2014/07/29

All Will Hail the Conquering Hero as Andy Murray Opens Wimbledon on Monday

 

(June 22, 2014) WIMBLEDON – Andy Murray will receive a conquering hero’s welcome when takes Wimbledon Centre Court on Monday at one o’clock as he opens to defend his 2013 title. Murray broke the 77-year-old curse, as no man from Great Britain laid claim to Wimbledon since Fred Perry won the title back in 1936.

The 2012 year was a special year for the Scotsman Murray, as he won his first major title at the U.S. Open, just after winning the gold medal at the London Olympics. Opening the Wimbledon fortnight Wimbledon will be a memorable day for the world No. 5 and third seed.

“Tomorrow when I sort of go out on the court, I need to enjoy that moment when I walk back on the court,” Murray said.

“But as soon as I start playing the match, yeah, it’s about trying to win.  And, yeah, I enjoy winning.  That’s it.  I mean, you know, I don’t really want to go out on the court tomorrow and enjoy playing and then lose.

“I would rather, you know, enjoy a win, and that’s what I’ll try to do.  But it’s time when I get on the court to start concentrating.  Not think about last year, concentrate on this year’s tournament, and that’s it.”

Murray was asked about the extreme pressure he had to deal with on account of the British male Grand Slam futility. “I think I handled them fairly well,” Murray said.  “This has been my most consistent tournament throughout my career.  I haven’t lost before the semis for the first few years.  I’d always played pretty good tennis here.

“I maybe could have played a bit better in the latter stages of the event in some of the years.  But I feel in terms of handling the pressure, you know, there was a lot of it, and I think I did okay.

“Last year the final was definitely the most pressure I’d felt in all the years I’d played here.  So, yeah, I managed to come through it.  I think that comes with age and experience.

Questions were posed to Murray about his unique selection for his new coach, Amelie Mauresmo former No. 1 player on the WTA tour. Very few women coach male pros.

“I think, first of all, you can talk about her accomplishments on the tennis court,” Murray said of his new coach.  “She won a lot.  She was No. 1 in the world.  She won multiple Grand Slams.  She got to latter stages of slams very often.

“I think she was someone who struggled with nerves and conquered them later in her career, which I think when you start to coach someone, I think you can help more than someone that hasn’t had those issues before.

“She understands the psychological part of the game maybe more than some because of that.

“And in terms of what she’s like, her game style, she had quite a creative game style.  She used a lot of spins, slices, she came to the net, good variety in her game.  That’s something that I’ve always tried to use during my career.  So I think she can help with that.

“And then in terms of what she’s like as a person, she’s a very, very nice person.  She’s very easy to speak to.  She’s very easy to communicate with.  She listens well.  She’s firm, as well.

“So there are the reasons why I wanted to give it a shot, and hopefully it will work out well.”

“It was about finding the right personality with the right experience to help me,” Murray stated about choosing Mauresmo.

“I think she will help me.  I’ve really enjoyed the last ten days I spent on the court with her.  It’s been great.

“And, yeah, if it helps sort of bring more female coaches into men’s sport and women’s sport there’s not that many female coaches on the women’s side either that’s a good thing.

“Because there’s absolutely no reason why someone like Amélie can’t help me.

“It’s possible it doesn’t work.  It has nothing to do with whether she’s a woman or not.  That’s not why it will work or not work.  That’s how I feel about it.”

“But my mom will tell you this is history,” Murray added.  “One of the coaches that I also loved when I was growing up that I traveled with was Olga Morazova.  I actually saw her in the car park here the other day.  I always found her great fun to be around.  I learned a lot from her when I was a kid, too.

“A lot of the female coaches that I have been around.  Although there’s not been many of them, I’ve always enjoyed working with them.”

Murray will face 104th-ranked David Goffin of Belgium on Monday. Murray spoke about his opponent’s good tennis in the past at big events.

“He doesn’t mind the big stage,” he said.  “And, yeah, he’s solid.  He’s a solid player in all parts of the court.  It will be a tricky match.”

 

Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon

Share

Quotes of the Day from the Pre-Wimbledon News Conferences

Serena in press 3

(June 21, 2014) WIMBLEDON – Players met the media on Saturday for pre-Wimbledon news conferences, days ahead of the The Championships, 2014.

 

Who says I was over it (smiling)?

-No. 1 seed Serena Williams  asked about how long it took for her to get over her stunning second round loss at the French Open to Garbine Muguruza.

 

-Simona Halep on her new found fame in her homeland of Romania

It was amazing feeling when I arrived home, because they stopped the plane just on the red carpet at the airport and everybody was waiting for me, about 300 fans.  I went to them and I said hello, many things there.  They ask me many things.

Yeah, was incredible.  For me was the best moment of my life.  Was incredible.  I will never forget that moment.

 

The big change is that everybody knows me now and a lot of people are speaking about me and are watching me.  In Romania all the press, every day they are watching me.  I don’t know why.

It’s a little bit difficult, but I want just to stay very far of this and just to keep focus my mental for the tennis.  I just want to think about tennis now and nothing else.

 

On looking at her ranking years ago:

A few years ago I was looking at the rankings on Internet, and I saw I was fourth page.  I said my dream is to be on first page.

So now I am there, and I am really happy.  I cannot be sad that I lose some matches.  I want just to enjoy this moment and to try to improve more in my game and to be maybe second or first.

 

Roger Federer on his second round loss at Wimbledon last year:

That was done a week after Wimbledon.  After that, I didn’t need to think about it a whole lot anymore.  It was just one of the big goals I set for myself.  I failed.  Back to work.  Get yourself in shape.

Rafael Nadal on Wimbledon:

I say before:  Is really the most dangerous tournament of the year.  When I arrive to Roland Garros I already played for one month on clay.  I played a lot of matches.  So more or less I can imagine how I am going to play.

 

 

 

Share

Engagement Broken and Nursing Injuries, Caroline Wozniacki Beaten in First Round of the French Open

 

(May 27, 2014) Almost a week after her engagement to Golfer Rory McIlroy was called off, Caroline Wozniacki, carrying a couple of injuries, was upset in the first round of the French Open on Tuesday. The 13th seed lost to Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-2.

McIlroy and Wozniacki, who had been engaged since New Year’s Eve, split up last week. They had been seeing each other since 2011.

Wozniacki began her post-match news conference with a statement:

“I don’t really want to talk about my personal life. I hope that you all can understand that. The only thing I really have to say is that, you know, (I want to) thank everybody for their support and sweet messages.

“What happens in my personal life, I just want to really keep that between my closest people around me. You know, I just have to move on.”

Coming into Tuesday Wozniacki led Wickmayer 6-1 in head-to-head meetings. Wickmayer is working with former player Kim Clijsters. Clijsters beat Wozniacki in the 2009 U. S. Open Final.

Wozniacki played a limited clay court schedule due to a knee injury.

“You’re not prepared for something like this, and (it) came a bit as a shock,” Wozniacki told media. “I just tried to prepare the best that I could. I felt a little bit rusty out there, and it wasn’t really a pretty match. But I tried.”

 

Related article:

Golfer Rory McIlroy calls off Engagement to Tennis Player Caroline Wozniacki

Share

“On The Call” – ESPN Tennis Analysts Chris Evert, Patrick McEnroe Talk French Open

Chris Evert

Chris Evert

(May 21, 2014) ESPN tennis analysts Chris Evert and Patrick McEnroe spoke with media about the French Open, which starts Sunday, May 25, on ESPN2 and ESPN3. Here are some of the topics discussed on the conference call. To listen to the conference call in full click here.

