March 27, 2017

Australian Open 2017 – In Their Own Words – Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Others in Pre-Tournament News Conferences

(January 14, 2017) Top-ranked players at the Australian Open held pre-tournament news conferences on Saturday. Here are the transcripts of the conference from the interview section Australian Open tournament website.

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

Q. How does it feel to be the top seed at a slam?
ANDY MURRAY: I don’t feel any different really to normal, to be honest.

Q. What are your feelings coming into this tournament? Was the preparation this winter as good as you wanted?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I think it went pretty well. Doha went well. Played some good stuff, especially at the end of the event. Yeah, I mean, the off-season, I would have liked to have been a couple weeks longer. But, you know, I made sure I got enough rest. You know, I’ll get hopefully a bit of time in February as well.

But, yeah, I did some good training over in Miami. There’s a lot of good players over there for practice. It went well.

Q. You’re playing in the middle of the afternoon on Monday when the forecast is pretty hot. Would you have preferred to have had a bit more practice time in hotter conditions?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, yeah, but there’s not really much else you can do about it. I mean, obviously in Doha, the conditions were pretty cool. You’re playing most of your matches in the evening. Also, if you do well here, you’ll often play at least three matches in the evening, sometimes four.

So, you know, it’s good practice for that. But obviously the day matches here can get, you know, brutally hot. I think maybe the Hopman Cup is probably where you get the best conditions or most similar conditions to here to start the year.

But, yeah, I’ll just have to deal with it, just like all of the other players will.

Q. Have you been impressed with Dan’s effort this week?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, I haven’t seen loads of the matches. I saw the end of his match yesterday. I saw the first set and a little bit of his match with Thiem. But obviously he turned that match around kind of after I went out for dinner.

Yeah, I mean, it’s obviously a great week for a lot of Brits actually. Obviously Jo winning, as well, was great. My brother’s in the final. Yeah, it will be probably, you know, the best week that Britain’s had at tour level forever probably.

Q. When you practice, how much does the fact that Djokovic is normally looming in the latter stages of not just the slams, but tournaments like Doha, how much does that feature in the way you go about things?
ANDY MURRAY: In terms of the way I practice or…

Q. Tactical awareness, preparing for big matches.
ANDY MURRAY: Well, in terms of tactical awareness, I sort of study, watch video, to learn about things that I could do better or things that have worked well. Obviously, don’t do so much of that on the practice court. But there’s certain patterns of play that you practice that hopefully will help against certain players. Then also there’s things that are extremely important to your game and what makes your game effective, you know, not just against one player, but against the whole tour.

I feel like my movement and my speed around the court is a very important part of my game. That’s something that I try to work on all of the time without thinking about, you know, other players.

But, of course, there’s certain things you would practice, what would help you against the top guys, for sure.

Q. Not all the players have been able to beat you lately. David Goffin was one of them in Abu Dhabi, in the exhibition there. What do you think of him and do you think he could cause one or two upsets here?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, I think he’s a really, really good player, obviously. He’s very quick around the court. He’s made improvements most years really, last few years. But as you get closer to the top, it becomes harder and harder to do that.

So, you know, it will be an interesting year for him. He works hard. I practice with him quite a lot, as well. He’s a good guy. Down-to-earth. Very quiet and relaxed.

Yeah, I hope he does well. But he’s, yeah, a very, very good player.

Q. What do you make of your opponent? You played him a few years ago.
ANDY MURRAY: I don’t remember loads about that match. We played on Margaret Court. I don’t remember too much about that match. I saw him playing a bit at the US Open. He had a good run there a few months ago. Also had a very tight match with Wawrinka there.

You know, he’s not easy. He fights very hard. He’s got a great attitude. Plays predominantly from the back of the court and moves well. He doesn’t give you too many free points.

But, I mean, I’ve only played him once. I’ve never practiced with him. And that match, it was a long time ago. It would have been, I don’t know, 2008, ’09, something like that.

Q. Roger was asked earlier if he could remember what it was like when he gained the No. 1 ranking. He said he felt that other people treated him differently. Is that something that you’ve experienced? Have you had any feelings like that?
ANDY MURRAY: No, not really. I don’t think so. I mean, yeah, I haven’t really noticed it. It kind of happened for me right at the end of the year, so I haven’t been kind of on the tour much as the No. 1 player. Just one week really in Doha. So I haven’t noticed it yet.

I don’t know if that will come over time, if I’m able to stay there or not. But, yeah, I mean, it’s only been really a few weeks around the tour with that ranking. I haven’t noticed much change.

Q. Looking back 12 months now, how much what was going on at home with Kim affecting you during the tournament here?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, it was a tough tournament. Yeah, obviously the situation with, you know, Kim and the baby coming was tough. Then with what happened with Nigel kind of during the event made it really kind of awkward because there was times where I was thinking, like, you know, I want to go home. But then also my father-in-law was here and in hospital.

It was, like, I want to be at home for the birth, but then I’m not just going to sort of leave whilst my father-in-law is also in hospital.

Yeah, it was tough, and certainly not a position I would want to put myself in again, or my wife, or any of my family really.

Q. How close did you come to withdrawing before you lost?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, a few times. I mean, I don’t know how to say how close. But, yeah, it was certainly something that was talked about a lot, especially the second week of the event.

Q. Just get your reaction to Michael Downey resigning. Were you surprised to hear the news?
ANDY MURRAY: No, I wasn’t really surprised. I think everyone kind of thought that’s always what was going to happen there. It’s disappointing really, because it’s just another change for British tennis. Someone new will come in with a different direction for another three, four years, then it will change again.

I think for a system that’s — maybe everyone would say that’s not really worked for quite a long time, for change to happen, you need someone or a team in there that’s going to be in it for the long haul and not just a few years.

So I really hope the next appointment is something long-term. You can’t expect results, obviously, immediately. I don’t think there should be loads of pressure on that person to get stuff done straightaway. But, yeah, I’d like to see a long-term appointment so that there’s actually, you know, a chance for change to happen, but then stick. I think if you just do three years, then another three years, just keep switching all the time, it’s not good for anyone.

Q. In that you think it wasn’t going to be for the long haul?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, in terms of him moving back to Canada. I don’t think many people expected it to go longer than the term that he was signed up for.

But, yeah, I mean, I just hope that we get a long-term replacement. Don’t want it to be just a few years.

Q. Roger and Novak used to say that once you’ve reached the No. 1, you have to work double as hard to stay there. Do you see it like this?
ANDY MURRAY: I hope not (laughter). I hope not.

Well, yeah, I mean, I do think it is a mindset thing, because I think it could be quite easy that once you get to No. 1 that you think, Well, actually, I just need to keep doing what I doing.

The reality is, in sport, that things obviously keep moving on, the game will get better, I’ll obviously get older, the young guys will continue to improve, and also Novak and Roger and Stan and Rafa and all the guys at the top are still going to be wanting to get there. So that’s why having someone like Ivan on my team who has been in that position before and knows what that’s like has been important. I need to continue to improve. I for sure need to keep working hard.

I don’t think necessarily working harder than I have in the past, but just having the mindset I need to keep getting better and try to improve my game. Any weaknesses that are in my game, to try to get rid of them.

So, yeah, that’s how I feel about it.

Q. Your record here is really good. You haven’t actually won the thing. Do you feel like you’re in a really good position right now to go one step further?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, look, I obviously feel pretty confident after the way that last season finished. I do love it here. I love the conditions. I have played really well here over the years, and just haven’t managed to obviously get over the final hurdle.

But, yeah, I think I’m in a decent position, for sure, to do it. I think I have a chance to win here. Obviously nothing’s guaranteed. But, yeah, why not? I’m playing well. Practice has been good. I feel healthy. I’ll give it a good shot.

Q. Any other players called you Sir yet, Andy?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, yeah, but not genuinely, I don’t think (smiling).

Q. The host broadcaster is going to refer to you as Sir Andy. How does that make you feel?
ANDY MURRAY: I’m more than happy just being Andy. That’s enough for me. Yeah, if they call me Andy, that’s cool, I’d be happy with that (smiling).

