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November 22, 1996

Jana Novotna


Q. Do you want to play some more, have you played enough yet?

JANA NOVOTNA: This is only a promotion, this is the racket I'm playing with. I'm definitely not going to play some more, not tonight, only tomorrow.

Q. You seemed to play with great confidence and skill today. Our American athletes have the spirit to say the road to the championship goes through Jana Novotna, do you have that spirit?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I absolutely have that spirit, that's for sure. And you are right, I have been very skillful, not only today, but already for the past few tournaments, and that really showed in today's match, especially because I knew that if I made a good shot, Arantxa would make the approach and try to pass me, and I needed to have the good hand and make the shots. Basically in the first set I didn't miss a ball.

Q. Why does carpet suit you?

JANA NOVOTNA: This is not carpet, it's a Supreme court, and there's a huge difference. Carpet is something completely different and it's much too fast and a lot of spin. This is different. This is a Supreme court. And I think because it is very soft the ball stays really low. And then I can use my backhand slice, my approaches and it's for everybody, it's difficult to pass me. And the speed is just good enough to serve and volley on it but also stay back, you know.

Q. You broke her in the first game and you were just on a roll, did you feel yourself (inaudible.)

JANA NOVOTNA: Yeah, I did. In the few previous matches I have played Arantxa I always had a very slow start and I was never able to take advantage of her second serves and today I was going into that match knowing that every opportunity I will have I will have to be aggressive and mix up the game. You don't want to play predictably, if I play too predictably she'll be able to handle it and she's good enough to pass me. On the first set I thought I was mixing up my game really well, she didn't know if I was going to approach to the forehand or the backhand. And basically when I made it to the net I didn't make any mistakes. And then I was holding on to my serve very easily. So that looked pretty easy, but maybe I looked really calm out there and all that, but inside, you know, I was boiling, and I really wanted to play well because it's been a long time since I've beaten Arantxa and I always felt like in the last couple of matches I have been always really close but I was never able to finish it off. So today I came into the match knowing exactly what I have to do and that's what I did.

Q. What did you think of the one set at the net when you hit all those volleys, one after the another? What did you think about the point at 3-all when you got ahead with all those series of volleys at the net?

JANA NOVOTNA: I said to myself, Jana, you are so talented, if you can do it once, you can do it another time, too. (Laughter.) No, not really. But I said this to myself, so this is the truth. And you know that when we get into this, this is where doubles helped me so much to have the quick hands and to make the ball -- make a better placement and all that. So really it's not only this tournament but for the last few tournaments I have been playing I have been exceptionally good at the net, and that's what my game is all about. If I'm good there then I'm very difficult to beat.

Q. Do you think that Arantxa tried to get into the net more often to try to cut the angle?

JANA NOVOTNA: She started to, yeah, but it wasn't like she changed her game completely and she started to come in after every single point. She tried several times, and sometimes she was successful and sometimes not. You have to realize it's not her game, but when she comes there it's to change the rhythm, try to do something else, because she was making quite a lot of mistakes from the back, so she tried to do something else to break my concentration or try to win points the other way.

Q. Jana, are you perhaps playing the best tennis of your career or certainly since --

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, does it look like it to you? Yes, to me. Well, yes, I'm playing really well. And I think the most important thing is that it hasn't been only one tournament where I played well or it hasn't been only one particular period I played really well, it's like I've been playing like this for three weeks, and basically now I've beaten all the top 10 players on my way here, and I think that's what it's all about, not only winning tournaments but beating top players on the way there.

Q. Can you talk about Steffi in the next round?

JANA NOVOTNA: She's definitely the top, top player. Well, I guess you pretty much know, everyone knows that we have played last week and I have won there, even I think, nevertheless, I think this is going to be a whole different story. I think Steffi is feeling much better now, she played a couple more matches. And I think she will be really pumped to do well tomorrow. But of course I'm playing my best tennis right now so I think it should be a really interesting contest, so I'm looking forward to that.

Q. Have you any comment on the match (inaudible.)

JANA NOVOTNA: Yes, I think so, I think I play Steffi already a few times when I was playing basically my best tennis and I have been able to beat her on that occasion. But of course this is going to be a different story, this is the semifinals at the MSG, and I haven't lost a match for a while. As I said I'm looking forward to it I'm hoping to play well and see what happens there.