Topics on the call included:

  • McEnroe on top men fending off rising players:  “(This year) they’ve been threatened a lot more often… (the younger players are) knocking at the door, but they haven’t broken through yet in the big occasions, except for Stan…they’re closing the gap but they still got a ways to go.”
  • Evert on heavy favorite Serena Williams’ improved play on clay:  “She’s learned to play on the clay a lot better from (her coach) Patrick (Mouratoglou).  She’s improved her defense skills.  She’s always had the offense skills.  She’s more fit.  She’s moving better.  She is patient with herself.  She doesn’t have to go for the winner on the fourth shot.  She can wait eight or nine shots and go for the opening.  She’s more intelligent and thinking more clearly on the clay than she ever has.”
  • McEnroe added:  “I never thought I’d say this.  I think clay might actually be Serena’s best surface now.  As great as she is on every other surface, obviously in her career she’s certainly been better on the faster courts, but it’s almost like she’s less susceptible to upset on clay now because she’s so consistent, steady.”
  • Evert is impressed by the recent play of 2008 French Open champ Ana Ivanovic, ranked No. 12 (but No. 8 in 2014-to-date standings):  “I’m so impressed with how she’s playing….She seems to have gotten her serve together.  Her serve is winning some free points.  She’s really improved that.  The backhand has improved.  The confidence.  She’s a big hitter…she could be top four if she continues her run.”
  • Asked for players outside the top 20 who could reach the semis:  Evert–  Madison Keys and no male.  McEnroe–  Caroline Garcia; Nicolas Almagro, Roberto Batista Agut or Dominic Thiem.
  • Evert on why Americans struggle on clay:  “The players that learned to play tennis on clay, myself and Martina Navratilova, Martina Hingis, Federer, Djokovic, I mean, Nadal, a lot of the players started on clay and excelled on clay at a young age.  And from there, branched out, made some adjustments and learned how to play on a faster court.  I think that’s easier to do than the other way around where you’re primarily a power player.  That’s why it was tough for like a Pete Sampras to win the French.”
  • McEnroe on what it takes to succeed on clay:  “I think obviously movement is key.  What I like to call shot tolerance, which is understanding what shot to hit at the right time.  Clay just forces you to make better decisions more often.  Quite honestly, you need to hit more balls into the court to win points….The clay teaches you itself how to play and how to construct points.  As Chrissie said, the more you play on it, and the earlier you play on it, the more you can develop those skills. “
  • McEnroe on which American athletes he would have loved to see play tennis:  “It’s funny, because when people say that, they say, ‘Imagine if Michael Jordan had taken up tennis!’  Well, Michael is a little bit too tall….Some would say LeBron James.  Actually he’s too big.  I would take somebody who was a great point guard, somebody like Dwyane Wade.  Who is the guy from Seattle, Richard Sherman, like a defensive back, extremely mobile.”

 

Q. My question is junior tennis related, Chrissie.  What significance do you think there is for a junior in winning or competing in a junior slam?  To what extent does this herald success in the future?  To what extent is it a crapshoot?  What are the pressures that might come with that, that either make a junior stronger or kind of freak them out? 

EVERT:  I think just from my experience, I didn’t play any of the junior slams because I was already in the regular slams.  But for me, winning national tournaments in America was huge because winning gets to be a habit.  Once you have that experience of beating girls your own age, which that’s where the pressure is to me.  My pressure was beating Maria Redondo and Patti Hogan, all the top players in the 18 Nationals, then going on and playing older women who had all the pressure and I had no pressure.  It was an easier transition.  I think it helps tremendously to be able to be No. 1 in your age division or to win national championships.  To win a junior Grand Slam, I think it’s tremendous.  Now, in saying that, we didn’t have the press back in those days.  I think there’s a lot more intensity and limelight if you win, a lot more expectations from the press and the public nowadays.  That component is much more intense.  I could quietly go on into the women’s and start beating the top women.

 

Q. It looks like there’s a changing of the guard slowly in men’s and women’s tennis.  Wawrinka winning the Australian, guys like Nishikori and Dimitrov starting to live up to some potential, but the old guys aren’t giving up.  Same could be said with Serena.  Could you talk about that. 

McENROE:  Well, I think there’s definitely some signs that the outsiders, the contenders, are more than just pretenders at this point.  That being said, if you go down the list of who has won not only the majors, but the Masters events, at least on the men’s side, it’s pretty much the same, the same two guys.  Federer has had a darn good first half of the year as well.  But Nadal and Djokovic are the two players to beat clearly.

 

That being said, even if you look at their results this year on the clay, they’ve been threatened a lot more often.  Obviously they’ve still been able to win.  Nadal, at least for him, has had a relatively unsuccessful clay court season only winning one big event, getting to the finals of another.  If you look at their results match in, match out, they’re certainly getting threatened a lot more.

 

Guys like you said, Wawrinka, Nishikori, Ferrer beating Nadal, Almagro beat Nadal, Berdych, players like that are making a little more noise.  Dimitrov.  Raonic had a great tournament last week.  Let’s put it this way:  they’re knocking at the door but they haven’t broken through yet in the big occasions, except for Stan.  I think in a nutshell certainly the other players on the men’s side have to feel like they’re closing the gap but they still got a ways to go.

EVERT:  I agree.  I think there’s such a tremendous pool of talent when I look on the men’s side.  The way that Andy Murray played last week, the way that Raonic played last week, Nishikori all year, Dimitrov, the way he’s come on, I think it’s incredible.  But I agree with Patrick.  I think when you look at the top two, Nadal and Djokovic, they’re not letting anybody in.  They’re not opening the door yet.  But in two years’ time I think it’s going to be a different complexion.

 

I look at the women and I see the same thing.  I see Serena dominating.  She’s still dominating.  She gets injured, a few losses, but still the dominant player.  But you have a rich pool between Li Na, Halep, Maria Sharapova, Ivanovic, Sloane is in a little bit of a slump right now.  You can say the same.  There’s the top two in the men and the top two in the women that are fending everybody off so far.

 

Q. Patrick, you mentioned Nadal, that he didn’t have a successful clay season.  Usually he wins three of these events.  Now he’s not the overall favorite going into the French that he usually is.  Why do you think that is?  I’m sure it’s a minor thing, but what is different this spring with him? 

McENROE:  I just think he put so much energy into what he did last year, physical, maybe more importantly mental energy, from the time he came back when he obviously exceeded everybody’s expectations with how dominant he was not only on clay, which didn’t surprise a lot of us, but on hard courts.  Through the US Open, he was just unbelievable.  He was invincible.  Then he had what I think was a fairly natural letdown at the end of last year.  I think quite frankly it’s carried into this year a little bit.  He was playing awfully well in Australia before he lost in the final.  So that was sort of another step slightly back because it obviously put him off the practice courts for probably a solid month.  I think he’s trying to find his sea legs a little bit.  He’s still the favorite to win the French, but it’s closer than it’s ever been between him and Djokovic.  Djokovic has gotten him multiple times since last year’s US Open final.  He’s put himself into really good form.  I think one of the important things for Nadal in Rome was he won a couple of matches back-to-back where he was pushed to the limit physically.  I think that gives him a lot of confidence.  He’s never been the kind of player that can just play a couple of matches and put it on autopilot.  He needs to play a lot, win a lot.  I think he’s been able to do that over the last month still suffering some losses, but he’s still the favorite at the French Open.

EVERT:  I also think that he did such a great job in tweaking his game a little bit and hitting flatter and hitting harder and standing closer to the baseline when he wanted to improve his hard court and grass court game.  I think that is probably not as effective as three or four years ago when he was really hitting with more trajectory.  I think it was coming over the net a little bit higher with some more spin, keeping the players back further.  I think flattening out his shots might have something to do with it.

 

I also think, after watching Djokovic, a couple of the players win a set from him, I think the strategy is different against Nadal.  I think they’re starting to hit shorter angles.  When I say that, Djokovic can really hit that backhand cross-court right into the service line.  His forehand also.  They’re getting him off the court.  So I just think the strategy maybe with these players, they’re starting to think a little bit more about how they can get him off the baseline, and that might have something to do with it, too.

 

Q. I wanted to ask about Serena and Nadal and the expectations placed on them.  Serena has said she’s not feeling as much pressure to defend her title, isn’t placing as much pressure on herself.  Nadal not being the favorite as much, does that help or hurt him?  The mental side for both players. 

