Martina Hingis 1999 US Open Final Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )

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USTA 1999 US Open at Flushing Meadows, New York, on Saturday, September 11, 1999
Serena Williams defeated Martina Hingis, 6-3, 7-6(4)

An Interview With MARTINA HINGIS

Q. Did you sort of feel like you had a tag team out there, bring in one, then comes the hammer the next day?

MARTINA HINGIS: It was tough. Yeah, it's like I said yesterday, I never beat both in the same tournament. Even today, I had chances, and I didn't take them. I mean, she had those two match points. I also had a set point; didn't take the advantage of her being tired, me being tired. She pulled it out better, you know, today. She was able to, you know, get herself mentally, you know, in the match. She was always leading, you know. I felt like always being behind, always had to be defensive. I had my chances and didn't take them. She was just better today, after yesterday.

Q. Had Venus tired you out last night? Was it harder for you to move?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, of course. But that was the same for both. She also had a three-setter. She actually had a harder tournament, too. She played more than I did. She also played doubles. I feel like, you know, we both were the same. I guess, you know, I had, like, a hard time also falling asleep. Just for me it was later, then coming out there today. But that's no excuse. I mean, you just have to go out there and play. Well, it's a tough schedule, you know, playing like the toughest matches at the end of the tournament like one after the other. It's not so easy. I love CBS changing their request there Friday, Saturday. Just have to deal with it. Of course, I'm a bit disappointed. I mean, I had my chances; didn't take them. There are many more years to come against the Williams.

Q. Did you feel you were playing your game, or was she dictating the pace the whole time?

MARTINA HINGIS: She was way back from the baseline. I mean, I think it was like changing up. Sometimes it was me, you know, especially towards the end of the match. It was like me dictating. Then I went back, her dictating. It went back and forth. It wasn't like, you know, a certain person was dictating. It was like more, you know, so many errors today. Compared to yesterday, it wasn't a great match. But it was more mental, just who could hang in there longer. What was I going to say? I don't know (laughter).

Q. You also didn't get into the net much.

MARTINA HINGIS: You're too tired to get to the net (laughter). It's like you're happy to, you know, move your legs at least one direction, not thinking about going to the net. There were so many let calls, too. I was always a little bit a step late. She also served well. Not towards the end. I mean, I broke her; she broke me. But in the beginning, I got like 3-0 behind right away. I lost the lead for a little bit. Then I just kind of was hanging in there, but not really. Then I saw the second chance, you know, the second time I was reborn like after she lost those two match points. I was like, "Now you have the chance." That set point, you know. It was a great tournament anyway.

Q. As crazy as the crowd was going, I'm assuming you were aware of that. Does that reinforce what everybody has been saying about women's tennis now?

MARTINA HINGIS: I think also between me and Serena, the comments went back and forth. I think still at the end, the women's tennis, you know, has been very good at this tournament, especially the last two days, quarterfinals in general. It's just been terrific tennis.

Q. You were aware of how crazy the fans were going?

MARTINA HINGIS: Oh, yeah. Once I saw if I could make it to the third set, I saw myself still in there. Even after those two match points, I know how nervous she was, how she could not run anymore, do the same thing as me. We both are very aggressive players, kind of try to take the balls early. We both kind of couldn't get there anymore. It was like more of a willpower game there. For her, you know, she swings the ball harder. I usually move better.

Q. Mr. Williams just said that you were scared out there. Could you comment on that, please?

MARTINA HINGIS: I wasn't scared. I just couldn't play my game. I mean, I missed terrible things. She did, too. It was like we were both sometimes on the knees just getting the ball in. It just wouldn't happen sometimes. Anyway, I think it's just been a great ending. You know, there are going to be many more matches like this.

Q. You said that the match today was a lot about mental stuff. Were you surprised that she was able to kind of hold on the way she did when she lost the two match points?

MARTINA HINGIS: Mr. Williams said, like, I was scared. I think I wasn't the only person at the end who was scared. She had two match points; wasn't able to close them out right away. I think she was a bit more scared than I was actually at the end, because I've been there, done it. For her, it was the first time finals. You know, she's a great competitor, great fighter. Paid off for her today. Hopefully, next time, I'm going to have a better chance. We both are going to be more fit and, like, more relaxed, fresh going into those matches.

Q. Did you feel like she let off at all, or did she keep firing away even after losing those two match points?

MARTINA HINGIS: No, I still -- you just can't push the ball over the net. She just kills it. Especially, I just didn't serve that well as yesterday. It wasn't that important, you know, to serve well. But today it was, you know, so much pressure in a way. She didn't serve that well at the end. Also, like her second serve is tough to, you know, receive. It's not that you have the chance to kill it right away. You know, once I got into a rally, I felt like you know, "I have to win it." Once I got the return back, it was just a lot of pressure on me to winning those points. It was like it didn't happen today. Many more days in Grand Slams to come, hopefully.

Q. The rankings didn't show it coming in, but is she a better player than her sister, do you think?

MARTINA HINGIS: It's different. I mean, she serves better definitely. She puts more pressure on me like that. Also, I have to serve well. That's probably the biggest, you know, thing in my game that I have to improve, to just be more consistent. Like even yesterday, I served like 74% of first serves. It wasn't like an ace or anything. I have to definitely put more of those first serves in to just being able, you know, hang in those rallies. I know once I get into a rally at the end, I'm better. Once you don't get there, it's too bad.

