(September 5, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Posting player interviews throughout the day when allowed.
Note from the US Open Media Operations Guide as why Tennis Panorama News is allowed to post transcripts:
G. MONFILS/L. Pouille
6-4, 6-3, 6-3
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How happy are you with the way you won today? Are you content with the way you played? Straight sets is always good.
GAEL MONFILS: Yeah, I’m happy with my performance. I think it is never easy to play quarterfinal against a French guy, you know. I think I handled it pretty good mentally and tennistically.
I’m happy with that and where my game is. I see new or good stuff today. Serve was a bit better. I have been saying I think to the French press that I could serve faster. I think I did it great today.
Still moving good. I’m very happy.
Q. To get to this point of the tournament – first time in semifinals of the US Open – you have had electric and great matches here, but to be able to play in the semis, how happy are you with that?
GAEL MONFILS: Yeah, I think I missed a good chance two years ago against Roger, but, you know, I just live now, and now I’m happy. I played great tennis so far.
You know, I have two days to recover to play my first semis here. I’m more than happy. I’m happy where I am now, so I gonna prepare great my match.
Q. Sometimes it seemed like to us that you play just as much to entertain the crowd; spectacular shots. Today it seemed like you were, very focused, playing a sharp, intelligent match, and controlled. Is that accurate, or what’s your feeling about that?
GAEL MONFILS: You know, about that is somehow — you know, those match, you never get, you know, those ball to entertain, how you say.
If, today, you know, I drop my racquet and I do a slide you will say I will entertain people, you know, no matter what. Sometime I can hear that — someone told me that my shoe laces, you know, it was one point on perfect win, clean win against Baghdatis. You make it up. Oh, like he’s doing a show.
Or if I do a trick shot, one, and still kill it, you will say, I’m a showman. So, you know, this one, with all the respect to everyone, is you guys to put me on the spot.
Today I think I haven’t the chance to do it, but Lucas, hit two good tweeners. I don’t think you will tell him he tried to entertain.
Q. You’re 30 years old now. Has your philosophy changed about these things? Are you trying to be more conservative with your body or anything like this?
GAEL MONFILS: Yeah, not really. I think I’m very blessed genetically, you know. I guess the only thing is a bit different the recovery. I think it’s a bit tougher.
But if not, I’m even stronger than before, I think.
Q. If you were to face Novak Djokovic, how would you describe what that match will mean to you and what it will depend on?
GAEL MONFILS: I have a second opportunity to get to my first slam final, and the opportunity to maybe beat him for the first time in the main tour, to beat the world No. 1. That’s it.
Q. What do you think the outcome will depend on? What is most important for you to do to give yourself the best chance to win?
GAEL MONFILS: I have today to think about it. (Smiling.)
Q. Are you having fun?
GAEL MONFILS: Always. You know, always. No matter what, looks maybe a bit more serious, like everyone mention it this year, but I play tennis because I have fun. I play tennis because I love the sport.
If not, I won’t wake up every morning, train, because most of people think that jumping or do trick shot is gifted. Yes, it’s gifted, but is a lot of work. I won’t say I work on the trick shot, but it’s like I think physically I’m one of the best.
And to do that is because you’re in a great shape, you know. If I don’t have funny I stop playing tennis, for sure.
Q. Doesn’t matter whether you’re entertaining or whatever, you’re having fun?
GAEL MONFILS: Yeah, have fun.
Q. Does it frustrate you when people talk about trick shots and entertaining?
GAEL MONFILS: Make me laugh. You know, make me laugh, because honestly, if I can do it today, let’s say today if I have a 360 smash, definitely I do it, but I don’t have the ball.
Sometime I have it and I do it, and then the first thing is gonna be talk about is all match it was an exhibition and maybe I hit one shot.
So it’s funny. Now, you know, I get to be more consistent with the winning, you know. Because, I mean, now it’s easier to say, Oh, because I’m winning more, you know, more matches, so it’s tougher for some people to say that I’m just a showman.
Now I’m winning and faire le show.
Q. Do you ever want people to understand that you’re…
GAEL MONFILS: No, you know, I always say if I have the ball I do it because I love it. I think when I dive on the court I not dive for people. Come on. To be honest, I gonna hurt myself for people? No.
I dive because I want to win the point. Definitely I want to win the point. You know, when you make the show, honestly, it’s to entertain, but it’s to win. So what’s the point to make the show and lose actually.
That’s why people think, Oh, he’s jumping, he’s sliding. In the end, you think I’m stupid? (Laughter.)
Q. Novak could have a tough match, perhaps will have a tough match with Jo tonight, but he’s had a rather easy US Open so far. Is it important for top players to be challenged early on to get things going later in a tournament, or if you are winning well and things are going well it doesn’t matter for you?
GAEL MONFILS: I mean, for him is different, you know. He’s super confident for years. I think doesn’t need many matches to feel his best tennis.
So I think everybody is different. I’m guy I don’t need much tennis to feel confident. Me, myself, it’s more about if I feel 100% physically is good enough to play tough tennis.
Q. You mentioned that match two years ago against Roger and how you had a chance. Did that one stick with you? Did you think about that a lot afterwards?
GAEL MONFILS: Not really, you know. What stays I had a wonderful time. It was one of the greatest match I play, you know. It’s always great to play against Roger, you know. Even if you have match points, it happen in sport.
