Final Thoughts on the China Open


By Abigail Hinto

(October 6, 2013) BEIJING –

1.  Should the China Open ATP event switch status with Shanghai?  As it stands now, Beijing is the only WTA Premier Mandatory tournament that isn’t combined with the same-level ATP Masters 1000.   The women are supposed to be the bigger draw here in Beijing, but the tournament often manage to get a big men’s field as an ATP 500, so on the ground, the feeling is that it’s a similar level event.  This year alone, it boasted 6 of the top 10 ATP players.  The venue is China’s National Tennis Center where its center court seats 15,000 spectators, already fit for a Masters 1000.  The event draws a big crowd not only because it’s a combined event, but also because of its position in the calendar where it often falls during a week-long holiday in China.  Therefore the Shanghai tournament the following week suffers in attendance.  No way would people go on leave from work following a week of holiday.  So optics wise, Beijing wins over Shanghai.


I also feel the venue for the tournament in Beijing is more accessible to the public than the one in Shanghai.  Shanghai lacks access to public transport while Beijing has a metro stop right in front of the tennis center.


However, if the two China tournaments do switch status then the ATP would have a calendar where the bigger 1000 Masters event will come before the smaller ATP 500.  But when has the ATP calendar ever made perfect sense?


2.  I keep mentioning this because it cannot be escaped.  I’m talking about Beijing’s unhealthy air quality situation.  Personally, already coming from a very polluted city, Beijing’s haze is something I’ve never seen before.  It’s right there in front of you, you can see it, feel it, smell it too.  The air quality index have shown numbers labeled as “Unhealthy” “Very Unhealthy”, “Hazardous”  I don’t know how players manage to play in this condition, but when asked, they’re very blase about it.


Rafael Nadal: “Yesterday and especially today again the pollution is here, so that makes the feeling, you know, not beautiful.  But if you talk about if I feel when I am breathing, no, I don’t feel.”


Tomas Berdych: “I think it’s quite used to here.  Probably we not going to get anything more than that.  But that’s how it is.  We are here in Beijing.”


Serena Williams: “Well, I’m a California girl, so I can’t help you there.”  And again: “I don’t know why, but I felt nothing.”


Novak Djokovic:  “It is what it is.  It’s something that has been the same for last few years that I been coming back here.  The people who are in organization of the tournament, they are trying make us feel at home and do everything possible in order to get a good tournament.  Sometimes you cannot effect the weather.  It’s nature and he’s a higher force.”


I guess, you also can’t ask the players to bad-mouth the tournament that’s hosting them.


3.  Every time the two tours land in China, comments about the Chinese fans inevitably come up.  Timid Asians?  That’s a falsehood when it comes to Chinese fandom.  They’re as enthusiastic, creative, resourceful as you’ll ever see.  From Djokovic fans, to Nadal fans, to Kvitova fans and Serena fans, they go all out in showing their support for their favorite players.  Banners, face paints, t-shirts, pins, gifts, coordinated cheering they’ve got everything here.  And it brings a lively atmosphere to so many of the matches all around the venue.  But there’s also a downside to it, as when a fan breached security, jumped over a fence and got close to Nadal during one of his practice sessions.


The views expressed here are those of the author.  Abigail Hinto was covering the Beijing Open for Tennis Panorama News.


Serena Williams Wins China Open, Her 10th Title of the Year

Serena Williams wins China Open

(October 6, 2013) BEIJING – World No. 1 Serena Williams took home her 10th tennis title of the year and 56th for her career on Sunday when she captured the China Open. The American defeated Jelena  Jankovic 6-2, 6-2 to improve her record for 2013 to 73-4.

Williams become the first WTA player since Justine Henin back in 2007 to win 10 tournaments in a season.

“I’m really excited – I didn’t think I’d win this tournament starting out, so I’m really happy to be here holding the trophy,” said Williams. Congratulations to Jelena for such a great tournament as well.”

This is Williams’ second time winning the Beijing tournament, she also won it in 2004. Williams stands alone I seventh place for the most singles titles won by a WTA player in the Open Era at 56 titles and counting.

“I had a great week playing in this beautiful venue,” Jankovic said. “I always enjoy coming back here to the China Open – it’s a pleasure for me to play in front of you all in the finals again. Serena was just too good today, and big congratulations to her.”

Jankovic is projected to move back into the top ten at No. 8 when Monday’s rankings come out. Her performance this week makes her the 15th player in WTA history to pass $15 million in career prize money.



Novak Djokovic Tops Rafael Nadal for China Open Title

Novak Djokovic

By Abigail Hinto

(October 6, 2013) Out to prove something after losing the No. 1 ranking to Rafael Nadal as of Monday, Novak Djokovic came out firing on all cylinders, hitting winners in all corners, defending from everywhere and serving effectively well in his 6-3, 6-4 win to claim the China Open.  But what sealed the win was Djokovic’s ability to sustain the high level of tennis and focused determination he started with until the end of the match.  As Djokovic said, what what was the difference between his last two matches against Nadal and this one was “probably my serve, but also kind of emotional stability in the crucial moments I managed to stay tough and not drop in the concentration, which I think I did in both Montréal and US Open in the important moments.  You know, I learned my lesson.  It was few very tough and close matches that I lost against Rafa in hard courts, especially the last one in US Open final.”


