Martina Hingis 1996 Chase Championships Final Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

1996 Chase Championships at Madison Square Garden, New York, on Sunday, November 24, 1996
Steffi Graf defeated Martina Hingis 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, 4-6, 6-0

An Interview With MARTINA HINGIS:

Q. When did it first start to bother you, the leg? Did you have cramps in both legs or just the left?

MARTINA HINGIS: Just the left one. I don't really know. I think it was 5-2 or something.

Q. In the fourth?

MARTINA HINGIS: In the fourth, yes.

Q. Did you ever consider quitting?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yes, sometimes, especially during the fourth set. If I would lose that game and it was 5-4 and then she would make it to 5-5, I don't know if I would play farther. But it's always in the finals and you want to give everything. And it's just not very good for any tennis player if you don't fight until the last point.

Q. What did you have done when you took the five minute time out, did you have knee massage or did you put ice on it?

MARTINA HINGIS: Just tried to stretch, because they're really not allowed to treat you between the changing over, so I just tried to stretch and put a little ice on it. And it helped for the first two or three games, but then it came back.

Q. Martina, what was your strongest side against Steffi, what was your strongest shot?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I mean my backhand down the line is for sure one of my best shots. I improved a lot my forehand, too, down the line or some drop shots were pretty good, too. And just have to work on my serve, have to concentrate more on the first serve. It's always hard against Steffi, she has a very good return, and she always puts pressure on you. And it was just very hard. I think if you want to play sets for women's tennis, it's important who makes the first set. And I wasn't really in the match in the first set, I just tried to hit it, but not really with tactics.

Q. Martina, you came in here last year and your goal was to make the Championships for this year. Have you surprised yourself and what does this tell you as a goal for 1997?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, it was before the U.S. Open it was like I was ranked 12, 13 for the qualifying for this tournament. And it was like if I'm going to do it or not. Then I'm in the semis at the U.S. Open. There it was almost for sure that I can play this tournament. It was big difference. Last year I was watching the other players, the top 16 and I only could pick out -- and now I reach the finals, so it was like a little dream came true, and I felt good in the finals.

Q. What does this tell you about next year?

MARTINA HINGIS: It just try to make my best tennis and win a couple more tournaments, like I did last month.

Q. Martina, have you ever cramped in the match and was there pain?


Q. Had you ever experienced cramping in a match before, was there pain today when you were cramping?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, it depends where you have the cramp. If you have it in the leg up here, so it's never easy, because it's a big muscle. If I had -- I had sometimes cramps, but not the most important muscle for moving. I had it at the U.S. Open when I played Arantxa, it was a little bit I felt it, but it wasn't that bad.

Q. Was it painful?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I mean, you know how cramp is. Yeah. It's not very nice.

Q. How much did it affect you in the final set? How much did it hinder you?

MARTINA HINGIS: You could see it affected a lot because I just couldn't really serve anymore, I couldn't step on the foot. When I was moving it wasn't that bad, also for my backhand, I could set up the right foot there, but I just was always thinking about it, if I'm going to make a bad step, so it will hurt even more. Especially with the serve it wasn't very easy, I just tried to hit it somehow.

Q. What were your feelings in the fifth set? You take Steffi to a fifth set and then you just really are physically not able to compete at the same level anymore. What are you feeling and what's going through your mind at that point?

MARTINA HINGIS: Somehow I just wanted to cry because, you know, you make a fifth set against Steffi and then you're not really able to force her anymore, because you don't have any power in yourself. She played a great match. She had a great tournament. As I said at the ceremony, wherever she plays she wins the tournament. She's a big player and she can handle it better than I do.

Q. What does separate Graf from everybody else right now, Martina?

MARTINA HINGIS: She's just very smart on the court. She knows what she can do on the court and she makes it 120 percent. She started to play a lot of drop shots in the fifth set, fourth and fifth set already, too.

Q. Do you think it's a good idea to have a 3 out of 5 match at the end of the season?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, I mean it was just great. I had a great autumn. I won my first tournament and now it was just one match after the other, so it was a little hard. But I feel still very good. Not in the final in the fifth set but I had a great tournament.

Q. Do you think Steffi was hurt last week, that if the match went longer it would go to your advantage?

MARTINA HINGIS: In Philadelphia?

Q. Today. If she was hurt, do you think the longer you played the better chances you had to win?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, I thought -- I'm very sad today. But then I started to have cramps. And she had a little problem in her back and knees, I've seen that, but I couldn't do anything about it. The longer we played the better it was for me, because I still felt very good until it started to hurt me a little bit in the fourth set.

Q. Before the cramps did you think you were going to win, when you were up 4-1?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, for sure. I won my serve to 4-1 and then I won her serve 5-1 again, and I felt very good at the time because she did really have to change to make something against me and the important points I won at that time. So I felt very good there.

Q. Martina, each time you won a set she came back in the opening game of the next set and broke you. What does that do you to find yourself down a break off the bat?

MARTINA HINGIS: Not very bad. I knew I won first set and I can take a little break for the next game. I was serving but I was returning better at that time, so I still thought probably I'm going to break her back. I didn't feel very bad about that.

Q. Is that the difference between Steffi and everybody else, against other people, maybe you can take a little break and against Steffi you can't?

MARTINA HINGIS: That's right. That's another thing, because I'm sure the cramps came because she led you around all the time. You have to go so far into the knees that it makes you -- like I played Anke or Iva yesterday, it's just a big difference. The ball they bounce much higher, and against Steffi you have to fight for every point. And even more important the ball -- she gets you, like you run.

Q. What have you learned this week?

MARTINA HINGIS: Oh, I think I had a great tournament and I had also a little break from Monday until Friday. And I knew I had to relax and prepare me for those three days, if I'm going to win every match. And I just learned a lot. It was a big experience to play a five setters. So I feel very good this week.

Q. Martina, what have you set yourself as a target for 1997?

MARTINA HINGIS: I'm just going to try to play as I did the last couple of weeks. And I think if I'm going to play like this for the future so I will have a big chance to become higher and higher. And I would like to win a Grand Slam next year, probably, too.

Q. Martina, in the fourth set even though you had cramps you were able to come back and win the set. In the fifth set did you think you could have a chance to win over Graf, or you thought you couldn't win over her? What was going on in your mind?

MARTINA HINGIS: It was like I knew she's not very healthy on the court, either. So I just tried -- I knew I can't serve as well as I could before, but I knew my returns are better and I had also some chances to make breaks back, but she served very well at that time and she just led you around, even if you are hurt or not. And she started to play very smart and a lot of drop shots.

Q. Martina, now that Sabatini has retired, are you going to take her place, because you're the darling of the public, what do you think about that?

MARTINA HINGIS: It's nice for me that it is like that. Everyone would like to be famous or the darling of the public. And she was also a great athlete. She was a nice person, and she was a beautiful player.

Q. You, too.


Q. When did you see that Steffi was hurting a little bit?

MARTINA HINGIS: You just could see the way she run on the court. And she didn't run for every point anymore, too.

Q. When did you notice, early in the match?

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't know, I don't remember every point you played. It was so many points and so many games. And I don't know. Probably first set.

Q. What are your plans for the end of the year?

MARTINA HINGIS: I'm going to play next week, just rest. I'm going to play an exhibition. It's not sure, because I don't know if Monica is going to play in Geneva. Two exhibition and we still don't know, or go to Czech Republic.

Q. Then to Australia?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, Australia. Sydney, Australia.

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