October 7, 2015

Brad Gilbert Talks US Open Draws with Tennis Panorama News

Brad Gilbert Voya

(August 27, 2015) NEW YORK, NY – Former pro tennis player coach and current ESPN tennis analyst Brad Gilbert is known for having a unique tennis vocabulary. The former world No. 4 is putting his tennis glossary to good use starring in six Voya Financial-produced videos for social media.


This is the second edition of the “Gilbert’s Glossary” videos that began during Wimbledon received more than four million views. The new campaign includes six new comical video shorts featuring Gilbert.

Voya’s sponsorship of ESPN’s coverage spans the entire duration of the US Open and will air over two weeks — from Aug. 31 through Sept. 13 — across ESPN networks. The agreement features a number of media rights including significant commercial inventory, live Voya “Bench Talk” segments with accompanying graphics and audio mentions, and the debut of 360-degree “freeD” replay technology with Voya on-screen branding.


Gilbert spoke to Tennis Panorama News to talk about the videos and the US Open singles draws which were made on Thursday.

Tennis Panorama News: Let’s talk about the men’s draw first. What were your impressions?

Brad Gilbert: There are about a half a dozen really good popcorn matches in the first round. We’re going to have some intriguing matches.


Definitely Rafa (Nadal) – (Borna) Coric, The bad boy (Nick) Kyrgios versus (Andy) Murray, I think that’s a bad match-up for him anyways. (Thanasi) Kokkinakis versus (Richard) Gasquet.


I think Djoker (Novak Djokovic) got a great draw and down on the bottom (of the draw), I’m not really sure if he had a good draw or a bad draw, if (Roger) Federer is playing the way he did in Cincinnati, I think he’s in store for a big run. It’s been six years since he made a final at the (US) Open. What he showed in Cincinnati was really impressive. I’m looking forward to see if he can bring that in New York.


TPN: Can you predict the winner after seeing the draw today?

BG: No. I will pick a winner in a couple of days. I do it for ESPN.com. One thing’s for sure, sometimes you look at a draw, you look at a brutal draw and a couple days later it can open up. So, Serena’s (Williams) draw on paper is brutal, but you never know if she’ll have to navigate all the way through the draw the way it is ‘cause things can change.


Last year was a major surprise (on the men’s tour) with what we had and probably the first time, we had a couple of surprises. We had Stan (Wawrinka) winning (the Australian Open) and (Marin) Cilic (US Open) – I don’t think we are going to see a major surprise like that this year (at the US Open) that’s for sure.


TPN: So do you want to go out on a limb and make a prediction for the women?

BG: No, not yet. I have to think about it for a few more days. I usually fill out 2 or 3 draws. I sit there and scratch through them in my room until I come up with the right one.


TPN: I want to ask you about your new videos that were launched Voya Financial. How much fun was it making them, especially with your unique spin on things.

BG: It was a blast doing them. Obviously Voya is a great company. They had a tremendous team making me look good. And one of the coolest compliments – I had a young kid come up to me and say “Are you that YouTube dude?” (Laughter)


So, I’ve been called a lot about being a coach and playing, the way the kid said it, it kind rang home – like to him it really meant something. I like to have a lot of fun on Twitter, and I like to have a lot of fun, when I do the studio stuff, so I am really happy that Voya gave me a platform to have fun.



Here are two of the videos in “Gibert’s Glossary” campaign for Voya Financial

Videos called Moonball, Flatliner, Fearhand and Dead Let Court will be released during the US Open.

Related article:

Brad Gilbert Talks Tennis “Glossary”

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News at the US Open.


On The Call: Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish to Play Doubles at Atlanta Open


Mardy FishAndyRoddick

(June 15, 2015) Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish will play doubles together at the BB&T Atlanta Open next month, and Fish is also going play singles. Roddick, retired since 2012 now works in as a sports broadcaster

Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion and former No. 1-ranked player, retired from professional tennis in 2012.

Fish, a former top U.S. player who was ranked in the Top Ten, who has not played since August 2013 was asked about his return to the court and if there are future tournaments beyond Atlanta for him. Fish has been suffering from an anxiety disorder.

“Unfortunately I can only look to Atlanta,” Fish said. “Just with how things have gone in the past few years, how things went in Indian Wells.  I wanted to play Miami.  Still sort of fighting the battle of the anxiety disorder, trying to get a firm grip on how I feel after matches.”
“So just the comfort of knowing how Atlanta is, knowing that we’ve had success there, getting to play doubles with Andy, sort of having friends and family around, it’s a perfect start there,” Fish said. “Then obviously it’s no secret, I’d love to go back to the US Open where sort of it all came crashing down for me in 2012, sort of conquer that place.  By ‘conquer’ I mean just get back out on the court there.  I have a lot of demons from that place.
“But there’s obviously other events, Washington, Cincinnati, that I really love playing as well, that I hope to try to pla

The Atlanta Open, which is a hard-court event, launches the U.S. Open Series beginning on July 27.





Transcript of the USTA Media Conference call courtesy of the USTA and ASAPSports

BRENDAN McINTYRE:  Good morning, everyone.  This is Brendan McIntyre, the director of corporate communications for the USTA.  I’d like to welcome everyone to the first conference call of the 2015 Emirates Airline US Open Series.  Today’s call is on behalf of the BB&T Atlanta Open.
Joining us today are Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish, to talk about their summer plans.  J. Wayne Richmond, the general manager of the Emirates Airline US Open Series, and Eddie Gonzalez, the tournament director and chief development officer for the BB&T Atlanta Open.
At this time I’d like to allow Eddie to give a few brief remarks and open up the call.
Today is a big day for us because it’s our Media Day.  We’re extremely excited and honored to kick off the Emirates Airline US Open Series with the summer hard courts leading up to eventually the US Open.
Today we announce our player field.  Being the first tournament back in the United States, we really wanted to kind of kick off our opening ceremony and session with a celebration of American tennis.  That’s going to feature a singles exhibition with Andy Roddick as a great former American champion against Francis Tiafoe, a future American champion.  We’re also very excited to Mardy has agreed to come play singles.
Atlanta has a lot of nice history to both players because Mardy has won our tournament twice, Andy won twice, his first ATP Tour event and his last event.
Once we knew we had Andy coming for a single’s exhibition and Mardy’s commitment to play in our main draw singles, I was thinking to myself, Gosh, wouldn’t it be great if those guys would agree to stay and play main draw doubles together.  It probably wasn’t, because less than 24 hours later Andy and Mardy’s team reached out to me and said, What do you think about Andy and Mardy playing doubles together?
So very excited to announce publicly for the first time here that Andy is actually coming out of retirement to play main draw doubles here in Atlanta with his good friend Mardy.  We’ll talk about that today as well as what the rest of their summer plans are.
Before we get to that, J. Wayne is our general manager and wants to say a few words.
J. WAYNE RICHMOND:  Thanks, Eddie.  First, thanks to the press and media to be with us this morning.
Andy and Mardy have always been two of my favorites, I know fan favorites across the U.S., and I think they own the Atlanta event between the two of them.
These two guys have been supporters of the Series since day one.  Andy has been the Series champion twice, in ’05 and ’06.  The only other player to do that has been Nadal.  Mardy did the same in 2011.
We’re just excited to have you two guys back.  We have a great summer ahead.  I look forward to seeing everybody on the road, particularly in Atlanta in a few weeks.
Welcome back, Andy and Mardy.
BRENDAN McINTYRE:  At this time we’re ready to open up the line for Q&A.

Q.  Andy and Mardy, could you talk about why you wanted to do this.  I remember last year you had talked about hoping to try to do this sort of thing maybe at the US Open.  I’m wondering whether that’s in the plans for later this summer.
ANDY RODDICK:  Yeah, we did want to play the Open last year, but it was my fault.  I didn’t know the rules.  I’m getting back into the drug testing pool.  So I kind of got Mardy all excited about it and couldn’t actually do it.
I think this is something we wanted to do.  Obviously with Mardy’s comeback, it’s been a pretty amazing story.  The fact that he’s going to pursue that even more this summer is really exciting.
We’ve been friends for a long time.  We kind of just wanted to play together one last time.  I wanted to play with my friend and kind of share in his comeback a little bit.
I don’t think we’re going to play in the US Open.  I have some personal stuff coming up later this year that I won’t be able to play.
Once we knew that, Atlanta seemed like the obvious choice.  We both had success there.  We both love that tournament.  I’m just jumped.  I hope I don’t embarrass myself out there.  I’m real excited.
I wasn’t a very good doubles player when I was actually good at tennis.  Mardy is going to have to do the heavy lifting.

