2014/10/21

Meet Alex Kuznetsov and Shelby Rogers, USTA Pro Circuit French Open Wild Card Challenge Winners

Shelby_Rogers_Semis_9-29Kuznetsov

The USTA held a conference call with Alex Kuznetsov and Shelby Rogers, the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge winners, who each earned a wild card into the 2013 French Open based on results over the past three weeks on the USTA Pro Circuit. Here is the official transcript of the call from the ASAPSports site:

UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE

May 6, 2013

Alex Kuznetsov

Shelby Rogers

AMANDA KORBA:  Thanks for joining us on the call today with Alex Kuznetsov and Shelby Rogers, the men’s and women’s winners of the Har‑Tru U.S. Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge, winning a wild card into the 2013 French Open later this month.
The USTA and the French Tennis Federation have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2013 French Open and US Open are exchanged.  This is the second year the USTA has held the Wild Card Challenge using the U.S. Pro Circuit events to determine the recipients.
The winner of the Wild Card Challenge was determined by the player who accumulated the greatest number of ATP and WTA ranking points at two of three USTA Pro Circuit events.  Alex earned 115 points in the challenge, winning the title in Sarasota, reaching the quarters in Savannah and Tallahassee.  Shelby earned 88 points winning the Charlottesville title and reaching the quarterfinals in Dothan.  She clinched the wild card this weekend.
Both Alex and Shelby will be making their French Open main draw debuts.  Alex reached the finals of the French Open juniors in 2004, losing to Monfils in the final.  Shelby’s last appearance in a Grand Slam was in 2010 when she won a wild card into the US Open by winning the USTA Girls 18 National Championships.
We’ll open it up for questions.

Q.  Alex, could you think back to 2004 when you were a finalist in the boys tournament at Roland Garros, give us an idea at that point where you felt your career was and maybe were you thinking back then that relatively soon you’d be in the main draw there at the French Open and what it means to you now to earn that chance to play in the main draw there.
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Obviously, yeah, back then it was a great time for me.  I was in the finals of the juniors.  I was playing some good tennis.  Going up against Gaël Monfils, I think he was ranked No.1 in the world at that time.  We were going to be playing on Court1.  I remember I was really excited.  Had my parents and grandparents over there with me, some coaches.
Yeah, obviously it was a great time for me.  But I knew it was a long road ahead of me.  I think I had a couple ATP points at the time.  I knew after that tournament I was going to be playing a lot of futures and challengers events.
But, honestly, to think I guess it’s been almost 10 years that this will be my first French Open main draw, I would have said I’d liked to have been in a couple before now, to be honest with you.

Q.  What does it mean to you to get that chance now?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  It means a lot.  It means all the hard work that I’ve put in is paying off.  I continue to keep working hard.  I know this is kind of the first step of many, I hope.  I look forward to continue playing some good tennis.  I look forward to getting over to Nice next week to start playing some tournaments over there, hopefully get some matches under my belt there.  Hopefully I continue playing well leading up to Roland Garros.

Q.  Alex, obviously we saw last year someone who had some major injuries, not exactly the same situation with you, the car accident.  I’m wondering if Brian Baker offered any inspiration for you in the last few months?  Obviously he was also a French Open junior finalist a long time ago, came back and made a big impact last year.
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Brian offered a lot of encouragement to me just to see kind of what he’s been through throughout his whole career.  I had that one major injury with the car accident, but he’s a guy who has had numerous major issues with his knees and his hip and his elbow.  This is a guy that pretty much stopped playing professional tennis, became a coach in college tennis.
To see him come back the way he did, get to the final of Nice last year, go to the French Open and win a round, then play Simon tight in five sets, that gave me a lot of inspiration to see Brian do that.
I’m good friends with Brian.  He’s come down to Saddlebrook to train in the off‑season.  To see how hard he works, how much he loves the game, it’s a great thing.  I wish him more success and I hope he recovers quickly, hopefully we can do some good things on the ATP Tour together.

