May 30, 2016

In Their Own Words – Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Fabio Fognini and Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Nadal in press

U.S. OPEN

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Rafael Nadal

Press Conference

F. FOGNINI/R. Nadal

3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Did you feel something started to go a different way between the first two sets and the last three ones?
RAFAEL NADAL: He play great. It was not a match that I lost, even if I had opportunities. It’s a match that he wins.

So accept. Not happy that he played better than me, but that’s what happened. He played better than me, no? I didn’t play bad at all. I played a normal match, but not enough.

So not happy with that. But accept that he was better than me today.

Q. Do you have some problems with your legs, cramping?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. Perfect.

Q. I want to know, when you were always behind one break in the fifth set, then you were coming back, what were your feelings at that moment?
RAFAEL NADAL: I fighted until the last point all the time, good attitude. Not enough to win today. I lost a couple matches this year like this.

But the good thing is my mind allows me to fight until the end as I did during all my career. Sometimes this year I was not able to do that.

So I am happy with that. I enjoyed the crowd. Was amazing support out there. Just very special feeling be out there with that support. I enjoyed that.

I tried to fight until the last ball. I believe I did, but was not enough today.

Q. What is your plan for the rest of the season?
RAFAEL NADAL: Probably Davis Cup and then Beijing, Shanghai, Basel, Paris.

Q. London?
RAFAEL NADAL: I can’t tell you now. I don’t know if I going to qualify.

Q. Is this tougher than other losses?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. Is another lose. Not tougher. As I tell, you know, my mind allows me to fight until the end. Is something that I was missing for a while, that feeling that I am there.

For the nerves, for the anxious that I had for a long time this season, I was not able to do it. I was not able to be fighting the way that I was fighting today. So is an improvement for me.

I take that like a positive thing and I know what I have to do. I going to work on it.

Q. It’s the first time in the last 11 years that you cannot win a Grand Slam tournament. What does it mean to you?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, the only thing that means is I played worse than the last 10 years. That’s the real thing.

By the way, for me was amazing win 10 years in a row Grand Slam. I think nobody did. You can imagine how difficult is make that happen.

Accept that was not my year and keep fighting till the end of the season to finish in a positive way for me. Finish the season with the feeling that I improved something from the beginning of the season. That’s something that I think I am doing.

I think I have a good base now. As I said, good thing is I am not playing terrible matches like I did at the beginning of the season. When I am losing, I am losing because the opponents beat me, not because I lose the match, as I did a lot of times at the beginning of the season.

That’s an improvement for me, so I have a base now. That is a start. I know what I have to do and I going to work on it.

Q. You lost three times to Fabio, so you know him well. Did he do anything surprising you tonight especially? I’ve never seen anybody making 70 winners against you.
RAFAEL NADAL: Maybe I am slower. I don’t know. (Smiling.)

Q. What is your opinion?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. He’s a player with a great talent, with huge shots, and he played amazing shots. But what I am doing worse is playing worse than what I used to do the last couple of years. That’s it.

We can be talking for one hour trying to create a reason. But the sport for me is simple, no? If you are playing with less confidence and you are hitting balls without creating the damage on the opponent that I believe I should do, then they have the possibility to attack.

I am playing with little bit less mistakes than before. I have better feelings on the ball. Now remain to have again the speed, that extra speed on the ball, on the winner.

I want the defense, defense a little bit more longer, and hit easier winners. Have been little bit tough for me to hit winners tonight.

But that’s it. Not a big story. Is just improve small things that make a big difference.

Q. Do you feel slower?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. I was joking.

Q. You say you’re feeling good mentally now. What feels different? What is not as good as you want it to be?
RAFAEL NADAL: If you hit the ball a bit shorter, the opponent has more space. If you hit the ball with a little bit of less confidence, then there is not as much topspin like used to be.

If you hit shorter, you will run slower. Is not you run slower, but the opponent take the ball earlier so it looks like you are slower, no?

Is easy to understand, easy to explain, difficult to change, but I going to do it.

Q. Tiger was in your box. You have almost the same number, and ESPN make a survey who going to win the 15th, you or Tiger. You know the new generation is coming in golf and tennis. Who has the bigger chance you win the 15, you or Tiger?
RAFAEL NADAL: I hope we make that happen next year both. It was a great honor for me to have Tiger in my box. For me like a sportsman he’s a big example. His attitude on the golf course for me always was a big inspiration.

So when I saw him play, when I saw his attitude, I see the eyes that he has when he has to shot, has the difficult shot, the decisive shot. Is very special. I don’t see a lot of sportsmen with that self-confidence, with that intensity on his face when he had to hit the important shot.

