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November 23, 1996

Jana Novotna


Q. It seemed that Steffi Graf looked like she had a gameplan to keep you away from the net as much as possible, has she ever attacked you that much?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I'm sure that we have -- you know, it's hard to remember, because we have played so many times in the past, so it's hard to remember every single match. But I really definitely felt today that not only that she was serving really well, but she was rely overpowering and she was hitting really hard. She was running around her backhand and pushing into my backhand. So it was really sometimes hard to get out of it. And I just would say that I thought it was an is really spectacular match. I had gave everything what I had there. And she was just too good at the end. She didn't start it as well, and even I had my chances maybe in the second set or beginning of the third. I thought her game was getting better and better towards the end. And I just can be happy really with the way I have been played for so many weeks now. But again during today's match. And there was nothing I could do, because at the end she was a better player than I was.

Q. Is there anything you could pinpoint, you lost five games in a row in the third set, can you pinpoint any reason for that?

JANA NOVOTNA: As I told you, I think there was a time in the beginning of the third set when I was up a break, and then I had my chances there to go up 3-1. And she was able to level the games again to 2-all and from then I thought -- from exactly that point on I thought she was getting better and better and she was more aggressive. She was pressing more to my backhand, occasionally she even came in. It was hard for me to win every single point. I had to cover an enormous amount of court. And her slice stayed that low above the ground, and it was really difficult to approach from that. So if I did I made some good shots at the net, but as I said at the end she was just too overpowering for me.

Q. Is there anybody in your career that you have played who has a greater ability to dig down when they need to?

JANA NOVOTNA: I don't think there is anyone. Well, you know, it's hard to tell, because I haven't played against players like Billie Jean, Martina, and that generation. But in my generation I don't really think there is anybody except Steffi who can play under no matter what circumstances. And as you said, the worse she is on the court or the worse the score is the better she can get. And that is just what she proved in the quarters against Lindsay Davenport when she was down 5-2 and from that moment on she was able to dig down again, get out there and play her best shot. Well, I guess that's what champions are all about.

Q. Are you glad that Steffi is out there to present that sort of challenge?

JANA NOVOTNA: Absolutely not. (Laughter.) I told you, Steffi is my destiny, because I said that already from the beginning, the very first tournament I have ever played and traveled outside of Czech Republic, or at that time outside of Czechoslovakia, when I was 14 years old, and I went out to play the first Europe championship in France. And there was nobody I knew and the only player I knew or I heard about was Steffi Graf. I had her there first round, I lost to her in is three sets, and from then on we have played so many times. I just have to wait until Steffi is retired, and then I can go ahead for my Grand Slam (laughter.) No, absolutely not. I'm just kidding about this, really. As I said, Steffi is just such an incredible player, and she has a game that nobody else plays and like I said the more you have to play her so many times before you sin have a chance to beat her. You need to get used to the game. And she's just a great champion. And all I can say to congratulate her today because she was better in the end.

Q. Did you put a little too much on the second serve that caused the double fault? Were you trying a little too hard?

JANA NOVOTNA: I thought I served really well during the whole match. But then I would say that Steffi got used to that -- my out wide serve to the forehand and she got better on that. So I had to start -- I needed to start to serve more to the backhand and then she gave me this really low slice backhand so it was sometimes really difficult for me to handle that. But you're right, when you're playing against somebody like Steffi, you cannot get the serve in and hope you win the point. You have to go for every single shot, for every single serve. And of course when you have somebody that is all over the court then you are going for it too much and sometimes you make a mistake, sometimes you make a double fault. But that makes the huge difference between her and other players. That with other players the point would be over, you know, much, much earlier or easier. But with her it's never finished. And yesterday with Arantxa I needed to play two volleys at the net, today I had to play three volleys at the net to win the point. You can imagine how tiring it is and how difficult it is to win every single point.

Q. Did you come out with the wrong shoes today, you seemed to be slipping a lot?

JANA NOVOTNA: No, they were the same shoes. I don't know what happened. But I was all over the court today. And sometimes I think I'm just trying to be too quick and I'm trying to push off really fast and that's why I slip a little bit. But on many other occasions I was on the ground, too. And it wasn't fault of my shoes. I really enjoyed it. I mean even -- yeah, maybe I should be a little more disappointed, but I can't. Because I'm so happy the way I played and of course it was a great chance for me to get to the finals here or maybe win the whole championship. I always said if you have to face somebody like Steffi Graf, you should not worry about it too much, because she was a better player and she's there for a while, and she's the one with more experience.

Q. Have you ever seen her breathing hard? It seems to us that she just coasts through these things, you don't see the flush?

JANA NOVOTNA: Everybody we were changing on meeting on the -- going to the changeover I heard her, she was breathing very hard (indicating) (laughter.) But you couldn't hear that, I heard it. Okay, she's getting tired, too.

Q. You were just saying about enjoying it so much. Do you get the impression, does she let herself enjoy a great match? It seems like she hates to lose so much that's all she focuses on. Do you feel like she was able to enjoy the crowd or the playing?

JANA NOVOTNA: I don't know really. You have to ask her. Because you're right, Steffi doesn't show that many emotions. She doesn't show much -- except when the match is over, of course, and I'm sure she's really happy. But you will really have to ask her. She's pretty cool on the court, yeah. Even she hits unbelievable shot she doesn't get that excited. I'm on the floor, up in the air, you know. But it's me, everybody is different, and I'd rather be more emotional than less emotional, that's for sure.

Q. What do you find your strongest shot against Steffi in the match?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, it has to be a combination of things. I would say my forehand, of course, is a great weapon, and of course -- but when she's playing most of the time to my backhand it's really hard to run around and use that forehand. But every time -- I felt like every time I had the chance, my good approach was from my forehand so definitely the forehand.

