August 29, 1996
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
Q. Steffi, you were quoted today in Germany as saying you were thinking of skipping the
Open for two reasons: one was because of your father's trial, and the other is the calf.
Your calf doesn't seem to be any problem.
STEFFI GRAF: I was thinking of skipping it because of my calf and nothing else. That
was only until Saturday when I first started to play again and realized that my calf would
Q. How many days last week did you have to take off then, Steffi, from practicing
because of the injury?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, till Saturday. Saturday was the first time I played again.
STEFFI GRAF: I tried to play on Monday morning coming from Los Angeles. It happened
like 10, 15 minutes into the practice that I pulled a little bit the calf muscle. The
first time I played again was Saturday.
Q. What about the way you played today, Steffi, is this the way you like the early
round matches, get them over with and get off the court?
STEFFI GRAF: It took me a little long to get into the match. I made a lot of mistakes
in the beginning, really rushed through points. It took me a while to calm down and
started playing points a little better.
Q. Steffi, Karin didn't seem to give too much opposition to you today. Is it hard to
stay psyched up and concentrate well?
STEFFI GRAF: Not really. I felt in early games I didn't play very well. I just made way
too many errors. I just wanted to prove -- I wanted to put my mind on the match always. I
didn't really worry about the way she was playing. I just had to keep the ball in play and
wait for the right shots. I just wanted to do that from that point on. I think it was a
lot better till the end.
Q. That the warm-up routine for your back last year, is it the same this year?
STEFFI GRAF: No, I do a lot less. I've been trying other things. I found out doing
nothing is the best actually.
Q. Steffi, you hurt your calf in Los Angeles?
STEFFI GRAF: No. It started a little bit there, but it happened here coming from Los
Q. Is there something scary about first round play in a sense, there's no pressure at
all on your opponent, yet you're expected to do very well? Is that kind of an awkward
STEFFI GRAF: Not really, no. It really depends on the opponent, too. Some are afraid to
play, some are not. I don't think it has a lot to do with whether it's early round or not.
Q. Just to clarify, did you pull your calf muscle that Monday in practice here after
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, uh-huh.
Q. So it wasn't the back or the knee; it's a whole new thing?
STEFFI GRAF: I had it one and a half years ago. It took me at that time one and a half
months. I was really lucky just four or five days.
Q. Are you getting frustrated or does it get frustrating every time you come to a
major, there's a little nagging or major injury that you have to play through or worry
STEFFI GRAF: It is always difficult to start all over again, obviously. I'm starting to
get more used to it, kind of accepting it more or less, I don't maybe need as much
preparation as I always thought I'd need. To always start on Saturday is really not a lot
Q. When was the last time you played a major and were all healthy?
STEFFI GRAF: It's been a few years. I mean, I'm feeling well now.
Q. You don't really feel it out on the court?
STEFFI GRAF: No, not at all.
Q. You had one nice left-handed shot after she missed her long shot. Did you practice
that a little bit?
STEFFI GRAF: No, just during the time I had my skiing accident where I had to play
left-handed to be at least somewhat in shape.
Q. Ever have to use it in a match, where you actually hit a ball out there?
STEFFI GRAF: No.
Q. Steffi, you've played Venus, you've played Martina, and you might get a chance to
play Kournikova. The level that these young girls are playing, is it comparable to what
you were playing at that same age?
STEFFI GRAF: That's better for you to judge.
Q. What do you think playing against them?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, I mean, these girls have different styles. It's really difficult to
compare it to mine or to anybody else's. You know, it's good that these young kids still
come up. I was definitely surprised with the way Venus played in Los Angeles. She was
playing some great tennis. I was surprised because the few times I've seen her, she didn't
show that. It just needs to come in on a steadier basis. Like a Jennifer, other kids,
Monica, many others to mention, it's difficult to copy these players.
Q. How about Hingis?
STEFFI GRAF: She's got a very good mind on the court. She doesn't have the physical
ability, but she's very clever on what to do on the court. She's using the court very well
you don't see that very often at that kind of age. I feel she's got a lot of potential
Q. And Kournikova?
STEFFI GRAF: I haven't seen her really play at all so far.
