Martina Hingis 1998 US Open Final Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

USTA 1998 US Open at Flushing Meadows, New York, on Saturday, September 12, 1998
Lindsay Davenport defeated Martina Hingis, 6-3, 7-5

An Interview With MARTINA HINGIS:

Q. How disappointing a loss is this?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, it's a little bit disappointing because I didn't really know what to do out there. I didn't have like a big chance to come back. Well, you know, in the second, I was down 4-2, 5-4, serving, she put out a great game there. I don't know. It was -- but I still had a great tournament, only to get into the finals. I was pretty happy about that. I had two great matches against Monica and Jana to come back. It's nice I've been in the finals again.

Q. Did the Novotna match take that much out of you yesterday, having to go three sets?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, it did pretty much. But I was still, you know, in pretty good shape this morning. And I felt not too sore. You know, I just had a great match against Monica. I think after that, I was kind of, you know, satisfied with myself, that I was so happy, I realized I still can play tennis. So I was like, you know, I went to play the match against Jana, and I was quite confident. But it was harder than I expected. It took a lot of energy out of me. Just today, Lindsay hits -- when you see the ball flying from her side, you feel like, "Hey, this is not so fast." But it's so deep, with such a good length. So you can't really do that much about it.

Q. When you were in the third set, you broke her, did you get the feeling that you might have that match?

MARTINA HINGIS: In the second.

Q. Did you get the feeling that maybe --

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, I broke her actually two times, I think, no?

Q. Right.

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, it felt pretty good. I felt like it's going the same way pretty much as against Novotna. I came back. I think if I would have won the second set, you know, who knows. But I'd have definitely bigger chances to just go on in the third. But it was a big game there, 5-4. I lost that one. After that, she was just, you know, served very well. I didn't make one point in the next game. So I was like kind of disappointed, you know. I had a chance, but I didn't take it. She just -- in the last game again, I had some chances. I was like, you know, she was waiting for my mistakes, and I would do them. But this is the Grand Slam final. So you definitely are always a little bit more nervous than normally.

Q. What sort of respect is there for Lindsay Davenport as a player, both as a person and as a player?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I used to say I'd never lose two times against the same player, but it happened two times. I lost against Monica and now against Lindsay in a row. Lindsay was just very solid, especially this summer, played so many tournaments, in California, had a hat trick there. She hits the ball very hard. She's got a solid serve. She improved her serve a lot. She has the feeling that she can't lose her serve if she's doing well. That's probably the toughest about her. When you saw her before, she was kind of -- after you break her, just make a good point, she would let herself go down. She would show it. But that's the difference about Lindsay now and before.

Q. Does today's loss make you want to get more vengeance tomorrow in the doubles?

MARTINA HINGIS: The singles is always a little bit more important. But, you know, I hope Lindsay is going to celebrate long, and we have an easy one tomorrow (laughter). It still is a Grand Slam. It still is a big match for me, the finals of the four Grand Slams. I definitely will be ready again.

Q. Were you a little surprised that she didn't panic at the end?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, she would, but I was even more, so. She made two big mistakes there, you know, easy ones. But me, too. That backhand -- yeah, but it's over now.

Q. By most people's standards, Grand Slam season, one title, one final and two semis is terrific. By your standards of last year, it's a letdown. Do you think you played worse this season or everyone else has got better?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, both. I think I had an awesome year last year. It was just unbelievable. Nobody would expect me to do that well. I was just, you know, going for it. I had a great year. But still, I mean, in the last two tournaments, in the Grand Slams, I made semis. Now it's a big improvement. I made it to the finals again. So I'm kind of happy about that, that I'm, you know, taking a good way again. I hope, you know, there are some more years to come for me.

Q. In the first set, you were behind serving at 2-4. You appeared to have won a point when Lindsay's hat fell off as she was making an error on a volley. That point would have given you an ad in the game.


Q. The chair umpire ruled that you should play two. Did that surprise you that she made that ruling?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I know the rules. I know the rules. It's true, you have to play a lot. Just go over again. But I don't like this rule. It's not fair for the player, like me, you know (laughter). Because I had that point won. I mean, it's her mistake if the hat falls down, it's not my mistakes. But it's just kind of a stupid rule. But it's there and you can't change it right now. I hope maybe one day they're going to change these decisions because, you know, I had the chance to make that point. Who knows, if I would be down 4-3, then I was playing with the (inaudible), but I was down 5-2 and I lost that set. There are some other overrules or some -- I think not very good decisions. But, you know, that's tennis, you can't change anything about that.

Q. Did you let those calls get to you more than you normally would?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I don't know how that can happen. I felt like -- I played Lindsay in the US, this is the US Open, I was fine with that. But I think it was pretty ridiculous that it was an American umpire, too. So if you have another like from Australia or from Europe, you know, some other country, you don't let it that close. But she was from America, so I think this is like that shouldn't happen again in the US Open finals or just any finals, that it's the same countrywoman in the States. I think this is pretty, you know, strange to me.

Q. Did you go into the match thinking that?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I didn't know. Actually, I saw her around, but I didn't know where she was from. You know, when we had the warm-up, all of a sudden, USA, Texas, I was like, "Huh, what's that?" It was like one step after the other. You know, I don't want to take anything away from Lindsay. She had an awesome tournament. I mean, she didn't lose one set. You know, she deserves it.

Q. Can you describe the way she rebounded from your taking the lead 5-4 in the second set after that changeover?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, she had a great game there. I mean, I didn't serve that badly. Well, I just tried to put the serve in. But she kind of killed me that game. I think I didn't make one point in my service game. Actually, I think I lost like eight straight points, I think, after that changeover. I was like, "Hey, what's going on?" I mean, I just won three games. I broke her twice. I don't make one point anymore.

