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March 14, 1996

Steffi Graf


Q. How difficult was it?

STEFFI GRAF: I do not think it could have been anymore difficult.

Q. Obviously you weren't at the top of your game tonight. How did you get through this one?

STEFFI GRAF: I have no idea right now. I mean, I am just smiling and enjoying it. That is all I can do. Wonder why or how I did it, obviously I have had some problems, but again, I was able to get through them and keep on playing and made it. I don't know. I mean, I have no idea what gets me there always.

Q. Was there a sort of a nightmare or did you enjoy it despite the pain?

STEFFI GRAF: Nightmare, is, I think, not really the right word, but obviously in the first set, not feeling the greatest with my back, you know, it was kind of difficult out there and I was wondering, you know, whether it is going to end. Now that it is ended, I am extremely happy and I think it is more like a nice dream than a nightmare.

Q. Was that the first time you had back problems in this tournament?

STEFFI GRAF: Not really. Few days ago I had some problems with my muscles really tight and strong and I did get to loosen them up, but I didn't expect it today because I had a good practice and it felt good and even the start of the match for the first two, three games, it felt fine; then suddenly it just kept on coming.

Q. It is possibly the fact that you play night matches that brings you --

STEFFI GRAF: I think I made the wrong move because as my SI joint went out and I got it adjusted in at the end, but I think that is what really bothered me and it just got inflamed a little bit. Once the anti-inflammatory started getting into my body a little bit, it started getting better in the second set.

Q. When you say that you felt it a couple of days ago, was that before the Amanda Coetzer match?


Q. Was it painful enough that you thought you might pull out in the first set?


Q. Yeah.

STEFFI GRAF: For the first time I was pretty close, yeah. At 5-4 and then she played the next two games, I couldn't really run to my backhand and next two games she just played to my forehand and I was like, okay, let us try and so I kept on trying, and like you said before, the trainer was able to adjust it and I was hoping that would start to make it feel better and it did and the anti-inflammatory helped me, so it started getting better in the second set.

Q. The back problems aside, how good does it feel just to be back competing again for you?

STEFFI GRAF: In general, I am enjoying myself. I mean, it is difficult because right now, you know, it is right after the match so I am enjoying my match, but in general, yes, I do enjoying being back.

Q. What are your thoughts knowing that you are going to have this chronic back problem the rest of your career?

STEFFI GRAF: I am here. I am here. I am still trying and, you know, it has been getting better, I mean, it has been, you know, I have been feeling pretty good and actually I have been able to train a lot more in the last few weeks and I have been most of last year, so I am hoping that just getting better.

Q. A year ago when you came back in the indoor Paris you said that you didn't want to go through having an operation on it. Are you still of that opinion?

STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, I mean, if you have that kind of operation, and I spoke enough doctors, the chances of it being perfect is very slim and I mean, it is a high risk that something maybe is not going to be right, and that kind of operation probably would take me out of tennis for so long that it doesn't make sense. They usually don't operate on something like that.

Q. Last year, Steffi, you had this tremendous string of emotionally satisfying wins. If you had to pick two or three of your sweetest triumphs in your career, what would those be?

STEFFI GRAF: Well, I tell you, it is really very difficult to pick them out. I think there have been so many, way too many to really put one ahead of the other. I could say maybe the first Wimbledon win probably was the sweetest. But they kept on coming, so, they are not really any that I would want to put ahead of the other one.

Q. How concerning is this for you, the back?

STEFFI GRAF: Well, it is not very concerning because I know what it is and I know how to deal with it and I know it is nothing serious. It is just that my SI joints just keep on moving and I just have to keep it stable and, you know, just need to constant adjustments and usually I am fine.

Q. How would you rate Lindsay's level of play tonight?

STEFFI GRAF: I think she really went for it. I haven't really played her for a while; haven't really seen her, but she got a lot more steady. She is not making as many mistakes anymore, no erratic plays. I really do think she has really developed and I know she has had good results this year.

Q. Four five years ago you would always say that you wouldn't have a long career like Chris or Martina; that come 26, 27 or something, you would want to retire and do other things. Having had periods away from the game, has that changed your attitude now that you know how much you'd miss it?

STEFFI GRAF: Age has changed it when I look at it. And when you are younger, obviously, you see numbers and you see somebody 30, oh, God, she is old; why is she still playing tennis sort of attitude. Once you get closer to it, it changes a little bit, and numbers don't get as important anymore as maybe at different ages, so you realize that you got to know how you feel inside and then you can decide on what you want to do, but, you know, you got to know for yourself what you want to lead up to.

Q. Steffi, the other day in our office we came up with -- found this quote from you as a teenager, "Golly, I have a great life for 17, don't I, everyone would choose my life, wouldn't they." If you could magically go back now that you are mid 20s or whatever and go back and give one piece of advice to Steffi Graf at age 17, what would you say to her?

STEFFI GRAF: Well, only thing I would wanted to do is take a little bit better care of my body because I didn't know that I mean, I did know, but I was a little lazy at that time. I didn't do any stretching after the matches. I didn't -- I just wanted to be on the court basically, that kind of thing and, you know, I didn't take as many massages or I just didn't worry that much about my body. And I think knowing that now, I think I would have changed that.

Q. Would there be anything aside from the physical, aside from that, anything --

STEFFI GRAF: Well, I think I am having a pretty good time and the past few years have shown it, so I don't think I would really change anything from that, no.

Q. How well is this tournament accommodating the men and the women playing together, practice facilities?

STEFFI GRAF: Well, I think maybe that is the only thing to maybe criticize a little bit is that maybe lacking a few courts here, and otherwise, the spectators and you see the crowds, they are really enjoy themselves; having a good time, maybe, a little bigger court, like the courthouse you could see it today, people were trying to get on it, and they had some great matches on it and maybe they don't have enough seats on it, but otherwise, I think, it has been fun for the players and for the spectators. I think there is not really a lot that you can do different.

Q. What is your schedule like leading up to the French?

STEFFI GRAF: That is a tough one. I am going to play Key Biscayne. Whatever I do afterwards, I have no clue.

Q. Last year you made great huge success out after a very limited playing season. Do you think that will be a good idea again to go in and plunder a few Grand Slams and have a rest between?

STEFFI GRAF: Well, you know, I just take my time right now. I play a tournament after tournament whenever, you know, however I feel and I just, you know, obviously I would like to play more, but it worked out pretty well last year, still, you know, I just have to see how it goes, how I physically feel and so I am not really putting myself on a schedule.

Q. Following up from what David was asking you about how long you would play, can you see yourself playing past 30?

STEFFI GRAF: Still can't.

Q. There have been reports that said that Monica and Fed Cup people might not be -- might not want to play Fed Cup if it were held in Germany. What are your thoughts about that?

STEFFI GRAF: Well, did they win the first round already? No. Did Germany win their first round already? No. So let us talk when we get closer to that. It is something that, you know, it is difficult to -- it wouldn't be a difficult situation, let us put it this way, and I don't think it is up to me to decide on that issue. But obviously it wouldn't be appropriate to play in Hamburg. I don't think it would be appropriate, so we will see, we will see what happens.

End of FastScripts.....

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