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March 7, 1999

Steffi Graf


Q. Nice match, Steffi. You were trying a lot of different things out there. You had four dropshots which you won, two volleys which you won, a couple of serve and volleys, you didn't win those, but it was fairly nice to see you trying different stuff out there. Do you feel more confident out here trying different things?

STEFFI GRAF: The match kind of worked that way. I felt pretty comfortable. So I thought, "Okay, I'll give it a try to try different things." I mean, I was always doing it when I was kind of leading. We didn't have a lot of rallies, so I tried to mix it up a little bit, just not give her too much rhythm.

Q. On record, you're probably the most versatile player of either sex of your generation basically. Why does your game travel so well from one surface to another?

STEFFI GRAF: Well, I think, you know, in Europe you kind of grow up during the summer on clay, and during the wintertime you do play on very fast surfaces, on the carpet. You kind of get used to both surfaces. Obviously one is very fast, the other is very slow, so you kind of have to adapt. Your game has to adapt to it. That's why I guess I found that kind of style that I have: playing pretty flat, going for my shots, but still on the other hand you have to move well and have to be patient.

Q. Do you think at your age, the number of years you've been on the Tour, that you're still learning things, or is it more a case of just developing and improving on what you've got?

STEFFI GRAF: No, I mean, with Heinz, always trying to work on something a little different. You know, even though I think I've pretty much always relied on my baseline game, I know that I could, if you would have started maybe a little earlier, would have been able to come in a lot more. So I'm still working on it and trying to play a little more around the net, trying to find approach shots where I have maybe an easier time of putting points away. So I am trying things that I maybe have not really used very much.

Q. So it's more a case of things you haven't used rather than learning?

STEFFI GRAF: Well, I mean, there's still always things. I'm somebody that goes back to what I'm used to. So for me it's a transition to try things that maybe I'm just not so familiar with, even though I have tried it at times. I mean, obviously it's difficult to learn that much more. Yeah, probably it's just more going back to those things you haven't played as much.

Q. What surface are you most comfortable and confident on, if any?

STEFFI GRAF: Fast surface without a doubt, grass courts, indoor carpet, indoor supreme. That's the most favorite.

Q. Do you notice that the young players coming up now, Serena, Kournikova, Hingis, are more well-rounded or less well-rounded than your generation?

STEFFI GRAF: I think that they're all -- it's difficult to be very complete early on. But I think they are as good as is possible. Especially Martina, she can do everything. Basically she can come in, stay back. Different players need a little more time, some don't. But I think they are trying to mix it up and try different things. The only thing that maybe doesn't come around much anymore is the serve and volleyers. I mean, they're totally gone. They just need a couple more years. They just need a few more years to develop their game. I think everybody's trying to come up as quick as possible. The way to do it and to have the most success is obviously from the baseline, you get the quickest results. That's definitely disappeared.

Q. Do you think that's sad for the game?

STEFFI GRAF: Without a doubt. It's always intriguing to see the matches, serve and volleyer playing somebody from the baseline, the way Martina or Mandlikova or Sukova. I mean, it's a different challenge.

Q. Will you play a full tournament year this year, with injuries permitting?

STEFFI GRAF: Yes, I'm trying (laughter).

Q. Steffi, how do you feel physically overall?

STEFFI GRAF: Physically?

Q. Yes.

STEFFI GRAF: I feel fine.

Q. There's no problems?

STEFFI GRAF: Almost no (laughter).

Q. Physically?

STEFFI GRAF: No, I mean, I just hurt my forearm a little bit a few days ago, but it's going fine. It's back to normal.

Q. With the season two months old, is there any one particular thing that you're really looking forward to for the rest of the year?

STEFFI GRAF: I guess Wimbledon will always be the highlight of my season. That's no different this year. The Grand Slams are always the most important ones. Wimbledon is the one that I'm looking for.

Q. Did you always feel that way about Wimbledon? So many Europeans position the French very highly, for instance. Was Wimbledon always -- your eyes were always on that prize?

STEFFI GRAF: Probably not the first two or three years that I started on the grass court because that was something that I had a difficult time on (laughter). It took me two, three years to realize that my game suits the grass courts. I remember the first time I was on grass, for the first week I just wanted to leave (laughter).

Q. Why?


Q. Yes.

STEFFI GRAF: Well, I mean, I think earlier on I just was more used to a normal bounce, needed a little time for me to adjust. You take the ball a little early and try to step in and use my backhand slice. I mean, I'm talking about when I was 14 years. At that time I didn't know so much about what I could do with what I had.

Q. From what you've seen of Serena Williams, if you were her coach, what would you try and improve? What do you think is good already?

STEFFI GRAF: Well, I think she's somebody that has a lot of shots. I think she's been lately starting to go a little bit more for her shots. I think she has a lot of strengths, same as Venus, especially on her serve. She can obviously put you under pressure pretty early on. She has got a very good return. I kind of thought, you know, she has a lot of potential. I think it's for her to figure out what kind of game she wants to go ahead with. I mean, I think she hasn't so much so far a totally clear mind on it. Sometimes she's coming in on the wrong shots. She's trying right now to do different things. It's going to take time for her to choose the right shots at the right time.

Q. Have you had to adjust your game at all against these big-hitting teenagers?

STEFFI GRAF: Not really. I mean, you know what's important. I think most of all you just need to be able to stay calm, basically try to still play your own game. I mean, you know that the serve and the return is very important because that's where you kind of lead into the point. But basically you still try to play your own game and go for your own shots.

Q. A lot of the men come out here, they like to play golf when they're not practicing and playing matches. What do you like to do since you've been out here?

STEFFI GRAF: Well, I'm definitely not into the golf (laughter). Everybody else, you can see them 6:00 6:30 in the morning going out there. I'm not one of them. I've been driving into the mountains a little bit and just enjoying the peacefulness of the area, the scenic, just reading. I'm staying pretty low-key.

Q. What are you reading now?

STEFFI GRAF: What am I reading?

Q. Yes.

STEFFI GRAF: I was stupid enough to say last year what I was reading, it was the Old Lady. After that, you can figure out whatever I'm writing about. I better not say. Well, I think -- let me think about the title. It's East of the Mountains. I'll read it in German. Translated I think it's East of the Mountains.

Q. Is it a novel or non-fiction?

STEFFI GRAF: Non-fiction. It's a novel.

Q. You're playing doubles with Anke. Are you getting ready for Fed Cup?

STEFFI GRAF: Kind of. I mean, I'm sorry, but doubles is something that -- I'm doing it for fun. I'm not too keen on it. I mean, she asked me to play, so I'm usually pretty easy about it. Obviously, in Fed Cup we could play together, so it's a good feeling to see how the other one -- what their reactions are, what they like to do. I kind of see it more as fun than anything else.

Q. Are you going to play Fed Cup this year?


Q. Just getting back to what you were saying earlier about the serve-and-volley game, if a young woman player comes through in the next couple of years with a serve-and-volley game, how much more of an advantage do you think it's going to be for her?

STEFFI GRAF: I think it somehow -- the players are not so much used to it anymore. On the other hand, they're getting very comfortable around the baseline. They're usually pretty compact on that area. I think it's difficult to say. It definitely throws you off because that game is not around so many more times. You really have to adjust a little bit. Usually players are just not used to it anymore.

End of FastScripts....

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