 

Novak Djokovic

Q. You obviously had a bumpy at times second half of the last year. With the off-season, title in Doha, beating Andy there, do you feel more or less back on track? Is it that quick a fix or is it more a process still going?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I feel that already in London, World Tour Finals, I played very well, comparing to the three months, four months before that, where I was, you know, kind of struggling to find that right level in quality of tennis.

But, you know, I’ve worked very hard as I guess most of the players in the off-season, trying to get myself in a right state of mind, in a right shape and form. I couldn’t ask for a better start of the season, saving some match points in the semifinals, playing a really exciting match against Verdasco, then the next day against Andy. You know, thrilling final. It was great.

I got a lot of match play. Arriving to Melbourne, really excited to compete.

Q. You have a quite brutal first round against Verdasco again. How do you see that one?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I hope I will not get to the stage where I have to defend match points.

Again, you know, Fernando is a very complete player on any surface. In a given day, if things go right, he can beat really anybody on any surface, as I said. Nadal last year in five sets, he won first round. He has won against most of the top players. He’s not overwhelmed by, I guess, the occasion of playing on center court. He has had that experience many times.

So, again, a lot depends, of course, on how I feel, how he feels. It’s the first match of the Grand Slam. We both need to start with the right intensity, of course. We’re going to be obviously striving to do so.

But I’m expecting a tough one, there’s no doubt about it.

Q. Can you run us through your coaching team at the start of the season, let us know whether you’re thinking about bringing somebody else in.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’m not thinking of bringing anybody in. This is the coaching team that there is, yeah.

Q. Marian Vijda?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. And Dusan Vemic is the second coach.

Q. It’s going to be hot in a few days. Do you relish the heat or do you struggle?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t know still a player that enjoys playing in 40 plus or 35 plus. It’s same for everybody, you know. It’s not easy, obviously. In the end of the day, that’s what you expect. You come to Australia during the summertime, and the conditions can get quite challenging and extreme.

But, as I said, you’re preparing for that. Same for you and your opponent.

Q. On the Verdasco draw, people have called it a nightmare. Do you consider it a nightmare draw or…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I still haven’t had in I nightmares, so I can’t call it a nightmare draw. I just see it as a huge challenge. I hope I’ll be able to deliver.

Q. Do you see yourself as being in sort of a similar position to where you were three years ago, where you’re having to reestablish the air of invincibility?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I never had an invincibility, although I thank you for the compliment. Nobody is invincible. I never thought of myself as a superior player on the court, even though of course at times I was very confident, I was winning a lot of matches.

But, you know, knowing how it feels on the court, if you get overconfident, that’s why I don’t want to get into that kind of state of mind. I still want to put myself in a position where I’m quite even to other players, fight for this trophy as anybody else, even though I’m defending champion.

The fact that I’ve done so well in Melbourne Park the last 10 years of my career basically, it’s been the most successful Grand Slam that I’ve had, of course gives me a lot of thrill, a lot of confidence and excitement to approach it.

Q. Putting aside invincibility, do you feel there’s similarities to where you were three years ago?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I can’t compare, really, the seasons. I’ve been saying this before. Every year brings a new challenge personally and as a player. You’re just a different, different person. Every cell in your body every day changes.

It’s hard to really compare any kind of year. I just see it as a learning curve, as a process of developing into a more mature player, person, trying to get the best out of, you know, the circumstances, the live conditions that you’re in in the moment.

Q. The prospect of the seventh record-breaking title, does that sit in your mind, even at this stage?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Honestly, one of the reasons I’m here is to try to win every match that I play on, and eventually the title. I’m not the only one that is sitting here and talking about the title.

I love playing this sport. I love competing. I came in here as all the other 127 players to fight for this trophy, to enjoy competing. Of course, it’s an incentive, it’s motivation.

Q. Is there any specific reason as to why you do so well here? You do well everywhere, but especially here.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, one of the reasons is probably because it’s beginning of the year. I personally feel, I see many players feel very inspired and motivated to play their best tennis. They have been through a period of five, six weeks with no official matches. They recharge their batteries. They’re eager to get back on the court and play the sport.

It’s so early in the season, and we already have a first Grand Slam, one of the four biggest events in sport. I think that’s enough motivation for you to start off the season in best possible fashion.

Conditions play their role, for sure. I mean, I love playing on hard courts. Especially night matches play a bit slower, which I like. I guess it’s a combination of things.

Q. When you announced that you and Boris were going to go your separate ways, Boris did an interview in which he said that perhaps you haven’t been working as hard in the recent months as you had earlier on in your career. Do you think that is accurate? If so, do you think that has changed now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Boris and I have had an incredible three years. I can’t be more grateful to him, to our partnership, to our relationship, than I am. We’ve had amazing success. It’s all I can say.

I don’t want to go back and comment on anything. I kept a very friendly relationship with Boris. We just went separate ways.

Q. Obviously titles, preferably a Grand Slam, is most important to you. How essential is it to you to get back to that No. 1 ranking?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As a consequence of the results, if I become No. 1, that’s great. Of course, that’s what I want. But it’s not my main priority, let’s say. I really would like to take one tournament at a time and try to win as many matches as possible. Then, as I said, as a consequence to that, if I become No. 1, I’ll be thrilled.

Q. A word of the comeback of Roger Federer. What do you expect from him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t expect anything, and everything. With Roger, you can always see a top level and quality of tennis. I mean, that’s what he brings. He brings this aura of a champion on and off the court. The sport definitely missed him.

It’s great to see him back, no question about it. From a colleague/player perspective and point of view and fans, everybody loves to see Roger. He’s one of the most important people that ever held the racquet. Of course, for our sport it’s great to see him.

Q. What do you think is the most challenging part for a comeback after a half-year absence?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think he’s going to answer that question better. But the fact he was absent because of his injury, I think that’s obviously going to be the concern, maybe, or to see how that’s going to play out.

But he didn’t seem to have any issues playing in Perth. He’s fit. I’m sure he’s very motivated because he hasn’t played any official tournament ever since Wimbledon, I think.

With all his experience, talent, everything he has achieved in his life, I don’t think it’s going to take too much of a time for him to really get back into that kind of competitive zone.

Q. Yesterday we noticed you were blowing your nose during practice. You appeared to have something with your eyes as well. Any lingering health concerns at all?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No (smiling). It was probably the only time I blew my nose, when you saw it. I’m a human being, as everybody else. No, it’s all good.

Q. Last year’s Australian Open was also associated with some revelations about match fixing. 12 years on, what are your reflections how far the sport has come, where we are on that journey, if you like? Anything more on that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Ideally, we don’t want to see any kind of match fixing occurrences and situations. But unfortunately they do occur from time to time.

I don’t think there are too many. I mean, we haven’t experienced too many, even though every time something surfaces, of course everybody, especially media, makes a great deal about it.

But generally, you know, looking I think ATP and all the authorities are doing a good job in kind of tracking down those kind of potential match fixing matches. I haven’t had chance to see too many cases. Yes, there are some. On a lower level, as well, lower category of the professional tournaments.

 

Serena Williams

Q. You said in Auckland how windy it was there, wasn’t a great chance to assess how you were playing coming into Melbourne. Do you feel now that you’re here, you have a better sense of how you’re feeling under court?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I felt great going into my last event. Hopefully I can improve on that. Well, I can’t get worse, so that’s also very exciting. Hopefully I’ll be able to improve on that.

Q. Does it feel good to be back?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah.

Q. Or you’re so occupied on what you were doing?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I’ve been spending so much time on the court, so… But it feels really good to be back, just hitting on Rod Laver, hitting on all the stadiums, it’s a good feeling.

I love it here. It’s such a great tournament for me, so… Feels really good.

Q. In general, is there something in your game, because of the time off, you feel you really need to improve quite a bit to be back to where you were?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I always go in every off-season trying to improve pretty much everything all around. There’s things that I definitely focus on more than others. But for the most part… I don’t really talk about those things. For the most part I go off, try to do better in a lot of things.

Q. This winter when you sat down with the team, did you talk about a different approach for this season? What was the mindset coming into 2017?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I definitely wanted to work on some things, like I just said. Every season I always sit down with Patrick, I have a conversation on what I want to improve on. We work towards that.

