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INTERVIEWS

March 13, 2007

D. HANTUCHOVA/M. Hingis

6-4, 6-3

An interview with:

MARTINA HINGIS

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Martina, please.

Q. You just couldn't get control of the match, huh?
MARTINA HINGIS: Once I had it, I gave it up again. Yeah, 4-3, that long game, and being on up 40-Love, didn't take advantage of that, and 40-15, her game again. It was a bit frustrating.
Yeah, somehow after that I lost the nerve. I'm still up 3-1 in the second, again, breakpoint to go 4-1, then she served. That's why for me it's difficult playing like her or Davenport in the past, or Serena, who kind of served well and put pressure on my serve. So there's no really long rallies. I mean, you're either on or off. She served well today. I mean, I had my chances.

Q. She seems to play with a lot of confidence against you, too. She pushes further inside the court.
MARTINA HINGIS: Well, because I gave her the opportunity, I think also. I mean, we know each other's games pretty well, where our strengths and weaknesses are. I tried to overcome her backhand, and she goes for my forehand. It's no news for me and her.

Q. She kind of made her name against you here a few years ago. How does she compare now as a player to back then?
MARTINA HINGIS: I mean, yeah, she beat here in the finals. I mean, there was a lot of people after that expected her to catapult into winning a Grand Slam and things like that. Yeah, I mean, like I said, she's an uncomfortable player, yeah, because of these reasons, which I just said.
And only last week I was up a set and 4-1 against her and I managed to lose, and today, it was more difficult. That's why she had the confidence to, you know, serve and played because of last week.

Q. Did you say you lost your nerve in the two sets when you were ahead, you know, inability to close the deal?
MARTINA HINGIS: Not the nerve. I mean, just like the -- because it's -- yeah, it takes so much energy out of you, just like always be on, and she takes so much time. And it's like you'll be playing that one set forever. It seems it was 15 minutes and it was only 3-all. It was like, okay, you know, I mean, aren't we ever gonna finish this match, you know.
But then you overcome this, and I broke her, and being up 40-Love on my serve. I mean, I can't miss those shots, which I did, that backhand down the line. It was like, okay, you know, you can't give her the chances to get back into it. I mean, that's when finally I broke her in that game and then -- it's not even worth talking. I mean, I know where the problems are, so...

Q. It's frustrating though, huh, the process of getting back to where you're able to do the things you want to do and you used to do?
MARTINA HINGIS: I mean, no. Only in Tokyo, I felt great and I had so much confidence after winning that tournament. I just -- somehow you have to just keep going. I mean, the line is so thin of winning and losing that you can't expect yourself, you know, to have any days off almost. You know, you have to always be on, and once you have the winning streak and that extra confidence against players like her and the others, you have to take advantage of it and you can't let it go.

Q. Daniela is the only player left who's won this tournament. How important do you think experience in winning this tournament, how much of an advantage do you think that is going forward for Daniela?
MARTINA HINGIS: I mean, that was 2002, and after that I didn't play for three years. So you have to ask her how she feels. I mean, I'm sure she feels quite well playing here, quite confident. But I don't know how she did in the three years after that. I didn't really look, so I'm not sure.

Q. It's her only title.
MARTINA HINGIS: Sorry?

Q. It's her only title.
MARTINA HINGIS: I know, but here, specifically here in this event, I don't know.

Q. Nothing great, no?
MARTINA HINGIS: Nothing really.

Q. I mean, you're a student of the game. I'm sure you obviously were aware of the things that happened in the draw today. So is this really disappointing considering how things have opened up with Maria losing, et cetera?
MARTINA HINGIS: It's one thing after another. I mean, I knew from the beginning when we looked at the draw that I'm gonna play Daniela first, and I didn't look at anything else. I mean, of course, yeah, I was practicing at the time when Maria was playing, and I knew that she lost.
But I knew I had to on obstacle to overcome myself, so I wasn't really thinking that far ahead.

Q. The on-court coaching, does that make it more of a level playing field for everybody, does it take away some of the mental side of the game?
MARTINA HINGIS: I don't think so, because it only brings even more, because the coach can see it differently from the outside and, you know, can help the player. I mean, if you can convert it into something positive, I mean, you've seen in the past that it helped players.
But I think it only makes coaching legal, so it's not really that damaging to the game. It doesn't really affect it that much, and I think it's -- some people are pro-, some are indecisive. And for me, I mean, I'm 26. I've been around the block, so it doesn't really change that much. So if I can't do the things I know I'm supposed to do on court, I don't think from the outside, you know, anyone really can help me that much.
I mean, it's only for more myself, you know, that you stay out there, be positive, and keep doing what you're doing. But, I mean, I know how I feel when I wake up, so it may be different from the other players, you know, from the young players. I mean, it can help them.

