Martina Hingis 1997 US Open Pre-Tournament Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

USTA 1997 US Open at Flushing Meadows, New York, on Saturday, August 23, 1997

An Interview With MARTINA HINGIS:

ANDRE CHRISTOPHER: Martina Hingis, No. 1 women's seed, youngest in the history of the tournament at 16 years, about ten months and I guess 25 days.


ANDRE CHRISTOPHER: Do we have questions for Martina?

Q. Martina, can you give us just a sort of short account of what you've been doing, apart from tournaments, since we saw you last leaving the Savoie hotel in that lovely evening gown after for the Wimbledon dinner? Have you done anything besides the tennis? How have you been preparing here?

MARTINA HINGIS: I played like just the next weekend, I played Fed Cup, if I remember that well. We won there. Then I played three tournaments in California. Stanford, San Diego, LA. I've just been relaxing for two weeks at home. Now I'm ready for the big one here at the US Open.

Q. Martina, as you approach your 17th birthday very soon, have you begun to think about living on your own, living independently?

MARTINA HINGIS: Living on my own? You asking me that as an American? I thought this country is very conservative; you live with your family (laughter). No, I think I don't want to live by my own, myself. We have a great relationship, my mom. We just bought a new house in Switzerland. It's more like becoming growing together, not apart.

Q. Do you have a tennis court as well in your new home?

MARTINA HINGIS: A tennis what?

Q. A tennis court in your new home?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yes. They're just starting to build it.

Q. What surface?


Q. Martina, last year you played the most sensational final against Steffi, and of course she's not here this year. How do you put that out of your mind and concentrate on the task ahead?

MARTINA HINGIS: That was I think at Madison Square Garden.

Q. I'm talking about here.

MARTINA HINGIS: That was the semis.

Q. You must have said, "Next year, things are going to be different."

MARTINA HINGIS: Of course, I'm a different player. I'm No. 1 seeded player now.

Q. That doesn't bother you?

MARTINA HINGIS: No, not at all. It's not the first time I'm seeded No. 1 at a Grand Slam tournament. Either I play at the French Open or Wimbledon. I won Wimbledon. That was one of the greatest moments in my life, especially in my tennis career, so. It's not the first time, so there's no pressure. I feel very healthy. I feel fit and ready for this tournament.

Q. How does it feel to be No. 1?

MARTINA HINGIS: How it feels? Just I always work for it, to get to the top. When you reach it, I'm sure you feel great. You just want to stay there for a while.

Q. Martina, when you see what's happened to other people your age who rise to No. 1 so quickly, like Andrea Jaeger and Capriati, close to that ranking, see what happened to them, how do you keep your head from worrying about, I don't know, hurting yourself or getting to that point where you're getting into trouble? How do you keep yourself set without worrying about what happened to the other people that moved up so fast?

MARTINA HINGIS: I just think everybody's going a different way to get to the top. I went a different way with my mom than maybe Jennifer, with her father, Andrea, too. You just practice a different way. The life-style is different. I'm from Europe. They've been in America. There are many different ways always to get there, so I don't think about burning out or something like that when you are on the top. I don't think you would think the same way.

Q. Martina, can you tell us about what it's been like for the past year for you? Has it been hectic? Have you ever at one point felt overwhelmed? You come in here, you have a camera following you. Are you used to that?

MARTINA HINGIS: I wasn't ready actually for this one. I knew it's going to be a press conference, I have to practice later on, but not that many press people, reporters going to be here. But it's kind of fun that you see the attention is on you. Everyone is expecting you having a great tournament. I like this attention. I think the last year, from this tournament especially, it started to be just, you know, going better and better. I haven't played worse than making a semifinals in 17 tournaments. So, I mean, that's not a bad start.

Q. What is your analysis of the match against Davenport which you lost?


Q. Could you analyze the match you played against Davenport and lost?

MARTINA HINGIS: I know why I lost, what happened there, the reason. That's the most important thing that you always know why, what happened there. So I played a third tournament. She was just better. I was maybe already a little tired. I was playing singles and doubles also. She was actually a very good doubles partner. We had a lot of fun there in the first tournament. Next time I just try to beat her again.

Q. Did you feel under the circumstances that that was just about as well as you were going to play that day?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah. I tried my best in that way. It just wasn't enough against Lindsay.

Q. Martina, how important would it be, since you won two Grand Slams, to cap off this incredible year by winning here? How important is it to you and what would it mean to you after what you've already accomplished this?

MARTINA HINGIS: I would do well here at this tournament, I would be even more like angry at myself that I didn't win the French Open Finals. But, you know, you never know what's going to happen in the future, so I'm just trying to go round by round; we'll see what's going to happen at this tournament later on.

Q. Would it almost be like icing on the cake or just something extra, or is it something you really feel you need to do, win this to add to the others?

MARTINA HINGIS: You always want to win, be ready for the Grand Slam tournaments. It doesn't matter what year or what time you win them. But you just want to be more like an all-around player, that you win on all four surfaces. Doesn't matter if it's clay, grass court or this one. But there's just another chance to win on hardcourt. You always want to have all four of them.

