April 14, 2002
AN INTERVIEW WITH:
THE 2001 DEFENDING CHAMPION: JENNIFER CAPRIATI
Q. Can you start with your pseudo match yesterday in practice?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: My what? What does that mean?
Q. One of your friends told me that you were playing with Toby yesterday
in practice, and you won. So that's what I was asking.
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Oh, for my practice partner? Yeah. Usually that's what
I do at tournaments is just find a few guys, and yesterday it was somebody
else in the morning, and it's nice to get the guys around here and try
to beat up on them.
Q. Which you did.
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Uh?huh.
Q. Jennifer, coming back to a tournament where you're the defending
champion must be a nice feeling wherever it is. Can you talk about coming
back here and maybe the memories and the feeling?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah. I mean I remember it was great for me. It was
great for me last year, new site, new facility and everything, and started
off well for me. I played really well in the finals. I had a great match
against Martina, and it was really the start of my clay court season.
So and from here, you know, I went on to the Euro Open, and I played well
there. And so it's a good starting point to see how I'm going to play
on the clay and get used to it. And the people here are great, and the
fans are really supportive. It's a great stadium.
Q. How are you feeling on the clay in practice, at least?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I've had the past couple weeks to practice on it, so
no matches yet, but you know, I'm just ?? I think I'm getting accustomed
to it again.
Q. You've had the experience of defending a title successfully. How
do you look forward to the French being it's a different surface and one
that I think you probably don't think is your better surface?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Well, I used to think that. Maybe I don't think that
anymore. I think I can play well on all surfaces, and you know, this is
where it starts for me now. It's just to gear up for the French and hopefully
peak by then. And I did it earlier this year, tried to defend a title,
so that part, you know, I won't be kind of nervous about.
But still, I mean it's going to be exciting, so there will be some nerves
probably for me going into the French, but you know, I'm not trying to
think about that too much right now. I'm just trying to concentrate on
here and the next tournament.
Q. Jennifer, with the comeback that you've had, the fact that you've
obtained the ranking that you have, are you putting a lot more expectations
on yourself, a lot more pressure to go out and win all the time?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: No. I don't put more pressure on myself. Maybe, you
know, there's more ?? I expect myself to do well at every tournament,
just because that's the way I've been going, you know, for the last year
and a half or so. And so you know, that's what I work for, and I feel
confident about my game, and I don't think there's a reason why I shouldn't
do otherwise. But I mean it's okay if I don't win every tournament or
whatever, don't make the finals. But I expect myself to at least give
a good performance, yeah.
Q. Saying that, though, do you step on the court expecting it or are
you just hoping?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Well, I expect myself to give a good performance. You
know, I don't know if I'm going to win or whatever. Win or lose, I mean
I just try my best, and hopefully that turns out the way I like.
Q. Now that you're comfortable with your game, have you learned to
be comfortable also with being a celebrity? Has that become easier as
you've gone on?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah. I mean I don't think it's changed really, the
way I used to think before and think now. I never really looked at myself
as that or paid much attention if I'm a celebrity or not. So if there's
more hype and more attention, I mean I know there is now, but I mean I
really ?? I don't think about it, and I don't look at myself as being
like that. I don't live like that.
Q. Do you like being surrounded by the kids, though?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: By the what?
Q. The kids who are saying "autograph, autograph, autograph."
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Oh. Yeah, I mean they're great, and I mean they're
my fans, and you know, that's why I do this and why I have fun playing.
It's just to see their reactions and see how much joy they get out of
just watching me play. So that makes me feel good.
Q. "Happy" seems like another happy member of the household.
Is this a rarity, because he's such a big dog, you don't get to travel
with him too much?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Right.
Q. How did you kind of get into that habit?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Well, I brought him last year, and all the other dogs
were here, too, but I guess this year somebody thought about putting a
doggie park, and it's a very good idea, and I think they should have it
at more tournaments. Obviously it's difficult with the hotels. That's
the main reason why I probably don't bring my big dog around.
Q. You drove obviously?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: No, he flew.
Q. Is it nice coming into tournaments as the defending champ? Do you
like that label?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah. I do. That means that, you know, I won it last
year and I played well, and you know, I like the fact that the stakes
are high and that makes me be more determined to come back and play well
and kind of put in my own mind that I have to play well. And you know,
I don't want to lose all the points and everything that goes behind it,
but without like putting too much pressure.