Q.  You two have had a relationship in the juniors.  You played one another 13 times in the pro ranks.  How exciting is this to be doing this US Open Series together?  Andy, could you share your favorite story about Mardy.  Mardy, if you could share your favorite story about Andy, that would be great.
ANDY RODDICK:  Oh, God.  I’ll let you lead, Mardy, so I know what to respond with.
MARDY FISH:  I could go a lot of different ways with that one (laughter).
First of all, yeah, I echo Andy’s sentiment.  We’re really excited to play.  Like he said, we’ve been friends forever, since we were 12, playing each other.  Where was that, Altamonte Springs, Sanlando Park, was maybe the first time we played when we were 11 or 12.  Your dad thought I was cheating you.
ANDY RODDICK:  You probably were (laughter).
MARDY FISH:  I wasn’t.  Your dad yelled at me because he thought I was cheating, but I wasn’t.  You ended up beating me 7‑6, 7‑6.  First time we ever played in a real match.
No, we’ve got a long history.  We’re excited to do it there again in Atlanta.
I’m training probably harder than Andy is now because of the singles stuff.  But I’m on him to hopefully get back and at least start practicing a little bit more.
But we’re super excited.
ANDY RODDICK:  Yeah, that’s one of my favorite stories, too.  I remember it differently because I do know that Mardy was definitely cheating.  The yelling by my father was warranted (laughter).
But, yeah, we’re just excited.  I mean, I think the priority is on Mardy playing singles.  We’re going to have some fun with the doubles.  For a moment in time there, three or four years ago, Mardy could win on tour with anybody in doubles.  He’s one of the best doubles players I’ve ever seen.
I’m looking forward to it.  I plan on losing five pounds by the Atlanta tournament, then gaining 10 pounds back right away.

Q.  Andy, I assume that part of the personal reasons towards the end of the year is impending fatherhood.  Am I right there?
ANDY RODDICK:  Yeah.  A lot of naps.  I’m planning on taking a lot of naps this fall.

Q.  Can you talk a little bit about kind of your expectations, your apprehensions, and whichever sex this child is, would you like them to be playing professional tennis?
ANDY RODDICK:  I don’t know.  The question might be about 20 years premature.
You ask around, and everyone has some advice.  Mardy is a new father.  His son Beckett is just the best.  Thank goodness he looks like his mother.
You can have expectations, but I’m not going to know what it’s all going to be like until the baby’s actually here.
We’re just really excited.  We feel very lucky.

Q.  Mardy, can you chime in on that a little bit, too, as to athletics in your kid’s future.
MARDY FISH:  He’s going to be an athlete.  He’s going to be either a golfer or baseball player.  He’s going to be lefty.  He has no choice.

Q.  He has no choice?
MARDY FISH:  No (laughter).

Q.  You’re seeing signs already of athletic ability, I assume?
MARDY FISH:  When he picks up his plastic golf club, he picks it up lefty.  I get so excited.  But then he grabs it with his right hand and he whacks it with his right hand and I get bummed.
So we’ll see.

Q.  Mardy, with the singles comeback, how far down the road are you looking?  How much do you think you’d like to do, or you’re not really thinking about that just yet?
MARDY FISH:  Unfortunately I can only look to Atlanta, just with how things have gone in the past few years, how things went in Indian Wells.  I wanted to play Miami.  Still sort of fighting the battle of the anxiety disorder, trying to get a firm grip on how I feel after matches.  The part that helps me is all the different reps and things like that that you get.
I used to struggle with sleep.  Once you go to sleep at night so many times, you get better and better at it, you get more confident with it.  It’s hard for me to do the matches because there’s not very many, and there’s only so many situations I can kind of put myself in.
Indian Wells, in the first place, was a great place for me to start because it’s just a drive away.  My whole family could be there.
Atlanta is probably second easiest to that, considering how sort of comfortable the tournament is.  Conditions‑wise it will be a challenge as far as the weather and things.  But that’s stuff I grew up in and used to thrive in conditions like that on the court.
So just the comfort of knowing how Atlanta is, knowing that we’ve had success there, getting to play doubles with Andy, sort of having friends and family around, it’s a perfect start there.
Then obviously it’s no secret, I’d love to go back to the US Open where sort of it all came crashing down for me in 2012, sort of conquer that place.  By ‘conquer’ I mean just get back out on the court there.  I have a lot of demons from that place.
But there’s obviously other events, Washington, Cincinnati, that I really love playing as well, that I hope to try to play.
But it all starts in Atlanta for me.

Q.  This is a question you guys are probably tired of answering.  Curious to hear both your thoughts on the future of men’s tennis in America.
ANDY RODDICK:  I’ve actually never heard that question before (laughter).
MARDY FISH:  I can start a little bit because I’m out at Carson at our West Coast base for the USTA.  I’m out here quite a bit.  I’ve hit a lot with a lot of those guys.
We got a lot of young players coming up.  By ‘young’ I mean obviously Jack, who is 22 years old, but some of these guys are 17.  No.1 junior in the world right now, Taylor Fritz, has a big future.  There’s quite a lot of young guys that really can play.
I think age‑wise underneath those young Aussies that are coming up in Kyrgios, some of those kids, Tomic, who are 22 and 21 years old, 20, we have some 16, 17, 18‑year‑olds who can play, apart from Jack.
These guys, what you don’t understand, too, Donald Young, Sam Querrey to a certain extent, Sam is only 27 years old.  It sounds old, and he’s been out here for a long time, but it’s still really young.  He’s got a lot of time if he can figure out and rekindle a lot of the stuff that he did early in his career.
There’s a lot of guys age‑wise just underneath those Aussies that everyone is talking about that are really good players that you’ll hear a lot from in the next couple years.
ANDY RODDICK:  I think probably for the first time in a while, we can say we’re cumulatively as a tennis community in the States, there seems to be some really legitimate, authentic excitement.  Not just around one or two guys, but around a handful, five or six.  That’s the recipe.
When Mardy and I were coming up, we trained with six or seven guys.  Normally two come out of that and are top‑10 players.  That’s what you need.
I love the way that Jack has taken ownership over his ability.  It seems like there’s a sense of belief.  Getting that first‑round draw at the French Open against Grigor, going out and beating him in straight sets I thought was a huge mental step that now should pay itself forward.  Now it’s just a matter of playing like he did at Roland Garros and doing that every week.  That’s how you become one of the best players in the world.  He certainly has the tools.
I just learned at the beginning of this phone call the Monday night exhibition I’m playing against Frances Tiafoe, which literally scares the shit out of me.  Trust me, I went worse than, Oh, God!
I’m excited to see it.  The easiest way to kind of know what you’re dealing with is to see it firsthand.  I’m excited about it.
These guys are good.  I’m pumped about it.  I think there is some sense of optimism.  Let’s not compare them to the long shadow of American tennis; let’s let them make their own way.

Q.  We’re right in the swing of the grass season.  What do you think of the extra week that they’ve put now between the French Open and Wimbledon, whether you think that’s something that would have benefited you in your playing days, and how it will change the results we’ll see at Wimbledon down the road.
ANDY RODDICK:  I mean, it’s absolutely something that needed to happen.  Let me start this opinion with the fact that I’m extremely biased because grass was probably my favorite surface.
But you see guys that can make a living playing three tournaments a year away from the clay courts.  They can literally schedule February through September on clay, give or take a couple mandatory events.  Then to have one or two events in the lead‑up to the biggest tournament on earth as far as tradition I thought was a little ridiculous.
Frankly, it put a lot of pressure on guys that were trying to play well on grass because you knew you had one warmup event.  If that didn’t go well, you’re kind of searching for it in the middle of a Grand Slam.
I think this change was a long time coming.  I was one of the guys throwing a fit about it when I was playing.  I think it’s a no‑brainer, but I’m really glad that it’s there and it’s the way it should be.
Frankly, everybody is celebrating getting two or three weeks before Wimbledon.  There’s two or three months of clay court stuff before the French Open, so I still think there’s some work to be done.

