September 1, 1998
FLUSHING MEADOWS, NEW YORK
Q. Any feelings in particular about going back on that court for the first time in quite sometime?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, it is the first time I have been on that court, but just been playing here, I mean, I missed only one year, so it hasn't been that long, but in general a lot I guess that has happened in the past two years and, no, it was nice to be out there again.
Q. Your recent win, has it changed your feelings about how you can do here and your expectations for the rest of the year?
STEFFI GRAF: No. I mean, it hasn't changed very much. I mean, I definitely feel it has changed my attitude and I could definitely go back on it today even during my match because in the second set I obviously didn't play very well, I just sat down after that second set and told myself, well, you know, this is not the way to continue, you know, you have done so well the last few weeks and you worked so hard. Just, you know, just have a better attitude and it really changed. From then on I just played better again. I cut down on the mistakes. I think really just sitting there and looking back on next week that helped.
Q. Compared to Wimbledon, do you feel ready that you can win this thing or do you feel a ways to go?
STEFFI GRAF: Who knows. (Laughs) I am not -- I don't come in here and say, you know, I am going to win, I can win. Who knows, maybe I can win, it is nothing that I particularly look very hard ahead on. I have never done that.
Q. George Liddy (phonetic) says --
STEFFI GRAF: Who?
Q. George Liddy, the promotor of the tournament at Delray Beach says that you are going to play doubles with Martina Navratilova in an exhibition in November.
STEFFI GRAF: That is true.
Q. Can you talk about that? What is that all about?
STEFFI GRAF: It is in the very early stages. I am surprised you actually know, but -- that you already heard about it. Yeah, I think we have tried many times to play together and it never worked out. We have wanted to play in Wimbledon and so it came about that we have got asked if we want to play doubles again for even an exhibition, and we said sure.
Q. When that fell through at Wimbledon, when Martina was going for yet another Grand Slam, there was some thought that maybe she wasn't entirely happy with you bowing out of that because of your physical condition at that time; was that true?
STEFFI GRAF: Oh, yeah. We did have some -- or at least she wasn't very happy about it. I think that she said some things very quickly afterwards and she did, I think, acknowledge afterwards and realized that maybe I was -- I was right of not playing. But, yeah, for a few days there, there was definitely not a very good way between us.
Q. Aside from the money at this event, what is the attraction of playing this exhibition?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, if you can play with Martina Navratilova, I think the best doubles player ever, I don't feel that I have been the best doubles player ever, but, you know, just to be able to play with these kinds of players, that is always fun.
Q. Are you committed to play a certain number of years or is that "who knows" also?
STEFFI GRAF: That is, I don't know, you don't know, nobody knows.
Q. With Arantxa and Jana winning this summer, do you feel any kind of generational pride in what they did, and do you have any feeling about the players in their 20s showing the players in their teens?
STEFFI GRAF: No, I think there has been so much talk about the different ages that are playing and, you know, if they are older and won the tournament or the younger one won, you know, it matters who won the tournament no matter what age. It doesn't make me feel any different or it doesn't help me in any way, it is just, you know, it doesn't really matter very much.
Q. Anything for you to prove personally to younger players who may never have seen the real you?
STEFFI GRAF: No. I don't need to prove to anybody, but myself.
Q. Speaking of generations, any thoughts on the 25-year anniversary of equal prize money here? It is still the only Grand Slam that does that. Does that take away from the others in your mind?
STEFFI GRAF: If it takes away from the other?
Q. Yeah, should --
STEFFI GRAF: No.
Q. Should they get with the program here?
STEFFI GRAF: I have been -- I don't know. I think it is better if I don't really comment too much about that. I mean, it is the way it is and I think there has been so much talk who deserves what and how much. The most important thing is that we all are trying very hard out there and that should be the most important thing.
Q. Do young players inspire you a little more than if they weren't around?
STEFFI GRAF: Not really.
Q. Don't you want to show them a little of what the Steffi Graf had been for so many years?
STEFFI GRAF: No, because I don't need -- I don't need to. I am playing for myself and I have always done that. It is exciting to play with them, you know, I think it is exciting to go through different generations as I have. I have been through a lot of them, but that is all that I'm excited about, about being able to play them. But I don't feel I need to prove anything to anybody.