Q.  At 26, do you feel like there’s still a lot of road ahead of you as a professional tennis player?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Definitely, definitely.  I feel, honestly, that I’m playing some of the best tennis of my life.  I feel strong.  I feel fit.  I’m really looking forward to the future.  I feel like I’m on the right path right now.  I feel I’m really focused on what I need to do.  I’m looking forward to continuing to work hard.  Hopefully I can continue some good success.

Q.  What is your coaching situation right now?  You said you’re training aft Saddlebrook primarily?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Primarily at Saddlebrook.  I work with a guy named René Moller.  He played on the tour.  He’s from NewZealand.  He also played at the University of Auburn.  Also I’m working with Craig O’Shannessy.  He’s been helping me out these last couple months not necessarily at tournaments but over the phone.  We’ve done some video.  He’s actually going to be in Paris with me this year.

Q.  Alex, looking back at your results this year, there wasn’t too much of a sign that the big breakthrough was going to come through for the three tournaments, particular in Sarasota.  How were you able to turn it around and what was your mindset going into this whole playoff system?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  My mindset, I wasn’t thinking about the wild card at all, to be honest with you.  I got the email from the USTA saying they were going to be doing this playoff for it with these three tournaments.  I didn’t think much of it.  I think I lost five or six matches first rounds coming into Sarasota.  I didn’t make the main draw.  I had to play qualifying.
To be honest with you, I was looking to go to Sarasota, get some confidence back.  With every match, I gained a little bit more, started playing some really good tennis midweek.  That continued even through the three weeks.  Even in Savannah, I lost to a good clay player in Hidalgo.  I was unfortunate to have a shoulder injury in Tallahassee.  I beat some good players along the way and am feeling really confident with my game right now.

Q.  Was there any particular win that you had maybe in Sarasota that you think really kind of spurred you on towards this run?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  You know, I played a lot of good players there.  I think with every match I just gained a little more confidence.  I beat Ben Becker, who is a top 100 player.  He’s been there for a while.  I beat a good friend of mine playing some good tennis this year, Tim Smyczek, in a tight three‑setter.  Then I beat Stevie Johnson, also a really good player who has been playing some good tennis this past year.
With every match, I just got more and more confident.  I think the final really showed how well I think I’m capable of playing.  I feel I still need to work really hard to attain that level with every match.
To beat Wayne Odesnik 6‑0, 6‑2, was something I definitely didn’t expect.  I was really happy with the result.  I’m really looking forward, as I’ve been saying, to the future and continuing to work hard.

Q.  You said you went into it without thinking about the wild card.  At what point did you realize that it was within your grasp?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Honestly, even after I won Sarasota, I didn’t think I was going to have the wild card.  I still knew that Wayne, he’s a great clay court player, all he really needed to do was win Savannah or Tallahassee.  I think he was capable of doing that.  Also with the fields that we had in those tournaments, there’s a number of guys that could have won two weeks back‑to‑back.
Even after Sarasota, I wasn’t thinking much about it, to be honest with you.

Q.  Shelby, can you talk a little bit about your run through the three tournaments, how you were able to get things together and pull this off.
SHELBY ROGERS:  Yeah.  Going into Dothan, I was in a similar situation at Alex.  I lost six matches this year.  I hadn’t won a round since November of last year or something.  I was just trying to get some confidence back, get some matches, get some clay court tennis in.
I thankfully carried the moment over into Charlottesville.  I was playing solid tennis, I was confident with what I was doing.  Unfortunately I had to play one of my friends I think every round at that tournament, so that was a little bit tough, playing the Americans.
But, yeah, all the cards fell in my favor that week.  I came out with the title.
Then going into Indian Harbour, I lost second round there, but it was a tough situation at the end because I was just kind of waiting for people to lose because I was at the top of the points.  I was just hoping somebody wouldn’t take the title that week and pass me.
At the same time I wanted my friends to do well there.  So hopefully I’m never in that situation again.  But I got the wild card in the end and I’m really happy about it.

Q.  Historically how comfortable are you on clay?  Have you played on European red clay before?
SHELBY ROGERS:  I grew up on the green clay in the States.  I grew up in Charleston.  I was pretty much taught on the green clay.
I’ve only played two tournaments on red clay before.  I played one ITF junior event there which I won the singles and doubles, so that was a pretty special week in Costa Rica.  I played in Acapulco earlier this year and lost first‑round quallies there.
I feel pretty comfortable on the clay.  I’m confident in my game and my movement right now.  I’m just hoping for the best.  I’m ready for a good experience in France.

