2015/01/30

Tale of the Tape – Novak Djokovic Versus Andy Murray in the Australian Open Final

head_to_head_murraydjokovicTPN

2015 AUSTRALIAN OPEN

DAY 14 MEN’S NOTES

Sunday 1 February

 

 

Singles Final

 

 

  1. 1 NOVAK DJOKOVIC (SRB) v NO. 6 ANDY MURRAY (GBR)

At stake for the finalists, in addition to the prestige of the Australian Open title, is the following:

 

 
AUD$
ATP Ranking Points
Champion 3,100,000 2000
Finalist 1,550,000 1200

 

Who has the advantage?
For 4 out of the past 7 years, the man who played his semifinal second has been the one who won the final, so recent history would suggest that Djokovic has the slight advantage in winning the 2015 Australian Open title.

 

No. 1 v No. 6
This is just the 2nd Open Era meeting between a No. 1 seed and No. 6 seed in the Australian Open final after the 1979 final, when No. 1 Guillermo Vilas defeated No. 6 John Sadri. The last meeting between a No. 1 seed and No. 6 seed at a major was at the 2009 US Open, when No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro defeated No. 1 Roger Federer. This is just the 5th Grand Slam final meeting between a No. 1 seed and a No. 6 seed in the Open Era.
The No. 1 seed has reached the final here for the 4th consecutive year. Rafael Nadal’s loss to Stan Wawrinka in the final here last year was the first defeat for a Top seed in the Australian Open final since 1995 (No. 2 Andre Agassi d. No. 1 Pete Sampras) and ended an 8-match winning streak for the No. 1 seed in Australian Open finals.

Hard court heroes
Murray could equal Ivan Lendl in 5th place on the list for most Open Era hard court titles if he wins the title here. Djokovic, meanwhile, is looking to close the gap on Andre Agassi in 2nd place.

.                                                        Hard court title leaders (Open Era)

Player

Hard court titles

Roger FedererAndre Agassi 57
46
Novak Djokovic 37
Pete Sampras 36
Ivan Lendl 26
Andy Murray 25

ATP Rankings update…

Regardless of the outcome of the final, Djokovic will still occupy the No. 1 position in the ATP Rankings when they are published on Monday 2 February. Murray has climbed to 4th in the rankings by reaching the final and will climb to No. 3 if he goes on to win the title.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Head-to-head: Djokovic leads 15-8

2006     AMS Madrid                  Hard (I)             R16      Djokovic           16 75 63

2007     AMS Indian Wells          Hard (O)            SF        Djokovic           62 63

2007     AMS Miami                   Hard (O)            SF        Djokovic           61 60

2008     AMS Monte Carlo          Clay (O)            R16      Djokovic           60 64

2008     AMS Toronto                Hard (O)            QF        Murray              63 76(3)

2008     AMS Cincinnati              Hard (O)            FR        Murray              76(4) 76(5)

2009     Miami-1000                   Hard (O)            FR        Murray              62 75

2011     Australian Open           Hard (O)           FR        Djokovic           64 62 63

2011     Rome-1000                   Clay (O)            SF        Djokovic           61 36 76(2)

2011     Cincinnati-1000              Hard (O)            FR        Murray              64 3-0 ret. (right shoulder injury)

2012     Australian Open           Hard (O)           SF        Djokovic           63 36 67(4) 61 75

2012     Dubai                           Hard (O)            SF        Murray              62 75

2012     Miami-1000                   Hard (O)            FR        Djokovic           61 76(4)

2012     Olympic Tennis Event    Grass (O)          SF        Murray              75 75

2012     US Open                      Hard (O)           FR        Murray             76(10) 75 26 36 62

2012     Shanghai-1000              Hard (O)            FR        Djokovic           57 76(11) 63

2012     ATP World Tour Finals   Hard (I)             RR        Djokovic           46 63 75

2013     Australian Open           Hard (O)           FR        Djokovic           67(2) 76(3) 63 62

2013     Wimbledon                  Grass (O)          FR        Murray             64 75 64

2014     Miami-1000                   Hard (O)            QF        Djokovic           75 63

2014     US Open                      Hard (O)           QF        Djokovic           76(1) 67(1) 62 64

2014     Beijing                          Hard (O)            SF        Djokovic           63 64

2014     Paris-1000                     Hard (I)             QF        Djokovic           75 62

 

Murray is bidding to end a 4-match losing streak against Djokovic and defeat the Serb for the first time since the 2013 Wimbledon final.

 

It will be the 5th meeting between these 2 players in a Grand Slam final which puts them in joint-3rd position on the all-time leaderboard for most match-ups in a Grand Slam final along with Andre Agassi v Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl v Mats Wilander.

 

                                                Most head-to-heads in Grand Slam finals

Head-to-head Grand Slam final meetings
Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal 8
Novak Djokovic v Rafael Nadal 7
Andre Agassi v Pete SamprasIvan Lendl v Mats Wilander

Novak Djokovic v Andy Murray

55

5

 

This is the 3rd Australian Open final to feature Djokovic and Murray, which extends their lead for the most match-ups in the Australian Open final ahead of Jim Courier v Stefan Edberg (2) and Johan Kriek v Steve Denton (2).

 

Murray and Djokovic are the closest Grand Slam finalists by age. Murray is just 7 days older than Djokovic. The previous closest Grand Slam finalists in terms of age were Guillermo Vilas and Jimmy Connors who met at the 1977 US Open when Vilas was 16 days older than Connors.

 

Djokovic has a 13-6 win-loss record against Murray on a hard court.

 

Road to the Final

DJOKOVIC Time^ Time^ MURRAY
d. (Q) Aljaz Bedene 63 62 64d. Andrey Kuznetsov 60 61 64 1:491:24 1st round2nd round 2:131:42 d. (Q) Yuki Bhambri 63 64 76(3)d. Marinko Matosevic 61 63 62
d. No. 31 Fernando Verdasco 76(8) 63 64 2:21 3rd round 2:06 d. Joao Sousa 61 61 75
d. Gilles Muller 64 75 75d. No. 8 Milos Raonic 76(5) 64 62

d. No. 4 Stan Wawrinka 76(1) 36 64 46 60

2:082:00
3:30
Round of 16Quarterfinals
Semifinals
3:322:05

3:26

d.   No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov 64 67(5) 63 75d. Nick Kyrgios 63 76(5) 63

d. No. 7 Tomas Berdych 67(6) 60 63 75

total time on court 13:12 ^Scorecard time 15:04 total time on court

 

 

 

DJOKOVIC                                      v                                       MURRAY

 

27                                           Age                                           27

6’2”/1.88m                                   Height                                   6’3”/1.90m

1                                    ATP Ranking                                    6

72,444,489                      Career Earnings (US$)                      34,190,080

48                                         Titles                                         31

186-33                      Career Grand Slam Record                      140-33

7 titles                        Best Grand Slam Result                        2 titles

49-6                          Australian Open Record                          39-9

612-141                               Career Record                               487-151

398-82                          Career Record – Hard                          338-95

8-1                                    2015 Record                                    6-0

8-1                               2015 Record – Hard                              6-0

23-8                          Career Five-Set Record                           17-6

3                          Comebacks from 0-2 Down                          7

175-102                        Career Tiebreak Record                        141-90

4-1                             2015 Tiebreak Record                            2-2

                                                                                

  • 4-time champion DJOKOVIC is looking to become the second man in history to win 5 or more Australian Open titles. Roy Emerson is the only man who has won more than 5 titles in Melbourne.

 

Australian Open title leaders (all-time)

Player
Titles won
Years
Roy Emerson 6 1961, 1963-67
Andre Agassi 4 1995, 2000-01, 2003
Jack Crawford 4 1931-33, 1935
Novak Djokovic 4 2008, 2011-13
Roger Federer 4 2004, 2006-07, 2010
Ken Rosewall 4 1953, 1955, 1971-72

 

  • Djokovic is bidding to win his 8th Grand Slam title and move into equal-8th place with Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Fred Perry and Ken Rosewall on the all-time list for most major titles.

 

All-time Grand Slam men’s singles titles

1. 17 Roger Federer
2= 14 Rafael Nadal
Pete Sampras
4. 12 Roy Emerson
5= 11 Bjorn BorgRod Laver
7. 10 Bill Tilden
8= 8 Andre AgassiJimmy Connors

Ivan Lendl

Fred Perry

Ken Rosewall

 

  • Djokovic is bidding to win his 8th Grand Slam title. He has a 7-7 win-loss record in his 14 previous Grand Slam finals and a 4-0 win-loss record in Australian Open finals:

                                          

                                             Djokovic’s record in Grand Slam finals

Grand Slam Final Result
2007 US Open l. Roger Federer 76(4) 76(2) 64
2008 Australian Open d. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 46 64 63 76(2)
2010 US Open l. Rafael Nadal 64 57 64 62
2011 Australian Open d. Andy Murray 64 62 63
2011 Wimbledon d. Rafael Nadal 64 61 16 63
2011 US Open d. Rafael Nadal 62 64 67(3) 61
2012 Australian Open d. Rafael Nadal 57 64 62 67(5) 75
2012 Roland Garros l. Rafael Nadal 64 63 26 75
2012 US Open l. Andy Murray 76(10) 75 26 36 62
2013 Australian Open d. Andy Murray 67(2) 76(3) 63 62
2013 Wimbledon l. Andy Murray 64 75 64
2013 US Open l. Rafael Nadal 62 36 64 61
2014 Roland Garros l. Rafael Nadal 36 75 62 64
2014 Wimbledon d. Roger Federer 67(7) 64 76(4) 57 64
2015 Australian Open v. Andy Murray??

 

  • Djokovic won his 7th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon last year, defeating Roger Federer in the final. He is a 4-time Australian Open champion having won the titles here in 2008 (d. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga), 2011 (d. Andy Murray), 2012
    (d. Nadal) and 2013 (d. Murray).

 

  • Djokovic also won the titles at 2011 Wimbledon and the 2011 US Open, defeating Nadal on both occasions. He has never won Roland Garros despite reaching the final there twice – in 2012 and 2014, losing to Nadal both times.

 

  • Djokovic is in 8th place on the list for the most Grand Slam match-wins in history with a 186-33 win-loss record. The leading all-time performers are as follows:

 

Most Grand Slam match-wins (all-time)

Rank Player Win-loss
12 Roger FedererJimmy Connors 281-46233-49
3 Andre Agassi 224-53
45 Ivan LendlRoy Emerson 222-49217-48
67

8

Pete SamprasRafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic

203-38191-26

186-33

910 Stefan EdbergKen Rosewall 178-47174-32

                                                                               Note: active players in bold

 

  • Djokovic is bidding to record his 50th match-win at the Australian Open and close the gap on Stefan Edberg in 2nd place on the list for most Australian Open match-wins in the Open Era.
Player Win-loss
Roger Federer
Stefan Edberg
    75-12
56-10
Novak DjokovicAndre Agassi    49-648-5
Ivan Lendl        48-10
Rafael NadalPete Sampras     45-945-9

 

  • Djokovic is bidding to become the 17th 1 seed to win the Australian Open title in the Open Era. The last Top seed to win the title here was Djokovic himself in 2013. The Top seed has won the title here in 6 of the last 9 years.

 

  • Djokovic is bidding to extend his 9-match winning streak against Top 10 opposition. He has not lost to a Top 10 player since losing to Federer in the semifinals at 2014 Shanghai-1000. He has dropped just 3 sets in his last 8 matches against Top 10 players – one set to Kei Nishikori in the semifinals at the 2014 ATP World Tour Finals and 2 sets to Stan Wawrinka in the semifinals here.

 

  • Djokovic is the only male Serbian Grand Slam champion and also the only Serbian man to appear in a Grand Slam final.

 

  • By reaching the final here Djokovic has equalled Stefan Edberg and Federer in first place for the most Australian Open final appearances.

 

                                            No. of Australian Open final appearances (Open Era)

Novak Djokovic 5
Stefan Edberg 5
Roger Federer 5
Andre Agassi 4
Andy Murray 4
Ivan Lendl 4
Mats Wilander 4

 

  • Djokovic has reached his 15th Grand Slam final and moved into equal-8th place on the all-time list of most appearances in Grand Slam finals.

 

1 Roger Federer 25
2 Rafael Nadal 20
3 Ivan Lendl 19
4 Pete Sampras 18
5 Rod Laver 17
6= Bjorn Borg 16
Ken Rosewall 16
8= Andre AgassiNovak Djokovic 1515
Jimmy Connors 15
Roy Emerson 15
Bill Tilden 15

 

  • Last year here, Djokovic’s streak of 14 consecutive Grand Slam semifinal appearances was ended by Wawrinka in 5 sets in the quarterfinals. It is his last 5-set loss. He has a 23-8 Tour-level win-loss record in 5-set matches and a 4-2 win-loss record in 5-set matches at Melbourne Park.         

 

  • Djokovic won 7 titles in 8 finals in 2014 and in so doing finished the year with a prize money haul of $14,269,462. It was the 4th straight year he had earned over $12 million. He finished the year ranked No. 1 for the 3rd time after winning his 3rd consecutive ATP World Tour Finals crown.

 

  • At the Grand Slams in 2014, as well as reaching the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and winning the title at Wimbledon, Djokovic lost to Nadal in the final at Roland Garros and to Nishikori in the semifinals at the US Open.

 

  • Djokovic warmed up for the 2015 Australian Open by reaching the quarterfinals at Doha (l. Ivo Karlovic).

 

  • Djokovic started working with 2-time Australian Open champion Boris Becker in 2014. He has also been coached by Marian Vajda since June 2006. His wider team includes physios Miljan Amanovic and Gebhard Phil-Gritsch.

 

  • 3-time Australian Open runner-up MURRAY is looking to become the first man in the Open Era to win the Australian Open title after losing 3 finals. He finished as runner-up here in 2010 ( Roger Federer), 2011
    (l. Djokovic) and 2013 (l. Djokovic). Marat Safin is the only player to lose 2 or more Australian Open finals before winning the title.

No. of Australian Open final appearances before winning first title (Open Era)

Player
No. of Australian Open final appearances before winning the title
Years
Andy Murray 4?? Lost 2010, 2011, 2013
Marat Safin 3 Lost 2002, 2004. Won 2005

 

  • If Murray wins the title for the first time on his 10th Australian Open appearance, he will set a record for most Australian Open appearances before winning the title.

 

                    Number of Australian Open appearances before winning the title (Open Era)

Andy Murray??Petr Korda

Stan Wawrinka

Thomas Johansson

Ivan Lendl

Marat Safin

10??9

9

8

7

7

 

  • Murray is bidding to become the first British man to win the Australian Open since Fred Perry defeated Jack Crawford in 1934.

 

  • Murray is bidding to become the 21st man in the Open Era to win 3 or more Grand Slam titles. He is also looking to become the 16th man in the Open Era to win at least 3 of the 4 Grand Slam titles.

 

  • Murray is bidding to end a 5-match losing streak against players ranked No. 1. He has not defeated a world No. 1 since defeating today’s opponent in the final at 2013 Wimbledon. He has a 2-8 win-loss record against players ranked No. 1 at the Grand Slams – as well as defeating Djokovic at 2013 Wimbledon, he also defeated No. 1 Nadal in the semifinals at the 2008 US Open.

 

  • By reaching his 4th Australian Open final, Murray has moved into joint-4th place on the list for most Australian Open finals reached in the Open Era.