For Rafael Nadal, the opposite happened.  Unable to execute his shots, the few opportunities he had controlling the points, he ended up missing on his final shot.  “I didn’t see the way to stop him this afternoon.  This afternoon he was too strong for me.  I didn’t play my best match this afternoon, but he played at a very high level with his serve,” said Nadal. Nadal added, “(Djokovic) was able to hit all the balls where he wants to hit.  When that’s happening against a player like Novak, you are dead.  You don’t  have not one chance.   So that’s what happened.  I played against a great player, one of the best players that I ever seen playing very well.  Was not the day to beat him.”  Nadal failed to make any inroads, not able to create any break points in Djokovic’s service games, and he was broken early in both sets.  Nadal ended the match with more unforced errors and less winners than Djokovic, a surefire recipe to a loss.


Novak Djokovic wins the China Open for the fourth time with a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 win, remaining undefeated in all the 4 years he’s played in Beijing.

A tournament always just has one winner.  But this time, the two top players in the world will leave Beijing with great feelings about their week.  While Rafael Nadal recaptures No. 1 from Novak Djokovic, Djokovic has finally managed to defeat Rafael Nadal again after losing to him the last three times to retain his trophy.


For Rafael Nadal, getting back to No. 1 “is something special for me.  I’m enjoying the situation that I’m playing one of the best seasons of my career and probably one of the more emotional years, if not the most.”


For Novak Djokovic, he said he “needed this win today.  I really wanted to get my hands on the trophy and win against Nadal, who has been the best player so far in 2013.”


So the most prolific rivalry in men’s tennis closes another chapter to their story.  But the story is far from over.  In fact next week, a new chapter begins in Shanghai.


China Open: What They Said

By Abigail Hinto

(October 3, 2013) BEIJING –

Serena Williams Beijing

Serena Williams


On whether women should play best of 5 in grand slams:


“Well, you know, the top players, the women, we always told the Grand Slams initially that we are willing, ready, and able to play the best‑of‑five if that was what made the difference between, at the time, equal prize money or match scheduling or whatever it took.”

“So, yeah, we’re all ready.”


On court conditions being slow:


     “… for me, the balls are just sliding and I feel like I’m hitting everything late.  But I’m not good at telling court conditions.  I mean, I’m not good at it at all.  I can play on any surface, so for me, I’m not the best person to ask that question.”


Djokovic 10052012

Novak Djokovic


     On Viktor Troicki’s case and starting a petition to have some changes in the doping control system:


“… the whole case around Viktor is just very unfair towards him.  I believe that he’s innocent.”


” [It's] very bad for our sport.  That’s very bad for anti‑doping agency, you know, to have people who are responsible for this work to fail to say what really happened that day.”


“So the reason why I was the first one to write a petition for the rule change is to try to spread the awareness to the people around that obviously there is ‑‑ it all comes down to who said what and who believes in who…”


“It’s just not fair towards the players, because there has to be I guess technology or a camera or an additional person in the room while you’re doing the test, because then ‑‑ the player has no really rights.”


Caroline Wozniacki China Open

Caroline Wozniacki


     On her upcoming match against Serena Williams and trying to qualify for the Year End Championships:


     “For me, tomorrow I have so much to play for because the Championships are coming up and I’m trying to grab a spot there.  I really need to win tomorrow to have a chance.  We’ll just to have to wait and see what happens.”




Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are covering the 2013 China Open in Beijing for Tennis Panorama News.


Defending China Open Champ Victoria Azarenka Done in by Double Faults and Andrea Petkovic


(September 30, 2013) BEIJING – Double faults and erratic play were the undoing of defending China Open champion and No. 2 Victoria Azarenka on Monday. She lost to Andrea Petkovic 6-4 2-6 6-4 in first round play in Beijing.

To go along with 15 double faults, Azarenka hit 44 unforced errors and appeared to still be suffering from the effects of an illness she had during last week’s Tokyo event where she lost in the second round.

“I don’t take the last week even as a tournament,” she continued.

“If I’m going to be doing it again, I probably should have taken a longer break and just prepare myself.  I don’t feel like I was ready to play ‑‑ there is no excuse ‑‑ to be 100%, but the preparation wasn’t there enough, so I cannot deny that.

“It’s just my mistakes for not paying much attention after the US Open how I managed my time and how I managed my health.  I mean, today’s match is today’s match.  I felt good.  I didn’t have any issues, but overall, that comes maybe.  There is no excuses.”

“It was an awful match and very bad performance from me, so not much to say,” Azarenka said.

