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

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USTA 1999 US Open at Flushing Meadows, New York, on Tuesday, September 7, 1999
Martina Hingis defeated Anke Huber, 6-2, 6-0

An Interview With MARTINA HINGIS

Q. Were you surprised with the ease?

MARTINA HINGIS: With the what?

Q. With the ease.

MARTINA HINGIS: Oh, the ease. Well, not actually. In the beginning, I was 2-0 down. She was serving with the wind. So I was ,like, that was a very important game I guess, to come back and put her under pressure. And then after that it just went like this (indicating). I was, like, surprised by myself, yeah. How easy it went. But I guess her game suits me quite well. You know, she's not going for the lines or like big shots. She's, like, playing behind the service lines, like little angles. I always was able to get there and do something with it.

Q. Anke said you may be the smartest player on the Tour.

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah -- in the wind, probably. You know, today I use the wind very much. And I was, you know, able to handle it better than her because she was, like, getting frustrated, you know, with the serve or here and there. And, you know, it's like with the wind, you just can't miss. You're like, you have to do something. Because you know the other player on the other side -- it feels like weightlifting, you know, when you play against the wind. You basically have no control if the other player is just as smart. So you have always no chance. And I would take advantage of that.

Q. Is that something that -- being a "smart tennis player," is that something you learn over time, or is that something you are born with and you just have it?

MARTINA HINGIS: No, you learn it by experience. You have to play a few matches. It's not just -- you don't get born with that thing. You just, you know, some players, you know have more and some less. Some hit the ball hard, some don't. And, you know, some are tall. I have to use other weapons to be and stay at the top; otherwise, I wouldn't be the No. 1 player if I wouldn't think a little bit on court.

Q. In the Venus match, you're hoping for wind? If you have to meet with Venus, are you hoping for a windy day?

MARTINA HINGIS: They haven't played that great the whole tournament. I was in -- like, so far, I won straight sets, but also didn't feel that confident or comfortable with the wind. But today was just a great match, I mean, for me; I didn't miss much. I really handled that quite well, I think. And against them, you know, if -- depends on their serve and also, I think, if it's going to be windy, I have more chances definitely. But in San Diego, it wasn't that windy and I won also. So, we'll see. She first has to get there. The night matches, I'm going to be watching, you know, now. (Laughter).

Q. Do you watch your opponents before, your perspective opponents, and kind of get clues before you have to play them?

MARTINA HINGIS: I do watch night matches. Probably not the whole ones, but wheen you have to wait for them. So I watch, you know, doesn't matter who's playing. I mean, you're at the tennis tournament, so you kind of are addicted to it. Especially at the Grand Slams, you go back home and you turn the TV on and you switch on the channel, 35, you know. It's just right there. It's like -- this is my job, so I have to know what's going on.

Q. Do you find you're having to work harder to get to the semifinals of Slams than maybe a year or two ago?

MARTINA HINGIS: I think I had a quite good draw. The match against Arantxa was probably tougher than expected, but the one today was easier than it came out. And I think I'm just playing well here, I feel confident, and also -- I have a reason to. I played well in the last two, three tournaments, so I feel good. Whoever's going to be there on the other side, just try to win.

Q. Could you talk again specifically about the wind, how you use the wind versus some players, particularly today?

MARTINA HINGIS: Oh, if you play with the wind, you spin the ball more and keep it, you know, in the game, basically, because you know the other can't really hurt you that much. It's only if she's going for the lines for a winner, but it's hard if you put a little bit topspin on it. You basically can't do anything against the wind. Against the wind, you just hit as hard as you can, you know. It also depends a lot on the serve. And I think I just served a lot better, focused on that more today than the other matches.

Q. You said that you wouldn't be the No. 1 player if you didn't think a lot out there on the court. Could you take a moment and just talk about your approaches to the mental side of the game, what you think your strongest mental side is, describe the forehand, finding weaknesses.

MARTINA HINGIS: I think it's more finding the opponent's weakness and make up a strategy on that shot and just try to use that. Because I don't think -- well, I think I'm a player that if I see somebody's weakness, you know, I can work on that and some other players, even when they know like I have a probably weaker forehand than backhand, they still can't use that. Otherwise, they would beat me. Sometimes you lose, it happens. But not that often. And so I think I can build up a strategy, yeah.

Q. And do you often make major tactical changes within the match as it goes on?

MARTINA HINGIS: Oh, yeah. Definitely. If you see, you know, that player is, you know, improved in the last few years on a certain shot, so you don't go there and just try to hit, you know, keep hitting forehand cross-court if that player is better or stronger on that one. I usually don't work on, you know, opponent's strengths or try to beat them with that. Sometimes I do, you know, if I feel very good out there. So I go for their best shot and try to beat them also there. (Laughing).

Q. Can you give one example?

MARTINA HINGIS: Like example, a player?

Q. Where you've changed from where you would go to someone's forehand and then you decided to switch to a different strategy?