So for me, he’s a great example, great inspiration. I always say the same. I don’t have idols. But that’s closest thing that I have: him.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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Serena Williams Beijing

U.S. OPEN

Friday, September 4, 2015

Serena Williams

Press Conference

S. WILLIAMS/B. Mattek-Sands

3-6, 7-5, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Not the easy way.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I just made a lot of errors. Had to play myself in after that.

Q. How did you play yourself into the match? Obviously it was really tight. You got close deep in the second set, and then you seemed to find another level.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean, I knew that I could play better, so with that in the back of my mind — because I made a lot of errors, but I knew, like, this wasn’t the best game, my best game.

So I guess knowing that always helps me really play better.

Q. Do you think she was trying to use dropshots or trying to bring you into the net a little bit? Did you see that as a tactic?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know what? I don’t know. Maybe. I don’t know actually.

Q. What is it like to always be the favorite in a match? It seems like it’s so long since you weren’t expected to win.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, it’s interesting. Yeah, no matter what, I’m always the favorite. I look at it as I’d rather be the favorite than be in a position where I’m not, so…

Q. When you get down in a match – you’ve spoken about this earlier in the tournament – what do you draw upon most, that you find most effective to turn things around?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know. I just know usually when I’m down, I mean, I feel like if I’m not playing well, I know I can take it to another level. But if I’m down and I’m playing well, then I probably won’t win.

But usually, you know, I know that I can play better. I just try to tap into the energy and I try to play better.

Q. The other day you spoke about being nervous or a little bit tight. Were you nervous tonight?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Not at all. Not at all.

Q. Why not?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I wasn’t nervous at all, just the second round. From the week — from Cincinnati I felt good. I mean, I don’t have to win this event. It’s not the end of the world for me.

I told you getting to Wimbledon and winning the Serena Slam, that really meant a lot to me. That tournament I felt on the edge a lot. This one I don’t feel that way.

I think people feel that way more than I do, but I don’t feel like I need that more than anything.

Q. Do you feel better after it’s all over tonight than you did the other night?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely. I feel good I was able to get that win, obviously.

And she played really well. She played a really aggressive game. I don’t think her level really dropped. I thought I just picked up my level.

Q. The history goes away and it’s just you against your opponent. You’re not aware of the circumstances as you’re playing?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, of course it’s there. I’m not a robot or anything. But at the end of the day I’m just here to do the best I can. If that means I win, then great. But if it doesn’t, then you know what? I can’t let that affect me because I still have other tournaments to play.

Q. You’ve been down an early break in a lot of matches; lost some first sets. Does that concern you at all, or you know you’ve gotten out of it so many times?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think getting out of it so many times definitely helps me. It’s definitely not something I want to do, though.

But, hey, a win’s a win, I guess.

Q. When you do face that situation which you now have eight times in the slams this year, do you ever think, I have no margin for error; it’s best-of-three sets? Like Murray yesterday lost the first two sets and came back. Do you wish it was best-of-five ever?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, but we offered to play best-of-five. I totally could.

But doesn’t matter to me. Best-of-five, best-of-seven, whatever. Let’s get it going and cracking, right?

Q. What will you take away from playing Madison last time that you’ll bring to the match coming up?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I think that she played a really high-intensity match. I thought she served really well; I served well.

So hopefully I’ll be able to show up and play well. We’ll see.

Q. What are the biggest similarities and differences between your games, do you think?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, she runs around and hits forehands a lot. I tend to run around and hit backhands, which is just odd. I don’t know. I mean, we both have good serves.

Yeah, she does everything really well. She has a good return. She has a heavy shot. She’s moving well. So she does everything really well.

Q. When you were a young player trying to make your mark, you go out there as an eager beaver. You want to win matches. What is it like now when you’ve done so much on a day-to-day basis? Is that eagerness to go out there and play still there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: At this point in my career it is. I think it’s even more eagerness to win every single match I play every single time I step out on the court.

Q. The crowd was really cheering for you. Did that help you or is it sometimes pressure on you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, no, I usually don’t have a cheering crowd for me, so it definitely feels good. They usually cheer for the underdog, but I think everyone wants to see me go far, I guess, this year.

So it’s really cool to have the crowd not cheering for the underdog this time. But I understand obviously. It just feels really good. It feels amazing every time I play. I think, if anything, it helps me.

Q. Do you prefer playing Americans here or would you rather…
SERENA WILLIAMS: It doesn’t matter. At some point you play everyone everywhere, so…

Q. At this point do you feel invincible?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I’ve never felt invincible. I’ve never used that word to describe me ever.