“It happens once, twice a year to every player, and happened to me today.”

Andrea Petkovic

Andrea Petkovic

Petkovic appeared ill in the second set when she had to take a medical time out. She lost seven games on the trot and the Belarusian evened up the match at a set all.

In the third set both women traded breaks but it was Azarenka’s 15th double fault coming on break point as she was serving in the ninth game which cost her the game. The German served out the match after that.

“I’m going to come back, reevaluate, practice more,” Azarenka said in response to the loss.  “I just needed more preparation, and that’s what I’m going to get now before the last tournament.”



Beijing, China
September 28-October 6, 2013

Results – Monday, September 30, 2013
WTA Singles – Second Round
(5) Sara Errani (ITA) d. (Q) Misaki Doi (JPN) 63 62
Lucie Safarova (CZE) d. Kaia Kanepi (EST) 63 63

WTA Singles – First Round
Andrea Petkovic (GER) d. (2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 64 26 64
(8) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 16 64 60
(14) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. Flavia Pennetta (ITA) 76(9) 61
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) d. Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) 61 61
Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) d. Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 63 62
(Q) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) d. Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) 64 61
(Q) Polona Hercog (SLO) d. Monica Puig (PUR) 61 64
(Q) Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) d. (Q) Sharon Fichman (CAN) 64 63
(WC) Zhang Shuai (CHN) d. Peng Shuai (CHN) 63 63

WTA Doubles – First Round
Lisicki/Medina Garrigues (GER/ESP) d. (5) Groenefeld/Peschke (GER/CZE) 64 16 103 (Match TB)
(8) Black/Mirza (ZIM/IND) d. Date-Krumm/Scheepers (JPN/RSA) 63 63
Chan/Huber (TPE/USA) d. (WC) Williams/Williams (USA/USA) 67(3) 64 119 (Match TB)
Soler-Espinosa/Suárez Navarro (ESP/ESP) d. (WC) Sun/Zhang (CHN/CHN) 76(4) 60
Chan/Zheng (TPE/CHN) d. (WC) Shvedova/Zhang (KAZ/CHN) 63 36 105 (Match TB)
Hantuchova/Raymond (SVK/USA) d. Kudryavtseva/Rodionova (RUS/AUS) 75 63
Dushevina/Parra Santonja (RUS/ESP) d. Husarova/Kalashnikova (SVK/GEO) 62 63

ATP Singles – First Round
[WC] L Hewitt (AUS) d [7] T Haas (GER) 76(6) 63
B Tomic (AUS) d [WC] Z Zhang (CHN) 76(4) 64
[Q] R Bautista Agut (ESP) d G Dimitrov (BUL) 64 62
F Fognini (ITA) d T Robredo (ESP) 75 46 63
P Kohlschreiber (GER) d A Montanes (ESP) 75 16 76(4)

ATP Doubles – First Round
[3] A Qureshi (PAK) / J Rojer (NED) d [WC] Y Lu (TPE) / D Wu (CHN) 64 63


Notes From Behind the Wall at the 2013 China Open


by Abigail Hinto

(September 30, 2013) BEIJING – Notes from Behind the Wall is back for the 2013 edition of the China Open.  The wall is proving to be a tough barrier to our dispatches with the Wi-Fi not working at the media center and the VPN not connecting on my laptop.  But we’re persistent, and we will manage.


– First up, the ever persistent haze and smog.  Were we just lucky last year when the whole tournament made it through with mostly clear skies?  Flying in on Monday, I thought I was arriving in Beijing at dawn and not at high Noon.  Lights were already turned on for the courts by 3:30pm.  Pictures looked like stills for some horror movies.  The app for Beijing’s air quality shows that today’s is “Unhealthy.”  I can only feel sorry for the players as they play through this condition.



Rafael Nadal had a scheduled appearance at the booth of Kunlun, the water sponsor.  When we found out he hadn’t arrived yet at the scheduled hour, we decided we had time to check it out.  As we made it to the sponsors area, we didn’t even have to search for the booth of Kunlun, as slowly approaching us were a mob of people and in the middle of it all was Nadal himself.  It felt like a stampede of wildebeests was coming straight at you and you only had a second to get out of the way.


Serena Williams China Open doubles

–  Top singles players nowadays usually play doubles outside the grand slams to maybe get in a match before their singles matches or have “practice matches” to help them with their games.  They try to have more fun and are less intense on the court.  But on Monday, at the Williams/Williams- Huber/Chan match, Serena Williams and to a lesser extent, Venus Williams showed that they’re not taking this match lightly.  Serena was definitely the more intense player, constantly fist-pumping and urging on Venus.  And the fans were responding to them with shouts of “C’mon, Serena!” and “C’mon, Venus!”