I gave the best I had. You know, when you have opportunities you try to get it, and I think I got it back today to be in semis.
So I have been waiting for two years.
Q. You’re quite a sports fan. Do you ever learn anything from watching other sports like football or basketball that can help you on the tennis court?
GAEL MONFILS: Definitely. I mean, this year, you know, with the — I mean, I have been respecting a lot what LeBron James — I mean, what he done this year was unreal. His mindset and the work he put in to win this final, I think this is big inspiration for me.
Q. You were asked earlier about the possibility of facing Novak. I wanted to ask you to talk about the possibility of facing Jo in the semis, and both maybe what you think would be the key to that match, but also if you could speak a little bit about how long you have known each other and what it might mean to face Jo in a Grand Slam semifinal.
GAEL MONFILS: Oh, it would be a huge dream, I think. A dream. Definitely we will choose the final, but semis would be good enough.
You know, it’s not a good friend. He’s one of my best friends. He’s a brother. He’s someone I grew up with. He’s someone I look at when I was younger because he was a bit older than me.
You know, we have been through this Federation center. He was stronger than us and playing earlier, you know, the futures and everything. We always, you know, put the work to play with him, to be with Jo, you know.
So we found out, you know, ourself on the tour together, playing Davis Cup together. Go to Rio together. Share a room together in Rio. Do some fun stuff together, you know, since actually we have been 10, 11. It’s been great.
I mean, if you can have a reward and play, I mean, the semifinal in two days, it would be amazing.
Q. (Regarding five-set match with Djokovic.)
GAEL MONFILS: I mean, I remember, yeah, that was a tricky match actually. With the roof will be different, because it was taking a long time and I lost this one 7-5 in the fifth.
It was long time ago I think now. Novak is the best player ever, and that time he wasn’t. So I think it was just a good memory.
Q. But now you’re saying he is the best player ever.
GAEL MONFILS: He is. Yeah, he is. I mean, so far — when I say “ever,” not yet, because it’s still Roger. But so far what he’s doing is amazing. He’s better player than me, definitely. I think I have no shame to say it. He is better than me.
You can be the best, but one match is enough, you know. If I face him, I will take the one match as enough.
Q. You have been really consistent this year. I’m just wondering, what do you think is the key? Like you’re healthy? Maybe the confidence just keeps like helping you?
GAEL MONFILS: Yeah, my health has been big trouble I think all my career, and now it is somehow stabilized. I think I work differently. I think I understand different stuff.
I think it helps me a lot to be stronger.
Q. What’s the secret of success of the French players? This tournament especially, but generally speaking. You always have new talent and you have always a group of players in last few players, in the last eight, which no country has. What do you think is the secret?
GAEL MONFILS: I don’t know if secret, but I think it’s good. I think it’s good for sure for our country.
But I think it’s — I’m not sure it’s a secret. I think we all work hard, and somehow we know we make it in the same moment.
Obviously, you know, sometime it was I think the States, was Spain, you know, other countries. At the end it happen here, you know. I think I have no words to say what to say about that, but the only thing I hope is maybe next year we’re gonna have maybe even one or two more.
Q. You said you feel Novak is one of the greatest players ever, possibly the greatest player ever. What do you admire most about him?
GAEL MONFILS: His consistency, his game, the way he hit the ball clean.
I mean, so far, you know, it’s very hard to remember a match where. You know, he wasn’t hitting the ball clean. You know, maybe one or two a year. It’s amazing. The way tactically he handle, you know, every tactic, like we try to made against him.
And I think, yeah, so far he’s the best. I think he’s a great champion.
Q. How important is it for you to have a coach? How is your relationship with your trainer? What’s it like?
GAEL MONFILS: I think it’s important, for sure, for me because I need to have someone that can tell me, you know, drive me, I would say, drive me a little bit.
I got a lots going on with my tennis, which mean sometime I want to defend, I want to attack, I want to go to the net.
I think I can actually make all those shots myself, but it’s easier when someone drive you and help you to find your way, you know.
I think Mikael do it pretty good.
Q. You earlier mentioned LeBron James. Have you ever had a chance to meet him? And if you did, what would you want to ask him?
GAEL MONFILS: No, I never have this chance, but, you know, if I met him first time, first thing I would tell you is I want to dunk on you. (Laughter.)
No, I might ask him, I don’t know, so many questions. You know, I watch a lot of the commentary on him. Got many question about how he is, how he feels, how it is to be the leader, like a great champion playing with him. How do you think about everything. You know, I think I’d be a great day if I can.
Q. You mentioned your health being good and working differently now. What are you doing differently? Maybe some examples. Is it a new diet? More time in the gym?
GAEL MONFILS: I working better. I working better. Differently.
I’m not always talk about how I do it, but — what I can say I find a way to take care of my knee, take care of my body, you know, take care of everything. So far it’s good.
A. KERBER/R. Vinci
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Can you tell us the first set, which you were behind three times and you were able to recover. How was difficult? Were you tense? You started to play much better later.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I think the key of the match was the first set. I mean, it was really close and tough. It’s always difficult to play against Roberta.
I mean, she’s a tough opponent with her slice. Yeah, I was trying to staying in the match and not thinking that I’m the break down. Just going for it, yeah.
Keeping my mind a little bit relaxed, and, yeah, staying in the moment. I think that was my key also like for the first set to being a little bit more relax and had not too negative, actually.