Q. Did you watch any of Venus’ match today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No.

Q. You know she played really well. Do you take anything from that? You both mentioned this week you give advice to each other before matches.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, we do. The only thing I take from it is the fact that I’m going to have to step up my game, you know. That’s all I can do.

Q. A few times this year you have reminded us that it’s not easy. This isn’t easy. This journey that you’re on is really difficult. Is this really what you kind of expect, and it’s a lot harder than all of us think it is?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know what to expect. I’ve never been on this train. I love metaphors. (Smiling.) I’ve never been on this train. It’s different. It’s definitely different.

But, yeah, I actually can’t really answer that because I don’t really know what to expect.

Q. To use your metaphor, what would it take to derail you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: If I’m standing on the middle of a track, I’m definitely going to get derailed. I have to make sure that I’m on the train and not, you know, in front of it.

Q. Do you have any particular memories of matches against Lindsay here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: The last time I played Lindsay was so long ago that hopefully I’ve improved. Hopefully. But, yeah, I remember one time. Obviously the semifinals here in ’99. I lost to her here once or twice. I don’t remember.

Q. You have a lot of visibility these days with commercials and such. Do you have a favorite you’ve seen and why?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I love the Gatorade and the Beats ad. They’re really inspirational. They’re not just like, Oh, here I am. They really are inspirational for young kids, and that’s what we wanted to do. We didn’t just want to do a normal ad. We wanted to inspire everyone from every part of the world.

Q. What is it like having your retired contemporaries watching you from the sidelines now? Hingis was watching Venus today.
SERENA WILLIAMS: It’s all right, I guess. I don’t think about it.

Q. Do you remember, were you watching when Steffi had her US Open where she was going for it? Do you remember anything about that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Seriously? I mean, I’m old, but c’mon. Geez.

Q. You were playing tennis already.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, but, I mean, what, I was six. Get serious.

Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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Fabio Fognini

Fabio Fognini

 

U.S. OPEN

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Fabio Fognini

Press Conference

F. FOGNINI/R. Nadal

3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. 70 winners. It sounds crazy.
FABIO FOGNINI: Well, with Rafa you have to try that, because otherwise if you run — he start running at the beginning and you finish at the end of the week. It’s not easy.

Right now I can’t tell you something more because was something incredible that I did today, I think. Is a really special win about the No. 1 on clay and he won two times here.

So really happy.

Q. What was the key to the match today for you?
FABIO FOGNINI: Well, I was starting to feel the ball really good, believe me. I lost that first set 6-3, but I was say in my mind, Okay, let’s try, let’s keeping working; do your tennis.

I went down a break. After come back on 4-4, I went 40-Love on that game and I lost incredible game. So was my fault. Even if I come back from break down, I was say, Okay, let’s try. But two sets to zero against Rafa, maybe you have to go to Lourdes.

I went there tonight and everything was in a perfect way.

Q. You have beaten Rafa two times this year. Does it give you any confidence or belief?
FABIO FOGNINI: I mean, confidence or not confidence, you know if you want to play against him and if you want to do something different, you have to risk. That’s the only thing.

Probably I make a lot of unforced errors, but it doesn’t matter. You have to do that with a great player that run a lot on the baseline. He’s one of the best player in the world.

Q. Was there a moment in the third or fourth set where you thought you could win this match?
FABIO FOGNINI: No, was not a moment. I was saying, Okay, keep working and try to do your best. In my mind I was feeling the ball really well, especially at the end of the fourth set. I make that incredible game with the backhand cross-court down the line. I broke him on, I don’t remember, but, you know, fifth set was something different.

We play three, almost four hours; break back few times. I lost again incredible game on 4-3, 40-Love. On that game I think I went risk, but he was playing better than me.

On the other hand, on 4-4 again I was — was incredible match for sure. It’s 2:00 in the morning. I am really tired in the moment. I try to recovery as best I can.

Q. We saw you play in Argentina singles and doubles for Davis Cup, winning both. You’re a great doubles player. You attack the net very well. You attacked the net 54 times and 72% of those times you won the point. Why do you think you’re not getting so good results on hard courts, attacking the net more, not defining the points not necessarily from the baseline?
FABIO FOGNINI: That’s a good question. But, you know, there’s the statistic. Even if we lost the doubles yesterday with the match point, I feel good on the net.

I repeat again: with Rafa, you have to risk. You have to attack him when you have the chance. He is one of the best passing player in the world, if not the best.

That’s what I think I was doing really well tonight.

Q. You’ve beaten him three times this year. You never beat him before this year. You played great in those matches. What do you think about his level this year compared to before?
FABIO FOGNINI: That’s your work. I don’t care if he’s play better or bad. Only thing, you have to win against him. It’s never easy for sure. I beat him three times, but, you know, it’s just statistic.