EVERT:  I can talk about Serena a little bit.  I think she’s peaked pretty well for the French Open.  I think after the last two years of her playing more tennis than she’s ever played, I think she came into this year exhausted.  I think her priorities really are the Grand Slams this year.  I think if she loses in these other tournaments, she shrugs it’s off pretty well.  The French seems to be opening up for her.  She has an apartment there.  She lives there.  She practices a lot there.  Patrick (Mouratoglou), her coach, is French.  She’s had good success there.  As long as she’s fit, if she’s healthy, motivated, she’s the one to beat.  So far, you know, I very rarely see a Serena Williams that’s not motivated.  I think this tournament will motivate her.  If she’s healthy and fit, she’s got it under control.  She’s learned to play on the clay a lot better from Patrick.  She’s improved her defense skills.  She’s always had the offense skills.  She’s more fit.  She’s moving better.  She is patient with herself.  She doesn’t have to go for the winner on the fourth shot.  She can wait eight or nine shots and go for the opening.  She’s more intelligent and thinking more clearly on the clay than she ever has.  I don’t think she will feel the pressure, I really don’t.  She’s played enough tennis.  She knows what her place in history is now.  She’s gunning for those Grand Slam titles.

McENROE:  I would just follow up with that and say I never thought I’d say this.  I think clay might actually be Serena’s best surface now.  As great as she is on every other surface, obviously in her career she’s certainly been better on the faster courts, but it’s almost like she’s less susceptible to upset on clay now because she’s so consistent, steady.  Her mindset is so good, I think she revels with the pressure, especially at the big tournaments.  She motivates herself for that.  I almost think she’s less susceptible to someone like Lisicki, who go hot at Wimbledon, who out-hit her, I don’t think that can happen to her on clay.  Earlier in her career she was more inconsistent.  She loves the clay.  It’s been a huge part of her motivation the last couple years.

 

As for the guys, the top men, they seem oblivious to pressure.  I don’t think that’s a factor for either Nadal or Djokovic or even Federer for that matter, when he was in his prime, and I think he’s playing awfully well.  I think it’s who plays better on the day between these guys.  It will be interesting how the draw comes out for the men.  Federer has given Djokovic more trouble, at least this year, than Nadal has.  It will be interesting to see how that shakes out.  I think that will be pretty important on the men’s side, who ends up in which quarter, where Wawrinka is going to be the 3 seed.  That could be pretty interesting to see how that plays out.

EVERT:  Don’t you think, Patrick, also that it’s tougher to be on the defensive end on a clay court rather than on a hard court?  I feel like on a hard court you can neutralize the ball a lot better and get back into playing aggressive tennis.  Serena, the first strike of the ball she gets you moving.  It’s tougher for the opponent to translate that type of tennis into more aggressive tennis.

McENROE:  Yeah.

EVERT:  Let me tell you, this clay is faster, the balls are faster, the racquets are faster, the strings are faster.  This surface is not for the faint of heart anymore, like I’m going to stay back at the baseline and get a lot of balls back, like 40 years ago.

McENROE:  You got to play offensive, controlled baseline tennis.  That’s the best clay court strategy now.

 

Q. Patrick, what is your take on the 16-year-old out of Maryland, Francis Tiafoe?

McENROE:  My take is high on him.  I think he’s the real deal.  I saw him play out in California a month ago at the Easter Bowl.  First time I got to see him play competitively.  He’s got the athleticism, the physique.  What I really liked about him is I think he’s got a great tennis IQ.  He understands the game.  He understands how to play.  He’s obviously got incredible joy for tennis, which is amazing, which is so great to see.  He loves to play.  He loves to be out on the court.  He’s got a huge smile on his face when he’s walking around.  Seems to me he’s really in his element when he’s around tennis, playing tennis.  That’s not something you can teach.  That’s great to see.  He obviously has a great team around him over there in College Park.  They’ve done a great job with him.

He’s young obviously.  We have a good group, meaning the Americans, kids right at that age at 16.  Actually quite a few of them right now are playing in a futures in Spain.  We have a group of players and coaches over there.

But I think Francis, he’s definitely got a huge upside.  Again, he’s only 16.  When we talk about the question, I always get, What’s wrong with American tennis?  We talk about that often.  One of the things we often say is, We need to get better athletes playing tennis.  Guess what, we’ve got a better athlete playing better tennis.  This guy is a phenomenal athlete.  A lot has to happen for him to get all the way where we think he can go, a lot of steps in the process.  But he certainly to me appears to be on the right track.

 

Q. You don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to, Chrissie.  Rory McIlroy decided that he planned on not following through with the marriage (to Caroline Wozniacki). 

EVERT:  It doesn’t surprise me.  I don’t even know them.  I look back at Jimmy and I.  To look at two players that are in the prime of their career and are striving to be No. 1, don’t see each other.  I mean, I was married in my 20s to my tennis.  That was the only way I could put all my emotions and energies into that goal.

I was in awe that it worked as long as it did.  I can’t believe it.  They must be just different kind of people.  I understand 100%, you’re married to your career.  You’re using your emotions.  You’re using the mental capacity that you have.  You’re putting everything into it.  That’s what it takes to be the best.

 

Q. Chrissie, you had mentioned Ana Ivanovic earlier.  She’s been playing better this year, a little more consistent, on the brink of the top 10 for the first time in five years.  Realistically, do you think she can make an assault at the top few spots and win another Grand Slam?

EVERT:  I’m so impressed with how she’s playing.  I’ve been watching her the last few weeks.  She seems to have gotten her serve together.  Her serve is winning some free points.  She’s really improved that.  The backhand has improved.  The confidence.  She’s a big hitter.

 

You know, when I look at the top four now — Serena, Li Na, Radwanska, Halep — she could be top four if she continues her run.  She won a set from Serena.  She beat her at the Australian.  She’s beating some pretty good players.  I like her attitude out there.  You can tell she wants it.  As far as winning a Grand Slam, I don’t know.  Anything’s possible.  I think realistically to be top five would be a better goal for her right now.

 

Q. 2008, what do you remember about the kind of player she was then? 

EVERT:  Who did she beat?  I don’t remember her beating anybody.  I don’t mean to say that negatively, but I don’t think Serena, Venus, Clijsters, Henin.  It wasn’t a strong year, period, right?

MODERATOR:  She beat Safina in the final, Jankovic to get there, and before that Schnyder.

EVERT:  Those players aren’t top-quality players, but they weren’t Serena, Venus, Clijsters, Henin.  She took advantage of it and played some good tennis.  But she’s a much better player now, much better player now.  She’s got much more variety to her game.  She’s coming in and volleying.  She’s confident.  Her serve is better.

She has a Steffi Graf forehand.  Steffi would just jump beside that ball and wallop it.  I see almost the same type of stroke where she can just go inside-out, down the line, cross-court, and make them all the time.  Her backhand has also improved.  She’s really pumped up.  She wants it.  Her game has seemed to come together at the right time.  We’ll see what happens at the French.  But it seems to have really come together.  Whether that’s the new coach, for whatever reason I love her story.  She won it, she took a dive, but she kept her nose to the grindstone, tried to keep digging herself out of that hole, and slowly but surely she has now.

 

Q. Chris, Halep, what is her strength and weakness?  What do you see her doing in Paris?  Also, you were always known as a great champion with court sense, the ability to read the court.  Who has that now among the men and women? 

EVERT:  Well, let’s talk about Halep.  She is a tremendous athlete.  Her court coverage.  First of all, she doesn’t miss anything.  She’s one of the more consistent players.  She covers the court great.  She, you know, is not intimidated by any player or by pressure whatsoever.  So she’s very composed and mature out there.  She can transition from defense to offense, you know, really, really well.  But I think on the clay, that’s what you need to do.  You need to move well and you need to be consistent, yet she still hits a big ball.  You got to really earn the point against her.  She doesn’t play like Serena Williams where she’s going to hit you off the court.  You’ve got to work hard.  As far as court sense, that’s a good question.  You know, when I look at somebody like a Radwanska, I think she’s got good court sense.  She’s obviously very creative and can think ahead two or three shots, has that variety.  Help me, Patrick, with this.

