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November 19, 1995

Steffi Graf


Q. Steffi, can you talk about going five sets and how difficult that is or how much fun it was? And just the whole nature of possibly going to five sets for women at Grand Slam tournament finals?

STEFFI GRAF: I think it's definitely a challenge. I mean, I was looking forward to it. It was not hoping for five sets, actually. But singles, we didn't really have too many long rallies, it wasn't too demanding on our condition.

Q. Would you be for it in the future in finals, Grand Slam events?

STEFFI GRAF: The thing is, it really depends on the surface. I think it will be tough for us to play maybe on a claycourt best of five or even in Australia, where it's pretty hot and to go there five sets or go the long distance, I think that's pretty difficult. But I think it's possible.

Q. Steffi, is it fair to say that was the perfect finish to a near perfect year?

STEFFI GRAF: Absolutely. I mean you win this tournament at the end of the year and it obviously makes it a lot sweeter, even if -- it was difficult to make the year even sweeter, but obviously it did.

Q. Were you surprised by Anke's performance?

STEFFI GRAF: No. Because I knew what she can do. And like I said already yesterday, I kind of thought she could make it to the finals and she's somebody that really goes for her shots and she likes her first serve. I wasn't surprised at how well she did at the end.

Q. Given the first four games, when you dropped four points, we had the sense we would be on 3 o'clock trains home. What were you thinking at that point?

STEFFI GRAF: I really wasn't, because you could feel she was nervous in the beginning. And you could sense she couldn't find her timing, and was probably a little intimidated being in the finals. So I thought to myself it's not going to take long, and in the best of five sets she has time to recover. So I didn't anticipate the match to be that short. I didn't because I know she's just a much better player than she showed in the first set.

Q. Can you talk a little about the foot problems? We heard you scream at one point?

STEFFI GRAF: I'd hate to talk about my injuries at the end of the year. I've been through enough. And I've had the last two weeks, problems with my foot. And that's why I changed to orthodics, and that's why I got some nasty blisters on my foot. And it's been troubling me a lot. And then the problem that I had with the left foot, with the bone spurs happened to come up again. So it was like my feet were kind of killing me at times.

Q. Was she attending to the bone spur or the blisters, when you had the trainer come out?

STEFFI GRAF: That was the blisters.

Q. In the big break game, she hit a backhand down the line, you went for it. You either yelled ouch or oh, shit. I've heard two different versions. But it seemed you were in excruciating pain at that point. Do you recall that?

STEFFI GRAF: I actually know which one you're talking about. The problem was when I had to go far out to the sidelines, it gave me a lot of troubles. And on a few occasion, had hurt a little more than normal. It was difficult for me to go out far on the sidelines.

Q. In terms of tennis level, how would you rate this one compared to U.S. Open and Wimbledon?

STEFFI GRAF: Well, I think the U.S. Open and Wimbledon definitely were quality-wise, a little better than today. But it's always a different match everyday you go out there. So you can't always strive for that performance.

Q. The best match you've been involved in in this building, do you think?

STEFFI GRAF: I don't think so. Definitely the longest. And probably -- it was exciting to be in the fifth set, I have to say. And knowing it could go either way, and the serve was so important, probably, excitement-wise, the fifth set was special.

Q. Steffi, yesterday Anke talked about growing up in your shadow, saying I'm not Steffi, I'm not nearly as good as she is. Did she show you something today?

STEFFI GRAF: Well, the thing is that -- I'm sure it was at times difficult for her. And people always kind of comparing her. And she has her own style. I hope that people by now have seen that. And you could see, she goes for her shots and she's running around trying for everything and showing a lot of guts. And I think -- I just hope that she -- people have figured out by now that she's a different player. And one to really watch for.

Q. Steffi, the Australian Open is using the lack of the fourth and fifth set as sort of an excuse to scale back the women's prize money, and I wondered if you could comment on that and whether it's upsetting to you, that situation?

STEFFI GRAF: No, it has never been upsetting to me. And everybody has their own decisions to do different things. And you can disagree or not disagree. I haven't really disagreed with their ruling about it. So I don't have anything further to add.

Q. Steffi, what way did you surprise yourself this year? What have you learned about yourself and what you've been able to accomplish?

STEFFI GRAF: Well, I've definitely passed a few barriers that I didn't think I could. Obviously, I've played, I think, 11 tournaments this year, which is not really much to my normal standards. And I went to the French and U.S. Open not very well prepared, not playing very many tournaments, and physically, because I haven't been able to train on it, I haven't been really ready. And then I come up to the tournaments not feeling a hundred percent, and going beyond what is possible for me. I've been surprised by what I've been able to achieve, at times not thinking that I could really do it.

