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September 11, 1993

Steffi Graf


Q. Champion, you've played a very close match with Seles in Melbourne. You could have won the match. Could you have imagined then that that would have cost you a Grand Slam?

STEFFI GRAF: No. And I don't really -- I don't really want to think that way, really. I think it is a great achievement to have been able to win 3 Grand Slams and be in the final of the other one. And having the possibility to even have a Grand Slam. I had it once. That is fine.

Q. Steffi, aside from being happy with winning today, were you pleased with your game?

STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, it was again today very difficult conditions. I mean, I have -- play from the baseline, it is really difficult. If you play somebody who comes in all the time to play perfect, I mean, it is just impossible, but I think my backhand passing shot was really working today and maybe my serve wasn't 100%, but other than that, I don't think really-- I can't criticize much.

Q. At this point, do you need Monica Seles to come back to improve, to continue improving?

STEFFI GRAF: I am still -- I mean, after winning this 6 tournaments in a row now, I mean, I am not quitting on or not letting go to try to improve. But sure, it helps if you have a player who pushes you more. I mean, obviously, you are trying harder and you work harder. But I am not necessarily a person who needs it too much, because I like to push myself.

Q. Do you feel like you are playing against yourself, then, a lot of times out here, especially in at the early rounds?

STEFFI GRAF: No. Not really.

Q. Can anybody beat you right now, the way you are playing?

STEFFI GRAF: I mean, I feel confident and when I am -- when I know I am playing well as I have been the last few weeks and when I realize how well I am playing, then it is it is really difficult to do something against me, because I know that whenever I am going to go for my shots, it will happen.

Q. Steffi, is it a little bit anticlimactic to win a U.S. Open final that routinely?

STEFFI GRAF: No. Not really. I mean, Helena has beaten quite a few good players here, and she didn't -- I don't think she really played bad today either. I mean, I played a lot better than yesterday, so I am feeling better. Sure, if you play a higher-ranked player in the finals and win, maybe, say, it's little bit more satisfying, but to play well, I think that is usually important to me than anything else.

Q. At what stage today could you sense the victory?

STEFFI GRAF: Well, I didn't sense it at 4-1, then again it was 4-3 and 30-Love. I think when I won the game to 5-3, I think that -- I felt pretty good at that stage.

Q. Steffi, did losing the first set yesterday help you today in terms of getting into this match right away?

STEFFI GRAF: Well, today I was so much more relaxed than yesterday. I mean, yesterday in the beginning I was really tight and not really well prepared. I think today I just was a lot better focused right from the beginning on. I knew it was going to be a difficult match. I just moved a lot better than I did yesterday. Much more, since it is the finals.

Q. Did you feel that you had to say something to the public as you did out there about Monica? I think nobody blames you for the fact that another player is not here. Did you feel pressure to recognize that?

STEFFI GRAF: No. No, I didn't. It is just -- it is just -- it's a fact, really. I mean, it is nothing that I had -- I mean, it is just obvious and I think there was nothing that I really had to say about it.

Q. Had you planned on saying something or did that just kind of come to you?

STEFFI GRAF: I mean, I didn't -- no. Because I didn't know how -- I mean, I am-- usually, I am very nervous before I have to do a speech or say something, I usually have no idea what I am going to say. Sometimes I am trying to tell myself, like at the French Open when I didn't say anything and I wanted to say something and I forgot, it was because I was really nervous. Today I really didn't have a chance to write a speech, so it was -- so, it just happened.

Q. Do you miss Monica?

STEFFI GRAF: I have been saying that constantly now and nothing has changed.

Q. Other players grumble about playing here and you have taken an apartment in New York. Are you more comfortable in New York than other players are?

STEFFI GRAF: I do. I mean, I like New York, obviously. If you like a place, I think you just -- I mean, this tournament is part of New York. I mean, I just like it a lot. That is why -- I always wanted to have an apartment here, just, I mean, it always makes it more comfortable for me staying in the City; having your own place and not having to stay in a hotel.

Q. How long or how much time do you get in the course of the year to spend in that apartment?

STEFFI GRAF: Not enough, but hopefully some day I have more time.

Q. Steffi, how much of the appeal in New York is the fact that there is so much attention, let's say, in Germany; I mean, is there less here, can you blend in a little better here?

STEFFI GRAF: I wish. But it is difficult to -- actually didn't have a very good time this year here in New York, because I had a lot of photographers sitting outside my apartment, and they have been following me everywhere I was going. So, tell you the truth, I didn't have a very good time.

Q. Can you describe the difference between winning a championship like this for the first time and then winning it when you haven't, like to get it back? Is one sweeter than the other? Does it feel any different?

STEFFI GRAF: Actually, this feels very special, because I haven't played very well the last, I think, four, five years here in New York. I never played well here during this Open for a while and I haven't really played too well during the Virginia Slims Masters. So I think that is what it feels good to-- you know, it has been strange, because I like it here and still I haven't played very well. That is very unusual for me. That is why it feels good to stay.

Q. Generally, what about, say, a French Open, a Wimbledon, is there a difference winning it for the first time and getting it back?

STEFFI GRAF: No, because there are always other circumstances, and okay, the first Wimbledon stands out of every tournament, obviously. But after that, winning a Grand Slam, that is every time a great, great feeling.

Q. Steffi, by making the statement about Monica, were you speaking to her because you haven't been able to contact her in the last so many months? Were you sending a message to her, not only to the crowd, but saying, hey, Monica, I appreciate you are out -- I need you back?

STEFFI GRAF: Probably I have tried, yeah. I think probably.

