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THE LIPTON CHAMPIONSHIPS


March 26, 1997


Jana Novotna


Key Biscayne, FL

Q. Can you just talk about your reaction at the end when she missed that overhead.

JANA NOVOTNA: You know, the funny thing is that we have been playing matches like this already for some time. I don't know why is it. Every time I do play Iva, it's always a very tough match. Last match when we played was just a couple weeks ago, it was indoors. It was very similar to this, you know. It was a battle. I lost 6-4 in the third. I just guess it's because we know each other so well. It's just so difficult to finish her off in two sets, I would say. But that overhead, this match was going one way, the other way. I felt like I have it, then I lost it already. Then in the tiebreaker, it really could go both ways. When she missed that overhead, it was just such a relief that you could not believe it. I was just lying there saying, "That's it, I don't have to run any further." Really satisfying. But I must say that I was going into this match knowing that I have to be really aggressive because it would be very difficult for me to last there over two hours. I was really surprised that I felt pretty good, had no problem physically. Of course, I was very tired, but I had no cramps or anything. I was really happy with that. Even though when I said to myself, "You have to come in, you have to be aggressive," and I was doing that, she was making unbelievable passing shots at important times, important moments. It was really strange. So at least one mistake at the end, it was a crucial one and good one for me.

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Q. Did aggression have anything to do with the unusual number of unforced errors?

JANA NOVOTNA: Of course, it has a lot to do with that. When you know that you don't want to get into the rallies, you're rushing yourself. Especially I was doing that in the second set. I was rushing myself to the net. I was trying to just coming after anything. That's why I made so many uneasy mistake. It was really windy. The wind was turning. It was quite a different condition to play.

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Q. Both seemed to get off to a sort of slow start.

JANA NOVOTNA: I thought I had a distinguished start actually. I thought Iva had a pretty bad start. She wasn't serving well at all. I was feeling pretty good right from the beginning. Really, the first set was easy and I felt pretty good there.

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Q. The change in schedule didn't bother you?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I was told quarter to 11 that I will be playing first match at 1 o'clock. I didn't want to get really uptight about it. I just speed up everything, didn't warm up too long, just 20 minutes. Didn't want to be tired, wanted full energy for the match. That really worked.

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Q. Earlier in the tournament, reporters were asking Martina Hingis about the young players, Venus and Anna. She said that she was more concerned about the other players that were here, and specifically mentioned you.

JANA NOVOTNA: Good.

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Q. What is it about your game that gives her problems? Do you want to talk about that or not?

JANA NOVOTNA: Did she mention she was having problems with that, with my game? That's good to know that (laughter). Obviously, yes, she must have some problems with that. Last two meetings we played, I have been successful in both of them and I won. She's absolutely right. Everybody sometimes maybe is too much focusing on the upcoming players instead of worrying about the players who are in the draw. I think she was pretty right because she knows that I have the game to beat her. I'm sure that if you took me tomorrow, it would be a very interesting contest to play, and I would look forward to it.

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Q. On the other side, assuming that you're the person in the finals, do you have a preference on Seles or Barbara Paulus?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, that's so far ahead still. I think I must say that I'm really surprised the way Monica came back, not playing for such a long time. I think it's successful for her to get to the semis. She had a reasonable draw. She didn't have to beat any of the top seeds. She must be really pleased, must be very confident. I would expect her to be in the finals. But then if I make it to the finals, I really wouldn't care who's going to be there. I have no preference whatsoever. It would be a tremendous success for me to come back from such an illness which I had just a couple weeks ago, when I had shingles. This is really terrific.

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Q. How long did your illness last?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I had it for about three weeks. Basically right after the tournament in Hannover, I couldn't compete at the Fed Cup. I just came back here and started really slowly. Wasn't expecting much from this tournament. Look, here I am. It's really great.

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Q. Hingis is going to be No. 1, obviously.

JANA NOVOTNA: She is, next week, no matter what?

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Q. Yes.

JANA NOVOTNA: I don't know. I'm asking.

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Q. She is. She will be No. 1. She is going to be No. 1, the youngest ever. What is it about her game, obviously you've been successful, but she's got something special, what is it about her game?

JANA NOVOTNA: I think she is special in that way that she started to play tennis at a very early age. She was playing already when she was three years old. It really shows in her game that by now after a couple years on the professional Tour, she's playing like a very experienced player. You know, I think there is once in a while or once in a hundred years, there is always a player, like it used to be like Martina. Now it's Martina Hingis, something special about them. They are so unique in their own way. I think nobody can copy that kind of play or that style she is playing right now. But most of all I think because she started in a very early age. She had a mother who wanted her to be really successful. She just told her exactly what to do, she listened, and she does everything really well.

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Q. Someone was saying that her talent, a former player, that her talent was more in her mind than it was massive strokes, it was her way of seeing the game?