Q. Could you talk about your serve for a moment; how it has progressed through your career; how much more of weapon it is --
STEFFI GRAF: My serve?
Q. Yeah, and what are the couple of things that you really worked on to make it more of a weapon?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, I think serve and return are two very important shots because they open up the points and one of them is a serve, you do get -- you do have the chance to make some easy points off the serve, so I always felt it was important. I think that is what a good serve is all about, and that is only -- the highest speed, the possibility and putting variety in it, placing it at certain points where you want to or taking off speed once in a while, I think that is what -- something that I work a lot with Heinz - the men do very well is changing the serve quite a bit.
Q. Speaking of Grand Slams, this is the 10th -- speaking of anniversaries this is the 10th anniversary of your Grand Slam. When you look back on it now, does it just seem much more monumental than it did when it happened?
STEFFI GRAF: You are talking about the Grand Slam?
Q. Did you realize this was the 10th anniversary?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, when -- it is really difficult because at that time when I just won it, there was so much -- I mean, such immense pressure on me of the questions that I have been asked if I had been able to do it and not when I finally did it, I was just basically relieved it was over. I couldn't really enjoy it as much, you know, as I wish I would have been able to do. A couple of weeks later, I had a much better time. There was so much pressure that I couldn't enjoy it as much. But sitting here now ten years later, I do realize what an amazing achievement it was at that time.
Q. Did you think at that time, Grand Slam as a teenager, that you would do it again sometime in your career; that it came so easily then, that it would happen again?
STEFFI GRAF: No, I guess because I was close because I won a couple of times, three Grand Slams during a year, but I don't -- I don't have these kind of views when I go into tournaments or I start here, these things don't really come very much to my mind. I know -- I get questioned about them, but that is as far as I think about them.
Q. In today's match you showed us some interesting assortment of shots including that backhand drop shot from the baseline on set point. A couple of lobs at some point. Was that the mark of a very confident player out there or just sort of playing around with some new ideas?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, the drop shot was definitely a crazy one to play, I mean, it worked out well, but it was definitely a wild one. The lobs, that always a very good option. I think I have used it quite a bit and what maybe -- especially like she is not, I think, a typical serve and volley player, somebody that is coming to the net very often. These kind of players, it is always a good weapon to have, especially they are not used to me doing it on the forehand, I guess.
Q. With all that you have experienced, including a lot of adversity, do you go into each match now that you have a mental edge if not necessarily a physical one?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, that is what I have been talking about, I think lately I have been able to step into the matches with a much better attitude. A couple of weeks ago I didn't have that because I felt I just haven't played enough and I didn't feel so confident about the way my game was heading and -- but I am slowly getting more used to playing better. And feeling -- obviously feeling comfortable physically -- physical-wise, being that I am getting stronger and stronger and that obviously gives me a positive attitude.
Q. Do you feel like you need to add new elements to your game to get back to No. 1 or do you think you just have to play 100% to your ability?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, right now, it is a matter of -- I haven't really played that much. I mean, I have played now about three months, which isn't very much. So it has been really been basically putting together what my strengths are and just getting consistent in my game right now. That is all it has been about and getting my physical strengths which I obviously have been lacking. So haven't really been able to go that far beyond yet.
Q. Was the three sets good for --
STEFFI GRAF: If you win they are always good. No, but, yeah, that is just putting me another step forward. Obviously I played a very good first set. I played definitely not a good second set and to be able to turn it around the way I did in the third set, yeah, these kind of matches do help a lot.
Q. After losing a set, does that go back to the beginning of your career or is that something the last few years, the talking to yourself ....
STEFFI GRAF: I think that is something very common. Sometimes you don't focus on the right things and that is what I have been saying today, I was able to focus in a positive way.
Q. But you have done it since you started playing tennis?
STEFFI GRAF: Oh, yeah.
Q. Do you feel -- do you find that you are going more to the net, trying to finish off faster than staying at the net, out of your comfort zone in the back?
STEFFI GRAF: No, I mean, I am just taking advantage of my shots which I have been concentrating a little more since last week. It is something that I definitely have to do a lot more. When I am able to push off the opponent, I need to come more into the net. Today I did it on some key points and the other thing it makes just the opponent think a lot harder about what to do the next time.
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