But the star of the match turned out to be Hao-Ching Chan.  She showed from the start she was never intimidated and was never afraid.  And as she started to match the Williams’ intensity with her own, grunting along in her high-pitched voice, going toe-to-toe in the baseline exchanges and poaching at the net for volley winners, she turned the fans to her side.  As much as she was fighting hard out there, she was showing that she was enjoying the battle too, flashing smiles every time she comes out on top.  And the crowd loved it and was treated to a competitive and exciting match.  Huber/Chan eventually saved match points, and another volley winner from Chan in turn set up match point for her team which they eventually converted as Serena served a double fault.  An unfortunate end (for Serena’s racquet as well – chucked and thrown away after the double fault) to an otherwise high quality, high intensity doubles match – 6-7 (3), 6-4, 11-9.  The fans left having discovered a player to root for in Hao-Ching Chan.

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are covering the 2013 China Open in Beijing for Tennis Panorama News.

Photos from Monday’s play and the players party from Natalie Ho.


[1] S Williams (USA) vs [WC] F Schiavone (ITA) – WTA

Not Before 3:00 PM
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs L Rosol (CZE) – ATP
[Q] S Giraldo (COL) vs [2] R Nadal (ESP) – ATP

Not Before 7:30 PM
B Jovanovski (SRB) vs [4] N Li (CHN) – WTA
[3] D Ferrer (ESP) vs V Pospisil (CAN) – ATP

LOTUS COURT start 12:30 pm
F Mayer (GER) vs [5] R Gasquet (FRA) – ATP

Not Before 3:00 PM
[13] S Lisicki (GER) vs [WC] V Williams (USA) – WTA
M Niculescu (ROU) vs [6] C Wozniacki (DEN) – WTA
P Andujar (ESP) vs [4] T Berdych (CZE) – ATP

MOON COURT start 12:30 pm
A Seppi (ITA) vs [6] S Wawrinka (SUI) – ATP

Not Before 2:30 PM
[10] R Vinci (ITA) vs [WC] S Zhang (CHN) – WTA
V Lepchenko (USA) vs [9] P Kvitova (CZE) – WTA

Not Before 6:30 PM
L Robson (GBR) vs [7] A Kerber (GER) – WTA

COURT 1 start 12:30 pm
S Querrey (USA) vs M Youzhny (RUS) – ATP
[8] J Isner (USA) vs [WC] D Wu (CHN) – ATP
[11] S Stephens (USA) vs [Q] E Bouchard (CAN) – WTA
N Djokovic (SRB) / S Wawrinka (SUI) vs [2] M Bhupathi (IND) / R Lindstedt (SWE) – ATP – After suitable rest

COURT 3 start 12:30 pm
F Verdasco (ESP) vs [Q] S Devvarman (IND) – ATP

Not Before 2:00 PM
J Goerges (GER) / B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) vs [2] S Hsieh (TPE) / S Peng (CHN) – WTA
[Q] Y Lu (TPE) vs N Davydenko (RUS) – ATP
M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) vs F Fognini (ITA) / A Seppi (ITA) – ATP – After suitable rest

COURT 4 start 12:30 pm
[6] R Kops-Jones (USA) / A Spears (USA) vs V King (USA) / G Voskoboeva (KAZ) – WTA

Not Before 3:00 PM
P Kohlschreiber (GER) / M Youzhny (RUS) vs C Fleming (GBR) / J Marray (GBR) – ATP – After suitable rest

COURT 7 start 12:30 pm
[Q] L Davis (USA) vs [12] C Suarez Navarro (ESP) – WTA
M Matosevic (AUS) vs J Benneteau (FRA) – ATP
K Mladenovic (FRA) / F Pennetta (ITA) vs [Alt] S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) / C Suarez Navarro (ESP) – WTA – After suitable rest
S Lisicki (GER) / A Medina Garrigues (ESP) vs D Hantuchova (SVK) / L Raymond (USA) – WTA – After suitable rest

COURT 8 start 12:30 pm
V Dushevina (RUS) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) vs [4] J Jankovic (SRB) / K Srebotnik (SLO) – WTA
M Kirilenko (RUS) vs U Radwanska (POL) – WTA
T Haas (GER) / F Mayer (GER) vs [WC] M Gong (CHN) / Z Li (CHN) – ATP – After suitable rest
[1] S Errani (ITA) / R Vinci (ITA) vs H Chan (TPE) / L Huber (USA) – WTA – After suitable rest


China Open Monday Schedule


Beijing, China
September 28-October 6, 2013


B Tomic (AUS) vs [WC] Z Zhang (CHN) – ATP

Not Before 3:00 PM
[WC] S Zhang (CHN) vs S Peng (CHN) – WTA
A Petkovic (GER) vs [2] V Azarenka (BLR) – WTA

Not Before 7:30 PM
[7] T Haas (GER) vs [WC] L Hewitt (AUS) – ATP

Not Before 9:00 PM
L Safarova (CZE) vs K Kanepi (EST) – WTA

LOTUS COURT start 12:30 pm
F Pennetta (ITA) vs [14] A Ivanovic (SRB) – WTA
F Fognini (ITA) vs T Robredo (ESP) – ATP
A Montanes (ESP) vs P Kohlschreiber (GER) – ATP