 

Player No. of AO finals
Novak DjokovicStefan Edberg

Roger Federer

5
Andre AgassiIvan Lendl

Andy Murray

Mats Wilander

4

 

  • By reaching the final here, Murray has closed the gap on Fred Perry for the most appearances in a Grand Slam final by a British man (since the Challenge Round was abolished at Wimbledon in 1922):

 

Player Appearances in a Grand Slam final
Fred Perry 10 – US Championships 1933-34, 1936, Australian Championships 1934-35, French Championships 1935-36, Wimbledon 1934-36
Andy Murray 8 – US Open 2008, 2012, Australian Open 2010-11, 2013, 2015, Wimbledon 2012-13

 

  • Murray is the only Briton to reach 4 Australian Open finals. Fred Perry is the only other British man to reach multiple finals at the Australian Open, winning in 1934 and finishing a runner-up in 1935:

 

British Players in the Australian Open final (all-time)

Year Player Opponent Result
1915 Gordon Lowe Horace Rice Won 46 61 61 64
1920 Algernon Kingscote Eric Pockley Won 64 60 63
1929 Colin Gregory Richard Schlesinger Won 62 62 57 64
1934 Fred Perry Jack Crawford Won 63 75 61
1935 Fred Perry Jack Crawford Lost 26 64 64 64
1977 John Lloyd Vitas Gerulaitis Lost 63 76 57 36 62
2010 Andy Murray Roger Federer Lost 63 64 76
2011 Andy Murray Novak Djokovic Lost 64 62 63
2013 Andy Murray Novak Djokovic Lost 67(2) 76(3) 63 62
2015 Andy Murray Novak Djokovic ??

 

  • By reaching his 8th Grand Slam final, Murray has equalled Ken Rosewall and Guillermo Vilas in joint-13th place for the most Grand Slam finals reached in the Open Era. Only 3 active players have reached more Grand Slam finals than Murray – Roger Federer (25), Rafael Nadal (20) and today’s opponent (15).

 

  • Murray is a 2-time Grand Slam champion. He won the 2012 US Open title (d. today’s opponent) and became the first British man to win the Wimbledon singles title in 77 years in 2013 (d. today’s opponent).

 

  • Murray has a 2-5 win-loss record in his previous Grand Slam finals:

                                            

                                             Murray’s record in Grand Slam finals

Grand Slam Final Result
2008 US Open l. Roger Federer 62 75 62
2010 Australian Open l. Roger Federer 63 64 76(11)
2011 Australian Open l. Novak Djokovic 64 62 63
2012 Wimbledon l. Roger Federer 46 75 63 64
2012 US Open d. Novak Djokovic 76(10) 75 26 36 62
2013 Australian Open l. Novak Djokovic 67(2) 76(3) 63 62
2013 Wimbledon d. Novak Djokovic 64 75 64
2015 Australian Open v. Novak Djokovic

 

  • Murray is bidding to become the first No. 6 seed to win a Grand Slam title since Juan Martin del Potro won the 2009 US Open. Just two No. 6 seeds have won the title here – Petr Korda in 1998 and Andre Agassi in 2001.

 

  • Murray’s semifinal victory over Berdych was his 2nd win in his last 6 matches against Top 10 players at the Grand Slams. He has a 4-6 win-loss record against Top 10 opposition at the Australian Open compared with 0-3 at Roland Garros, 6-5 at Wimbledon and 5-5 at the US Open.

 

  • If Murray wins today he will take sole occupancy of 8th place on the list for the most Australian Open match-wins in the Open Era. He is currently level with Wayne Ferreira (39-14) with a 39-9 win-loss record here.

 

Most Australian Open match-wins (Open Era)

Player Win-loss record
1.    Roger Federer 75-12
2.    Stefan Edberg 56-10
3.    Novak Djokovic 49-6
4= Andre Agassi   Ivan Lendl 48-548-10
6= Rafael NadalPete Sampras 45-945-9
8= Wayne FerreiraAndy Murray 39-1439-9
10. Andy Roddick 38-11

*Players at the 2015 Australian Open in bold

 

  • Murray is the leading British man in history in terms of Grand Slam match-wins with a 140-33 win-loss record.

 

  • Murray is on a 5-match winning streak in 5-set matches. The last time he lost a 5-set match was against Novak Djokovic in the semifinals at the 2012 Australian Open. He has a 1-3 win-loss record in 5-set matches at Melbourne Park.

 

  • Last year here Murray reached the quarterfinals, falling to Federer 63 64 67(6) 63. He is contesting his 10th straight Australian Open and 36th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Elsewhere in Grand Slam play in 2014 he reached the semifinals at Roland Garros (l. Nadal) and the quarterfinals at Wimbledon (l. Grigor Dimitrov) and the US Open (l. today’s opponent). It was the 4th straight year he had reached the quarterfinals at all Grand Slams in a calendar year. [NB He missed 2013 Roland Garros with a back injury.]

 

  • Also in 2014, Murray won 3 titles – at Shenzhen (d. Tommy Robredo), Vienna (d. David Ferrer) and Valencia
    (d. Robredo). He saved 5 match points in both of his finals against Robredo. The Valencia final was the longest ATP final in 2014 at 3 hours 20 minutes.

 

  • Murray warmed up for the Australian Open at the Hopman Cup, where he won all 3 of the singles matches he played against Benoit Paire, Jerzy Janowicz and Marinko Matosevic in straight sets.

 

  • Murray is coached by 2006 Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo. His fitness trainer is Matt Little and his physio is Mark Bender.

**Statistics provided by the International Tennis Federation

Share

Serena Williams Win Sets Up Australian Open Final Against Maria Sharapova

(January 29, 2015) For the first time since 2004, the Australian Open women’s final will feature No. 1 versus No. 2. Top seed and five-time Australian Open winner Serena Williams will take on 2008 champion Maria Sharapova for the title on Saturday.

Both women won straight set matches on Thursday to advance. Williams won a slugfest of big serves and hard groundstrokes against 19-year-old Madison Keys in a battle between Americans 7-6 (5), 6-2. Williams was pushed by Keys at the very end, needing nine match points to close the contest. Sharapova had a much easier time against Russian countrywoman No. 10 Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-2.

For the 33-year-old Williams, she is seeking her sixth Australian Open title and 19th major. She last won the Australian Open in 2010. Sharapova will be trying to claim her second Melbourne title and sixth Grand Slam title.

“She (Keys) pushed me really hard the first set ……. and I had to really dig deep mentally to get through that,” said a coughing Williams who has been ill for several days. “It was a little frustrating, I had like nine or 10 match points and couldn’t close it out. That doesn’t happen so much. She played like she didn’t have anything to lose.”

“I think she’s going to be winning this tournament very soon and lots of other Grand Slams,” said Williams to ESPN.

A total of 25 aces were hit during the match – 13 for Williams, 12 for Keys. Williams hit 19 winners to 16 unforced errors to Keys 27 winners to 39 unforced errors.

“I was impressed by her ability to stay in the match,” Said Williams. She never let up at all till the end. I think that is a really great quality to have.

“Well, I was just happy to get through it today. And I think I was able to serve big when I needed to. So that really helped me out a lot.”

“I’m really happy to have gotten this far in a tournament,” Keys said. “It’s my first one. Just looking forward to having more. Hopefully have a couple where I’m with the trophy at the end of the week.”

“I think I handled the moment pretty well. I definitely had a good start, so nerves didn’t totally play into that. I thought I handled myself pretty well in that last serving game of mine. But, I mean, she played really well. She served really well. It was pretty much impossible for me to break her serve. So, you know, great job to her today.”

“I think this week has definitely more shown to me, more than anyone else, that I can play the top players and I can do well against them. I can play the No. 1 player in the world in a pretty close match. So I think for me that’s inspiration for every time I’m on a practice court to keep working, keep getting better so I can have more and more weeks like that.”

 

Sharapova was pleased with her decisive win on Thursday. “I’m definitely happy. Like today, I thought I played solid. I did everything I had to do. I wasn’t afraid for it to become a physical match. You know, I think it was important to really stand my ground in the first few games, which I did well, even though I was behind, especially the first and second one. But, yeah, those key moments are really important. Yeah, definitely happy I was able to win really solid today.”

The No. 2 player’s road to the final had one major bump – she saved two match points in the second round of the tournament coming back to beat No. 150 Russian qualifier Alexandra Panova.

“It’s been a strange road for me to get to the finals, but I’m happy,” said Sharapova. “Came from behind in a few, really behind in one – saving match points. I felt like I was given a second chance. I just wanted to take my chances.”

Williams is 16-2 against Sharapova, with her last loss to the Russian coming in 2004. Williams has won the last 15 straight matches against Sharapova. Regardless who wins the final, Williams will remain in the top spot after the tournament.

“Everyone’s expecting me to win, “Williams said to ESPN. But I have to win. I’m glad No. 1 and No. 2 are in the final and I think it will be a good match.”

“Maria is playing great,” Williams said in her post-match news conference. “She’s in the tournament only because she’s a fighter and only because she refuses to give up. So, yeah, it’s a new match. She has nothing to lose, once again. She has only things to gain. And I feel that way, too. I feel I don’t. I’ve won this tournament several times. I don’t have to go out there and have another title. I want it, but it’s not life or death for me. I think that helps me he relax. So, yeah, she absolutely has nothing to lose, and I have nothing to lose, so it will be fun.”

Asked about what about Williams’ game give her trouble, Sharapova responded: “I think her power and her aggressiveness, I think that’s always made me a little bit too aggressive, maybe going for a little bit more than I had to. You know, she’s great at making players hit that shot that you don’t necessarily have to go for. You know, maybe going for a little too much, going on the line. It’s been a really difficult matchup for me, but, you know, I am a competitor. If I do play her, I will go out and I will do everything I can to try to change that result around.”

“I think my confidence should be pretty high going into a final of a Grand Slam no matter who I’m facing against and whether I’ve had a terrible record, to say the least, against someone” said the 27-year-old. “It doesn’t matter. I got there for a reason. I belong in that spot. I will do everything I can to get the title.”

“I’ve had many great memories on Rod Laver Arena. I’ve hopefully set myself up for another good one.”

“I think it’s great for women’s tennis,” Williams remarked about No. 1 versus No. 2. “I think it’s good for me and Maria. I’m excited. Like I said, I love playing her. I look forward to it. I didn’t expect to get to the finals of this tournament when I first got here because I wasn’t playing great. So I’m happy to be here. Yeah, I’m just happy, like I said, to get past the quarterfinals of a slam. Fourth round actually, outside the Open.”

No. 6 Andy Murray advanced to his fourth Australian Open final defeating No. 7 Tomas Berdych 6-7 (6), 6-0, 6-3, 7-5.

On the court there was obvious tension during this night match due to one of Andy Murray’s coaching team switching over to Berdych’s in the off-season.

There were profanities being yelled between the players on the court and during the first set of the match it appeared that Murray’s fiance Kim Sears was caught on camera cursing at Berdych.

“Obviously losing in the finals is disappointing. But making four finals is a very, very difficult thing to do,”Murray said. “And, yeah, I’m proud of my record here. I’ll go in with best tactics possible, prepare well – I literally couldn’t have done anything more to put myself in a better position come Sunday.”

Murray, who has been coached by former No. 1 player Amelie Mauresmo since June, had come under scrutiny for his choice of a female coach.  After the match on Thursday night he paid tribute to female coaches: “A lot of people criticized me working with her,” said Murray. “And I think so far this week we’ve showed that women can be very good coaches as well.”

“Madison Keys, who reached the semis here and had her best tournament, is also coached by a woman, Lindsay Davenport, and I see no reason why that can’t keep moving forward like that in the future.”

Murray will play the winner of the Novak Djokovic –  Stan Wawrinka match in Sunday’s final.

Share

2015 Australian Open Day 11 Men’s Match Notes and Previews

AustralianOpenLogo

2015 AUSTRALIAN OPEN

DAY 11 MEN’S NOTES

Thursday 29 January

Semifinals Bottom Half

 

 

  1. 6 ANDY MURRAY (GBR) v NO. 7 TOMAS BERDYCH (CZE)

Head-to-head: Berdych leads 6-4

2005     Basel                            Carpet (I)           R16      Murray              64 26 64

2006     Adelaide                       Hard (O)            R16      Berdych            76(2) 46 61

2010     Roland Garros              Clay (O)            R16      Berdych           64 75 63

2011     Paris-1000                     Hard (I)             QF        Berdych            46 76(5) 64

2012     Dubai                           Hard (O)            QF        Murray              63 75

2012     Monte Carlo-1000          Clay (O)            QF        Berdych            67(4) 62 63

2012     US Open                      Hard (O)           SF        Murray             57 62 61 76(7)

2012     ATP World Tour Finals   Hard (I)             RR        Murray              36 63 64

2013     Madrid-1000                  Clay (O)            QF        Berdych            76(3) 64

2013     Cincinnati-1000              Hard (O)            QF        Berdych            63 64

 

An 11th career meeting between the 2 players, and their 3rd at a Grand Slam. Murray won their only previous meeting at a hard court major at the 2012 US Open.

 

Berdych is one of just 8 players to hold a positive Tour-level win-loss record against Murray where multiple matches have been played along with Novak Djokovic (15-8 win-loss record against Murray), Rafael Nadal (15-5), Roger Federer (12-11), Mario Ancic (3-2), Milos Raonic (3-2), Arnaud Clement (2-1) and Fernando Gonzalez (2-1).

 

Murray is one of just 2 of the current Top 10 players Berdych has a positive win-loss record against along with Marin Cilic, who also has a 4-6 win-loss record against Berdych.

 

Murray has spent 1 hour 36 minutes longer on court than Berdych in reaching the semifinals here.

 

Possible final head-to-heads

Wawrinka Djokovic Raonic
Murray 8-6 8-15 2-3
Berdych 5-10 2-17 1-3

 

 

MURRAY                                        v                                       BERDYCH

 

27                                           Age                                           29

6’3”/1.90m                                   Height                                   6’5”/1.96m

6                                    ATP Ranking                                    7

31                                         Titles                                         10

139-33                      Career Grand Slam Record                      108-45

2 titles                        Best Grand Slam Result           Finalist 2010 Wimbledon

38-9                          Australian Open Record                         34-11

486-151                               Career Record                               494-262

337-95                          Career Record – Hard                         303-163

5-0                                    2015 Record                                    9-1

5-0                               2015 Record – Hard                              9-1

17-6                          Career Five-Set Record                           17-8

7                          Comebacks from 0-2 Down                          2

141-89                        Career Tiebreak Record                       162-141

2-1                             2015 Tiebreak Record                            4-0

                                                                               

 

 

 

Road to the Semifinals

MURRAY Time^ Time^ BERDYCH
d. (Q) Yuki Bhambri 63 64 76(3)

d. Marinko Matosevic 61 63 62

2:13

1:42

1st round

2nd round

1:54

2:03

d. Alejandro Falla 63 76(1) 63

d. (Q) Jurgen Melzer 76(0) 62 62

d. Joao Sousa 61 61 75 2:06 3rd round 1:51 d. Viktor Troicki 64 63 64
d. No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov 64 67(5) 63 75

d. Nick Kyrgios 63 76(5) 63

3:32

2:05

Round of 16

Quarterfinals

2:01

2:13

d. Bernard Tomic 62 76(3) 62

d. No. 3 Rafael Nadal 62 60 76(5)

total time on court 11:38 ^Scorecard time 10:02 total time on court

 

  • 3-time Australian Open runner-up MURRAY is bidding to reach the final here for the 4th time and move into joint-2nd place on the list for most Australian Open finals reached in the Open Era.