Q. Have you ever seen anything like the stadium here?

MARTINA HINGIS: Oh, I just came in, so I haven't seen that much so far. But I think it's going to be, I'm sure, a good -- The Tour director, or just the other people. You can learn a lot from this stadium. Just the biggest, nicest, nicest, most beautiful. Just everything is the greatest in America, you know. It's just another big stadium.

Q. I saw you walking around a few minutes ago. You seemed very wide-eyed.

MARTINA HINGIS: Yes. Everything is clean and it's like new, you know (laughter). It's clean now, so far.

Q. How long do you think that will last?


Q. How long do you think that will last?

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't know. I want to be very much like into -- tennis players aren't very clean people. I think one day, if everything is so nice here, this tournament, so everyone is like very happy that the players' lounge is big, just the locker rooms are very nice. It's so much space for each of the players, so you don't have to be like in the old stadium, like in the players' lounge, just one sitting to the next one. Here you've got such bigger place, you know.

Q. Martina, have you been doing a lot of horseback riding or have you been staying away from that for fear of injury?

MARTINA HINGIS: I've done it so much as never before. No, I had a new horse to try at home. I've been riding two horses now every day. I had a lot of fun there, yeah.

Q. You're not worried about getting hurt again?

MARTINA HINGIS: No. I've been jumping as high as never before (laughter).

Q. How high?


Q. Martina, when you were at Stanford, you were rollerblading on the campus there. Did you realize that David Wheaton, years ago, had a serious accident when he was rollerblading on the campus?

MARTINA HINGIS: On the campus? No, I didn't know that. I just knew that he was practicing there at the campus, John McEnroe was there. I didn't know he had an accident. Better not think about that.

Q. Martina, let's talk about today a little bit.

MARTINA HINGIS: I didn't have one and I won the tournament, so I was lucky.

Q. You have an important match coming up this afternoon with Hanson. How do you feel about that?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I heard that the Hanson Brothers, they're not the best tennis players, I just show them how to hit the ball. Maybe they show me how to sing.

Q. Martina, the last few times you played Monica, all the scores anyway, seems as if it's been very competitive and she's taken you to three sets a couple of times. Do you see a difference in her game now as opposed to maybe earlier in the year or late last year?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah. I think she improved a lot because she hasn't been around for so long before. Now she's just coming back. For sure, she's the toughest player on The Tour right now to play against, because wherever I have been, I played her in the Finals or she won the tournament later on, so yes.

Q. Martina, where do you think you've improved, apart from physically, your game most in the last 12 months, and what's pleased you most about the way your game has developed in that last year?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I think I just got older one year, that you're physical part of the body just grows. You become stronger just automatically. That's why my serve becomes stronger or my groundstrokes. It's just not that I have practiced too much, just it automatically goes that way. That's why I became also a better player on the court.

Q. If there's one aspect of your game that your opponents like to try to take advantage of, it's your second serve. What have you been doing to improve your second serve since June, since the end of Wimbledon?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I was trying to hit the first serve in, not the second (laughter).

Q. You can't do that every time, can you?

MARTINA HINGIS: Actually, in the Finals against Conchita, the first tournament, I was like 92 percent first serve, so you don't need the second serve.

Q. What made you choose tennis as a career?


Q. What made you choose tennis as a career?

MARTINA HINGIS: I never had a really big choice. I just went to school. In Czech Republic, everyone was just playing tennis at my age. My mom was a professional before, so that's why she kind of wanted to have me a tennis player, too.

Q. Martina, I wanted to ask you if you're a fan of Hanson? What sorts of things do you want to show them on the court?

MARTINA HINGIS: You'll see on the court later on. I don't want to say that right now (laughter).

Q. Do you listen to their music?

MARTINA HINGIS: Listen to music on the court?

Q. To their music, their songs, are you a fan? Are you a fan of their music?

MARTINA HINGIS: Of Hanson Brothers?

Q. Yes.

MARTINA HINGIS: (laughter).

Q. That says it all.

MARTINA HINGIS: It reminds like a little bit of the Jackson 5, especially that one song when I saw it on TV. They're younger than me, so it's -- they're kind of the same in the music as I am right now maybe in the tennis court. I like that one song. It's very rhythmic. You can dance well with it.

Q. Martina, what is the one thing that you like the best about being a tennis professional? If you had to choose one aspect of tennis?


Q. Martina, how do you find time to balance schoolwork with your career?

MARTINA HINGIS: Oh, I don't go to school anymore, so I had a private teacher at home. In the tournaments, you don't really feel like you want to learn a lot.

Q. Do you feel like you've missed out a little bit on being a kid because of your career?

MARTINA HINGIS: No, I don't think so. I always had a great childhood, especially there when I grew up in Czech Republic. I had a great life, so I never miss anything. I think I've got a much better life, so many would like to change with me.

Q. Because it's Arthur Ashe Day, Arthur Ashe kids' day, what are your impressions of him as a tennis player? Did you know him at all? What do you think was his biggest contribution to tennis?

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't know him. I was there when he already died, so I started playing. I think he was a great athlete, especially for tennis. He was also a black man, and he won Wimbledon. I think that gives motivation to many Americans, that you can achieve the same thing as he did. Also for kids' day and AIDS. But if I can help with things like this, I always try to do the best I can.

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