Martina Hingis 1999 Chase Championships Semifinal Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

1999 Chase Championships at Madison Square Garden, New York, on Saturday, November 20, 1999
Martina Hingis defeated Venus Williams, 6-4, 7-6(2)

An Interview With MARTINA HINGIS

Q. Martina, were you surprised she came back from 3-1 after she obviously had problems and she threatened a bit at the end?

MARTINA HINGIS: She showed the problems and tried to hide them. I guess everybody at the end of the year has little problems that, you know, you have to accept and you try to get better for the next season, and try to just heal everything. But I guess nobody is 100% any more at the end of the year.

Q. So were you surprised?

MARTINA HINGIS: That she came back? It was only a break, basically, and I had a few chances to go up -- well, one break point, actually to go up 4-1, 4-2 also, and I messed up a little bit there. Just had easy shots to just make it, but that's the game, that's tennis. And I'm glad I didn't have to go three sets, because at the end, I'd be almost like this, (sighing), after playing almost two hours, but pretty intense two hours.

Q. Would you call your rivalry with Venus exciting?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, it's not only Venus, but it's also her little sister and Lindsay, and I think there are quite a few players right now at the top which are just very motivating and challenging to play against. But definitely, you know, against Venus, you always try to give your best, yeah.

Q. You do look like you're having fun out there?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, what else do you want to do? You know, if you're winning and you're playing well, even if I lost today, I think it still had been a great match, and I improved a lot; so did she, since US Open, I think we even played better, because it's faster surface here at the Garden, and even more rallies, which went like so quickly, like back and forth so long. Like, you would think on a surface like here, there's no way you're going to have rallies like today, but everything is possible, I guess.

Q. Did it feel like a slugfest for a while?

MARTINA HINGIS: Slugfest? What is that?

Q. Banging --?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, sometimes it did, but I can't put up against her. She's stronger, but I tried it, yeah. I was just more patient, I guess, sometimes, and she would miss because she got impatient. It's even like in practice, you don't play like we did today. You try to, you know, make winners quicker and you don't focus. But today because, I think right now, we're really like top of the game, so if you really need it, so we can really play tennis, yeah.

Q. So even though the surface was fast, you hardly came to the net. Was that your strategy to work mostly from the baseline?

MARTINA HINGIS: Would you tell me when should I go to the net? Give me advice how to get there sometimes (Laughs).

Q. You won 11 out of 14 approaches to the net?

MARTINA HINGIS: 11 out of 14? That's pretty good. I should probably consider that next time when I'm playing Lindsay or Nathalie. But no, she would pass me sometimes, quite well, too. So you had to approach well, but, you know, they count like everything. If you're like standing in front of the surface line and you hit a winner under the forehand or something, it's already like attack and I don't think that's like a volley winner, whatever.

Q. How did you save all those break points?

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't know, I just went for it. You can't be -- like if you're in danger in a match like this, it's just -- you can't like really think about it too much; you're a break point down, you just have to go for it. You have to be aggressive, stay aggressive. That's what I basically did. She probably put a little bit back, and I -- when I had the chance, I did it again. I moved for it.

Q. Did you outsmart her today?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, you tell me, I don't know. I tried to, but I had to do something because, as I said, I can't overpower her; so I had to try to, you know, with patience, and just wait for my moments.

Q. Do you feel like if you get into a long rally with her that you have the advantage?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, yeah, because like today -- but you have to be in pretty damn good shape. Like I tried to work on it since the US Open. I didn't probably after that -- I lost those last two matches against her because she was better than me, kind of physically, and she overpowered me there. But I tried to work on it since then, when I had like those two weeks back in Saddlebrook. I lost the finals in Philly, but it kind of gave me confidence. Today, I played just almost perfect.

Q. When you're training, do you have to think about ways specifically to beat Venus?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, it's not only beating Venus, but Serena or Lindsay, too. No, you have to win those rallies. You can't just go out there and think you're going to have winners out of every corner, because at first -- well, for me, it's like that. You have to make them tired, and then just wait and try to make the point.

Q. You've beaten Venus in all the Grand Slams and here, it seems like you can handle better than her the bigger events?

MARTINA HINGIS: I think I take them a little more serious sometimes than the other tournaments. I think you really want to do well at the big events. That's basically what you're doing it for. The other tournaments -- you don't want to lose. That's not what I'm talking about, but that's kind of preparation for the big events, yeah. But it's been more like I win here in the States and she beat me over in the Europe. That's been, like, the case a little bit.

Q. (Inaudible)?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, if you look at the match today, I'm happy about not having to play like another four- or five-setter. You can look at it like you win in straight sets, but everybody is so good, so you might lose one sometimes, and like -- because the game is so improved. You don't have to look at -- you have more of the quality of the tennis and not the length, I think. Today, we played two sets, but almost like two hours, so I think that's pretty good, too.

Q. But you put a lot into the tiebreaker so you would not have to go to a third set?

MARTINA HINGIS: I really wanted to win the tiebreaker and just stay in the set because, of course, nobody wants to play a third set, if you have to play like we did today.