I was saying three times, and all three times was something different on the game. Rio de Janeiro was 7-5 in the third and I was down set and break.

I was playing really good in Barcelona with two set.

I was playing really good also the final in Hamburg, even if I lost 7-5, 7-5. We played 2 hours and 40 minutes. It was a tough match.

Yeah, tonight, yeah. Maybe the victory of tonight is something different for sure.

Q. It looked like you injured something. You were limping a little bit. What happened? You were obviously able to recover.
FABIO FOGNINI: I hope, yeah, to recovery really well. I was a little bit tired sometimes. You know, when you start thinking with Rafa it’s always difficult. Especially the fifth set when I went a break up three times, four times, I would say, Wow, I’m break up, so I have to do something different.

But he pushing all the time. Like try the best as you can.

Q. Ahead of the US Open you had a fairly rough year on the hard courts. Did you change anything?
FABIO FOGNINI: I mean, I start really bad the season. I was starting really bad at the beginning in Australia. I play well on clay on the second month of the year. I play really bad another time on Indian Wells and Miami.

But, you know, I was saying the first day that I came here, after play again really good on clay with the final against Rafa and two quarterfinal, I was feeling really well. I been playing really good, feeling on court really well.

I play only two matches, that’s true. I play Monfils and I play Kokkinakis, but in two different way, for sure.

For sure with Kokkinakis I play high level, even if I lost. With Monfils I play really good the first set, 0-6, breakpoint won. Second set I was really tired because I was coming directly to Europe.

After Cincinnati I take two day off, recovery, start practice really hard four, five day of the week. I’m here for the first time in the fourth round.

Q. The argument that you have with Rafael Nadal in Hamburg this year, did it have an impact on your mind?
FABIO FOGNINI: It’s not important.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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MattekSands

U.S. OPEN

Friday, September 4, 2015

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Press Conference

S. WILLIAMS/B. Mattek-Sands

3-6, 7-5, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Good effort. In your own mind, what happened second set?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: She stepped up. Serena played good. She broke me and I was able to break back, so I don’t know. Pretty tired. (Smiling.)

Q. What do you think it is about her that enables her to come back so often? Tonight was emblematic of so many matches during this great run of hers.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I mean, she’s a great closer. She always has been. I think she gains momentum and gets pumped up, pumps herself up, and I think that’s why she’s able to close matches out really well.

Q. Is there anything watching her across the net that you see and feel when she’s on this sort of comeback roll having been down and being able to turn it around, that being across from her you can see in a way nobody else does?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: You can see when she’s really confident in her shots. Obviously she starts ripping the ball really hard and timing it well and taking balls on the rise. I think you can feel the pressure.

Q. You didn’t seem at all intimidated. Nobody goes out there wanting to be intimidated, but sometimes you can see the body language. You didn’t seem that way. There are times in a match when she gets rolling and she starts to yell loud. What is going on in your mind at that point?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: No, it’s competition. I mean, we’re both getting pumped up. When you hit a good shot, some people react a little bit more than others with their C’mons or fist pumps. It’s all sports; it’s all competition.

You know, I’m a competitor, as well. I think it’s fun when you play someone that’s on their A game. You get to see what your game’s all about.

Q. At what point would you say you realized that this is what everybody is talking about with Serena, when the momentum changes and when you felt it slipping away?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Tough question. I don’t know.

Q. What did you say to her at the net?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I said I’ll be cheering for her. Obviously I know she’s going for the record. I thought she was playing awesome. I mean, I like Serena a lot. We’re friends off the court, and I think she’s not only a great competitor but a good person.

I just wished her the best of luck.

Q. Were you able to leave all that out of your head when you were on the court?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: What do you mean?

Q. That you wanted her to go on and win it.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Definitely. Again, I did my best today to try and stop her, and it wasn’t quite enough.

So, you know, I wish her the best.

Q. You talked about you’re feeling pretty fresh, injury-free, still motivated. A match like that, does that give you a little bit of extra kick going forward?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Definitely. I feel like this year I’ve just gotten better and better each match. You know, I’ve gained a lot of momentum. I’ve played a lot of matches. For me that’s great.

There were so many years when I didn’t play a lot of tournaments. I didn’t compete. I think I’m a natural competitor. Even if it’s not in tennis, I’m pretty competitive.

Just ask Justin. (Smiling.)

But, no, it’s giving me a lot of confidence. Obviously the year’s not over. I’m still in the mixed doubles with Sam tomorrow. There’s a lot of tournaments left. So I’m really happy.