McENROE:  I mean, nobody has better court sense than the players at the top of the game.  To me, I think sometimes the question – and I hear what you’re saying, Chrissie – we immediately go to the people that don’t have power like Radwanska.  She’s got great court sense, but she has no power basically.  She has to.

Djokovic has unbelievable court sense.  So does Federer.  So does Serena.  I think that’s where Serena really has improved, is her ability to open up the court, see the court.  I think the best players have the best court sense and the best ability to open up the court, not just the player that doesn’t have the power.

EVERT:  You’re right.  I was trying to think of players that had something special, like Martina Hingis had a special gift there.  But you’re right.  In order to be a top player, you have to have good court sense, you have to know how to open up the court.  Patrick is right on that.

 

Q. If both of you had to pick a player outside the top 20 to get to the semis, who would you say? (men and women)

McENROE:  Well, Sloane Stephens is in the top 20 still, so I got to think about it for a second.  What about Bouchard?  Is she outside of the top 20?

EVERT:  No.  Flipkens made a good run at Wimbledon last year.  She’s 22.

McENROE:  I’ll tell you who I like is Caroline Garcia.  The French players traditionally on the women’s side haven’t always played their best in front of their home crowd, but I really like her athleticism and her game.  She played great in the Fed Cup beating the U.S., so I got to see her there.  She was really, really good.  I think she’s got the kind of game and athleticism to play well on clay.

EVERT:  Where is Madison?

McENROE:  Madison is around 40 or so.

EVERT:  I’d give Madison a shot.  I’d give her a shot.

McENROE:  A guy at the moment who is outside the top 20 in the men is Almagro, who obviously is good on clay, beaten Nadal.  He has some injury issues.  Bautista Agut is a Spanish guy, outsider.  On the men, it’s pretty unlikely.  To me, Dimitrov in my mind is a little bit of an outsider.  He’s a guy who I think could make a big run.  I was surprised that Nadal beat him as easily as he did in Rome.  I thought Dimitrov was going to give him a big match.

EVERT:  What about Cilic?

McENROE:  No, I’m not going with that.  Not on clay in best-of-five.  I’ll tell you who the guy is, Thiem, the young Austrian kid.  Steve Johnson had a couple match points against him yesterday in Nice.  I think he’s still 19, but he has some major upside.  Might be early for him to make that kind of a run at a major, but look out for him.

EVERT:  I think my reluctance is I can’t see anybody out of the top 20 reaching the final.  I think the top 20 is so tough and so loaded that I can’t see anybody there.

 

Q. It’s no secret that the Americans consistently struggle on clay.  Do you think it’s a matter of improving strategy, mentality, mechanics or all of the above? 

EVERT:  Patrick, I know you have a lot to say on that, so mine will be short.  As in past history, most Americans have been brought up on the hard courts.  Most of the Europeans, especially the Spanish players, have been brought up on the red clay.  I think you’re brought up on what your national championship is.  US Open is hard court, and that’s probably why American players dominate.  Most of them coming from California, it was all hard courts.  I know now every tennis academy, especially the USTA, they’re putting an emphasis on playing on clay.  I grew up on clay, that’s why I had such good footwork.  It’s all about formulating footwork, having a little more strategy.  It’s not as much about power.  But the game has turned into so much power, you need a lot more ingredients on clay than power.  Go ahead, Patrick.

McENROE:  I think obviously movement is key.  What I like to call shot tolerance, which is understanding what shot to hit at the right time.  Clay just forces you to make better decisions more often.  Quite honestly, you need to hit more balls into the court to win points.  That’s just the way it is.  Obviously that’s become the way it is on every surface.  So when we talk the USTA building a new facility in Florida in a couple years’ time, almost half the courts are going to be clay to help our kids and to help our juniors play on it as young as possible.  The clay teaches you itself how to play and how to construct points.  As Chrissie said, the more you play on it, and the earlier you play on it, the more you can develop those skills.  We’ve got clay at each of our three centers for the USTA now.  The kids are spending a lot more time.  Once you do that, it’s a mindset for our young pros to go out there and be willing to do what it takes to work hard for each point you’ve got to win.

EVERT:  It’s interesting when you look at the clay court players, the players that learned to play tennis on clay, myself and Martina Navratilova, Martina Hingis, Federer, Djokovic, I mean, Nadal, a lot of the players started on clay and excelled on clay at a young age.  And from there, branched out, made some adjustments and learned how to play on a faster court.  I think that’s easier to do than the other way around where you’re primarily a power player.  That’s why it was tough for like a Pete Sampras to win the French.  Other players, when they come on, they’re just big power players, it’s harder to learn how to play if you’re a ball-striker, to play on the clay.

I’m a firm believer, and I don’t know why it hasn’t happened earlier than it did, to start more kids on clay.

 

Q. Patrick, obviously Andy Murray has never won a tournament on clay.  What do you make of his chances going in, especially without a coach?  There’s a discussion about (your brother) John being his coach. 

McENROE:  I know they have a very good relationship.  I think John in the right situation could be a great coach.  The question is, Is he going to be willing to spend the necessary time it would take depending on what Andy is looking for?

 

Andy has a solid team around him.  Of course, Danny who has been with him forever, like his full-time coach or assistant coach when Lendl came in, et cetera.  Andy has a great team around him.  I don’t expect him to be a real threat to win the French at all.  But I think he’ll want to play well there, as he did in Rome.

 

The best part of his year obviously is the grass, defending his Wimbledon title, then the summer on the hard courts.  I think a good result for him would be to make the second week, but I think he’s vulnerable to a lot more players on clay than he is on any other surface.

 

As far as where his coaching ends up, that’s the $64,000 question.  Sounds like from what I’ve heard him say, he’s looking for someone that’s going to be with him for quite some time and be a long-term solution, not do something quick as a part-time Band-Aid.

EVERT:  In one sentence, that was the best clay court match I’ve ever seen Andy Murray play.  I was so impressed.  If he keeps that up, he could be a semifinalist for sure.

 

Q. On the face of it, there wouldn’t seem to be any particular reason why he couldn’t win on the clay, other than the fact that Nadal tends to win so many of them. 

McENROE:  He doesn’t generate as much firepower off both wings.  There are reasons why he’s not as good on clay other than Nadal and Djokovic.  His game is not as suited for clay.  It’s more suited for grass with his slice, his ability to counter-punch.  A ball that drops in the middle of the court to his backhand side, he doesn’t do as much damage with that shot as Djokovic and Nadal.  Not many people do.  He doesn’t have what I call easy power, Murray, which you need on clay more so than other surfaces.  On the other surfaces, he can use the speed of the court to help his game.  It helps him a lot more than other players.

EVERT:  His ball being so flat, it doesn’t keep anybody in the backcourt.  It doesn’t really hurt anybody.

Patrick, what is the furthest he’s gotten?

McENROE:  Semis of the French.  He can play on it, but when you compare him to the other guys, and surprisingly he’s never won a title on clay, which I think if he wanted to, he could play some small tournaments and win them, but he hasn’t gone that route.

 

Q. Do you think he just needs to keep his confidence high ahead of Wimbledon and the U.S. and he shouldn’t be targeting trying to win it?

McENROE:  I think he’s going to absolutely use the French as a way to get him going and to get his fitness up and get his back right and get his confidence going for Wimbledon.  I mean, obviously the pressure’s off in some way at Wimbledon.  But I’m sure walking out at 1 p.m. precisely on that first day will be pretty emotional for him at Wimbledon, and for the crowd.  So there will be a lot more expectations on him.  He’ll want to really be primed and peaked for Wimbledon.

EVERT:  Patrick, when you’re talking about getting past the first week, if he gets past the first week, I think he’s going to take that tournament very seriously.

McENROE:  There’s no doubt he’ll take it seriously.  There’s a lot more guys I think match up very well against him on clay than on grass.

 

Q. Patrick, in the vein of long-term wishing better athletes in the U.S. would choose tennis, would you toss out names of American athletes that every sportsfan might know that kind of think might have made an awesome tennis player had they chosen tennis?