 

Player No. of AO finals
Stefan Edberg

Roger Federer

5
Andre Agassi

Novak Djokovic

Ivan Lendl

Mats Wilander

4

 

  • Murray is bidding to reach his 8th Grand Slam final and close the gap on Fred Perry for the most appearances in a Grand Slam final by a British man (since the Challenge Round was abolished at Wimbledon in 1922):

 

Player Appearances in a Grand Slam final
Fred Perry 10 – US Championships 1933-34, 1936, Australian Championships 1934-35, French Championships 1935-36, Wimbledon 1934-36
Andy Murray 7 – US Open 2008, 2012, Australian Open 2010-11, 2013, Wimbledon 2012-13

 

  • Murray is bidding to equal Ken Rosewall and Guillermo Vilas in joint-13th place for the most Grand Slam finals reached in the Open Era with 8. Only 3 active players have reached more Grand Slam finals than Murray – Roger Federer (25), Rafael Nadal (20) and Novak Djokovic (14).

 

  • Murray is bidding to become the first No. 6 seed to reach a Grand Slam final since Juan Martin del Potro won the title at the 2009 US Open. The last No. 6 seed to reach the final here was Andre Agassi in 2001.

 

  • Murray has won just one of his last 5 matches against Top 10 players at the Grand Slams. He has a 3-6 win-loss record against Top 10 opposition at the Australian Open compared with 0-3 at Roland Garros, 6-5 at Wimbledon and 5-5 at the US Open.

 

  • Murray is looking to become the first man in the Open Era to win the Australian Open title after losing 3 finals. He finished as runner-up here in 2010 ( Roger Federer), 2011 (l. Djokovic) and 2013 (l. Djokovic). Marat Safin is the only player to lose 2 or more Australian Open finals before winning the title [see Preview page 2].

 

  • Murray has reached his 15th Grand Slam semifinal and extended his record for the most Grand Slam semifinal appearances by a British man ahead of Fred Perry (13 semifinals). Murray has reached the semifinals at the Australian Open 5 times, Roland Garros twice, Wimbledon 5 times and the US Open 3 times. He has a 7-7 win-loss record in Grand Slam semifinals and a 3-1 semifinal win-loss record here:

 

                                            Murray’s Grand Slam semifinal appearances

Grand Slam Opponent Result
2008 US Open Rafael Nadal d. 62 76(5) 46 64
2009 Wimbledon Andy Roddick l. 64 46 76(7) 76(5)
2010 Australian Open Marin Cilic d. 36 64 64 62
2010 Wimbledon Rafael Nadal l. 64 76(6) 64
2011 Australian Open David Ferrer d. 46 76(2) 61 76(2)
2011 Roland Garros Rafael Nadal l. 64 75 64
2011 Wimbledon Rafael Nadal l. 57 62 62 64
2011 US Open Rafael Nadal l. 64 62 36 62
2012 Australian Open Novak Djokovic l. 63 36 67(4) 61 75
2012 Wimbledon Jo-Wilfried Tsonga d. 63 64 36 75
2012 US Open Tomas Berdych d. 57 62 61 76(7)
2013 Australian Open Roger Federer d. 64 67(5) 63 67(2) 62
2013 Wimbledon Jerzy Janowicz d. 67(2) 64 64 63
2014 Roland Garros Rafael Nadal l. 63 62 61
2015 Australian Open Tomas Berdych ??

 

  • By reaching his 15th Grand Slam semifinal, Murray has overtaken Mats Wilander (14) and taken sole occupancy of 12th place on the list for most Grand Slam appearances in the last 4. The only active players with more semifinal appearances than Murray are Roger Federer (36), Novak Djokovic (24)* and Rafael Nadal (23). [*NB Written prior to Djokovic’s quarterfinal match against Milos Raonic on Wednesday night].

 

  • By reaching his 5th Australian Open semifinal, Murray has moved into joint-5th position on the table for most semifinal appearances here in the Open Era.

 

Australian Open semifinals reached (Open Era)

Player No. of AO semifinals
Roger Federer 11
Stefan Edberg 8
Ivan Lendl 7
Andre Agassi 6
Novak Djokovic??*

Andy Murray

5??

5

Pete Sampras

Mats Wilander

5

5

*Djokovic could reach his 5th Australian Open semifinal (written prior to his quarterfinal match against Milos Raonic)

 

  • If Murray wins today he will move into equal-8th place with Wayne Ferreira on the list for the most Australian Open match-wins in the Open Era.

 

Most Australian Open match-wins (Open Era)

Player Win-loss record
1.    Roger Federer 75-12
2.    Stefan Edberg 56-10
3= Andre Agassi

Ivan Lendl

48-5

48-10

5.    Novak Djokovic 47-6 (prior to Djokovic’s quarterfinal match on Wednesday)
6= Rafael Nadal

Pete Sampras

45-9

45-9

8.    Wayne Ferreira 39-14
9= Andy Murray

Andy Roddick

38-9

38-11

*Players at the 2015 Australian Open in bold

 

  • Murray is the leading British man in history in terms of Grand Slam match-wins with a 139-33 win-loss record.

 

  • Murray is on a 5-match winning streak in 5-set matches. The last time he lost a 5-set match was against Novak Djokovic in the semifinals at the 2012 Australian Open. He has a 1-3 win-loss record in 5-set matches at Melbourne Park.

 

  • Last year here Murray reached the quarterfinals, falling to Federer 63 64 67(6) 63. He is contesting his 10th straight Australian Open and 36th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Elsewhere in Grand Slam play in 2014 he reached the semifinals at Roland Garros (l. Nadal) and the quarterfinals at Wimbledon (l. Grigor Dimitrov) and the US Open (l. Djokovic). It was the 4th straight year he had reached the quarterfinals at all Grand Slams in a calendar year. [NB He missed 2013 Roland Garros with a back injury.]

 

  • Also in 2014, Murray won 3 titles – at Shenzhen (d. Tommy Robredo), Vienna (d. David Ferrer) and Valencia
    (d. Robredo). He saved 5 match points in both of his finals against Robredo. The Valencia final was the longest ATP final in 2014 at 3 hours 20 minutes.

 

  • Murray warmed up for the Australian Open at the Hopman Cup, where he won all 3 of the singles matches he played against Benoit Paire, Jerzy Janowicz and Marinko Matosevic in straight sets.

 

  • Murray was one of 6 Grand Slam champions to start in the men’s main draw here. Murray won the 2012 US Open title (d. Djokovic) and became the first British man to win the Wimbledon singles title in 77 years in 2013
    (d. Djokovic).

 

  • Murray is coached by 2006 Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo. His fitness trainer is Matt Little and his physio is Mark Bender.

 

  • BERDYCH is bidding to reach his 2nd Grand Slam final. He reached the final at a major for the first time at 2010 Wimbledon (l. Rafael Nadal).

 

  • Berdych’s best result at a major is finishing runner-up at 2010 Wimbledon. He defeated Roger Federer in the quarterfinals and Novak Djokovic in the semifinals before losing to Nadal in the final. He has been a permanent fixture in the Top 10 since 5 July 2010.

 

  • Berdych is looking to become the first Czech player to reach the Australian Open final since Petr Korda in 1998 and the 3rd Czech man in the Open Era to reach the final here.

 

         Czech men in Australian Open final (Open Era)

Player Year
Ivan Lendl 1983, 1989-91
Petr Korda 1998
Tomas Berdych?? 2015??

N.B. Slovakia’s Miloslav Mecir reached the 1989 Australian Open final under the flag of Czechoslovakia.

  • If he wins today, Berdych will become the 4th Czech man to reach multiple Grand Slam finals in the Open Era.
Player No. of Grand Slam finals reached
Ivan Lendl 19
Jan Kodes 5
Tomas Berdych?? 2??
Petr Korda 2

 

  • If Berdych reaches the final here for the first time on his 12th Australian Open appearance, he will set a record for the most Australian Open appearances before reaching the final:

 

Tomas Berdych?? 12??
Kim Warwick 10
Lleyton Hewitt 9
Petr Korda

Stanislas Wawrinka

9

9

Thomas Enqvist

Thomas Johansson

8

8

 

  • Berdych is looking to become the first No. 7 seed to reach a Grand Slam final since Andre Agassi at the 2005 US Open and the first No. 7 seed ever to reach the final at Melbourne Park. Czech Jan Kodes is the only No. 7 seed to win a Grand Slam title, at 1970 Roland Garros. Berdych has been seeded at every Grand Slam event he has played since the 2005 US Open.

 

  • By reaching the last 4 here, Berdych has reached multiple semifinals at the same Grand Slam event for the first time. Last year here Berdych reached the semifinals (l. Stan Wawrinka) to complete a set of Grand Slam semifinal appearances. He was the 2nd Czech man in the Open Era after Ivan Lendl to complete the feat.

 

  • By reaching the last 4 here, Berdych has become just the second Czech man to reach the Australian Open semifinals multiple times after Ivan Lendl who reached the last 4 here in 1983, 1985, 1987-91.

 

  • By reaching his 5th Grand Slam semifinal, Berdych has taken sole ownership of 3rd place on the list of most Grand Slam semifinals reached by a Czech player. Ivan Lendl heads the list with 27 Grand Slam semifinal appearances ahead of Jan Kodes (6) and Berdych (5).

 

  • By defeating Nadal 62 60 76(5) in the quarterfinals here, Berdych ended a 17-match losing streak against Nadal – the joint-worst losing streak in the Open Era. The 6-0 second set was just the 3rd bagel Nadal had suffered at a Grand Slam and the 13th of his career overall.

 

  • Berdych’s victory over No. 3 Nadal in the quarterfinals here ended a 4-match losing streak against Top 6 opposition. It was his first victory over a Top 6 player since defeating No. 3 Ferrer in the quarterfinals here last year. He has a 2-7 win-loss record against Top 6 players at the Australian Open.

 

  • Berdych has reached a Grand Slam semifinal without dropping a set for the 2nd time. He also reached the last 4 without dropping a set at 2010 Roland Garros.

 

  • Berdych has reached the semifinals here for the loss of 51 games. This is the 3rd fewest games he has lost through the first 5 matches at a Grand Slam after dropping just 43 games in reaching the semifinals at 2010 Roland Garros and 48 games in reaching the last 4 at the 2014 Australian Open. He dropped 96 games in reaching his first Grand Slam final at 2010 Wimbledon.

 

  • Berdych has won 4 of his last 5 five-set matches. His only loss in this time came against Gael Monfils at 2013 Roland Garros. He has played just one 5-set match at Melbourne Park, losing to Federer from 2-sets-to-love up in the round of 16 in 2009.

 

  • Berdych warmed up for the Australian Open by reaching the final at Doha (l. David Ferrer).

 

  • In 2014 Berdych won 2 titles to take his career tally to 10. He ended a 16-month title drought by winning at Rotterdam (d. Marin Cilic) and also won at Stockholm (d. Grigor Dimitrov). 6 of his 10 career singles titles have come on a hard court.

 

  • In Grand Slam play in 2014 Berdych reached the semifinals at the Australian Open, the quarterfinals at Roland Garros (l. Ernests Gulbis) and the US Open (l. Cilic), and lost in the 3rd round at Wimbledon (l. Cilic).

 

  • This is Berdych’s 12th consecutive Australian Open appearance and his 46th consecutive Grand Slam. He is in joint-7th place for the most consecutive Grand Slam appearances in the Open Era having played at every major since making his debut at the 2003 US Open [see Preview page 4].

 

  • Berdych started working with Dani Vallverdu, who previously worked with Andy Murray, ahead of the 2015 season. His fitness coach is Azuz Simcich and his physio is Per Bastholt.
Share

Rafael Nadal Stunned by Tomas Berdych at Australian Open

BerdychMadrid511

(January 27, 2015) 2009 Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal is out of the Australian Open in the quarterfinals. , No. 7 Tomas Berdych defeated the No. 3 player in the world 6-2, 6-0, 7-6 (5) on his fourth match point on Tuesday in Melbourne. Berdych has now reached his fifth career slam semifinal.

Coming into the match Berdych had lost 17 straight matches to Nadal.

The Czech was dominant in the first two sets, dishing out a second set bagel to the Spaniard. It was only the third time that Nadal lost a 6-0 set in a major. He lost 6-0 sets to Andy Roddick at the 2004 US Open in the second round and to Roger Federer in the 2006 Wimbledon final.

Berdych hit 41 winners to 21 unforced errors versus Nadal with 24 winners and 26 unforced errors.

The 14-time major champion was playing in just his seventh tournament since the French Open last June. Nadal had been sidelined with a wrist injury and then appendix surgery in November.

Nadal saved two match points in the 12th game of the final set. Berdych led 5-2 in the tiebreaker and Nadal rallied to get back on serve at 4-5. Berdych ended the match on the fourth match point as Nadal hit a return of serve into the net.

“As I said when I got here, it is always tough to come back from injuries,” said Nadal. “I am feeling OK, but it was not my day. Quarterfinals here is not bad for me.”

“I’m feeling ok. Just was not my day. It was a day that my opponent played better than me.”

“You can’t make the big difference of level during matches when you are coming back from injury.”

“You have to play well to play against a guy like Berdych. He’s a top player and today he played better than me.”

“As I said before, Tomas is ranked No. 5, No. 6 of the word, No. 7, I don’t know. He’s a top player. We cannot expect the things that — all the challenges that he put me on court today because he’s a top player. You have to play well to win against a player like Tomas. I didn’t play my best today. He played better than me and that’s it. That’s the sport. Sometimes, almost every time, is simple: the player who plays better, the player who is able to maintain the better rhythm, the better concentration, play with less mistakes, is the player who has more success. And today this player has been Tomas.”

“I start pretty well,” Berdych said. “I start with the plan that I set up before the match, and then it turns that it was the right one. I was able to keep going with the same plan all the way through the match. Even though that it was the first two sets kind of looks easy, you know, but you’re playing Rafa and you know what kind of opponent he is and you have to be ready for anything. So, you know, that’s why I keep myself really focused and was keep going all the way till the end and trying to make my chances. Even though he just changed a couple of things – he gets better in the third set – but still I was able to finish it and close it up in three sets.”

 

Andy Murray dashed the dreams of young Australian Nick Kyrgios on Tuesday night, winning 6-3 7-6 (5), 6-3 to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open.

In the round of 16, Kyrgios knocked out Andreas Seppi, the man who upset Roger Federer in the third round.

“It was a really good experience,” said Kyrgios. “That was my first Aussie Open Grand Slam match playing on Rod Laver, so that was really cool. But he was way too good for me tonight. There are some things I can take from that match and get better at. Yeah, he was just way too good for me.”

“Trying to win against Nick, which was tough ’cause he has an exceptional serve and makes it very difficult for you when he’s serving,” said Murray. “And, like I said on the court afterwards, it was very tricky conditions, as well. So I was quite happy with the way I handled everything tonight.”

“I think, you know, for me tonight it was a tricky one to judge, to say how well I played, because I found the conditions difficult tonight. So I tried to use the conditions to my advantage and played a slightly different style than what I had been in the other matches. I would say the match against Dimitrov was a very high level. It was a clean match. Both of us were striking the ball well. And, yeah, I made improvements with each of the matches. But then tonight, you know, I just tried to play the best with what the conditions were allowing you to do, and I think I did that quite well.”

Murray, a three-time losing finalist will next play Tomas Berdych.

“He’s a big guy,” Murray said of Berdych. “He strikes the ball very well. Yeah, he serves well. Yeah, he’s fairly calm on the court. I think he manages emotions fairly well. And, yeah, he’s obviously played extremely well this tournament so far. Just by looking at the results, he’s had some good wins and played well in Doha. He’ll be coming into the match with confidence.”

 

 

Share

Notes and Quotes from Day 3 of the 2015 Australian Open

 

Nadal fingers

(January 21, 2015) A few of the more off-beat questions and answers from Day 3 news conferences at the Australian Open.