Not Before 6:30 PM
[5] S Errani (ITA) vs [Q] M Doi (JPN) or [Q] S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) – WTA

MOON COURT start 12:30 pm
[8] J Jankovic (SRB) vs A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) – WTA

Not Before 2:00 PM
[WC] S Williams (USA) / V Williams (USA) vs H Chan (TPE) / L Huber (USA) – WTA
S Hsieh (TPE) vs S Kuznetsova (RUS) – WTA
[Q] L Davis (USA) vs [12] C Suarez Navarro (ESP) – WTA

COURT 1 start 12:30 pm
B Jovanovski (SRB) vs S Cirstea (ROU) – WTA
[WC] Z Sun (CHN) / Y Zhang (CHN) vs [7] M Erakovic (NZL) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA
G Dimitrov (BUL) vs [Q] R Bautista Agut (ESP) – ATP
[3] A Qureshi (PAK) / J Rojer (NED) vs [WC] Y Lu (TPE) / D Wu (CHN) – ATP

COURT 3 start 12:30 pm
J Husarova (SVK) / O Kalashnikova (GEO) vs V Dushevina (RUS) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) – WTA
[Q] S Fichman (CAN) vs [Q] G Voskoboeva (KAZ) – WTA
[5] A Groenefeld (GER) / K Peschke (CZE) vs S Lisicki (GER) / A Medina Garrigues (ESP) – WTA
[WC] Y Shvedova (KAZ) / S Zhang (CHN) vs [PR] Y Chan (TPE) / J Zheng (CHN) – WTA – After suitable rest

COURT 4 start 12:30 pm
[Q] E Bouchard (CAN) vs M Rybarikova (SVK) – WTA
D Hantuchova (SVK) / L Raymond (USA) vs A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Rodionova (AUS) – WTA
K Date-Krumm (JPN) / C Scheepers (RSA) vs [8] C Black (ZIM) / S Mirza (IND) – WTA
[Q] P Hercog (SLO) vs M Puig (PUR) – WTA


A Fan’s Guide to Beijing and the China Open

By Abigail Hinto

BEIJING, China – The week of the China Open is a perfect opportunity and the perfect time to visit Beijing. That is the Golden Week in China, a week-long holiday, when they celebrate their National Day. The infamous Beijing traffic is gone, so it’s easier to get around the city and the weather is just right. The tourist spots will be more crowded though, but you can have your pick and choose where to go. Definitely set aside a day outside the tournament to visit the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. I took a guided tour with www.beijingtourguide.com. For only RMB200, you’re in a small tour van (we were just 5) where you get an English-speaking tour guide to show you around the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, a stop at a jade factory where you get your lunch that’s included in the package, a silk factory tour, and of course a hike to a section of the Great Wall. Since we were only five in the group, we were able to decide amongst ourselves to skip the more famous section of the Great Wall (Badaling Wall) and opt for the one without the cable car, the tougher hike, but the lesser crowds, the Ju Yong Guan section.


The China Open is held in the Olympic Park, and it’s quite far from the city. So it’s better to stay at a hotel that’s within the Olympic Park area. The Intercontinental Hotel-Beichen is the official tournament hotel and is right in front of the Olympic Park. If you stay there, you may get a room that has a view of the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube which are impressive architectural structures and beautifully lighted at night. Just a note, if you book with the Intercontinental for the week of the tournament, make sure they confirm your reservation because they can cancel your reservation for you without any notification because it would be fully-booked for the China Open. From the hotel, it’s a 10-minute taxi ride to the tennis stadium.

Beijing is huge and you’ll never run out of options to see and do. And with the tournament on, there are only so many things you can squeeze in your days. But as they say, do as the Beijingers, when in Beijing, have a Peking Duck at Da Dong Restaurant.

Abigail Hinto was covering the China Open in Beijing for Tennis Panorama News.


Novak Djokovic Gangnam Style


BEIJING, China – After capturing the China Open title, Novak Djokovic thrilled fans with his imitation of the dance from the hit “Gangnam Style” by South Korean rapper Psy.

Djokovic said he did not rehearse the dance and that if he wins next week in Shanghai he might do it.  He was at first a little hesitant to do it but then joined in the fun with the ball boys and ball girls.

“No rehearsals,” Djokovic said.  “The only time I have done it, I think, was a week ago.  The song is quite catchy, so I might do it again in Shanghai.  Depends.

“For next year, we’ll see if ‑‑ I get a lot of feedback from the fans.  So if the fans have something to suggest, I’m open for any suggestions and maybe we can work something out for next time.”

Djokovic later added, “As I said, nothing was planned.  But I was talking to the fans that actually suggested me to do that dance in the end of the tournament in case I win the tournament.

“So I had to hold my promise, and it was fun.  You know, I think it was obvious that I was the worst dancer there out of the small group, but it still was quite a lot of fun.”