Q. You're talking physically right here, but it's no secret that it's been an emotional year for you, as well. Have you surprised yourself? What have you learned about your about yourself, about everything you've had to persevere?

STEFFI GRAF: I think I showed a few times that I can focus when I need to. And I think I showed also, that tennis means a lot to me. And I've been able to put a lot of things on to the side and just play and enjoy it. And I think that was one of the most important things.

Q. Is tennis a haven for you, like a --

STEFFI GRAF: Heaven and hell?

Q. No, a sacristy, something to take you away from your problems?

STEFFI GRAF: At times. But I'm not playing tennis just to get away from something. I play tennis because I enjoy it. And it's not -- I don't look at it as something where I can -- where things will relieve or I can put my mind on something else. Sometimes, sure. But this is not my first priority, because I enjoy it and like to do it.

Q. Steffi, in the match most people would have thought that if you took the third set and then came back to break back even in the fourth, that you would have won it in the fourth set. Were you a little surprised that you weren't able to come through in that fourth set and were forced into a fifth?

STEFFI GRAF: There were a lot of close games in the beginning of it. She just played better in the fourth set. She made fewer mistakes, ran me around. And I gave her a few chances and she just played more aggressive than I did at this time. So she had maybe, in the beginning of the first set, I could change something about it. But she just played better on that set.

Q. Did you sense at 4-3 that she would feel some pressure serving to stay in the match on serve? It seemed like she only got two first serves that game?

STEFFI GRAF: Sure. You can't really count on that. I mean you hope, maybe, but the thing is that you don't think about what the other person is going to do, you concentrate on yourself. That's what I did. At 4-3, I was telling myself to try to get the return in long, because a couple of times they come short and she just could do anything with it. I was concentrating on being more aggressive on the points. And it worked. Obviously, there were a few points where you could say maybe she was trying for too much, and maybe she got a little nervous on some. But that's what happens when it gets close.

Q. Would you say experience was the big difference in this match?

STEFFI GRAF: I don't know. It's really difficult to say. It's difficult to say. I think maybe I've had a little edge at 4-3. I had an attitude after the changeover that I wanted to win this game. And I don't know if it's experience or if it's just your character. I don't know how you can say that. But maybe being that I haven't really been at that position, either, maybe the different matches that I've been in close situations and, probably, I relax a little more at that moment than she did. Because maybe she has not been there.

Q. Did you feel or think at any point during the match that you may lose?

STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, I did. I did a couple of times.

Q. And how did you overcome it?

STEFFI GRAF: You just keep playing. You just keep playing. And try. That's all you can do.

Q. Did you miss Monica at all this afternoon?

STEFFI GRAF: Well, I've had other problems on my mind.

Q. What do you expect from next year? And do you think you're going to be stronger because of what you faced this year?

STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, I think I'll be stronger. And I think, also, I'm probably more relaxed than I've been, just in what happened all year long. I think it will probably make things a little easier next year to go into the tournaments and start off. And it showed me a lot of things this year. So I'm sure I can transfer a few things into the new one.

Q. Do you think Monica is going to be your main opponent or do you feel that the new generation is coming closer to persevere?

STEFFI GRAF: I think still Monica is the main competitor to look forward to, unless -- there will always be good -- there are a lot of other good players that can challenge you. But I think on a steady basis, I think she's the one.

Q. It was really fun watching you win. The crowd was applauding Anke, because you looked so happy for her. Did that take you back to when you were 20 and people were beginning to really embrace you? What were you feeling then?

STEFFI GRAF: What I was feeling then, I felt -- I was happy for her. But I thought, you know, the way she was standing there she was quite shy, like the way she was looking, so I had to smile about it. That's sometimes, I think, the way I look, that's what I was enjoying. She really deserved it. She played a great tournament. And I think even watching the crowd that loves somebody. It's a nice feeling.

Q. How many tournaments do you plan to play next year?

STEFFI GRAF: I'm planning -- right now I'm not planning on anything. I just take every tournament at the time. I have a schedule of 15 tournaments. And I will see whichever ones I can be able to play.

Q. What about the Olympics?

STEFFI GRAF: That's a long way ahead to me.

Q. Steffi, you said that this year is better for you than '88. Do you think you're a better player this year or do you just base that on your achievements this year?

STEFFI GRAF: Combination of both. I think in '88 I was a good player, but not really a complete player. And it doesn't mean really that I can play every shot, that's not what I'm talking about. I mean, I think, it's a combination of nerves, of playing, of tactics, of being able to do the right things at the right moment. And it's just a lot of things that involve to have a year like that. And I think in '88, I was probably more naive, more looking at tennis a little different.

End of FastScripts....

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