Q. When we spoke before the tournament, you were not very happy with the past two tournaments in Dubai and Doha. Now I don't think you will be happy with the result here.

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I had a high after Tokyo, and Australia was fine, and I played well. And I played really well in the first couple matches. And today, I just, I don't know, I've got a little cold here and that, and you can't allow yourself to have things like that. I mean, that's -- I mean, that stops you from being at the best and -- but that's the tour. You know you have to try to be healthy and be 100 percent every day, and if you're not, you're gonna lose.
I mean, that's sometimes the extra energy and the edge which helps you to play well. And in Tokyo, I did, and that's only a month ago. So I actually look back what I did right there and go from there. I mean, it's only the last two matches. I've felt really great. Only two days ago, I started feeling, I don't know, from the air conditioning or whatever it is. I mean, it's not like I'm in the U.S. for the first time, but it's just -- yeah.
I already didn't feel that great going on court, but, you know, facing Hantuchova, it's not the easiest fact either. I don't want to blame it on anything.

Q. The grand slams, the best players tend to win. It's rare you see someone out of the top 5 in the women's game win it. But outside of that, you have tournaments like this and other Tier I's where some of the younger ones or the veterans get through. Is there real depth to women's tennis or is it just outside of the grand slams where there's real depth?
MARTINA HINGIS: I don't even think at the Tier I events you see players that, you know, come out of nowhere. I mean, every time you see a champion at the Tier 1 events, it's possible. I mean, it's a possibility that that player is playing well at that moment, and I don't think usually on the women's tour you have big surprises, like, really big, big surprises.

Q. So here this -- Ivanovic might be still left or Vaidisova or Peer or Golovin?
MARTINA HINGIS: Those are talented upcoming players. It's not like they come out of nowhere. I mean, they're improving constantly, and they earned their spot last year, and they're on the move.

Q. Who in that group do you think is gonna be the better one, or who's the really good one? Who's caught your eye? Peer, Ivanovic, Vaidisova?
MARTINA HINGIS: I think Vaidisova made it to semifinals. I think she's the one to look for. She's had the most consistency, I think, from the young players.

Q. After today and last week, where would you evaluate where Hantuchova's level is right now? Do you think she's good enough to break in the top 10?
MARTINA HINGIS: Gees, she's just, like, so good, you know. Sometimes I feel like what has she done all those years when she beat me here in the finals. I'm like, if it's her, it's just confidence. I mean, she beats, like, the top players. She can do it, only like if she believes. I mean, I practice with her. When I -- even she tells me in the locker room, "With you, I feel like we play tennis."
That's how I feel, because she knows the game, like it used to be against Jennifer Capriati or Lindsay or the Williams sisters. I put her in that group in the past because she knows the name. It's just like so much mental with her. It's just amazing how much the mind can do to you.
It's just a little bit -- you know, she loses matches 6-4, 7-6 in the third and she has in her hands. She let's it go. But she's done that for five years. I don't know. It's hard. I mean, you have to ask her what she has to do. I don't know. I think a lot of people have been trying to talk to her.

Q. When you say she knows the game, do you mean she's smart?
MARTINA HINGIS: She's smart. She knows what I'm doing. She reads my game. I read hers. She has great serves. I'm like, okay, you know, that 3-all game, that took a lot of thinking and doing out of me, because I didn't get the chance to play my game. But if I don't get to -- you know, if I don't touch the ball or I'm out-classed in the returns, I mean, that's always been my strength. You know, at least get the ball in play and then we'll see.
But she doesn't even let me do that. So sometimes it's hard, especially here at, like, I mean usually I get the chance against other players in the rally, and if they overpower me, good, you know, if you go for winners all the time. But she does it all the time, hit or miss. She can also stick in the rally. She doesn't just do something really stupid.
I mean, she goes usually for the right shots. I mean, sometimes it's like really close to the lines and sometimes she hits it, sometimes it will miss, but it's never I feel like she's going for the wrong shot.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

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