Q. How do you view last season? We never really had a chance to get your opinion. Obviously Wimbledon I think is the highlight.
SERENA WILLIAMS: For me, it wasn’t a great season. I think for other people it would have been wonderful. For me, it wasn’t.

It was what it was. I’m still hitting.

Q. Health permitting, how much do you want to play this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely don’t want to play a lot, but I don’t think I’ve played a ton throughout the past. I’ve played a lot. I’ve always been super consistent the past five, six years. I definitely want to play probably around… Maybe not as many events.

If I can keep my consistency, that’s all.

Q. The reason I ask is last year you weren’t able to play that much, partly because of injury.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah.

Q. You mentioned it wasn’t a great year by your standards. Is there a certain amount you feel you do need to play in order to still find your best?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I think actually last year’s schedule would be perfect for me. But I was injured a lot last year, especially after Wimbledon. My year basically ended after that, so… If I could have played the tournaments that I would have played, I think that would have an ideal, perfect schedule for me.

Q. When you talk about last year and how injuries kind of interrupted it at different segments, with the time off, do you think you were able to kind of let your body heal up in terms of the things that were bothering you last year, or was it still a little bit of an issue during the off-season or pre-season training?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I got a lot better. I had a little bit of a problem initially in the pre-season. Just did a ton of therapy, exercises. I was able to get a lot better.

I felt that if I hadn’t of taken that time off, could have been bad for me.

Q. Have you seen the forecast for Tuesday, the warm weather, how that will affect things?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven’t seen it. Is it supposed to be hot?

Q. 38.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uh. Okay, better be ready.

Q. You’re playing Belinda, someone that has beaten you before. Thoughts about playing against someone as good as her right out of the gate?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it will be good for us both. I don’t know if she played here last year. Was it last year? She was quarterfinals, I think. I’m getting my years mixed up. Anyway, she’s done well here before.

So, yeah, she’s had a good win over me. It’s never easy for me. So I always go out there, and all I can do is do my best. I didn’t come here to lose in the first round, or the second round, or at all. If I can play the way I’ve been practicing, it will be fine.

I know she’s been playing well, so it will be good for both of us.

Q. In the six months that Roger was unable to play the sport because of injury, he spoke about a glimpse of life without tennis, but he still kept in touch with it, he still has the passion for it, it helps to motivate him for this year. Do you keep across the sport when you’re unable to play? Does that give you extra motivation, refresh you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t really keep up with it as much. I feel like when I take a break, I just need to really take a complete break, both physically and mentally. I definitely kind of take a step back.

But tennis is a sport that I absolutely love, that I definitely see myself — it’s my life, you know, for the rest of my life, whether I’m playing or whether I’m not playing. It’s definitely something that has made an incredible impact in my life.

Q. A few weeks ago you posted some personal, exciting news. Can you tell us a little bit about that.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, can you elaborate (smiling)?

Q. You said you were engaged.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh.

Q. That, remember?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I’m just kidding (smiling).

Yeah, it’s been really great. I’ve said from the beginning, I just didn’t want to think about it until after Australia because I was, like, Grand Slams mean a lot to me. I was, like, Well, I’m not going to think about it.

It’s almost a little unreal right now because I haven’t taken it in. I’m being rather selfish and focused on my career.

Q. You made it sound like it was a very romantic moment.
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was. It was. I’m actually just a really good writer, so… If you guys want any tips, I’m around (laughter).

Q. Does it feel different?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Again, not really because I don’t think I’ve had an opportunity to, like, let everything sink in. I won’t allow it to sink in because I’m so focused. It was right in the middle of pre-season. I’m really focused training, cardio, all kinds of stuff.

Now I’m on the road, already back at work. I don’t want to get too happy because I want to stay focused (smiling).

Q. The record, moving past Steffi, been around for a while. These days does it mean anything to you? What are your thoughts on that opportunity?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, I’m not talking about that. I’m just here to play and to win obviously, but just to play.

Q. I know you said you don’t want to get too happy. Do you feel like you need a certain amount of anger or something, a drive or focus, to switch on to full gear?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I wouldn’t call it anger, but I would definitely say drive and focus. What’s the word? Sacrifice? Yeah, sacrifices that you definitely have to have, so…

 

Roger Federer

Roger Federer

Q. How does it feel to be sitting in that chair? Were there any moments in the last 12 months when you wondered whether you might not be sitting in that chair right now?
ROGER FEDERER: No, 12 months ago I was always going to come back because my knee wasn’t so bad, so I never thought to miss the Australian Open a year later. But, of course, after Wimbledon, the race was on for Australia really, trying to make it for here.

I mean, I knew I had plenty of time. Probably in actual fact, if I would have kept everything short, it would have taken me four months then. That was pushing it. I would have had to take chances, test the knee earlier than what would have been good. But by giving myself six months, I had enough time, except if I had some setbacks. I never had that. So actually at the end I had plenty of time.

But so I always felt like I was going to be here. I’m happy I’m here, though. That means the job was well done. I can thank my team for that.

Yeah, was an interesting last six months, to say the least.

Q. What did you miss most?
ROGER FEDERER: Miss most? From here, you mean?

Q. Generally, when you were out. What was it about tennis that you missed?
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, from tennis.

I guess you do miss the matches at some point. You miss the feeling of winning, walking onto a stadium, seeing the guys. You know, it’s like an extended family to some extent anyway. You walk around here, it’s probably the same for you. You see faces you haven’t seen in a while. It’s just nice to see everybody again.

Plus I have a lot of friends on the tour, you know, because I’m the returning guest for like 20 years everywhere I go. It feels good to see those familiar faces every single year. It’s something I couldn’t quite enjoy the last six months. That’s probably what I missed the most.

Q. Are you happy how the body has reacted, the preparation, you feel everything is in order?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it’s under control. I felt great. I felt Hopman Cup was great preparation. We’ll see if it was perfect or not. But conditions felt virtually identical to me. Center court in Perth was sort of similar size. Court speed felt the same. Obviously same continent, all that stuff.

It felt really good. Then practice was more about just managing, maintaining, not overtraining, but nevertheless still play enough to get used to the conditions here again, even though it’s the same. You know how it is, you just have to put down the hours, play the sets. I did that.

Yeah, it’s just more quiet now, whereas in Dubai I was really forcing the issue. I was training extremely hard. I don’t have to do that anymore this week, so I feel like it’s been a light week.

Q. How do you know you’re going to be able to handle the long four or five sets that the Australian Open brings up?
ROGER FEDERER: I guess it’s slightly the unknown. You could then argue that it’s the same for everybody. We don’t play four-setters, five-setters every single week. You only play them in Davis Cup now and in Grand Slam play. I went through a year where I didn’t play any five-setters, an entire year.

You could think that’s a good thing for longevity, but it’s not a good thing because you don’t know how it feels to play a five-setter anymore. Yeah, a lot of guys haven’t played four-setters or five-setters in a long time, or never in their life. From that standpoint, I don’t feel like it’s a huge advantage or disadvantage for them.

I trained as hard as I possibly could, so I will be ready for it. I did numerous sessions where I trained over two and a half, three hours. I feel I’m ready.

But, like I said, it is the unknown. It’s the part that I can only once I’ve been there.

Q. There’s a lot of unknown for you in your draw because you play a qualifier, then another qualifier. Does any of you sneak out today to watch the qualifying matches, guys you don’t know, or is it not worth scouting until you know?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean Severin and Ivan, my coaches, are out and about checking it out.

Yeah, it would be good to know who I play. I guess I could tell you what I think. Like this, I’m waiting to find out. Once it’s out, it’s actually a good thing because then you can start actually mentally preparing for the Aussie Open. Is it a lefty, a righty? It’s a big deal. Is he a big server, a grinder? A bit of an unknown here the first round because that’s the part of the draw I care most about because of having not been playing.

Q. Do you feel you have to play catch-up having missed six months, more new faces you’re unfamiliar with than usual?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really, I don’t think. I’ve never known all the guys in qualifying. There’s always new faces coming up every season. The guys, a lot of them, who played futures or challengers a year ago may be 300, next thing you know they’re in the top 100. It’s nice to see those new faces. It’s nice to see the changes. It’s no different this year, I don’t feel.

