September 3, 1998
U.S. OPEN, FLUSHING MEADOWS, NEW YORK
Q. Visions of Fed Cup a little bit?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Oh, no. Not at all, actually. It is so different, Different surface, different country. No, it was just a really tough match. If anything, I remember I played a tiebreaker in the third set there against Patty Fendick a long time ago. So I did remember that, But that was about the only memory that came back to me.
Q. Did you feel like you were leading a little bit of a charmed life when that let cord passed on matchpoint?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: That was so lucky. I mean, what can you say to that? I mean, that was just -- luck was on my side for that point. She hit a great serve. I barely got it back and she was there for the volley. That was big, needless to say.
Q. When something like that happens, don't you figure it is going to be your kind of a day?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: No. No, not really because I mean, there have been times in the past where, you know, you come back from a big deficit and you tie it and you end up losing anyway. I had to fight hard. I thought she played a lot better today than she did last night, a lot more aggressive and hit the ball a lot cleaner. So it was tough, really tough match. She has a huge first serve -- pretty much no idea where it is going. So I had to guess a lot on her serve, and that was unpredictable. That put a lot of pressure when I served, that I knew I had to hold because you never -- I never knew what was going to happen on her serve.
Q. How tough is that, or what is your mind set coming into a match that has been suspended with rain, you are up a set, you are down a game.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: It is hard. It is like starting a new match. The last couple of tournaments, it's happened to me a couple of times and it is very difficult. I don't know if it is better to be winning or losing. In Boston I was winning; I came back the next day and lost. Then in New Haven last week, we were a set-all when we suspended. I came back and I won the third set. It is definitely hard, but you have got to remember it is hard on both players. I am a bit of a player that likes to get in the groove and starting all the time isn't the best scenario for me. But, I had my opportunities, definitely, when I came back, I had game points in the first couple of games that we played, I lost them. I kind of let her back into the match there. I think she got confidence.
Q. Can you put this match into context with the rest of your year?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Like the last three weeks?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Pretty much. It is good. These are good matches for me. If I win them, obviously, it is better. But they are good to get my competitiveness back and just get a lot of match play. I am still a little bit awkward on the court I don't feel comfortable all the time. It is hard when you have been out for such a long time. So the more matches I play the better and the matches that I can kind of guts out. It gives you confidence, and I think that is something that you lose when you don't play for a long time is that, you know, that tenacity of being down breakpoints or a break and being able to hang in there and fight and turn things around.
Q. This tournament has been extremely formful. Can you think of any reason why that should be?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Extremely what?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: You never know. I mean, every tournament is different and all the players are playing well here. The top players are solid and are confident and it is still a little bit up in the air of who is going to win. But I think that the majority of the player are playing really well and are very physically fit.
Q. Exactly how long were you off; what was the reason?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: I had wrist surgery at the end of December of last year and I tried to come back in late April and it was too soon, my wrist wasn't ready yet and I just started to play again end of July, I guess.
Q. What do you do during that time off to keep fit?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: I worked out physically a lot, if anything positive came out of the layoff was that I got to get fit and work out really hard on the physical conditioning part of things, but it was tough. It was a lot of rehab and trying to keep your time occupied. It was tough watching the tennis on TV sitting home watching the French and Wimbledon and watching everybody improve and get better. But it is great to be back. It puts things in perspective when you are out of the game for a long time. I think it gives you more of a love for what you do and sometimes it is good to take something away from someone because you realize that you miss it and that it is something that you like to do and you can't wait to get back out there.
Q. When you go through so many matchpoints and the number of years you have been on Tour, are you past the point where you get nervous?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: No, you still get nervous and I mean, I think players would be fibbing if they said they don't get nervous when they are down matchpoint or even when you are up matchpoint it is a tense situation. It is just how to handle it and what you choose to do about it. The better players will still go for the shots and still play aggressive and I think that is something still I have got to do more of. I am still a little bit hesitant out there and you watch the Seles and the Grafs and Hingis, whenever it is close, they still play their game, still go for their right shots and still take it on the rise and I think that is why when the matches get close they win.
Q. When you were playing out there today, were you hesitating?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: A little bit at times. I still don't feel like - what did I say before - really comfortable out there. I feel a little bit awkward whether, you know, it is -- like it is a short ball, should I be coming in; should I be staying back; should I be attacking; should I be playing more percentage tennis. It is a little bit iffy right now. But the more matches that I play the better. It is definitely better this week than it was last week and so on. I think it is just going to take a while. I just have to be patient which is very hard because when you are out of the game and you come back you expect to be right where you were last year. It is not the case obviously. You still have to work out a lot and remember that everybody else has been playing and winning and are pretty mentally fit.
Q. Is it a mental thing? I mean, physically you feel --
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: I think it is mainly mental. But also it is a very physical game now, players hit the ball a lot harder; they are a lot stronger and faster. I think the ball is coming off their rackets a lot quicker than they used to be. I think the game is faster than it was even a year ago. Since the time I have been out I have seen a lot of improvement. You have to adjust and you have to pick it up a bit.
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