Martina Hingis 2000 US Open 1st-Round Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

USTA 2000 US Open at Flushing Meadows, New York, on Monday, August 28, 2000
Martina Hingis defeated Alina Jidkova, 6-3, 6-1

An Interview With MARTINA HINGIS

Q. Pretty easy, huh?

MARTINA HINGIS: I mean, I never played this girl before, so I didn't exactly know, you know, in the beginning what to do. You know, as soon as the match went on, I felt more and more confident.

Q. You've heard this question before, but talk about it again. Do you treat matches like that as practice, more or less?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah. I went out there and I've been working on a few things before coming into this tournament. I think, you know, I had a good tournament the last one I played. I just got better and better each time. Sometimes, you know, you've got to do it in the match, not in practice. I think it was a good start, yes.

Q. What things are you working on specifically?

MARTINA HINGIS: Being more aggressive, going in, to step into the ball, just make more myself; not just wait. I think I did that pretty well today, especially towards the end. I mean, in the beginning I was still missing a few because, you know, I didn't know her. Then once I started reading her game, it was much easier.

Q. What did you do during the rain delay? Were you here?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, I was here, just hanging around, as everybody else. I practiced in the morning like before they went on court. I had lunch. Just relaxing, talking to people, haven't seen them in a long time.

Q. You didn't watch last year's women's final on the TV?

MARTINA HINGIS: No. In our section, some of the TVs, they went crazy. I don't know. Couldn't switch all the channels. I was just watching Arantxa when she played. I was talking to Jan-Michael, my mixed partner, this time. I was just at lunch in that corner, not watching TV, just talking.

Q. The USTA released a little sheet of paper saying celebrity's pick, winners of The Open. A lot of people picked Venus or Serena. You're the No. 1 seed. Do you find it irritating that here you are the No. 1 seed and --?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, they had a very good summer. They played very good on hard court. Well, Serena didn't play that much since Wimbledon, but Venus, you know, if I'd be a fan, maybe I'd pick her, too. It's going -- you never know with the tournaments. Usually people used to pick me, and I didn't win the French or so. You never know.

Q. Do you feel like a favorite or do you feel like an underdog?

MARTINA HINGIS: Maybe both (laughter). Myself, I feel like I have a pretty good chance. I'm playing well. On the other side, you know, because they've been maybe playing, especially Venus, she won four straight tournaments, maybe she's the one who is more favored. I'm feeling good right now, so we'll see.

Q. Is there the sense that you have to raise the level of your game because of the improvement of these other players?

MARTINA HINGIS: Oh, it's just you have to continue to improve as long as you want to stay up there. It's like on a daily basis, you try to get better every day. It's not because someone else is pushing you. I mean, just everybody gets better. You have to get better, too, definitely, especially the top players.

Q. What kind of things are you maybe doing to improve your strength? Some players, besides weight lifting, take supplements. Do you do that?

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't want to die when I'm going to be 30. I mean, you see different things, you know, written about that people die so early because of heart problems and so. I'm scared of that stuff, so I don't. My life is too nice right now, if I start taking something else to bulk myself up to get bigger, it's not worth it for me. Maybe for other people, but not for me.

Q. Just weight lifting more?

MARTINA HINGIS: I think my speed and quickness is the end all of my game anyway. If I get bigger, I just get slower, and that's not my game. I realize that. Just have to work on my speed, just be light and fast on the court, not be a big hitter. I mean, I'm never going to compare myself to like the Williamses, Lindsay or Mary. I'm never going to hit a ball like they do. But I have other good, you know, things in my game, so I have to use those.

Q. What is your favorite thing about coming back to New York each year?

MARTINA HINGIS: Manhattan, to stay there, so many things to do. But they're almost too distracting that you just want to be at the courts here as long as possible in the morning and afternoon. There's just so many people right now. Hopefully, you know, as the tournament goes on, it's going to be less and less, and I'm still going to be here. No, it's a great town, so much atmosphere, so much tension. I love it.

Q. Does Manhattan have the most sizzle of all the cities you go to across the world?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, they're all different. I mean, like I love Paris, too. Wimbledon is a little bit way out. I never got to go to the city this year. Paris is like more the French style, and London more conservative as the English are. This is just Americans, crazy, wild, but I love it (laughter).

Q. What made you pick Jan-Michael as your mixed doubles partner?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, it's not official yet. It was a surprise. No, I mean, I met him like since I was also with adidas, we did that photo shoot, kind of got to know each other a little bit better. I played Hopman Cup against him, which I liked, too. It was the only team we beat at Hopman Cup, the Americans. I just like him as a person very much. I thought I didn't know whether Mary was going to play the doubles or not, so I asked Jan-Michael to play mixed. We both know the singles and doubles are more important just to play some matches. It's going to be fun again.