Q.  My question is about coaching.  I know your brother coaches.  Do you have any interest in coaching college tennis in the near future or working with some of the young Americans like Taylor Fritz and others?
ANDY RODDICK:  (Indiscernible.)
MARDY FISH:  For free, too.
ANDY RODDICK:  Yeah, for free.
You know what, I don’t know if I’d be interested in college tennis.  My brother has done such a good job, but it’s such a foreign place for me.  I never played college tennis.  I don’t know that I can relate to it.
I know where he goes, the parts of the world he goes to to recruit.  It’s a hustle.  Frankly, it’s more of a commitment than I’m willing to put forward maybe ever again.
I have worked with some of the young USTA guys.  They’ve sent guys in for three or four days.  I’ve always been available for those guys.  I’m just glad that I’m getting taken up on it.
I think you don’t go through a career in U.S. tennis and not want to pay it forward and see the success of the next generation.  I’m happy to be involved in that in some way if I can going forward.
MARDY FISH:  Yeah, it’s funny, I owe a lot to the USTA sort of for my second career, if you will, after 2009.  They allowed sort of an old, broken‑down player that wasn’t working as hard as maybe he could have, didn’t reach the potential maybe he could have, and they still let me take a coach with me in David Nainkin and share him with Sam Querrey.  I always remember that.  Obviously it paid off for me and hopefully for them.  But I always feel indebted to them because of that.
I always enjoy helping, asking questions about how guys are doing when I’m on the court practicing with them.  It’s a lot of fun to sort of give some of the knowledge that you’ve learned over the years.

Q.  I’m in Germany, in Halle.  Tommy Haas is making yet another comeback here at age 37.  I’m wondering what you make of that?  Andy, you announced your retirement on your 30th birthday.  What do you think of somebody playing that deep into their life, fairly unchartered waters?
ANDY RODDICK:  I know Mardy has practiced with Tommy a lot pretty much always.  Since they both live in L.A., they’ve seen a lot of each other on the tennis court.
Tommy Haas knows how to play tennis.  He has such a high tennis IQ.  He’s been 2 in the world, and he still kind of wants to get out there and do it again.
It’s not the choice that I made.  I’m very comfortable with my choice.  But I have a lot of admiration for guys like Tommy, guys like Hewitt that are still out there, Mardy wanting to get back into the mix.  I certainly couldn’t respect it more.
MARDY FISH:  Yeah, I mean, I’ve seen Tommy obviously up close, like Andy said.  I practice with him quite a lot.  He’s had a lot of troubles with his injuries, his body and stuff.
But he’s really sort of shown a whole ‘nother step in the process of still wanting to play professional tennis, in this specific instance where he had a pretty bad shoulder injury for it’s now been quite a while.  Obviously he had surgery on it.  The rehab process has been so long.
There’s not many guys at all that would put in the time and the work that he does at his age, especially with the career he’s had, what he’s accomplished already.
Obviously he loves the game more than most.  He loves the work and the travel and all that stuff.  You have to just to continue to do what he does.
You know, I’m sure there’s some milestones that he’d love to get to, some goals he wants to get to.  There’s not very many guys that have won 600 matches.  Obviously, Andy knows how hard that is.
I think he’s made 35 or 25 or whatever, has 500 or so match wins.  That’s an incredible career there.  Once he gets to 600, which he certainly can over maybe the next year or so, it will be interesting to watch that.  He’s an awesome guy.

Q.  What was the most important lesson you learned in learning how to play on grass?
ANDY RODDICK:  Basically the way grass court tennis gets covered is a little bit of a misnomer.  I think they think people who serve big are automatically going to do well.  I don’t think that’s necessarily the case.  We hear a lot about movement on clay, a lot about movement on hard courts.  That rhetoric goes away once the grass court season comes.
I think it’s a huge talent to be able to move the right way on grass.  You see guys slipping and falling; they look uncomfortable.  I think that’s one part of it that gets completely undersold.
Also the quick twitch movement the guys that are slow and methodical don’t traditionally do well on grass, the points are quicker, quicker reactions.  I think that’s another thing that gets a little bit undersold.
MARDY FISH:  Yeah, I’d also say over the course of Andy and I’s careers, we came out in 2000, 2001 kind of era.  I think the courts have changed sort of the way you play grass court tennis once, twice, maybe three times over the course of the last 15, 16 years.
The courts have gotten better, slower.  The grass has gotten better.  The balls have gotten heavier and slower.  It brings a ton of different ways that you can play on grass.  That’s changed quite a bit.
I remember in 2003 to maybe 2006 or ‘7 I used to serve and volley on every first serve.  Lately, last time I went, 2011 might have been the last time I went, I hardly ever served and volleyed because you couldn’t because it was too slow.  Guys are too quick on returning and stuff like that.  It’s changed quite a bit.
BRENDAN McINTYRE:  Thank you, everybody, for getting on today’s call.  A special big thanks to Andy and Mardy for the early wakeup call.  We’re all looking forward to the start of the 2015 Emirates Airline US Open Series, and the BB&T Atlanta Open to kick it off.  This year we’ll be able to see the Emirates Airline US Open Series on ESPN and ESPN‑2 with more than 70 hours of live national coverage, and ESPN‑3 which will feature nearly 500 hours of weekday coverage.  Thank you for taking the call.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


Martina Navratilova Talks French Open on Tennis Channel Media Conference Call


(May 20, 2015) Ahead of the French Open, which begins on Sunday, May 24, Tennis Channel held a media conference call with tennis Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova, who serves as the lead women’s analyst for the network.

Here is the transcript of the conference call, courtesy of the Tennis Channel and ASAPsports:

There’s a lot of increased scrutiny of late for even for minor tournaments. Time was that there was almost no attention paid to them and all attention was paid to the majors. And do you think that that scrutiny on these tune‑ups heightens the stakes for when the majors come out, like Roland‑Garros?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I’m not sure I understand the question. You’re saying there’s too much media attention on the Grand Slams and not on anything else?

No, I think when you were playing tennis, there wasn’t a lot of attention, media attention ‑‑ they didn’t broadcast minor tennis events.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, it’s the other way around. It’s the other way around, actually. In my opinion we had, it was the Tour that really buttressed the Grand Slams and certainly the players, we didn’t even play some Grand Slams because the Tour was the more important bit of the calendar. And it was only really in the late, maybe, ’80s and the ’90s that the Grand Slams became so powerful and players would schedule their whole year around slams. Nobody would even think of missing a slam now.

And those are the four big focal points of the year, whereas in my time it was Wimbledon and U.S. Open and the Tour as a whole and then the year‑ending championships was the third biggest tournament of the year. So I think the media did pay attention to the other tournaments and certainly the players were thinking that the other tournaments were more important, perhaps, than they are now.

And why was that?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Why? Because there was more prize money in the regular tournaments than Grand Slams. Once the Grand Slams got bigger and got more money, more people paid attention to where the money is, basically. And also more worldwide television rights and media attention and all that.

So one kind of followed the other. I’m not sure what came first, the chicken and the egg thing, but we would get more money for, I think the prize money at the year‑end championships was like twice as much and that was for one week than what you would get in a Grand Slam for two weeks. You can do some research on the prize money, but it was a lot more on the regular tour.

I made more money winning a tournament in Dallas, Virginia Slims of Dallas, than I would at a Grand Slam ‑‑ than I would Wimbledon. When I won Wimbledon in ’78 I got, I think, $20,000 for winning it.


I suppose, Martina, that the focal point coming into the French Open is the prospects of Rafa Nadal. What have you seen this year in Rafa, what is he lacking that he hasn’t in the past and has age finally taken its toll on him?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I don’t know how much of it is ‑‑ I think it’s a little bit of everything. He seems to me a little bit less physically looking imposing. And I don’t know if it’s just my imagination. Just doesn’t seem to be as muscular as he was five or six years ago.


But he’s still in the prime of his physical life, maybe he trains differently maybe because of his injuries he can’t train as hard as he used to, but not sure.


Most of all I think it’s the other players are playing better and hitting a lot more top spin on the ball, hitting the ball harder, which does not give him the time to run around his backhand and dictate with the forearm, he has to kind of be more in the middle of the court.


He can’t park himself on the right side of the court. And also by his own admission, he gets more nervous now. And when he does get more nervous, his forehand goes shorter. Even when he does get to hit the forehand, he doesn’t hit it as deep, with as much, with as much depth and maybe power.


I’m not sure. You would have to kind of figure out the revolutions per minute. But I would bet dollars to donuts that the other players are using more spin than they did two years ago, 10 years ago, certainly. So that could be a combination of everything.


Was his effectiveness on clay a factor of how much top spin he could put on the ball and the fact that the ball dug in so great?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: His movement and the top spin, yeah. Because of the top spin, players had a hard time attacking it and getting on top of the ball. And once they get on the defense, it was really hard to get off it. And his unbelievable speed around the court.


