November 24, 1996
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
Q. Martina felt that you were hurting a little bit, too, at the end of the match, were you?
STEFFI GRAF: A little. I hurt a little bit my knee.
Q. How distracting is it for you when you have to wait like that between -- you were out there, you were bouncing the ball, you were waiting for her to come back from the stretching break. You're trying to gear up for the last set?
STEFFI GRAF: It wasn't too distracting. In her situation I would have probably done just the same. So I didn't get upset or anything at all. I just wanted to keep on going, that's all.
Q. What are some of the qualities you truly respect in Martina's game?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, she can hit incredible angles. Her down-the-lines are probably the best around in tennis. You don't see a lot of players play that kind of game. It's usually mostly cross court. And hers is just a little bit different from the other players. And she's got a good view of the court. She's got a good sense where you're going to hit to.
Q. When you sensed that she was or saw that she was hurting, I guess you went more to the drop shot. It's something that you have to do, right?
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, I mean still it wasn't great to lose the fourth set in the shape she was in. I didn't try to force the points. I was just trying to keep the ball in play, which maybe wasn't the right decision to do. I should have probably used more advantage of that. But obviously I tried not to make too many mistakes at that point.
Q. Does this strike you as ironic at the end of the year when you've had more injury problems it's your superior fitness that makes the difference?
STEFFI GRAF: It did, especially I had a tough match yesterday. I didn't feel physically great this morning. And still to win the match in five sets it is a little ironic, absolutely.
Q. When you looked across the net, did you see a 16 year old?
STEFFI GRAF: No, that's one thing I've rarely done to look at somebody's age, when you're across the other side. You know that she's done really well the past two years, and especially in the last six months. And that's all you concentrate on.
Q. Most people talk about her as being the successor Steffi Graf, do you see her in that role?
STEFFI GRAF: As fast as she's going, she's definitely the one to look out for, no question. The way she's been playing, without being afraid; with the freshness, I definitely see her as the one.
Q. Can you look back on your year, Steffi, just wrap it up? A great year, all the other stuff that that went on the court, off the court, are you glad it's done?
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, I mean in a way I'm glad it's done and in another way in terms of what I've done in tennis this year, again, I think I topped off last year's, even though I've had pretty much the same results as last year, it was so much more difficult physically to do it. And in that perspective I really outdid myself again.
Q. Outdid yourself?
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, I would say so.
Q. Are you surprised you did that well considering everything with your dad and the injuries, that you played as well as you did?
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah. Yeah, just with my back I could barely move, I came here, I knew the only chance to do well would be if I had a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday schedule, which meant either I'd be okay on Tuesday or not. And it worked. And it's been a really long, long year for me. I could realize during this tournament maybe my concentration wasn't really that great, but I still was able to hang in there and do that well.
Q. Given all that, if you had a wish list for '97, what would be Nos. 1, 2 and 3 on it?
STEFFI GRAF: No. 1, health. I mean that's really something that I'm deeply disturbed by that I'm having so many problems lately. And I really need to find a way to get better and to feel better physically. So that's absolutely on the top priority. Well, second, or whatever, you know, that life in general gets a little bit easier.
Q. Steffi, have you thought that these injuries might force you to retire sooner than you want, have you thought about that?
STEFFI GRAF: I do not want to discuss this issue at the moment. I think it's not the right moment after a win like that. But it just makes it more and more difficult to play.
Q. You've played five sets two years in a row. Do you like it, is it too much?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, I won both of them, so I guess I like it. But it's challenging. We just discussed in the locker room if it's right or wrong, and the right thing is to say yes, it is right, and obviously it's the last tournament, why, the only one and to make it five sets at the last tournament. But then again it's so challenging, and fitness and conditioning is a big part of sports, so I guess it's right to do it. And it's an indoor tournament, so it is not as demanding as it is at the different other Grand Slam tournaments.
Q. Who did you have this discussion with?
STEFFI GRAF: The trainers.
Q. I thought maybe the tournament director had asked your opinion?
STEFFI GRAF: No, the trainers and some people from the WTA.