Q. You will remember what it was like to first become world No. 1, which is what Andy is obviously experiencing this week. Does it feel any different? Do you get looked at differently, do you feel? Do you have a different sense of perception?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I think it definitely feels different, yeah, because everybody comes up to you and says, You’re the best. You start walking around a bit differently. Just feel more confident overall in your shots without having had to play. It’s a good thing. Usually when you win, you know, it solves everything.

From that standpoint, there’s only one virtually the last four months. I’m sure things have been very smooth for him in his life, family, everything is great. What is there to talk negative about? The negativity goes out of the door a little bit, which is a good thing in tennis. When you can think and feel positive, that rubs off into match play.

Then I guess you come to a point when you just can’t let it affect you, you just have to remind yourself how hard you had to work to actually get there. It’s going to require that plus more to stay there.

But I feel like because Andy is not 18 years old. He knows all about that. I don’t think the ranking in this regard changes him in a big way. I think he’s too laid back for him to also change in terms of attitude towards us.

Yeah, like I said, I’m super happy for him. He deserves it. He’s been in there for a long time. He’s had some tough losses, some great wins over the year. He never kind of strung it together that it would pay off. This time it did, so it’s great for him, great for the sport.

Q. From your perception, somebody who played the role of No. 1 player in the world, dominated many years, in many ways this year you’re kind of an underdog. You talked about the unknown. Are you looking forward to being that, the underdog?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, why not for a change? I mean, I prefer to be the favorite. Underdog is okay. Yeah, no, it’s fine. As long as I’m healthy and I feel like I can go four, five sets, I can go many matches in a row, then I think it’s going to be fun. If I feel like I’m in pain in the matches, then obviously it’s no fun. Then it doesn’t matter what your seeding or ranking is, it’s always the same.

But, no, it’s a great draw because I’m in the draw. So for me I’m super pleased that I made it here, that I have an opportunity to win matches. How many rests to be seen. I’m cautious myself. So, yeah, clearly an underdog this time around.

Q. Do you like the new logo of the Australian Open?
ROGER FEDERER: It’s okay (smiling).

Q. You were here last year when the headlines about match fixing were in the news.
ROGER FEDERER: I thought we were going to finish on a good one (smiling).

Q. There’s been 12 months of debate, a lot of people calling for money even in the qualifying of Grand Slams. What do you think of that notion? Is there anything left undone, something else we could be doing to address the problem?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, some guys who have been called for match fixing are ranked extremely low. That’s at the very beginning stages, I mean you can’t be offering — I don’t know how much prize money is there. You’re playing in futures or tournaments they’re playing in.

I think it’s important that the tournament does the utmost. The Integrity Unit is analyzing the situation. I think we’re going to get a report back in a couple months, what I heard, which I think is great. That’s going to change the sport for the better.

Clearly we have no space for that kind of behavior in our sport. The good thing is that it’s really only zero point something percent of players that actually have done something over the course of so many matches and so many players. I think we’ve done actually okay.

Like you said, there can always be more done. But I think also through experiences, you learn through those mistakes, whoever did them, the tour, the player, the Federation, I don’t know. It’s tough. But I think important is to support players and educate them the right way to make them aware of the dangers potentially, also what lies ahead as a player you don’t know. That’s where it’s good to have a mentor, older brother on the tour you can lean on and ask for advice.

I felt I was lucky early on in my days that I had that. I had a great coach who was on the tour before. I had guys like Marc Rosset, former players that I could always ask for advice, sound advice, because they’d been on tour for 10 years. Or just ask my parents. But they didn’t have a tennis background, so it’s more tricky there. Maybe the Federation, as well. I think it’s very supportive in a tough environment sometimes.

 

 

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka

Q. What’s your mindset going into this tournament after winning the most recent Grand Slam?
STAN WAWRINKA: I’m happy to be back, like every player probably. I think I’m work well in the off-season. Started well in Brisbane. I think my level is there. I’m ready to start the tournament. Excited to start the first Grand Slam of the year, first one against Klizan, a tough player that I played only a few years ago, but is a really dangerous player.

It’s going to be interesting to see the first match.

Q. What is the most dangerous aspect when you play against a lefty?
STAN WAWRINKA: Well, depends who you play. For sure, if you play Rafa, if you play Klizan…

I think for me, I don’t have really problem because he is a lefty player. I’m quite confident with my backhand, so it depends all about me, the way I’m going to start, the way I’m going to play.

Q. Last year you started the season in India. Now you move starting the season in Australia. Is there a special reason to do that?
STAN WAWRINKA: No. I’ve been playing India for nine years in a row. I always enjoy there. I always liked it there.

But I heard a lot of good things about Brisbane. Roger played also. He always told me was a great tournament. I wanted to change a little bit to see some new city, some new tournament. It’s also good mentally. So I took the decision to start here in Australia.

I think was a great week. I really enjoy there, the city, the people at the tournament, the fans. Was a lot of fans. Think was a perfect start of the year.

Q. You said you wanted to change a bit. Did you also change something in the preparation? What was the special focus in this off-season for you?
STAN WAWRINKA: Didn’t really change anything big. I had good time. I’m happy the way I did my off-season. Was some good quality fitness-wise and tennis. Keep improving, keep trying to find what I can improve in my game, keep pushing myself.

I’m really happy with the level I’m playing right now. I know that if I can keep pushing during the year, keep doing the right thing, the big result will come.

Q. I saw you and Roger are already out of Davis Cup in the U.S. Is that an easy decision for you, having to go to a different continent?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, schedule-wise it’s really tough after one month in Australia to go back to States, to come back to play in Europe, then go back to States after. It is never easy to not play Davis Cup, but with that schedule, was really tough for me to be available for the team.

Q. The local reaction to the draw, forecasting past round one?
STAN WAWRINKA: Not really, because it can be in the fourth round. I’m not there yet. He’s not there yet neither. For me it’s all about focus, what we do the first round. If I won the first round, then it’s going to be the second round.

We all know how the draw is. We all look the draw, full draw, we all see what can be the draw for after. But at the end the focus, it’s in the first match because if you don’t pass it, you never get to that match.

Q. Last year you had Richard Krajicek for the grass court season. Do you plan to have another coach?
STAN WAWRINKA: For the season or for the grass?

Q. The grass court season.
STAN WAWRINKA: Grass is really far away from where I am right now, so… Not really, no. I focus on everything we have before starting the first Grand Slam now. That’s the main focus.

 

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori

Q. You’re in the same quarter as Murray and Federer. After your Brisbane performance, how confident are you that you can go deep in the Australian Open?
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, it was great run last week in Brisbane. First time to get a final. So I’m really happy with my start of the year. Yeah, we’ll see. Have a tough first round. Try to play one match at a time. Yeah, hope I can make to second week.

Q. How are you feeling physically at the moment? Obviously you have an off-season. It’s an unusual schedule in a way that you finish your long year, have a break, then suddenly you have one of the biggest events of the year straightaway.
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, feeling pretty good. I had a good off-season. I rest a lot before I do the training session. Had a good off-season, you know. Good training, good practicing. I thought I, you know, started well this year.

So, yeah, it’s going to be really important how I do here to get a lot of confidence for start of the season. Yeah, feeling pretty good after I hurt in Brisbane in the final, but I feeling pretty good.

Q. You’ve obviously been a top-10 player now for quite a long time. What do you think you’re still capable of doing in this sport?
KEI NISHIKORI: Well, yeah, it’s been three years now maybe to be in top 10. Well, I got really mentally strong. I think I’m more consistent and much more mature for everything, you know, even off the court, on the court too.

Yeah, everything is getting better now.

Q. Do you think you can win one of these tournaments? You reached a Grand Slam final. From what you’ve seen of your level, and everybody else’s level, do you think you can win a Grand Slam?
KEI NISHIKORI: Well, yeah, that’s what I believe in myself. I hope I can get a Grand Slam title sometimes. But I haven’t get big title yet, even the Masters tournaments. That’s something what I need for my confidence and experience.

Yeah, my goal this year is to win a big tournament.