Q. Do expectations change between believing you can go out and do something and win before the match and then being there in the second set tied 5-All? Is that a realization that this could actually happen?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: No, I think you need to know you’re going to win before you’re in that situation. I give myself a chance to win every single match I step on the court. Whether I win or not, I always think I can.

You know, I feel like most athletes go out on the court or field with that mentality. You’re not just going to be all of a sudden tied with the No. 1 player in the world and think you might have a chance.

Q. How much fun was it tonight?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I mean, the atmosphere out there was awesome. It’s so cool playing on Arthur Ashe, night match. I mean, that’s just “the” best atmosphere you could dream of. It was awesome out there.

Q. How has your success in doubles shaped your thinking going into tonight’s match? How has it shaped your thinking?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: No, I’ve gained a lot of confidence from my dubs. Obviously I’ve had a great year with Lucie. Unfortunately couldn’t play here, but I’ve played so many doubles matches.

I’ve been in tight situations. I’ve been up, I’ve been down, and had to close out matches. I’ve been down some in the finals. French Open down a set, had to come back.

So you’re in those pressure moments. I feel like, you know, coming out on top and just going through it has given me a lot of confidence, even in my singles. Even my game, I come to net, I play aggressive. That’s how I play in singles. Doubles has really helped me a lot this year.

Q. Seemed like the crowd was really rooting for Serena but your body language was still really good. How do you manage that?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: You know what? You can’t really control who everyone’s cheering for. Obviously it’s tough when there’s two Americans out there. You hope people are cheering for good tennis.

But I’m out there for myself. I’m playing tennis for me. You know, as much as you want the whole stadium to be behind you, and it’s a really great feeling when they are, it’s not something you can always control.

Q. What were you particularly pleased with what you did today? How did you bother her? Also, were there other points that run through your head even now that you think if you did this or that maybe the outcome changes?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I haven’t really gone over with my coach kind of the ins-and-outs of the matches. There were some great points when we were both at net, lobs, winners. It felt like the crowd really got into some of those points.

I was really happy with how many times I broke her today. I know she serves big. I was ready for it. I like to think that returning is one of my favorite shots. I was really happy with how I did that.

Q. You knew going in that a high number of women had gone three sets with her and had her on the ropes. There you are, second set, pretty late, you have her on the ropes. When it starts to get away from you, does there come a point when you think you knew this would happen, you knew this could happen and now it’s happening to me?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: No. I was just sticking to my plan of attack, my game plan. Again, when she’s on fire and she’s ripping the ball, it’s just out of reach. I mean, there’s not much you can do except play the next point and do your best. So that’s all I was really staying focused on.

Q. What are the mental and physical aspects of the way she plays that you consider the biggest challenges not just for you but for anybody?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: You know, when she’s feeling really confident she’s ripping the ball and she’s hitting her targets. You know, she got ahold of some of my serves on the return and ripped them for clean winners.

As fast as you want to be to just get a racquet on it, you know, I wasn’t able to. When she’s feeling good like that, I mean, you really got to figure out a way to make her uncomfortable, because when she’s in the zone she can hit her targets.

Q. She plays Madison next. What are your thoughts on that matchup?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I think it will be a great match. Madison has a big serve; she has a big forehand; she’s going to go for it.

Again, Madison will probably go into that match with nothing to lose. She’s a big power player. I think it will be a really good match.

Q. How proud are you of your year at slams?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Very proud. I love the big moments in the big tournaments. I’m really happy. Obviously bummed to be out of the singles, but, again, overall I’m very happy with this year.

Q. We’re one match away from another Serena versus Venus matchup. What are your thoughts on that rivalry and maybe any memories that you have of seeing these two sisters go against each other on the tennis court?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I think it’s always a tough one. I think they’re a little bit more subdued, which is understandable with a sibling. You know, you don’t fist pump in anyone’s face or anything.

It has to be hard. I didn’t have a sibling that played professional tennis so it’s hard for me to relate, but I’m sure it’s a difficult moment just because they are so close.

Q. You mentioned that you and Sam play mixed tomorrow. Talk about how you teamed up and what you expect.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: You know, it was actually really last minute because I was playing mixed this year with Mike Bryan. Last minute he actually said he wasn’t going to be able to play mixed. I was actually kind of searching.

I think I found Sam 30 minutes before signing closed. We just kind of winged it. We won our first match. It was his first mixed win. We were pretty pumped.

Q. Did Mike say why he couldn’t play?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I think he was feeling a little bit injured. Obviously they had done really well in the couple tournaments leading up to the US Open. Both Bryans played a lot of tennis.