 

Lots has been made about some of the hairstyles of the guys on tour. Have you noticed any of those on court?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Actually, no. I mean, there has been talk that I’m not going to play in the cap anymore. But in the conditions like that I just have to. It’s important to keep yourself fresh and just try to go through the heat and the sun and not playing with your hair. Let’s leave it for the football players.

 

For the soccer players?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Yeah, soccer players.

 

Congratulations on your engagement, even if it’s old.

TOMAS BERDYCH: Thank you.

 

Can I ask how you popped the question, proposed?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, it was simple, as you normally do. We had a good time. It was in holidays after the season. Actually, it was funny. I had some plan how to do it, but like three days we get pretty bad weather, so it’s almost impossible to do that. Then it was nice, and they help us to make a nice setup. It was like after the dinner on the beach.

 

Obviously this is a big step for you in your personal life. A guy like Novak has had big changes in his life, too. How important is it for you to maintain that balance, having the strong personal lives off the court? How much does that help you on the court?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, I think both things goes quite well together. I feel good about it to have a good personal life, and then combine it with my tennis life as well. Because I know that whatever is happening in tennis or around my career, and then I can come back home or wherever I am, I can talk with my partner about basically everything. We can talk about the other things, which is great, that I can just completely switch off from the tennis. That’s basically the best way how you can relax. Like everybody is asking, What do you do for relax? You don’t have to go anywhere or do any special things. It’s just that you don’t have to think about again, forehand, backhand and stuff like that. So you just talk about different stuff. That’s the best thing. Then once you step back on the tennis side, then you are absolutely focus for whatever you do. That’s it. So for me, I think it’s a great combination.

 

Does your fiancee have any input on your outfits?

TOMAS BERDYCH: No, no, no. Honestly, no, because the designer team is quite big and strong and they are already coming up with the ideas. Basically the whole line or the whole year is already almost preset, so I already knew what’s going to be going on through the whole year. Well, it’s going to be interesting. There is going to be — or even me and my input is just like slightly. It’s good about small details and most likely how is the fit and fabric and stuff like that. That’s how it works so far.

 

It was hot out there today. Think you were the only person without any head gear on. Does the heat bother you at all?

RICHARD GASQUET: Yeah, it was hot on the court, but the Aussie fan was nice with me, so it was a great atmosphere on the court. So even if it was hot, the court is great. So it was a lot of fun to play today on the court.

 

 

You talked about how coming back feels like a second career. Do you feel after today you’re making the most of this chance?

VIKTOR TROICKI: Trying to. I would use any chance that I get. I’m enjoying playing tennis and having fun on the court. I missed it a lot and that gives me a lot of joy on the court and a lot of motivation. Trying to use any chance, any match, any tournament. It’s going well. (Smiling.)

 

You obviously had some good wins since you came back. Was today, because it’s in a slam, was that the best win you’ve had so far?

VIKTOR TROICKI: No, I wouldn’t say. It was a good win. Definitely Leonardo played great. He improved a lot. But I think I had better wins than this. This one was important since it was a Grand Slam and I had a long run. Yeah, it was a good win, but not the best.

 

Can you describe coming back last fall, playing qualifiers again, playing challengers, how tough that was? Was it humbling?

VIKTOR TROICKI: It was different. Very different. Playing small challengers, starting from the quallies, it was — it gave me some memories back when I was starting actually. I knew I’ve done it once, so why not do it again? I had a lot of support from everyone close to me, and my coaches were with me. I wanted to give my best and to get back to the top as soon as I could. I think I did a good job with that, so I’m pleased with that.

 

Did you ever question during the time away if you would come back or if you could return?

VIKTOR TROICKI: I never was thinking about quitting, but after I had some time off and I didn’t play tennis, I started missing it. Yeah, I started practicing hard, harder than ever before probably. I had some doubts, of course. I didn’t know how it was going to go and if I will come back. In the practice it looked good, playing against the good guys and everything. But in the matches, not having a match for a year, it was kind of — didn’t know how to feel. That first match in Gstaad gave me a lot of confidence. I’m thankful to the tournament of Gstaad where they gave me a wildcard to play in the main draw and beating Dominic Thiem first match after a year gave me a lot of confidence for my comeback. Also, I won my next match, so reached quarters in the first tournament, and that was — I knew I could get back fast, and that gave me a lot of confidence.

 

Who were you practicing with in the year you were out?

VIKTOR TROICKI: In the start, as I said, I didn’t practice at all. But afterwards, Novak probably the most. I traveled to some places where he was playing the tournaments. Obviously I could not play during the tournament on site, but before the tournament I was using any chance that I could to play with anyone. Also in Monte-Carlo where I spend most of the time because I live there. There’s a lot of players there, so I used any chance. Also back home in Belgrade when I was there, there is obviously a lot of young players. For me, since I couldn’t attend any — since I couldn’t be at any site, at any event, it was hard to get good players. But any chance that I could get, you know, I used it. That gave me a good practice. So I used any chances.

 

You’ve had some time to reflect on what happened. Do you still have any resentment about the way your case was handled?

VIKTOR TROICKI: You know what? Sometimes I see it in newspapers and some headlines it says that I refused to give a blood test. I never refused. That’s what hurts me. I want everyone to know that I never refused anything. I just asked for permission and I was allowed by the doctor that day not to give a blood test. I gave urine and I have blood test the next day. It hurts me. I know that I’m innocent and I didn’t do anything wrong. That hurts me obviously. And I’m being punished for following the wrong instructions. The instructions that I was given were wrong. That hurts me. I’m paying a penalty for someone else’s bad instruction, but it was my fault that I didn’t do it that day. At the end, I’m a player who needs to obey the rules. She was giving me instructions, wrong instructions, and she was not punished at all. So that’s what hurts me. I’m over it. I mean, that’s in the past. Trying to focus for the future. But it will always be a mark and I will always remember it as a bad memory.

 

One more question about the past. When you said you didn’t practice at all at first after the ban, why was that?

VIKTOR TROICKI: Because I had fun.

 

Okay. It wasn’t because you thought you might not come back?

VIKTOR TROICKI: No, no. It wasn’t that. Well, I started doing some things that I couldn’t do before while I was playing tournaments all the time. I just wanted to enjoy a bit. I skied a lot. I was month and a half spending on the mountain skiing. I was hanging out with my friends, family, traveling to some places. Novak was nice taking me to some places. Then I just had fun. I didn’t want to play tennis in the start because it was just a lot of negative thoughts. I just want to relax and enjoy. I never thought of giving up. It even made me more angrier and gave me more motivation to get back even better than I was. To all my team, actually. That’s why I was working even harder and better than ever. That work is paying off now.

 

The skiing and traveling wasn’t more fun than playing tennis?

VIKTOR TROICKI: Well, I needed some time off. Let’s put it that way, after when it happened. But after some time not doing something that you love, that ever since you are a kid I dreamed about playing tennis and professionally, and my goal was to play big stadium, big tournament, playing against the top guys, being a top guy. When you are forbidden to do something that you love, you start missing it a lot. You want to get back and be there again and be even better and prove to the world that you can be there again. That’s what was pushing me. Gave me a lot of motivation to get back.

 

You painted the lines there in that game that you saved a couple of match points. You were gutting it out. Can you tell us about your thought process.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I thought my thought process through the match to that point was pretty negative. I think I was dwelling too much on my mistakes, what I was doing wrong, not really being in the present, something that I’m really usually good at. At that point when you’re behind and you feel like you’re making a lot of errors, you don’t feel like you have a good rhythm out there, I just really tried to take it a point at a time, think positively, and change my thought process a little bit. When other things aren’t working, maybe the mental side of things will help you out. I think in the end maybe that’s what did.

 

You then had a service game where you easily held after having some trouble with that. Was that because you continued with that positive frame of mind?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, unlike the previous 30 service games, I actually served smart and did the right thing, I thought. I wasn’t trying to go for a line, for big first serve, when I didn’t have a good rhythm. They were good serves, but they weren’t over 180 kilometers. They were good placement serves, out of reach. Yeah, not too many rallies in that game.

 

Why do you think your mindset maybe drifted off track from where you’re usually able to keep something unusual happening that you thought led it astray?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I thought I did everything I needed to to have a good, solid first set. I was up 30-Love on the first service game, new balls, a few sloppy errors, all of a sudden your opponent gets a bit more confidence and thinks she has a chance to win. All of a sudden she’s out of the tournament. Then in her mind, Well, wait, I’m not out yet. Little by little it’s a combination of, you know, you kind of going the wrong direction and her starting to play, you know, quite well.

 

Did you know anything about her before the match?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, not too much actually, no.

 

You do a fair amount of fist pumping when you play. Is that sort of an important part of getting you mentally in the game, just a part of your process? What is that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t know how to answer, What is that? It’s something that I’ve done since I was quite young. I think I’ve always been a very intense and aggressive player. Yeah, I actually don’t think I did that as much as I maybe usually do. I think I was a bit more subtle about things today.

 

When you saved the two match points, did you sense that Alexandra lost the belief that she could win it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I was down two breaks in the third. I mean, the only belief I had was just try to get into the rallies. She served some really good games out there where I didn’t have much chances. When I did, I thought I could put a little more thought into her mind, get those first serves back. I think that was really important. You know, I think she became a little bit more tentative in that last game. Of course, based on experience, you lift yourself up both mentally and physically.

 

Going forward in the tournament, what are the positives that can come out of surviving a scare like that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just the fact that you did pull through and that you’re giving yourself a chance to keep going. You know, as I say, you never know how you’re going to feel until you go out on the court and compete and play. No matter how you prepare, what you did, once you get out there, everything starts from scratch. It was a tough day, but I pulled through. I guess at this point that’s what matters. Certainly gives me a lot amount of confidence that I didn’t play my best tennis and was able to come through. Sometimes that’s good.

 

You’re one of the toughest mental players in the game. What do you think the key is to your mental toughness and fighting spirit? Where does that come from?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, I don’t know, but I like winning more than I like losing. I’m sure that goes for many people. But, you know, no matter how things go within a match, that’s why I said I didn’t feel that I was positive enough, even though I was making a few more errors than I would have liked. And I wasn’t making enough first serves. But I was thinking about it too much instead of just like being in the present, saying, Hey, go up to the line; do what you do; do what you’ve done thousands of times. I’m good at that and I’ll continue to be good at that. But some days are just a little off. Today was one of them.

 

There’s been a change in one of the ITF rules about players who can play for Fed Cup or Davis Cup. Now a player can only play for one country. For example, if for any reason you wanted to play for the United States, you can’t because you represented Russia before. What’s your opinion on that kind of rule? Do you think players should be able to play for whatever country they want to?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I haven’t heard of that rule. I’m not sure. I don’t have any plans of playing for another country at this point. I’m very happy playing for Russia, as I have for my whole career. That’s the way I see the rest of my career going.

 

What goes through your mind when your back is against the wall?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it’s not the easiest position to be in because you feel like things are just kind of getting out of your control. Usually I’m a type of player that is aggressive, the one that’s doing something out there, not really waiting for another person’s mistake. You know, until the very end I still try to dictate’, I still try to find my way. But, yeah, your back is against the wall, I guess.

 

You play either Diyas or Schmiedlova next. Neither of those are probably well-known to you. What are your thoughts about having a first week of unfamiliar faces?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I guess that’s the way the draw shaped up. I have faced players I haven’t played in a long time, or like today someone I haven’t played before either of the girls coming up in my next match. It’s always tricky. No doubt about that. It’s unusual after being on the tour for many years. Yet there are always girls coming up that are rising, doing well. Diyas is a top-32 seed now with some of her results last year. Don’t know too much about the other girl. Depending on that result – I’m sure my coach is out there watching a bit – we’ll talk a little bit. But I don’t think the focus is really on the other side. I think especially after today’s match, I really just want to focus on what I have to do.

 

Do you ever watch things yourself, pull up YouTube?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, we usually do a little bit of that, especially if I’m unfamiliar with a girl I’m facing against, or sometimes a few highlights of matches I’ve played against players. I don’t watch too much. But, yeah, it’s nice to have. YouTube is a good source.

 

Do you ever watch your own videos?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I really dislike doing that. I’m not a fan. But it’s quite educational, at least that’s what the coaches tell me. But, yeah, it’s good once in a while. It’s nice to see something from a different perspective because, I’m quite a stubborn individual. You see something from your own eyes on the court, but sometimes your coach, or this little camera on top shows you a different picture. It’s nice to see that painting because sometimes it comes out completely different.

 

Why don’t you like watching yourself?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t know. Sometimes I just feel like I have better things to do.

 

Who do you think is dressing the best on court this year?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I quite like my outfit, so…

 

But others?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I haven’t seen all the outfits yet. Maybe I’ll check on Getty, yeah.

 

 

You’ve been playing quite well in the exhibition matches recently, but how much more satisfaction do you get from putting together a match like that here at a Grand Slam?

ANDY MURRAY: Well, it depends. I mean, some exhibition events are different to others. You know, a lot of the events I played at the beginning of the year — everyone’s wanting to get matches at this stage. You don’t want to come in having not sort of played competitive matches. Yeah, I felt like the players I played in Abu Dhabi and at the Hopman Cup. Everyone wants to win those matches. They’re not sort of gimme matches. I felt like I was playing well coming in. I feel like I started the tournament pretty well. First round was tricky. I didn’t know my opponent well. Today was better.

 

There’s been a lot of talk about ITF rule changes regarding Davis Cup participation; getting stricter about one player being able to play for one country in their career. Do you think someone like Bedene should be able to play for Britain when he becomes a citizen?

ANDY MURRAY: I don’t know. It’s not really my area. Yeah, I mean, I heard they changed the rules a little bit and that you can only play for one nation.

 

As it is now, if you ever played for anybody, that’s it.

ANDY MURRAY: That’s it, yeah, which I think is fine. But I believe he had all of his paperwork and stuff in before the rule change, so I’m not sure exactly what’s happening with his situation. But, yeah, that’s not really my area to say what’s right and wrong, though.

 

Do you think you’ve proven a point today, you and Amelie, given Marinko’s comments?

ANDY MURRAY: No. I get on well with Marinko. I spoke to him a little bit about what he said. He didn’t mean any harm. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion on anything. If he wants to get coached by a man, that’s absolutely fine. I have absolutely no issue with it at all. I still think he’s a good guy. I get on well with him. I wasn’t trying to prove a point at all when I was playing Marinko today. I was trying to win the match.

 

You’re a guy that likes to watch a lot of other sports and has opinions on other sports. I wonder if our cricketers would envy you with a 10-nil victory ratio against Australians. Where does all that come from?

ANDY MURRAY: I don’t know, to be honest. That’s not loads. Obviously, I played loads against like French players, a lot more than that. But, yeah, I don’t know exactly why. I think, like I said on the court, there’s obviously going to be a lot more challenging matches I think over the next few years when all the young guys keep improving and are getting better. So, yeah, I’ll struggle to keep on to a perfect record against Aussies, I would say, in the coming years. But, yeah, I have played well against them in the past.

 

Do you watch cricket, the Ashes?

ANDY MURRAY: I do from time to time. I obviously can’t watch the whole tests. But, yeah, I watch bits and pieces when it’s on. But normally, yeah, I’m training. It’s one of those things. I don’t know if anyone here sits and watches like the whole five days or not. You kind of see bits and pieces.

 

Is part of the thrill of being in Australia being two weeks ahead on what’s happening on Neighbours?

ANDY MURRAY: I’ve never watched Neighbours in my life, here or back home (smiling).

