Martina Hingis 1999 US Open 2nd-Round Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

USTA 1999 US Open at Flushing Meadows, New York, on Wednesday, September 1, 1999
Martina Hingis defeated Sarah Pitkowski(-Malcor), 6-1, 6-1

An Interview With MARTINA HINGIS

Q. No sweat?

MARTINA HINGIS: Not much. (Laughter).

Q. 6-1, 6-1, starting The Open like this, is this sort of a walk in the park for you? Does this give you confidence? Do you wish you had a little bit more challenge to test your game out?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, the first match, it was a little bit more of a test, especially the second set. I was down 3-0 and 4-2. It was a bit closer than expected. I mean, a match like this where you just go on court and you know if you play your standard, it's going to be fine. That feels pretty good. You don't want to have like every single match be nervous before you go on court, what's going to happen. It's like you know you have to play your best. Like this, I prefer it, too, once in a while. It's nice. Because the other tournaments are tough. All the best players are there, you have to take every single round serious. But here at the Grand Slam, you know, till you get in the better rounds, it's nice to have a match like that.

Q. Is there any concern about peaking too early?


Q. Playing your best a little too early.

MARTINA HINGIS: No, I think I can save myself. I won a Grand Slam before. Hopefully, it wasn't the last one. I know how to get there.

Q. When you know you're going to have an easy match like this, is there anything that you work on within your game?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, I was trying a few things, coming in, doing shots I wouldn't do if I would have to play a great player, and knowing this is an important point, I wouldn't try out things I did today.

Q. Now that Steffi has retired, what of her qualities do you think will be missed on the Tour?

MARTINA HINGIS: You know, she was very professional. She would spend a lot of time training, working out, being on court. It's hard to say. I mean, I wasn't there when she was at her best. I was there pretty much when she was already coming back and trying to get to the top. I don't really remember -- when I came on Tour, in '94, she was a top player back then. She was just so far away from where I was at at that time. For me, it's hard to talk about that. But definitely she was very professional and brought so much athleticism into the game.

Q. A couple years ago you made some comments about her and her place in the game which were quite critical. Do you have any regrets about those comments?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, at that time I had a reason to say what I said because she didn't do that well. You know, she definitely earned a lot of respect, and the crowd just loved her when she stepped back on court. At that time, I mean, there was no reason for saying, "She is the greatest player on Tour right now." I felt some other players deserved that more, that respect, because they were playing great. But she fought herself back and ended up her career as the No. 3 player by winning a Grand Slam tournament. That's head down.

Q. After Roland Garros, then the retirement announcement, was there a sense upon hearing that she was leaving the game that, "I'm not going to get a chance to play her again in a final, sort of show the world that I can top her"?

MARTINA HINGIS: She's 30. I mean, she definitely deserves like retirement. She got everything she wanted. If she wins or lose one more match, who cares at the end? She would just have one more Grand Slam, one more victory there. At the end, if you look back at that record she's got, she's like the only one who's going to end up like that.

Q. Do you regret you will not get a chance to play her again?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, there are other players out there which are very competitive, are strong right now. Of course, I would have loved to play her and win once more.

Q. Not going to happen?

MARTINA HINGIS: Not going to happen. You're right (laughter).

Q. Venus Williams says she really feels her game has come into shape this year. What have you noticed from the other side as her biggest improvement?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, she's probably more consistent, more steady, especially on the hard court. I think she improved a lot. She thinks more what she's got to do. She pretty much became an all-around player. She comes in, she has a good serve, good returns, good movement for her height, yeah. Very solid.

Q. You talked about Steffi being 30. Can you see yourself playing that long?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, that's a long way to go. I'm not even 20, so .

Q. It's not that old.

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, not that old being a tennis player. She's got her whole life in front of her still.

Q. Do you find Serena tougher to play than Venus?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, it's hard to say because when I played Venus, I played very well. She was already a bit tired, playing three weeks in a row. Then me playing Serena, you know, I was in the same position basically, that I was tired after San Diego, playing another semifinals. It's hard to compare right now. Venus has just been more consistent. She also played more tournaments. Serena, you know, she comes on Tour, goes off. She doesn't play as much. We'll see in the future. Once they're both going to play a bit more, we'll see who's going to be the better one. If you come fresh into a tournament, like you're not hurt or anything, it's always easy to play, show up at your best. Once you have to keep going two or three tournaments in a row, that's where it starts being hard.

Q. Are you enjoying yourself in New York? Do you get tired of the scrutiny here, questions about your mom, your maturity?