MARTINA HINGIS: Probably when I played Lindsay in San Diego, that first match, because I felt very good physically. Usually I feel very good with my backhand, but there, I felt like she's going stronger going cross-court. So I tried to go forehand cross-court, and that's where I basically won the important points at the end because, you know, I moved her and then played to her forehand and she was still great. She's like a player, that certain match, I would beat over her forehand. That's how I felt like. But not usually, I don't do that. Like going forehand cross-court, not against Lindsay.

Q. (Inaudible) What gives you most surprise during a match? Can they do different things?

MARTINA HINGIS: I think Serena is a very talented player. She can surprise with a dropshot or coming into the net or something.

Q. You cannot guess?

MARTINA HINGIS: It's also maybe like the Junior players also, because you don't know them. So you don't know what to expect because all the players I had to play now, I pretty much figured out, you know, they know me; I know them. So it's also when a new player comes on Tour, you don't know what to expect so you go to try to hit with that person and see what their weapons are.

Q. The last seven times you've played Venus Williams you've won four; she's won three. Things have gotten to be pretty even?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, back and forth.

Q. What are the keys to the matches when you play Venus, and what do you look forward to if she's your opponent in the next match?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, it's always like, you know, I lost to her in Rome, but I won San Diego which was on the same surface as it is here. It was a great match. I just played very well there. And, you know, if I play her, you know, I try to do the same thing as I did there. Just basically go out there and try not to miss much and make her play and see what's going to happen. But I watch her, like, other matches against Mary Joe and, you know, I see that there are a few things, you know, you can play on and think about it and we'll see. I don't want to say everything, you know; otherwise, you're going to tell her what I'm going to work on. (Laughter).

Q. Are you at the point where you're pretty even players? Do you look at it as a pretty even match when you face her now?

MARTINA HINGIS: It is definitely. Yeah, I have to take her serious. But I feel if she gets to the semifinals, I feel like a more experienced player with more confidence right now, and we'll see what's going to come out of it.

Q. Do you think there's more pressure on her because she's playing at home in the United States?

MARTINA HINGIS: I think so, yeah. And also, you know, there's been a lot of talking, and it's like me, Serena, Venus, what's going to happen, but nobody takes really care of what's Lindsay doing. She's like cruising through her draw and nobody takes her serious. But she's there and she lost like seven games so far. That's a pretty good effort. I'm happy being in the semifinals. I think I proved myself again, and I have nothing to lose, basically, you know, going out there and against Venus. She still didn't win a Grand Slam. It's more pressure on her in her home country.

Q. What have you learned about yourself from the adversity you went through over the summer and how you've been able to rebound and regroup?

MARTINA HINGIS: You know, I work on myself, and, you know, I just feel like I'm in much better shape and mentally grown up also a little bit. That's why I can basically use what I have on court, like today I used my mental strength to be able to handle the wind and the tough conditions, which are out there right now.

Q. Are there any other athletes in other sports that you admire for being smart or intelligent in what they do?

MARTINA HINGIS: I watch basketball, and Cynthia Cooper; she's a very good player. (Laughing) I mean, she's the top of the League, and they also won, so she's like -- she's not the tallest there, but she knows what the game's all about, you know.

Q. Have you seen Venus make adjustments like some of the ones you make in the middle of a match to work on an opponent's weaknesses? Is she one of the players you consider smart enough to make that sort of adjustment right now?

MARTINA HINGIS: I think so, yeah. She has, like, that adjustment that she gets everything back, you know. She's tall and she moves quite well for being such a tall person. And then, you know, when it gets really important, when she's down, she's able to pull it off and just not miss anymore. Maybe her serve gets a little bit shaky at some points, like at critical moments, but then when she gets into a rally, she's quite tough there, yeah.

Q. Now that you've lived in the United States for a few months, what are the differences between living over here and living in Switzerland in terms of the people that you deal with, neighbors, people you meet in restaurants?

MARTINA HINGIS: It was very nice when I actually first got to the house. So, like, the neighbors, they would come and give us like little strawberries, like homemade with chocolate topped on it. So that was nice, like, you know. Gave us a number for whenever we want to meet them or just go for dinner or whatever. That was nice. And otherwise, it depends, I guess, where you live in the States. Like Florida is very laid-back, easy-going. You don't really care what kind of car, what restaurant you go to, what clothes you wear. It's, like, not a big deal. I think in New York, it's like more snobby, you know. You feel like, you know, you want to always go into a nice restaurant, eat well, and just, like, go to Bergdorf Goodman or Saks Fifth. People talk about that much more, I think, in a big town like here. But it's good to have this contrast, coming from Florida; it's like so nice. It's like more European style, more class. I like that. But also it's like nice going back to Florida, not to care about anything, you know. Everything is like a little bit cheaper; you just don't really care. (Laughter) Like old people driving their cars.

Q. Cheaper? Are you running out of money?

MARTINA HINGIS: You just have more fun down there. (Laughing).

Q. Florida's more European than New York?

MARTINA HINGIS: No, New York I said. New York. Florida is like," I don't care about anything," you know.

Q. Are you afraid of the old people driving down there?

MARTINA HINGIS: (Laughing) It's like their nose sticks out of the window, you know.

Q. The big Cadillacs, right?

MARTINA HINGIS: The big Cadillacs, big cars, yeah.



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