Q. Were you surprised about the first set of Bolelli, who never won a set versus you? Are you also surprised he never beat a top-10 player in 33 matches, and now 34?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I thought he played two really good sets against me in Davis Cup, so I felt like he was really, you know, imposing his strength at the baseline. I could sense there that he had a good forehand; committed, you know, on the return; solid backhand with the option to hit the slice. I wasn’t that surprised, to be honest, you know. I was just surprised how well, how consistently he was doing that, and especially how well he was serving actually. But then again, conditions were fast, which made it easier to serve well and harder to return. Maybe the break, I shouldn’t be broken, but he was really playing very well from the baseline. I guess in these conditions sometimes a break can be a set. That’s when I was under pressure for a while in the second set, but I’m happy I fought my way out of it.

 

Q. How is your finger and how is the blister?

ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know if it’s a blister. I don’t know what that thing is. It’s the weirdest thing. I don’t know. I feel it on the tip of my finger. Just felt really odd starting after the break, and for three, four games, it was the funniest feeling I have. I feel like it’s numb and swollen. So, I don’t know, I just wanted to have a chat with the…

 

Q. When you touched it, it was weird?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I don’t know what it was. I still don’t know. I just wanted to have a chat with the — what is his name — the physio just see what we can do. I know there is nothing we could do. I knew we couldn’t tape it up because then it would be even bigger and more weird. I just said, I hope it doesn’t get worse or stay like this. Actually it went away, but now I feel again. I don’t know what the feeling is.

 

Q. Might be a bee sting, you were saying?

ROGER FEDERER: I was thinking it could be that.

 

Q. Physio didn’t know what it was?

ROGER FEDERER: No. You can’t see anything (laughter). But it is definitely swollen and it’s funny. I don’t know what it is. As long as it’s not getting bad, it’s okay.

 

Q. You didn’t like the cameraman when he came too close. You said, Do you need to come that close?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, the guy is like in my ear. No I don’t like it because I think there’s a bit of privacy. In that space I’m just discussing the options of what we can do, and you feel like the guy is sneaking up on you. It’s not the best feeling, yeah. So I asked him if he needed to be that close. He clearly didn’t, because he backed off (smiling).

 

Russia has become one of the main organizers of sports events. It’s also a country that’s involved in all sorts of political problems. Do you think professional athletes should go to any country a federation sends them to, or do they have a personal responsibility playing in countries that are involved in war or human rights violations?

ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know. I mean, in tennis we can do whatever, I guess. It’s up to us where we want to go. We don’t get sent by the federation or anybody. It’s our call if you want to do it or not. Then whatever your beliefs are, it’s going to get you there or not.

 

Have you ever considered boycotting an event for political reasons?

ROGER FEDERER: I’ve never been in a position like this, to be honest.

 

You haven’t played in Russia since 2002. Is that a coincidence?

ROGER FEDERER: It’s not a coincidence. It’s just because it didn’t fit in my schedule.

 

Can I ask you a question about age?

ROGER FEDERER: I’d love to talk about that (laughter).

 

Do we lay too much emphasis on it? Do you feel like you’re the same guy in the same body as you were a couple years ago, or do you actually feel you have to adjust a little bit because you are no longer the youngest?

ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I feel fine. I don’t feel any different to let’s say four years ago. I really don’t. You maybe pay attention a bit more and listen to the signs of your body a bit more. By now I know my body even better. Clearly as the years go by I guess you also want to try out new things. But that’s not really necessarily always down to age. It’s simple just to say, Okay, you did that because such and such. But actually it was just to make it different, make it fresh, make it new, try something else. That may be whatever the decision it was, but clearly you have to listen to your body. I think the mind also becomes important. How badly do you want to be out there? How badly do you want to play and win? Why are you still doing it? Are you doing it for the right reasons? I think that becomes, in my opinion, more important than the whole body talk that everybody puts emphasis on.

 

I know you’re a fan of a lot of sports. What do you think of rugby? Who would you be supporting in this year’s Rugby World Cup?

ROGER FEDERER: I’ll be supporting South Africa, of course. Yeah, I honestly don’t see it very often. I don’t know why. I don’t know where we are in the world when it’s happening, why I keep missing it. I was talking to somebody, maybe some — I don’t remember. But I see cricket frequently. When we go to the States and we follow the American sports over there. In Europe it’s more of the football, soccer, all that. With rugby, for some reason I don’t see it enough. But I’ll be supporting South Africa.

Do you choose to, on your days off, attend some of these sports? While in America, do you go see the L.A. Kings?

ROGER FEDERER: I’ve been to the Heat and the Lakers. Never been to a cricket game or a rugby game. Never been in Formula One. When we’re in town or they’re in town, there’s no other event happening. It’s the same for us. Yeah, I mean, Moto GP I’ve gone to see. There’s clearly many things I would like to do. I went to an Arsenal game during the World Tour Finals now. That was good fun. I try to, but it’s not always that simple, you know.

 

What are your thoughts on how Mandela used the South Africa rugby team to change the course of history in South Africa?

ROGER FEDERER: I think it’s wonderful how he brought the country together. It was a big, big moment in sports for everybody, more so for the people in South Africa. It was an amazing moment.

 

With Li Na not playing this year, do you feel more attention, more people watching you back home in China?

PENG SHUAI: I didn’t really watch this because the tennis now in China for sure is more popular than before because more tournament, more player on the tour. I think she make two Grand Slam, and also before like start from 17, 18, first with the Olympic go, then get more and more the good result in China. And also, you know, like the marketing, more popular, more tournament in China. For sure is more people watch tennis now. Yeah.

 

Do you think it’s important for Chinese players to continue to do well in order for the sport to get bigger in China?

PENG SHUAI: I think tennis is really good sport and also good for, how you say, like also be professional and to play, have fun. Because young kids or old people, they all can play and then they have fun. If more people watch, play for sure have a lot more player. I think everybody is want to improve, get better result. Is not only like a girl, for sure. Maybe future have a boy. I think everybody ask, are looking for this. And then, yeah, I wish I can get more better, but I don’t know, yeah.

 

 

Q. Would you mind talking about what men’s rivalry has been sort of the most impressionable on you, whether it’s coming up or now, in men’s tennis?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: Whew, I don’t know. Personally for me, I haven’t felt that there’s a rivalry at the moment to play against one player over and over again. I mean, obviously, so to speak, the younger generation, the younger guys are really pushing through and winning rounds. If you can call that a rivalry, maybe that’s the way it is. But, you know, so far in a way it’s early in the tournament to say that. In general, the year just began. Let it unfold a little bit before we jump into any conclusion.

 

Q. What about for you when you were younger? Were you a tennis fan growing up when you were a kid?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: Well, I’m not that young anymore if you think about it, but definitely growing up of course I had idols. I’ve looked up to a lot of players, following their success, their path. But I think now all that is behind me. I’m doing my own personality in my own way. So I think that’s good.

 

Q. Within yourself, do you think you’re ready to win a slam or do you think you might have a little ways to go?GRIGOR DIMITROV: If you ask me, of course I’d say yes. But that’s something that I definitely need to show I think throughout all the matches and be even more consistent. If I’m ready? Yeah, I think I’m ready. But before you get to the final or something like that, you need to go through quite a few players that are the top right now and playing their greatest tennis. I think the game has evolved so much in the past years that instead of getting easier, it’s getting harder. I think you have a lot of guys, they have more experience, they’re older, they’re fitter. You have that on the radar. But in the same time, you know, I’ve worked throughout my career so far to position myself in those kind of matches. I’m out there to win those ones, so I think I’m aiming higher.

 

Q. Maria scored an incredible come-from-behind win today. Can I ask you what makes her so tough?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: I think days like that defines who you are. It’s simple.

 

Q. And the definition of Maria is just…

GRIGOR DIMITROV: Well, I think I should be the last person to sort of judge that, but I think you can’t name one thing in particular with her. I think she’s been fighting throughout all those years, through everything that is in her way, jumped all the hurdles and all the obstacles. By far the greatest fighter ever.

 

 

 

How much did the crowd help you in the tough moments?

NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah, I thought the crowd was massive today. They got behind me a lot at some really key moments. They got a bit carried away with some things. That’s going to happen. It was a lot of fun as well. I was interacting with the crowd. At stages they were telling me where he was going to serve. They obviously think it’s pretty easy out there. No, it was a lot of fun.

 

The atmosphere on Rod Laver compared to a show court is a lot different. Do you have a preference either way?

NICK KYRGIOS: No, I don’t mind. I guess when you play on a show court you know it’s going to get a bit more rowdy, a bit more out of control I think. I’ve never actually played on Rod apart from my junior final against Thanasi. The crowd was pretty empty for that. Yeah, I’ve never experienced that, so I can’t give you that answer.

 

Do you feel the crowd is giving the Australian players an advantage?

NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah, they’re getting behind us. I think it’s tough right now when you have Groth versus Kokkinakis, who to go for. But, yeah, I think they’re helping the Aussies a lot.

 

Did you put in a request for a show court or…

NICK KYRGIOS: No, I didn’t put a request for any court. I just saw I was on Show Court 3. It’s a good court. I’m not going to complain. It’s a Grand Slam. Yeah, it was a really good court.

 

What do we take from your hair? What does it tell us about your personality? Tell us a little bit about your eyebrow, too.

NICK KYRGIOS: I don’t know. I guess it’s just youth. You know, you’re not going to see Roger or Novak doing things like this. I don’t know. Just doing it.

 

It’s a bit of fun for you, too?

NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah, I guess. I got sort of known for having some lines in my hair at some stage last year. It’s my last Grand Slam as a teenager. I don’t think I’ll be doing this stuff when I’m 20.

 

Are you someone who looks ahead in the draw?

NICK KYRGIOS: Not usually, but it’s hard when social media these days when guys are saying, Kyrgios, Federer fourth round when the draw just came out. It’s hard not to look ahead, but I think especially for me, this tournament I wasn’t looking too far ahead. I knew that I had a big task ahead of me with Delbonis. I’m really happy that I’m getting through.

 

Any thoughts on that potential matchup?

NICK KYRGIOS: Not at this stage, no.

 

How much does it do for your confidence, beating a player that you regard so highly?

NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah, I’m feeling really confident now, especially I played a good clay-courter first round. I thought he played really well. Obviously physically backing up after five sets as well, I can take massive confidence out of that. Ivo today, I thought he had the best year of his life last year. He got to top 20 at some stage. He’s 25 now. He’s playing some good tennis. With that serve, he can obviously beat a lot of players. I think he beat Djokovic a couple weeks ago. I knew he was going to be tough. That gives me massive confidence.

 

How much attention do you pay to what’s going on in the media?

NICK KYRGIOS: A lot. It’s hard to not read that stuff. I mean, there should be a lot of expectation on Australians playing their home Grand Slam. We all know there’s a lot of expectation on us. It’s fair enough. We should be performing at Grand Slams. Yeah, I’m just happy I got through.

 

Was there one rivalry when you were younger growing up that you really watched that you liked to watch as a fan, I guess?

NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah, I mean, it’s hard to go past Federer and Nadal. I mean, they haven’t played each other in a long time, but every time they were in the same section or anything like that, they’re definitely thinking about it. I think it’s the greatest rivalry of all time. That’s the generation I was watching when I was a kid. I mean, I still am a kid. It’s happened pretty quick.

 

As you get older, do you think your bravado and showmanship on court…

NICK KYRGIOS: Are you asking me if I’m going to mature?

 

Pat Rafter said you were still a bit too emotional on court.

NICK KYRGIOS: Uhm, geez, I don’t know. I don’t know what to say to that. He has his own opinion, I guess.

 

 

During the warmup Genie’s Army was going crazy. You had a big smile on your face. How much enjoyment do you get from them being present?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: It’s really fun. I think they brought a lot of energy tonight. I think they played well. They were aggressive, showed their presence at good moments. It just makes it more fun. I think the rest of the crowd appreciates it as well. They kind of laugh and get into it. During the warmup they were also playing the Taylor Swift song Shake It Off. That’s why I was smiling. I almost wanted to sing, but I told myself not to.

 

Did you follow Sharapova at all today? A chance you might see her down the road. Did you see it was pretty tight?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: I didn’t. I mean, I know like what happened, but I was like warming up and doing my things. But, yeah, I mean, that’s far off in the future. So I just have a match on Friday and that’s all I’m concerned about.

 

Does the surprise you someone 25 years old, 150, can hold two match points against Sharapova? Does that surprise you?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: No. We’re at a Grand Slam. Every player can perform well. It’s just if they bring their game on that day and maybe someone else is not play as well that day. I mean, there are a lot of good players out there. This stuff happens all the time. Doesn’t surprise me.

 

Sleeping until 1:00 p.m., can I ask how many hours of sleep that was?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: That was like between 12 and 13 hours of sleep.

 

This may be the first time in your professional career that you are going to face a player whose coach has coached you and may know you better than other coaches. If you were Nathalie Tauziat, what would you tell Caroline Garcia about you?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: I don’t think I’m going to answer that. She’s amazing; you’re going to get killed. No, I’m kidding. Yeah, that’s true. I worked with Nathalie a little bit. I guess that’s how the tennis world is. It’s a small world. Kind of musical chairs in terms of coaching. I’m sure it won’t be the last time in my career. Yeah, but it won’t really bother me. I’m not playing against the coach, I’m playing against the player. I’m not going to worry about it. I’m still friendly with Nathalie, so it’s all good.

 

Last week there was a story that the Hong Kong Tennis Association were fined by the WTA because of what happened in Hong Kong. The reason was they felt they damaged your reputation. Did you feel the incident damaged your reputation?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: I don’t think so. You know, I didn’t make any mistake in any way. I never entered the tournament, so I can’t withdraw from a tournament if I’ve never entered it. It’s just unfortunate what happened, but I think the WTA is good in terms of they want to protect their players, protect their own image. I think what they did is fine.

 

You seemed to have a little trouble with the twirl.

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: With the what?

 

Twirl.

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: It was very unexpected. I mean, yeah, I don’t know. An old guy asking you to twirl, it was funny.

 

I guess Serena did it.

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: Well, Serena is good at her twirls. She does them all the time.

 

Serena was telling us this year, it’s the year of the back in terms of dresses. Are you going to get on that bandwagon?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: Maybe I should. I mean, she must know like what’s coming up in fashion and stuff. Maybe I should cut a hole in my top tonight and show off my back like Serena.

 

You said after your first-round match you didn’t know a whole lot about Tim. How much did you learn in the last couple days? Were you surprised by the way he played in the end?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I saw him play some videos. I checked some videos. Well, I think he played well, but is true that what he did at the end of the fifth is just amazing. Congratulate. I say on the court, but I want to say here, too. Very few players can do that after four hours something of match, 5-All, Love-30. So just will say thanks to him because he’s a great example what he did today.

 

What was your reaction? Were you surprised?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, sure. At the end should not be surprising, but is surprise. That’s not positive thing. But is good. Is great. Is very difficult to make it and he did, so just congratulate.

 

After the third set, what was happening in your mind and body? Did you feel at this moment that you can still turn this around?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, no. I felt very tired. I felt, I don’t know. At the end of the first set, I start to feel my body very bad, very tired. I don’t know. I was worrying crazy. Then when I was serving for the third, almost throw up. So was terrible feeling, no? I suffered too much on court for three hours and a half. I was suffering a lot. Too much. You know, was not funny today the way that the match was. Obviously is a very positive thing that finally have the chance to win, but, yeah, I hope to recover myself.