Q.  Have you been to Paris before?
SHELBY ROGERS:  No, I haven’t.  This will be my first time.

Q.  What’s the first thing you’re going to want to do?
SHELBY ROGERS:  I think I have to go to the Eiffel Tower, right?  A couple other sites, I guess.  Maybe see the city a little bit.  Hopefully stay on the red clay as long as I can.

Q.  Shelby, what do you contribute all the success you’ve had in the last three weeks or so?  Has there been a change in your game, coaching, anything like that other than just hard work?
SHELBY ROGERS:  No.  I honestly haven’t changed a thing.  I had a rough start to the year.  I had a lot of tough matches against good players.  I felt like I was right there in each one of them.
I guess just sticking with it, keep believing in yourself, not giving up is the hardest part.  When you’re in a slump, you can get a little frustrated, want to not work as hard, stop what you’ve been doing to get you where you’re at.
I just kept believing in the process and I knew it was going to come, but maybe not so soon, maybe not for a French Open wild card.  But you have to keep working hard every day and something good’s bound to happen.

Q.  Are you currently working with someone in particular with the USTA?
SHELBY ROGERS:  My main coach is Sylvan Guichard.  He’s a French guy that works here in Boca with the USTA.

Q.  One of the USTA coaches will be with you in Paris?
SHELBY ROGERS:  Unfortunately, Sylvan will not be able to go this year.  But I think two or three of the other USTA coaches will be over there.  They do a great job with the whole player development.  Everybody knows all the players’ games.  They can all help me out.  All the coaches are great so I’ll be in good hands.

Q.  You’ve done well in singles, but you’ve done almost as well in doubles.  What do you contribute that to and what do you think about doubles?
SHELBY ROGERS:  I think doubles is really fun.  Singles obviously is a little more important to me.  But when I go on court for doubles.  I have good partners, we have a lot of fun on court.  It’s a little more relaxed than singles.  It’s just a good time.  You get to work on your serve, you get to come in more, a little more variety in doubles.  It’s a little bit different game, but I love it.  It’s a good time.

Q.  What about your switch to training with the USTA from training at Family Circle in Charleston?  Was that a big boost for you?
SHELBY ROGERS:  I guess it’s been a couple years now since I made that decision.  It was probably one of the hardest decisions of my life, leaving my family and everyone at home, the coach I’d been with since I was seven.
But there just weren’t any players to train with in Charleston.  I had a good setup with coaching and fitness and stuff like that.  But moving to Boca, you have world‑class players every day to practice against, a nice gym, fitness trainers.  Everything is right at your fingertips.
I think it was a good move and something that I needed to do.  It definitely helped my game.  The results show that, I think.

Q.  When are you leaving for Paris?
SHELBY ROGERS:  I’m leaving Wednesday.  I’m playing a tournament before and then I’ll head over to Paris the following week.

Q.  Shelby, looking at your results the last couple years, you’re playing a lot of challengers, having some good results, cracked top 200.  I’m sure you see a lot of WTA main draw.  Do you feel in the next year or two you can get yourself to the point where you’ll be playing regular WTA events?
SHELBY ROGERS:  Absolutely, yeah, that’s definitely a goal of mine.  Going into this year, I want to be top 100 by the end of the year.  I think as a player, getting to the WTA is pretty important because you get more points in those tournaments, you can keep your ranking up a little bit easier.
Yeah, I mean, hopefully that happens as soon as possible.  But just got to take it one match at a time, one tournament at a time, hope for the best.

Q.  Game‑wise what do you feel you need to do to get to that level?
SHELBY ROGERS:  I think a big thing for me recently has been patience, not trying to do too much with my game.  I tend to pull the trigger a little bit too much.  Patience and strategy, just grinding away every point.

