September 8, 1996
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
Q. Have you ever served better on a big occasion?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, actually I served really well last year also during the finals, but
today was extremely high percentage, extremely high percentage and I changed my serve very
well. I changed placements really well and that was really a big key for it.
Q. You also seemed to be working her forehand. On her forehand she made a lot of errors
there. Is that something--
STEFFI GRAF: Well, with the forehand she plays more crosscourt, so obviously she plays
more to my forehand and I feel that if I can rally with her crosscourt, I will be better
off than playing with backhand.
Q. All during the tournament up to this match, you have not started quickly. Today you
had a great first set. Despite the closeness of the score. Did you have a talk with
yourself or meditate or you just go out on the court and just let it flow?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, I mean, it is, to me, still a big question too, how I am able to
play that well when I need to. It is something, you know, I wish I would know before too
because I felt so nervous before the match and I felt like I had an upset stomach and I
was -- like I was really nervous and whenever -- and then I went out on the court, I
loosened up so much more and felt so much more relaxed because suddenly I had a real good
positive attitude. I don't know how or why it came, but...
Q. Why were you so nervous today?
STEFFI GRAF: Because I haven't really played very well during the tournament and, you
know, you are playing Monica in the finals. If that is not an occasion to get nervous,
then I don't know when.
Q. You didn't drink any Pepsi before the match?
STEFFI GRAF: I drank that tough stuff, whatever, in the locker room.
Q. Did you see the storm coming? Were you sort of racing against it a little bit?
STEFFI GRAF: No. That was the least thing that I really thought about at all. Not at
all. I mean, it got really dark and got really difficult to see the points; especially on
40-15 on her return, I was having difficulty seeing it, but it is something I didn't
really focus on at all.
Q. Actually you seemed to be slowing down on your serve. Were you deliberately taking a
little more time letting her think about the points?
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, I felt today I really needed to take time during points and I did
that because at times I was -- like at the end of the first set and beginning of the
second set, I was really nervous and I felt like I wanted to calm down and be ready for
every point, concentrate where I wanted to hit it and I did that really well.
Q. Did you feel that Monica's serve was weaker than usual?
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, at times you felt she wasn't pressuring you as much as she maybe did
Q. What do you feel right now, Steffi, are you relieved that the Open is over?
STEFFI GRAF: No. No. No, there is no relief of it being over. I mean, it is a joy of
winning it. And playing that well, I think that didn't expect it to be able to show that
kind of tennis today and that is why I am so excited about it.
Q. Do all the Grand Slam titles kind of blend into one or when you look back on them,
like you look back on this one, does each one have a separate emotion?
STEFFI GRAF: Absolutely.
Q. Different memories?
STEFFI GRAF: Absolutely. Every single one has a different way of coming into the
tournament; a different emotion during the tournament and different tennis -- it is so
difficult to compare them, very, very difficult.
Q. How do you feel about the tournament being held on Sunday this year?
STEFFI GRAF: Hey, it was good to me (audience laughter).
Q. Is that good for women's tennis?
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, I think so. Especially since the men's match is rained out. (laughs)
(audience laughter). I think it would be nicer obviously to have the women's final on the
other day of the men's final. I think it would be more appropriate, but I am not
complaining right now.
Q. At 1-1, 30-All in the second set, you hit a shot we haven't seen very often -
running backhand crosscourt passing shot. Do you remember it?
STEFFI GRAF: No (audience laughter).
Q. I was going to ask you whether you got a psychological lift out of it. Monica had
been playing a lot of shots down the line to your backhand and you ran the baseline, got
it, and put it away for a win.
STEFFI GRAF: I am sorry, I can't remember it at all, but I am sure it was important if
it was 30-All and a passing shot for 2-1. I am sure it was important (audience laughter).
Q. Have you ever been a part of such a bizarre awards ceremony?
STEFFI GRAF: No, not really. But I don't think I felt the rain at all, so I wasn't
bothered too much.
Q. You were still nervous at the end of the first set, beginning of the second set, is
that unusual in the middle of a match to be nervous as well?
STEFFI GRAF: It depends on what kind of matches you have. If you play a top player like
that, it is maybe not as unusual, but the thing was that I was really feeling it strongly
and I was surprised that even though I was nervous, I still played the points well.