Q. You were not so much relaxed in the first set, correct?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, no, because it was tough and I knew that it’s really close now. So that’s why I talked to myself, Okay, stay positive. Think about the good things you did in the first set.
And that’s it. After I won the first set I was more relaxed at the end. I think in the second set what I did good that I played the first few games really tough so that I was up 3-0 very fast.
Then I could continue my good play, yeah, in the next few games.
Q. In the first set especially she used the dropshot a lot and you went to the net. Sometimes it worked; sometimes is didn’t. How do you feel you did against that? Do you think other players are going to use that going forward?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I know that she’s playing like this. I know how she play and I was actually prepared for that. So, yeah, it works sometimes, but I think a lot of players are playing like that already. Also me.
So I was not surprised that she was playing so many dropshots.
Q. Against a player like Roberta who hits so much variety and slices, is it especially important to stay patient and calm?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I think it was also important to have patience against her and wait for your shots, because she is actually a good mover and she brings a lot of balls back with her slice, as well.
So I was trying to moving good, and, yeah, keeping my eyes on the balls and going for it. Because the spin is a little bit different than when you play against others. They are just hitting the balls really strong.
Q. Did you watch her match against Serena last year? What did you make of her performance in that one?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: No. I just saw the final. I didn’t saw the semis. I saw a lot of matches after. She is a great player and she played very good in the last few months, so I was trying to, yeah, watch the match.
And also, I talked with my coach a little bit because he saw the match before. And, yeah, my plan was playing with patience and when I have the chance to going for it.
Q. This is becoming common for you now to get to this stage in a major. How would you describe the transformation in your game and your thinking to get to where it is becoming common for you?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I think it’s changed a little bit. For me, I’m going out on Arthur Ashe, on the stadium, and playing against top player, as well. I have I think right now more confidence to going out there.
I’m not thinking about quarters, semis, or whatever. I’m just going there to playing a good match and to win the match.
I know that I can beat everybody, and this is what gives me also a lot of confidence and motivation for going out there and playing with a lot of emotion.
Q. So how different is your sense of belief in yourself right now than it was before this year?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: It’s bigger, for sure. It’s one of my best years now, so that’s why my belief in myself is growing for sure. That’s why I think I’m playing like I’m playing right now, that I really going for it with a lot of belief in my game and myself.
Yeah, it’s changed a lot in the last few months.
Q. You just hit on this in terms of thinking your way through a match. Two years ago, three years ago, how different would this match have played out? Do you think you would have been as mentally strong against an opponent who really throws you off?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I don’t know. I think this is a good question. I don’t know. Maybe not, because I think I grow a lot in the last few years.
And also with my mentality, that I’m, yeah, staying more positive and believing in my game. I think that, yeah, that right now I can win matches like that.
Also, the match before I played, just staying positive and believe in my shots. That gives me a lot of confidence.
So I think I learned a lot from the last years.
Q. You were saying that you kept telling yourself today to stay in the moment and focus on right now, not look ahead. How does that help you and how does that get more difficult and certainly facing your next round?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Today, that was I think the key for the match, to staying in the moment and not thinking ahead or like what’s happen or whatever.
And I think this is also what I have learned in the last few months also, to not thinking ahead against who I’m playing or if it’s the same as other final or first round actually.
I’m just trying to, yeah, believe and having fun out there, enjoying what I’m doing right now. I think this is the best way for me to playing my best tennis.
Q. It’s been five years since you were in the semifinals here. It must be very, very good to be back at this stage. How different is it going in now with the accomplishments that you have, the Grand Slams and great results you have had lately and the mental maturity than it was for the 23 year old who did it five years ago?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, it’s completely different. I mean, I remember the semis here like years ago when I reached it for my first time. That was maybe also a little bit surprise.
I had nothing to lose. I came here. I just played great tennis. I think a lot of things, yeah, happened since then.
Now I’m a completely different player, I think. I’m going out. I have a lot of confidence. I know how to win big matches. I know how it feels playing on the stadium.
I’m also enjoying it more than years ago. I’m trying to, you know, going there and enjoying the atmosphere and also win the matches.
I mean, years ago I came here and I had nothing to lose and my goal was playing good, and now my goal is winning the matches and this is a little bit different.
Q. When you had your quarterfinal press conference, when you were doing this five years ago, do you remember feeling a bit differently, maybe a bit more nervous or apprehensive, do I really belong here, as opposed to where you are right now sitting there talking to us?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I think so. Five years ago I was a little bit nervous. I was sitting here and I had no idea what to answer, I think. I was like, Okay, let’s see.
But right now I think for me it comes normal to came here in front of you guys, speaking with you. So it’s like after every match it’s the same rhythm.
Q. You’re speaking in terms of positiveness and all mental, but of course the physical part, is your practice different now? It’s awesome what you’re saying in regards to all the positive thinking and that is fantastic, but is your practice different now as opposed to how it was several years ago or a year ago or whatever? What has changed? And is there one strength in your game that has really made a significant difference in the past several months or so of this year?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I think my practice change a little bit. I’m trying to focusing just on one or two things during the practice and really trying to focusing on this and improving few things and not making things also too complicated. To going out there and practicing like not maybe two hours, but just one hour, and full intensity. I think this is what I change.
Yeah, my game, I think my serve improved a little bit more than like few months ago. Of course that helps me a little bit more on my game style when my first serve, yeah, cames more.