 

 

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

Q. Why did you change your coach to Krajicek?
MILOS RAONIC: It was just a timing of how things went. I feel like for me to make the steps I want, especially forward, specifically with that focus, you have these two guys that move very well laterally. I don’t think I’m ever going to be the best guy from the baseline by any means, especially not against them. If I’m going to take it to them, it’s by coming forward. So I wanted to improve in that aspect.

Q. Why did you add Richard Krajicek to your staff?
MILOS RAONIC: That’s the same exact question.

No, it’s really to help me be more efficient going forward. I believe you have these two guys that are phenomenal right now at the top of the game covering the baseline. It’s really hard to get by them, especially with the way they move. I can’t expect to move like they do. I think I’ve got to be at least 20, 25 pounds heavier than them. It’s going to be about moving forward.

I think Richard could really help me in being more aggressive, more forward orientated, and more efficient when I’m able to get myself coming in.

Q. With regard to that, a year ago here you seemed to be doing a lot of that. You were going to the net a lot this time last year. You got to the semifinals. You were one set away from the final here. Do you think you need to be up there even more? Does Richard think you need to be up there?
MILOS RAONIC: I wouldn’t say even more. I think it’s about the consistency of it. When I was here last year, I was very efficient at coming forward. I did a lot of things well.

It could be because of the sort of injury. After that I didn’t have really the capacity to train properly. It sort of drifted away. It had come time to March in Indian Wells, Miami, I wasn’t coming in as much. Obviously on clay, it’s its own situation. Wimbledon and through the grass, obviously the situation did help me come forward more. But then through the rest of the summer and fall, I didn’t do it that much.

With those lapses of consistency, it’s really hard to make the true progress. So that goal is to some days it’s going to be more efficient than others. But if I’m able to put myself in that situation more consistently, I will continue to improve.

Q. Is it something that comes naturally to you psychologically, or do you have to actually remind yourself?
MILOS RAONIC: It depends on what the scenarios are. Sometimes against guys that are lower ranked, I can get away with staying further back. Sometimes I’m not disciplined enough, or attention focused on that specific thing in those situations.

Then obviously, you don’t want to be arriving to a quarterfinal or a semifinal in these big tournaments and expect yourself to be efficient coming forward. So it’s about obtaining that perspective, that command within myself to do it from the beginning of the tournament, so that when it does get to later stages where it’s not very optional, it’s something I need to do if I want to give myself the best opportunity to win. It’s been already tried, tested and true by then.

Q. How do you feel game-wise coming into the tournament after the few matches you had since the start of the tournament?
MILOS RAONIC: I feel good. Obviously this year is a lot different than last year. Last year the first matches of the year were the most important to me because I didn’t play at the end of 2015. So I really needed to get an understanding of where I was at. Right now I have a much better understanding of where I’m at, and now it’s really about I know what I can get out of myself. It’s more important to be mentally prepared, sort of grit my way through and get that out of myself. Some days I’ll be successful, some days not. But if I’m mental able to really be on top of myself, I’ll give myself a chance to win, and hopefully progress throughout the tournament.

Q. You are world No. 3 right now. Could you catch up Novak and Andy? Do you have confidence?
MILOS RAONIC: I definitely do have that confidence. But it’s going to take some time. They’re significantly ahead of anybody as far as points go and as far as results over the past 12 months.

Q. Have you changed anything in your preparation physically to try to get rid of the injuries you got last year?
MILOS RAONIC: We focus on different things. I think sort of the hours spent on court, we did that a little bit less in the off-season. Most of my injuries do tend to be in the lower half of my body. There was two focuses. Obviously spending less time pounding my lower body on concrete. Spent more time in the gym, sort of changed around that ratio a little bit.

Obviously the off-season was as long as previous years as well. Then focused on losing a little bit of weight, refocusing on that. Something that can help me throughout the year. Obviously those hours spent with a few extra pounds here and there can make a difference.

Q. What are your experiences with Krajicek?
MILOS RAONIC: They’ve been very positive. We spent somewhere close to I believe now eight to ten days together. We spent the last week of the off-season together. We spent Abu Dhabi together. It’s been very positive.

We’ve focused on a lot of things, especially obviously coming forward being the main thing. Last year there was a few things that I did well. There was two specific matches I was — two important matches I was able to get ahead a set and a break. I gave that away. We focused on in those situations I could take better care of my serve. Then we focused a little bit technically on cleaning things up at the net so I can be a little bit more efficient, where I position myself, how I cover the net, so forth.

Q. Is he now your head coach or is there no difference between the two coaches?
MILOS RAONIC: Virtually there’s really no difference. Richard is going to be doing mostly tournaments with me, where he’s going to help me getting the best out of myself. Ricardo is more doing the weeks when I sort of go home, do the training weeks, these kind of things.

I think both of them have equally as important a role as the other.

Q. You mentioned you focused on when you’re a set and a break ahead, that kind of situation that you had with Andy.
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, there were two situations. There was the situation in Queen’s and obviously in the semifinals there.

You can’t really put yourself in that situation through practice. You got to deal with those situations. There was attention put into what do I need to do differently or what can I expect in those scenarios that I look for.

I believe obviously the situation in Queen’s was quite different from the one in the O2 because the one in Queen’s, it came down to one or two points, whereas in the O2 it was 4-4, I had mistakes, I believe. It’s how to manage those situations, being a little bit more aware of them.

Q. What is the conclusion?
MILOS RAONIC: The conclusion is sometimes I have to take more time. Sometimes I’d veer off what I was doing to get myself to that point. It’s being more disciplined, remembering those things, sort of sticking to that, no hocus-pocus.

Q. I can’t imagine anything worse than trying to lose weight over Christmas personally.
MILOS RAONIC: Thanksgiving, as well. That wasn’t easy (smiling).

No, it’s something that actually I started preparing for all the way in September, after the disappointment at the US Open, just being aware of that. I knew I can’t really expect too much from myself, especially changing habits while I’m playing.

The grunt part of it, the main focus of it was done in those three, four weeks that I had.

Q. Did you change your diet completely?
MILOS RAONIC: To some extent, you know. I think it’s more before I have what I can and cannot eat, then just manage it. Now it’s I have what I should eat and how much of it I should eat.

 

Garbine Muguruza

GARBINE MUGURUZA

Q. I was watching the tournament in Brisbane, watching some of your matches there. You seemed super motivated. You seemed really excited to be back out on the court. Do you feel a little bit different this year, maybe refreshed from the off-season and so forth?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: I don’t feel very different. I think it’s just like the continuation, I don’t know if it makes sense, of the last year.

I know it’s a new start. Like you said, I’m very motivated. I think I’m in a great position to be, and looking forward to play, try to find my best level, hopefully more weeks.

Yeah, that brings me a lot of motivation.

Q. Have you done anything different in your off-season this time compared to previous years?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Not really something different. I think I did a good preparation with my team. We focus a lot my kind of weak parts of the body, just to not get injured, or to be more days more prepared for the matches.

I spend a lot of time on the court. But I think it’s part of the pre-season, you know, schedule.

Q. Since Brisbane, what have you been up to in terms of trying to get your body as fit as possible for the tournament?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Well, when I stop Brisbane, I just rest actually for a lot of days. Like rest, did nothing, no tennis, no fitness. I just trying to recover with my physio until I arrived here, and I started playing again. You know, just refreshing my body from those difficult matches to try to be here 100%.

Q. How have things been feeling for you on court physically and rhythm-wise?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: I think good. I had enough off days to prepare. I think it took me long than I thought to recover from those matches.

But, yeah, I feel good. I’ve been training here for the past three days. Yeah, I feel ready.

Q. I imagine this tournament has some pretty fond memories for you. It’s probably the first time I really became aware of your potential, the matches you had here two or three years ago. What is it like to play here compared to the other slams for you?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Well, I remember this was the first Grand Slam — was it first one? Was not the first one that I played the main draw, but was the first one that I win a match in the main draw. I was very happy. So it brings me a lot of memories, you know, getting into more level matches. I remember playing on Rod Laver and Hisense. Like you said, very good matches that make me more, you know, self-confidence.

I think I always play well here, so I’m very happy to be back. It’s one of our favorite tournaments, Australian Open. They improve a lot of things every year, which is amazing for us. My manager still remember the first match he saw me here. It was 14-12 the third set, so is funny (smiling).