Q.  Alex, can you talk a little bit about what it will take for you to get the top 100 and then maybe top 50 or so?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  I think, first off, I need to stay healthy.  That’s number one.  But then after that, kind of like what Shelby said, being consistent, playing at a consistent level week in, week out.  Obviously, nowadays with the men’s game, fitness is a big part of it.  I need to get stronger.
For me I think mentally, like I said, I just need to stay in it mentally week in, week out.  The year, it’s a long one.  I think in previous years I’ve had a few good results, then after that I’ve kind of gone away for a month or two before I had another one.  I think the main thing for me is staying in it mentally week in and week out.

Q.  Alex, I know you spend a lot of time at Saddlebrook, traveling around.  Do you get much chance to go home to Pennsylvania?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Yeah, I try to get up there as much as I can.  My parents and grandparents are still up there.  My best friends are up there.  I try to get up there at least once every couple months, even though it’s hard.

Q.  When you were growing up, learning how to play, who were your influences in Pennsylvania?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Mainly it was my dad.  My dad was kind of my main influence.  Also I worked with a guy by the name of Jason Katzer (phonetic).  He played at Ohio State.  He grew up in the area and was kind of my first tennis coach.

Q.  Could I have your thoughts on this particular process of deciding a wild card.
SHELBY ROGERS:  Yeah, I think it’s a great way of picking a wild card recipient.  It shows a little bit more the player that can be consistent with results instead of just having one good weekend or one good week.  You really have to prove yourself over three weeks, which I think is a great process.
You have to be mentally tough.  You have to bring your game throughout the whole three weeks.  I mean, it’s the same players, but you just have to win the most matches.  Ultimately, yeah, I think it’s a better way.  I’m for it.  I like it.
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Obviously I’m for it as well because I didn’t get to play for the one in Australia.  I think they chose the players they wanted in that one.  I think this is an opportunity for the player who is playing the best tennis at the time.  You’re also competing against players from different countries, so you’re not only competing against Americans.  Obviously there’s players from South America and from Europe who grew up playing on clay, so they have a lot of experience.  You deserve the wild card if you’re able to do that.

Q.  Shelby, you beat Nicole Gibbs at the 18‑and‑under championships to get your wild card into the US Open in 2010.  You didn’t go to college.  Can you talk about that decision and what the last two or three years have been like for you grinding it out on the Pro Tour.
SHELBY ROGERS:  Yeah, I had a couple good pro tournaments and decided to officially turn pro and not go to college right out of high school.
I did the whole college visit.  I went on my official visits, went to a couple schools.  I actually probably would have gone to Clemson maybe.  I was pretty set on that.
But I really had to give myself a chance on the tour.  It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl.  I can always go back to school, get my degree, take classes, but I can’t always play on tour.
We have a pretty short window of time, I’d say.  And I had to give myself a chance.  I think I would have regretted it a lot if I didn’t, especially seeing some of my friends going out and trying it, as well.
I think I would have always been wanting to play for (indiscernible) in college.  I’m happy with my decision every single day.  I don’t regret a thing.

Q.  Shelby, who do you get to train with and see on a regular basis down in Boca?
SHELBY ROGERS:  We have Madison Keys, Grace Min, Jamie Hampton, Taylor Townsend, Kim Crawford, Sachia Vickery.  I hope I don’t leave anyone out.  That would be bad.

Q.  Do you train alongside them or play against them in practice matches frequently?
SHELBY ROGERS:  Yeah, we’re always rotating.  We’re drilling together.  Playing matches together.  Fitness, as well.  It depends on who is in town.  We’re always traveling, playing tournaments.  Wherever we’re here, we help each other out.  All of us girls get along pretty good.  It’s a good environment, a good peer group for all of us to improve.

Q.  You said you’ve been at Boca for two years now.
SHELBY ROGERS:  Yes.

Q.  Have you noticed in the last couple of years whether or not the tenor or intensity has changed?  A lot of recent success coming from players down there.
SHELBY ROGERS:  Yeah.  I mean, I think, you know, we’re constantly getting better as a team.  The USTA is making a lot of improvements down here.  Everybody’s working really hard.  We give 100% every day.  All the girls are putting themselves out there.
Like I said, we help each other every single day we’re here training.  We encourage each other, push each other, because we want to be the best we can be.
I think it’s really neat that we have a lot more girls training down here now.  Before there were just a few.  We were spread out all over the U.S.  It’s nice to be able to train with them and play matches because, like I said, in Charleston, I had nobody to hit with.  I had good coaches, resources, but nobody to play against.  So it’s really important to have a good group around you and people to play with.

