2014/07/28

Notes and Quotes from Day 1 of the 2012 US Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Some of the more off-beat questions and answers from Day 1 of the 2012 US Open.
Q.  Not too many WTA players are named Sam.  Can you take a moment and say like what the upside of having a name like that is, is there any downside, or give us on a rainy day a good story about your name.
SAMANTHA STOSUR:  No, there is no downside.  I’m happy ‑‑ I guess over the course of my life, my career, Samantha got shortened to Sam.  The one person that always called me Samantha was my grandfather.  It’s good.  You certainly don’t get confused in the locker room.  You hear your name and you know it’s about you.
It’s fine.
 
Q.  So is your grandfather a traditionalist and not happy for it to be shortened?
SAMANTHA STOSUR:  Yeah, I guess he was.  My mom and dad only called me Samantha when I was little and did something naughty, so I didn’t hear it too often, I don’t think.
I guess it’s one of those names that is not as common.
Q.  You very obviously are one of the best tennis players in the world, but you talk about sort of putting match after match together.  Could you talk about the art of sort of putting seven big matches together on the biggest stage?  Part of that of course is getting past the big three or four that we now have in men’s tennis.
JOHN ISNER:  Yeah, I don’t really know much about that art.  Actually, I have never done it.  (Laughter.)  The closest I have come was last year at this tournament.  I had a little bit of a taste of what it’s like.
You know, I know it’s so tough.  You know, I think for me, my goal is, my first goal is to get through the first week.  That’s so, so hard.
You know, I want to win my first few matches and take it from there.  I was able to get to do that last year.  My round of 16 match I won.  It was a really close match, and I had to turn around and play the very next day because of all the rain.  That was a bit of a tough turnaround.  Ran into a guy who was just better than me.
You know, like I said, I don’t know much about it, but I know it’s very hard.  I got to the quarterfinals last year, and I’d love to get back to that spot this year and have another crack at it.
Q.  Do you feel anything different in your game since you started working with Carlos?
NA LI:  Maybe a little bit change; maybe not.
 
Q.  What changed?
NA LI:  I say maybe change; maybe not.  (Laughter.)
Q.     Families sometimes can be very, very tricky.  What was the hardest part day in, day out of having your husband as your coach?
NA LI:  Yeah.  I mean, after I got new coach I think for both me and my husband I think much, much easier.  Love is love; coach is coach.  You have to separate.
You know, I mean, after I change the coach, didn’t say my husband didn’t do a good job.  I think he’s still doing good job.  But for both sometimes it’s too much, you know.  Like it’s really tough to find a balance between coaching and husband.

Q.  After all the development, the planning, the trips to Spain, it’s finally going to come out, if I understand correctly, but there’s a little bit of a problem.  There’s a guy named Roger Federer who has Lindor truffles.  As a marketing person now, how would you tell America to try Sugarpova and not Roger’s?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well that’s chocolate.  Mine are gummies and gumballs.  It’s like, What’s your preference?  That’s made in Switzerland; this is made in Spain.  No, a lot of differences.

I mean, those are quite different.  I’m just happy that it’s finally over with.  I worked on it for a long time.  There’s not much to be done from my end in a way except promote it and letting the world know about it.

Q.  Ultimately can a gumball stand up to a truffle?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It depends what your preference is.  I mean, mid‑afternoon I’m not a big truffle person; I’m more of a gum girl.  But it depends what everybody likes.