Q. What has kept you from breaking through and winning a Grand Slam?

JANA NOVOTNA: Steffi Graf, so far, I must say. Well, it's been like that, yeah, that even though I was playing really well it always -- it always came out that I always had to face Steffi Graf either in the semifinals or quarterfinals and that's been really hard, because she's been such a good player and she's been on the top for so many years. So it seems like at that occasion she was the one with more experience and she was able to handle that situation much better. But as I told you, I have made some changes in my game. I have made a lot of improvements and if I stay healthy and feeling good and I am very positive about next year.

Q. Jana, a two part question. You just said that it's a long time since you beat Arantxa. During the match tonight did you think back to the Olympic match at all?

JANA NOVOTNA: No, not at all. Basically this wasn't the last match we played. After the Olympics we met in San Diego, where I won the first set very easily 6-1. But then wasn't able to finish it at the end there. I wasn't thinking about it at all. I came into this match with all the knowledge and all the experience I had and with all the confidence and I came into the match with things I have learned from the previous losses I had against her. And I was able to hold on to the technique I had today really well and not only the first set or part of the match, but the whole two sets, from the beginning until the end. And I think that's the difference.

Q. And the second part is with you saying that you feel you've played the best tennis of your career, do you think now that maybe you should be going to Australia?

JANA NOVOTNA: I thought about it. You know, actually -- usually I'm sure that most of the players feel that they are really tired and they're struggling with injuries by the end of this tournament but I'm feeling so great. I'm feeling very confident and very healthy and not too tired, too. So it feels like, yeah, I would be ready to go on and play another couple of tournaments. But I think that's all mental. I think after this tournament will be finished I will get really tired and I will need the time off. And I have basically learned from the mistakes I made in the past. And I thought not to go to Australia, take two months off and play the whole new season. With the new WTA ranking system coming up, I sure will need the rest in the beginning, because from then on I will just keep on playing.

Q. Have you confirmed a doubles partner for next year?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, yes, pretty much so, but I said I will announce it by the end of the tournament. If you don't mind waiting a couple more days, because this tournament is not over for me, obviously. And when the time will come I will let you know.

Q. Jana, you, on your return of serve off of her first ball, fast ball, you're slicing off both sides?

JANA NOVOTNA: Yes, sometimes.

Q. Is that very effective against the two-handed players or the players of today?

JANA NOVOTNA: Yes, sometimes it is, but sometimes it is just because she is maybe serving wide and I wouldn't have time to go back and cover the rest of the course court, so sometimes I do that. I'm not really happy doing that, but it's only like in an emergency when she plays really good, out wide serve then I have to stretch there and play a slice forehand, it's not the bay to do it, I would rather hit it and follow through.

Q. It was pretty effective.

JANA NOVOTNA: Sometimes it is, because as I told you the ball stays really low, but it's not the way to do it all the time.

Q. (Inaudible.)

JANA NOVOTNA: Because I was so happy, because I was really emotional. And as I told you, maybe on the outside I looked really calm and like really into the match, but inside I was really emotional and I was very happy not only the way I have been playing the whole time, but the way I was playing especially against Arantxa. And as I told you it's been a while and I really appreciate it and I was really proud of myself the way I was able even to come back in that last game from Love-40 down on her serve and still finish her off in such a style. And I wanted to be by myself for a moment and just tell myself, yes, you did it and that's the way to do it. So I have my funny ways of showing happiness. But it was one of these ways. I do something else tomorrow, of course. (Laughter.) So, just be there and if I play well, then I prepare something for you.

Q. You have it planned already?

JANA NOVOTNA: No, of course not. I'm just kidding about that. But I'm sure you'd like that.

Q. Do you have the stamina to go five sets if you go tomorrow?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, of course -- you know, I would say that the schedule worked out really well for me this year, and I have been playing early nights, didn't have to stay really long, except maybe the first match against Amanda Coetzer, and so far I didn't have really tough matches. We had easy doubles yesterday, I had an easy match today. Yes, I'm not feeling tired at all, and I'm going to have a good massage and try to take care of myself, recover. Of course tomorrow it's going to be 1 o'clock start so I will have to speed up the recovery a little bit more.

End of FastScripts....

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