Q. What why do you say she's your destiny, do you think it's your destiny to lose -- (inaudible.)

JANA NOVOTNA: Absolutely not. I'm just saying she's the one who always stops me, even when I'm playing my best tennis, she's always there. She stopped me on so many times to win a bigger tournament or to win the Grand Slam or win this tournament.

Q. In the third set, that critical game in which Graf broke you, it was 15-30 and you missed a volley to your forehand --

JANA NOVOTNA: I would say in this match there was many crucial points. I got one a little bit easier at that time.

Q. But then I think in the next point you double faulted. Could you tell us what was going on in your mind at the time?

JANA NOVOTNA: I don't remember, really. I really don't remember.

Q. It's not that it was easy, it looked like you assumed it was going out. You normally would have moved over and you didn't?

JANA NOVOTNA: I don't remember that point actually, sorry, so I can't really tell you how ill fell at that point.

Q. You hit a forehand cross court volley deep, she got to it and you hit it right down the line, and you watched it, it went by you?

JANA NOVOTNA: That's what happens with her. Because I guess at the time she just guessed right, decide where I was hitting my forehand volley and she was able to make a good passing shot from that. But with Steffi it's really difficult, because she hits the forehand so much behind her. So with her it's really difficult to guess if she's going to go down the line or cross court, because she does it all behind her back, and she does it really fast, so it's like (indicating), oops, down the line.

Q. How amazing is it that with all the physical ailments that she's had and she can keep up this level?

JANA NOVOTNA: Tell me. We all wonder (laughter.) It's really hard to say. I always said that she's just very special. She is. And she's proved that on so many occasions in the past and she's proving that every day to all of us nowadays. So it's really amazing. And we all wonder how she keeps on doing it. And she comes up here you ask her and then you tell me the answer, because I'd like to know, too.

Q. The way you've ended 1996, do you look ahead to '97 both for yourself and for tennis and for the Tour in general?

JANA NOVOTNA: If I will what?

Q. Could you look ahead to '97?

JANA NOVOTNA: If I can look ahead? Yeah, sure I can. Let me pull out the crystal ball. Okay. Well, it's going to be pretty good. (Laughter.)

Q. What do you see there, a little grass?

JANA NOVOTNA: Grass, a lot. No, really all I would like to say is that I'm really pleased the way -- the whole year has been tremendous for me and not only winning on most of the tournaments in my whole career, but especially the way I have been playing myself for the last couple of months. And I just would like to say what I'm ready for right now is to take a good break, because I'm quite tired. You can imagine that. And as I told you, I will not go to Australia again, I will take the whole months of December and January off. And then of course I'm looking forward to starting a new season of course with the new WTA ranking system, which I think will take a lot of pressure off the players. And you will just feel free to play more and more tournaments. And I think that's what women's tennis needs right now, to see more of the players playing in more of the tournaments and meeting each other in the quarterfinals, semifinals, because that's what's happening and that is the most important thing, not only to win tournaments, but play against the top players and beating the top players. And I just hope that I will stay healthy, because that's really the most important thing, I guess, after all. And then I will go out there, I will enjoy it, I will play for myself, the public and for everybody else and I hope I will do well.

Q. Looking ahead to tomorrow?

JANA NOVOTNA: Tomorrow? For the finals.

Q. Hingis looks like she's ahead, what do you think about Steffi's chances now over --

JANA NOVOTNA: I think that most of us or most of you had doubts about Steffi coming into this tournament because she pulled out in Philadelphia and we're not sure if she's going to continue in this tournament, or if she's going to play or how well she's going to play, I think now with the few matches that she has played in Philadelphia and now in this tournament I think she gained a lot of confidence and I thought that she played a really perfect match today except for maybe a couple of shots. But it's going to be a really interesting contest, and it's going to be really hard to predict. I think that if Steffi can keep up the pace and if she can keep up the way she was moving on the court today I think that maybe she would be also a little too overpowering for Martina. But Martina has a different game, she has use the opponent's pace very well. And we'll see how she can handle the whole thing, and playing the best of five sets, it's going to be a more advantage to Steffi than to Martina. But you never know. I think it's really 50/50 and I think it's been a while since you see such a great final. When you see a past champion or a champion playing against an upcoming player who maybe in the future has the potential of becoming No. 1 player in the world. And I think that's what women's tennis needs right now to see this great combination between the older generation and the upcoming players. And I just wish them both good luck and I hope it's going to be a good match.

Q. Is your crystal ball ready to reveal your doubles partner for next year?

JANA NOVOTNA: Oh, okay. You didn't forget. Fine. Are you really interested in that? Because, you know, you don't really write so much about doubles.

Q. We'll do a whole story on doubles.

JANA NOVOTNA: Okay. As I told you, -- not yet. I have to tell you after the doubles. Okay. I'm ready to announce that. But as you know, I told you that for next year I would like to play a little less doubles because I really would like to concentrate more on the singles. And especially maybe at the Grand Slam. I found that it's really tiring. But for the tournaments I will play, it's, my partner, I will play are Lindsay Davenport.

Q. You played her backhand side?

JANA NOVOTNA: I think we still have to think about that. I might stick to the forehand, since it's been working so well. But I will talk to Lindsay about it and we'll see what happens then.

Q. Do you think Martina can go five sets with a heavy hitter like Steffi Graf?

JANA NOVOTNA: That's a good question, you know. The advantage for her is definitely that she didn't have to play doubles, they lost to us in the first round, so she had a lot of time off and she didn't have a tough match so far. So I think physically she will be ready. I'm sure that mentally she will be there, too. So we'll see. I think she has a pretty good chance, but as I said, Steffi is really fast, she's all over the court and she hits really hard.

End of FastScripts....

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