Q. Do you plan on keeping things the same next year, like still working with Heinz?
STEFFI GRAF: Yes. No intentions to change.
Q. Are you planning to move back to --
STEFFI GRAF: I tried the last few years, maybe hopefully this year I'll be able to do it.
Q. Was there any stage in the match today that you were really worried that maybe it was getting away from you, the second set -- I'm sorry, fourth set?
STEFFI GRAF: That the match was getting away from me?
Q. That it would not end the way you wanted it.
STEFFI GRAF: Not really, no.
Q. You were down so far in that fourth set?
STEFFI GRAF: Even when I was down that far, because I lost the second set bad and stupidly, nervously, too. I should have never let it out of my hands at that stage. And I knew I was running her a lot, even though I had to move a lot, but she had to move a lot more. And I knew that at the end it's going to be my advantage in that department. That's why I didn't feel in the fifth set something really could happen to me, even though I didn't think she would get cramps in the fourth set. I didn't expect that, but I just knew that physically I will have an advantage.
Q. Steffi, is there any concern about women's tennis in your mind because you're hurting, Monica is hurt, Gabriela is retired, Kimiko is retired? What's your thought about women's tennis at this point?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, the good story about it is that you've seen Martina play so well this year, and she's definitely somebody that has the ability to be put in one of the spots. Majoli played again a good tournament, maybe she needs a bit more stability, but she's got a very good future. And Chanda Rubin is hopefully getting fit and ready again. There are some young players and hopefully they'll be able to take our places soon.
Q. Do you sometimes feel yourself as being the master teaching the student?
STEFFI GRAF: No, I never do.
Q. This is your fifth title here at these championships. How does this one stack up on the court in terms of difficulty for you on court?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, I think last year was probably the highlight. Last year I didn't know what was hurting. I could barely move after the match. I had huge blisters, back problems, I had pretty much everything during that match. And today it was a little bit better.
Q. Steffi, in the second set you had a chance to equal Martina five games all. When you were serving then you got behind and up to 30-40 and in a critical point you missed an overhead. You went with a gesture, would you elaborate on that more?
STEFFI GRAF: The second set I had so many chances and I played very tentatively. My forehand didn't work at all. I had a lot of chances, I just made some easy mistakes on my forehand of easy shots, so I was pretty disappointed about the way I performed in the second set.
Q. Are you going back to Germany soon, are you looking forward to that trip?
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, I'm looking very much forward to it. It will take a couple more days, though. I've got a lot of things lined up the next eight days. I've got two commercials to do, I've got a lot of sponsor meetings. And I'm going pretty much all over America the next few days and then I'm intending to come back.
Q. Steffi, when do you start thinking about Australia? I know this is barely finished, but when do you start thinking about Australia?
STEFFI GRAF: Actually, I've been thinking a lot about it already because like I said, I want to be physically in a better shape. I have barely practiced and barely been in any kind of shape. So the next few weeks I with will try to work on that. I will try to continue to play tennis, not taking any breaks. I mean obviously not playing three or four hours a day, but playing a little bit every day, whenever my schedule is allowing me to do that, just so that I kind of get into a rhythm, maybe I can just keep playing a little bit at the moment and see how it's going.
Q. Steffi, any additional satisfaction finishing the year with wins over Davenport, Novotna and now Hingis, three of the players that beat you this year?
STEFFI GRAF: If you wouldn't have told me I wouldn't have realized that. With Jana and beating Hingis, the two players, they played very well the last few months, I knew it would be a difficult task and in the shape that I was in. I'm very happy about it, but I never look at the way if I've lost to these players before or not.
Q. Steffi, even with all the injuries the last couple of years, do you think you're playing as well as you did three or four years ago? What's the feeling about your tennis game all in all, as opposed to when you were younger?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, I'm definitely not in my peak. I can't talk about my peak at the moment. I'm just physically not in the shape to be in my peak. And I'm still doing really well and make the best out of everything, and I have a good attitude and good mind on the court. But I'm just physically not in shape to be in my peak at the moment.
Q. Your game is not as good?
STEFFI GRAF: No, not as good.
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