The video to “Gangnam Style” (shown above) has gone viral since its release in July 2012 on YouTube where it has been viewed more than 390 million times.

Karen Pestaina, Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho contributed to this report.


[nggallery id=66]


China Open Notes and Quotes from Saturday

BEIJING, China – Some of the more notable quotes from Saturday’s news conferences at the China Open.

Marion Bartoli

Q.  You have already entered the quarterfinal in China Open.  Are you satisfied with your performance in China Open for the past two years?

MARION BARTOLI:  Yes, yes, I’m very pleased and happy to be back in the semifinal here.  I had really a good tournament this year.  I felt I really played some good matches.  And even though today if I lost, I think it was still a great match.

It was great obviously to spend my birthday here in Beijing, and I received a lot of presents from all my fans.  It was really nice.

They sang Happy Birthday after my match when I played on my birthday, so, yeah, I think it was really cute.  Obviously now I’m flying back home.  I will spend my birthday with my family.  I will open all my presents and everything.  I’m looking forward to that.  I had really a nice week here.

Bartoli was asked about the possibility of playing Fed Cup next year for France and if she has spoken to the new captain Amélie Mauresmo or the French Tennis Federeation:

We have been talking to each other during the US Open with Amélie, and I think she haven’t take her decision yet.

I can’t really answer to you right now, because obviously it’s her decision.  I think she didn’t took it yet.   So maybe it will happen a bit later in the year.

Am I thinking about the Fed Cup?  Yes, of course.  I’m thinking about my country, so that’s why we had this meeting.  Obviously the decision belong to the captain, and she haven’t taken yet.  So we will see later.

Bartoli asked if she has had time to paint, as she is a painter in her spare time:

Well, it was tough because I was very busy on the court obviously.  The junction between Tokyo and here has been pretty rough, as well.

But I do love painting, and that’s something I really like to do when I’m off the court.  For example, during Grand Slam when I have a day off between each matches, it’s really much more time for me to do that.  For example, in New York I had the pleasure to do it, but obviously that’s really something I like to do to take my stresses away to think about something other than just playing tennis.  That’s my way of relaxing.

for me this year.  I think it’s a great building for next year.

Bartoli on whether or not she’ll see the new James Bond Skyfall, since she’s a fan of 007:

That’s funny.  Yes, when I will have the chance to not play tennis at the end of the season I will definitely go and watch.

It was obviously very nice and special for me to meet Pierce Brosnan in person and to receive some flowers from him and get a personal note.  That’s definitely something that’s not happening every day in your life.

So I had that pleasure in 2007 to meet him, and that was even more special because I played the Wimbledon final 7th of July in 2007, so it was a lot of 07 into that date.

Obviously I really like those kind of movies, and I will definitely go.

Maria Sharapova


Bag check?

Q.  My question is not related to the tournament.  We all believe that you are a pretty girl no matter on the court or off the court.  You are representative of fashion.  You carry this bag to the court and to this press conference.  Can you tell me what might be the secret inside your bag?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Inside my bag?

My credential, my two phones, and a water.  That’s it.  I don’t even know why I’m carrying it with me.  That’s it.  (Laughter.)

Q.  Can you tell me what kind of strategy does your coach give to you?  When Thomas started to coach you, I think your performance is very much good.  What kind of help does Thomas bring to you?  Did Thomas give you specific guidance about playing against Li Na because he knows her game really well?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Thomas is a very experienced coach before he started working with Li Na.  I have played Li Na many times before, so I think it’s just about kind of knowing what has worked against her in the past and trying to use that.

I have beaten her the last couple of times.  Before that I had a few losses.  It’s not so much important to focus on what your opponent is doing; more so trying to be confident in your game and enforcing that during the match.

Li Na has so much experience.  She’s a Grand Slam champion.  You know going into the match that this is going to be a difficult match.  She can come back.  She certainly is capable of playing high‑level tennis.

So it’s important to try to keep that level as long as you can during the match.

Q.  You have drawn a lot of big crowds to your matches all throughout the tournament, and they’ve mainly been cheering for you.  Today the crowd was decidedly against you and for Li Na.  Do you think you felt that in the first set?  Do you think you were feeling jitters early and that’s why you weren’t performing quite as well as you were later in the match where you got more used to it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I have been part of many matches where I have played against someone that’s playing in a home crowd.  Of course you feel the energy change a little bit, but as far as it affecting me and letting it bother me, not so much.

I think maybe my first time in that type of atmosphere, let’s say, I needed to take it in and really learn from it.  But I have been part of so many of those situations that it’s so understandable going into a match that you know she’s playing in her home country.  She’s going to have the support.

But I really thought that they were more for her than against me, which is ‑‑ I thought all in all, they were pretty respectful of both of us.

