Martina Hingis 2000 US Open Semifinal Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

USTA 2000 US Open at Flushing Meadows, New York, on Friday, September 8, 2000
Venus Williams defeated Martina Hingis, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5

An Interview With MARTINA HINGIS

Q. When you served for the match, did you feel like she raised her game or you got tight?

MARTINA HINGIS: She played better the last four games. I mean, I had my chance, even on her serve, being up 30-15. That overhead. It was a long rally. It was tough to play the overhead. I was kind of looking for the ball. I couldn't really see because I was kind of getting tired. I definitely had a chance to put away that point, yeah.

Q. It looked like throughout the match you really created a lot of openings with wide angles, and seemed reluctant to come to the net. Was that true?

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't think I played very well today. It was just kind of in the first set, she made so many errors. Didn't really get any rhythm, me or her. It was just kind of strange, that match, in the first set especially. Then she started kind of not hitting every shot, just kind of get into the rallies a little bit more. I was just kind of a little slow always, compared to the other matches I played before. I mean, she hits the ball deeper, you know, she has like a little bit more, you know, power behind the shots. But sometimes I was just too much hesitating about coming forward, yeah.

Q. The backhand passing shot that went up the line, the look on your face was like you couldn't believe that shot.

MARTINA HINGIS: No, I couldn't believe I didn't do anything with the overhead, not that shot. I knew there was an opening there. It was just like "no way," why didn't I go cross-court, something, put it away.

Q. You're two points from winning the match. You have an overhead that looks pretty easy to hit.

MARTINA HINGIS: That was a long rally, after like running back and forth the whole point, then you've got an overhead. She gave me that one to go up 5-3. It's just not easy. It looks so easy, like put away. But then you miss it because you lose the balance.

Q. Did you have a clean shot at it, or you just hit it right back at her?

MARTINA HINGIS: No, I was just kind of happy. It's like, "Don't miss it." At first I was too much going backwards.

Q. How tired were you at the end of the match?

MARTINA HINGIS: I have ups and downs throughout the match. I wasn't as fresh when I played the other matches, even against Monica. I played very well, then I was getting tired. Just to keep the discipline, you know, over and over throughout the whole tournament, it just gets very, very difficult, especially towards the end of the tournament. In the beginning, you're still excited and everything. Towards the end, you slow down maybe a little bit.

Q. What has she changed since you met a year ago here about her game?

MARTINA HINGIS: Her serve got a little bit more consistent. I mean, she got so many free points out of her serve.

Q. With all the running you made her do, were you surprised she wasn't more tired late in the third set?

MARTINA HINGIS: We both were tired. I mean, maybe in the middle of the third set I was still a little bit more fresh. I played a little more aggressive than towards the end. Towards the end, she raised her level again. I mean, we both had like better times, some worse, especially throughout the third set.

Q. It seemed like in the last four games, she played to win, and you played not to lose. Would you say that's right?

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't know. Still at 5-3 and 5-4, she stepped it up a little bit maybe. She didn't give me as many chances to do something out of the shot. She still had very good length, where I just couldn't do that much. I was just like -- when I went up 5-3, or 4-2, 5-3, she gave me a little, hit the ball a little shorter, so it gave me a chance to create angles, you know, to pressure her. But then at 5-3, she stepped it up a little bit. I was still up 30-15. That point, if I had made that one, who knows what happen after. But didn't do it.

Q. This is probably the best thing going in tennis when you two play. You talk about not wanting to play them at times, but how much do you enjoy playing Venus?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I do enjoy. I mean, it's like if you win, you enjoy more than if you lose.

Q. With Serena out of the draw, you said you hate to play back-to-back Williamses. Was that any extra thought this morning, going in?

MARTINA HINGIS: That doesn't make it more easy if you know Lindsay is at pretty much the best throughout this year. It mean, it doesn't matter if it's the other Williams or Lindsay in the finals. It's just both going to be very difficult.

Q. How would you assess Davenport against Venus?

MARTINA HINGIS: I haven't played Lindsay since Key Biscayne, so it's hard to tell. I mean, she hits the balls very deep, very good serve. I think it's a very similar game. Because Lindsay had an easier match today, at least I gave Venus a hard time, so we'll see what happens tomorrow in the finals, if she can regroup herself and still play a good match.