JANA NOVOTNA: That comes all together. That's what I said, she plays like a really experienced player. She's going into the match knowing exactly what she wants to do and she know exactly what to expect from the other player. It seems like she can read everybody else's game. She can have that split second, be there earlier. In a way, she's compensating that she's not so big, she's not that fast, she's not hitting that hard. She's compensating this way. That's why she's so special, because somehow she knows what she's doing when she's moving on the court. Seems like she knows where the ball is going to be. She's already there, you know. I think that comes from playing a lot. She already played when she was young, so she was playing just jokingly or just a little bit, but she already feel that. She was moving around. I think it comes from that, which is very unique in her own way. I don't think nobody can copy that. You have players, like Martina, serve and volley all the time, can you play like certain players. With her, I don't think anybody can do that, you know.

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Q. It's not a style that can be copied?

JANA NOVOTNA: Absolutely, because it's the whole thing, the whole package. It's the mental part, the touch, the feel for the ball, just the whole package. It's really interesting, very unique, very special.

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Q. Would it be special no matter what age she would be or is it just because she's young? Does she have a gift?

JANA NOVOTNA: You see, I think what we are going to see in the future is that we will see younger players coming up becoming No. 1 in the world at an early age, but they will also not last as long. They will also retire when they're 23 or 24. I think this is the future of women's tennis, this is the new generation. So, yes, for the moment it is very surprising because she will be the first one to do it, so she will always be remembered for that. But in upcoming years, I think we will see it more and more often. Maybe in ten years, nobody will be surprised when you have a Grand Slam champion at 15 or 14, you know.

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Q. Jana, have you played any of the other two, Venus or Anna?

JANA NOVOTNA: I only played Anna for the first time yesterday. Otherwise, I saw a little bit of convenient Venus Williams' match. Never played her before.

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Q. What do you make of Anna's progress in her game?

JANA NOVOTNA: Venus?

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Q. Anna.

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, it's really hard to tell for me because I only played her once, yesterday. I met her a couple times, and I played against her in doubles. I felt like she was a little bit erratic, she didn't have a plan in the game. It's very difficult against me because I don't give her any timing, I come in, I stay back, it's difficult. From the matches that I saw, I didn't see any game plan in her matches. That was missing a little bit. I don't know, we'll see.

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Q. With Hingis, there's always a game plan?

JANA NOVOTNA: Oh, absolutely. She always going into the matches, tries to come up with something new, if she plays the player for the second time. There is always a game plan. Again, Martina's mother is there, she always makes sure that Martina goes into the matches very well prepared. If something is not working, she makes sure that she lets her know that during the match. She's also good.

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Q. Jana, are you enjoying the game more? You seem much more animated on the court these days?

JANA NOVOTNA: Really? Well, of course, I am. It's really funny. I see players my age who were even younger than I was retiring already, maybe not enjoying tennis as much as I do right now. Somehow, it's curious. The older I am, the more I can enjoy it. I think it's because I'm more mature, more experienced. I have realized that tennis is not everything, that there are so many more important things off the court, that life is much more important than tennis. I'm trying to make the best part of it right now. I feel pretty good about that.

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Q. The reason that young kids win is because they can be convinced or fool themselves into thinking that tennis is life, it's everything, they attack it that way.

JANA NOVOTNA: I think everybody goes through that stage. Everybody goes through that stage. Of course, I wish I could be at least five years younger and feel exactly the same way. You can't change that. That comes with time, comes with experience. Of course, for a moment that they think tennis is everything for them, but at the end it's not. I think it's important to have professional tennis, have a home, have a family also, have somewhere to go when you're off the court. This way you have a chance of surviving on the circuit for longer. I mean, if you don't have that, you can have players playing great tennis for maybe two or three years. Something will be missing and then you start to look and do things and try not to quit.

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Q. Did someone ask about your reaction at the end of the match?

JANA NOVOTNA: I think she did already. I was really relieved. It was really fun. I thought it was a really exciting match. I just felt that way, I wanted to rest, relax a little bit, so that's what I did, lay down for ten seconds. I knew Iva would be coming over. I must say that Iva is really one of the fair and very professional women's tennis player on the Tour. No matter win or lose, she's always very sportive, very good girl.

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Q. Jana, where do you come down on the possibility of having coaches more involved in the matchplay during matches, maybe sitting on the court?

JANA NOVOTNA: Gee, I really don't know. It's really funny because especially during the Fed Cup, it's really hard to get used to it. So we are used to do the things as they are right now, you have the coaches sitting off the court. You can get some support from them, a little message or something. They can help a little bit. I don't know. Tennis is a very individual sport. I think it should always stay that way. I mean, you can have your coaches before the match or after the match. You should go into the court very well prepared. That's what I always do. I don't think that coaches should be allowed or involved in the tennis because it wouldn't be any more an individual sport; it would be somebody else helping you on the court. I just think it wouldn't be right. Besides, it's much more exciting, "What do I do?" This way it would be, "Okay, come here, have you to do this and that." This way it's like you have to sneak a look. The coach is hiding, going (indicating). Imagine, it would be so boring. This way it's like, "Where is she? Where is she?" This is really fun (laughter).

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End of FastScripts....

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