Q. Question regarding Wozniacki.)
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Caroline is always a tough opponent. I know this. We know each other very well.
So let’s see who will win the quarterfinal tonight, but for me, it’s — I will watch it a little bit for sure, but for me it’s actually doesn’t matter against who I’m playing.
I’m now in the semifinals, and if it’s Caroline, yeah, it will be great match for sure. I know how she is playing; she is strong again; she had great wins here.
So it will be a good semis.
Q. What do you remember about the matches against Caroline in the past particularly? You obviously had some long ones; some insane long rallies in Indian Wells.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I remember long matches with her. I remember we have tough rallies and always really tough ones.
So for sure it will be – if it’s her again – really tough battle.
But, yeah, I’m looking forward to take the chance again with her to play and to take the challenge. It’s the semis, so it doesn’t matter against who I’m playing. I mean, it will be tough one. I’m looking forward if it’s Caroline.
Q. You’re known for working so hard on your game, and your game has gotten better and better each year. You still have a ways to go. What would it mean to you to finally become the best player in the world? What would that mean to you?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Um, this would mean a lot to me. I mean, when I was a kid I was always dreaming to being the No. 1. Let’s see. I mean, there are still matches to go.
Also, Serena has to play as well very good. I mean, let’s see. I mean, I’m looking forward to play, first of all, my next match. If the day will come, it will be amazing.
Q. As you mentioned, we don’t know the name of your next opponent. I’d just like to ask you about the specific challenge of each one, starting with Caroline. When you face her, what do you consider to be the greatest challenge in her game for you? And then the same with Anastaija?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: With Caroline, I mean, I know she’s moving very well and she brings a lot of balls back, so I have to be really patient, like today, and waiting for the shots and being aggressive. That will be for sure the challenge with her.
And against Sevastova, I think I never played against her yet, so… But this is also — I mean, she has nothing to lose. She plays now also one of her best tennis. She reach the quarters here, so she will give everything. Yeah, actually, I don’t know exactly how she’s playing right now.
A. KERBER/R. Vinci
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Obviously disappointing. You had a rough break and then all of a sudden she broke back and kind of seemed like a different match. Talk about what happened.
ROBERTA VINCI: Yeah, was of course a tough match. Bad luck for the first set. I had so many chance. Probably I was playing better than her the first set.
But she’s a great player. She miss maybe two or three balls and she run a lot. She’s in confidence. So I lost the first set, and then the second set she started to play better than the first set. I was a little bit down.
But anyway, of course I’m so sad about today. In general I played a great tournament. Now just will go home and take some days off; see what I have for my injury, and then we will see.
Q. You felt that she became a significantly better player?
ROBERTA VINCI: Yeah.
Q. Because she had said she sort of learned to relax; she had nerves coming in and you are a tricky player. It wasn’t so much that your game fell, it’s that she was able to raise the level of her game?
ROBERTA VINCI: Yeah, I have different kind of tennis, of course. Yeah, she was a little bit nervous probably because she knew that I am different player. Probably she prefer to play with some opponent that play flat.
But I have a different game, and, well, to beat her, she’s tough. You have to play great tennis, high level. I played high level for just one set.
But that was the best that I can do today.
Q. Last year you were coming in and facing Serena, clearly the hottest player on tour. Right now you can say Angie is the hottest player on tour right now. Two years in a row. Did you draw upon last year, what you were able to do against Serena?
ROBERTA VINCI: Well, this morning in my mind I said, of course, Okay, try your best; tough opponent like Serena last year. You have nothing to lose. Play your game. Try to enjoy. I knew that I was in the quarterfinal after a lot of problems, but I was fighting also today.
But, yeah, she’s No. 2 in the world. Maybe No. 1. So she’s in confidence. For me was tough, but I play good game today. I knew it was tough, tough to win against her.
But, yeah, she’s a great player. She won, so she played better than me. And that’s it.
Q. From what you remember of her a couple years ago, what is different about the level of her game today? Is it mental…
ROBERTA VINCI: My game or her game?
Q. Her game. What has raised?
ROBERTA VINCI: Well, she’s a great player. Yeah, probably different is mentality, from the mentality. She’s confident. She miss not so many balls, and she say always focus every single point. She run a lot, so you have to push a lot to win a point. You have to run a lot.
Yeah, she’s No. 2 in the world, so now she’s probably better mental, and also tennis. Both.
Q. It appears that you’re saying that the mental toughness has been a significant factor that has transformed her game.
ROBERTA VINCI: Okay, okay. Sorry.
Q. So if that is the situation, so her game has been basically the same —
ROBERTA VINCI: Yeah.
Q. — in the past several years. It’s just now she’s mentally tough and says, I can beat you; Vinci, I can beat you?
ROBERTA VINCI: Yeah. She won a lot of matches this year. She won one Grand Slam. She won a lot of match. So when the moments is tough, probably she’s…
Q. So does that create a fear within you now, her mental toughness? Because I’m hearing something here that’s mental, mental, mental, so perhaps it’s creating fear in you and some of the other girls that she’s…
ROBERTA VINCI: She’s on fire. She won a lot of matches. She’s in confidence. When the moment is tough and both are so close, she’s focused. She’s in good shape. She’s No. 2. So probably this is the difference between us.
G. MONFILS/L. Pouille
6-4, 6-3, 6-3
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Obviously disappointing result, but it’s been a great run for you. Obviously you came in off those five-setters and the rough one against Rafa. Talk about how that contributed to some fatigue, if that was the case. Talk about the match.