Q. Do you find it hard not getting complacent about your game at times?
A. Yeah. You mean ??
Q. Yeah. You constantly want to improve. I mean when you're at the
top, it's tough to improve from being the best. You know what I mean?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I think there's always room for improvement. You know,
I mean it's almost good to not win every match and ?? I mean no one can
do that, I don't think. And you know, it's just every day, I mean, you
never know, even if you're playing your best, someone else can come out
and play better. But I think it's good to have a few setbacks and then,
you know, you keep having goals and keep trying to go forward.
Q. What's the biggest adjustment you need to make in your game when
you change to the clay?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I think mentally it's a big change from the hard court.
I mean you just have to be more patient and be willing to ?? you know,
you gotta know the points are going to be longer and it's just not going
to end in two or three shots like it is on hard court. And so obviously
to do that, you have to be in good shape. And so that's a big thing is
being in shape, and obviously you've just gotta put more spin on the ball
and not hit so flat.
Q. Jennifer, can you talk about the draw, your side of the bracket
and how it's a difficult run to the finals?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah. But I think both sides are pretty tough. You
know, I just take it one match at a time. I mean now it's like every match,
even the first round is tough. So you just gotta look at that, and you
know, I really am not looking ahead too much anyway in the draw. Just
kind of take it one at a time.
Q. How does No. 1 equal up say to either winning the U. S. open or
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Well, I mean they're both very important to me. I mean
without winning those Grand Slams I wouldn't be No. 1. So it's like they
just go together, and being No. 1 is just proof of my accomplishments,
and that's just what I think about. And I mean with the point system,
and it's kind of changing back and forth a lot anyway. You know, there's
a couple players, between me and Venus, it changes sometimes. It was going
from week to week. So I guess the results is more important to me right
Q. You've had marginal success with Venus and Serena. Do you feel
like you're on the verge of kind of ?? every other player you pretty much
dominate. Are you on the verge of kind of getting the answer to them as
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I don't think I dominate every other player. I mean
I still ?? you know, when Lindsay was playing, I had a tough time with
her; and even Monica, I won the last time, but I mean it was a tough match.
So I think there's a few. And yeah, once I get over a certain hump in
my game and kind of really look at what doesn't take me over and make
me win those matches, once I can get past that, I think I'll have better
success and maybe more consistency.
Q. Do you know what that hump is yet or you haven't figured that out?
You're not telling anybody?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah. I mean it's something that I look at in my own
game, and I can't really explain it anyway.
Q. Jennifer, the hype we talked about in women's tennis, we saw earlier
today Anna Kournikova practicing and hundreds of people there maybe not
to watch tennis, but to watch her. What are your thoughts on that?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I'd rather only comment about myself right now.
Q. Jennifer, at Scottsdale, a couple of your matches, it looks like
you almost try to let somebody get ahead of you. Is that your philosophy?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: No, not at all. I mean I really don't want to do that
because definitely I mean I don't think I'm that good to be able to do
that and think I'm always going to come back and win or whatever. You
know, it's just sometimes you start off slow and the other player, I mean
they're going to be really ?? you're always more determined to beat the
higher ranked player. So sometimes I come out and I'm not ready for them
or you know, so that definitely is not something I want to get into a
habit with. But you know, I do play better when it gets tougher and when
I feel like I really have to play well, but I'm not doing it on purpose,
Q. What's your schedule into the French after here?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Pretty much the same, just playing in Berlin and then
Rome and then taking the week off.
Q. You'll stay over there, though?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah.
Q. Jennifer, how do you like playing Fed Cup? Is that important to
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I haven't played for a long time, and you know, I played
in the past when I was younger and it was a good time. I mean it was a
different experience for me, and you know, just playing in the whole team
event. And maybe the last couple years I really haven't been serious about
it or doesn't seem like everyone else is really serious about it. But
I don't know.
I think, you know, the format, you know, as long as it's easier for the
players to play and fit it in the schedule, then you know, I'm all for
playing it. But it's tough when we're playing so much all year and playing
for ourselves, it's like it's tough to really give it much importance
because you gotta reserve for your singles career.
Q. What do you think would be the best format, going back to that
everything in one week or?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I like it that way. I mean, you know, it's tough, especially
at the end of the year to come back after the Championships. Is that still
how it is, the Fed Cup?
JIM FUHSE: After. You play the Championships the week before this year.
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Oh, the week before?
Q. It's worse.
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I don't know if that's much better. Yeah. I mean I
don't really know. There's something that has to be better about it.
Q. When are you going to Charlotte?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: When I'm done here, I guess.
END OF INTERVIEW