Q.  I wanted to ask you about Har‑Tru, the surface.  As a player, would you be interested in more American tournaments on Har‑Tru?
SHELBY ROGERS:  Like I said, I grew up on the green clay, so I’m pretty comfortable with it.  I guess if I grew up on the West Coast, I’d be more of a hard court player.
I don’t know.  I mean, the women have one tournament on green clay in Charleston, which is where I’m from, so that’s nice to have that in my hometown.
I’d be all for having more tournaments on the Har‑Tru.  I think it’s a great surface.  Brings out different parts of your game.
I guess we have an advantage being on the East Coast.  I don’t know.  Everybody can travel around the country and have an equal opportunity to play on it.
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  I would be for it, but I also think being that our main Grand Slam is on hard court, there also needs to be obviously an equal amount of hard court tournaments.
Like Shelby, I also grew up playing on clay on the East Coast.  I played at a club in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, which had indoor red clay.  I hit on it a lot.
I don’t mind playing on clay, obviously.  I think it’s a good surface to start younger kids on.  I think they develop better on a clay court than they would a hard court.
But, yeah, I’d also be for it if they had a few more events.  But I’d like for them to keep some hard court tournaments, as well.
AMANDA KORBA:  Thanks today to Alex and Shelby for taking the time to talk with everybody.  Thanks for everybody on the call.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Share

Azarenka is Ready for Melbourne, Looking Forward to Madison Square Garden

Victoria Azarenka serving china Open

( January 10, 2013) MELBOURNE/NEW YORK –  Prior to her participation in the Australian Open draw in Melbourne on Friday morning, No. 1 Victoria Azarenka took time out for an international conference call to promote taking part in the BNP Paribas Showdown on March 4, 2013 in Madison Square Garden where she’ll take on Serena Williams.

Azarenka who pulled out of the Brisbane International last week due to a big toe injury says she ready to go in Melbourne: “I’m feeling really good. If you’re asking about my foot, it’s feeling much better … the last couple of days. The scary part is in the past as it happened in Brisbane. I’m really glad … I can practice full time right now.”

This will be the sixth annual BNP Paribas Showdown as part of Tennis Night in America on World Tennis Day. In the opening match, Victoria Azarenka will take on Serena Williams followed by Rafael Nadal’s return to action in the US after an injury layoff as he plays Juan Martin del Potro.

For Azarenka this will be her first time playing in “the world’s most famous arena. ” I’m very excited and once I heard about this opportunity I said yes right away, Said Azarenka. “It’s something really magical to be a part of this event and play at such an amazing facility.”

Coming into the Australian Open as the defending champion and into the 2013 season in general, is she under the pressure of expectation?

“My approach to this year is the same as every year,” said Azarenka.  “I try to do my best; you set up priorities and goals for the tournaments. I don’t really want to defend anything I’m here to try and win another title. That’s how I look at it…and at the end of the year try and get to the championships because that is the point we all know that you we are being pretty consistent throughout the whole year. My main focus and attention will be on the Grand Slams.”

“The season has started already and the Grand Slam season starts here right now. I think women’s tennis is great, competitive atmosphere right now… There are a lot of girls who can show some great tennis. For me personally, I’m very excited to be a part of this competition. As for who I have my eyes on, I’m not sure. I’ll have my eyes on the ball (laughs) and on me. The top ten and the rest of the players are the ones to watch for. I’ll be looking forward to whoever I play.

The most I’m looking forward to is having a great match and I hope the crowd enjoys it and I can’t wait to be a part of this match, Azarenka said about he future BNP Paribas Showdown match versus Serena Williams. “I visited Madison Square Garden during the US Open and it was under construction and I was absolutely amazed. As a kid you watch all those events coming up – concerts and the games and you dream about it. I have it locked in my mind and for me to actually be there will be an honor.”