LUCAS POUILLE: Of course I was a bit tired today. I played four matches, one in four sets, and then all three in five.
So, yeah, it would have been better if I played a bit less time on court. It’s okay. I did my best today. Gaël was playing very good. He’s physically very fit. He’s moving so well. And I think, as I said after Nadal’s match, he’s in very good form.
Yeah, I think he was better than me today.
Q. What are the takeaways from the tournament? Obviously the win against Rafa, the hard-fought battles, but that one in particular?
LUCAS POUILLE: Yeah, the one against Rafa, of course. It’s the best win of my career so far.
It’s a lot of confidence. Even if I lose today, I will leave New York with a lot of confidence for the rest of the year and the next season. Now I know I can be in quarterfinal again and maybe more.
Yeah, give me power to work harder and to be, yeah, next time in quarter. I want to be stronger physically and, yeah, to be more fresh.
Q. Here and Wimbledon, are you at a point now where you have higher expectations coming into Grand Slams?
LUCAS POUILLE: Yeah, of course. Now the next one gonna be in Australia. It’s going to be a new year.
But I won’t go there to win only one match. I want to do second week and more. That’s gonna be my goal next year.
Q. How much did it bother you that several times you were at the net, seemingly good position to win the point, and he was able to lob you, get to a tough ball and then lob you?
LUCAS POUILLE: Ah, a lot. He’s moving — as I say, he’s moving so well. When you come to the net he always push you to the limit. He always put one more ball in the court.
So if you want to make a winner you have to make the perfect shot. Maybe I was a little bit tired. I was not so close to the net or I was not fast enough to come.
So, yeah, gave him a lot of space to pass me. Yeah, it was difficult.
C. WOZNIACKI/A. Sevastova
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How much was your ankle injury affecting your play?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: For sure it was affecting my play, but I’m not a person that likes to retire during a match, so I just tried my best.
But the movement was different. It was harder to move. And also on serve it was harder to get out of the serve. Yeah.
Q. The second time the trainer came out, what was that discussion about?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: It was a discussion like she wanted to do something else. I was asking her what she can do maybe to help me, because I don’t like tapes normally on my ankle, because it’s different feeling plus it’s so tight, so I was just asking her. And, yeah…
Q. How tough was that just to be out there knowing that you couldn’t play the tennis that you wanted to play on Ashe Stadium, night session?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: For sure it was tough, but what can I do? I tried my best. I don’t like to retire, as I mentioned, but Caroline played great tennis. I think she made no mistakes. She did what she could best. She was a better player anyway. Yeah, even I think if I had no injury it would tough to beat her, yeah.
Q. How did you hurt it? Did you just twist it while…
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: I don’t know. I think I stopped on the serve. I didn’t follow through. I fell over. And, yeah, I heard some sounds there, but it happened to me couple of months ago as well on clay.
So it’s pretty much the same injury, same ankle, twice in six months. (Smiling.)
Q. Obviously an incredible two weeks for you and everything, but does the way it all ends kind of change what you take away from it, or is it still…
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: I don’t think it takes away. I still won two games. (Laughter.)
Yeah, it’s tough to end like that, but, yeah, it’s tennis. I could have played amazing but still lost. It would hurt more, I think.
But now, ankle, yeah. I have to stop and have to take time off. It was still great two weeks.
I mean, if somebody asks me like before, Would you take a quarterfinal, lose 0 and 2, or would you take a first round and lose 7-6 in the third, for sure I would take quarterfinals.
Q. How much did it mean to you getting to play three matches on Ashe? Not all quarterfinalists get to…
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: I don’t know why they put me on Ashe three times. I’m like playing more often than some other players who are like top 10. It’s a great feeling. It’s a great stadium. It’s the biggest one. It’s unbelievable.
I feel very welcomed here.
Q. Does it mean much to you to join the Last Eight Club? Do you know about that?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: I don’t know about that. I heard about that. What does it mean? Do I get something special?
Q. Last Eight Club means basically you get free credential and tickets for rest of your life.
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: Cool. Do I get also to practice alone on the court? Because before the tournament we were always sharing.
Q. Can you tell us how some things have changed in your life over the last ten days? Have you gotten new endorsements? What kind of benefits have you gotten over the last ten days?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: Not really. Latvia is a poor country. No, not really.
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: Nothing changed.
Q. Have you heard from any special people that you didn’t expect?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: No.
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: No, not really.
Q. Did you get that hat recently?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: No. It’s my hometown in Latvia.
Q. Kristaps is from the same…
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: Yeah, exactly.
Q. How far away did you grow up from his family?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: I don’t know his family, no. I’m not into basketball that much.
Q. But that was…
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: It’s the same town. We are from the same town, yeah.
Q. Did you hear from the Olympic hockey —
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: They lost. I heard about that.
Q. Do you feel you were able to cheer them up a little bit?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: I don’t follow hockey that much actually. (Laughter.)
I mean, I heard about that. This is qualifying. But, yeah. We still won — they still won against Austria 8-1.
Q. Did you brag to your boyfriend?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: That’s what I can brag about all the time.
Q. So do you leave New York the same as when you got here, or has the last 10 days changed you a bit?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: For sure. I have more confidence in my tennis. I think on a good day I could beat good players, top players.