But do you still think he’s anywhere near the prime of his career at this point?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, it could be that he’s just having a bad year or bad six months, whatever. We don’t know if he’s 100 percent healthy because only he knows that and his team.


So people tend to write people off too soon I think in my opinion. I mean, Roger Federer said himself, until Rafa loses at the French he still has to be a favorite. You can’t just throw out the last 10 years based on the last few months.


But certainly he’s, I’m sure, feeling most vulnerable. And he’s looking most vulnerable. And that gives the other guys confidence when they play him. Before it was, like, I don’t want to get embarrassed playing Rafa and now they think they have a chance. That’s a huge edge to them. Now he’s forced to play even better to beat the same guy.


So it’s kind of a nasty spiral that happens. But I still wouldn’t write him off. I mean, you can’t. You just cannot. Three out of five is a different animal as well. It’s harder to keep up that kind of intensity and physical play that it takes to beat Rafa over three out of five sets as opposed to two out of three ‑‑ and gives him some room for his own game as well.


I know we don’t have a draw yet, but who do you favor as winning on the men’s side and the women’s side in singles?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think so much will depend on the draw in both of these. But particularly on the men’s side, with Rafa, I believe he’s ranked 7. So he could be playing these top three players in the quarters as opposed to the semis or finals.

That makes it difficult for whosever quarter he lands in and everything else how it plays out as well. Andy Murray now is looking like one of the favorites as well. Novak obviously is a huge favorite to win the event. But I’m sure that he’s not thinking that way, not yet. Not as long as Rafael Nadal is in the tournament.


So it’s really going to depend on who gets hot and how the draw plays out. The same time you only have to play seven guys. You don’t have to play everybody. But still the draw may dictate a lot in how the conditions are, the balls are pretty light. But conditions can get heavy.


So all of that will play out and that’s the beauty of it. We really don’t know. But all in all, if you just look at how this year has played out, Djokovic, it would be hard to, again, bet against Djokovic. And the same thing on the women’s side, Serena Williams, even though she’s had a odd run up to the French.   In years past, the run up the Grand Slam really had nothing to do with how she did at that Grand Slam.


So you still have to go with the world’s number one ‑‑ Novak and Serena.


Can you tell me what you miss from the era that you played tennis, what you miss on the tennis scene now?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It’s just a different time. You get the pluses and minuses. I do miss more of the clash of styles.

There was more variety in styles with the typical baseliner and the all‑court players and then the more of the serve and volleyers, attacking players. It’s now a more homogenous look, but at the same time on the women’s side particularly I see more variety than they’ve had five years ago, 10 years ago. The guys have been there for a while.


But the women, I think, were more homogenous in that, for example, I keep going back to the final between Kuznetsova and Dementieva in the 2004 U.S. Open final. And I think there was one volley, one drop shot and three slices the whole match.

And now, you know, you get that in one rally. So you have a lot more variety with the actual play, which makes it more fun. I think the spectators are in for better treats nowadays with more variety.

People still play similarly but there’s more variety within that.


Still play similarly to when you were playing ‑‑

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, no, they play similar to each other. They play similar style. More of a ‑‑ I mean, there are two basic styles. Ones that really try to play big babe tennis, as Mary Carillo calls it, and then there are the counter puncher’s. But within the big babe tennis you see a lot more people using slices and coming into the net, putting the volley away. And same with the counter punchers, now they just don’t play defense, if they can get on offense they will do so.


And again a lot more slices, a lot more drop shots. You see Maria Sharapova, she’s hitting drop hands from the backhand and the forehand. She never hit a drop shot 10 years ago, now she uses it very well.


She hits them from the baseline.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Drop shots are usually hit from the baseline. But she’s usually in an offensive position so she plays them at the right time. And she’s hitting between volley. You won’t see chip and charge, but you will see her, as soon as she hits a deep, good ball, she’ll move in to see if she can knock off the next ball in the air, but she’ll hit swinging volleys rather than punch volleys that we used to hit. But still hitting volleys.


Were you asked about Maria Sharapova in general and what you think her chances are coming in?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, obviously great. And they’re always improved when she ‑‑ well, with Maria, obviously it’s a case whether she has to play Serena Williams or not because she hasn’t beat her in 10 years. But she’s been the best clay court player the last three years, except she hadn’t been able to beat Serena, but she’s beaten everybody else and has the most consistent record on clay than everybody. So she has to be one of the favorites. But it always comes with a caveat ‑‑ what happens if she plays Serena? Serena particularly now is kind of an unknown because of the run‑up that she’s had, not really finishing tournaments or didn’t finish two and one she lost in the semis. So it’s hard to tell.


But Serena always comes out playing her best tennis in the slams. So, yeah, absolutely Maria has to be one of the favorites. She must be pretty well after Rome, kept playing better and better tennis. Although, also the matches were pretty close, particularly the semifinal in Rome. Could have gone either way.


What is it with her and Serena, do you think ‑‑ how much of it is mental and how much of it is just her game, and what do you think she would have to do to finally overcome Serena if they were to meet at the end there?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: She would have to serve extremely well, because that’s what Serena always has on, all things being equal, which they’re not; but Serena serves, wins so many more points off her serve, whereas with Maria the serve has been more of a ‑‑ it’s either neutral or it can even be a negative for her starting the points against Serena.


So she needs to serve really well. But she has been serving better in Rome, particularly she was hitting her second serve in the high 90s, her second serve was coming in.

So she was getting on the offense with her second serve, never mind the first serve. But Serena does everything a little bit better than Maria or some things a lot better, the serving is a lot better.


And the ground stroke she can now sustain a rally, 10 shots, 20 shots, and then go for the ‑‑ when she goes for the jugular she hits it just a little bit harder than Maria.


And Maria’s foot speed hurts her against Serena. She’s gotten so much better. She’s quick enough against most players. But she can’t defend as well. Serena defends better than Maria if she has to. And her foot speed is better around the court. And that hurts Maria. She needs to be on offense. But with Serena she has a hard time getting on offense because Serena tees off so early in the rally, whether the serve or return of serve.


And also Serena, clearly, plays her best Sundays against Maria Sharapova. She totally rises to the occasion where she might be a bit listless against other opponents or maybe give them a set, maybe not the match, but give them a set. With Maria, she doesn’t give away points, never mind sets. She’s always fired up.   You can see how badly both of them want it.


In following up on that, that rivalry seems to really be one, we always talk about how the game, whether it’s men or women, that rivalries is such a big deal in tennis. And this Serena/Maria one is one that still carries after so many years. Would you agree it’s one of the best rivalries in women’s tennis?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It’s amazing that it carries because it’s so one‑sided. But it’s the personality of the two players involved that makes it so compelling, no matter what the result.

So it’s great for tennis. I mean, tennis is such a one‑on‑one battle that the rivalries are an essential part of that.


You want to identify with the people. You want to identify with the personalities. You want to identify with their game, and the only way to do that is if there’s a rivalry going on.


I mean, people love Rafa Nadal and they love Roger Federer, but they always fall into one camp more than the other, and will cheer for their player against the other, no matter what.

So it’s funny. And obviously you have that with Williams and Sharapova for different reasons. It’s just been a one‑sided result for the most part.


What is the lifetime, is it like 17‑2 or something?



I’d have to look it up, but that sounds close. It’s not close at all, yeah.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I mean, it’s been 10 years, but it hasn’t been that much matches. I think 15 matches in a row. I think ‑‑ I don’t have the numbers in front of me. But it’s over a long period of time.


I beat Chris Evert at one point 13 times in a row, but it was like in a two‑, two‑and‑a‑half‑year period. It didn’t seem that insurmountable. It just came in a closer chunk of time. It think it’s more difficult for Maria to deal with it because it’s been over such a long length of time.



She’s probably thinking: Sheesh, I was so young the last time I beat her.



Could you just maybe pick a couple of dark horses on the men’s and the women’s side and kind of like skim off the top, the Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, on the other side, Sharapova and Williams, could you just pick out a few players who you think have a chance to ‑‑

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: To win the whole thing? That’s a tall order. There’s a lot of players that can beat anybody on a given day. But to go all the way? I guess on the men’s side, Murray. Maybe not that dark, because he’s, what, 3 or 4 in the world.

And maybe Berdych also. He’s been playing some good ball but seems to falter still against the top guys. But he certainly looks fit and very focused and on a given day can compete against anybody.


