good question. I always said it's really important because I hear a lot of players complaining that the season is too long. It is true. We play from January till the end of November. It is a long season. I always said that you have to know yourself, you have to know what is the best for you, then you have to pick the tournaments you like, the surface you like to play on. Also when you don't play, you need to have quality time off, but also to have good preparation. That's why I took the time off in the beginning of the year, not going to Australia. I had some really good time off. I prepared, and hopefully from that I can go for one or two months. It is really important to choose the right tournaments. You have to do it. It's very individual; you have to do it how you feel.

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Q. Amelia next?

JANA NOVOTNA: Hilton Head will be for me next. If I do well, probably Amelia as well. That will be the end of the claycourt season for me here in the US. Just a couple tournaments before Paris and we'll see how that goes.

VERONIQUE MARCHAL: Any last questions? Thank you.

JANA NOVOTNA: Thank you.

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End of FastScripts....

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