Q. You've talked about how you've gotten back into fitness since the US Open and over the summer, can you explain specifically what you're doing to train?

MARTINA HINGIS: I've been more lifting weights a little bit, and I also, I think I got better technically in my ground strokes and my serve today. Probably don't hit it -- serve like Venus, 113, 115, 120. But today, I would serve very consistent and just try to get into the rally so that she wouldn't kill me right away.

Q. Do you run, do you bike?

MARTINA HINGIS: Oh, yeah, I still do like some rollerblade, like some running, too. I start enjoying it, too, because I know if I'm really able to do something, I'm able to go through a match today, like without pain or thinking about getting cramps again or anything like that. So it feels much better.

Q. Do you look at the shot clock on the serve, both yours and hers?

MARTINA HINGIS: Oh, yeah, sometimes, if I return it back, I look at hers more. Mine, I don't look at too much. Like if I hit a big serve, but hers would always be like 113; oh, my God -- in a way, sometimes are easier you just block it away, you know, but then you want to really take advantage of your second serve and -- yeah.

Q. Do you look at it during the point or after the point's over?

MARTINA HINGIS: If she miss it -- well, once you go through the point, they just like -- it's not there any more because they erase it, but sometimes if she misses the first serve, you'll get it. You know, you get it back and it will look like 113; "Oh, pretty good," you know.

Q. Do you feel that she missed more easy shots than usual, especially in the tiebreaker?

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't think she missed too many easy shots from what I've seen in the last two matches. Or when she played in Philly, she didn't play like half of what she played today, I think. We both raised our level a lot because we both knew we had to, playing each other.

Q. Did you practice on your serve a lot when you were a kid or did you practice more on rallying and trying to get it in?

MARTINA HINGIS: No, I didn't work too much on my serve, just like a little bit at the end of the practice. That was always my mom's strategy, not to get a sore back while I was still growing; so you don't want to serve too much.

Q. Looking back on it, do you feel like that was smart?

MARTINA HINGIS: Oh, yeah, serve is all just mental, basically. I don't think I would serve too bad, but I didn't consider it as a weapon because it was enough, you know, just get the serve in and then I rally everybody as I did today. Just, you can't allow the other players to kill you, like right away.

Q. Did you have any thoughts after the first game when she held -- that she doublefaulted three times?

MARTINA HINGIS: That was like ace, doublefault, ace doublefault. It's kind of hard to get a rhythm or just do anything because I wasn't like in the game yet. I couldn't read it very well, but I got into it quite well, I think. But it kind of gives you also a chance because, you know, she's like not very focused at that time. So even if she would like hit aces and doublefault and win the game, still, and I won my service game kind of easily the next one; so it gave me confidence, too.

Q. You seem sharper at a tournament when you're playing doubles as well as singles; does that help you relax?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, at this tournament, I think it's very difficult to play with those night matches. Like one day I finished midnight, and like yesterday, also, 9 o'clock. But you kind of change your rhythm. You just sleep in a little bit longer. You just have to adjust, and that's what I've been trying to do. But definitely, the last two matches gave me a lot, you know, what I could learn from, because I haven't played for a half year almost, since Filderstadt, it's like so different, playing only like the half court, you've got to get it in there. It helped me, I think, a lot to play the way I did play today in the singles. I returned much better, and just all over.

Q. Even if you win the doubles, are you still going to change partners?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, it's been said. It's fun playing with her. We still have a great time and we try to win this tournament, but after it's over, we'll see. Maybe in like a half year, one year, things might change, who knows.

Q. Did you find yourself taking advantage of going to Venus's backhand today?

MARTINA HINGIS: Usually that's her stronger side, but as I said before, it's mine, too. And I made more points off getting those cross-court rallies with the backhand because she was cracking that forehand today, that cross-court, had some more length with my backhand.

Q. Can you comment and talk about the fact that you've reached another final over here in a year; that so many more challenges or challengers have been thrown at you, there have been so many more players that have really tested you this year, but to reach another final with the season ending, what does that do for you?

MARTINA HINGIS: It's overwhelming in a way. I was like so happy after the match point, and I was like thinking about when I was up like 3-1, 4-1 in the tiebreaker when I messed up, and now, this is like a chance which won't be there right away. It's like another year it will take to play a tournament like here. And I think for the players, it's just one of the best tournaments ever, like a big one at the end of the season. And if you really can come up and play well here at this tournament, it gives you so much confidence to go into the next season.

Q. And if you have to play Lindsay tomorrow, a repeat of last year's final, she beat you last week in Philadelphia, what do you have to do now to turn the tables from last week?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I think I played much better, much smarter. I thought a lot about what I was going to do today, in today's match, during the match, still. And against Lindsay, I mean sometimes you see players, like Venus didn't play her best in the previous two matches, but she still came out as a winner, and same with Lindsay. I'd kind of like to see what she's going now out there. But because we all four, you know, well, Serena is not here. The three of us have been playing so well over like -- very high standards during the year; so that's why we came kind of through this tournament. And just give it a shot tomorrow. Doesn't matter who is on the other side, and give it the best again.

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