McENROE:  It’s funny, because when people say that, they say, Imagine if Michael Jordan had taken up tennis.  Well, Michael is a little bit too tall.  We have 6’7″, 6’8″ players.  Some would say LeBron James.  Actually he’s too big.  I would take somebody who was a great point guard, somebody like Dwyane Wade.  Who is the guy from Seattle, Richard Sherman, like a defensive back, extremely mobile.  They have some height.

 

To me the ideal height for a tennis player, a man anyway, is about 6’1″ to 6’3″.  So you take someone like Andrew McCutchen, the baseball player, guys that are there kind of size that have that kind of agility and mobility.

 

The first thing you have to remember, people overlook this, it doesn’t matter how fast you can run or how high you can jump if you actually can’t time the ball.  The first thing you need to do is get someone who can actually time the ball and hit it on the center of the racquet when they’re very young.  That’s number one.  Once you get that, obviously you’d like to see somebody that can move.

 

I think flexibility is sort of the way the game is going with guys like Djokovic and Dimitrov, Radwanska.  You see literally her butt on the ground when she’s hitting half her shots.

 

I think that’s the way the game is going with the speed and athleticism as opposed to brut strength and force.  I would look for an athlete that’s incredibly flexible that could have picked up tennis and had a lean-looking body.

 

Q. Patrick, looking ahead six weeks after the French and Wimbledon are over, what would you consider a good run for the American men and for the American women with these two Grand Slams coming up?

McENROE:  The expectations are obviously higher for the women.  I don’t mean obviously just Serena.  She’s the huge favorite in both.  But I think for Sloane Stephens, I think we’re seeing a lot of positive signs out of Christina McHale, Madison Keys.  For me, the younger two, Keys and McHale, I’d love to see one of the them get to the second week of one of these two.  Serena, her expectations would be to win both of them.

 

For our men, I think it’s time to step up.  I think some of our younger guys are making the strides.  A second week for a couple of them isn’t out of the question.  Isner has the ability to do it at both of these occasions.  Steve Johnson and Sock are showing some positive signs.  I think some of these younger guys are going to step up and make something happen.  I think definitely an appearance in the second week for the men would be great.

 

Q. Sloane Stephens, kind of a tough patch now for a bit? 

EVERT:  First of all, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon.  If you remember at Wimbledon last year, Sloane had a good run, and also Madison lost to Radwanska in three sets.  Radwanska was really favored to win at that point because everybody else had lost.  As far as Sloane, it’s frustrating for all of us.  I know Patrick and I, too.  It’s frustrating to watch her play because we know what she is capable of.  We know the talent that she has.  I mean, for me it just seems that she’s taking her time.  You know what I’m saying?  It’s maybe not the right time right now, although it should be.  She doesn’t seem to be putting it all on the line.  She doesn’t seem to be playing with a sense of urgency.

 

The other players, like Bouchard, the other players her age, even younger, she’s kind of lackadaisical, goes in and out of matches.  It’s almost like it will happen in her own time.  It has to come from within her.  No matter what coach she has, what everybody is telling her, I feel she has the type of temperament that when she is ready we’re going to see some brilliance.

McENROE:  I think she’s going to turn it around.  I think deep within her she’s a competitor, a great competitor.  I’ve seen her win a lot of matches where she looked out of it.  As Chrissie said, she’s got to make the decision in her own mind, and when she does, look out.

 

Q. Talk about Madison (Keys) for a minute.  Where do you think her game is at now? 

EVERT:  I think Madison is still a work in progress.  Again, she’s young.  Can’t expect anything more than that.

She’s at the right place for her age and maturity, emotional maturity, right now.  We all see the power.  We see the huge serve.  I’d like to see a better percentage of big serves because that’s where she’s going to win most of her free points.  Her serve is the closest to Serena of any of the players as far as power, placement.  I’d like to see a more consistent serve.  She’s a big girl, and she’s still a teenager, so she’s working on her moving because she’s grown all of a sudden and developed into a woman.  She needs to kind of settle in and working on her movement a little bit.  Very much like Serena, once she gets a little more fit, she won’t feel like she has to go for big shots at inopportune times when she’s out of position.  Right now to me it’s her moving, but it’s there.  She and Sloane to me are the two top American hopefuls.

McENROE:  Not a lot to add to that other than her first serve is really big.  You’re right, it’s not consistent enough.  Her second serve needs to get better.  But she wants it.  She wants it.  She’s working hard.  I think she’s got a real desire to get there.  As she improves her fitness, which she’s doing, her shot selection is going to improve.  It’s naturally going to improve.  As that happens, she’s going to be able to do a lot of damage.  I think she also has to work on coming forward a little bit more.  We saw her and Sloane play doubles in the Fed Cup.  They both could use a little work on the net, coming forward.  Sloane is a better mover, so she’s going to be able to beat people from the baseline with her movement as well as her power.  I’d like to see Madison add the ability to come in and finish some points at the net as well because she’s got a big reach.  That’s certainly a part of her game that can improve.  The good thing is she’s young.  She’s already 40 or so in the world.  There’s a lot of things that can get better.  That’s a real positive.

EVERT:  She’s going at a good pace.  It’s almost like two years ago, for her to have a big win wouldn’t have been a good thing.  She’s going at a good pace and managing herself really, really well.

 

Related articles:

ESPN Broadcast Schedule for the French Open

Share

“Papa” Roger Federer: “I couldn’t be happier”

Federer on court-001

(May 13, 204) Last week Roger Federer became the father of a second set of twins, when wife Mirka gave birth to sons Leo and Lenny. Federer withdrew from the Madrid Open last week to be with his family during the birth and is back on tour this week playing the Italian Open.

“I spoke to the team, I spoke to Mirka, asked all of them what they think I should do and they told me to come here and play,” said Federer in his pre-tournament news conference in Rome. “So I said ok, if you don’t want me around, I’ll go away! I miss them a lot already, it’s a different type of week, but I’ll get through it and I hope I can play some good tennis here.”

“I couldn’t be happier… for those who have kids it’s the best thing… they know what I am talking about. It’s hard to leave all the family, but I’ll see them soon, shortly. The boys are healthy and Mirka is good too. It’s a great time in our lives.

“The plan is that they can come on tour. At least we know how to handle with kids on the road, and that’s quite a challenge early on especially when they are about 12 months old.”

“Things went well, the boys are healthy. Mirka’s good, too,” the world No. 4 said. “So it’s a great time in our lives right now.”

“Boys names are hard. It was all last minute,” Federer said. “Girls, I feel like there’s so many nice names and they’re all cute but with boys it’s totally a different story.

“I miss them a lot already and also the girls. It’s a different type of week but I’ll get through it and I hope I can still play some good tennis.”

Leo and Lenny join twin sisters Myla Rose and Charlene Riva in the family. The girls will turn 5 on July 23rd.

“This time around, we kind of know how to handle kids on the road,” the Swiss said. “I’m aware it’s going to be a lot of work but at the same time I know what I’m getting into. So it’s something I’m very much looking forward to. … There will be a long time without any traveling after the tennis is over, so I’m looking forward to the next couple of years now.”

“Papa” Federer is a three-time losing finalist in Rome – 2003, 2006 and 2013. He’ll begin his quest for a Rome title on Wednesday when he plays Jeremy Chardy.

 

Related article:

Federers Welcome Another Set of Twins to the Family

Share

“On The Call” with US French Open Wild Cards Taylor Townsend and Robby Ginepri

Taylor Townsend

Taylor Townsend

(May 7, 2014) The USTA held a media conference call on Wednesday with Robby Ginepri and Taylor Townsend, the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge winners. Each earned a wild card into the 2014 French Open based on results over the past three weeks on the USTA Pro Circuit.