I know Bob didn’t play mixed either. I think they were just playing a lot of tennis and wants to focus on the men’s doubles.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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Nadal Beaten by Fognini After 2 Set Lead; Serena Williams Survives Mattek-Sands at US Open

 

(September 4, 2015) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY –

Spectators got more than they bargained for during the night session of the US Open on Friday. Rafael Nadal lost and Serena Williams was forced to come back again to keep her hopes of a Grand Slam alive. The action lasted until 1:30 Saturday morning.

No. 8 Nadal came into the third round never losing a Grand Slam match when taking a two-set lead until he was beaten 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 by the 32nd seed Fabio Fognini. Nadal led by two-sets and a break of serve before the Italian’s comeback began.

“He play great,” Nadal said. “It was not a match that I lost, even if I had opportunities. It’s a match that he wins.

“So accept. Not happy that he played better than me, but that’s what happened. He played better than me, no? I didn’t play bad at all. I played a normal match, but not enough.

“So not happy with that. But accept that he was better than me today.”

“Well, I was starting to feel the ball really good, believe me,” Fognini said. “I lost that first set 6-3, but I was say in my mind, Okay, let’s try, let’s keeping working; do your tennis.

“I went down a break. After come back on 4-4, I went 40-Love on that game and I lost incredible game. So was my fault. Even if I come back from break down, I was say, Okay, let’s try. But two sets to zero against Rafa, maybe you have to go to Lourdes.

“I went there tonight and everything was in a perfect way.”

The loss ended the Spaniard’s 10 year run of winning at least one major.

“No, the only thing that means is I played worse than the last 10 years,” Nadal said. That’s the real thing.

“By the way, for me was amazing win 10 years in a row Grand Slam. I think nobody did. You can imagine how difficult is make that happen.

“Accept that was not my year and keep fighting till the end of the season to finish in a positive way for me. Finish the season with the feeling that I improved something from the beginning of the season. That’s something that I think I am doing.

“I think I have a good base now. As I said, good thing is I am not playing terrible matches like I did at the beginning of the season. When I am losing, I am losing because the opponents beat me, not because I lose the match, as I did a lot of times at the beginning of the season.

“That’s an improvement for me, so I have a base now. That is a start. I know what I have to do and I going to work on it.”

“I start really bad the season,” said the Italian. “I was starting really bad at the beginning in Australia. I play well on clay on the second month of the year. I play really bad another time on Indian Wells and Miami.

“But, you know, I was saying the first day that I came here, after play again really good on clay with the final against Rafa and two quarterfinal, I was feeling really well. I been playing really good, feeling on court really well.

“I play only two matches, that’s true. I play Monfils and I play Kokkinakis, but in two different way, for sure.

“For sure with Kokkinakis I play high level, even if I lost. With Monfils I play really good the first set, 0-6, breakpoint won. Second set I was really tired because I was coming directly to Europe.

“After Cincinnati I take two day off, recovery, start practice really hard four, five day of the week. I’m here for the first time in the fourth round.”

This will be the first-ever appearance in the round of 16 at the US Open for Fognini.

 

 

Before Nadal took the court, Serena Williams had to come back from a set down again to defeat American countrywoman wild card Bethanie Mattek-Sands 3-6, 7-5, 6-0, winning the last 8 games. She has now gone 24-0 in majors this year.

“Getting out of it so many times definitely helps me,” Williams said. “It’s definitely not something I want to do, though. But, hey, a win’s a win, I guess.”

“Just know usually when I’m down, I mean, I feel like if I’m not playing well, I know I can take it to another level. But if I’m down and I’m playing well, then I probably won’t win.

“But usually, you know, I know that I can play better. I just try to tap into the energy and I try to play better.”

Williams is looking to become the first woman since Steffi Graff in 1988 to win the Grand Slam. She is just four victories away from achieving history and winning her 22nd major.

“I don’t know what to expect. I’ve never been on this train. I love metaphors. I’ve never been on this train. It’s different. It’s definitely different.”

Women’s
Singles – Third Round
[13] Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) def. [17] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 6-3, 7-5
[23] Venus Williams (USA) def. [12] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-3, 6-4
[1] Serena Williams (USA) def. Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) 3-6, 7-5, 6-0
[25] Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) def. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) 7-6(9), 4-6, 6-3
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) def. Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 6-2, 6-3
Anett Kontaveit (EST) def. Madison Brengle (USA) 6-2, 3-6, 6-0
[19] Madison Keys (USA) def. [15] Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 6-3, 6-2
Roberta Vinci (ITA) def. Mariana Duque-Mariño (COL) 6-1, 5-7, 6-2

Men’s
Singles – Third Round

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) d. [25] Andreas Seppi (ITA) 63 75 75
[9] Marin Cilic (CRO) d. Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 67(5) 76(1) 63 67(3) 61