Q. Have you had the chance to see Gaby play much lately and what do you think of her
resurgence? What do you think has gone into that?
STEFFI GRAF: I haven't seen her play. She played two matches here. We haven't played at
the same time, so it's difficult to tell. It seems like she's picking up after the layoff
and seems to be doing great.
Q. Has she returned, from the little you've seen, to where she used to be? What caused
her to maybe slip out for a while?
STEFFI GRAF: I haven't seen her yet. I don't know. I can't judge it. I can only see the
results. It seems like she's picking up her game again. She's had apparently some injuries
and problems, so it took her some time to come back.
Q. Is she somebody who years ago you thought she lived up to her potential or had more
STEFFI GRAF: Well, there was a time when we had a lot of tough matches, a lot of
three-setters. I felt that she lost a little bit of confidence after losing a few times.
She never really played aggressive tennis again. I thought she should be able to do a
little bit more.
Q. Are you at all surprised that in the last few years, there haven't been any young
players who have come up to challenge for the top spots? Lindsay Davenport proved a lot
this summer. There hasn't been anybody, it's been you and Monica for a long time.
STEFFI GRAF: And Arantxa.
Q. And Arantxa.
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, it seems like there hasn't been that much progress in a lot of the
players, but also injuries have been such a big part in the last few years. We saw what
Chanda went through after the season she had last year, early this year. Always seeing
some great performances and then some letdowns. I think some players don't have the
stability in their game, do it every week in and out.
Q. Do you see anybody out there that you've come across, either as a young player,
coming up now, that might be a future No. 1 for a long period?
STEFFI GRAF: Not really from the young players, no. The thing is, usually when I play
these tournaments, I don't see a lot of the juniors play. I probably won't be the best
person to ask.
Q. When you're not competing in tennis, are there other sports that you enjoy
STEFFI GRAF: I haven't really been doing a lot of other sports. I used to do a lot
more. I used to play some basketball, I used to do some running, but that's pretty much
Q. At Love-1, 15-30, what goes through your mind at that point today?
STEFFI GRAF: Today?
STEFFI GRAF: Love-1, 15-30?
Q. You were serving.
STEFFI GRAF: Today?
STEFFI GRAF: First set?
STEFFI GRAF: I think it was actually 15-40.
STEFFI GRAF: Okay. (Laughter). I played some awful shots to start off with, a lot of
mistakes early on. I knew I just had to concentrate a little better. At that point it was
pretty difficult. I kept missing a lot of first serves, just not playing the points very
well. I just tried to calm down a little bit.
Q. Just to clarify again, how much thought did you seriously give to not coming here
and playing? Say Friday before you worked out again, did you think it was a good
possibility you might not be playing?
STEFFI GRAF: Talking about last week?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, I mean, the only other time I've ever had an injury was one and a
half years ago. Like I mentioned before, it took me one and a half months to get back on
the circuit. That's why at that time I had to skip the Australian Open and the Tokyo,
Japan Open. I just knew that experience. I didn't know how long at this time it was going
to take. Fortunately it wasn't as serious as it was then. I've learned to not give up till
the last second. Even though I doubted it, I never really thought not to give it a try.
Q. Considering that you hadn't been able to play that much last week, how would you
gauge the first two matches, your own performance? Is it still like practice, you're
trying to practice through it?
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah. I mean, I'm just trying for too much in the moment. I don't have the
patience, it seems, at times to play the long match. I just need to probably play a little
bit more, to calm down a little bit more by the matches and play point by point. Probably
a couple more days will be a little bit easier.
Q. Steffi, everyone always talks about how in a Slam you have to win seven matches,
it's two weeks, very, very difficult. How beneficial is it to a player like Monica last
night when you have a walkover and it's only six? Is it really a huge difference?
STEFFI GRAF: Doesn't matter.
Q. Doesn't matter?
STEFFI GRAF: Doesn't matter at all.
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