The BNP Paribas Showdown is part of Tennis Night in America and the inaugural World Tennis Day.  More information about World Tennis Day events and the BNP Paribas Showdown matches in New York and Hong Kong can be found online at www.WorldTennisDay.com. The Hong Kong event will feature John McEnroe against Ivan Lendl and Caroline Wozniacki against Li Na.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

Share

“On The Call” with Roger Federer

The USTA held a second of a series of conference calls with players who will take part in the Olympus US Open Series tournaments. Roger Federer fielded questions from the media on Wednesday.  His first US Open Series tournament this summer will be the Rogers Cup in Montreal. Here are a few excerpts from the conference call in which he talks about his goals, turning thirty, addressing an alleged quote by Ryan Harrison and moving  forward in his career.

On Cincinnati becoming a combined event and how the atmosphere will change:

RF: Well, true, yeah. I think it’s a big change, to be honest. I think it’s something we’re in some ways excited about. The game is growing again. I think they made some nice changes already last year to the site. I’ve heard there’s more changes coming again this year. So I think that’s something we’re always excited about.

Sure, I think combined events make it maybe a touch more stressful for everyone trying to get practice courts. That’s a moment of peace and calm before a match. But we’re kind of used to it on the tour with the big tournaments and combined events anyway.

I’m looking forward to it. I’m always excited to see changes in a tournament as the years go by and I’m looking forward to see it.

 

 

On his upcoming 30th birthday:

RF: Well, it’s not going to affect anything really. Honestly, very often, I did come to Canada, it was my birthday. Canadians always make a big deal about my birthday. It’s not going to be very different this time around.

This time it’s even a bigger one sort of because it’s a round number. But I always like enjoying my birthday I don’t want to say in public, but at a tournament maybe around that time. So for me it’s not something completely different or new.

I’m looking forward to turning 30. Excited to see how the Canadians are going to celebrate my birthday this time around. Sometimes they start singing ‘Happy Birthday’ during a match. I’m not going to play on Monday, but you never know if  they’re going to do something crazy another day.

 

On if he draws satisfaction that winning a grand slam at 30 can be done since Rod Laver won it at 30.

RF: Well, yes. I mean, it’s nice to talk about something more positive than that than saying after a certain time or when you have kids you can’t win anymore like many people tend to say or talk.

But I think I don’t want to say I’m a special case, but I’ve won so much you feel like if you put yourself in the right position, you do all the right things, you’ll definitely get a shot again of winning any big tournaments, or any tournament really for that matter.

I always said, inspiration for guys that play for a very long time, like Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ken Rosewall, Rod Laver, it’s very inspiring to see what they’ve been able to do for a very long time. My planning is always in the long-term, as you know. That’s why, yeah, I’m looking forward to see how much I can achieve from this point forward, for sure.

 

On Ryan Harrison’s comments “that Federer plays anyone else than Rafa or Djokovic, he plays with this swagger, where, ‘It’s my match, I’m going to win it.’ But he thinks it’s more uncertain when you go out and play Djokovic and Nadal.”

RF: I haven’t heard about it. I didn’t read the piece. The only reason why I kind of heard about it was because Ryan wrote an apology to my manager to me saying he was misquoted. I like Ryan as a guy, as a player, as a kid. Everything gets blown out of proportion. I think that’s his opinion.

At the end of the day it doesn’t matter much to me because I know what I need to do to beat those guys. He didn’t even need to write me a letter, but he did. So that was very nice of him.

 

 

On goals moving forward:

RF: Well, I think first of all it’s important to stay healthy and see how long the body allows me to play because the mind is there. I love my traveling. I have no problem. That’s a good thing.

I still think, because I’ve been so fortunate to be so successful, you just want to get back to those winning ways, get those feelings as many times as possible, trying to win all those tournaments that mean a lot to you, it almost doesn’t matter which one it is. I’ll probably be picking the tournaments I like to play the most at this point because I’ve achieved so much. That’s a very nice situation to be in.

It’s important that I work hard, I practice well, I do all the right things. Olympics is obviously part of that. We’ll see how things go in the next years.

