Originally created 09/07/98

Seles and Hingis: the talk of the town



NEW YORK -- There could be plenty of chatter when Monica Seles plays Martina Hingis in the U.S. Open quarterfinals. And not at one another.

Seles and Hingis spent much of Sunday muttering to themselves, complaining about the conditions and the quality of their games.

And there was plenty to talk about with both struggling, Seles defeating Kimberly Po 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 and Hingis subduing Nathalie Dechy 6-4, 6-4.

With winds whipping through the National Tennis Center, every serve was an adventure, every return an event.

"The conditions were so tough," Seles said. "It was so windy. Just the whole match. I never felt that I could control where the ball was going. It's tough in that wind to take any control because it just swirls around.

"This is more than wind. You hit a ball and it goes here instead of going here. It can vary by two meters. I never played in conditions like this."

If it's any consolation, Hingis had the same experience. And by the same two meters.

"I had trouble," she said. "The ball is coming right at you and then, all of a sudden, it's two meters next to you. You kind of want to hit the ball already and it's going away and away. You feel like, `Hey, what's the matter?' You think it's going to be an easy shot. Boom! You hit it in the net or something goes wrong."

The conditions wore Seles and Hingis down, forcing a change in their tactics.

"I became a lot more tentative," Seles said. "I didn't feel if I hit the ball, the ball is going to go there. I felt kind of very unsure. And I don't like that feeling."

Hingis said the wind was shifting constantly. She'd have the wind at her back one moment and an instant later, it was blowing in her face.

It's enough to make a player talk to herself.

Seles said she was holding frequent discussions.

"If I'm positive, I say, `Come on!' If I'm negative, then I say terrible stuff to myself," she said.

In what language does she conduct these discussions?

"In every language that comes to my mind," she said, "depending on my choice of words."

Hingis thinks that's not at all unusual.

"I guess everybody talks to herself," she said.

Hingis said she sometimes talks to herself in German. Other times, she tries to think graphically.

"You kind of have the pictures of what you could do, how you could do it better," she said. "Then suddenly, it doesn't happen, again and again."

And that's when the talking starts all over again.