And for just upsets, Kyrgios. Kyrgios, with that serve, can give anybody fits. I’m pretty sure the top players don’t really want to see him too close to them in the draw because he’s a flashy and can be an extremely dominating player the way he plays.

But this is clay, so hopefully it shouldn’t happen. But never know with him.


And on the women’s side, again dark horse, Halep can’t be a dark horse, she was in the finals last year. But she hasn’t broken through yet. So dark horse would be anybody to me that hasn’t won a Grand Slam.


I’m sorry?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: To me, a dark horse would be anybody that hasn’t won a Grand Slam, because then you haven’t done it yet, so we’re not really sure whether it’s going to happen or not.

So Halep would be in that category, certainly, but she’s 3 in the world. So, again, it’s hard to imagine somebody outside of top 10 going all the way on either women or men. They would just have to beat too many quality players.


I mean, there could be an opening in the draw where people kind of somehow scrape their way to the semis. But that’s hard to predict. It’s easier to predict a little bit once the draw comes out.

But it’s been such an up‑and‑down lead‑up to the tournament on the women’s side with Serena not finishing a tournament the last three she played, lost in the semis and defaulted the other two, correct?


And then you have Petra Kvitova winning in Madrid, playing amazing tennis, and then losing to Suárez Navarro easily. Suárez Navarro given that she can beat anybody, but I don’t think she has the firepower to go all the way, but you could see her in the finals as well.


And then there’s a player like Caroline Garcia on a given day can beat anybody. What’s the ‑‑ Pliskova, another Czech, who has got a big game. Perhaps not so suited for clay but grew up on the stuff.


She can hang with anybody. So it’s hard to tell but you still have to go with the favorites. Serena and Novak, obviously.



You were running off some names on the women’s side as possibilities. But one of them isn’t Sloane Stephens. Do you think she’s taken a step or two back from where she was about a year and a half ago?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think she’s moving back the right direction now. It seems to me since she’s been working with Nick ‑‑ God, I have a blank now ‑‑ the lefty. Nick Saviano. Complete blank. I see his face.


Since she’s been working back with Nick she’s been playing better tennis. I think she’s feeling more the urgency of not taking her time developing but, rather, making it happen quicker rather than slower.


So, yeah, she doesn’t have the cache and the promise maybe she held two or three years ago, but I think it’s still there if she just believes in it. On clay, her game does not transfer well on clay with her big forehand and a good serve.


It’s better suited for hard courts or grass. And also I’m not sure how well she moves on the clay. She’s such an amazing mover that on the clay she gets a little hampered because she can’t really push off that fast. I think, again, she’s better on grass or a hard court. But certainly looks like to me that she’s going in the right direction again, which is good to see.


Can you talk about the French Open and kind of what you love about that tournament in comparison to the other majors and other tournaments and what you think makes that event special in your eyes?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: The intimacy of it all. You can really get close to the players there, and it’s a smaller venue. So there’s a lot more going on within any area and you just feel, I think, the fans more there because when the Philippe‑Chatrier Court opens up and match finishes, everybody spills out and it gets pretty crowded.


And, of course, the red clay. It’s the only big tournament, well, the only slam that’s on red clay. And just the color makes you smile, you know.

So it’s one of a kind. And you’re in Paris. I mean, how tough can it be?


One off‑beat question. Does that red clay come out in the laundry, like from your socks and ‑‑ or are all the outfits ‑‑

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Anytime the players fall on the ground, we say, oops, there went that skirt; there went that shirt. Socks, you throw out, because when you sweat and you get the clay on it, it’s goodbye.


So when that tournament’s over, everything just goes in the garbage?



And the shoes, too?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, the shoes, you go on the grass. So, yes, they get pretty ‑‑ I mean, you may save them for other clay court tournaments. But most of the time the players, the shoes last a couple of days. That’s it.

I used to go through two pairs of shoes a week. I think the guys change them every match. And now maybe the women do, too. Depends on the kind of shoe. But they’re gone after a week, for sure. So definitely don’t save those.

Wondered if there was some great laundry detergent that got that clay out?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: If it’s there, I don’t know it.



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United States Tennis Association Media Conference with USTA French Open Wild Cards Louisa Chirico and Frances Tiafoe

United States Tennis Association Media Conference Transcript

May 11, 2015

Louisa Chirico

Frances Tiafoe

THE MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Welcome to today’s teleconference.  Joining us today on the line are Frances Tiafoe and Louisa Chirico, the winners of the 2015 Har‑Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge.
Both Frances and Louisa will be competing in the French Open for the first time later this month after earning wild cards into the main draw.
At this time we’ll open up the call for questions.

Q.  Frances, your first visit to the French Open last year didn’t go probably quite as well as you had expected.  What did you learn from that that you’ll take into this year’s tournament?
FRANCES TIAFOE:  Well, definitely this year I’m a wild card.  Last year I was one seed in juniors.  Had a lot of pressure on me.  Now I’m going in with no pressure.  Just going to have a lot of fun, just play my game.  Going to soak it all in.

Q.  Could you clarify for me what your coaching situation is.  I read recently that you’re working with Jose Higueras.  Can you explain how that is working.
FRANCES TIAFOE:  Today we had our first practice.  It went good.  I’ve worked with him in the past before.  I think he’s a really good coach.
I think it was a smart move for me.  He’s coached a lot of great players in the past.  He’s also a great player himself.  I thought I needed some extra information.

Q.  Have you played your last Kalamazoo?
FRANCES TIAFOE:  That’s a tough question.  I know you love the tournament more than anything.  I know you’re there every year.
I’m still up in the air whether I’ll be taking a flight to Kalamazoo in the future.

Q.  Frances, I’d read that you liked some of the clay court players from Argentina.  I wanted to ask about what’s drawn you to clay or what you most love about playing on clay courts, then also what you liked about del Potro and Puerta’s approach to playing clay court tennis?
FRANCES TIAFOE:  He’s really the only Argentinian player I like other than Nalbandian.  He has such a good game, hits the ball so hard.  I’d really like to model my game after that, first‑strike tennis, yeah.
I also like his personality.  He loves the game.  The crowds really love to watch him play, and so do I.

Q.  About signing with Roc Nation.  There have been some hip hop performers who know tennis really well.  What have your conversations with Jay Z been like in terms of tennis and also your future?
FRANCES TIAFOE:  We haven’t had too many conversations yet.  I’ve been on the road a lot.  Haven’t really seen him.
I’m sure he has great expectations for me.  Hopefully I can reach my goals, my ultimate goals.

Q.  Louisa, obviously a battle down the stretch for you and Kat to get the wild card.  What are you looking forward to for your first slam main draw?
LOUISA CHIRICO:  Yeah, I mean, we had a couple of tough battles over the last three weeks.  To win the wild card just means so much.
I’m really excited to go play in Paris.  It will be my first Grand Slam main draw.  It’s really exciting and I’m looking forward to it.

Q.  Frances, do you think having been on the grounds of the French Open, not having it be totally new, will make it an easier transition to this big level?
FRANCES TIAFOE:  Yeah, for sure, for sure.  Knowing everything, whatnot, it’s definitely going to be a better experience.
Louisa went pretty far in the juniors herself.  I think she likes Paris a little more than I do.

Q.  Louisa, can you talk about the Wild Card Challenge and how you feel about the process of earning the wild card through the USTA Pro Circuit events.
LOUISA CHIRICO:  Yeah, I think it’s a great idea.  It’s a great opportunity for all of us as players to compete for it.  Over the three weeks, there’s obviously very heavy competition.  It’s nice to be able to compete and then earn the wild card.
Yeah, I think it’s a great opportunity that the USTA’s given us.

Q.  What was it like for you?  It was a very tight race.  You clinched it at the very end.
LOUISA CHIRICO:  Yeah, I think all of us were kind of playing under pressure for those three weeks.  We all fought really hard and all obviously really wanted the wild card.
It did come down to the last week, which is great.  I’m really happy to have won it at the end.  So, yeah, I’m really excited.

Q.  Frances, what do you think of the whole process of earning the wild card through the USTA Pro Circuit?
FRANCES TIAFOE:  It was good.  Three weeks, I think whoever wins it well deserves it.  You have three good weeks, all the Americans that play, it’s well‑deserved.  It’s three tough events.
I think it’s good.  All the best young Americans are going to play.  I think it’s definitely a good way to get a wild card like that.  Everyone will compete harder knowing they have that on the line.