Q.  It seems you can always turn tough matches around.  We all remember what happened in Rome and same today.  My question is where does a player get that mental toughness?  You are you born with it or it’s trainable or you get it from your growing‑up experience?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think it’s a combination.  I think a lot of it is when you’re young.  I think your upbringing and maybe the people that are around you help you.  I have been in the sport for so many years, since I was young, and I moved to a new country when I was seven years old.  So there are a lot of things I had to kind of battle through and be on my own and kind of mature by myself.

In that time, I mean, I learned a lot about being competitive and not just in the sport but in life, as well.   But I feel like I have been like that in other aspects of things, whether it’s, you know, trying to eat faster than others or if there is a competition, win a board game.  I have always had a really competitive spirit.

As far as tennis, it’s just where I really ‑‑ I feel like the court is where I belong and where I really want to, you know, compete and fight no matter what the score is or situation is.  Whether I’m down, and it can be match point, I still always believe I can turn it around.

 Victoria Azarenka

Azarenka came in to press donning a t-shirt of herself  holding the Australian Open trophy.

Q.  So during the US Open you were pretty tight with Redfoo from LMFAO.  What was your response to them breaking up?

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Oh.  (Smiling.)  I’m not sure that I should be answering that because I don’t think that they broke up because they weren’t really a couple.

Q.  The band broke up.

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Yeah, I think they are just taking their own solo careers and that’s fair enough.  I guess they’ll figure it out.  They’re big boys.


Li Na

Q.  Can you make comments on your performance of this match?  There is a big difference between set 1 and set 2.  What might be the reasons for that?

LI NA:  I think I played the match pretty well today.  Don’t you think I have a very good performance here today?

I can see that she had a better performance than I did, and she had better control of the match.

Q.  In the very beginning I watched the match, but I am influenced by the spectators.  Are you influenced by the spectators, as well?

LI NA:  I want to say that it’s lucky that you’re not professional player.  I should have a better performance than you, because anyway, I stay till the last minute of the match.

Q.  I feel that actually in the first set your balls are very much even in terms of the performance.  At your last service game, something goes wrong.  Can you talk about your last service game?  Recently you have been making an adjustment to your service gesture or motion.  Does that influence your service in that game?

LI NA:  I think my overall performance here today is good.  I think I have a very good performance, but if you don’t believe so, it’s your personal argument.

I saw English newspaper today that Li Na is very much happy to be eligible to participate in WTA Final because she participate into WTA Final as a substitute last two years.  Actually, to be frank, I didn’t get interview from that English newspaper, but actually, the information has been disclosed on that English newspaper.  That’s really ridiculous.

Q.  Can you tell me what might have been the arrangement for your coach before you participate into the match.  What’s your relationship with your ex‑coach, Thomas?  Can you make a comparison in terms of coaching staff between Thomas and Carlos?

LI NA:  I don’t think they are comparable with each other, because everybody is different.  For journalist they are different.  Players are different.  Coaches are different.  Everybody will be different.

There’s nothing to compare with each other.

Q.  After the match today, you’re ready to prepare for WTA Final.  What kind of a plan do you have in this regard?

LI NA:  It’s just the end of this match.  I will give myself two or three days to make adjustment.  I will travel to Germany first.  I will meet again with my team in Istanbul to prepare for WTA Final.

Q.  When you prepare for WTA Final, I’m not sure whether WTA has already given you the options for you to choose your dress.

LI NA:  You want to know?

Q.  Yes.

LI NA:  I will not tell you that.  I will not tell you that.  Actually, I was only told last night that I’m eligible to participate in WTA Final.

Also, I only got e‑mail from WTA officials.  They want to send their congratulations to me, but actually, I have no information about the dressing style for WTA.  I will tell you upon availability of that information.

Q.  Since we are talking about the dressing style of the WTA Final, you have already participated in WTA Final twice before.  So which dress in the past do you think suits you, suits your personality pretty well?

LI NA:  I only participate into one party, and I got e‑mail from WTA last year during the US Open asking me to make a choice about the dressing.  I picked a traditional‑style Chinese dress last year.

This year I’ve yet to receive an e‑mail from the WTA Final organizer committee about the dressing options, so I don’t know yet.

Q.  So this season is really long.  In that case, you don’t have much time to have a break.  So what kind of a plan do you have for next season?

LI NA:  I think I will be more positive.  I will be more, you know, excited for next season.  Since my cooperation with Carlos, we have a very pleasant cooperation, our whole team.  We have goal.  That is to say we will participate into WTA Final.

So eventually, at the last minute, we make our wish possible.  In that case, I’m very much satisfied with my performance and the past decision.  After termination of the season, I’m going to work out the plan for next season.  We will have a meeting with my team to find out what will be the objective for next year.

Q.  You’re turning 31 soon.  Andy Roddick just retired, and he’s 30, 31.  Do you have any plans to maybe retire or are you going to keep going strong?

LI NA:  So are you thinking 31 is too old or what?