Q. Do you feel as though you took something out of Venus?

MARTINA HINGIS: I hope I did. She didn't look that fresh anymore in the third set.

Q. Your mother was called for coaching from the stands. What did she say?

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't know (laughter).

Q. Were you coached from the stands?

MARTINA HINGIS: That was kind of funny because I was on the other side of the court that she gave her coaching. It's like, I don't know.

Q. Looks like maybe she gave you something about your stroke, something really serious.

MARTINA HINGIS: What do you want to change in the stroke? Like the speed. I'm like, this is more -- it's like, okay, she tries to do something like encourage people or encourage me on the court, you know, to be more aggressive or whatever. I don't think that's coaching. Everyone does that. It's like when you see the other party up there, I mean, they always scream something.

Q. Another really exciting match with Venus. Why do you think your two games match up for such interesting tennis?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I think because, you know, she plays a very good game, and I do, too. I mean, it's just very simple in a way that she has maybe more power, but I have more trying to read her game and still be there, the quickness and everything.

Q. As well as you played and as close as you came, can you quantify how disappointed you are?

MARTINA HINGIS: I am, because in the last two months I think I did work quite a bit. Maybe it's like she was disappointed last year; I'm this time. It's just same position. I just try to hang in there and get ready for the next tournaments, because I know I had my chances, even though I didn't play my best. So did she, I don't think. She didn't play that well in the first set or just general. Maybe it was very interesting for the fans, you know, especially towards the end, everything a little bit slower, longer rallies. The beginning was kind of very strange. Just boom, boom.

Q. Although the year is far from over, your Grand Slam year is over. For the first time in four years, you haven't won a Grand Slam title. Do you have to go back now and assess your own game to raise it to the level that the others, the Williams sisters and Lindsay, have raised their games to?

MARTINA HINGIS: I think I have raised my game. I was two points away from victory today. I don't think I could assess any more than I did so far. Just next step is to be to finish it off, not to be afraid of -- maybe as you said, I was afraid of winning, I stepped back. I should just still continue to play my game throughout the whole tournament, not just five games. There are two more to follow.

Q. The last time you two played, you were both cramping up in the third set. Well, the last time you played here. Today it looked like even though you say you were tired, you might have been the fittest you've been for a Venus Williams match. Do you feel that's true?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, because we didn't play that much in the first set. It was just in or out. It was just not very tiring, the first set. It was just we played like -- I don't even know how long we played, like two hours, 1 hour 40. Just the first set wasn't really tiring. Even it was 6-4, it was just very short rallies. Either it was in or out. I didn't have to do that much. So didn't she either. Just broke her once to go up a set. Then in the second, even till 3-All, it was just not very much running around or anything. It was just one and a half sets basically running and playing.

Q. Where did you feel the tide turning?

MARTINA HINGIS: Maybe at 3-All in the second set. She broke me there. But, again, in the third set, I felt like I regrouped, especially to make that break to go up 4-2, I felt like I had her because I was more fresh at that time than she was. I definitely should have made that 5-3 game to finish the match, and I didn't do it. After that, I felt like even I was serving for the match, it was just very critical because she started playing better again.

Q. Even though it was disappointing, can you appreciate what a great match it was to watch from a fan's point of view, just seeing the two of you?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I mean, lots of people expected a great match. I think we gave, you know, the crowd a good show. I mean, it was very interesting, very tight match, especially in the third set. You didn't know, it could have gone either way. I was very close to winning it again here. You know, I wasn't able to do it. You know, she in a way deserves it, to win, because she had a very good streak of tournaments, especially on the hard courts right now.

Q. You clearly wanted to get a lot of first serves in today to avoid getting into that second serve situation with Venus, so maybe you took a little off your first serve. She didn't really handle it well, except for that stretch in the second set, then toward the end of the third. Were you surprised at how much difficulty she had returning your 75 -, 80-mile-an-hour first serves?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I mean, that was kind of my strategy, to get as many first serves in to get into the game, to be able -- not give her too many chances to just kind of strike me out, you know, to put pressure on me right away from the first point on. Well, I mean, I started serving better, I improved on my serve. Just the next wouldn't be 80 miles an hour, but 90, at least, and even still have a high percentage of first serves, or do something out of it, then pressure her, you know, maybe take a higher risk, yeah.

