UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION
1993 U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
Flushing Meadows, New York, NY
September 10, 1993
S. GRAF/M. Maleeva-Fragniere
4-6, 6-1, 6-0
AN INTERVIEW WITH
Q. You were so ready in the first set. Everything you did looked great out there; where did it all go?
MANUELA MALEEVA-FRAGNIERE: Well, she played better after, and, no, I was still going for my shots, but she was not making so many mistakes. It seemed like she was putting every ball, you know, just an inch over the net or an inch inside of the baseline, and it was difficult. You know, I had to make all the winners, otherwise, she was doing them, and I couldn't just play safe, because she would have been all over me, so I was going for my shots. I was a-- it is a bit unlucky for me, because it was so windy today because physically she's stronger than me, and it doesn't affect her game as much, where sometimes when I was against the wind, I had the feeling I had to hit the ball three times harder than usual and it took quite much out of me.
Q. Manuela, do you believe in fate; and if so, do you feel like you were meant to reach the semifinals here this year?
MANUELA MALEEVA-FRAGNIERE: It feels like it, yes. Everything fell in place match after match. It couldn't have been more perfect and even today, the first set, I mean, I felt great out there, I was not nervous, I wasn't thinking, this is the semifinal of a Grand Slam, I was just happy to be on the court, and it has been a long time since I have had this feeling. Throughout the hole tournament I was happy to be on the court.
Q. The long eighth game of the first set, you had ten-- it took you ten game points to put it away. A lot of players might have cracked after you won that, but do you marvel at Steffi's mental strength and ability to be patient and wait and wait until it's her turn to take over the game?
MANUELA MALEEVA-FRAGNIERE: Well, this game was very important for the first set. I think where things turned around were in the second game of the second set, when I had advantages and I lost my serve. We played again a long game, and from there on she was ahead of me. I was all the time behind, I was trying to catch up with her.
Q. Were you wearing anything on your finger, any protection?
MANUELA MALEEVA-FRAGNIERE: Sorry?
Q. Were you wearing anything--
MANUELA MALEEVA-FRAGNIERE: I have a splint under my finger which is not very comfortable. I cannot grip the racket with this-- with this finger and this is why I had problem with my backhand returns on her hard serves, because I still had much pain and when it was a hard serve I was praying just to put the ball in somehow.
Q. Will you be here next year?
MANUELA MALEEVA-FRAGNIERE: I don't think so. I wish I would be right now, because it feels so good, you know, it's been such a great tournament, but from now until next year, there is so much time and I think things will change.
Q. Were you still thinking about tennis towards the end of the third set during changeovers or were you thinking, well, this might be my last time on Stadium court, I'm just going to enjoy myself.
MANUELA MALEEVA-FRAGNIERE: No I-- no, I was thinking only tennis. I was concentrating on each point. Probably even-- I think it's only after the match point that I thought, well, it's over, you know, the U.S. Open is over.
Q. What will you take away from this? What will you remember most from this tournament--
MANUELA MALEEVA-FRAGNIERE: A great satisfaction within myself that I have not felt in many years. Happiness of being on the court, realizing what good tennis means, being really happy on the court.
Q. What does tennis mean to you, Manuela? What do you take from the game, you've been out there so long, what do you think of tennis in the overall context of your life of wife and potentially a mom; what will tennis play-- what role does it have?
MANUELA MALEEVA-FRAGNIERE: Tennis has taught me a lot of things, self discipline, courage, toughness and these are things I can carry throughout my life. These are things that tennis taught me and I'm grateful for it. I think I grew up, I matured on the tennis tour and-- well, that's all.
Q. Can you feel Steffi's mental strength while you're on the court?
MANUELA MALEEVA-FRAGNIERE: Her mental what?
Q. Her strength, attempts to impose her will on the match, do you feel that on the court?
MANUELA MALEEVA-FRAGNIERE: Well, yes, I did. I mean, this is why she is number 1, because she is tough mentally and although she was not playing very well in the first set and I was playing great, she didn't-- she didn't go down, she lifted her game.
Q. Is this good-bye or do you think-- I mean Evonne Goolagong came --
MANUELA MALEEVA-FRAGNIERE: I'm sorry.
Q. Is this good-bye? Could you see yourself coming back one day maybe after being a mother?
MANUELA MALEEVA-FRAGNIERE: No think so, no, tennis is improving so fast and I cannot take out one year from the tour and comeback. I think it will be impossible to come back at the level that I am right now and I wouldn't enjoy being any less than what I am now.
Q. What would you like to have people say about you when you retire? What would you like to have people say about you?
MANUELA MALEEVA-FRAGNIERE: Difficult question. I wish, probably that, for example, people often have told me that I look sad on the court. I would like to know that that I have been always very happy on the court and it has been just an expression on my face that even I don't understand when I see tapes. I would just like people to know that I have been happy all my life and that tennis has given me a lot and I'm proud of what I have achieved.
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