Here is a transcript of the call courtesy of ASAPSports:

UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE

May 7, 2014

Robby Ginepri

Taylor Townsend

TIM CURRY:  Thank you, everyone, for joining us for our conference call with Taylor Townsend and Robby Ginepri, both of whom secured wild cards this weekend to Roland Garros later this month by winning the Har‑Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge.
The wild card was made available to any American who did not receive direct entry into the French Open main draw.  The man and woman who earned the most ATP and WTA Tour ranking points in two of three select USTA Pro Circuit clay court events was awarded the wild card.  This is the third the USTA Player Development has used this format to determine its French Open wild cards.
Robby finished with 80 points after winning the Tallahassee challenger.  He last played in the main draw of the French Open in 2010 when he reached the fourth round, the best showing of an American male that year.  He also is the only active American male to reach the semifinals of a major, the 2005 US Open, where he lost to Agassi in five sets.
Taylor will be making her Grand Slam debut in Paris.  She won consecutive clay court events, the Boyd Tinsley Clay Court Classic in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Audi Melbourne Pro Tennis Classic in Indian Harbour Beach to earn 180 ranking points and the USTA’s wild card.
With that being said, we will open the call for questions.

Q.  Taylor, I know you probably played three matches in a day many times in the juniors.  Was Sunday the first day you played four?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  No.  The year I won Easter Bowl in 2012 I had to play four matches.  This is the first time I had to play four pro matches and won them all.

Q.  Especially because that first match was really the key match, how did you focus on the next three?  Was that difficult?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  No, not really.  I mean, I knew that I would have to play another match once I won my semifinal.  I wanted to win the tournament.  I felt like it was important.
I didn’t really think so much about the circumstance.  I just thought about what I had to do on the court and kind of focused and zoned in on that.
It wasn’t really difficult.  I think my semifinals in the doubles I was a little bit more tired.  But then I got up and got myself going again in the finals of the doubles.  The score was indicative of that.

Q.  What does it mean to you to be playing in your first one knowing you earned the wild card rather than just being given the wild card?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  I mean, it’s a great feeling.  It’s a great feeling for me.  I think I’m going into this tournament really, really confident.  I’m playing really well.  It’s just really good to know that I earned this.  It was not like I was given it.  It wasn’t like someone just decided to give me a wild card.  It was something that I earned with my sweat and hard work.
It feels really good to know that.  It gives me a lot of confidence in my match play and things I’ve been working on, so I’m excited.

Q.  Robby, in a bit of an unusual circumstance, you had to play two matches on the day you clinched the wild card.  It was an unusual week from going indoors to clay, two matches a day.  Talk about your week, how everything progressed, what it was like when you knew you were playing a match to clinch a French Open wild card.
ROBBY GINEPRI:  Definitely a strange week with rain four days.  Coming into the semifinals, I think my opponent had played all three of his matches indoors, so I knew that going into it.  I was a lot more nervous for the semifinals match than I was for the finals.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but knew what was at stake all week.  Played some good tennis to get through the semifinals.  Once I got through there, it was an easy match in the finals.
Excited to be back and going to the Grand Slam in Paris.

Q.  Can you give us a run‑through of what you’ve been dealing with through the last couple years.
ROBBY GINEPRI:  Yeah, a couple years ago after I had a good fourth‑round appearance at the French, later that year I broke my left elbow mountain biking, had a couple elbow surgeries and was out for a year, year and a half.  Struggling to find my rhythm, find my game, stay healthy.
Obviously, all professional athletes go through injuries.  How you deal with them, manage them, that’s all I’ve been trying to do.
Still enjoying the game out there.  It’s a big opportunity for me to get this wild card.  Definitely feel like I can do some damage over there.  I’ve shown I can do it before.  Eager to get out there on the red clay.
I’ve always enjoyed going to Paris.  It’s a special place to me.  I feel like the fans are extremely knowledgeable when they’re watching all the matches.  Regardless of the courts you’re on, Court 17 or one of the show courts, they’re pretty packed.  I’m stoked for that.

Q.  What is your schedule now?  How does this change knowing you have a European trip on the schedule?
ROBBY GINEPRI:  I’ll head over next week and play Nice, a warmup qualifying tour event, then go over to Roland Garros after that.  I have a week, train as hard as I can to get ready for three‑out‑of‑five.

Q.  Taylor, what is your schedule heading to Paris?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  I’m leaving next week, going to Strasbourg.  Play that, probably quallies.  Then after that I’m going to Paris as well, get some matches on the red clay.  Get over there and get used to the time change and everything.  I think that’s important, as well.

Q.  Robby, when you take a look now at guys like Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish, James Blake, they’re now all off the circuit.  Is it a little weird for you to think about going to a major without those guys there?  Do you talk to them frequently?
ROBBY GINEPRI:  Yeah, it is a little strange the last couple years with them retiring from the game.  Still see them and speak to them here and there.
But also made some new friends along the way.  Some of the other Americans will be there to compete and do our thing over there.
Those were the three or four guys that I grew up and played all the Grand Slams with and had the success with, shared great times with.  So it’s a little different.
I feel like they could have had a couple more good years left, and I’ll try to play well for them along the way.

Q.  Taylor, when you look at the Pro Circuit, the USTA Pro Circuit, how grateful are you to have this opportunity to stay in the States and hone your game, play these pro events, then have the chance for a wild card into a major because of it?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  I think it’s great.  I mean, I definitely think that the Pro Circuit is great.  It’s an opportunity for you to get a lot of matches, an opportunity to get points.  It’s great that we have it stateside.  It makes it easier for us to be able to play in our home because there aren’t that many tournaments here anymore.  It is important.
I think having the wild card on the line, it makes it all the more competitive, not just with the Americans, but with the foreign people who come and play as well.  There are a lot more foreigners in the draw than there were Americans.  So I think it’s important.  It drew great crowds and was fun.

Q.  Robby, my target audience is Atlanta tennis players.  You said you were nervous getting this wild card.  You also talked a little bit about managing the injuries that you’ve had.  If you could give me a couple concrete details about how you did that, how you manage nerves, then one or two specific things you did to help get your body back on track.
ROBBY GINEPRI:  I mean, it all starts with the mental side.  It’s extremely time consuming to go to rehab for nine months to just try to bend your elbow, get as much range as you can.  That’s something athletes are very good at doing, is separating the time on the court or field, whatnot, to dedicating their life to how they can progress in a positive manner.
Had a lot of my friends and family and close people pushing me along the way, supporting me, which is a huge step and process anytime something like this happens.
Just try to keep up with the physical strength and fitness as much as I could, doing it as much as I could without hitting some balls.
I started doing a lot of Yoga, which helped me a lot mentally, just feeling a little bit more flexible.

Q.  People have talked about Americans not doing all that well on clay.  What is your take on the situation?  I know Serena won the French last year.  In general, Americans don’t necessarily grow up playing on clay.  How do you think Americans can improve their clay performances in general?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  I think it just starts off with the player.  I mean, you can either love clay or hate clay.  You’re not going to do well if you hate it.  I just think it starts with a mindset.
It’s definitely a different way of playing.  Well, not a different way of playing, but the points are longer, the sliding.  It’s more physical.  It’s a whole different component you have to train for.
I don’t think it’s just a matter of us not doing well.  I think it’s a mindset we have to understand that, you know, it’s longer points, longer rallies, choosing to stay in there mentally and physically.
ROBBY GINEPRI:  I agree with Taylor.  Definitely a choice and decision to embrace the clay court experience.  A lot of the foreigners do grow up on this so they feel more comfortable starting out.  The way they are able to construct points at an early age, get the footing, is different than how we are raised on the American hard courts where we pull the trigger earlier and don’t construct points as long.
It just takes time.  Once on the clay, to get your footing down, the experience, realize that we can play on this just as good if not better.

Q.  Do you think growing up now, the juniors should have more exposure to clay, those in the USTA, academies and such in the U.S.?
ROBBY GINEPRI:  Yeah, I think it’s great for the kids to get on the clay earlier.  There’s no harm in that.  It’s easier on the body.  Takes less out of you.  Not as much pounding from the hard courts that we’ve done from an earlier age.  Maybe the longevity would last longer if we get out there earlier.  I think it’s been moving a bit more towards clay at an earlier age over here.
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  I totally agree with Robby.  I think it’s great.  I think there are a lot more tournaments that are providing clay court play.  Also we’re training more on clay.  From my experience, we did the off‑season training on the clay because, like he said, it’s easier on your body, on the knees, not as much pounding.  It’s good training.
I think it’s great it’s starting to lean a little bit more towards that and at an earlier age.