Q. Were you surprised that she had that last gear late in the third set or were you expecting it?

MARTINA HINGIS: I hoped for her not to come out that way. That was maybe my hope towards the end of the match, that she would still miss some return or she'd give me a chance to kind of survive and finish it off. But at 5-4 on my serve, I was kind of a little bit against the wind, I think. That made it a little more difficult. That's what I'm saying, even 5-3, 30-All, 30-15, I should have take my chance there.

Q. That was essentially what happened at Wimbledon, that you kind of waited for her to lose. Why again?

MARTINA HINGIS: Not waiting for her to lose. It was just that hope she give me a chance. I don't know. I didn't feel that great out there. Especially in the first set, I won the first set, but it was strange. I didn't feel like I was doing anything special. I didn't play as well as maybe against the other players before, and I still won the first set 6-4. I'm like, "Hmm, is she really not playing that well, or can she get better or she's going to start," as she did for the 3-All. She didn't just hit everything; she just started playing a little slower and giving the whole game a little bit more rhythm. She's still a great runner. I mean, at the end it's not easy to put the ball away, even you try to be aggressive. You don't want to overdo it. As you say, I should have come in or so. I was kind of afraid of her passing shot or whatever would happen.

Q. Do you think of coming in against her more?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, because you know with her, it's like hard to, you know, finish off the points because you feel like she's still going to get there, she's got so much reach compared to some other players. So you always kind of step -- it's me, like I step back against her because I feel like if I don't hit it perfect, she's going to get there and pass me.

Q. What effect, if any, have all these dramatic matches had on your personal relationship with her? Is there any sort of bonding just being out there, having so many good matches?

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't think that's that important. It's just we are very professional. We try to do our jobs. You know, it's competition to be out there. We're the top players out there, her sister, Serena, we are the top four. You can expect it's going to be always a great match. But everyone's got its own way how to get there. I respect her for that.

Q. Do you feel in a way if you consider yourself sort of a marathoner, consistency, you always pride yourself on that, that eventually Venus and Serena sort of are more like sprinters, that you can outlast them over time?

MARTINA HINGIS: Not really. I don't know. I feel like I can get to more balls than them, in a way, that I can read. I have a court sense compared to maybe some other players who play them. I don't feel like I can outlast them or something because they're great runners, too. They get to a lot of balls. I think if I really, you know, play well, so I have maybe more speed, I can be quicker around the court, I can step in a little bit more. But they do it, too. They don't really give me that many chances to really step into the court, compared to the other players, because they have great serves. From the first point on, it's hard to do something with their serves. I can read some other serves and be aggressive off the return, which they don't allow me that much.

Q. What about over time on the tour, maybe not necessarily as much in a match, they're going to peak, but are they going to drop?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I was able to do it for the last three, four years. I was lucky not to be really injured or anything compared to them (knocking on wood). That's been my steadiest point, my body, that I was able to succeed in a way with my body that I just was handling it maybe better so far, yes.

Q. Your average time playing up to this point was 52 minutes. Do you think that had a factor in terms of how you felt as the game went on?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I mean, I think I'm prepared to play longer matches. It doesn't really matter if before you've been only there for, as you say, average 52 minutes. It's just because I play so well. I didn't need to be out there a little longer. But I definitely was prepared to play a good match, a long match, too.

Q. I believe Lindsay will become No. 1 tomorrow if she wins. Will that impact your thinking about the final? Can I ask who you're going to pull for in the final?

MARTINA HINGIS: You know, I knew that before I was going out into the match today. Well, I tried my best, I think. I was two points away of winning it, not giving up my No. 1 ranking. Also feeling better, being No. 1 and winning a big major tournament this year, it would be great. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. I just go into next year and try, you know, win as many as I can next year. But she deserved it. She won the one in Australia, she made the finals Wimbledon. If she wins tomorrow, she deserves the No. 1 spot.

Q. Who do you root for, knowing that?

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't care now anymore. You know, I'm out. It's always kind of nicer, the person who beats you, to come out as a winner. I mean, tomorrow the better shall win, you know.

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