And, yeah, the season is long. I mean, there is still some tournaments I can play, and it’s a good position to start the next year where I am now. So we’ll see. I have to just keep working.
It cannot happen like this today maybe. I have to start better. But for sure I’m more confident, and I’m more happy with my tennis, yeah.
Q. Did you feel that the crowd was particularly noisy tonight, more so than your other matches on Ashe?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: Like a pro on Ashe. (Smiling.)
Q. Was it distracting at all?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: Actually tonight it was not that distracting personally for me. They were loud, yeah, for sure, but I expected that from the first match during the night against Garbiñe.
So tonight it was okay. The problem I couldn’t hear the referee saying time, or chair umpire. I couldn’t hear.
Q. We couldn’t either.
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: Yeah.
Q. Do you know what your schedule is for the fall? You’re right around where could you get seeded for the Australian Open.
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: Tokyo, not International —
Q. Little Tokyo or big Tokyo?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: I just withdraw because of my ankle. I’m playing the second one, then Wuhan and Beijing, and probably Moscow. Maybe Linz. Depends on the results from before. After Moscow, I’m done.
Q. You probably haven’t had an opportunity to really, really celebrate everything that’s happened this week.
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: Not really.
Q. How do you celebrate now that you don’t have to play a match for a while?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: I’m quite tired now actually. My ankle hurts. Maybe on the flight home. I don’t know.
No, no idea. No. Really, maybe we will go out tonight. If we are not sleeping. But probably at home we would go somewhere for dinner or to nice drink. Yeah.
C. WOZNIACKI/A. Sevastova
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How does it feel to be back in the semifinals of New York?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: It feels great. It’s a tournament that I love. I love being here. Life playing in this incredible stadium.
So it’s a great.
Q. It’s always hard to keep your focus when maybe the opponent is injured or something happens. You seemed to do that very well tonight.
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I think I was just extra focused, because I saw her fall in that second game. She stood up, and I knew if she can still walk and still put weight on it and stuff then she’s going to go obviously more for her shots and stuff like that.
But I thought, cool. I kept serving well and made her run. I’m pleased with how I managed to keep composed.
Q. Do you feel like you have home court advantage here being that you have your apartment sleeping in your apartment?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I definitely do feel like I have an advantage there. I sleep at home in my own bed, have home-cooked food, and have my friends and family here.
I also feel like I have a bit of a home court advantage when I step out on court. The crowd is always supporting me and is sweet to me. I think it helps I played so well here in the past. It’s just a great combination.
Q. What have been your observations of Angie’s improvement both in a physical way and mental way to get to the stage where she is now in late stages of nearly all the majors this season?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: To be honest, you know, obviously I have seen the results and she’s been doing great. I’m really happy for her. She’s a hard worker.
But to be honest, when I was injured I didn’t watch one match. I don’t know. I have to watch tapes. Obviously I have had tough matches against her in the past. She’s a great competitor. She looks fit, so it’s going to be a tough one.
Yeah, I haven’t really thought about it yet. I just kind of want to enjoy this moment first.
Q. How inspirational is that for you with all the Polish folks behind you?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Well, there is a lot of Polish people living here. Obviously there is a big fan base from Poland here.
Obviously I was born in Denmark and feel Danish, but I have some Polish blood in me. It’s nice I can take the best of both worlds. Also I have a big part of the New York crowd with me. It’s a great combination here.
Q. Cook any Polish food?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I haven’t this week, actually. After the tournament. (Smiling.)
Q. You have known Angie for a very long time and you hung out when you were younger, et cetera. Does it surprise you she finds herself in world No. 2, Grand Slam champion, based off how you were when you were younger?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: No, I don’t think so. We are similar in that we are both hard working. I think that, you know, hard work pays off. She’s obviously very passionate. She loves what she’s doing and it shows.
She’s had a great year and I’m happy for her.
Q. This isn’t a position you have been in quite often the last couple years. Does it make easier playing Angie, someone you know so well?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I don’t think it makes it easier. We will have to wait and she. She’s had a great year so she will be tough to beat, but I’m going to do my best. That’s all can I ask for myself.
Q. You said you didn’t really want to look ahead and go on to the next match right away. You really wanted to enjoy the moment and looked very happy at that time. How does being able to stay in the moment and not go out of yourself, how has that helped you?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I think it’s really helped me. You know, there is always going to be uphill battles, and sometimes it’s not going to go your way.
But I always believe if you work hard and you have the belief, and obviously you give it your all, eventually it will turn. It’s been a great week or ten days for me. I’m really pleased.
I think the fact that I have friends and family here and I can just go home and relax and kind of unwind, it’s really helped me to kind of just enjoy it and not look ahead and not stress and just show up. I’m like, Well, I get another day; I get another chance.
Q. I think your father was talking to the Danish press. Thinking about retiring? Have you given much thought to that, plans on that sort of front?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I kind of — I think I don’t want to really talk about that now. When I feel ready to open up and say something then I will, but for now I’m just here to play this tournament.
Hopefully I have two more matches here. Yeah, it’s really all I’m focused on right now.
Q. You have had to answer a number of questions about No. 1 or the No. 1 ranking. What is it about ranking? Angie is in a race for it. Is it something coveted on tour? You talked about ranking is just a number. Where does No. 1 fit into it?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I think when you’re a little kid and you don’t know what anything really means, everybody knows what it means to be the best in the world and everybody knows what it means to be No. 1.