Sometimes you get hesitant and don't go for the shots, but I still went for maybe a few
occasions I didn't, but I was able to loosen up at the important points.
Q. Why do you think you are able to do that?
STEFFI GRAF: I guess I believe in myself when I need to.
Q. Is it important to you when you win another Grand Slam that you match up with the
number 1 rival, that you beat the closest one rather than some fluke on the other side of
STEFFI GRAF: Fluke? If you make it through to the finals, there is no fluke against
Q. But you match up 1 and 1.
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, I know what you are saying.
Well, what has been so special about it is that I have played the kind of tennis today
and obviously it is even a better feeling if you play the other No. 1 player and to show
it against her, no question, I mean, it is even more special, but maybe it is not quite as
important as having known that I played that kind of tennis.
Q. Being nervous during this match in which, despite the closeness of the score, you
dominated this match, she was not in the match. But was this nervousness historic knowing
that it is Monica; knowing how dangerous she has been and knowing that she has beaten you
on so many big occasions in the past?
STEFFI GRAF: Not really. I think it is probably part of playing her, but I think it is
even a bigger part, realizing that I was really playing well and I should win the match
and I think that was probably why I was starting to get nervous.
Q. Afraid the wellness would stop, you were playing so well?
STEFFI GRAF: In a way, yeah. In a way, yeah.
Q. You have talked about - you have said a couple of times it has been a tough two
weeks, tough year, everything seems to be tough. More so, less so than last year and does
that make it a little, you know, extra giddy feeling after?
STEFFI GRAF: It was really difficult to play this tournament, really, really difficult.
Last year was extremely difficult. I don't think this year was any easier. I was really
struggling during the tournament just to stay focused and to concentrate and that is why
to be sitting here in this kind of position is incredible.
Q. More so because of physical or emotional?
STEFFI GRAF: Both. Actually my back has been, for the first time in two years, two
weeks, no problems. I haven't had that for a long, long time. So, I have only had minor
injuries to struggle with, which was actually nice that I didn't have to worry about that
for once. But I didn't have a lot of practice before this tournament since Wimbledon. I
haven't really been able to train well. So a lot of things.
Q. You and Monica have only met once this year. Would you like to see your rivalry
continue through next year and play her a couple of times at different tournaments?
STEFFI GRAF: That is very necessary for the game and I think it is necessary for us. I
think whenever we play, we seem to really play the best and for the tennis itself, I mean,
it would be great if we play a couple of more times. I think it would be appropriate too.
Q. Have you ever been approached by Monica's people or anybody in a commercial sense
for you and Monica to go out on a head-to-head tour of the United States or the world even
just playing maybe a dozen, 14 matches?
STEFFI GRAF: No.
Q. Would that appeal to you?
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah.
Q. Apart from the tour itself?
STEFFI GRAF: I mean, whenever I play her, it is a challenge and so any time I could
play her, it would be nice, would be fun.
Q. Then shouldn't you and she communicate and say let us go there, let us follow each
other around the world, wouldn't that be good? Not as an exhibition tournament, that
doesn't mean anything, but to say you are going to play-- I am going Leipzig; why aren't
you there, I am playing Boca -- if it still exists -- why aren't you there; shouldn't you
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, I mean, we played quite a few tournaments this year where we played,
but it just seems that we have not been able to get as far as we needed to at times and
then I think we have both been struggling a lot with injuries in the past year, so, it has
been really difficult to try to do what you just said.
Q. Does every champion need a rival like Martina needed Chris and Court needed
Goolagong and through the years you have to have somebody like that to verify what you
STEFFI GRAF: In a way, you know, why we are out there is to be challenged and why we
train or why I train hard is because I want to play the best and I want to play the best
against the other best. So, in a way, you definitely need it a lot, but on the other hand,
I mean, the game needs this probably more sometimes than the players need it.
Q. Are any of your five wins here more special than the other?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, I mean, looking back there everyone has been a milestone itself, so,
I wouldn't put anyone ahead of the other, no.
Q. Where do you go from here?
STEFFI GRAF: I am going to take a few days off and probably head to Germany.