Q. Every slam offers different challenges, like specific things to the US Open or the French or Wimbledon that make it difficult. At the Australian Open, what are the particular challenges of playing this tournament and trying to win it?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: I usually fight with the heat. I mean, I think not only me, everybody fights against the heat. Sometimes is very tough. I know when you play in the beautiful center courts, there’s air-conditioning. But we all started in the outside courts, you know, where you have to fight. It’s 40 degrees. You’re exhausted.

So I think that’s the most harder. But I think there’s a lot of good things here. I think I feel when I come to Australia there is like a tennis month. It’s like crazy. I’m okay, tennis month. I put the TV, everybody is watching tennis. The fans, they’re so involved in this month because of the tennis.

Q. I remember a match you played at the US Open against Johanna Konta a couple years ago. She won that match. It was incredible. She’s gone on from there to be a top-10 player. She just won in Sydney. Is that a surprise to you, that she’s managed to go from the player that beat you that day? Did you expect her to be as high as she is right now?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Well, before we played that match, I knew her before. She used to train sometimes in Spain. I remember that match. It was like five-hours match. It’s true that since that year, kind of, she went very like this, up.

I think she’s just a very good player, and she’s showing it. I mean, everybody takes their moment and their timing to start climbing. But she’s definitely showing a lot of consistency since last year. She’s improving, improving. I saw little bit in Sydney.

So, yeah, she’s playing great.

Q. When you think back to those early days when you would play here at this tournament on the outside courts, nobody knew who you were, your manager is walking around outside taking a look, how different was it to play a first-round match when you were a little bit less known, a little bit more anonymous, compared to what is the feeling like nowadays as a top player playing the first match as a Grand Slam? Mentally and emotionally, how different is that?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Is different but is not that far away. Okay, like, five years ago I came here, I’m like, I’m in Australia. It’s a Grand Slam. I walking through the rooms and I see all these top-10 people. Amazing, I follow them and stuff. You are so nervous, so nervous.

But now you come and you’re so nervous, too, for different reasons. Is a very important tournament, you work so hard to go out there and play good and perform well. It’s different, but at the same time emotionally it takes a lot of energy.

 

 

 

Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios

Q. The knee update, please?
NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah, it’s feeling really good. I’ve done four or five treatments on it. Got one more tomorrow. Yeah, it’s feeling a lot better since I last competed, which was in Perth. So I’ve had massive improvements in my knee.

Q. And the treatment is?
NICK KYRGIOS: Just putting, like, patches on my knee. It’s another way to insert some cortisone in my knee.

Q. Happy about the Hisense situation?
NICK KYRGIOS: Definitely. I think Hisense is one of my favorite courts, if not my favorite. I feel confident on that court. I love the way it looks. I like the dimensions of it. It’s a great serving court. Yeah, I like playing there.

Q. When you played the Fast4 just a few days after Perth, you looked pretty good. Were you feeling pain-free?
NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah, a couple, two days. I think I played four days after. Yeah, I had a couple treatments. I had to test it out there. If I wasn’t able to play Fast4, I probably wasn’t going to look good to play a best of five match. I had to test it out there. It was still giving me some pain, but definitely feeling some improvement already.

Q. How do you feel about your draw?
NICK KYRGIOS: I think it’s very good. Obviously you get rewarded with a good draw the higher your seeding is. I played well last year. Got my ranking to top 30 in the world. I’ve been awarded with a pretty good draw.

Saying that, Elias can play some pretty high-level tennis. Everyone in the draw can, can beat anyone on the day. I got to go out there and not expect to win the match. I got to go out there and just play and we’ll see how it goes.

Q. What are your expectations, Nick, coming in here, given obviously you haven’t played a regular tour event for a while, and the knee? Where are you setting the bar?
NICK KYRGIOS: You know, I’m never been a player to play many tournaments before a Grand Slam. I like to come in pretty fresh. So my expectations are high. I still feel like I can do some major damage and get to the second week and really cause some upsets, so…

My expectations are still pretty high.

Q. Do you get a sense from the Australian public, there’s been some rocky moments lately, do you get a sense that everyone is behind you and wants to see you play to your full potential?
NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah. I thought in Perth everyone was behind me. In the Fast4, as well. I think it would be silly not to. We got two players in the top 30 that can do really well and go deep in the draw. We got a lot of guys in the draw that can do well, younger guys. Jordan Thompson is playing well now. It’s exciting. It’s an exciting time for Australian tennis. Yeah, I think everyone should just get behind everyone because we all can play well.

Q. Did you do much different in the off-season this year compared to previous years?
NICK KYRGIOS: I had a bit more of a schedule this year. I had a strength conditioner. We’ve been working pretty hard. Yeah, I guess it was a couple weeks where I didn’t have him this year. I kind of did my own thing. I think that’s how my knee started flaring up a little bit. Live and learn, hopefully next year I’ll get it right.

Q. Do you feel a different player than last year when you sat in that chair?
NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah. I feel like last year I was an established top-hundred player. I hadn’t beat top guys on a consistent basis. I feel like now I know what I can do on the court. Last year I was pretty consistent throughout the year. Won three titles. Got to 13. I feel more comfortable on the court. I know what my game is, I know how to play it. I know I can beat anyone on the day.

 

Bernard Tomic

Bernard Tomic

Q. How would you sum up your preparations?
BERNARD TOMIC: Pretty good. I was practicing very well. And, yeah, I got a bunch of exhibitions in, so it was important for me get matches regardless of win/loss.

I’m feeling pretty confident. I play a tough player first round here, so it’s going to be a tough match. He’s not easy to play for me, so I have to get ready for this match with all my effort.

Q. You expect he’ll make you work pretty hard? Is that the way he goes about it?
BERNARD TOMIC: Yeah, he’s very intense. He’s beaten a lot of top players. I think he’s reached almost top 20 in the world, won multiple titles. For me he’s a top 10, 15 player on clay. It’s going to be tough.

His ranking now is 60, 70. He’s one of those players, where he’s playing well, he’s not an easy player to play.

I have to come into this match 100% from the first point. That’s going to be very important for me, you know.

Q. What do you make of your draw more generally?
BERNARD TOMIC: Yeah, I saw the first two matches potentially. It’s tough. Everybody in the first round can play. I don’t look any more further ahead. The times I’ve looked further ahead, I’ve sort of lost. I think you have to respect everyone. Everybody can beat everybody here. It’s a Grand Slam. Everyone is playing to win, playing for themselves at the best level. They’ve prepared at their best.

For me this first round is important. After that I’ll see who I play, but I really don’t care.

Q. It’s going to be hot, Monday and Tuesday.
BERNARD TOMIC: It’s not going to be easy. I just have to deal with it. It’s going to be the same for everybody on that day. Tuesday is going to be tough. I have to be hydrated, ready. We’ve seen many times here at the Open where people are not physically ready, have to withdraw. It gets sometimes out of hand sometimes with the heat. It’s something you have to play, not just the opponent, but the heat. I guess I have to be ready for this.

Q. There’s been a lot spoken about your fitness. Where would you rank it out of 10?
BERNARD TOMIC: I think honestly, if I can say there are 50 people fitter than me outside of the top 70 to 150 in the world. There are some players not as fit as me inside the top 10, 15 in the world.

Will fitness help them? I don’t think so. I feel obviously the big servers, Isner, Raonic, Kyrgios, Karlovic are there. I don’t think fitness can help them. Fitness has got me… I’ve based my sport, what I’ve got in my career, with my serve, my ability to play tennis.

I think there are many fitter players than me that are outside the top 100 in the world. I think we can skip this question.

Q. Has your weight stabilized?
BERNARD TOMIC: I’m not going to answer that.

Q. How would you describe your sort of hunger or desperation for bigger and better things this year, at this tournament, and in 2017 generally? How high of goals do you set for yourself, what is success, what is failure?
BERNARD TOMIC: Well, top 10 is my goal. Top 20, because my goal two years ago, a year and a half ago. I achieved that from being 130 in the world prior to two surgeries from that. Now my goal is to get to top 10 and stay there many years. You have to work for this. It’s not going to happen overnight.