Q.  Robby, some details about the elbow injury.  What exactly was it that happened?  Did you have to keep it in a cast for a certain amount of time?  What did you need to do to get that right?
ROBBY GINEPRI:  Yeah, I probably went into surgery the next day on it.  Then casted it the next three days.  I was in rehab right away getting the range back and not letting the scar tissue build up on it.  I had a lot of atrophy happen with it, so I lost a lot of muscle mass and flexion.
I was literally going to rehab five days a week, three hours every day, not seeing any progress some weeks, then seeing big gains the next.  There were a lot of ups and downs during that time.
I still can’t fully extend my left arm right now.  I’ve had some left wrist issues along the way from a little bit too much pressure on that joint and the ligaments.
Like I said before, I’m trying to manage this the best I can, get as much treatment at tournaments and away from tournaments and go from there.

Q.  Taylor, what has it been like working with Zina?  What has she brought to your training and improvement in the last year or so?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  It’s definitely been great.  I’ve had a lot of fun working with Zina, as well as my other coach in Chicago Kamau Murray.  We’ve been working a lot on mental training.  We’ve been working physically on the court.  But a lot of mental training, understanding the game, understanding how to play the game.  Basically that’s it really.
There wasn’t that much tweaking we did with my strokes.  There wasn’t really anything we had to do there.  It was more me getting an understanding for how to play the game.  Actually what they’ve both brought to the table is mental training.  The mental training has just been really key.
That’s what we’ve been working on.  It’s been great.  I’ve enjoyed my time with both of them.  I’m really looking forward to going over to Europe with them.

Q.  Could you talk about the process of the wild card, determining the winner on the USTA Pro Circuit through the Har‑Tru USTA Pro Circuit Challenge.  Do you like the process?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  I liked it.  I think that it is a great opportunity to not only increase the competitiveness in the 50K’s, but it’s a great opportunity for all the Americans to have a shot at something so big.
I mean, I think it’s very fair because whoever wins it earned it.  It’s not like you’re given it.  It’s not just placed in the palm of your hand.  You earned it with your sweat, hard work, the tournaments you played.  I think it’s a great process.  I think it’s very fair.
I also think that it’s great that we can have that reward at the end of those three tournaments.  It’s very rewarding to win tournaments, but to know we also get a wild card into the French Open is even more satisfying.
I really like the process and I think it’s really fair and I think that it’s great.
ROBBY GINEPRI:  Yeah, same.  Huge advocate for the wild card playoffs.  It brings a lot to the table.  There’s no question of who deserved it or who got it.  Like Taylor said, we earned it.  We’re the ones that reap all the benefits from it now, get a main draw wild card for Paris.
I like how they did it her in Atlanta for the Australian wild card shootout as well.  Hopefully we continue it down the road.  It’s good for American tennis.

Q.  Robby, you’ve had really good results at the French in the past with a couple fourth‑round appearances.  Have you set any goals for yourself there this year?
ROBBY GINEPRI:  Haven’t really sat down and planned out and say I want to reach the fourth round again or whatnot.  Wasn’t even on the radar a couple months ago.
It’s a huge bonus for me.  First four or five years I played Paris, I lost first round.  To break through in ’07 and ’08 to get to the fourth round, then 2010 I proved I could do it again, beat tough guys over there in five sets.  Bring my A game over there and see how it goes.

Q.  Taylor, making your Grand Slam debut, do you have any goals set for yourself there?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  I mean, as far as rounds are concerned, not really.  I just think for me I want to embrace the moment, embrace every opportunity that comes my way, and just enjoy the moment.  This is my first Grand Slam main draw.  It’s a lot to take in.  It’s an honor and a privilege just to be there.
I don’t want to just be happy to be there; I want to compete and do the best that I can.  I think if I do the right things and everything, it will take care of itself.

Q.  Robby, if you do well in France, if you feel okay, what could be your schedule for the rest of the season?
ROBBY GINEPRI:  I’d probably stay over there and play a lot of the grass court tournaments.  Obviously my ranking has plummeted a lot in the last couple years.  It would be a question of what events I could even get into.  I’d be playing quallies I’m sure at most of them.
I’ve always liked playing Queen’s Club, Eastbourne.  I don’t think I’d be getting into Wimbledon, so I’d have to play quallies of that.  Then I’d come back and prepare like I always do for a great hard court season.
There’s the tournament here in Atlanta, my hometown event.  I get amped up for that and go there.

Q.  Do you think anything about the US Open?
ROBBY GINEPRI:  Oh, yeah.  The whole US Open Series, any tournaments I could get into and play and qualify, I would obviously love to be a part of that.
I have a lot of special memories from playing the Open.  It’s always been my dream to play that tournament.  If I can still continue to be there and play there, I would obviously come back and show up and execute my skill set there every match, try to get some W’s.
TIM CURRY:  Thanks, Taylor and Robby, for the time.  Good luck overseas.
Har‑Tru Sports, which is sponsoring the Clay Court Wild Card Challenge for the second year of a three‑year deal, is also launching a Be One With the Clay video contest this year where tennis fans can create a video demonstrating how clay courts impact their game.  The contest closes on May 31st and the winner receives a trip to Palm Springs.  For more information, visit www.beonewiththeclay.com.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

 

Tennis Panorama News participates in many tennis media conference calls. “On The Call” serves to give readers an inside view into the world of tennis news.

Share

Wimbledon Increases Prize Money by More Than 10 Percent for 2014

toptennispanorama wimbledon 2011

(April 29, 2014) WIMBLEDON – The AELTC announced the continuing development plans and prize money for the 2014 Championships in their annual Spring Press Conference on Tuesday.

They are continuing with their focus of the last few years on recognizing the lower tiers of the competitors, the overall prize pot has risen by £2.4m (10.8%) to a prize fund of £25m. First round losers, for example, will now pocket £27K in prize money in recognition of reaching a Grand Slam main draw.

The increases continue for all those who reach the last 16 and further, and for the Gentlemen’s and Ladies Champions, there is a check for £1.76m this year (£160K increase from 2013).

This year courts 14 and 15 will be out of commission, with 17 courts in play and the focus is definitely on continuation of the next phase of their long term plan, with more space being created for ball-boys and ball-girls and a new 24-hour media restaurant,

The Court 1 development will see proposals including a new fixed and retractable roof, an additional 900 seats and a public plaza. The proposals are subject to planning approval ad the scheduled completion date is still 2019.

In 2015 the dates of The Championship will move back to 29 June – 12 July 2015, creating a three-week gap between the French Open and Wimbledon with a restructured calendar for ATP and WTA events.

Wildcards will be announced from Monday, June 9, and qualification will take place between June 16-19.

The seedings will be announced on Wednesday, June 18 at 10am and it is expected that the seedings formula will have a significant impact on the positioning of defending champion Andy Murray, current World No. 2 Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

The Wimbledon draw will take place on Friday, June 20 at 10am.

Share

Fashion Statements in Notes and Quotes at the Sony Open

 

Fashion statements

 

(Match 20, 2014) On Thursday at the Sony Open some of the players were asked about their “fashion” and “style” on and off-court. Here is what some of them had to say.

Serena Williams

The world No. 1 sported Miami Dolphins colors on court on Thursday. The 17-time major champ is a co-owner of the NFL team.

Actually, we’re playing ‑‑ Nike and I wanted to pay homage to my team that I co‑own, so it was like, We should totally do the Dolphin colors.  Just have something really fun for Miami.  You know, Dolphins are great, so just, Go Dolphins, go Fins.

 

Djokovci inpress

Novak Djokovic

The World No. 2 was asked about his inspiration in designing his outfits.

You mentioned Andre Agassi.  I mean, he definitely revolutionalized the fashion in tennis.  He was the first one to dress differently and to have some kind of statement on the court.

Well, I have been through a process in my career, as well.  I had different dragons and wings on my shirts (smiling).