Q. What did you think when you lost your serve, first set at 5-4?
STEFFI GRAF: She played a very good game. She returned well. At that stage, even though
I didn't feel I was serving bad, but she really returned well; made me play the points,
and at that time, I was playing against the wind so she was really pressuring me right
from the beginning on -- and maybe I should have been a little bit more aggressive, but
she played a really good game.
Q. Are you aware of Margaret Court's Grand Slam record, does that matter to you, 24
STEFFI GRAF: 24? No, it doesn't matter to me
Q. We know you love the game. You don't need to be here. You have proven everything.
You have won everything. Can you philosophize just a little bit why you love this game and
what drives you back to keep playing through all the pain?
STEFFI GRAF: Today. I mean, it is simple as that, it is, you know, I don't think I need
to say more. Tennis has always been a big challenge to me and to be able to play that kind
of tennis and to get these feelings after the match, only tennis can produce that and that
is why I still love the game so much.
Q. Do you think you can win another Grand Slam, four in a row?
STEFFI GRAF: Hey, I am not thinking about that at all. To have played the last six
Grand Slams and win all six of them, it is an incredible achievement by itself. I ain't
looking any further than that.
Q. Was there a gameplan to try to hit some dropshots or did you just pull the trigger
when -- seemed like you had a lot of success with dropshots?
STEFFI GRAF: I don't think I played enough of them, but I felt I didn't really need to
in a way. I mean, a few times I even should have come to the net. I mean, there were a few
things I can say, is, but I was really playing solid from the backcourt that I didn't feel
I needed to do much else. I mean, I wanted to stay aggressive and it worked out well. And
I cut down on unforced errors extremely today and that is why I felt I should stick with
what I was doing.
Q. Do you do anything typically to celebrate do you sleep, eat, what do you do?
STEFFI GRAF: Whenever I get out of here, we usually have dinner and by that time I am
so exhausted, I am kneeling dropping down at the table, but no, usually have a nice dinner
and sometimes we go out to a disco afterwards.
Q. You have won six in a row. That is historic. Are you ever playing against history in
STEFFI GRAF: No.
Q. You don't understand what you have done (audience laughter)?
STEFFI GRAF: I mean, I do. Every time I started playing a tournament I just think about
the tournament that I am playing in and I don't look back too much, something maybe should
do a little more often and actually I did look back today on that record and I was saying,
last year I played Paris, Wimbledon, I played Arantxa in the finals, I won both of them. I
played Monica in the finals U.S. Open. I had the same years, so why shouldn't I end it the
same as I did last year, but otherwise, I don't reflect too much on those things.
Q. How much were you aware of the extent of the crowds calling Monica as opposed to
STEFFI GRAF: I felt it a little bit, but not as strong. It is something that didn't
bother me at all.
Q. I am not sure how much longer this co-No. 1 with Monica goes on, but do you feel
like that is -- at this point that you are the No. 1 player in the world by yourself?
STEFFI GRAF: It is something that I didn't mind before. I don't mind now and it is
something that I don't think about.
Q. Can you remember the last Grand Slam tournament when you came in physically healthy
and you did not have any off-court distraction?
STEFFI GRAF: Forget that question (audience laughter).
Q. When were you doing the reflecting on last year? An hour before the match? Three
STEFFI GRAF: Actually during practice. I suppose it was around 12:30.
Q. Can you remember when you and Martina used to play what was in your head at that
time when you were playing her?
STEFFI GRAF: During the match?
Q. Early. No, when you were thinking about playing her early in your career when she
was at the very top, did she intimidate you?
STEFFI GRAF: Her game did. Her game did. It is obviously a game that is unusual, being
lefthanded; coming in a lot, and especially when I was younger I wasn't too comfortable
with my backhand so, obviously, I felt more intimidated by her game.
Q. Do you think you do the same thing to others now?
STEFFI GRAF: I hope so. (audience laughter).
Q. Are you going to get a marriage proposal, I suppose, at every big tournament now?
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, I didn't understand him, though.
Q. Well, he was very clear.
STEFFI GRAF: What did he say?
Q. He said "I'd ask you to marry me too, but I do not have enough money."
STEFFI GRAF: Ohh. I knew there was something about marrying, but I didn't get it, so I
didn't know what to answer to that one (laughs).
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