December 4, 2016

Novak Djokovic 3-0 in ATP World Tour Finals Group, Suggests Round Robin Format for Olympics and Davis Cup Changes

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

(November 17, 2016) Novak Djokovic in his quest to end the year as No. 1, dismissed David Goffin 6-1, 6-2 to complete a perfect 3-0 round robin record at the ATP World Tour Finals at London’s O2 Arena on Thursday. Goffin, from Belgium, was an alternate for Gael Monfils who withdrew with a rib injury.

Djokovic, who says he likes the round robin format, thinks it should be used for the Olympics.

I think this format is exciting,” said the Serb. “I mean, look, it’s the only tournament in the year that we have this kind of format. I like playing in the round-robin system.

“To be honest, I think certainly events, maybe like Olympic Games, should have this format. I guess you play more matches. The people like to see the top players being at least for a couple matches, two, three matches, in the tournament. It gives more value to the event.

“Of course, it makes you feel also more, I guess, at ease because you know you’re going to play at least three. Even if you lose a match, you can have a chance to qualify for the knock-out stage.”

 

The 12-time major champion also talked about changing the Davis cup format and added his suggestions:

“This format is not working for the top players, especially for the top players, because it’s just completely at the wrong time in the schedule. If you go back five years, let’s say five, six years, you see the amount of the top players that played at the later stages of the Davis Cup, you see that it lost value.

“Of course, they have to change. They need to have the format, in my opinion, the only way to work, is once a year, one or two weeks, two weeks, have a round-robin format, four, five, six groups, have teams play in different locations, then come together in one location and play a knock-out stage, quarterfinals, semifinals, final four, whatever.

“It’s a no-brainer. I’m not the only one to have this kind of opinion about it. Many of the players have been talking about this format and the schedule, top players especially, because it just comes right after Grand Slams, right after World Tour Finals.

“Playing over three days, best-of-five… I think they should cut it down to two days, best-of-three. Have two singles and one doubles, those kind of things.

“In tennis, it’s a bit confusing with the ITF, ATP, Grand Slams. Everybody is a separate entity. You have to consider different sides and negotiate.

“ITF owns Davis Cup. ITF hasn’t been really very helpful with the players’ demands. The only thing that they wanted to change is the neutral final, I think for next year or the year after that, which talking to all the players on the council, most of the players also around the tour, nobody agrees with that. Again, you’re taking away from the players the one thing that players love about Davis Cup, which is the home tie, the home crowd.

“Yeah, I don’t know how the future of Davis Cup will look like. I mean, I respect that competition. It has a long history. I love playing for my country. This is the only official team competition we have in our sport.

“But there is definitely something radically that has to change. I don’t know if they realize, but they’re losing a lot of value in terms of commercial perspective, marketing perspective, whatever.

“People don’t know the format of the competition, the system, how it works, who plays who, until it gets to the finals. Even the finals is not as attractive in some countries anymore.”

 

Djokovic qualified for the semifinals on Tuesday. Milos Raonic defeated Dominic Thiem 7-6(5), 6-3 to clinch the second semifinal spot from the group.

Raonic become the first Canadian to reach the singles semifinals of the year-end event.

Friday will determine the other two semifinal spots. Right now Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori remain in contention.

Djokovic, leader of the Ivan Lendl group will play the the second place finisher in the John McEnroe group. Raonic will play the leader of the John McEnroe group.

 

 

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Novak Djokovic First to Qualify for ATP World Tour Finals Semis

Novak Djokovic

(November 15, 2016) Novak Djokovic earned the first semifinal spot at the ATP World Tour Finals on Tuesday, when he defeated Milos Raonic 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) to go 2-0 in group play at London’s O2 Arena.

“Two tiebreaks against a big server is a great win and great confidence boost,” said the world No. 2.

“Well, it was a very close match. I think very few points separated us tonight. It really could have gone either way.

“I was fortunate to get through the first set tiebreaker. I was down very early in both tiebreaks tonight. But I just managed to stay committed and put pressure on his second serves. I had couple looks on his second serves midway through, towards the end of both tiebreaks, which helped obviously to get into the rally. I knew once I get into the rally, I have a better chance to win the point.

“But I should have done my job earlier, to be honest. I’m not very pleased to drop my serve twice against Milos, especially the second time. I was 4-3, 30-Love, then just four pretty bad unforced errors.

“Credit to him for really hanging in there, putting pressure, being aggressive, especially from the forehand. But, you know, I think I should have done better there.”

88 Raonic

“I believe all the breakpoints, except for maybe the set point at the end, he put in a first serve every single time,” Raonic said of his night session match. “I believe when he had his breakpoints, I didn’t put in one.

“I think it’s those little things that make a difference. I think he’s probably winning over 75% of his first serve points and I’m probably doing the same. Those moments he stepped up and played well. I just maybe hesitated a little bit too much.”

Raonic is now 1-1 in round robin play. He’ll face Dominic Thiem on Thursday.

 

Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem

The Austrian Thiem, seeded eighth pulled off a three-set win over France’s Gael Monfils 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 to go 1-1 in the group. The Frenchman double faulted three times in the final game of the match.

 

“Today I had a good start,” Thiem said. “I tried to avoid the mistake I did in the first match: to drop a little bit. Didn’t really happen that good.

“But I was trying to stay tough in the third set. At the end, of course, he helped me a little bit with the three double-faults.

“But I’m very happy with the win.”

Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils

Monfils, dealing a rib injury said: “It was a tough one. I think today was tough one. Dominic was better than me. I think I didn’t play a great match, but I gave everything I had.”

Monfils is still debating whether to play his final round robin match against Novak Djokovic on Thursday.