[32] Fabio Fognini (ITA) d. [8] Rafael Nadal (ESP) 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
[18] Feliciano Lopez (ESP) d. [10] Milos Raonic (CAN) 62 76(4) 63
[23] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) d. [14] David Goffin (BEL) 26 57 63 31 ret.
[19] Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) d. Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) 63 75 62
Benoit Paire (FRA) d. [26] Tommy Robredo (ESP) 76(3) 61 61

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After Ousting Top Seed Mattek-Sands Forced to Retire in match against Keys

 

Madison Keys

Madison Keys

By Dave Gertler

(January 8, 2014) SYDNEY – After surviving three rounds of qualifying, then claiming two big scalps in the first and second rounds of the Apia International, Bethanie Mattek-Sands retired hurt from her quarterfinal match against American compatriot Madison Keys on Wednesday night.

After being broken three games into the first set, Mattek-Sands called the trainer on for a medical time out, after which she was walking gingerly around the court and pulling the trigger early in points. After holding serve at 1-3 down, Mattek-Sands’ called the trainer out again, before deciding to retire from the match. After the match, Mattek-Sands made a statement to media that the injury is lower-back related, and that she expects to be ready for the Australian Open next week.

“I’ve been through my share of injuries.  You know, once you start compensating too much on the court other things start hurting.

“For me, I want to take care of my body.  It’s not even just about Australian Open, it’s about the rest of my year.

“My biggest goal is to stay healthy.  I’m a huge competitor and it always hurts to have to withdraw, but I wish the best to Madison.

“I just got to be careful,” Mattek-Sands said.  “I’ve probably injured every part of my body at some point in my career.  It’s just I have to be smart about it.  I want to keep playing throughout this whole year.”

“I’m taking a couple days completely off,” the American continues.  I’m going to take care (of) the body and get treatment from the trainers and go from there.

“Really looking forward to Melbourne.”

“Bethanie and I always have great matches,” Keys said.  “It’s always kind of not great when you can’t finish a whole match.

“I just hope she’s better for next week.”

For Keys, she advanced to the semifinals.

“First semifinal in a Premier event, so very excited about that,” Keys acknowledged.  “Definitely a confidence booster.  Just trying to keep building from this and, you know, hopefully keep doing well all year.”

“I’m not really focused on the rankings so much, Keys said in regard to 2014.  “More just focused on getting a good start to the year and kind of building up more match momentum just so that I feel more confident and better for the rest of the year.

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Top Seed Radwanska Falls to Mattek-Sands in Sydney

MattekSands
By Dave Gertler

(January 7, 2014) Women’s top seed Agnieszka Radwanska has fallen 5-7, 2-6, in her first round of competition at the Apia International in Sydney, to American qualifier, Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

For Mattek-Sands, it has been a Herculean effort over five days where she has had to battle through qualifying matches played on outside courts, before entering Ken Rosewall Arena yesterday where she stunned Canadian rising star Eugenie Bouchard, also in straight sets. Relishing her first career win over Radwanska, she said, “I’ve played her a couple times and I’ve never beaten her, so it’s probably one of the best wins of my career.”

Having just come into press from a post-match ice-bath, Mattek-Sands joked about how cold it was in the room. When asked whether four consecutive matches on hot days leading up to this second-round match were a help or a hindrance to her cause today, she said, “Coming to Australia, you expect the heat and the sun, you know, I was ready for it. I wanted to get a lot of matches. I think that’ll be number 6 today. I hadn’t played a match since last September, so this has worked out great for me.”

Radwanska appeared composed in post-match press. Rather than dwelling on her inability to control the match against world No.22 Mattek-Sands, she attributed the upset to the aggressive play of her opponent, saying, “Didn’t matter if it was my first serve, second serve or anything, she was really going 100% for every ball.”

For her part, the world No.5 feels that despite her loss today, she is hopeful of her chances at the Australian Open starting next week. “I think every week is a different story. You start over and over again. You’re not winning every week every match. I think just a couple of guys can do it.” When asked if she was bothered by a shoulder issue she had at the Hopman Cup, Radwanska said it hurt, “Maybe a little, but I have very good painkillers.”

In her next match, Mattek-Sands will face compatriot Madison Keys. Giving her insight on what we can expect from the quarterfinal, she said, “We’ve played a few times. I think we’re 2 2 right now. We were just talking in the locker room. She’s a great upcoming player. Plays aggressive shots, big serve. You know, we’ve had some battles in the past, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I know she’s been playing great and she did well here last year too. You kind of get comfortable with the tournament, but I think it’ll be a really good match.”