Q. Did you feel like maybe she was watching and you wanted to speak to her through the crowd?

STEFFI GRAF: I don't know. It is just -- I just said what I felt at this moment. If I look back at the tournament that is how I felt about it, in a way -- probably in a way I was trying to get to her.

Q. You have tried to get in touch with her since you have met with her in the hospital?

STEFFI GRAF: I have tried several times. I haven't tried, though, the last two weeks, because -- whatever why. Whatever reason why.

Q. Steffi, you mentioned how nervous sometimes you get to make a speech. After all these years; after all you have been through, are you still somewhat-- not uncomfortable, are you sometimes uneasy with the affection that people lavish on you --

STEFFI GRAF: Whenever I have to do a speech, I am just really -- I don't know why even if people tell me, you have done it hundreds of times, still it is always, you feel like you want to say something special to the people out there, because you feel special at that moment and you want to try to give something back. I was -- I always try too hard, in a way. But --

Q. Do you think women's tennis needs the rivalry that you and Monica have and besides you needing it, do you think women's tennis needs it?

STEFFI GRAF: It needs the best players in the game and that is it. That is all there is.

Q. You won 3 Grand Slams this year. Do you think you are alone -- there is you and the other players and are you alone?

STEFFI GRAF: No. No, probably that is how I am, in a way. I never feel I am above everybody else or I am better than everybody else. I don't feel that way even if I keep winning; it is the way I am doing lately. But I don't recognize myself like that.

Q. When you talk about photographers outside your apartment, do you think it is like yet another American celebrity deal or is it different being a German --

STEFFI GRAF: They are not. They are not Americans. They are Germans.

Q. Steffi, say 20 years from now when someone looks at the record books and sees that you have won 3 quarters of the Grand Slam. If they mentioned that to you would you say thank you that felt really good, or would you kind of say yeah, but I did it without maybe the best player being around?

STEFFI GRAF: I don't know.

Q. Steffi, do you feel correct me if I am wrong, but you hit more backhand topspin passing shots in this final than I have ever seen. Was this about the best you passed off the backhand side in a Grand Slam final of a big tournament?

STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, I really think so. That is what I have been saying the past few days that. That is one department I think I improved probably the most. That is what I worked with, Heinz, brought me the most. It is just when I -- when I start hitting it freely, that everything just comes together. That is what happened today. That is what I have been training for to be able to play these passing shots.

Q. When the photographers are not there and the other people complain about the noise, the crowd, and the way New Yorkers are and what the newspapers write, why have you chosen to put residence in this place?

STEFFI GRAF: This place---

Q. What is so good about it or not?

STEFFI GRAF: Well, I think it also has to do where I am staying. It is a really special building. My apartment itself is a -- I stepped into it. I said if I can get this place, I really want to try very hard and it is also the area that it is in. It doesn't feel like it is a really big, big city. It is just a small-different area where they have little shops, little galleries. It is nice just to go out and go into a restaurant and, I don't know for what reason, why everybody so surprised why it is New York.

Q. We all hate it here.

STEFFI GRAF: Oh, come on.

Q. But the players all say that they hate it hear and so many players say they hate it.

STEFFI GRAF: I don't know why. I really don't know why.

Q. Right now are you playing the best you have ever played?

STEFFI GRAF: Certain times I do. Sometimes I don't. I mean, it always changes. I think I am a better player than I have been in any stage right now. I think I play the points a lot better and overall, even if I had days like yesterday where I haven't really been playing well, still, I find the way to get back into it. There are times when I haven't been able to do that.

Q. Steffi, Helena says she felt that the umpire was afraid to overrule a couple of calls, crucial calls because she Helena felt that she was intimidated because you are Steffi Graf; one of the greatest players and she was afraid then to overrule her calls. I am wondering what you think about that?

STEFFI GRAF: Well, the only call that I would criticize would have been the serve because I myself thought it was out, and but then again the next game she served, there was a serve that I felt was out. You know, that always happens. But I don't know if she thinks there were so many bad calls. I didn't think so.

Q. Steffi, was there a call that you thought you -- was there a call that you thought-- that you wanted to ask for two--

STEFFI GRAF: There was a serve. It is difficult from the other side to judge a serve, but I felt it was out.

Q. Did you look at the umpire?

STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, I asked the umpire about it.

Q. You say you don't think of yourself as above other players, but can you see something that is different that players come here like Helena and say that no, you are not unbeatable, but they don't beat you when it counts. Is it mental? I mean, what is it that is different if you are not above them; what sets you a part?

STEFFI GRAF: I am not going to tell you my secrets.

Q. Manuela yesterday said that when things are going bad for you, you are so mentally tough that you can elevate it like this if you are down, is that a part of it?

STEFFI GRAF: I think it is really a big part of it, actually. That is what I have just been saying, I mean, I feel more confident right now. That is why I feel even when I am not playing my best tennis I still feel there is a way back into it and that is just being confident about yourself. That is a very big part of the game being confident; being able to play better shots when it counts, to just believe in yourself. It's a long two questions.

RICHARD FINN: Can't control them.

Q. You have played and won so much and so often, good players, often the first thing that goes is their concentration. You are talking about having more concentration perhaps than other players. Where does it come from? Why have you not burned out when a lot of other women who have played less long than you have lose interest, lose concentration?

STEFFI GRAF: Because I am still interested in the game. I mean, I still -- I still have a lot of fire in me. I still like to -- not every day, but most of the days, I like to go out there and try to improve and try to go further than I have and that is why it keeps me going.

Q. Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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