 

Any explanation of what went wrong?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I don’t know yet. I just go out. But is true that the weather was different today than the last couple of weeks. Very humid. I am sweating a lot always when it’s humid. But, I don’t know, long time without competition, with tough conditions, but at the end happened something more. Is obvious, no? I practiced a lot. Should not be that tired after 40 minutes. That’s obvious, no? Something happened, and I feel lucky to have the chance to finish the match, and then to find a way to win. So very positive for me. As I say the other day, all the moments I spend on court are important. Is not positive be like this, but in general you know important to win these kind of matches. That’s give me the possibility to play again, and I going to try to make better the next day.

 

The suffering that you had on the court today, is that one of the toughest wins you’ve ever pulled off?

RAFAEL NADAL: In terms of feeling bad on the court, yes. Probably yes. I was close to not continue because I felt that I was very dizzy. I felt that I can lose little bit the – I don’t know how to say – can fall down. So is true that after the third, fourth, and fifth, I tried to play much more aggressive, without running, no running anymore, and try to go for the winners and play little bit better, play little bit more relax. In terms of physically, at the end of the match I started to felt little bit better.

 

What do you feel about your ability to dig down and come through? Do you think that is a talent that you have?

RAFAEL NADAL: All during my career is obvious that I was able to find solutions for tough moments. I was able to win matches where I was in trouble. Sure, is an ability, but you know I worked very hard during all my career to resist, to try to be strong mentally. Is obvious that all the practices when I was a kid, all the moments that I suffered, helps.

 

If someone at the final of the challenger in Napa said, Don’t worry, in a few months you’ll be the attention of world media in a fabulous Australian Open match against one of the great players of our era, what would you say?

TIM SMYCZEK: I probably wasn’t really thinking about that at the time. The challengers are great for honing your game and really getting some work done. That’s the way I treat them. So, you know, it’s kind of just like an added bonus coming here and playing well. That was really special tonight. It was pretty clear Rafa didn’t have his best stuff. But it just shows the kind of player, the kind of champion he is because, you know, he was sick and not playing well. That was his C or D game. He found a way to win. So hats off to him. That’s why he’s one of the best.

 

You’re proud of your performance? Talk about your performance.

TIM SMYCZEK: Yeah, I mean, very happy with the way I played. I had a good game plan going in. The most important thing I thought was for me to try and stay within myself. I thought I did a pretty good job of that. I didn’t really struggle with nerves too much just because I got nothing to lose. Very happy with the way I served. I was happy that I was able to go for four hours and still feel okay. But, yeah, very happy.

 

At the end you feel a little bit disappointed because at the end you didn’t win?

TIM SMYCZEK: Yeah, I thought I had him for a minute. When he was kind of doubled over I could see he was really hurting. I started to believe that I really, you know, had a chance and could get it done. But he turned it up to another gear. That’s why he’s been one of the best for years and years.

 

Have you ever played a better match? Is that the best level of tennis you’ve hit so far?

TIM SMYCZEK: I think that’s the longest I’ve sustained a level like that. I think throughout my career I’ve had flashes like that. But that’s definitely one of the positives I’ll take from it, you know, being able to sustain that for four and eight/ninths of a set.

 

What was your game plan going in?

TIM SMYCZEK: I kind of studied him. He’s maybe the one that I’ve studied the least out of the top guys just because he does so many things that I’m not capable of. But that being said, I have spent a lot of time watching him. We were going to try and just try and keep him from hitting forehands in his backhand corner because it’s lethal from there. Trying to pin him in his forehand corner, then when I had a chance, to really be forceful with a ball to his backhand.

 

Talk about what happened at 6-5 in the fifth when the spectator shouted. Rafa was serving. You indicated he should take another serve.

TIM SMYCZEK: I couldn’t make out what he said. I don’t know if the guy didn’t know he was tossing the ball or not, but it clearly bothered him. You know, I thought it was the right thing to do.

 

Where is your next match going to be?

TIM SMYCZEK: I’m entered in the Maui challenger next week. I think I might pull out of that one unfortunately. Need a couple days off after that. But assuming I’m healthy and everything, I’ll start up at the Dallas challenger.

 

What I was getting at with the question is you come off 15,000 spectators, several million around the world, and your next will be somewhat fewer. Where is the motivation going to come from?

TIM SMYCZEK: Like I said earlier, the challengers really serve a very specific purpose. It will be on me to go in there and really take care of business, you know, try and pick up points and work on my ranking. So, yeah, it’s definitely not going to be the same as playing a night session on Rod Laver. It’s just part of the deal with being ranked 100 in the world. You’ve got to do it.

 

If you had to point to something, what is the most remarkable point of Nadal’s game?

TIM SMYCZEK: Just his competitiveness. I mean, he was playing terrible. I have to be careful what I say. He was not playing well and he still found a way to just come back and hit another gear that he could tap into. It’s hard to argue with how good his forehand is. It will probably go down as the best lefty forehand of all time.

 

At the point he doubled over, you were up two sets to one. Even when you were racking upsets you weren’t thinking you might do it?

TIM SMYCZEK: Like I said going into the match, I wouldn’t have walked out on the court if I didn’t think I had a prayer. But there was a certain point in the match where I started to really, you know, think it was going to happen.

 

Talk about Rafa’s competitiveness. Is that something as a player that you feel on the other side of the net?

TIM SMYCZEK: At one point, I think it was in the fourth set, I had a service game where he didn’t really move for any of my serves, and I hit a couple aces. I think that kind of struck me as odd. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do that. So I think just, you know, the fact that I was so surprised with him not making moves for balls just goes to show — he’s been on the tour for 10, 11 years, whatever it is. But you almost never see him take a point off. So that was kind of one of the biggest challenges going into the match. I knew there wasn’t going to be a lot free. That puts a lot of pressure on a lot of guys.

 

Did you have any difficulty with the spacing of the court, how big behind the baseline is? Did that ever throw you off?

TIM SMYCZEK: I loved it. It gave me a little room to run. It was a little bit odd. I hit on Laver yesterday. I was flagging balls into the stand. It was a little bit of an adjustment. By the time the match rolled around, I was fine.

 

Do you have Polish roots?

TIM SMYCZEK: I do. I don’t speak Polish, though. Sorry.

Share

Murray in a Hurry Quickly Advances to Australian Open Third Round

(January 21, 2014) Andy Murray extended his record against Australians to 10-0 by taking down Marinko Matosevic 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

“I think he fought hard up until the end,” Murray said. Obviously after a tough start for him, he definitely hung in, you know, went a couple of breaks up in the second set. He came back, you know, made it tight sort of end of the second set. You know, there was a lot of long, close games. Even the third set, as well. I just said to him that he fought well. Yeah, he wished me luck. There’s not loads you say at the net straight after a match. There’s only a few seconds.

Murray, who is friends with Matosevic, commented about playing in front of the partisan Australian crowd.

“It was a fun atmosphere to play today. Even if not everyone was supporting me.”

Commenting on her perfect record against Australians, Murray said “I’m sure I won’t be able to hold on to the record with the fantastic players you’ve coming through”

“I played well today,” the Scot said. “The conditions change the way the court plays significantly. It bounces a lot higher. Using variety, using higher balls, you get a lot of success with that; whereas when it’s very cold you don’t get so much success with it. So when the temperature’s like this, I quite like it.”

The three-time Australian Open finalist won the match in 102 minutes with 21 winners and only 12 unforced errors.

The World No. 6 will play Portugal’s Joao Sousa in the third round. Sousa led 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, 1-0 when No. 32 seed Martin Klizan retired from the match.

More to follow

Share

Nadal Speeds Past Youzhny to Advance at Australian Open

 

(January 19, 2015) Rafael Nadal answered any questions about his confidence, form or fitness on Monday in a dominating one hour, fifty-minute victory over Russian Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday in Rod Laver Arena.

“Very positive result for me,” Nadal said. “I think very good start. Very important, no? Always before the first match you always have the doubts, especially in this situation I’m arriving here. Never easy, but it was an important match for me. Every match is very important for me today. Was a comfortable victory that give me some confidence.”

The Spaniard hit 37 winners in the match with just 15 unforced errors.

Nadal was sidelined at the end of 2014 after his appendix was removed.

“Last year, second half of the year had been tough mentally, tough physically for me,” said the world No. 3.

“Last year was tough year with my back because I had problems here, then in Rio, then in Roland Garros, then I didn’t have more because I didn’t play more,” Nadal said with a smile. But for the moment, for this year, I am feeling well. The back is not limiting me, so that’s important for the moment, no? I know the back is dangerous. I know the back is a thing that you have to take care about. We are trying to do the right things to be safe with that, but there is things you cannot control.”

Nadal will American Tim Smyczek next.

“I don’t know very well,” Nadal admitted. “I talked little bit about. But he’s losing the third. I don’t know what’s going on. But, anyway, for me always, but especially today, all opponents are dangerous. All opponents are going to be difficult, and with the maximum respect for everybody and knowing that anything can happen in every round against anyone. So just going to go on court with the same spirit as today, maximum respect, trying to be very focus, and try to play little bit the same way like I did today. I think I did very positive things. I am trying to improve in the thing that I need to improve a little bit more.”

 

Sixth-seeded Scot Andy Murray began his Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3) win over Indian qualifier and 2009 Australian Open Junior champion Yuki Bhambri in Margaret Court Arena.

“I thought it was a tricky match,” Murray said. “He played very close to the baseline on that court. I feel it’s quicker than Rod Laver and Hisense. He was coming forward a lot. Even when I was hitting good returns, he was changing the direction of the ball very quickly and coming to the net. He played well up at the net. He had good hands, solid volleys and made it tough. I thought I served well the whole match. I served well. I just got caught a few times the first shot after the serve. Could have been a little bit better my first shot after the return. I don’t know if that was something to do with me feeling like the court was a bit quicker. I felt a little bit rushed there. I served very well. That was good.”

Murray had to rally from 1-4 down in the third set.

“He was rushing me. I was saying it was more my movement after the return or after the serve. I was a little bit slow there. Once I got into the rallies I was moving good. But because of the way he was playing, and also maybe just feeling that court was a bit quicker, I thought it was a little bit slow on the first shot of each rally”

Murray is a three-time losing finalist in Melbourne in 2010, 2011 and 2013.

The Scot will play Australian Marinko Matosevic next.

“Well, hopefully I’ll play well,” Murray said “I need to continue serving well. That helps against whoever you’re playing against. Yeah, when you play against a big guy who likes to go for his shots, if you can keep good weight and depth behind your shots, that can frustrate them. I’ll try and use some variety to throw his timing off a little bit. Yeah. Just continue doing what I’ve been doing the last few weeks. I’ve been playing very well in the practices and striking the ball cleanly in the matches. If I keep that up, I’ll keep getting better each round.

Share

Notes and Quotes from the 2015 Australian Open Pre-Tournament News Conferences

(January 17, 2015) Ana Ivanovic, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, Sam Stosur, Serena Williams, Grigor Dimitrov, Simona Halep, Andy Murray, Lleyton Hewitt and Petra Kvitova met the media on Saturday for Australian Open pre-tournament interviews at Melbourne Park.

A few “notes and quotes” from the Saturday media conferences:

 

Ivanovic in press2

Ana Ivanovic

Mentality coming into the tourney as a top-five player:
“To be honest, I try not to think too much about the rankings. I definitely thought about it towards the end of the last year. I really tried to make that push and finish in top five. At the moment I really want to focus on my game, what to do out there on the court, to enjoy every match because I know if I do that, the results take care of themselves, and rankings speak for themselves. This is my main focus for this season.”

Ivanovic spoke about what makes the Australian Open special:
“I think each Grand Slam, it’s very specific and very individual in the atmosphere and the feel about it. Here I really feel people get excited about tennis. You know, they love sport. They love to cheer. They get loud. That’s exciting. There’s lots of kids always out here that come and support us. Obviously it’s their summer holidays so people are a little bit more relaxed, I feel. But it is very exciting. Since I don’t have a tournament at home, this is like second home for me.”

“It takes time for certain things to fall into place. Last year I really felt I made big steps towards winning more matches, beating top players. These kinds of things you sort of have to have in place in order to do well at the big events. I feel like I’m ready for next step. Also I feel comfortable in my team. I feel I can communicate with them more. Last year at some points it was not the case. Then also US Open was just a fresh start with new team, with new coach. So it takes time to get used to. Now I feel I can communicate with them more and they can help me.”

Asked to pick the fittest woman on tour:
I mean, there is lots of girls who are getting fitter and fitter. Caroline (Wozniacki) ran a marathon. I don’t think I can do that, to be honest (laughter). Radwanska, she’s a type of player that does lot of running on court. It really depends what you consider, you know, because there are some girls who maybe hit harder, have more power, but then those girls that have very high endurance.

Federer in press

Roger Federer

Q. Novak Djokovic had a crack at the Aussie accent. Can you do anything?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I’m not very good at that. I’ll let him do that (laughter).
Q. No g’day, mate?
ROGER FEDERER: I can do that, but not on command.

How he feels coming into Melbourne this year compared to last year?
“Clearly things are more calm this year, I guess, coming in. Last year, you know, having the new racquet, having gotten through the back issues, having gone through the off-season, you know, feeling good but still not quite sure because I needed matches to see how it was going to cope. I came here also with Stefan Edberg helping me out. You know, there was many changes that took place in the six months leading into, I guess, the Australian Open, whereas this time around I’ve played so well. Also was able to win Brisbane last week. Makes me feel more secure, I guess, this year coming into the Aussie Open.

Asked about how close he is to his career-best form?
“Well, I mean, I would hope that over the years I’ve always improved. I think I’m serving more consistent and stronger than I ever have. That’s my opinion. I definitely think the racquet has helped me with that as well, a little bit. But, you know, my concentration I do believe is there, better than it’s ever been, at least I hope it is, because I feel over time you always want to improve. I think my backhand is working better than it has in the past as well. The question is confidence, forehand, movement. But clearly when I was winning almost everything, everything was so gold that nobody was even questioning anything. Maybe if there were different opponents, different times, it would have changed. But for that particular time, I was playing exactly the way I needed to. I had to adjust my game a little bit over the years. I feel I’m playing very well. If it’s the best ever, I’m not quite sure. But I’m definitely very pleased how things have gone now the last six months.”

Asked if fitness has become more of a priority moving forward in his career over the years?
“Hmm, I wouldn’t quite say that. It’s changed just because you’re more careful not to get injured. So sometimes less is more. Quality is more important than quantity. Whereas when you’re younger, you got to put in the hours, you got to put in the work. Doesn’t matter if you’re tired, all these things, you just got to get through it, you know, get match tough, go through the grind. Eventually you have experience, you know what you need to get ready for a tournament, in the off-season what you need to do. So clearly I’ve, you know, made mistakes and made right decisions over the years. You try to put them all together, assemble all those pieces, make it work for the off-season. I mean, I definitely work a bit different. But at the end of the day I really believe in good quality practices now rather than too much. Yeah, I mean, I am 33, so things are a bit different today than they were 10 years ago.”

On whether he will play Davis Cup this year:
“I probably also will decide that once the Australian Open is over. I’ve been talking, you know. Clearly it’s hard to get out from the chair after finally winning Davis Cup. It was always a goal of mine, for Swiss tennis, the guys on my team, for myself, after playing for 15 years. Yeah, I’m just talking to the captain right now, see what the plan is for him, for me, for everybody. After that, I guess I just need a little bit more time. Probably make a call after the Australian Open.”

Sharapova gets ready to serve

Maria Sharapova

Q. Do you consider yourself the woman to beat for the title here?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m sure I’m one of them, definitely. I mean, I’m No. 2 in the world. I’ve had a great season last year, winning a Grand Slam. I think there are a lot of players that have an opportunity to win this tournament, and I’m certainly one of them.

