Martina Hingis 2002 Indian Wells Semifinal Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

2002 Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells, California on Thursday, March 14, 2002
3rd-ranked Martina Hingis defeated 9th-ranked Monica Seles, 6-3, 6-2

An Interview With MARTINA HINGIS

MODERATOR: Questions for Martina.

Q. You must have liked the results of tonight?

MARTINA HINGIS: I did. I played very well. Which results? Are we talking about me or Hantuchova?

Q. About you.

MARTINA HINGIS: No, I did well. I haven't watched those yet. I've been on computer, in there like every day. I mean, I played very well. I was really out there from the first point on. I haven't played a match like this in a while. I'm very, you know, happy about it. I had a little confidence going into this match because I knew I was playing well throughout the whole tournament. I already have beaten her twice this year. You know, she's always a tough one. I was ready.

Q. You must have studied her some because it seems like you always anticipate well when you play her.

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, especially today. I knew I was getting to the shots, too. Sometimes I anticipate her but, you know, I'm not going to get there anymore because she hits those angles like not many other players. But today I was really getting there, made her play another shot. She missed some, and some I just reacted very well, like wrong-footed her. She's playing very well.

Q. I think your first pro final was Hamburg. Do you remember what was going through your mind?

MARTINA HINGIS: You know what, my mom asked me the same question today. "How did you feel? When was the last time you actually played your first semifinals? Were you nervous? How did you feel?" I'm like, I was a youngster. It was the US Open when I played semifinals. But I played Steffi Graf there. It was a little different playing Steffi Graf than Emmanuelle Gagliardi. But it was a great event. I was like 15 or 16 at that time. After that, I really had a great career so far. No, other than that, I think first time Hamburg when I made the finals there.

Q. Was that against Conchita?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah. I got killed. I don't remember the scores (laughter). Also in Rome, I played her, too. Gee, that was my second. I always had to play her. As long as she could, she gave the youngsters a pretty good lesson, that was for sure.

Q. Ever since the first time you played Monica in The Open final, you've just had something over her.

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, because somehow I always, you know, was kind of able to read her game. I felt like I always made her hit another shot. In the beginning, also she didn't know how to play me a little bit. Then she also beat me twice in a row. Also last year where she lost a lot of weight at that one stage, really played well. I was probably a little surprised the way she came out, just kind of underestimated her. But not since then. Yeah, somehow I kind of like players who have a power game. I just am able to, you know, block it away. With her, she's not the fastest mover out there. I know if I get myself going, get in good position, you know, I'm always able to do something.

Q. You just won our media award so I'll ask you a straightforward question. What is it like to play a major tournament with no Venus, no Serena, no Richard, no Williams? Is it a little different?

MARTINA HINGIS: Him and Serena, they were around last week in Scottsdale. You know, it's the competition, it kind of levels it down a little bit, you know, that the top players weren't here. So I felt like, "Well, this is open draw for me." Kim was injured coming into this tournament, so I'm pretty much the favorite at the whole thing. So I just try to take my chance and take advantage of it. Nobody here, so go for it.

Q. Does that give you a little bit more confidence?

MARTINA HINGIS: I mean, gives me confidence because I really wanted to take these two tournaments serious, and also the last one. Unfortunately, I wasn't able kind of to play well there with my wrist and this and that. You know, it was kind of prepare tournament to come into this one. Next week we'll see. I have my confidence. I have the match experience. Next week, we'll see what happens in Miami.

Q. You practiced with Hantuchova, so you know a little bit. Are you a little concerned you haven't seen her enough and that she might surprise you?

MARTINA HINGIS: No. Usually, yeah, I watched her in the past, so she's not an unknown player to me. It was just a great tournament for her. Also in the past when I played a rookie, you know, like Bedanova, I never played her before, and I was able to play a great match against her. Just the strategy is going to be very important, just try to figure out as soon as I can her weaknesses and her strengths. It will probably take me a little bit. But I watched her today, I watched her the other matches. We'll see.

Q. You're not taking her lightly?

MARTINA HINGIS: Oh, no, not at all. I mean, I practiced with her, like I said. She's a very solid groundstroker, has a good serve, served well today. It was needed against Emmanuelle. It was just a very nice match. I would have thought that maybe she wins that one a little easier. It's always a little nerve-wracking. Semifinals, she had to show that she really has the level of, you know, beating all these players. She was in a different position, you know, playing Henin, nothing to lose, the other girls. This time she had to prove it. She still needs a little experience. But, yeah, she made it through today's match. We'll see on Saturday.

Q. Do you make a plan with your mom beforehand? Do you just kind of figure it out in the first few games while you play?

MARTINA HINGIS: No, I like to practice with those youngsters. I hit with her, I hit with Myskina this week, I hit with Bedanova. You know, kind of test them a little bit, like they've been testing me, I test them now.

Q. When you strategize for a match.

MARTINA HINGIS: Sure. Of course, at first you try to see what will happen in the first couple games, in the first few rallies. But then, you know, I'm definitely going with some kind of strategy into the match, yeah.

Q. It seems over the past years that a number of players have sort of burst onto the scene, seem to be real threats, then sort of fade away. Do you think Daniela has a really strong future? Do you think she can become an elite player?