Q.  I wonder if it makes things a little easier playing your first Grand Slam not at the US Open, somewhere outside the States.  The US Open brings a whole different set of pressures.  Tell me if you’re happy to get started on this journey somewhere else.
LOUISA CHIRICO:  Yeah, to me, I don’t think it would really make a difference being at the US Open or any other Grand Slam.
I think playing Grand Slam main draw for the first time is obviously going to be a new experience.  There are going to be new feelings and emotions that you haven’t experienced before.  It’s all very new and very exciting.
But, yeah, I’m very excited it will be at the French Open.  I do love the clay.  I’ve had some good success in the juniors there.  I’m really looking forward to playing there for the first time in the pros.

Q.  How about you, Frances?  Similar feelings?
FRANCES TIAFOE:  I mean, I would prefer it to be the Open.  I love the clay and everything, but being an American, playing at the Open, I had an unbelievable crowd in quallies on Court 17 last year.  I really like playing in front of the big crowds, people going crazy for you.  You play better, it’s more fun.  Hopefully I can play main draw there this year.
But it’s going to be great for me to go and play in the French Open main draw.  I’m very excited.  Could be a good one, you know what I mean?

Q.  Louisa, you’ve always said that clay has been your favorite surface.  Usually someone from New York who plays a lot indoors doesn’t have that same affection for clay.  Where did that come from and how does it suit your game?
LOUISA CHIRICO:  Actually, I did grow up playing most of the summers on clay, which I know is rare, especially for someone from New York, because we play indoors most of the winter.
For the summertime I grew up on clay.  That’s maybe why I’m so comfortable on it.  It does suit my game.  I play a little bit heavier than some of the girls who play flat.  It suits my game.  I guess I’ve always just loved it.  I move pretty well on it, so yeah.

Q.  Do you notice a big difference between the Har‑Tru and the red clay?
LOUISA CHIRICO:  Yeah, I mean, they are different.  The red clay is a little bit softer.  The Har‑Tru, obviously it’s a little bit different.  The courts are not always the same.  It can vary based on clubs and different circumstances, where you’re playing.
But yeah, I mean, they are similar, too.  Movement‑wise.  They’re obviously much slower than hard court or grass.

Q.  A bit of a strange question.  Who would you most like to or least like to play in the first round at Roland Garros?
LOUISA CHIRICO:  That is tough.  This is maybe a weird answer, but I would actually like the opportunity to play Serena, just because you never know.  I think she’s obviously one of the best around right now.  It would be such a great opportunity to play her just to see what the level is like, how she competes and plays.  It would be such an honor to play against her.
I don’t really have an answer for a least favorite.  That’s pretty difficult to answer.  There’s no one that I would, you know, not want to play.

Q.  Frances?
FRANCES TIAFOE:  I mean, for me, everyone’s good.  For me, my most favorite would be to play Monfils.  That would be really fun.  He’ll get the crowd into it.  I’ll try to get the crowd into it.  You know what I mean?  I think it will be really fun.
My least favorite player, who wants to play Nadal at the French Open?  I mean, if I did play him, I obviously like him, but I think there’s better people to play than him in Paris.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, everyone, for joining us.  I’d especially like to thank Frances and Louisa.  We wish them both good luck in the French.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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ESPN Tennis Conference Call with Chris Evert, Patrick McEnroe and Pam Shriver

(March 16, 2015) ESPN tennis analysts Chrissie Evert, Patrick McEnroe and Pam Shriver spoke with media on Monday. Currently, ESPN3 is providing live all-day coverage from the three main stadiums at the BNP Paribas Open, with ESPN television joining on Thursday, March 19, through Sunday’s women’s and men’s championships.


How good is Madison Keys?

· “I saw her at age 12. I think that everybody that saw her at that point thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, there’s so much raw power, that if she could just control it and harness it, she’s going to be a great player.’ Very much like a Serena, she has the second best serve out there, which she’s going to win a lot of free points holding her serve…But she’s got it all. She has natural ease and power in her shots.” – Evert

· “The first time I really came out of a match with my jaw sort of dropping was a couple years ago at the Australian Open when she beat Paszek, beat her routinely. She beat her with two weapons: the serve and the forehand. In my mind, in women’s tennis especially, when you can come through with those two big weapons, it can set you apart….I can tell you from my courtside position a couple years ago, I came out feeling fantastic that the U.S. had a true prospect to get to the top spot.” – Shriver

The strong state of women’s tennis:

· “The women’s game is as healthy as it’s been in a long time, to have Serena obviously doing what she’s doing. You’re finally I think seeing some young players that got some gumption, that got some real attitude that they can compete with the best in Bouchard and Keys, Svitolina and others. I think Coco Vandeweghe deserves to be in that conversation, as well.” – McEnroe

· “The bottom half of the women’s draw — Bouchard, Keys, Jankovic, Bencic, Wozniacki, Ivanovic, Garcia, Lisicki, Errani, Azarenka, Sharapova. That’s the kind of quality draw that in the last six, seven years we haven’t been fortunate enough to have. The recession of women’s tennis that started with Justine Henin retiring is well and truly over.” – Shriver

Q. Madison Keys, she’s really at this point obviously a big-time player, top 20. I know how familiar all of you are with her. Can you tell me why of all of the young up-and-coming players you think she is the one?

CHRIS EVERT: I mean, for those of us who saw her at a young age, I saw her at age 12. I think that everybody that saw her at that point thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, there’s so much raw power, that if she could just control it and harness it, she’s going to be a great player.’ Very much like a Serena, she has the second best serve out there, which she’s going to win a lot of free points holding her serve. She has so much power, more so than any of the other top players, aside from Serena and Venus, her whole game, not counting Maria Sharapova obviously on the groundstrokes. But she’s got it all. She has natural ease and power in her shots. I feel like I think Lindsay and her husband are a great fit for her right now. At the same time, I think we all felt she would achieve greatness sooner or later when she was ready, when she was emotionally ready. I think the emotional and mental part came along a little bit later than the physical part.

PAM SHRIVER: Well, I think for me, I’m not as familiar as Patrick and Chrissie in the development part, I’m just familiar with Madison as I’ve observed her the last few years for my ESPN position. The first time I really came out of a match with my jaw sort of dropping was a couple years ago at the Australian Open when she beat Paszek, beat her routinely. She beat her with two weapons: the serve and the forehand. In my mind, in women’s tennis especially, when you can come through with those two big weapons, it can set you apart. Over two years ago she was really, really young in her professional career. Now I think we see the pathway a little more clearly with a great team around her, what she did at the Australian Open. No big surprises. I can tell you from my courtside position a couple years ago, I came out feeling fantastic that the U.S. had a true prospect to get to the top spot.

PATRICK McENROE: Not to pat all of us on the back, but I think it’s been a wonderful progression for Madison. I think the first people that deserve a pat on the back are her parents. She’s a great girl, a great person. She’s got a great head on her shoulders. And her first coaches. Then Chrissie and her brother John, through her formative years when she was 12 up until she was I guess 15 or 16.

Then I have to give a pat on the back to my team at the USTA for doing a great job with her and taking her as a very talented teenager and turning her into a top-40 player. As Chrissie said, I think this is a logical progression for her to get the great insight of a great champion like Lindsay, someone who really studies the game and understands the game well. Obviously they got along great when they did their trial period out at the USTA training center in Southern Cal, so well that along with her husband Jon, it turned into a full-time thing. To me, as the head of player development for the last seven years, this has been an ideal progression for a talented player coming through, and the USTA helping along the way, Chrissie and her team doing a great job, arguably the most important years of developing her technique and strokes. Now obviously passing her off to a great player and great champion, someone who I think can take her all the way to the next level. The next level is winning majors.

Whether she can do that this year is up in the air. But I certainly think within the next 24 months, two and a half to three years, absolutely she can win a major.

Q. Today at the tournament is Azarenka versus Sharapova, then Roger playing Seppi, then Serena Williams and Stephens. Can you comment on some those matches.

PAM SHRIVER: First off, I think the quality of both draws is phenomenal. I think we saw great balance at the Australian Open. I feel like we’re in for just a great year of tennis at all the majors and all the Masters Series and Premiere WTAs. The draws are loaded. We’re getting fantastic early-round matchups.

Stephens-Williams has a lot of history based on the quarterfinal upset a couple of Australian Opens ago, but it also tells a different story of two different pathways, where Serena has been a dominant player since that loss, but Sloane Stephens has gone the other way, but is showing signs. If Sloane Stephens can feel a little more relaxed with Madison Keys picking up a lot of attention from her generation, other American women playing really well, maybe this is Sloane’s true comeback year. I would expect Serena to win that match. Chrissie, you want to take Azarenka-Sharapova?

