November 19, 1998
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, NEW YORK
Q. Does winning a match like that make up for all the tough times you have had this year?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, obviously, I mean, the past 2 1/2 weeks have been amazing. Matches like that, that just tops it off and I hope I don't have to answer anymore the questions why am I doing it, you know, why am I trying what I am doing. I think it speaks for itself. It has been great.
Q. Over the last couple of weeks great results you have had, if you were to put in perspective how big this match for you compared to the other ones that you played.
STEFFI GRAF: There have been so many important matches. I think last week has probably been more important than it has been going this week because last week made me realize that I can do it and at that point I wasn't -- didn't really believe that I could do it yet. So every match that I played last week just helped me to look forward and believe in myself more and just increase my confidence out there.
Q. How do you motivate yourself?
STEFFI GRAF: It is just playing. I think it is a big motivation just to go out there. The way the crowd really got into the match and after losing the first set the way I did I was just wanted to, you know, give myself a better match in the second set and the crowd started to get in and I just wanted to show better tennis at that point. The way the crowd got into the match, and how tight it got in the third set, There is enough motivation right there.
Q. Did you notice the crowd five or ten years ago --
STEFFI GRAF: I guess -- I think I am probably a little more relaxed out there. That is why I take it in probably a lot stronger than I used to. It just makes me relaxed little more right now, seems like.
Q. How are were you able to turn it around after the first set?
STEFFI GRAF: In the first set I just -- she just overwhelmed me. She overpowered me. I couldn't get a return in. My serve wasn't really effective at all. That is what I was trying to focus on in the beginning of the second set, just let her play a little more the points and try to find little lengths in my shots and finally the return started to come in. I stepped back a little bit just to get them in place somehow. And somehow I made her work more and then she was trying to get closer to the lines and finally making some mistakes. At the end of the second set I started to serving a little better too and just make it a little harder on her.
Q. What was the reason for the injury timeout?
STEFFI GRAF: A nice blister, a big blister.
Q. Does it help that your mother is in the background, family, you know, is there?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, I think in general, any support is important, but once you are out there you are pretty much by yourself and the person that I look to is my coach at that time and I do -- I did look over quite a few times because I felt I wasn't really getting into the match; especially in the first set and even the second set I really felt I wasn't so positive and that is where I would look during a match.
Q. Do you feel right now that you reached a point that you think you can win the title?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, right now I am in the semis and I have pretty tough opponent next up. So that is all I am worried about right now. I mean, I have survived this far so we will see what comes up next. I don't -- I still have not changed about looking that for ahead.
Q. Are you ever scared before a match?
STEFFI GRAF: Scared?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, scared probably not. I mean, there is nothing to be scared of. But you tend to get a little nervous even though I didn't really feel too nervous today. That is why I was trying to play a practice a few minutes before the match so I would be ready for it, but somehow I wasn't really. But I mean, once you start not playing so well and the points just go away that is when you get a little nervous but you are not afraid or scared once you go out there because something you have done all your life. There is nothing to be scared of.
Q. Any greater anticipation going into a match against Monica; anything different the way you feel before the match?
STEFFI GRAF: Not really. I mean, I think we know each other's games really well and I know that I have to play really well to beat her and that I mean, certain things that I realize that for example in the first set, I wasn't really going for my serve. I was trying to keep the first serve in instead of going for my shots because I know she returns so well. So there are other things in the back of your mind that reminds you have of her but nothing else.
Q. Even though you played better in the second set were you worried as it went along that every time you got a break she was breaking right back?
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, for sure because I mean, her strengths is her return and she really jumped on it in the first set and even in the beginning of the second set, and like I said, I felt I wasn't serving so well and I wasn't really, you know, making enough points on it and putting her under pressure with my serve. So even in the second set I got a couple of breaks myself, you know, I was never sure that I will win the set.
Q. Considering all the anxiety, uncertainty you had to face earlier in the year do you feel now as if it is a permanent dream?
STEFFI GRAF: It has been amazing really. I mean, it is not possible to describe what I am going through right now, but, you know, I am just sitting there and I can't believe it. It has just been amazing, that is all I can say. But it is paying off the work and the difficult times, I mean, it has been a thrill to be where I am right now.
Q. You seemed very excited, is it something you need now more than in the past?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, it is just excitement that comes out. I mean, it is disbelief, you know, disbelief in seeing myself where I am right now and the excitement of seeing myself pulling these matches through where, you know, is it difficult to see that I am going to make it.
Q. During the match you seemed very emotional. This is something we didn't know about you. Is it something you need now more than in the past?
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, I think I just let go of emotions a little more and I am not thinking about the way I should do things. I am just, you know, I feel I really want to show what I can do out there and especially today I felt I needed to pump myself up because I wasn't really getting into the match until the middle of the second set and she was just playing so well and really I needed to fire myself up at that point.
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