So I think getting the No. 1 ranking is extremely special and it’s something that everyone can kind of relate to and every little kid understands.
So obviously being No. 1 in the world is extremely special, and I’m sure Angie is feeling it, too. I’m sure that she is going to do everything to get that ranking. She’s been playing really well this year.
It’s something that very few people in the world has ever achieved. I mean, how crazy is it to say that you’re the best in the world at something? Doesn’t matter if tennis, football, being a lawyer, whatever it is. It’s really special.
You know, for me, when I’m saying ranking is just a number, I have been No. 1. I have been there for two year years. That is something I’m extremely proud of.
But right now, for me, being 70-something, it’s not really — you know, it doesn’t really mean much to me. I still believe and feel like I’m one of the top players and grinding my way back, so that’s why I’m saying for me right now the ranking is just a number: because I’m not No. 1 and there is a long way for me right now to get back to No. 1.
But I’m doing my best to just play my best tennis and have fun with it. It’s really all that I can do right now.
Q. Would it be strange to see that number with not Serena Williams’ name next to it?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Yeah. I mean, she’s held that ranking for so long. Obviously, I think, it’s sad she’s only played eight tournaments from this time last year. She’s such an unbelievable and inspiring player. Obviously being so close with her, just it’s special. She’s just a special athlete. You know, it’s incredible what she’s achieved. It’s something that probably very few – or it will take a long time before someone else gets to that level.
Q. How many weeks a year do you spend at your Manhattan place and where you train?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I don’t know. I mean, we travel so much, so I don’t get to spend as much time here as I want.
But when I’m here lately I have been training at the McEnroe Academy on Randall’s Island. Sometimes I go to the Westside Highway; it’s public courts. They usually let me in and let me in and train for as long as I want. I kind of like being there, because I feel like a proper New Yorker.
Q. There is a queue to get on to those courts. Have you waited?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I actually haven’t waited because people have been so sweet that they’ve let me in.
Q. That’s fair.
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: But if I had to wait, I would. What can I do? I have to follow the rules, right?
Q. Your serve has been particularly reliable for you over the course of the tournament. That hasn’t always been the case in the past. Can you talk about the evolution of that shot? What is kind of the specific work that you have put into it to make it a shot that you can rely on here?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: It’s been something that I have worked on for the last 20 years. It’s something that I have spent a lot of time on, and it’s something that maybe doesn’t come — the return comes more natural than the serve, but I have been working really hard on it.
It’s been great at periods in my career and then it’s been really bad in periods where I am like, I don’t know why the timing isn’t there. It’s been good again, so it’s kind of on and off.
When it’s on, I’m just praying that it’s going to stay on for a while. I don’t know.
Q. Has it been on here? Would you consider this on?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Yeah, I think it’s been a good two weeks. Hopefully I can keep it up.
Q. You spoke a moment ago about belief and enjoyment and about your two weeks as No. 1 player in the world. How do those things compare now with the belief and enjoyment when you were the No. 1 player?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I think it’s much different. I’m older. I have been through everything. Right now I’m happy every time I get to play on a big court.
It’s special, you know. Like obviously being injured and being away from the game you kind of put things in perspective. You’re like, I could get injured again tomorrow and maybe I won’t have another shot out there.
I think I’m enjoying it much more now than back I was then. Back then I was just trying and grinding for staying at the top of the rankings for as long as possible, and obviously just winning every match.
Now obviously I want to win every match, but it’s different. I’m not the favorite in most of my matches anymore, or on paper at least. I’m just going in there as the underdog and going out doing my thing.
Q. How does that increased enjoyment affect your belief as a player?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I think I have always had the belief. The belief hasn’t changed. I just think I’m enjoying it now more than I was in the past.
I think it’s less stressful. It’s more going out and having fun.
Q. There was a picture on Twitter of the vacation you took with Angie and the Radwanskas, like, years ago.
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I look pretty round in that picture, actually. I think we all did.
Q. You were at a different stage in your lives. But everybody grows up, and on the tour everybody becomes more professional, has their own teams. Can you look back on that kind of time and how different it was and maybe if you have any stories to share about that vacation with Angie?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Actually, I don’t think it’s that different. We would still go on vacations, but the problem is like, you know, Aga is getting married, so then all of a sudden we’re like, We just want a girls trip, but it’s tough when everyone has their own thing.
But even last year Angie and I were talking. I was like, Part of my offseason I will be in New York. I’ll be somewhere else. If you want to join, you’re more than welcome.
So it’s not like we are separated, but it’s like sometimes like we have different priorities or there is just a little bit more busy now. But, yeah, I think still we hang out and we have coffees and sit and talk and have a good time.
I think the great thing about our little group of people is that we have kind of hung out together for years and years now, and doesn’t matter who is No. 1 or who is lower ranked or who is beating who, we always have that little clique, and it’s nice to be able to just hang out and have a nice little conversation and a good laugh.
N. DJOKOVIC/J. Tsonga
6-3, 6-2, (ret.)
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How would you describe your road to the semifinals?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’m in the semifinals, so that’s what matters for me the most; to be able to play as well as I did in fourth round and today in the quarterfinals for at least a couple of sets.
I thought that I came out with the right intensity. The quality of my game and level of performance has raised in last couple of days, which obviously encourages me prior to the last four.