CHRIS EVERT: No. You take it.

PAM SHRIVER: One of the reasons women’s tennis is looking better this year is because of players like Azarenka being healthy again. She looked for a while like the best hard court player in women’s tennis when she was winning two Australian Opens, almost beating Serena in two US Open finals. She was pretty much a non-entity last year.

The way she played at the Australian, the way she’s playing here, playing the quality of tennis she played a couple years ago, are great for women’s tennis.

What isn’t great is for people who like a quiet match (laughter). But we’ll have to deal with it. It will only last a couple hours.

CHRIS EVERT: I just think that Sharapova-Azarenka is going to be really telling to see how far Azarenka has come along as far as taking time off. She seems to have had a resurgence and she seems to have reset her career and her inspiration, seems like 100%. I always think that taking breaks for players is such a good deal, such a good decision. It just refreshes you. You just get so flat and burned out playing year after year after year and not taking a good chunk of really four or five months off. I think she’s been better as a result. These two players could end up 2 and 3 at the end of the year. That’s how tough this third round is.

On the other hand, Sloane, I love the way she has played this tournament. I’m very happy that she’s with Nick Saviano. I have a lot of respect for him as a coach, seeing what he did with Genie Bouchard. If anybody can help her attitude and mental outlook on her tennis, it’s going to be Nick with Sloane. So good signs, showing good attitude out there, good body language. These are just two great showcase matches for women’s tennis.

PATRICK McENROE: Maybe one you forgot about, we haven’t mentioned her yet, is Coco Vandeweghe. She’s done a terrific job. She’s seeded, what, about 30 or 31 out there. She’s sort of quietly playing the best tennis of her career. Similar to Madison, we’ve known about her since she was a teenager from Southern Cal. Being a huge hitter of the ball and a good athlete. It’s taken her a little while, but she’s figured out how to get herself in really good condition. I love the way she’s playing. She’s still a little bit up and down. She played some great tennis in Australia, then didn’t play so well when she lost. Taking on Bouchard, who Chrissie and Pam talked about already, that’s the first match out there on the stadium court today. That’s a good one. Bouchard obviously with a new coach, as well. She’s got a lot to prove this year, a lot of pressure on her after an unbelievable year last year.

The women’s game is as healthy as it’s been in a long time, to have Serena obviously doing what she’s doing. You’re finally I think seeing some young players that got some gumption, that got some real attitude that they can compete with the best in Bouchard and Keys, Svitolina and others. I think Coco Vandeweghe deserves to be in that conversation, as well.

Obviously we’re certainly looking forward to seeing Roger take on Seppi. While we would all pencil this in as a routine Roger win based on overall his record against Seppi, losing for the first time at the Australian to him, which was a shocker obviously, I wouldn’t be quite that quick. Seppi is a really good player. He’s had an excellent last year and a half on the tour. I expect him to play well again. Obviously Roger’s antenna will be way up for this. Coming off a win in Dubai over Djokovic got him back on track with his confidence that he can have another great year. Just like the women’s draw, the men’s draw is loaded. It’s a nice early test for Roger to see where he’s at.

CHRIS EVERT: Is Bencic playing Wozniacki?

THE MODERATOR: That’s second on.

CHRIS EVERT: That’s another one to watch, 18-year-old Bencic. Patrick was talking about the young ones. She’s 18 years old, had a slow start, but had a great year last year.

PAM SHRIVER: The bottom half of the women’s draw, Bouchard, Keys, Jankovic, Bencic, Wozniacki, Ivanovic, Garcia, Lisicki, Errani, Azarenka, Sharapova. That’s the kind of quality draw that in the last six, seven years we haven’t been fortunate enough to have. The recession of women’s tennis that started with Justine Henin retiring is well and truly over.

CHRIS EVERT: Good point.

Q. I wanted to talk about the event you’re at. Obviously players want to win at every event. This has the aura of a fifth major. Do you see players and advertisers, media, putting this on a higher shelf than other events on the tour?

PAM SHRIVER: From a Southern California standpoint, to think this is the only professional tournament in one of the great tennis hotbeds in the history of the game is kind of a shame. But it also makes it, for this region, because living here, hearing the buildup the last month, you can feel this is a big-time Southern Cal event.

CHRIS EVERT: You look at next week, Miami, this week Indian Wells. You talked about hotbeds. California and Florida are the two biggest tennis dates, I feel, in the country, and have really come up with some great players, play all year round. There are a lot of tennis enthusiasts. It’s only apropos that these two big tournaments are held in these two states. You could say the fifth. I would like to say the Road to Singapore, the WTA Finals, in the players’ mind is the fifth one. But then you have this one and Miami right there with it. It’s probably the most popular with the players. What’s not to be great to come out here in this weather, in this atmosphere, this facility, this venue. I think it’s definitely one of the players’ favorites.

PATRICK McENROE: There’s no doubt that these Masters events in general have been elevated to another level. You might get the same argument from a Cincinnati or even some of the European clay court events, which are tremendous as well. The nice thing about these two events, obviously Indian Wells, the facilities are phenomenal with Larry Ellison, what he’s been able to do to take it to a whole other level by building a new stadium. The grounds are tremendous. I was out there this past weekend. The buzz around the grounds, it’s electric to be out there.

The weather doesn’t hurt out there, as well. I think the time of year. There’s really no major that it conflicts with. You get towards the end of the major clay court tune-up, people are thinking about the French. In the summer, people don’t want to tire themselves out too much leading into the US Open. These two are just great events. This one, where it’s located, what Larry Ellison has been able to do. Ray Moore and Charlie Pasarell starting out had an amazing vision of what this event could be. I think it’s turned into that and a lot more.

Q. Patrick, what do you think of this picture floating around of your brother sitting between Bill Gates and Larry Ellison?

PATRICK McENROE: I thought I was the one in the McEnroe family with a low net worth (laughter). A little reality check for him there, you know.

CHRIS EVERT: Patrick, he was a little intimidated.

PATRICK McENROE: Who wouldn’t be, I’ll tell you.

Q. I have this theory that they made McEnroe pick up the check that night.

PATRICK McENROE: That would be okay. He could afford it (laughter).


“On The Call” with Monica Seles on Upcoming match versus Gabriela Sabatini at Madison Square Garden at the BNP Paribas Showdown

Monica Seles at 2012 hall of Fame induction

(January 15, 2015) NEW YORK, NY – A pair of Tennis Hall of famers, Monica Seles and Gabriela Sabatini will face off at Madison Square Garden in a 25th anniversary rematch of their 1990 five-set year end WTA Championship final, in the 2015 BNP Paribas Showdown on March 10. The best of three-set match will take place before Roger Federer faces Grigor Dimitrov.

Seles participated in the WTA Championships at Madison Square Garden in 1988-1992, 1995-1998 and 2000. She’ll be making her eleventh appearance in the world’s most famous arena.

The former world No. 1 and nine-time major winner spoke to the media in a conference call on Thursday about her participation and reflected on the first ever five-set for women.

“I always loved playing three out of five, it’s more of an equalizer if you’re a slow starter, more of a true barometer,” Seles said.

“I think the ladies are definitely fit enough to play best-of-five matches, and I think at Grand Slams it would be a lot of fun in the semis and final.”

Seles regrets that the WTA Championships ever left The Garden.

“For me, one of the saddest days was when the season-ending championships were moved to Germany,” Seles said. “The Garden was the perfect setting. You play at MSG, the stands are really close and you feel the energy. As a player, you just thrive on that.”

Seles has fond memories of competing against Sabatini, the first time coming when she was a 14-year-old at the Miami event in 1988.

“She was already a star and it was my first night match,” Seles said. “I was absolutely star-struck with her. But she was such a lady on and off the court, if you won against her or lost against her.”

Despite Seles having an 11-3 record against the Argentine, what Seles remembers best about Sabatini was her support after Seles was stabbed in 1993 in a tournament in Hamburg. After Seles returned to the tour, Sabatini was the only top 10 player to support Seles’ ranking being frozen at No. 1.

“She thought about a human being before a dollar amount,” Seles said. “That speaks about a tremendous amount of character.”

Seles was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame back in 2009 while Sabatini was enshrined in 2006.

Seeing the trend of former Grand Slam champions coaching on the tours, Seles said that she personally does not have an interested in coaching.

