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

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USTA 1998 US Open at Flushing Meadows, New York, on Saturday, August 29, 1998

An Interview With MARTINA HINGIS:

VERONIQUE MARCHAL: Questions for Martina, in English first, please.

Q. How are you doing? How are you feeling? How is the format the moment?

MARTINA HINGIS: I'm getting better and better. Well, I played three tournaments before this, took a week off. Well, it seems like I always get to the semis and finals and can't win the tournament, but this is a different one, the last Grand Slam of the year. I'll save my energy and go round by round.

Q. Have you gotten to the stage you think already in your career where the Grand Slams become a major focus point of your career and you plan your build-ups to those tournaments?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, pretty much it is. But Montreal, Wimbledon or the other tournaments, those are also big tournaments and you want to do well. Every time you lose, it's like you give the other ones the chance: Oh, maybe I can beat you too. So you don't want to lose, but the major tournaments are definitely the biggest ones you have to do better.

Q. You're not suggesting you're teasing them a little bit, are you, by pretending that they can beat you?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I made the semis the last two, so I hope I can defend the lead this one. This is a tough draw. I mean if you see -- I don't even know who I played because they didn't finish, but if you see the other first round, it's just amazing. The winner, if I win, plays me. Then they're really happen -- that never really happened before.

Q. Do you think you're in the toughest half as well in the draw?

MARTINA HINGIS: Once you get through that round, it should be easier, but then there's Monica and Jana too. But, I mean right now we just go round by round because every match is going to be tough. But I feel pretty confident right now. I hit the ball well in practice, so I hope I can do it on the court too.

Q. Martina, a year ago everything was new and you were number one. Is it a lot harder to go from tournament to tournament now than it was a year ago?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, sometimes you just go to the tournament and, you know, I won 12 out of 17 last year, and you just go: Oh, this is another one I have to defend -- oh, there's another one. So it's kind of different position I'm in right now than I was in last year. I was not the favorite -- later on in the year I was. But in the beginning, nobody would really take me serious enough and they thought: Well, she has an opportunity maybe or she has the talent to do it, but who knows what's going to happen. I did very well. And, you know, this year the players became much stronger, like you have the younger players which are more experienced. And the older ones, they start practicing again and they want it back. They won the last two Grand Slams right now it's very big competition.

Q. Is it less fun for you this year?

MARTINA HINGIS: I was pretty happy those two Grand Slams were over in Paris, but after that I just kind of had to -- took a week off and relaxed. And now I'm -- I just want to keep winning again. You know, sometimes you get to the point you're sick of losing once you're used to keep winning all the time. So I guess I can get back to that point right now. Anybody can lose, okay, the other one is better. But it didn't feel like I'm 100 percent when I'm on the court sometimes.

Q. What kind of things have you been working on since Wimbledon?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, my serve. The women's game, I think I got much stronger especially on hardcourts right now. Once you lose your serve, it's like in mens, you lose a set. That's a different strategy, and you have to be very concentrated. It's a different game and I wasn't quite used to it. I was working on it and we'll see. I hope it's going to be working now.

Q. I know you're very competitive, and you only play supports and games to win, but have you found this year, when it has been difficult, particularly since the Australian, where you have been unable to defend but get to the semis or whatever, have you been able to rationalize it and say: Well, okay, I'm not going to win all the time, but I can stand this as long as I'm doing my best?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, once you're not on the point you feel like I can't get any better any more. So you should better stop. I didn't feel like that so far, so I always think you can improve and work on yourself. You could see like Borg or Lendl, they never had all the shots but they would be working on it, and Lendl never had a great backhand but at the end of the Courier, he proved it a lot. And Borg also started coming to the net. When you talk about coming to the net, he never came to the net, but at Wimbledon he would make some shots there too. So you always can improve whatever you do. And just try to get better.

Q. But you're able to say: Well, if I don't win this, it's not a disaster because, you know, I'm still enjoying it --

MARTINA HINGIS: Sometimes you get to the point, you know, like I lost or so -- at that point, you are pretty upset or you just say: Ah, what the hell. But then -- because I have just this vague feeling and I had it. So you always want to have that back. So I have motivation again, yes.

Q. You changed your hair color?

MARTINA HINGIS: No, it just lightened up. The color is washing up.

Q. Last year it looked completely different.

MARTINA HINGIS: That was Australia. I just put new color on there. But I had some highlights done, in Wimbledon. Since then, I was four weeks here.

Q. It was almost black, I thought.

MARTINA HINGIS: I used to. But I wasn't at home for almost five weeks, so I don't have anybody to do that. No, but, you know, I like changes and it's lighter again. But, who knows what's going to happen next week. (Laughter) .

Q. You're still very, very young. You've got your whole career ahead of you and yet you've achieved an awful lot already so far. You're not an old timer, but of the older players, do you think Monica or Steffi is possibly the biggest threat and, if so, why?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I think Monica especially is very dangerous. She knows what she wants in life right now. Like last year or the year before, I don't think she -- she would just play but just wasn't really like 100 percent for her. But right now she only focuses on that. She got stronger. And also Lindsay is also very dangerous right now. She lost to Steffi yesterday, it was, but I didn't see the match. I don't know what happened because I can't imagine Lindsay losing to Steffi. She beat her like three times the last time they played. So I don't know, but Steffi -- I mean she can play very well still, but I mean the losses she had, she would never lose before against players like Sugiyama or Serena, but I don't know, she seemed to be in a good way. It's her decision whatever she does. So, you know we'll see at this Grand Slam.

Q. Do you think on this particular court that Monica with her persist tense and if she gets the accuracy --

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, she's very aggressive. This court is pretty good for her. It's not too fast, not too slow, and it's just perfect. She improved her serve and -- she lost so much weight so she moves better. She hits the balls, she's got a great touch otherwise she wouldn't be number two in the world. You can really see it, but she hit the ball so hard from any angle. Sometimes it doesn't get there, sometimes she puts it over. But she won the last three tournaments in California, so she's tough.

Q. Martina, there's an article in one of this morning's newspapers in New York which implied that your image over the last few months has been more important to you than your tennis: Changes of hair, changes of clothes. Is that fair?

MARTINA HINGIS: This morning?

Q. Yeah, yeah.

MARTINA HINGIS: I had a great last year, so I mean, this attention was just put on me because of last year, and I always saw -- like to do things with Clairol for shampoos or just commercials. When I was younger, I always wanted to be a model. It was a great experience to do and once you are number one in whatever you do, I guess you have to do a lot more and nobody can really imagine -- before I hadn't done what it takes to be number one so you can't really compare me to anybody else right now because it's been a very different year from last year.

Q. Did you meet the Backstreet Boys?

MARTINA HINGIS: Not yet. I guess I'm going to see them later. I was supposed to be on the Jay Leno show; they were supposed to be there, but I didn't go in yet. I'll probably see them there. I have one CD, so -- Quit Playing Games With My Heart so. . . (Laughter) And I saw them on Rosie when they were singing this song, they were like Rosie, Rosie.

Q. Any last questions in English? Could we have questions in Swiss, German? If you just stay, we actually have a little surprise for the journalists that stay.



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