I think my year last year was pretty solid. I didn’t play many tournaments. I think I pulled out of two Masters Series. I think I only play two Masters Series out of the nine. My ranking ended 26 at the end of the year, from a start of 17, 18. I think I did reasonably well last year compared to the tournaments I missed.

Yeah, this year I have to play all the Masters Series and try to do well at them. I’m looking forward to this year.

Q. Are there big steps between you and the top 10 or are you already doing everything right?
BERNARD TOMIC: Well, I think there are a lot of good players in the top 20, top 30 that are top-10 players. You got to get there. You got to earn it. Whether it comes like that or in four, five years, you know, you obviously are going to get your chance. If you’re consistent, you work hard, do the right things, you have a big chance at this.

There are, like I said, many, many players from top 20, 30 in the world that are amazing tennis players, potentially play better than some of the guys in the top 10. But it’s a different game. You have to be more consistent, you have to work for this. It takes a year. It doesn’t take three tournaments.

Q. You’ve been pretty consistent here throughout the years. Is that because it’s at home, the time of year? How do you explain that?
BERNARD TOMIC: Well, I think this is my ninth Australian Open. I’m 24, just turned. This is my ninth Australian Open. It’s crazy to think how long it’s been. I obviously played my first match year at 16, where I think I won the youngest match. It’s gone pretty quickly. I always played well. Always made a lot of third rounds, fourth rounds. I’d like to go a step further, play better.

But, yeah, it’s obviously a tough draw. It’s going to be tough. I think I’ve got to use the moment, use the crowd. Obviously the fans get behind me, I’m sure they will. They always get behind our Australian players and support them to their limits. I think that’s what makes us play really good in Australia.

Q. When you say you’re not looking at the wins and losses, other people are saying it’s not great preparation. What make you more confident, what makes you shrug this off?
BERNARD TOMIC: Well, yeah, I think I chose to play a few different events as opposed to playing Sydney like I played in the past four, five years. So I feel like, yeah, Brisbane I lost to a former world No. 3. It was a tough match. I take a lot from it. I went down to Sydney, played the exhibition. Same as Kooyong. Different sort of matches, I was working on a few things. I don’t really rate these matches as winning or losing, Sydney and Kooyong. That’s not important to me. What’s important for me is to get out on the court, do my thing and work on a few things I needed to do. And just to be ready mentally for the Open. I played very good in my past here where I haven’t been prepared for tournaments. Sometimes it happens just like that. Sometimes I prepared well and not been as ready.

But that’s tennis. Players work hard, try their ass off, sometimes you lose. Sometimes you’re less prepared, and you do well.

Q. You’re looking forward to the fans getting behind you? To 10,000 Aussies. Be put out on Hisense?
BERNARD TOMIC: I think Hisense is an amazing court. It’s huge. The atmosphere builds there. Everybody is behind everybody. It’s a good court.

Regardless of where I play, I think I’m going to have huge support. It’s an amazing feeling to see people supporting in a Grand Slam the Australian players. It’s very motivating. I hope the fans can all support us.

 

Belinda Bencic

Belinda Bencic

Q. How did you find out about your first-round opponent? What was your reaction?
BELINDA BENCIC: Twitter (smiling). My Twitter was blowing up. I was like, What’s going on? That’s when I saw it.

My first reaction was actually, like, really happy. So I think I’m super pumped, like excited I get to play on the big court, I guess.

Yeah, like everyone is like, Oh, bad luck with the draw. Me, I’m, like, pretty happy and excited about it.

Q. Why do you think it’s not bad luck?
BELINDA BENCIC: Well, I think we’re going to play on the big court. It’s a big match, playing against Serena Williams. It’s what everyone’s working for. To play Australian Open, of course like first round, but that’s how it is. I’m just pumped about it, yeah.

Q. What are your memories of that match at the Rogers Cup against her?
BELINDA BENCIC: Memories, like, they never go away. They’re always there. The best ones, for sure.

I still remember, like, the last game, like every point, everything. It was, for sure, my biggest win until now.

I hope I can take this memory and put it to positive energy to be, like, super confident on the court, and play good.

Q. Do you remember thinking after that match or when you talked to your father, whoever, about what exactly you thought you did well in that match to get that win?
BELINDA BENCIC: Yes, I think I did very well that I always, you know, even though she killed me the first set, I always stayed there, putting the balls back, playing, trying the best. I always was there.

At some point she also got a little bit, like, down in the match. That’s where I kind of could take the overhand and get to the third set, yeah.

Q. It seems as though you’ve had a tough time in the last year or so physically. How do you feel right now? If we were to look at 100%, where are you right now?
BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, exactly, last year was very tough. I got one injury, then it was a circle into the next one. I just didn’t stop. I was really happy about it. I came back, didn’t play very good.

Now I think I’m really motivated to play, first of all. I’m so happy to be here.

Physically I have nothing that bothers me, except this thing in Sydney. No, I think I’m pretty close to 100%.

Q. People see you as a dangerous floater, somebody who can cause trouble. Do you feel yourself that way? Do you feel like somebody that Serena should be not afraid of, but somebody that can possibly make some noise here?
BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, of course I want to see myself that way. I think I had good result when I was playing. Of course I was injured. It was not that great. But first of all, every first-round opponent is a dangerous floater, so you have to be careful with everyone.

But, I mean, we played each other two times already. We both know what to expect now. I think it will be, for sure, a good match, yeah.

Q. How is the toe?
BELINDA BENCIC: It’s good. It fell off (laughter). If you want to see a video or something.

No, no, it’s okay. The physio take good care of me, they tape it for the match, for the practices. When I stop, it’s not that bad. I made a hole into my shoe, so I don’t put it like this.

But it’s a common tennis injury. It’s the first time I had.

Q. Can you talk through your pre-season a little bit. Where did you do it? What was the main priority, especially given your last season? What was the main thing you were working on?
BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, I practice in Florida, at Evert Academy. We flew straightaway to Perth. I think the main priority was for sure to stay healthy. I didn’t practice that much like I’m used to. I didn’t work that much on fitness, that much on tennis. My priority was to stay healthy, to always feel good on the court.

I think we did pretty well. Then I had a great first tournament in Perth, so that help me a lot to get the matches again. It was amazing. Put me in a positive mood from the first tournament in the year.

Q. Do you remember what sort of game plan it was that worked against Serena last time? Are you already thinking, I know it worked, I can do that again?
BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, for sure I remember. I’m going to try to do that again. I’m not going to tell you now what exactly because then she will know (smiling).

Q. Quick turnaround from Sydney over to here. How are you feeling with all of the matches in your body through the first two weeks of the season?
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Well, to be honest, I feel very good. I think much better than in China after the first couple matches. Of course, losing the match rhythm, your body not used to the matches last two months…

I feel good. Of course, losing finals always disappointing. But still a good week. Couple great matches against top players. So hoping I can play the same good tennis here in Melbourne.

Q. Your opponent in round one is a former world No. 31. She actually beat you in your last meeting in the French Open. What was your reaction when you saw she was your first-round opponent?
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Yes, well, it’s a tough draw for sure. We played so many times. Obviously in Paris the last time, but we had a lot of good three-set matches I think on every surface.

Well, the draw is the draw. We’ll see after the match.

Q. Your performance in Sydney, you said yourself you couldn’t have played any better. You must be pretty confident heading in.
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Yeah, I’m very confident. I really hope I can play the same tennis, even the tennis I played in the final.

Well, of course, every tournament is different story. Especially in the tough first round. Well, I still have two days to practice here, adjust to surface and conditions. We’ll see.

Q. Pironkova can be a tricky opponent. Does it help you kind of having the string of wins and the matches? It’s almost like you’re mid tournament form instead of going in completely cold.
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Yeah, for sure, tournament like Sydney is helping a lot. Playing pretty much two, three days later against a good player for sure is better than playing as a first match.

So, like you said, Pironkova is a very tricky opponent. I’m expecting everything from her side. For sure it’s going to be a lot of running. I’m going to really have to work on each point.

Q. Have you had a chance to hit on these courts yet?
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Not yet. I just arrived like two hours ago.

