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March 23, 1999

Steffi Graf


JIM FUHSE: Questions for Steffi.

Q. You travel so many months a year. The few months you have off the court, do you spend a lot of time here in Florida?

STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, quite a bit. Especially if I'm trying to get ready for the hard court season. Before Indian Wells, I was here a few days, or before the summer season starts I try to be here just to get ready. It's obviously a home base, but it's also perfect preparation for the tournaments.

Q. Can you talk about today's match?

STEFFI GRAF: What do you want to know?

Q. How you felt out there, your play.

STEFFI GRAF: The first two games, I'm trying to put them aside. I think I had a very poor start, then I slowly got into the match. There were a lot of unforced errors I think from both sides. I think we both can play better. The way she plays is not so easy to find a rhythm.

Q. You were practicing with Agassi last week. Do you do that often?

STEFFI GRAF: Hit with Andre?

Q. Or guys from the ATP Tour.

STEFFI GRAF: Occasionally, if it happens. Not very often. Sometimes during the Grand Slam tournaments or on occasions where the women and men play together, Heinz will find different players once in a while.

Q. I wanted to ask you a couple questions about Jana. Why do you think more players don't play the way she does or are not taught to play?

STEFFI GRAF: Coming into the net, is that what you're talking about?

Q. Yes, the chips and slicing.

STEFFI GRAF: I think everyone is trying to develop their game as quick as possible. The natural way to do it is to have a two-handed backhand, to play from the baseline. If you try to come in more, that kind of game needs just quite a bit longer because you need to find a feel for when to come in on shots. You need to have an all-around court game, which is very difficult. You need to try things. That just takes time to get confidence. If you see the younger players, there's a lot of pressure playing well early on, and that's the natural way. Especially if you're little, it's much easier to play with two hands than starting to play with one hand. It just seems that game, it's easier if you start -- it's not easier, but maybe you have to start a little later and have a different perspective.

Q. Jana said her career sort of paralleled your career. I think she started off, her first big junior match was against you. She's always sort of run into Steffi Graf every step of the way.

STEFFI GRAF: I don't even know about that. When was that?

Q. Maybe her first pro match. She was referring to when she was first starting out against you.

STEFFI GRAF: We're about the same age, we were playing almost as long. Yeah, I mean, the slice backhand is obviously a similarity. I think in a way we have a similar game, that's true.

Q. How easy or difficult was it to put behind you the Indian Wells final and get back to this tournament? Was it a tough match?

STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, it was. It wasn't a match I could put away too quickly. I've lost similar matches a few times now. That's why I wasn't very happy. I mean, I know I didn't play a bad match; I just didn't play a consistent match. That's what I wasn't very happy about. That's been happening a few times. It took me a day or two.

Q. Has it changed your attitude at all here?

STEFFI GRAF: Not at all. You think about it for a day, then you're already on the plane to go to Miami and the next tournament is basically coming around the corner. That's the good thing about tennis: you quickly have something else to look forward to, you can start fresh again. There's certain things I obviously learn out of all these matches. We've been working a lot on the return. We've been working a little more on the serve. Just basically playing a little more aggressive. We've just been doing that the last few weeks. It's going to take some time.

Q. You feel there is a margin of improvement?

STEFFI GRAF: Absolutely.

Q. You can sense that?

STEFFI GRAF: Yes. You know, at times I'll show it; at times I maybe don't. It's going to take some time.

Q. Can you talk about the prospect of playing either Lindsay Davenport or Likhovtseva?

STEFFI GRAF: Lindsay, we've played quite a few times the last few months. We always had very close matches, close encounters, especially a lot of three-setters. Basically we both go for our shots from the baseline. She has a very solid game, either backhand or forehand is extremely strong. Obviously I need to try to do a similar strategy and maybe try to put a little variety in, try to come in myself a little bit to break the rhythm a little bit.

Q. And the other woman?

STEFFI GRAF: I've had a few close encounters the last few weeks actually, the last one in Tokyo, which I barely lost. I was down 6-4, 5-4, she was serving for it. She's not somebody I like to play too much either. It should be interesting. I think the way Lindsay is playing, I think she should be the winner of that one.

Q. Today's match, the second set, you said you were starting to hit some unforced errors. Did you feel a little tired?

STEFFI GRAF: Tired? Not yet (laughter). No, I didn't feel tired. Also at that point she started serving a little better. She got one easy game, 4-2. There were some better rallies. I played against the wind, which made it a little more difficult. At times I tried for a little too much. At times I didn't really step into my backhand. I just concentrated on getting my serve at 4-All and did that very well, got some easy points there. I was trying just to play a little more solid on the game to finish the set off.

Q. Seemed like when you got to 4-4 --?

STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, that's when I focused a little better, at that moment.

End of FastScripts....

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