“Coaching doesn’t appeal to me,” she said. “I just don’t want to travel” I did it for so many years, I just really don’t want that lifestyle.”

“Madison Keys having Lindsay (Davenport) as her coach is a tremendous asset. Not just for the game but from the mental aspect too.

She thinks that Martina Navratilova coaching Agnieszka Radwanska will bring emotion to the Pole’s game.

“(Amelie) Mauresmo (is) breaking the mold in coaching Andy Murray.” Seles credits Ivan Lendl with all of “star” coaching that’s happening now when he coached Andy Murray. She thinks that the “star” coaching brings so much experience to current players. Seles said that in hindsight that she wishes she could have done that. “ I could have hired Navratilova who could have helped me more with my net game and help with my lefty serves and things like that.”

What does she miss the most since she has retired from tennis? The 41-year-old says she misses “the excitement and adrenaline of a big match. There’s nothing like it.”

She’s busy preparing for her match with Sabatini. “I’ve been preparing by playing tennis. It’s been a shock to the body playing singles, I’ve only played doubles so far. I have some good days and I have some bad days.

“It’s very hard for the ego to understand that I can not do the same things that I did ten years ago,” Seles said. She’s working with a couple of people in Florida on her fitness. “At times it’s been frustrating, but at the same time it’s been a wonderful challenge.”

“Bottom line is I love to play tennis and I love to compete, Seles continued. “This is really like a highlight for me and a great honor to be a part of it and to have someone like Roger Federer follow our match. What a wonderful way to celebrate (World) Tennis Day.

BNP Paribas Showdown 2015

The BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden will again headline a full day of international activities as part of “World Tennis Day,” a global tennis participation effort on March 10.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News


Related stories:

Roger Federer vs. Grigor Dimitrov in BNP Paribas Showdown


Patrick McEnroe to Donald Young: Apologize

(April 25, 2011) On Friday Donald Young directed a curse-filled message at the USTA on his Twitter after falling to Tim Smyczek in the final of the USTA French Open Wild Card Playoff.

“F*** USTA! Their full of s***! They have screwed me for the last time!”



Right afterwards Young tweeted:

“That tweet was out of character. ive never been like that before. but im tired of it. sry about the language, but not the thought behind it.

…and deleted his twitter page shortly after the post.


On Monday, the USTA General manager of Player Development- Patrick McEnroe held a media conference call  to talk about the USTA’s French Open Wild Card playoff tournaments. Partial transcripts provided by Fastscripts by ASAP Sports.

Patrick McEnroe‘s opening statement:

After Donald won the Tallahassee challenger, which was the week just before the playoff, about three days before the competition was to take place, we received at Player Development an email from Donald Young, Sr. asking us to give Donald a wildcard for the French Open.

We, of course, elected not to do that because that would be going against the principles of what we have established: having the players earn it. Despite the fact that Donald had made a jump up into the top 100 on the latest rankings, those of you in the tennis world know that his ranking wasn’t high enough to get him directly into the French Open. So we went ahead with the playoff as we felt obviously was the right decision for us.

So when Donald made his comments on Twitter, I was obviously taken quite aback by the language and also by the intent of what he said in his comments. His subsequent comment came before he took down his Twitter account that he apologized for his language, but not for the message behind it. When I read that, I thought a lot about the time and effort that our team at Player Development has put into Donald in trying to help him reach his potential. This call isn’t to debate necessarily what it means to help a player, et cetera. I can just tell you that we have worked hard and long to try to help him. And I think he was making quite a bit of progress based on the amount of time he spent with our team in the last six months at a couple of our centers, including Carson and Boca.

I want to just for the record let you people on this call know some of the actual help that Donald Young has received from the USTA over the years. This predates my term as the General Manager of Player Development.

I can go back to 2005 when one of our coaches, Mike Sell, spent about six months on the road traveling with Donald to the Australian Open juniors, to the Easter Bowl, to the Italian Open juniors, to the French Open, et cetera. I can go to 2006 where he periodically spent time with some various coaches on the staff. In 2007 David Nainkin was essentially exclusively Donald’s coach for basically the entire year. David spent 20 weeks on the road that year working exclusively with Donald. He didn’t work with any other players at that time. This was before we had a full-time program that was dedicated to helping our pro players and our juniors out in Carson, which is a little bit different than it is now. That year, at the end of that year, Donald reached a career high in his ranking. Starting in 2008, Donald spent the first few months of the year again with Mike Sell who wrote some detailed reports of Donald and what he thought that he could do to reach his potential, one of which was something that I repeated in a letter that I wrote to Donald about a year and a half ago. It’s funny because I was reading Michael’s notes from three years ago, and he essentially used some of the exact same language, which was that we felt Donald should be in a competitive training environment as much as possible. We didn’t think that was happening on a regular basis.

After that, Ricardo Acuña spent about the next four months working exclusively with Donald.

This is again in 2008. In 2009, Donald spent a few weeks training with Jose Higueras, who at that point had just recently been appointed Director of Coaching. Jose took a personal interest in Donald, working up a plan and a routine for him. In 2010 Donald spent quite a bit of time on the road with Hugo Armando, a coach no longer with our program, and also received a wildcard that year into the Houston event, which was a USTA event, into the US Open for the fourth time in singles. He received a wild card into Atlanta, into Cincinnati, and into New Haven. Just for the record, Donald Young has received 13 US Open wildcards in his career, four of which were in singles, main draw singles, two of which he won because he won the junior championships, one of which in doubles he won because he won the doubles championships. So he’s received a total of six doubles wildcards, two mixed wildcards, four singles, and one in the qualifying of singles.

In the past year, we felt that Donald made some significant strides. He spent two and a half weeks with our team out in Carson, including with David Nainkin, who has gone on to have a very successful coaching run in the last couple years with Sam Querrey and Mardy Fish, and also our strength and conditioning man out there, Rodney Marshall, who spent quite a bit of time with Donald in December and also throughout the beginning of this year where we had David helping him in

Australia, we had Rodney helping him there, we had David again leaving the tournament in San Jose early where Sam Querrey was still in doubles to go be at the qualifying for Donald in Memphis. Donald also, when he came back from Australia, spent about eight days at our center in Boca training with Jay Berger, our head of men’s coaching. That is really just a snapshot of some of the help that Donald has received in the last six years. Again, quite a bit of this predates my start here as the GM of Player Development.

From the media conference call:

Q. What does Donald Young at this point have to do to get back into your good graces and become a part of the program again?


Patrick McEnroe: It’s not even my good graces. This isn’t personal. This is about apologizing, number one, okay? We deal with a lot of different scenarios. Most of the time, if not all the time, we keep it internal, we try to deal with it. We understand there’s coaches involved, whether they’re personal coaches, whether they’re parents, et cetera. We want to do the best we can for there to be a two-way street.

We’re not going to sit here and dictate everything that has to be done. At the same time we’re not going to be dictated to either.

You can’t come to me and tell me, Here is what I want and here is what you need to do for me. Unfortunately, I think there’s way too many people out there that think that’s what we’re here to do. We’re not here to do that.

We’re here to help our players with the resources that the USTA has given Player Development, which is a part of the USTA. We want to be accountable for our program and for what we’re doing. For us to be accountable, obviously the more influence and the more control we have over what the player’s doing, the better we feel about where we’re going with that player. Again, that doesn’t mean we have all the answers, that there’s not another way to do it. Sure, there are plenty other ways to do it. But we want to be working in a relationship that’s a two-way street.

Read the entire transcript here.


Update as of April 26 – the LA Times reported that Donald Young issued apologies on Monday night to at least two members of USTA Player Development – David Nainkin and Jay Berger.


Update as of April 26th – the LA Times reported that Donald Young has apologized to  Patrick McEnroe.


From the LA Times:

Donald Young spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday about his obscenity-laced outburst on Twitter last Friday. In his Twitter message, Young ranted about his perceived treatment and the way the United States Tennis Assn. determined who would get the U.S. wild card into the main draw of next month’s French Open.

Young angered Patrick McEnroe, head of the USTA player development program, as well as national coaches Jay Berger and David Nainkin with his characterizations of the USTA.

On Tuesday, Young said, “I apologize for the way I said what I said. [Twitter] wasn’t the right place to say it.

“It was a disagreement about the way the wild card was handled. It’s their decision and the way they did it, that’s their right.”

Young, who called Berger and Nainkin with apologies Monday, said he and McEnroe had exchanged text messages Tuesday. “Patrick says that everybody’s good,” Young said.

Read the rest here