 

Q. You have a shot at the No. 1 position. Is it still a big motivation for you to be back as No. 1 in the world or is winning Grand Slams at this time of your career more important?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, that was a question that was nice not having to answer in December (smiling). Yeah, I mean, look, obviously No. 1 is a ranking that every single player wants to grab and works so hard for. There’s a lot of players that have an opportunity to get there, and I’m one of them. I am, of course, determined to do that. But by doing that you need to win more matches than the person that’s in the first place. So that’s the goal.

 

How much has fitness changed in the last 10 years compared to when you came up at Wimbledon? Has the tour grown in leaps and bounds as far as the physicality?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, definitely. I think you see a lot more people added to the team as far as a fitness coach. I mean, you didn’t see that 10 years ago as much. You know, I have a fitness coach. He doesn’t travel with me full schedule. It’s a pretty limited schedule. He’s always with me during the training weeks away from the tournaments. Never feel there’s too much you can do during a tournament week as far as really setting up a base. It’s more about recovery and getting ready. But the physical aspect of the sport has become, I think, very, very important. It’s always been, but I think it’s become more important than ever.

We’ve started to see on the women’s side these former champions coming in. What do you make from that, from your point of view?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think from experience-wise, there’s no better person that can help you in certain situations as a coach, as a motivator, as someone that just has been there, done that. I think it’s great to see. I think it’s always nice when you’ve been through a career and you have the opportunity or you have the desire to share it with other players, to share your knowledge and experience. I think it’s great.

You were talking about being happy to be in one place.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: That was in November. I played two matches for IPTL in November. Actually had a great experience, a great time. For an event that had its first year, I thought it was very well-organized, very professional. I think it was great to see tennis being brought into markets which have never seen professional sport like that before, and stars. I think their excitement was unreal. I mean, I felt like a rockstar literally, to put my feet on the ground the day after. It was really fun to see the excitement that people had. The format was fun. It was fast. A lot of the players took it very seriously. I mean, I came in after not practicing for many weeks. I was like, Okay, I’m going to take it easy. Some of the doubles players were really into it, which was great to see. So, yeah, I think personally I would never do the whole tour. It’s quite long. But I think to the girls that did, and guys, you see some were injured at the end of it, which is quite unfortunate. But to go out and to play a few matches in a market that’s never seen high-quality tennis before, very open to it.

What is the best game you remember here in the Australian Open?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’ve had a lot. My best game? Obviously, the one that sticks out is my victory. Winning a championships is a big moment, especially a Grand Slam. It was my third Grand Slam in my career. I thought throughout the two whole weeks, it was some of the best tennis that I played. I had one of the toughest draws in a Grand Slam. I actually thought the final wasn’t my best match throughout the tournament. But overall I came through a lot of challenges. Yeah, it’s tough to choose.

 

 

 

Nadal ao

Rafael Nadal

Is a question of everything to be ready, to feel yourself confident, to feel yourself that you are 100% competitive. Always you need to play more matches than four or five in seven months. That’s a thing that everybody knows. At the same time you feel in better shape physically when you are play matches, when you have confidence about your movements. Even if you practice a lot, then the competition is different. The stress of the competition is different than the practices, no? So is a question of time and work. I am working big-time.

I am doing lot of practice and doing the things that we believe we have to do to recover our level. Is true that having a Grand Slam that early in the season after injury like this not the ideal thing. But here we are. I worked a lot since 10th of December. I worked a lot last couple of weeks in Abu Dhabi and Doha, then here this week. I am with calm and happy the way I did the things. Then I need to play better than what I am doing. I think that thing is sure. But I know to play better, I need to win matches. I need to spend hours on court competing. The only way to make that happen is to be on the tour. So I am on the tour, and that’s the only way I can come back to my best level.

Every time is different. Every feeling is different. Every time you come back, you have the doubts, you have the feeling that you are far away from your best. But at the same time you know the only thing you can do is play with the right attitude and try to have the right schedule to play matches, to play weeks in a row. It’s the only way to find the positive feelings and the confidence back. When you have put all the things together, it make your game better again. That’s what I am doing. I am trying to do the calendar that will be better for me. Playing here, then playing on clay, that helps me physically, in terms of tennis, too. That’s all, no? Difficult to say more things. The only thing I can say is I need to play better, yes. But the only way to play better is to win matches.

In the end is difficult to say 50%, 55%, 20%. Doesn’t matter. This kind of thing is impossible. Is not mathematics. You never know when you are 100%. The only thing is I know I need to work, spend time on court, play matches. When that happens during few months, I know in terms of being competitive, in terms of rhythm, I will be ready again, no? But if I am able to win matches in a row before these few months, I’m going to be ready earlier, no? That’s what happened in 2013. But I started on clay, tournaments that give me the chance to play more matches, 250 tournaments. This time a little bit different. At the same time the only way is winning matches and spend time on court.

Q. You said Brazil is a lucky place for you. How do you feel about the Rio Open? Too much play, too many people with Carnival?
I hope not to have too much time for Carnival (smiling). Well, no. I have been in Brazil a couple of times. 2005 was the first tournament victory of a big season. 2013 was a special one, because after a lot of months without winning, without competing, I had a chance to win the title there. Helped me for the confidence for what happened later, no? Last year was important one, but was different situation. This year is a little bit like before, no? Going to be the first tournament on clay after a long time ago. I hope will be a good moment for me to have the full confidence back.

Q. Which aspect of your game are you happiest about as you’re returning to form? Which part is going well for you at the moment?
RAFAEL NADAL: Nothing (smiling). No, I am not serving bad. My serve is working more or less well. I need to be a little bit more dynamic on court with my movements. I am a player who find the confidence when I am able to defend well, when I am able to hit the ball knowing that the ball going to go in most of the times. So that’s when I feel myself strong. As I say before, no, to make that happen, you need to do that on the competition. For example, last week in Doha I did a very good thing in the first set, played very good first set. But then, you know, I lose the intensity on my game, I lose the rhythm, something that normally never happen to me when I am competing two weeks in a row. That is something you need when you didn’t play for a long time. I don’t know about in which part of my game I’m more happy. But I really know what I have to do to be happy with my game. My game is always good when my movements are good, when I am able to have control of the point with my forehand, and always hitting good backhands. But the forehand need to be aggressive, need to create space with my forehand. That’s the way that I need to play to have my chances back on being competitive against everybody.

Asked about who is the favorite for the tournament?
You know the same like me who is the favorite for the tournament. I think everybody thinks the same names. Novak finished the season great. He is a fantastic player. He’s in his favorite surface. Roger is the same story. Had a great season last year. He finished well. Plays in his favorite surface, or one of his favorites, grass and here. And Andy I think is playing well. We’ll see. The rest always are there. There is a few more players that always going to have the chances. But between these three names, it’s a big chance.
No, I don’t consider myself one of the favorites here. Last year, yes. This year is a different story. Would be lying if I say I feel that I am ready to win today. I don’t feel myself ready to win the tournament here today. If I am here in a press conference in one week, maybe I will say another thing because will have the feeling that I will play few matches, and if I’m able to win that couple of matches, then probably I will have little bit more rhythm, I will have more confidence. But in theory, playing four, five matches in seven months, you cannot be a favorite of a tournament that is not clay, is on hard. Is another thing. In terms of being favorites, the other names are more favorites than me at this time.

Sam Stosur

Sam Stosur

Sam Stosur

On playing in her home country.
“I guess it depends which way you want to look at it. It’s definitely different to playing outside of Australia, playing the other Grand Slams. But it’s not necessarily more difficult. It’s not easier. It’s just different. I think it’s a matter of, yeah, handling everything that’s going on. Obviously I know there’s probably more attention on me here than anywhere else. But, yeah, it’s okay. It’s just different.”

“I’ve been pretty pleased with the way my matches have gone. Obviously I would have liked to have won a couple more. But I think overall the way I’ve been playing in those matches has been pretty good. There’s always things to work on and improve. But I think considering it’s the first few matches of the year, I’ve been pretty happy with it. So I guess going into this first round on Tuesday, I got to be ready and do it all over again. I’ve got a couple more days to fine tune anything I want to get a little bit better before that match.”

Q. How do you feel about your first-round opponent and your part of the draw?
SAMANTHA STOSUR: To be honest, I don’t know much about my part of the draw. Playing Monica (Niculescu), she’s a very different player to a lot of different players on the tour. She likes to slice the ball a lot, slice the forehand even. She’ll serve and volley a little bit, she’ll come into the net. She’s very fast, moves well. She’s very creative and more crafty than maybe most of the other players out there. It’s certainly something that I need to know certain balls are going to come back a lot differently to playing anyone that I’ve played so far this year. I think it’s going to be a lot about concentrating hard and knowing that it’s going to be some funky stuff going on out there, and what I’m going to try to do to combat that.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

On her Australian Open preparation:
“It’s okay. I’m not very happy with it, but I’m never really happy about my practice or preparation. So maybe that’s a good sign. Yeah, I’m just still every day going out there, working really hard.

I definitely feel better now than I did a couple weeks ago. But I still want to improve some things. I feel like I should be doing some things better. But every day I can see something coming through, so… There’s a little light at the end of the tunnel.
“I absolutely hate running, but I do it because I hate the way I look if I don’t run (smiling).”

Asked about the absence of her hitting partner Sascha Bajin:
I keep forgetting to tweet about it. He’s away on injury reserve right now. He texts me almost every day. Like, I wish I were better. What are you doing? Who is there? I’m like, Gosh, leave me alone already. He sends me videos. Yeah, he’s super bummed out. We all are, so…
Yeah, he just got injured. There’s been a lot of stories on how he hurt himself. I’m not sure which one I should tell today. I jumped on his back and broke it (laughter).

I’m working with Jonathan now, forgot his last name. We started together in Florida so I could get used to him, kind of get used to each other. So that has been good.

Asked about her first round opponent:
I don’t know who I play. I never look at the draw. I guess her name is Alison. I always try to keep really focused, yeah.
Well, on a first round, no one wants to lose. So I think a lot of the top players, that’s when they’re looked at the most. People are like, What are you doing? What are they doing? What’s new? Especially at the Australian Open, it’s the very first one of the year. Did they do anything different in the off-season? That’s when the pressure is on, cameras are on, everyone is looking. For me, I get really nervous every single match, especially first-round matches, so…

Q. For Alison (Van Uytvanck), it’s the first main draw here at the Australian Open. What do you remember from your first main draw here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was my first main draw and my first Grand Slam, was Australia. I just remember I knew I wanted to win. I wanted to keep doing well. I had to play Venus in the second round. I remember that was a real bummer for me.

Q. We’ve seen Lindsay Davenport and Martina Navratilova, great women champions, now coaching. What is your point of view on that? Would you ever consider bringing in a coach like them?
The only thing I know is I never say never. I never thought I would play this long. So who knows? Anything is possible. Any and everything is possible. I’m a big fan of Martina and especially Lindsay. I think it would be really good to see them on the tour, bringing their expertise and their knowledge back to tennis.
On attempting to win Australian Open title No. 6:
It would be really great. I’ve been going for number six for a number of years now. It would be really special for me. I would be really happy. I want it I think more than anyone else here. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to get it, so I’ll have to fight hard to get it.

Dimitrov waves

Grigor Dimitrov

You’ve been asked a lot about the changing of the guard. But does it feel this season with Nishikori, yourself and Raonic, you’re getting closer to the big guys? Or after your defeat against Roger last week, do you feel the gap is still a little bit there?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: Yeah, I mean, I’m not going to lie. It was a tough match that I lost last week. Definitely didn’t perform the way I wanted to. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m discouraged to keep trying and keep believing that any of us is going to make it through, so to speak. I think that’s pretty much it. But the other hand, the year just began. We have already the Australian Open, the first major. Anything can happen out here. It’s a good way to start the year. Hopefully everything goes in a positive note.

Have you set some specific goals for your game for the start of the season? Have you worked on something specific?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: I’ve worked a lot in the off-season. There’s nothing specific that I would like to say because obviously now I’ve had a pretty good 2014. Obviously we knew what was working for us and knew what we needed to focus on. That’s the one thing that we felt that was good. In the same time I’ve put a lot of work in the off-season on and off the court. I think that’s pretty much it. I never wanted to put too many tasks on my paper to say, Okay, in the off-season I need to work on this and that. Just the more you simplify it, the better it is, when you know what’s working for you.

 How important was your performance here last year?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: It was a major thing for me. Definitely gives you a lot of confidence. Gives you like a boost. Next time you come to any other tournament, you felt that you started on a good note. At the same time that confidence gives you, how do you say, to come and play every match better, feel that you can perform on a high level, beat better players. Eventually when I had to come up against better guys, I was able to win, and win quite a few tournaments. I think all that is a good factor. At the same time let’s not forget about the big picture.

Did you replay that tough loss to Rafa much?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: It took me awhile to get over it, especially having a set point in that third set, missing that shot by just like a few inches. Of course it’s something not to forget, but at the same time I think I took it really positive. I took that loss as a win even though it wasn’t the case. It gave me a good start. Eventually I think I was performing at a high level throughout the whole season. I think I finished it on a good note.

Halep fh

Simona Halep

Q. How were you feeling after having to withdraw from Sydney?
I’m feeling good now. I’m almost now like hundred percent recovered. I have two days. I slept very well. I ate very well. So I feel prepared to start this tournament. But still I have time, two days more, to feel like hundred percent.

Q. How different was your off-season? You changed coaches. Was there something you wanted to work on?
SIMONA HALEP: Just improve in my game more and more. I did in my serve very well in the off-season, and as well in my forehand. I’m moving better than last year. I’m working hard every day. I changed because I just wanted to change something, and I did. I think was a great idea for myself. Always I took my decisions and work very well. I think very good decision I had in the past.

Q. You made huge strides since a year ago. What surprised you most about your season, how successful you were?
SIMONA HALEP: I’m not surprised that I had big results last year because two years ago I just started to win some titles. I had more experience than before. I was improving a lot I think in my game. I’m much stronger now than before. My game is complete now, I think. I believe in my game. I think I was a little bit, I can say, surprised with the finals in French Open because I didn’t expect that I can play finals after just one quarterfinals in Grand Slam. But, you know, I had nothing to lose there. Was my favorite tournament, because I won in juniors, and I feel very well there. I was trying everything on court. Everything went in the right way at that tournament. I felt very well. Sometimes is very good to be close to your home because more people can come to watch you and can support you. So was a perfect tournament for me. That’s why I think I played the final. Then I had in Singapore the second big result. I played well, as well, there. I cannot say that I was surprised, but still I was very happy in the end of the year that I did few big results.

Q. After such a great year, do you feel more pressure coming into this year?
SIMONA HALEP: No. It’s better than last year. I can say now I feel no pressure. I have just to play my game during the matches and to see how good I can be, how many results I can do, how many matches I can win. So my goal is again to go to Singapore and to win matches with top players. Just I have no pressure.

Q. Do you feel this year’s Australian Open feels more wide open, like many different players could win?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I can say that all the players from here have a chance to do this. I was thinking a few days ago that even if I am third in the rankings, I have my chance, but is not like I have to be in the semifinals or in the finals. Everyone from top 20 I can say has their own chance to win this title. You saw Pliskova, last week she played very well. Kvitova as well. Everyone can win this title. The tournament is open I think for everyone.

Murray UnderArmour

Andy Murray

Q. Slightly different circumstances to last year coming in here. Talk about how the preparation has gone, how you’re feeling coming into Melbourne.
Yeah, I mean, obviously last year was tough because I prepared fairly well, but mentally it’s quite tough sort of going into your first slam and playing long five-set matches. You don’t necessarily know how your body’s going to respond, so mentally you’re kind of worrying a bit and you’d be apprehensive. That’s not the case this year, which is good. And, yeah, my preparation and training over in Miami and then in Dubai went very well. Practice this week’s been good. So, yeah, looking forward to getting started.

