Classic interview with Patty from 1998 -
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Classic interview with Patty from 1998

(from Ace Magazine, November 1998)

ACE: What is the biggest difference in your game compared with a year ago?

PATTY: The consistency is the biggest difference. I've played at a high level all year and my title win in Hannover was the best one.

ACE: Was tennis always easy for you?

PATTY: No, but I've always believed in myself. There haven't been too many changes in my game. But I'm working with a physical coach to improve my fitness. It's helped motivate me to have Hingis always the big deal in Switzerland. I was amazed to see how easily she beat top players and I told myself that I could do it too.

ACE: Have you ever beaten Hingis?

PATTY: I used to beat her in the juniors, so I know that I can be a top player like her. I've lost to her six times, but I beat her in an event at the beginning of 1995 when she was already on tour. I was still playing satellites, but I will never forget it. I remember wishing that it would be nice to be at home to celebrate it.

ACE: You seem to get better press and public response in Switzerland than Hingis now.

PATTY: The press in Switzerland do say nice things about me. I don't know why they are not happy with Hingis. Probably because she wasn't born there. They don't really enjoy her victories because they probably haven't accepted her as their own.

ACE: What is it like playing in the Fed Cup with Hingis?

PATTY: It's great, because we haven't lost when playing together. Sometimes we joke that I should be Melanie's (Martina's mother's) child because I look more like her than Martina does. Martina's mum and I have the same wavy hair.

ACE: In your second year on tour, is it everything you expected?

PATTY: I like being on tour. The hotels are nice and it's never boring. I have a lot of friends. I don't like travelling a lot, but there's no way I can change that.

ACE: You tried to combine going to university and playing on the tour. How did that work out?

PATTY: I went to school for nine years, and I had three more to go for university. But I finally had to stop because it was six days a week, until four or five in the evening, which was too much with the tennis as well. And I have tennis goals now that I want to accomplish. At first, I just wanted to be in the top ten, but now I've achieved that, I want to be top three or top five.

ACE: Has success seemed to have come very fast for you?

PATTY: No, actually it came slowly. I had to work my way up from the satellites. Only this year everything happened fast. But it took a while to get to this point, and I'm happy with the success. I've received a lot of attention from the Swiss press, not worldwide. But I have been able to handle it and all the requests. I wish that I had more time for myself and to meet my friends, but I'm happy with the ways things are going.

ACE: How do you keep yourself occupied on the road?

PATTY: I read a lot and go to the movies. I like mysteries and thrillers the best.

ACE: What would you be doing if you weren't playing tennis?

PATTY: I would have been studying languages and have got myself a "real" job. The Swiss don't consider playing tennis a real job. To them it's not that big a deal.

ACE: How long do you expect to play on the women's tour?

PATTY: I hope that I can play six to eight more years before stopping and having a family. I have a boyfriend, but it's so difficult to build up a relationship because I'm on the road about 40 weeks a year. He's 27 and an engineer so he can't travel with me all the time. He plays tennis too but never became a pro. He sometimes travels with me and gets excited seeing all those famous players.

ACE: How did you begin working with Van Harpen?

PATTY: Eric wanted to become a coach for the Swiss players. The wife of the president of the Swiss Tennis Federation told me to go and play with him for a week. He was really interested in me and was sure that I could become a good player. He knows what I need to do to because he has worked with so many others, like Conchita Martinez. He's helped me a lot, especially with strategy.

ACE: If you could meet anyone, who would it be?

PATTY: Brad Pitt or Harrison Ford.

ACE: Is there anyone that you would like to change places with for one day?"

PATTY: No, I would never change places because I love my life. I love to be with my family and with my coach. I love my position in tennis.

ACE: If you had three wishes, what would they be?

PATTY: I would wish that my family was always healthy and that nothing happens to them. I also would wish that I could win a Grand Slam title, preferably the French Open. And my third wish would be that there would not be so many injustices in the world. So many people have to live in poverty and in war. It's traumatic what happens in some places.

ACE: What are your biggest weapons?

PATTY: My forehand is my biggest wepaon because I can play any angle with it. I'm also really calm and realistic on tour, which is good because you have to survive all the ups and downs during the whole year. It's easy to get impatient and want everything at once.

ACE: What has been the low point for you so far with your tennis?

PATTY: I haven't really had a low point. Everything has gone very well.

ACE: What have you bought with your winnings?

PATTY: A keyboard. I love to play the piano at home. But I'm always away in Majorca training now so I bought a keyboard. I like to play "Don't let the sun go down on me" and other Elton John songs. Then I don't get homesick. The tennis does keep me busy, but my keyboard keeps me from wanting to go home all the time.

ACE: What would you need to do to be No1 in the world?

PATTY: Of course, there are a lot of things for me to work on. I have to improve my serve and volley and learn to be more aggressive instead of just playing from the baseline. I need to be faster and maybe in better shape on court.

ACE: Do you think about being No1?

PATTY: No, not like Martina probably did. She was probably born with it in mind. But I was never brought up that way with my family. Tennis was not that big a deal. At the moment I'm just thinking top five. No1 is a whole other thing. I think it is great that Martina is No1, but for me it still seems far off. If it happens, that's great, but I'm just going to enjoy what I'm doing. And if things keep going well, maybe I'll start thinking about it more.


Patty in 1998

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