Q. With the heat in Sydney, it was a hot week there, how does that make you feel heading into the tournament? Does that make you feel more confident with the conditions?
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Well, I was the lucky one playing in the evenings. But it was still very humid and hot. But, yes, well, that was for sure a very good warmup before here. I know it’s going to be hot as well here next week.

We’ll see the schedule. Of course, playing second or third match isn’t going to be easy.

Q. Most people talk about your chances of winning Wimbledon, but you’ve had good success here in the past, semifinals last year. What helps you in your game here at Melbourne Park? What has been the challenge of making the final here?
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Well, every Grand Slam is different. We can see even different top seeds, different opponents.

What is helping? I really feel good on this center court. I like to play here. I like Australia. I’ve been always playing good tennis here. Two semis. Of course, that’s always very close till the end. Hopefully I can do one step forward and play seven matches here.

Q. Does Kerber and everything she did last year play on your mind at all in terms of being a player of that generation, being able to have that very unexpected breakthrough? Do you think of that at all? Is it a separate thing?
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Well, I think this is big inspiration for everyone. Winning two Grand Slams the same year, other couple big finals. That’s for sure something amazing. She really played unbelievable tennis whole season. She just proved that she can do it. I mean, two Grand Slams just from pretty much nowhere.

But, well, I think in moments that’s going to happen. I think she just proved that last year, that she can really play great tennis, beating even Serena in the final.

 

Karolina Pliskova

Q. You had the week off. How are you feeling after Brisbane? How is the body feeling fitness-wise and all that?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I took just two days off, then I’ve been practicing here since Tuesday. Even yesterday. I had three days off.

But I’ve been feeling good so far. Yeah, I was even ready for Monday start, but will be ready even for Tuesday.

Q. How are the courts playing for you?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I was practicing few times on the outside courts, which I think is pretty fast. Obviously the bigger courts are not that fast, I would say, but still fast.

I like it. So let’s see.

Q. Has your life changed very much in the Czech Republic after being in the US Open final?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: Not much. It was already kind of before the same. When we won the Fed Cup final, then it changed, I would say. I don’t know how many people are following this tournament in Czech. But Fed Cup is just the biggest thing in Czech.

So little bit, and now it’s still about the same, so… It’s not that bad, but like people recognize me a little bit.

Q. Do you mind that? Do you care that people recognize you?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I don’t need this, to be honest, no. I’m fine with that. I just know it. It cannot get any other way than this. But I don’t need it, definitely not (smiling).

Q. Has your preparation for Grand Slams changed over the years or is it pretty much the same preparing for the Open, as it was in New York, other slams before that?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I would say this week is similar to New York actually with the playing. I won Cincinnati, then I would withdraw from New Haven. I’m trying to be 100% ready, even if I feel something a little bit after that week in Brisbane. If you’re playing well, have a lot of matches, I don’t see any reason to play another tournament which is ending Saturday, then you would have to still play on Monday, which I think it’s tough, especially in these conditions here in Australia.

That’s what I did in New York, as well. So I just did it here.

I don’t know if it’s going to worked. But I just want to leave everything in this tournament, in this Grand Slam. For me the main goals are Grand Slams. So I want to be ready for it.

Q. Which Grand Slam do you think you have the best chance to win?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: Well, I should now say US Open because I was in the final there. But, yeah, I think I have chance little bit everywhere. It’s smallest I would say obviously the clay, French Open.

Q. Do you consider yourself as one of the favorites to win this year, after winning Brisbane and playing so well over there?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I would definitely not take me as a favorite of this tournament. It’s a big draw. There is a lot of players. I just take it step by step.

I just know my opponent from the first round. I want to pass this one. Then we can talk about the next one.

There is still I think many more players better than me. I guess everyone is in shape and everyone is excited to play this Grand Slam. It’s the first Grand Slam of the year. Everyone was working hard in the off-season, so it’s tough to say. We will just see after few rounds here.

Q. You just got a new coach. What do you want from a coach?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I just want him to believe in me and just to prepare me for the tournament which I want to play the best tennis, which are all the Grand Slams, like I said. Just to be ready and give me the advices which I need, just to know little bit about me, my game. I want him to go the way where I want to go. We both decided we definitely want to play aggressive tennis. He’s just pushing me this way, to be better player than I am now.

Q. What do you like from on-court coaching? How can he help?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: So far with my new coach I did it just once in Brisbane. Was not that needed there. So let’s see in the next tournaments.

But, yeah, it’s more about maybe tactics, what to play. Obviously you call coach when you are losing, it’s about the same. He sees it definitely different from the place where he’s sitting than me on the court. Maybe he can just give me few advices, what to play, what not to play, where she’s better or not. Also little bit to motivate.

You have one minute. You cannot say much.

Q. What’s the primary memory you have when you won the junior title here?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: It’s seven years now, so… I still remember, of course I do. But, yeah, it was my first Grand Slam what I’ve played. So obviously the final, what I was playing on Rod Laver, it was huge for me. I was small and scared, and then I won. So was a big thing, first big result what I ever had.

Q. What do you make the vibe of the Melbourne? You did so well at the US Open. That’s a tournament that’s very New York. It’s crowded, loud, hot, traffic. Melbourne is very different from that. Does this environment suit you during your off time?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I would say this is little bit better place for me than New York. But I don’t want to compare. Every city is different. Here you have time. Doesn’t take you one hour to get to the hotel, which is nice. Even the weather I would say it’s quite similar. Can be colder. Can be also more hot here.

Yeah, every Grand Slam is different. I think this can be the place where I can play my best tennis as well, because the courts suit me. The weather as well, the balls as well. Why not here?

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Keys and Halep withdraw, Radwanska falls in Sydney

By Dave Gertler
(January 13, 2015) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Madison Keys has withdrawn from the Apia International in Sydney, surrendering from a set up against defending champion Tsvetana Pironkova. The mid-match withdrawal came on a day when the women’s draw lost its top seed Simona Halep, who withdrew before playing her first match, suffering from a gastrointestinal illness.
“I just hit a serve weird and it just kind of impinged on my shoulder a little bit,” said Keys, who had taken the first set 6-4 on Court 3, yet was trailing in the second set 1-4 before she pulled out, “Just didn’t want to push it too hard and end up getting worse.” Keys also stressed that she would be fit for the Australian Open, starting next week, saying that she immediately called her coach Lindsay Davenport to reassure her and say, “Don’t freak out. It’s fine. She understands. She played. She gets it. Said, good call. Let’s get it better, and we’ll do whatever we can to get ready.”
For Pironkova, the dream run in Sydney continues, stretching out her unbeaten record over the last two years to 13 matches, and she will face in-form Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the quarter-finals on Wednesday. The two most recently met on grass at Wimbledon in 2013, Pironkova winning on her way to the round of 16 that year.
Fourth seed Caroline Wozniacki’s withdrawing during her first-round match on Monday, and Agnieszka Radwanska, third seed, who lost a tight battle against Garbine Muguruza on Tuesday, means the only seed to make it through to the quarter-finals by Tuesday evening was Petra Kvitova, No.2 seed, who beat Shuai Peng in straight sets.
Radwanska, playing her first tournament with coach Martina Navratilova courtside, found herself leading Muguruza before the Spaniard switched gears, taking the next two sets 7-6, 6-2. “I played her two times before and I lost,” said Muguruza after her win, “I was like, OK, this time I want to win. I want to see what happens. For me to win this match, I feel like I improve a lot. When I play against her, I really have to concentrate and do my game, because she makes me play different styles and dropshots and long balls.”
“I think the best chance for me was winning in two sets,” said Radwanska, “In the tie-break, I think I just didn’t really go for it. She made a couple of good shots and it was over. But, well, it’s always a good sign. I have a couple days still before the Australian Open, so going to rest and prepare for that.”
Also through to the women’s quarter-finals on Tuesday’s matches were Karolina Pliskova who beat Nicole Gibbs – in for Simona Halep – 6-0, 6-0 in 38 minutes. Pliskova will play Carla Suarez Navarro who beat Ekaterina Makarova in a three-set match lasting over two hours. Garbine Muguruza will play either Angelique Kerber in her first quarter-final in Sydney, while Petra Kvitova will play Jarmila Gajdosova in what will be her third quarter-final in five appearances in Sydney.
Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and is covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .
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