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August 29, 1995

Steffi Graf


Q. What were your thoughts when you first saw the crowd?

STEFFI GRAFF: I wanted to play. Actually, I liked it, I have to admit because I don't particularly like losing, and I definitely wanted to play her as soon as I could and play the first round. I knew it was not going to be easy because I really haven't had a lot of matches, but I definitely was looking forward to it.

Q. Is your current emotional state affecting your tennis at all?

STEFFI GRAFF: Yes, it is.

Q. Can you elaborate a little bit on how it is affecting your game?

STEFFI GRAFF: Obviously, at certain times I have difficulty concentrating out there and because I haven't really been able to practice much, but that is pretty much my back. I haven't had much time to get in the position that I would like to. I haven't really played a lot. So I definitely lack confidence.

Q. Steffi, how do you sleep, and what do you do before the tournament first day, and do you think about your opponents a lot or about tennis or you just want to switch off from tennis? For example, last night, did you sleep properly, normally?

STEFFI GRAFF: Yes, I slept well. I didn't change anything from what I have been doing the last few days other than I stayed in, but I slept really good, and woke up pretty good too.

Q. Steffi, one other time -- I don't remember what was going on -- you said that the press attention was relentless; they were at your house, Germans, I think you said, were coming over to watch you all the time. Is it like that now, and does it make it any easier or not?

STEFFI GRAFF: It is not a choice to go out and you have people in front of your house, that is obvious. I am trying not to really let it affect me. I am doing what I want to do and, you know, I am obviously realizing that people are around my apartment, but I am trying to put it aside. I just do what I want to do.

Q. The first part of the question, is it the same scenario?

STEFFI GRAFF: Yeah, it has been like that the last few weeks.

Q. There was a press report that there was some woman who knew you were in town all the time and was stalking you.

STEFFI GRAFF: I have no knowledge of that. All the people that I realize were men, so, no women.

Q. How did you explain the wide fluxuation in the match?

STEFFI GRAFF: I was tentative. I haven't really played a lot of matches. Like I said before, I do lack some confidence, and so I was not really relaxed out there. And so I just needed my time to get really into the match, and she started off very well, so it was a combination of both. She was playing aggressive, and I was making a little bit -- more mistakes than usual.

Q. Did you get sort of a mental kick from losing the first set and later playing so well?

STEFFI GRAFF: I think it is really difficult if you lose the first set, I think to kind of be positive in the beginning of the second set, it takes some energy, and I think that is more difficult than, you know, telling yourself, okay, you lost the first set, let us go, get going at the end, but the good thing was that I came down from 2-5 and, you know, I had some better games at that point. I think that helped me to start off better in the second set.

Q. Steffi, have you watched Monica play and what do you think about her ability at this moment? And also are you looking forward to the day when you do get on the court to face her?

STEFFI GRAFF: I saw her yesterday for the first time playing a match. I saw a couple of games of that, and she looked really good out there; not making a lot of mistakes, really going for her shots. And obviously it is great to see her playing again. I think it was great. But the second part, sure, I mean, I'd love to play her any time. I think that is great to see her back and hopefully we will meet up sometime.

Q. Given the distractions that you have had, would you consider maybe taking the rest of the year off?

STEFFI GRAFF: I am playing here, so let me play this tournament and then make my decisions. What I am going to do afterwards, I am trying to concentrate, and it is taking me a lot of energy to get ready for this tournament and I will see what I do afterwards.

Q. Going back to your first answer when you saw the draw and wanted to play her, do you think that is an example of what sets you a part; do you think that is a unique aspect of your mental tenacity?

STEFFI GRAFF: I don't know. I mean, it is the person in me that wants to play, wants to play obviously good tennis and wants to play tough matches. So I don't know if I am so different from other players; that is difficult for me to judge.

Q. Maybe not just yourself, but do you think that is something that sets a part top players, that much confidence?


Q. Think back to the emotional strength you showed during the French Open. Are you trying to use that to draw upon that in this tournament also?

STEFFI GRAFF: Well, I think I mean, I used a lot of that during, obviously during Paris and during Wimbledon. I think Wimbledon was even tougher because my back was really not very good at this stage. And I think it was even tougher to get to the point to be able to play competitive and to be able to win this tournament. I entered them really not expecting much of myself. I think after these two tournaments, I just couldn't believe how much strength I had to get through them, and so I was really sort of proud, and I hope to be able to take that with me playing here.

Q. The back hurts; that is a given. Is it still a refuge and a comfort to be able to get onto the tennis court to play matches to practice and to have that as a santuary, perhaps?

STEFFI GRAFF: Well, obviously, if I wouldn't feel like it, this is what I really want to do and this is where, you know, I can get away from a lot of things; I wouldn't be here. It is still a challenge to me to be out there, and I think it does help me for a lot of reasons, to put things -- to put things into perspective and just concentrate on tennis other than other things.