MARTINA HINGIS: I think that's over me. That's behind me. That's a long way back. I more or less forgot that already. For me, it's only the last month where I came back and played some great tennis. That's what counts right now, that I feel good, feel confident. I love New York, too.

Q. How has the crowd been towards you so far? How do you anticipate it possibly, if you end up playing Serena Williams or Venus Williams or one of the Americans in the final?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I still have to get there. I think the crowd's treating me very well. I got lots of respect at the other tournaments in California or Toronto. The crowd's been great.

Q. With the new year coming, there's a lot of talk of who the best player of the century has been. If you had to step back and say, who do you think is the best women's player?

MARTINA HINGIS: They're all different. They're all different styles. It's hard to say. They all had something special about their game to be the No. 1 player at their time. I'd say, yeah, probably Martina.

Q. Because of her overall skills?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I don't think she was such a great baseliner. Just at that time, she was very -- she just could play more or less anything. Nobody was so athletic at that time. She was like the only one who started doing the weights. She basically started everything, being more professional, doing just everything to be at the top of your game, in physical shape.

Q. Does it motivate you more when you see something in the headlines? Did you hear that Papa Williams predicted an all-Williams final?

MARTINA HINGIS: They always have a big mouth. They always talk a lot. It happened before. It's going to happen again. So I don't really worry about that.

Q. You don't put that paper up in the locker room?

MARTINA HINGIS: Not really (laughter). But I like that. It's more pressure on them. Whether they can handle it or not, now that's the question. Of course, the other players are pretty pumped up about that.

Q. You played in a night match the other night. How does that atmosphere compare to any other tournament that you play?

MARTINA HINGIS: In the US, basically you play a lot of night matches. I had the preparation playing in San Diego, LA and Toronto, the night matches. I kind of like it once in a while. It's like you got all day. But in a way, because you have all day, you don't want to be too much -- to be tired for the night match. It kind of depends. It's like I don't love it, but I don't hate it. I'm like in between.

Q. What is it like?

MARTINA HINGIS: The atmosphere?

Q. Here compared to LA or wherever else you play a night match.

MARTINA HINGIS: It's just more crowded. Andre was playing after me, so everybody wanted to see him. They came and saw me, too (laughter), by mistake, I guess, I don't know.

Q. Do you see things turning around for your country women, Patty Schnyder after a lot of the problems she had earlier, what happened at the Fed Cup? Do you think things are turning around for her?

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't know. I haven't spoken to her too much. I just know she's happy the way she is. I haven't been back in a long time, so I don't really know what's going on since Wimbledon. Before Paris, I was there last time.

Q. You were there at the Fed Cup when that stuff was happening with the team? I think she got kicked off the team.


Q. Her coach and everything.

MARTINA HINGIS: I know what happened there. But since then, I didn't really follow it anymore because I don't have the Swiss newspaper in front of me every day.

Q. It might have been tough to figure out after a match like today, is there anything in your mind that you know you need to work on the rest of this tournament?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, of course, there are going to be players who hit the ball harder. Like Sarah gives me a lot of time to do, to prepare myself. There's not much I have to worry about. Just basically keep the ball in the game and then wait for my chance to hit a winner, just come in or do something, pressure her so she makes the mistake. There are definitely going to be tougher players out there I have to meet.

Q. Are the expectations sometimes too high? You talk about being 18, Steffi Graf being 30. For an 18-year-old, do you think the expectations are too high sometimes?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, depends on how you handle them. Sometimes they are more, sometimes they are less. If you're happy with yourself, you know, nothing can bother you, nothing can hurt you, as I said yesterday. Basically the people who surround you, that's the most important thing. If you feel at the top of your game, you know, you can make it. If you don't do it, you know, the other player is just better. You have to take it that way, just go and try next year or next time.

Q. Do you feel that even though you're the No. 1 seed, that you're at a disadvantage to the No. 2 and No. 3 player, because the court plays so fast?

MARTINA HINGIS: The court plays?

Q. The courts are playing fast. Do you feel at a disadvantage that Lindsay and Venus, their games fit better into a fast game?

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't think so. I don't really care about how fast the courts are, how fast the balls are. I never cared about that too much.

Q. If you don't win two Grand Slam titles this year, would you consider the year to be a little bit disappointing?

MARTINA HINGIS: No. There is next year to come. I mean, I just try to get as far as I can. Of course, this will be great chance for me to play well and try to beat everybody. If I don't do it, it's not a big deal. So far I'm still in the game, try to win, as everybody does.

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