Mattek-Sands said she is enjoying her great run of results in Sydney, saying, “You know what?  I love playing tennis.  I feel that’s just where I’ve been blessed with talent.  It’s something I’ve done since I’ve been young.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Mattek-Sands Stops Bouchard, Jankovic Ousted in Sydney

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

By Dave Gertler

(January 6, 2014) SYDNEY – American veteran Bethanie Mattek-Sands is fast becoming one of the stories of the 2014 Apia International tennis tournaemnts. After demolishing three opponents in qualifying, and now one in the main draw today, her next opponent will be defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska.

Radwanska was at her first all-access media appearance at Olympic Park Tennis Centre. She was surprised at the upset, saying she had expected her second round opponent would be Eugenie Bouchard, whose serve – followed by the rest of her game – had collapsed earlier in the day in sweltering conditions, against Mattek-Sands.

Bouchard’s loss was one of three remarkable upsets on Monday. High-profile Serbian former No.1 Jelena Jankovic lost 4-6, 2-6 to Ekaterina Makarova, unseeded against the fourth seed Jankovic. Popular Romanian Sorana Cirstea only won five games in two sets on an outside court against Bulgarian qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova.

With big names like Bouchard, Cirstea, Alize Cornet, Svetlana Kuznetsova as well as Aussie hope Jarmila Gajdosova all losing in the first round to qualifiers, hot weather conditions seem to be playing a part, as players are needing time to adjust to the heat. In fact, of the six women who had to tough it out in qualifying, only two have fallen in their main draw matches.

Two players who immediately adjusted to the conditions were Angelique Kerber and Dominika Cibulkova, who pushed each other throughout two highly entertaining sets, which Kerber won 7-6, 7-5, in from of an appreciative Grandstand Court crowd. Later in the afternoon on the same court, Caroline Wozniacki didn’t need matchplay practice to beat lucky loser Julia Georges 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Frenchman Nicolas Mahut will be required need to adjust quickly to his best tennis if he wants to withstand the big weapons off the racquet of a match-fit Ryan Harrison, who won his third round qualifier today against Alex Bogomolov Jr in a thrilling three-setter on Court 5.

On that same court on Tuesday, Harrison’s American compatriot Madison Keys, who shut down Simona Halep in the first round, will face wildcard Ajla Tomljanovic. Five out of eight women’s round of 16 matches on Tuesday will feature Americans. Mattek-Sands and Christina McHale will be amongst the featured action on Ken Rosewall Arena, facing the top two seeds, Radwanska and Petra Kvitova.

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Easy Does It For Azarenka – Reaches Third French Quarterfinal

Victoria Azarenka Miami Players Party

By Ros Satar

(June 3, 2013) PARIS – It started as a baseline battle for the former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, and ended up as easy as a walk along the Champs Élysées, as the third seed reeled off 7 games in a row to win 6-3, 6-0 over Francesca Schiavone.

Conditions were cloudy and breezy on court today with Azarenka opting to stay warm with leggings on throughout the match.

Things started promisingly for the Belarusian with an early break in the third game, but that was then the start of a bit of a break-fest.

The women traded 5 successive breaks in a row, before Azarenka managed a hold, and it was to be the start of her run of games to the end.

Schiavone at times seemed to be struggling with her serve, stuttering her feet as if to try and catch up with a wandering ball toss.

It was a costly shuffle, with a couple of foot-faults which hardly helped her cause today.

At her post match conference, Schiavone acknowledged that a good serve was very important today, but that it had not been the contributing factor.

“She [Azarenka] has an intensity & high level for an hour and a half, and I had [it] for [a] shorter time.

“I have to be used to keep going that way, and I think that was the key.”

Azarenka gave credit to her opponent, despite such a dominating win.

She said: “It was definitely a very good challenge for me to play against Francesca, especially knowing how well she’s done here in the past.

“I’m glad with the way I played today.

“I just always try to take it one at a time, and I know the next match will have nothing to do with what happened today.”

She felt that she was finally learning what she needed to do to improve on the surface.

“I understand that it’s not about the game that you really have to adjust.  It’s about your movement.

“You have to not only think of how you move left to right but how you come [with] small steps to the ball.

Azarenka reaches her third quarter-final, having reached it twice before in 2009 and 2011.

Azarenka has never progressed further than the QF in 7 years.

She concluded: “I’m excited, you know, definitely that all the preparation I have been doing is doing well.

“It’s definitely a great opportunity to take that step.”

Azarenka will face Russia’s Maria Kirilenko, who defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands 7-5, 6-4, and knows it will be a tough match to come through.

“She’s definitely improved a lot over the last couple years since she’s very motivated player.”

Azarenka leads their head–to-head 3-2, and the pair have never met on clay.

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