Q.  Are you to the point in your career where you’re starting to get old jokes from your peers?
JAMES BLAKE:  I have been that way for a while.  The thing is I knew I was going to get them, because when I was a kid starting out around here I dished them out.  So I knew they would come back to haunt me.
I remember I used to make fun of Todd Martin.  Todd Martin was one of my key guys I would get.  I made fun of him for taking so long to warm up, for his gray hair, for all that kind of stuff, for just in general being old.
He said, Just wait, just wait.  You will be, too.  Now I’m getting it from everyone.  I deserve it, because if I dish it out, I’ve got to be able to take it.  I’m getting the old jokes, the grandpa jokes, and I’m okay with that.
Q.  There was stunning news about Lance.  In our sport, there has been incidents.  Do you think the situation of performance enhancements are under control in tennis?  Is there any problem?  What are your thoughts on that topic?
JAMES BLAKE:  In tennis I think they do a great job of testing.  Of course at times it’s inconvenient to me when I get woken up at 6:00 a.m. to pee in a cup.  It’s their job.  I know they’re doing it.  I know if they’re doing it to me, they’re doing it to everyone else.  I’m happy too do that.
I may not be cheery at 6:00 in the morning when they’re coming, but I’m happy to do that and I’m happy to take part of in the USADA and WADA regulations.
I don’t know what to think about Lance.  Cycling has seen what seems to be like the steroid era in baseball where it seems like everyone is clouded.  You don’t know.  Like he said, he’s passed like 500,600 tests.
But have no idea.  I don’t know Lance at all.  Never met him.  I don’t know what he’s like.  I know his story is inspirational.  I know how many people he’s helped.  That’s incredible.  However he did it, it’s still inspirational, no matter what he did.
He’s definitely someone that makes a difference in this world in a positive way.  I don’t know if erasing seven titles will matter in terms of his true meaning to this world, because it’s going to be a positive one no matter if he has seven titles or not.
In tennis I think I’m sure there are guys who are doing it, getting away with it, and getting ahead of the testers.  But, you know, I do my best to go out there and win and give myself whatever advantage I can legally in terms of just protein shakes and Gatorade and that kind of stuff.
I’ve gotta believe it’s out there at a level playing field, but I also am realistic with this much money involved, $1.9 million for the winner of the US Open, people will try to find a way to get ahead.
It’s unfortunate, but I hope tennis is doing the best job of trying to catch those guys trying to beat the system.
Q.  Along those lines, do you have any theories on Federer as a parent, fountain of youth thing going on here?
JAMES BLAKE:  The guy’s a freak.  He’s so good.  It’s really incredible.  I could spend another hour talking about the things I’m impressed with by him.  His streak of quarterfinals, most people would have that an incredible streak just to play that many slams in a row, and he has to make it make quarterfinals or better.
To do it at that level and not injure yourself is amazing.  It’s so easy to go out and roll your ankle or tear up your knee or for your back to be sore.  For him not to do that is amazing.  I think it shows how much work he probably puts in stretching, getting his body strong enough and physically ready to play all these slams.
You know, he has the luxury of being able to pick and choose his tournaments.  He obviously is pretty comfortable with his ranking and where he’s sitting not needing to worry about that, but it’s still really, really impressive.  He focuses on the big picture and is always ready for these slams.
I need to worry about one match at a time.  I can’t worry about quarters or semis or finals right now.
I’m still kind of scratching to get through these matches and get my confidence back and feel like I’m ready to compete.  I don’t think that will change if I’m playing someone that’s 1, 2, or 3 in the world.
I have been fortunate enough.  I am an elder statesman.  I have been around and have won a lot of matches.  I have beaten guys 1 in the world, I’ve beaten guys that are top 3, top 4, top 5 plenty of times.  There is no reason for me to go out there and play one of those guys and be scared.
I think it will take an unbelievable effort.  I will have to play my best tennis.
Q.  First round do you worry too much about your performance or is it just a case of trying to get through?
ANDY MURRAY:  I won in three sets.  You know, I didn’t serve very well.  Only lost seven games in three sets, so I must have done something well today.
Bogomolov, you know, I think he was seeded here last year.  He made the third round.  He plays his best tennis on the hard courts.  He’s a tough player.
So, I mean, I played fairly well from the back of the court.  I just would have liked to have served a bit better because, you know, I wasn’t getting many free points on my serve.
Because of that, there were a lot more rallies.  When he’s in a rhythm, he’s tough to break down.
 
Q.  I meant more in general in first‑round matches do you worry too much about your performance?
ANDY MURRAY:  No.  I mean, sometimes I play great at the start of tournaments and not done well; sometimes I’ve played badly and got better.
I mean, in Australia this year I struggled in my first‑round match with my game a bit.  Physically didn’t feel great.  Then went on to have a good tournament.
You know, the first‑round matches are tricky.  Like I say, the conditions were hard today for both of us.  That’s probably why it was quite an up‑and‑down match.
Q.  Do the other players see Andy Murray differently now that he’s won the Olympics or does it not compare to a Grand Slam?
IVAN DODIG:  No, I think is for me like these four players, everybody can beat everybody.  Of course with these Olympics he showed that he’s ready for big things, so we will see.
Everybody exciting about him.

Q.  Are you working with Mark Knowles here?  You guys in a lot of ways are peers.

MARDY FISH:  He’s like 20 years older than me (laughter).  Just kidding.

No, he’s helped me a ton.  Maybe none more evident than tonight when I lost my serve in both of those sets to serve it out and still was able to mentally focus back and realize that, you know, I haven’t just lost the set, he’s just gotten even in the set so there’s still opportunities to win the set.

In times past maybe I would have struggled with that scenario, especially twice in a row.  And that’s hard.  Any time you lose one of those two sets, you’re in a dogfight.  I knew that if I did win that second set, that was going to be a big, big factor in the match.

I mean, that’s a long way back for him after two hours of pretty physical tennis.  It’s pretty humid out there.  Not necessarily the heat, but the humidity.  You could feel it.  It’s pretty humid.  That was pretty physical.

So that was a long way back for him, so obviously felt good to win that.

 

Q.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how good was your serve today, knowing what you can do on a good day?

JACK SOCK:  I think my second serve was a 9.63.  I think my first serve was pretty good.  I mean, when I missed the first serve, I think my second serve really helped me.  I was able to start off the point ahead even with the second serve.

When I think I was down a game, my serve was a 10 coming up big on some points where I was down or some games where I was down.

Q.  A lot of Europeans want to win Roland Garros or Wimbledon; for many Americans it’s winning the US Open or becoming No. 1.  If I recall correctly, you said your goal for your career is to make friends.  Could you to talk about that.

KIM CLIJSTERS:  I don’t think I said it that way.  Obviously my goal in my career was obviously to be the best tennis player that I can be, but at the same time not be, you know, antisocial and not spend 15 years on tour, and when you step away from the sport not having any friends at the end of the day.

I think, you know, it’s not like I started on tour when I was 25 and I built up kind of a normal friendship base when I was home.  My friends were girls from tour.  You know, I have a few friends at home, but I think a lot of the girls I was close with, a lot of the girls, we went through puberty together, boyfriends on tour, and I think it’s something that we shared and talked about.

I don’t like to be on tour and not talking to players or not knowing kind of what’s behind the tennis player.  It’s not like it was the most important thing because I was here to play tennis, and still am.  But at the same time, there’s a place for work and focus and at the other times there is the social part.

Karen Pestaina is covering the US Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.

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