But I’m at a different stage right now.  Of course I’m very much involved in giving ‑‑ trying to give my input as much as I can to design my own clothes.  I’m fortunate to have a really good team of people and designers from Uniqlo Company who represents me the last two years.

There is various, I will say, inspirations behind the certain designs for different periods of the year depending on color of the surface, depending on the time of the year, depending where we go, color of Serbian flags, so forth and so forth.

So there are different sources of inspiration we are trying to put into the design and kind of create something that looks nice on the court.

 

Roger Federer

Roger Federer

The Swiss No. 2 and 17-time major champ had a question posted to him about his process of picking out colors and styles and if he had any fashion advice.

Well, normally, look, it’s great to see fans wearing the RF cap, you name it, or Nike in general.  It’s like a tag of approval maybe in a way that they enjoy what I’m wearing.  They feel like they’re connected to me, which I do feel is the case.

The hard part is deciding today what I’m going to wear for US Open next year.  It’s kind of hard, you know, sometimes to put myself in the right mind and mindset to know, Am I going to like, you know, stripes in one‑and‑a‑half years?  I’m not sure, you know.

Right now I maybe do, but maybe one‑and‑a‑half years maybe not so cool.  That’s the hard part when we work together with Nike.  But I really enjoy the process, and it’s nice to be part of it rather than just getting stuff and then not liking or loving stuff.

It has that element where you can be part of it.  My advice probably is you’ve got to make sure you wear the clothes and not the clothes wear you.  It’s quite simple in a, way but don’t wear something you totally feel uncomfortable with, but, you know, take some chances.  Play around a bit.

I felt very uncomfortable in suits when I was younger, so what I just started doing was wearing suits when I was going to dinner.  I used to overdress a little bit so I got used to wearing suits.  Now wearing a suit is like wearing a track suit for me.  So it’s all good.

 

Murray in press

Andy Murray

Andy Murray was asked how players showcase through fashion and individual styles.

This is a tough question for me.  I don’t really know how to answer it (smiling).

To be honest, I mean, I just like wearing on the court what’s comfortable.  So long as the products work well, then that’s the most important thing for me.

I mean, adidas, the way they work is they tend to have their ‑‑ they have their own colors, so all of the players wear a fairly similar kit; whereas some of the other companies, you know, it’s more sort of individual.

So you see that player’s sort of style or what they like a little bit more.

Share

Juan Martin del Potro Withdraws From Indian Wells with Wrist Injury

Del Potro in press

(March 9, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday due to ligament damage in his left wrist. Del Potro also pulled out of the Dubai tournament last week with the same injury.

“Well, my situation, it’s the same as Dubai,” said the Argentine.  “The wrist is still bothering me a lot.  I signed up for doubles here to try before singles how I’m feeling, and I played yesterday and I didn’t feel really well.

“I’m not feeling 100%, and I’m not in good conditions to compete and to try and to win the tournament.

“I mean, I always like to feel good and feel the chance to win the tournament, and I’m not feeling that.  The wrist is still bothering me a lot, and my doctors tell me to wait ten more days doing the treatment and do everything possible to play in Miami.

“That’s what is my focus now.  I will have the next ten days for do the same treatment, the same exercises, the same rehabilitation, and try to get in Miami much better than here and see what could happen in that tournament.”

“The problem start in Melbourne,” Del Potro said.  Yeah.  In my first round in Melbourne, yeah.

“And after that match is painful all the time.  I couldn’t spend time without the pain after Melbourne.”

Share

Twizzles and Selfies in Notes and Quotes for Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open

 

(March 8, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – a quick at the more unusual player quotes from the BNP Paribas Open.

Maria Sharapova who was an NBC Olympic correspondent in Sochi was quizzed on the word “twizzle” after her straight sets win over Julia Goerges.

 Sharapova 382014 IW

 

Q.  Who is the coolest athlete you met, and do you know what a twizzle is?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  A twizzle?  Is that part of figure skating?  Right, right.  I don’t know if that was a trick question.

Who did I meet?  I met a lot of former athletes that were working for NBC, which was like Scott Hamilton.  I don’t know.  It was really bizarre just like having breakfast around each other like it was no big deal.  All these athletes getting together, not actually working on our sport, but that was special.

Q.  Did you and Johnny Weir hang out at all?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Unfortunately I missed him, but I was told we had a coat competition.  Yeah, we tried to upstage each other’s coats.  I brought 12 and he brought 25.  I mean, that’s pathetic.

Q.  Never going to win that battle?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, you never know.

Q.  Would you consult him for designing for Serena?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  That could be fun.  He could design for me, as well.

Serena Williams tweeted her approval for Sharapova’s dress. The Russian was quizzed about this and talked about tennis dresses and how she and Serena Williams could design one for each other.

Q.  I think Serena tweeted during your match that your outfit was totally cute.  She approved.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Really?  Are those her exact words, Totally cute?

Q.  She said #approved.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think we have to exchange designs.  We have to design an outfit for each other.  That would be fun.  Without knowing…

Q.  Cat suit?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I have to put an end to the cat suit on me (Laughter.)  I mean, I’m 26 already, so I think those days are over.

But that would be fun without telling each other what it is, just unveiling it.

Q.  You would trust each other to do that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Oh, yeah.  That would be a lot of fun, don’t you think?  You guys would all show up for that, right?  (Laughter.)

We’re going to get great coverage.  Nike is going to be happy.  It’s all good.

Q.  What kind of ideas do you have for dressing up Serena then?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It’s our secret.  Show up to the unveiling.

Q.  No hints?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  No hints.  I have a few things in mind, a few silhouettes.

 

 

Federer 382014

 

 

 

 

Roger Federer bested Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 7-6(5). The Swiss who has been on twitter about a year was asked about taking “selfies,” as he has recently posted a couple on his twitter account.

Q.  On your year or so on Twitter, you have gotten very good at selfies.

ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, okay.

Q.  If you could take a selfie with anybody, who would it be?

ROGER FEDERER:  Nobody.  I mean, this is totally for the supporters of me, whoever follows me or a fan of me, whoever it is, the people who do, you know, follow me on Twitter or Facebook.  Just trying to make it fun and different.

Took me a long time to sort of warm up to social media, because I just didn’t know how it’s supposed to be used ‑ even though there is no rule to it.  But I find some people use it in a very funny way and some in a very strange way

First, for myself, I had to find out what was going to be my direction.  I saw it more as giving more sort of the extra, you know, sort of hints, sort of my angle, an extra angle to our life on tour.

So it’s actually become quite enjoyable.  The last thing I want to feel is pressure that I have to take pictures or have to is something.  If I don’t want to post anything for weeks, I have the right to do that and that needs to be the case.

But I must say it’s pretty funny, and it doesn’t stress me out.  You just can’t being sucked into it too crazy, otherwise all you start doing is spending time on the phone, and that’s not what I want to start happening to me.

 

LiNa 382014

Li Na – no more doubles please.

 

Q.  We see a lot of the top players playing doubles at a tournament like this.  Why not you?

LI NA:  I think doubles court for me too small enough (Laughter.)  I don’t know.  Maybe last time I play doubles was 2007.  Or I play Olympics I think with a young girl.

When I was stand up the court I even didn’t know what I have to do.  Even I return, I was feeling the court so small.  Everywhere is people (smiling).  I cannot do it.

So for me, I really, how do you say, focus on my singles right now to see maybe I can, I even can improve a little bit.

Q.  Do you not like doubles?

LI NA:  Not really, no, because you have to, how do you say, talk to your opponent all the time.  Yeah.

Warinka in press

Stanislas Wawrinka and the boring questions.

Q.  Where have you placed the Australian Open trophy?  And when do you think it will start getting boring with all the questions and Australia and all the things you achieved over there?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA:  Well, I think I’m not going to get boring about those questions, you know.  It’s more about being Swiss No. 1 that’s annoying me.

But about winning Grand Slam, I think it’s great.  It’s positive.  So I can answer many few questions if you want.

The trophy is in Switzerland in a safe place

Share