Q.  No, I’m just asking.

LI NA:  No, I think the age is nothing.  Just in the paper, plus one and one again.  I was feeling right now I was healthy.  I still can running on the court.  I’m still top in the world.  Why I should stop?  I should continue my dream and just keep going.

Q.  Getting to the semifinal is a huge achievement, but do you think the Chinese media will be critical of you because you failed to give them a home winner?

LI NA:  I don’t know about Chinese media.  You should ask them.  They’re sitting behind you.

For me, I was happy to be in the semi in China Open because last year I didn’t do well.  Also, I know if I doing well I can be in Istanbul, so is more important for me.

Also, you know, it’s a big tournament, only big tournament in China, so I really want to show a lot of Chinese how good I am.

Like today, I was try my best in the court, but I only can say Maria was better than me.  I have a lot of hard work in here.  Yeah, really looking forward for the Champions and also for next year.


 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Q.  Last year in the second round you played with a Chinese opponent (Ze Zhang), the same guy who actually defeated Richard Gasquet this year.  Do you maybe watch the match a little bit?  Do you feel surprised?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Yeah, I watched the match.  No, I was not surprised.  I practiced with him also many times.  He’s a really good player.  I mean, he’s complete, and I’m sure he will improve a lot next couple of months.

You know, Richard played in Bangkok and played well.  So of course it was not a surprise to see him beat him.  But anyway, you know, he’s a good player.

Q.  Good afternoon, Jo.  If I remember correctly, you got your first ATP win in Beijing in 2004.  So after eight years you are in the final here in the same place.  Do you think Beijing is a lucky place or a special place for you?  My second question is:  What’s your expectation for tomorrow’s final?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  I will answer the first question first.  My expectation is of course to win it.  Like I said, I feel really well here in China and especially at the China Open.

You know, I had some good memories here, because for me it was something new to play on the ATP Tour.  Anyway, you know, this moment will stay in my memories forever.  It was also the first time I played against a top 10 and the first time I won against a top 10.

So I remember this moment like if it was, you know, yesterday.  Yes, of course if I win tomorrow it’s going to be something really special here for me.

Q.  After Murray winning the US Open and fulfilling his own dream, do you think that people’s attention will be moving to you, Berdych, and even Juan Martin Del Potro?  They want you guys to challenge the Big 4?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Yeah.  They are still the Big 4.  I mean, Andy took some time to win a Grand Slam, but he was already a very good player.  He won many tournament 1000.  And anyway, he was a good player, really good player even without this Grand Slam.

But, yeah, of course, you know, now people will wait for somebody like Berdych, Del Potro, I mean, you know, to win it.  I hope we will do it.

Q.  The tournament upgraded the players’ lounge and the players’ restaurant this year.  How do you find them?  What’s the part that you enjoy most?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  What the part I enjoy the most?

Q.  Video games?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  No, I don’t play the video games.  Yeah, maybe the player lounge.  I mean, it’s cool.  It’s relaxed.

Yeah, that’s it.


Novak Djokovic

Q.  Can you talk a little bit about just this year?  I know there are a few more weeks.  But obviously, to most people’s standards, a great year for you, but compared to your standard of last year, not the same.  Talk about that a little bit.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, there’s not much to talk about, really.  It’s a different year.   I don’t like to make any comparisons.

It was really difficult to ask myself to repeat what I had done in 2011.  Going six months without losing a match is almost, you know, almost impossible.

So I have played the best tennis of my life, but I still feel that since last year I am physically better.  You know, I didn’t face any injuries throughout 2012, which is important for me.  You know, I lost a couple of important matches in the Grand Slams and Olympic Games, but look, you know, that’s sport.  It’s up and down.

But I still feel that I had a very, very consistent year.  I put myself in the position to be No. 1 of the world in the end of the year.  That is always a great task, and it is also a great indication of how well I played throughout the season.

Q.  Can you talk about your two little brothers, please?  I understand they are trying to play professional tennis on tour level, but still a lot of years.  The youngest one is playing challengers right now.  Can you talk a little about them, please.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, they have their own ambitions and their own tennis path, which has to be different than mine.   So they are aware of that.

Obviously they had to face a lot of difficulty, mental pressure and expectations of them being in that position of being, you know, my younger brother.

So it was very difficult for them to kind of develop and practice without any pressure in that way.  So it is what it is, and they are maturing as a person.

So Marko is 21 years old.  He’s been playing challengers.  He’s around 600 in the world.  Djordje is 17.  He has his first couple of ATP points in futures.

It’s a long road.  They are aware of that.  It takes a lot of time, takes a lot of effort.  You know, I think they are mentally breaking through and realizing that they have to respect their own path.

I’m trying to help them as much as I can, always be there for them, advise them.  And, you know, in one way it is good to have, you know, a brother who is the top of the men’s game because then you have maybe some wildcards or you have maybe all the facilities and conditions you need in order to become a professional player.  But in the other hand, you have to face all these mental struggles, I guess, you know, and expectations from yourself and from everybody else.

So we’ll see what happens.

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