 

On the attention he will give to Davis Cup

RF: Yeah, also same thing. I just played a Davis Cup tie in Bern now. I go tie by tie at this point. I’m looking forward to seeing how I’m going to fit it in the schedule or not. That’s still up in the air. I haven’t decided about Australia yet. I hope I can do that in the next week or so and then go from there really.

 

On dealing with being chased sitting on top of the rankings,  to now being behind two other men

RF: I mean, it’s what it is. I’m aware that Novak had to do something extremely special to get past me. Same thing for Rafa. I think we all had to do something very special to get past each other in the rankings.

I think that’s a good thing. If someone wants to become world No. 1, 2, even 3 or 4 for that matter, you have to do something really good. Either you’re extremely consistent or extremely successful at the highest of level. You have to win a massive amount of tournaments. I’m at peace with myself because of it.

There’s nothing else I can do. I had my chances to do well or not. From that standpoint, I’m very laid back about the situation.

Sure, I’d love to be world No. 1 and not No. 3. I still think No. 3 is a good ranking. It’s not number I don’t know what. I’m at peace with that. Do I approach the tournaments differently? Well, maybe a little bit obviously. I think when you win 90, 95% of your matches you go into a tournament slightly more confident. Other than that, there’s not a huge change because I know my abilities. I don’t want to say I’m overconfident, but Ialso know what I can do and I also know, how do you say, my limits. Hopeful that allows me to play the best tennis I can each day.

 

About the  US Open Series: Players will compete during the Series for $40 million in prize money.  Additionally, through the Olympus US Open Series Bonus Challenge, the USTA will offer up to an additional $2.6 million in bonus prize money at the US Open to the top three men’s and top three women’s singles finishers in the Olympus US Open Series.

Last year, Caroline Wozniacki and Andy Murray won the Olympus US Open Series.

Throughout the summer, the Series will feature nearly 200 live television hours on ESPN2, Tennis Channel and CBS Sports, highlighted by back-to-back men’s and women’s finals on Sundays on ESPN2 and select finals on CBS Sports.

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

Share

“On The Call” with Serena Williams for Rogers Cup

Tennis Canada hosted a teleconference with 13-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams on Wednesday. Williams spoke to the media about playing Rogers Cup which will be held August 6-14 at Rexall Centre in Toronto.

On the state of her injury:

“Everything feels a lot better. I got a good report from the doctor and he says I can play with confidence.”

“I plan on being there (Rogers Cup) doing the best that I can do. …I just want to be there and do well.”

 

On rising from her rankings drop:

“My goals are to do well right now at the Rogers Cup and grand slams and pretty much every tournament I play and that means that I’ll get back No. 1 that would be a bonus, but right now my goal is to just to do the right thing on the court and do the best that I can to win.”

On whether or not she’s confident that she will be in top shape by US Open:

“With me playing Toronto with me playing Cincinnati and other tournaments so…that’s more than I usually play…that will be more than I played all of last year so I think that will definitely propel me to be really fit going into the open, match fit, match tough and that’s going to really help me.”

 

State of her game right now heading into Toronto:

“After Wimbledon I worked on a few things that I knew I needed to work on and hopefully when I get to play. I just hope the results will show.”

 

On how Martina Hingis is playing since Serena recently played  the Swiss in World TeamTennis,  and all the talk about Hingis possibly teaming up with Roger Federer to play mixed doubles at the 2012 Olympic Games:

“It would be a very cool thing for her (to play mixed doubles with Roger Federer) she’d have really tough time against me and Andy (Roddick) or me and John Isner whoever I’m playing with. I’ve always wanted to play with Roger (Federer) that would be cool. She’s a great player, She’s a great volleyer she’s always been really amazing just like fun to watch and just so smooth.  It was fun playing her, she’s playing well.

 

On playing in Rogers Cup

“I think it will be a special tournament …a preview to what the (US) Open is going to be like.”