Q. You're obviously a very smart player. Do you find she uses her imagination better on the court, mixes things up better than Venus?

MARTINA HINGIS: And I was able to read it better. In the beginning, I was kind of lost. I was also a bit tired. I just couldn't, you know, like stay focused and concentrated as I usually do. It was just probably the biggest thing. Usually, I react much quicker. But today I was like, you know, slow motion.

Q. How much influence has Chris Evert had on your game?

MARTINA HINGIS: Not much.

Q. Isn't she your mentor now?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah. She left me a message yesterday. She said like, "You move great, you look good on the court. You played a great match." She congratulated me. That was like, you know, great. I mean, my mom is there, who is my coach. She does everything for me. I wouldn't be the player without her. It's like I don't really listen to other people.

Q. You said you had ups-and-downs this season. What did you learn from your season?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, one victory, two finals, one first round. I think it still was a great year. It hasn't ended yet. You know, I always feel I could have done better. Definitely looking forward to next year's Grand Slam. I was, like, a bit trying to say that, but one day I'd like to have a Grand Slam.

Q. Do you think you grew up, are more mature now after this kind of year?

MARTINA HINGIS: I think I learned a lot. After the first half year was over, I kind of, you know, worked on my game much more. I think I got in better shape. I became a better player. Without that, I wouldn't be in the finals today. I might have lost today, but, you know, I'll still continue to work on me and hopefully get better.

Q. Do you think that the women's game is becoming more like the men's game? Do you see a change because of the power of the Williams sisters?

MARTINA HINGIS: They're definitely a challenge right now. I mean, it's also, as I said yesterday, the four of us who played the semis were definitely the best right now out there. We are the ones you have to beat. You know, everybody, the four of us, has got like different weapons. Like Serena, you know, is very powerful, the serve. Venus might hang in the rallies longer. She gets to a lot of balls. Lindsay just serves well and hits the ball hard. She goes for more, you know, more winners. Me, I'm kind of sneaking through there somehow (laughter). You couldn't say about me what's the best shot, just like more or less all around. Nothing great; nothing bad. So far I'm at the top. Hopefully, I can, you know, stay there.

Q. Do you think with the four of you, the ones who come and challenge strongly, do you think it's making the game more interesting for you than as you were dominating like when you first came a couple years ago?

MARTINA HINGIS: That was different. I mean, nobody was putting so much pressure on me as the Williams. At that time, Steffi wasn't there, you know, the one who basically was at the top for so long. There was only Monica who I always - or most of the time - beat when it was important. Arantxa, Conchita, Jana, at Wimbledon, I was able to beat them. They were at their top level. There was nobody out there really at that time in '97. I just kind of was cruising through all of the tournaments. Now there are just many more, you know. Especially the Williams and Lindsay.

Q. Do you enjoy that challenge, or would you prefer to have it the other way?

MARTINA HINGIS: Oh, well (laughter). It was great '97 when I think back. I should have won everything, you know. I think like, "Yeah, how stupid I lost in the semis there." At that time it was just like almost too easy for me. Now it's definitely more competition. I feel like, you know, there are some other players like the Russian girls like Dementieva; Anna is going to be back. There are going to be more out there. They're still not at such a high level. They still have to learn and experience a lot, like, to win those big matches.

Q. Do you think the Grand Slam has become almost impossible to achieve?

MARTINA HINGIS: We'll see next year (laughter). But I think Serena and Venus think the same way I do, especially Serena after she won her first now.

Q. Your mother said some time ago that she visualized that Lindsay Davenport and you would have like a big rivalry going in tennis. Do you feel that way, too? Do you think it's going to be you against the Williams sisters and you against somebody else? Who do you think it will be?

MARTINA HINGIS: So far the Williams are going to be able to play at the top level as they do now. Anything could happen. They've been injured sometimes. Serena didn't play as many tournaments. She just played like I don't know how many. It's like once they're going to be out there longer, I mean, I know how I feel after two, three tournaments. But in a way it's smart to not play that much, but you're not going to be No. 1 if you don't play that much. It depends on what they want. I guess they're always talking about being No. 1 and No. 2. They have to play more. They're going to get to their limits. I think just all of us, we are pretty much at our limits right now. I don't think it can get any much better.

Q. Richard also said that Venus will win two Grand Slams next year. Can you comment about that?

MARTINA HINGIS: What if I say 'no comment,' that's the best thing. I don't want to say much more about that.

Q. Would you like to share with us what your mother told you before you went into this match?

MARTINA HINGIS: When I went into this match?

Q. Yes.

MARTINA HINGIS: "Just go out there and play your game." That's what she basically said. She believed in me that, you know, I have a big chance to win it, definitely because I've been there, I have more experience than she did. She just said, "Play your game and then you'll see." It's still great talking to her, also like after the match. Now I can tell her how I felt, like what happened out there. It feels good.

Q. Have you had a chance to speak to her already?

MARTINA HINGIS: Oh, yeah, in the locker room.



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