MARTINA HINGIS: She definitely has the game. But like I said, I don't know if you listen when I got questioned by Pam and Mary Joe. I mean, at this tournament, it seems like there's always a rookie who kind of goes through the tournament, like a couple years ago it was Dementieva, some others, Kim last year. They're all pretty much the same age. Like I said, there was no Williamses, no Jennifer. The draw on top was pretty open. Whoever came out of there took advantage of what was happening. But, you know, she'll still have to prove herself, that she has the level of the game.

Q. But in the long run, what do you think?

MARTINA HINGIS: Definitely, she has the game. Now it's what she makes of it.

Q. Are you ever going to play Fed Cup again?

MARTINA HINGIS: We'll see. We're in negotiations. I mean, I always love the team events, playing for my country. But there's also the schedule is very tight and I have to watch out for my body. We'll see in the future.

Q. Billy Jean King is saying she doesn't think the competition at Fed Cup will ever get popular unless all the popular international women players like yourself and Mauresmo and Kim play.

MARTINA HINGIS: It's very difficult to fit it in the schedule, as well, because the way they do it, it's a weekend here, a weekend there. You're losing pretty much like three weeks, four weeks. That's just too much sometimes to add another three, four weeks to the schedule. I mean, I'd probably rather see a system where it's all in one week, just get rid of it, just go there and do it. Not get rid of it, but... Or, I don't know, ten days or some kind of event where you have already the people qualified. It kind of stretches, and it's difficult.

Q. So it's not something you really feel like in your gut, "I really want to go and play for Switzerland this year regardless"?

MARTINA HINGIS: I mean, I would. I did it in the past. We had a great team that one year when we made the finals, played at home. But at this point, I was injured and now I really have to take care of my body first. Health comes first.

Q. Do you think it should go to more like a Ryder Cup format, United States against Europeans every other year?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, it's not up to me, actually, who is going to make the decision of how the system is going to be. I mean, haven't thought of that yet.

Q. What kind of practice schedule will you have tomorrow? Will you practice just as hard as any other off day?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, I'm going to hit twice tomorrow. Go out there and, you know, probably hit at 11 and at 3. Just have lunch in between, have a nice massage, take the day slow and easy.

Q. You've been playing with Anna this year. Do you see any progression from last summer to now or do you think she's kind of stuck in a place where her body hasn't come back?

MARTINA HINGIS: She played a lot of tournaments this year so far.

Q. No great results, though.

MARTINA HINGIS: She played well at two semifinals at the smaller tournaments. The other ones - actually, Tokyo she made semis where she beat Dementieva. She missed like last season. Like eight months is a long time to get back into the shape she was before. Also I think mentally it's always going to be more difficult to believe in herself, that she really can win a tournament or just come back and play well, because those girls she's been playing, they improved, as well. She would have to step it up another notch, too. It just comes slowly by surely. I'm practicing with her. I try to help her. Playing doubles with her. It will take some time probably.

Q. But do you believe she can get to the Top 10 again?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, she definitely has the game. She has the strokes. You know, sometimes she rushes a little bit too much. I mean, she was able to beat Top-10 players in the past. She beat me once. She beat Lindsay. She beat other ones. She made the finals of Key Biscayne and Hilton Head. She's had the game. Semis Wimbledon, right. She's still young, too. She's even younger than me.

Q. Tennis obviously is a fast moving sport.


Q. Some have suggested in the cold light of day if Anna doesn't get a professional level coach at this point, make progress, she could have real problems with her career.

MARTINA HINGIS: Sometimes it's all about the attitude, too. You just have to have professional surroundings. I think her mom, it's great that she's still around, and her dad. She had professional people. She tried to have a fitness trainer and massage therapist at all the tournaments. You know, she did a lot of work. Her game needs to be assessed to what she could do, you know. Even my mom is helping her out, too.

Q. Speaking of other players, you said you saw the match today. You know Gagliardi well. What do you think of the way she played, whether she can move up in the standings?

MARTINA HINGIS: I didn't see the first set where she won. After that, I heard she played very well. We've been practicing a lot together in the past, during the Fed Cup time and other times. She came to Saddle Brook, my house. Yeah, she learned a lot. She was finally able to kind of play the game she could.

Q. You've talked about the importance of patience, which is not something we see in an awful lot of players. How did you train yourself to be a patient player?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, it's just the way you practice. I mean, you have to be able to stay out there and sometimes just grind. It's hit a lot of balls and just if the ball comes back 10, 20, 30 times back to you, you just try not to miss. That's the way I've been practicing in the past. Especially also the last -- you know, since I had the injury. That's the way you practice, the way you're going to play.

Q. How old were you when you had your strokes the way they are now? You started playing when you were two or four.

MARTINA HINGIS: I was able to walk.

Q. How old were you by the time your strokes were where they are now, particularly your groundstrokes?

MARTINA HINGIS: I think I've been learning throughout the career. I mean, I think I had a much better forehand and backhand as I was maybe two, three years ago, and the serve as well. I even improved I think in the last two, three months since I played better at the Australian Open and after that - before and after. I think it's a constant learning procedure. It's not like you're going to play well now. You can't stop. You have to keep learning.

Q. Did you hit the ball the same way when you were eight, technically?

MARTINA HINGIS: Like when I play my first junior tournament till 14, I already had pretty much -- I was nine years old, playing TARP, already had the strokes. A year later I won that tournament.

Q. Excluding the four Slams, what would you say your favorite tournament is?

MARTINA HINGIS: I really like these two tournaments, like this one, Miami. Then I love the European ones like Berlin, Rome. Rome I loved last year.

Q. This is one of your favorites?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, this is. It is. I try to come prepared, and I am.

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