 

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


Share

Patrick McEnroe to Donald Young: Apologize

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 afterward 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.

http://t.co/HM0oJvo

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

 

Share

“On the Call” with Andy Roddick on the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis

Andy Roddick ( Courtesy of Regions Morgan Keegan Championships)

MEMPHIS, Tennessee – The Regions Morgan Keegan championship held a media conference call with World No. 8 Andy Roddick .  This will be Roddick’s 11th consecutive year playing Memphis.  Roddick took Memphis titles in 2002 and 2009.

On his coaching relationship with Larry Stefanki: It’s been really successful.  I guess in my mind I break it down into the healthy time that we had, probably the first nine months of ’09, which was very good for me.  I had a semi in a slam and a final in a slam.  Probably the first four months of last year, which I was No. 1 in the race afterwards.

So now it’s just a matter of everything is healthy again, it’s a matter of getting the tennis back on track like we had it going last year.  I think the most important thing about Australia for me was that I finished healthy after an extended period of playing.

On his play at the Australian Open: I played okay.  I think I played better in Brisbane than I did in Melbourne.  The conditions were a little weird.  It was colder, so everything was playing a little bit slower which is not going to benefit me against some of the guys.

Obviously I was disappointed with the last match I played.  But, you know, made a final in Brisbane, made the second week in Australia.

Like I said before, I think my biggest thing was the first kind of stretch of tennis where I’ve been healthy since May of last year.  That was a good thing, that my body held up.  So that’s something encouraging to take from it.

Roddick’s  Greg Sharko-like stat of the day: the average age in the top 100 right now is 27 years old, which I think last year might have been the oldest of all time.

On which team will win the Superbowl: My dad is a lifelong Packers fan, so I’m hoping they win.

Tennis Panorama News: How does it feel to get back in the Davis Cup swing this year?

Andy Roddick:  Well, I’m excited about it now.  I’ll have a better feel for it once we actually get going.  I guess in tennis the thing you look at is kind of what’s next for us.  Next for me is Memphis.  That’s kind of been monopolizing my thought process right now.

Like I said before, I’m excited about the hire of Jim Courier.  I’m sure it will be great to get back into the ties.

TPN:  What do you think has been the biggest change since you first came on the tour ’til now?

Andy Roddick:  Two things I think stick out to me.  The movement is a lot better.  I kind of alluded to that earlier.  You have to be a really good athlete to play tennis now.  Also the strings.  You’re starting to see the first generation of these polyester strings.  The guys that grew up with it, they’re able to take bigger swings.  It’s a little bit of an adjustment for guys that have not played with that stuff.

Everyone talks about racquets.  The same racquets have been around for a while.  I think it has a lot more to do with strings now.

Andy Roddick will begin his campaign at the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships on Tuesday evening, February 15th. Tennis Panorama News will be media for the tournament.

For more information on the tournament: http://www.memphistennis.com.

Tennis Panorama News participates in many tennis media conference calls. “On The Call” serves to give readers an insider’s view of tennis news.


Share

A Quick “On the Call” with Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE,  AUSTRALIA – January 23, 2011 – Following his third round win over World No. 10 Mikhail Youzhny  in Melbourne,  Tennis Canada held a media conference call  on Sunday morning (Saturday evening in the United States) for Milos Raonic.

On his Australian Open experience: I felt  it was a big experience for me as a development standpoint.  I feel through the last three matches here in the main draw especially playing the three  out of five (sets) to beat the top guys, it’s more of challenge, but it’s something I’ve been dealing with really well and its something that has an impact on my game and my confidence and my belief. I feel like my level has come through and my game is coming together. I feel like I’m on my way to reaching my goals .

On his match against Mikhail Youzhny: As far as yesterday’s (Saturday’s) match goes .. it was a good day for me. I was able to deal with the diversity.  I know that he (Youzhny) plays really well on the return game so I know I wouldn’t  have as much ease holding my serve as I did with the first two matches. So it was a big thing for me to play from the baseline and be able to break him so this was a big success for me proving that I can do alot of damage even from the baseline. And other than that everything that has come with the win have been a lot of fun it’s been very exciting to go through this… it’s nice to have this experience early..it will be a big learning point for the rest of my career.

Tennis Panorama News participates in many tennis media conference calls. “On The Call” serves to give readers an insider’s view of tennis news.

Share