Q. Who do you see as your biggest threat in this tournament?
Well, I mean, there’s a lot of top players here. I mean, obviously Stan’s the defending champion, will be confident with that. A new experience, as well. It will be interesting to see how he handles that. But he’s obviously finished the end of last year with the Davis Cup and winning Chennai last week. So I’m sure he’ll be confident. And then, yeah, all of the obvious suspects, same names. Then if you add some of the younger guys that have been coming through the last year or so, you know, with Nishikori, Dimitrov, Raonic, these guys. Also you don’t know, a lot of guys can make big improvements in the off-season if they have five or six weeks’ training to work on things and get physically stronger. So it will be an interesting tournament. The Australian Open normally throws up a few surprises. It will be fun to watch.

Q. Is it easy to get used to the changes that have happened in your team during the off-season, being without Danny? Is it feeling weird for you or…
ANDY MURRAY: No, it hasn’t been weird. It’s been, in my opinion, positive. When things aren’t working well, there’s not a positive atmosphere, it’s not good for anybody. So when that changes and everyone’s working together, that makes things better. So the last two months for me so far have been very, very good.

Yeah, well, obviously very tough draw. Very difficult draw. It’s very hard to comment on it. If you have to play all of those players, obviously it’s going to be extremely difficult to come through that. I’m aware of that. That’s fine. But, yeah, often in these events, you know, there is upsets. And then, yeah, you just have to wait and see who you’re playing in each round because it doesn’t always work out as simply as that. You know, I’m sure Rafa just now, if you said to him, Give me a semifinal spot, he’d be very happy with that coming off a tough injury. But, yeah, it will be interesting to see how it goes. But definitely with the names you mentioned, it’s very challenging.

Q. What do you think of the young Aussie talent?
Yeah, a lot of very good young men. I don’t know on the women’s side. I haven’t seen as much of the young women. But I know on the men’s side, it’s very, very strong. There’s obviously Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, guys like Jordan Thompson, very good as well. They have a bunch of guys ranked between 100 and 200 in the world. Also the guy that Kyle Edmund played today I think is also pretty young from Australia, too. Yeah, they have a lot of talent, a lot of potential. I think the Aussies are going to have a good time the next 10 or so years watching all of them play.

Lleyton Hewitt

How do you rate your chances heading in, I suppose?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I just take it one match at a time obviously. Just try and focus on my first-round opponent, what I need to do to try to get through that match. Played him a couple times before in Davis Cup over five sets, so at least I’m well-prepared for what to expect out there. Obviously just try and get my body as close to 100% by Tuesday. Hopefully go out there and execute what I need to do.

 

Being a competitor, do you go into this thinking you have a genuine chance to win? Is that dream still alive?

LLEYTON HEWITT: When you start the tournament, that dream’s still there for everyone, the 128 of us that are in the draw. Nothing changes in that aspect. Over the years I think I pride myself on not looking too far ahead anyway. Even when I was No. 1 in the world, I always played every match on its merits, gave the utmost respect to my opponents, who I had to play. I’ve said it so many times: it’s a matter of trying to get through the first week of a Grand Slam. Doesn’t matter how you do it, but you have to try to find a way of getting through that, put yourself in a position in the second week. Yeah, anything can happen in Grand Slams. Over five sets, obviously, guys can get injured. There’s a lot of ups and downs over two weeks.

What do you think of the other young Aussie chances? Pretty good talent coming through.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, obviously Nick has a pretty good section of the draw I think that he’s in. Bernie is in a pretty good section, as well. Bernie has been playing well the last couple weeks. Obviously took someone like Nishikori to play extremely well – he’s a quality player – to beat him in Brisbane. Gilles Muller, 6-6, could have gone either way in Sydney in that match he lost. Obviously Nick would have liked some more matches under his belt coming in. If he can get his teeth into the tournament, I don’t think that’s a big worry for Nick. Thanasi has a tougher first round against Gulbis. He’s got a fighting chance in it, though, for sure Thanasi has improved a lot over the last year.

Is this the most excited you’ve been in your time of the youngsters coming through?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I guess it’s probably a few more in a group coming through than I’ve ever seen in my time. Probably happened a bit before I actually started. You had the guys, the Woodies, Stolz, Philippoussis, Rafter, Fromberg, so many guys coming through at that stage. For a while, I guess I was the only one and we didn’t have a lot of juniors, we sort of struggled to make that transition from really good junior players in the Grand Slams to making it onto the senior tour.

 

 Andy Murray was saying he thinks the tournament is wide open. There’s a lot of talk that the top four are more challenged than previous years. Do you feel that’s the case?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Possibly. It’s still hard. Obviously Andy Murray is not in the top four in the rankings at the moment. I think guys still see him as one of those big threats as the top four anyway. Obviously there’s Raonic, Dimitrov coming up, putting pressure on. Nishikori. Cilic won a Grand Slam now. These kind of guys. I still think the core is going to be those top three or four guys. Over five sets, it’s still extremely tough to beat two or three of those guys back-to-back at the end of these tournaments.

Petra Kvitova

You must be delighted with your preparations coming into the Australian Open with the win in Sydney?

PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah, for sure. I’m very glad how everything went. I’m glad to have a title in the beginning of this new year. Yeah, I’m glad that I have matches under my belt and I can be well-prepared for the Melbourne which is starting pretty soon and I’m excited.

How did your winter go? Anything you looked at or worked on? Are you feeling good about your game in general?

PETRA KVITOVA: I’m very happy that I have a new fitness coach and physiotherapist in the same person. It’s Alex. I’m just really glad that he’s part of my team. It’s something really special. I know that he’s experienced so well. He knew exactly what we have to do, so that’s great. I’m just glad that we did everything what we could in the off-season to prepare myself for the new season. I tried to be a little bit quicker, fitter, to be in the shots on the time. Normal routine, practicing, practicing, practicing.

Who do you see as the biggest threats in this tournament?

PETRA KVITOVA: I think it’s a lot of great players playing. I know Maria won Brisbane. Serena is always one of the favorites. Simona played really well in Shenzhen. It’s a lot of great players who really can play the best tennis here.

What were you most pleased with in Shenzhen and Sydney with your game?

PETRA KVITOVA: I think that my serve was work very well. I think it was one of the keys of the matches which I played. So that’s really nice because we work on that every day probably. I think that my fitness improved, as well, so I’m just glad for it. I just need to be used to everything what I did, show it on the court with the typical shots and with the rallies.

Having lost first round here, does that make you come back to this tournament thinking it’s exciting that you have no points to defend or remembering what happened last year and being worried about that?

PETRA KVITOVA: I would like to forget about the last year. Unfortunately it’s impossible. On the other side I know I can do only better. So that’s the good thing. I’m excited to play, of course. It’s a Grand Slam. It’s what I love to play. I just will do everything what I can to be just better than the last year because it was very disappointing. It wasn’t really nice time for me. So just will do everything what I can.

What do you like most about the Australian Open?

PETRA KVITOVA: I like the people here. I mean, it’s just beautiful to see the friendly faces, the smile. I mean, the weather, of course, when it’s not really hot, hot, that’s nice. The crowd is always amazing. I love hard courts, as well. So I’m just glad that everything is very nice here.

Anything different in the hard courts between here and the US Open?

PETRA KVITOVA: I think so. I never played well in the US Open, so I think that’s a little bit slower over there than here. Of course, the weather is different. There is more humid than here, what is better for me as well.

 Li Na said she thinks you’re the woman to beat this tournament. What do you say to that and how do you feel about that?

PETRA KVITOVA: It’s nice of her, of course. I don’t feel really favorite of the tournament. I’m just come here and try to be focusing on the match after match if it’s possible, of course. I think it’s a lot of great players, how I said. I don’t think really it’s like one big, big favorite of the tournament. So we’ll see.

 

 

 

Share

Andy Murray Announces Clothing Deal with Under Armour

Murray UnderArmour

(December 30, 2014) Under Armour announced the addition of professional tennis player Andy Murray to its roster of athletes on Tuesday. As part of the 4-year partnership, Murray will wear Under Armour® apparel, footwear, and accessories and will be featured in marketing campaigns, will participate in global training and tennis activations, and will make appearances for the brand beginning in January 2015.

“I am very honored and excited to be joining Team Under Armour and to help them tell their story globally,” said Murray on his website. “They are committed to providing innovative apparel, accessories, and footwear, with an unmatched focus on training and performance.”

“Signing Andy is really a special moment for the brand, as we continue to elevate and diversify our athlete roster and expand our international presence,” said Ryan Kuehl, Under Armour’s Senior Category Director, Global Golf and Tennis.  “Andy’s remarkable character, competitive spirit and unmatched ability make him the perfect fit for our family.”

Murray’s manager, Matt Gentry, added, “Andy is very committed and focused when it comes to training and preparation, so the new partnership with Under Armour is an exciting and ideal match.  Athlete performance and product innovation are the brand’s core pillars, which will have strong benefits for Andy and the team in 2015 and beyond.”

Murray joins an Under Armour which includes athletes Lindsey Vonn, Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Stephen Curry, Jordan Spieth and fellow tennis player Sloane Stephens.

Share

International Premier Tennis League in Manila

By Abigail Hinto

(December 1, 2014) MANILA –  There is no other word to describe it but surreal.  After fitting tennis tournaments to my vacations in order to see live tennis, professional tennis and its superstars have finally come to me.  I’ve seen and covered most of these players before, but seeing them introduced to the Manila crowd to raucous cheers was goose bumps-inducing.  Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova, and Serena Williams, the current best of the world were actually playing on a tennis court in my city.  Not to mention the legends Goran Ivanisevic, Carlos Moya and Patrick Rafter; exactly the players I followed when I first became a fan of the sport.  Even when I finally got the opportunity to travel and watch tennis, I never imagined I would still get the chance to experience seeing my early favorites who are now long retired, play live.

 

I have to admit that I was initially skeptical when the concept of the International Premier Tennis League was introduced, as I would guess most tennis fans were.  Would they really be able to get the players, especially the superstars on board?  Tinkering with the rules seemed sacrilege to the long tradition of the sport.  But then Manila got a franchise when IPTL had to pull out of Bangkok because of political unrest in that city, and I knew no matter what, I was going to be there.

 

Let me now say straight out that all the new rules introduced for the league, made to make the matches faster and therefore more conducive to television, are just secondary to the real tennis being played on court and the team atmosphere displayed.  Yes, it was real tennis.  While some players like Maria Sharapova first seemed undecided whether she would treat the game as exhibition or competition, with nary a shriek heard from her at first, probably the thought of an embarrassing loss against Kristina Mladenovic in her first match for her home team spurred her to increase her level of intensity and turn the match around.  I also didn’t think we would have seen Mladenovic be unable to close out the set after being up two breaks if nerves weren’t involved.  Ana Ivanovic played flawless tennis for her part against Sharapova and displayed her pleasure at her level of play with her trademark fist pumps and “ajdes.”  Andy Murray was crazily retrieving balls all over the court to make-up for his poor level of shot making.  Even the legends were groaning at missed shots and opportunities.  As one hardcore tennis fan who attended the tournament expressed, she was indeed worried at first whether the players would take the matches seriously because she still believes the tournament is just an exhibition.  But she ended up being satisfied with what she saw on court.  Even the players themselves were surprised how everyone was treating the matches seriously.  In the end, they are competitors at heart who want nothing more than to win.  And playing for a team, which they very seldom get to do, increases that desire to be able to help put your team in a winning position.  Stakes may be lower than playing on tour, but wins don’t necessarily mean less.

 

The team competition format also allowed for players to showcase not just their tennis but their personalities as well.  Gael Monfils, to no one’s surprise shone in this kind of format.  The fans embraced his goofiness and showmanship, but also marveled at his shot making.  Mladenovic, who outside serious tennis fans most in the stadium have probably never heard of before continually gained fans as the three days got on.  Treat Huey, who even though was the local boy most Filipinos have never seen play awed the crowd with Jo-Wilfred Tsonga once they finally gelled on the 2nd day.  Goran Ivanisevic will always be willing to please a crowd.  You see these players interacting with each other on the sidelines which you will never see just watching regular tour matches on tv.  There’s Murray and Daniel Nestor who couldn’t stop talking and laughing.  Same for Serena Williams and Daniela Hantuchova.  Ivanovic and Sania Mirza were practically inseparable, and who could ever forget Ivanovic’s absence of dancing skills thanks to Monfils.  Of course, there were the more silent and reticent types, but that’s showing their personalities too.

 

As a team competition, it was no surprise that the team that got on together from the get go won this leg of the league.  The Indian Aces was clearly that team.  Right off the bat, they were huddling during changeovers, cheering loudly for their teammates and just generally showed the most positive team spirit.  The Aces’ players continually acknowledged this fact saying how much they’re having fun together.  Not that the other teams didn’t embrace the team aspect of the competition, but Manila Mavericks for one took time to gel together, probably not helped by having the more introvert players while the Indian Aces had Monfils providing unbridled energy throughout.

 

Eventually, the Manila Mavericks were helped by relentless cheering from the home crowd urging them on until it paid off on the 3rd day when they finally won their last match.  Mark Philippoussis, who subbed in for an injured Carlos Moya set the tone by winning the first set coming from behind against Patrick RafterKirsten Flipkens, the home team’s other female player was showered loudly with support when she finally stepped up to play on the 3rd day.  I didn’t think Andy Murray would have liked to lose all his matches in front of his home team so he was finally able to pull off two wins on the 3rd day.  It was the most electric on that last day and last match as the whole stadium cheered louder and louder for the home team especially as the last set, the men’s singles between Murray and Nick Kyrgios got down to the wire and the last and longest rally of the set finished off the 5-minute shoot-out with a Kyrgios backhand to the net.  It was the fitting end to 3 days of tennis fun and excitement.

 

The competition will probably continue to have its critics, but I for one was converted.  That IPTL was able to bring all these tennis superstars to my country already makes it a winner in my book.  But the overall experience just solidified that fact.  I talked to several people, hardcore fans, casual fans, people who have never watched a tennis match in their life and they all came out of the experience with nothing but positive words to say, all saying that they will definitely be back next year to watch some more.  For the casual fan, it was like watching tennis on steroids with the faster paced play.  For the non-tennis fan who was greatly entertained, it was a marvel seeing how gorgeous all of the players looked.  I asked another non-tennis fan whether she will watch tennis on TV if she chances upon it and she said that she already did the following day.  Most of these people just got complimentary tickets, but their enjoyment showed that next time, they will already be willing to pay for the experience.  And if the aim of the IPTL is to grow the fan base of the sport, in areas that are rarely or never served by the professional tours, then so far, it seems to have achieved its goal.  A day after, and everyone is suffering from IPTL hangover.

 

Will IPTL supplant the tours?  Most probably not.  It’s still an exhibition in the mind of players and fans.  Will it eventually be part of tennis’ history especially with some of its innovations as Carlos Moya says it could be?  Too hard to tell after the first leg.  I feel its success is highly dependent on the commitment it gets from the biggest superstars of tennis.  It has managed that so far, will it continue to do so in the future?  Is there a place for it in the current tennis landscape as founder Mahesh Bhupathi says it does as he summed up the Manila experience?  Why not?  We all got to see Andy Murray and Maria Sharapova play mixed doubles together to disastrous results all with smiles on their faces, the biggest cherry on top of this wonderful cake.  And that alone should make the fans demand for the continued existence of the IPTL.

 

Share