Q. Did you and Magnus Norman discuss possibly playing mixed doubles?

MARTINA HINGIS: I wanted to tell him before I was choosing someone else. Yeah, that issue was on the table before already (laughter).

Q. He decided he didn't want to play?

MARTINA HINGIS: He's got no ranking (laughter). No, I mean, for both of us, we're professionals, but it's just -- doubles is good for ^ argument, so no. I mean, he started playing more doubles. No, I'd probably be too nervous just not to mess things up.

Q. Hewitt and Clijsters play together and seemed to survive.

MARTINA HINGIS: We'll see how it goes. Haven't played in a while. It's less pressure with Jan-Michael, I think. People watching, expecting what's going to happen. Maybe some other time. Better focus on his singles to do well.

Q. Given that you have not won a Grand Slam this year; it's actually almost two years, how motivated are you to win this title?

MARTINA HINGIS: Maybe more than some other times, but you always try to step up your level, especially at the Grand Slam events. I know I had maybe chances at the French, Australian Open, even at Wimbledon I thought I was playing some of my best tennis. Venus played well, I was always a step late. I hope I pretty much got my game together here at this tournament. I'm looking forward to the next matches.

Q. Have you been playing too conservative at the Grand Slams in the big matches?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, maybe at the French I had the biggest chance. Venus lost in the quarters. Serena didn't play. Lindsay, you know, lost early because of her back. There was definitely my biggest chance to win that Grand Slam this year. You know, Mary came out basically almost out of nowhere and came with this victory, which she deserved; she played very well. I was just too nervous. She deserved it, you know.

Q. Venus said after Wimbledon a few weeks ago that she thought during the third set of your match you were just waiting for her to choke, which is essentially the reason why she won, because she got aggressive and won the match, you were laying back and waiting for her to miss. Do you agree with that?

MARTINA HINGIS: It's been pretty much the whole match like that, that she was the one who is more aggressive because she has a game like that. She has got the serve to have the game to be aggressive. But in my position, I was always waiting to get a chance. In a way, it's true. She just played a very good match. She didn't let me into the game in the third set. I mean, I should have taken my chances earlier, not waiting for her to miss or to do something stupid.

Q. You said that you did not have the power of Venus or Lindsay or Mary. What is it with your game that makes you No. 1?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I think the consistency, my anticipation on the court, that I see quite early what's the best to do against certain players, you know, just the quickness. Don't let them overpower me; just be quicker than them.

Q. You came on as a young player, just had these fantastic results. Then of course last year there were some problems or whatever. Do you feel --?

MARTINA HINGIS: "Problems"? What do you mean by "problems"? I still had a pretty decent career so far.

Q. No one's questioning that. I think it's fair to say -- most would say you had a tough year last year.

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't know. Three finals. It's true, but, I mean, compared to '97 it was just like an amazing year. I mean, everybody expects me to do as in '97, which, in a way, I feel is like unfair. I have five Grand Slams. Venus and Serena each have one. Lindsay maybe now has three because she played better. But she's 24. The Williamses, you know, they're my age. I think so far I've been better than them. I haven't been injured as them. It's just the consistency, that's what it counts to be No. 1, not who wins the most tournaments or who hits the ball the fastest; who hits the fastest serve.

Q. Do you think people have a tendency to dismiss your results recently and overlook your results?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I think just sometimes people don't exactly understand my game, why I'm up there. The fans, when they watch me, because I don't hit the ball as hard as Venus or some of these girls, but, you know, I've got a pretty good all-around game, I think. It's just no weakness, more or less. Maybe, okay, talk about my serve, about my forehand. But when I get to play those players, it's just a different ballgame, you know. It's like maybe, okay, I had a few problems, but who doesn't when he's a teenager? I mean, you learn by playing tournaments. You have to deal with different things than just playing tennis. That's what you just -- it's like going to school: it's never the same what you learn, but when you go in the real world, it's just always a little bit different from what you expect. I had to deal with all these things: being No. 1, the pressure. I think now I survived quite a bit, and now I think I can improve my game again.

Q. Actually, the question I was trying to get to was: Do you feel a comfort level now with your place on the tour and a maturity and a confidence that you didn't have before?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, now I think I got to the stage where I don't let anybody else, you know, talk into what I'm doing. Now I can go forward again. I think I got much better the last year. Actually, I feel like I improve every month, every match. I talk to my mom a lot and Mario. You know, they're a great support to have. Even like I maybe lost in San Diego in quarters, then I made the semis, and the last one I won. It's just constant improvement.

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