I put myself in a position again to be one match away from the finals. As tournament progresses, I feel like I’m getting better. Of course that this Grand Slam is very unique for me. I never experienced something like this to have three retirements on the road to the semifinals.
I can only wish all of my opponents a speedy recovery. That’s all I can do on my end. I obviously try to focus on things that I need to do; stick to the game plan. I notice Jo already midway through the second set was upholding his first serve and you could sense that something is going on.
So I’m sure it’s not an easy situation for him to handle, playing quarterfinals and having to retire night session. But, again, it’s sport.
Q. Did you sense that you broke him mentally as much as physically with just how sharp you were?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, that’s I guess a question for him. On my side I said I tried to come in with high intensity, concentration, and trying to execute the game plan I prepared with my team.
I played Jo many times on the big stage. First Grand Slam final for both of us was back in 2008 in Melbourne. Yeah, played over 20 times against each other, so I know Jo very well. I know his pros and cons.
So I tried to analyze the matches that we had before, and as I said, get myself, you know, prepared the best way I could. I thought I did well on the return; put a lot of pressure on his second serve. First serve is sometimes a gamble because it’s a big serve. Just tried to get as many balls back in play, move him around the court, and I thought at least that I have done well.
Q. Does the lack of match competition concern you at all going forward?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Not really. Actually, in this stage of the season, considering some physical issues I have had in the last month, month and a half, this was the scenario that I needed and I wished for. I got a lot of days off and recovered my body. Right now I’m feeling very close to the peak. That’s the position where I want to be.
Q. But would a fourth or a fifth set maybe be a bit of uncharted territory for you in the current sense?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Not really. I mean, I have played so many times. I was so many times in this particular situation where I had long matches on the road to the semis of a Grand Slam. Also had some Grand Slams where didn’t spend too much time on the court.
It really just depends how you feel, how your season has been, how many matches you have played throughout the year.
As I said, this scenario with easy was ideal at this stage.
Q. You played Del Potro in Rio and now he’s in the quarterfinal here. How well do you think he’s playing right now? How close is he to his form?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think he’s playing very well. His forehand and his serve are two huge weapons. For somebody of his height he’s moving very well. His anticipation is great.
At the end of the day he is very, very motivated, you can see that, to perform his best. He hasn’t played for, you know, couple of years on the tour with those wrist injuries and surgeries and everything was happening.
I know him very well. Very pleasant, very nice person. He deserves what he’s getting at the moment.
It will be interesting to see how he goes around in the big matches, you know, from quarterfinals, from tomorrow onwards.
Q. With sort of the lack of match play here, do you treat the next couple of days differently than you might at a different slam? Will you guys sort of talk through or walk through different scenarios that you might face, say, in a fourth or fifth set since you haven’t been there now in a couple of months?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I’m not going to practice for three or four hours just to feel that kind of potential for the fifth set scenario. Just keeping the routine as it is. I’m glad, you know, I have another two days now to work on things. You know, at this stage of the tournament and season, I think one of the most important things for a player is this freshness of the mind, of the body, and just having that right supply of substance in your body and the enduring strength that you need, the speed, the alertness.
All these things come with, you know, some time that you have around. Time management, most of all. You know, I’m really looking forward to come out on the court on Friday in semifinals.
Q. You go way back with Monfils. He’s a player that a lot of fans like to watch. They think he’s very entertaining. Obviously you have had the better of him in the record, but as a player, do you enjoy watching him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I love watching Gaël. He’s one of the few players that I will definitely pay a ticket to watch.
He’s very charismatic. Plays with a smile. Enjoys tennis. Enjoys life.
I mean, this is – well, in my eyes – what everybody is supposed to be like, whether you’re a sportsman or whatever. Bring that smile; bring that good energy. That’s why people like him.
But also, he seems more focused at this time of his career. Especially on the hard court this year maybe he’s playing the best tennis he ever played. He’s very consistent. He hasn’t dropped a set till semis. That says a lot about the level he’s on.
Definitely expecting a tough battle.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Again, it’s a question for him. I don’t know Gaël that well to understand what’s happening, what was happening throughout his life and career. Because, you know, sometimes the circumstances in your private life affect your profession. In this case, tennis career.
But he was always enjoying playing tennis, you know. In the end of the day, it all comes down to that, whether you’re happy doing something. If you’re successful or not, that’s something that’s is on the priority list of the society we are living on. Trophies, fame, money, influence, all these kind of things that I don’t believe they are the best values that we all should share.
I think happiness intrinsic, really belonging to something and really being fulfilled doing something. That’s what Gaël is bringing to this sport. I think he’s a very valuable asset to tennis, so I’m really glad that a player like him is doing well. He’s, you know, obviously bringing that energy to the court.
Q. When you say you’re reaching your peak, do you mean in terms of your physical problems or in terms of form?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’m reaching my peak in terms of my form. I don’t know how you understood that.
Q. Do you feel like 100% here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, that’s what I said, yes.
N. DJOKOVIC/J. Tsonga
6-3, 6-2, (ret.)
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Why did you make the decision to retire after the second set?
JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: Just because I have a pain on my left knee. It’s something I had already in the past, so I know exactly what’s happen.
So, yeah, I knew it was over for me straightaway, because when I have my knee, of course, it’s already tough to play against one of the best tennis player.
But when I don’t have my knee, I have no chance to come back from two sets to love. So for me, it’s important to save what I can save. And that’s it.