Q. Is she the hardest hitter in the game? Is that indicative of what maybe the weight loss and maybe her being kind of underrated as an athlete, you can't run her around and tire her out anymore?

MARTINA HINGIS: I think she has a very good anticipation that she would, you know, sometimes just know where I was playing it. She was just always there. When I was having an easy shot, I would always play it to her racquet. I was like, "Great." But that's what I think makes a great player. Especially when, you know, she lost weight, she's definitely moving around better. She's tall. She's got like all arms or legs. Not like Venus, but she knows where -- that's about Lindsay, she knows more about the tennis game, because she's more experienced. She just, you know, feels better how to play or what to do at certain occasions.

Q. Is she the hardest hitter?

MARTINA HINGIS: It's different. Like when you play Pierce or like -- I think Pierce is the hardest hitter, but it's not as effective as Lindsay's because she's got very good length. It's harder. I mean, it's like in baseball a little bit. Lindsay's ball flies to you, and all of a sudden it makes a curve, and you feel like, "Hey, where is the ball going at?" You know, when you play like Pierce, the ball is just hitting so fast and so straight. Lindsay's is just very long, and you don't really know what to do about it.

Q. You said you were happy overall with your year this year. But if you could improve on something for next year, what would it be?

MARTINA HINGIS: Just keep going and, you know, maybe win some more Grand Slams.

Q. You always seem gracious and cheerful, even in defeat. Were you always like that? Most of the athletes I know in defeat are moody or glum. Is there a secret to keeping an upbeat attitude?

MARTINA HINGIS: Not really. I had still a great tournament. I improved my game a lot since I was here in the US six weeks. If I would play as I play the first week of the tour, I started here, so I wouldn't get very far. Now, you know, I saw my improvement in the game during this tournament. So I'm pretty happy about that. I just try to keep going and beat Lindsay again. I don't want to lose my No. 1 spot.

Q. Looked like maybe in the first set especially you were starting to play a power game like Lindsay. Would you say you were doing that?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, I started seeing where she's playing to, especially that backhand cross-court, you know, was very tough. Even sometimes you're moving there, but you're kind of always a little bit late because it's pretty hard. I think that I was just trying to go for it, and power it back. But at the end, it was a little bit too late actually. You know, there are always next tournaments to come. That's the nice thing about tennis.

Q. Pete Sampras has traditionally said what tennis is all about for him is Grand Slam titles, not necessarily being No. 1. Being No. 1 obviously is very important to you. Could you explain its importance?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, it's both. I mean, you want -- Pete has been around for so long. I mean, he can put up a new record or gets even with Emerson. For him it's not only being No. 1, but if you win the Grand Slams, you will be No. 1. So there is the same thing.

Q. Would you consider your year disappointing because you have not won the same amount of Grand Slams?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I won the first one. You know, I made the finals now, semis at the other two. So I think I've still been pretty solid, even if my game wasn't at the top. It has improved again. You know, just try to keep that direction. Just who knows what's going to happen next year. I just feel like I put too much pressure on myself sometimes at the other tournaments, after the Australian Open. I just wanted to win the French, but it was kind of different and difficult to me, too. So, no, just kind of take it easy. I know my game is doing pretty well now. Just try to do better next year again.

Q. You've been on tour a short time, had a lot of success. Can you imagine what it would be like to wait six years as a professional to win a Grand Slam? Do you think you could be that patient if I took you that long to win again?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, Jana Novotna has been waiting either longer than Lindsay. Lindsay had a good year when she won the Olympics there. But I don't know. I'm not in that situation, so. I mean, for her, it must be great to win this tournament now, having finally a Grand Slam victory, especially the US Open. She is an American. So it must feel great. But, you know, I have my career still in front of me. I won this tournament already, so I just want to have that feeling again to be the best.

Q. You said you put a little more pressure on yourself this year. Is that because there are so many more younger players coming up, trying to get where you are?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I mean, as long as they keep losing against me, I'm fine (laughter). As long as they only talk and don't do anything. It's like Lindsay said yesterday, I felt that that's great, that was a great answer, you know. Venus said again she's going to be No. 1. You know, she can talk, but I'm going to do it. You know, that's nice.

Q. You said that you hoped Lindsay would go out and celebrate long and hard. Do you have any suggestions for her?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I went to Nobo (phonetic) last year. I love Japanese food. I don't know. I drank saki. But that's like in ten minutes you're under the table when you come back.

Q. Was there any specific moment during the match today where you realized she was playing better than you had expected her to play?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I played her in LA, in that final. So I knew she's a tough opponent. She hasn't lost a set so far this tournament. And I said yesterday I'd rather play Venus than actually Lindsay, because I think Lindsay's a smarter player, she's been out there before. But, I don't know. She just -- it's hard to beat her right now. She's got so much confidence.

Q. Has this year taught you anything on the court?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, that I have my kind of willpower back. Especially in yesterday's match, that even I would be down 4-1, I didn't let it go, and I came back in that match. When I played the other California tournaments, I was like, I didn't really believe in myself, that I still could win the -- win the matches against tough players. You know, after that win against Monica and Jana, I think I have the confidence back. You know, like today, Lindsay was better than me. But I still kind of didn't let it go until the last game, and last point.

Q. Even though you know that Lindsay's a much more fit player now, is there a tendency, when you dropshot her on match point, this she's not going to get to that?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, maybe. But it would have to be a better dropshot than that what I did today (laughter). I did some dropshots against Monica, too, but they were much better. But I'm happy about my game now. You just sometimes play dropshots because you don't know what else to do. You just kind of hope to make the point shorter and maybe you're the lucky one.

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