Q. Steffi, you are usually -- when you play early round matches in Grand Slams it is 1 and 2, 2 and 3 and everybody asks, "you only played 39 minutes -- blah, blah, blah. ." Can you walk away from a match like this feeling some joy that you had gutted out a tough match in a round where you usually don't have to?

STEFFI GRAFF: Oh, yeah, most definitely. I think, you know, I said it before, I wish I would have played better the first round, but having to go to play a tough player the first round and to have been in a position to have to play key points in the match to have that behind me, will definitely help me. Everybody was thinking it was going to be a tough match; I, myself too, and knowing the kind of shape that I am if I just wanted to be able to play and I know this will -- definitely is going to help me for the next few matches.

Q. Can you enjoy just for today?

STEFFI GRAFF: I definitely can.

Q. Steffi, when people play you or Monica, afterwards they always come in and talk to us about trying to figure out the way to beat you, and going into the match, figuring it out. Is there ever a player you approach like that that you are not sure you know how to beat them or do you never even think in those terms?

STEFFI GRAFF: I rarely think in these terms. Actually I don't because I concentrate, you know, I obviously talk with my coach before the match shortly before and I think what I would like to do on the court, and I try to concentrate on that and obviously if there is some weaknesss, you can usually find it out during the match. But usually concentrate on what you want to do and how you want to approach the match.

Q. Anyone's game ever, like even before Martina, anybody ever made you say "how do you beat this person," did you ever think about that in your career?

STEFFI GRAFF: Like not knowing if I could beat that person?

Q. Or wondering what is it about their game that bothers me, do you ever have a problem with anybody's game where you actually wonder how to conquer it?

STEFFI GRAFF: I never liked playing Lori McNeil.

Q. Steffi, with all of the attention given to Monica's return and the predictions about how she might do here, do you have a bit of a feeling inside of you, hey, I am Steffi Graf, maybe you shouldn't overlook me?

STEFFI GRAFF: No. I don't. I think -- like I said before, it is great to see her playing and I think she should get the attention, I think it has been tough for her to come back and, you know, seeing her win Toronto and coming here, I think that is great. I mean, I feel she deserves the attention that she is getting. I have no problems with it. I think it gives me more of a bit of freedom.

Q. People who are closest to you in your life, who is here in New York with you?

STEFFI GRAFF: My brother and his wife. Obviously my mom. I should have put her first. My coach is here - which I do trust very much. And a few other friends are here.

Q. Did your back give you have any trouble at any point today?


Q. Would you say it if it did?

STEFFI GRAFF: I would say so, but I don't know. Will I say it or not? That is a difficult one. But I mean, it did not hurt me during the match. It hurts me a little bit now because I am stiffening up a little bit, but it has been pretty good.

Q. What exactly do you have to go through -- what are the hardest things you have to do to stay physically fit to be able to play?

STEFFI GRAFF: Obviously with my back, I don't last very long on the practice court, and I used to be able to do a lot of off court activities like jogging or, you know, during the last few years quite a bit of weights and things like that. I haven't really been able to do that. So that takes a lot away from me because I am used to doing a lot of workouts and I haven't been able to do that.

Q. What do you have to do to preventive sort of things, icing, that sort of stuff?

STEFFI GRAFF: Yeah, obviously a lot of stretching, manual therapy. Getting massage right now afterwards, and just trying to loosen the muscles up.

Q. Throughout your career, Steffi, you have had so many distractions. What do you do mentally to focus on tennis and to deal with all the distractions?

STEFFI GRAFF: Easy to get on the court. When I get on the court I kind of want to play well. I want to go out there and enjoy myself and relax. I think about the tennis at that point, so there is no secret on how to be mentally tough. I think you got to enjoy what you do and concentrate on that and you will be fine.

Q. You started with your serve a little bit today. What was the problem there and why did it seem to get better later on?

STEFFI GRAFF: I don't know. I have been serving so well in the last few days, and today I just started off not finding the right rhythm and really not going through the motion. I started doing that a little better in the second set, but still, I think it is far from being my usual good serve.

Q. Did you even for a moment consider not playing the U.S. Open?

STEFFI GRAFF: Not really, no.

Q. You said sometimes you have concentration lapses. Did the tiebreaker in the first set wake you up a little bit?

STEFFI GRAFF: I don't think it woke me up. I mean, I just played some wrong points at that moment and you obviously get tentative quite a bit, but it didn't really wake me up. It is just that in the second set I just told myself to maybe step in a little bit more and that is what happened. I think I controlled the points a little more than I did in the first set.

Q. Would you go so far as to say that having this attention on Monica is actually a break for you? I know you said it gives you a little bit more freedom, but is it actually good timing for you?


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