 

Order of Play – WEDNESDAY, 16 November
Afternoon Session 12:00 PM Group John McEnroe & Group Fleming/McEnroe

[5] H. Kontinen (FIN) / J. Peers (AUS)

[7] R Klaasen (RSA) / R Ram (USA)

ANDY
MURRAY

[1] (GBR)

KEI
NISHIKORI

[5] (JPN)

Evening Session 6:00 PM Group John McEnroe & Group Fleming/McEnroe

[1] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA)

[4] F. Lopez (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP)

STAN
WAWRINKA

[3] (SUI)

MARIN
CILIC

[7] (CRO)

ATP World Tour Results
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Novak Djokovic Rallies To Win Opening Match at ATP World Tour Finals

05-Djokovic yell

(November 13, 2016) Still in the hunt for the year-end top ranking, No. 2 Novak Djokovic was forced to rally to win his won his opening match at the ATP World Tour Finals beating Dominic Thiem 6-7 (10), 6-0, 6-2 on Sunday in London’s O2 arena.

Djokovic had a set point chance in the topsy-turvy first set tiebreak at 9-8. The Austrian Thiem, making his year-end final debut served for the set at 6-3 in the tiebreak, double faulted twice in a row, hit a backhand error to make it 6-6. Four set points later Thiem finally closed out the set 12-10.

The entire match changed after the first set. The 12-time major champion won twelve of the next fourteen games to close the match.

“It felt very good,” Djokovic said of the win. “Even though I lost the first set, I thought I didn’t do too many things wrong. It was just the very high quality of his game that prevailed in the first set.

“Yeah, a thrilling tiebreaker. He was 6-3 up, two double-faults. I had I think only one set point. He just played a good point. I was in the rally, but he just was going for his shots. In the end he managed to win that very long first set.

“I knew after that, the first opening couple games of the second set would be crucial for me to start with a break up, which I did. I felt more comfortable. I started swinging more freely in the second set. Obviously made him play an extra shot. He started making more errors, which I used.

“I was on top of his second serves, putting a lot of pressure. I thought I played very well in the second set especially, but the third as well.”

Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem

“It was a very good and very intense first set,” said the 23-year-old Thiem. After that, I lost a little bit of energy, which is required against a guy like Novak to play close and good sets.

“I came back obviously. I had the energy. But the beginning of the third set, I was trying again to get that match. He was playing well. I couldn’t quite keep the level up from the first set. Yeah, that’s why I lost in three.”

“There are so many things to improve,” said the Austrian who is the eighth seed in London. “I think there were too many unforced errors in the first few shots, in the rallies. Yeah, other things were good, other things were bad. There are many things what I’m looking to improve.”

“Of course, I want to play two more good matches, then I will see what the outcome is. But first of all, it’s a very good experience for me to play three matches against top-10 players. Compared to the last few tournaments, it was a very good match for me today.

I just look to keep that up, and I will see what happens in the next matches.”

Djokovic lost his No. 1 ranking to Andy Murray last week and has a chance to get it back this week. The Serb is seeking to earn the year-end top spot for the fifth time in six years, while Murray is trying to earn the top spot for the year for the first time.

Milos Raonic and Gael Monfils

Milos Raonic and Gael Monfils

In the evening match, fourth seed Milos Raonic defeated sixth seed Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-4. The Canadian fired 10 aces past the Frenchman in his first ever round robin victory at the ATP World Tour Finals.

“I came here with not even a week of practice,” Monfils said. “I came here with three, four days for real practice. Even when you’re 100%, it’s tough to beat those guys. He’s 4 in the world. With three, four days’ practice, it’s really tough.

“I was really happy to lost with just a break in each set.”

“This guy (Raonic), he played very good today, like, with confidence. When you hurt for more than two, three weeks, you not play like that, guarantee you.”

“I didn’t feel any pain to the injury I had,” said the Canadian. “I think other muscles might be overworking to maybe compensate for that. I can feel them a little bit more fatigued and sore than they normally would be.

“But the injury is good. I feel like this is an ideal way to start considering the doubts that I was having. Some of the things I heard in the diagnosis were not the most positive, so this was a great way to turn around.”

Next up for Raonic is Djokovic.

“It’s going to be a difficult task that I have ahead of me,” Raonic said. “I feel like I’m doing some things well. I feel like I can do some things better.

“I was quite proficient on returning today. I took care of my serve like I hoped to. That’s what my game depends on. I hope I can keep moving forward.”

In doubles action, the third seeded Bryan Brothers defeated sixth seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo 7-6(3), 6-0 in the day session.

In the night session second seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares stopped eighth seeds Treat Huey and Max Mirnyi 6-4, 7-5.

Jamie Murray and Soares are just 375 points behind No. 1 Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

“Our goal is just to try to win when we step on the court this week,” Murray said. “If it ends up that we’re the No. 1 team, that will be a huge achievement for us. If it doesn’t work out that way, we’ll still have had a great year, lots to be proud of, lots to look forward to going into 2017.”

 

Next up for the No. 2 is the Bryan Brothers.

 

“Yeah, it’s always exciting to play against them,” said the older brother of Andy Murray. “I mean, they’re clearly the best team in history with the amount of titles they won. They always bring a great energy to the court. You know, we all look up to them. We all aspire to kind of get to their level.

“Of course, probably they’re starting to kind of decline a little bit. But, I mean, that’s always going to happen when you’ve won so much, and time has taken on.

We’re really fired up to play against them. Should be a great match, I think. Well, I’m looking forward to it. I hope Bruno is, as well.”

“I am,” said a smiling Soares.

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Djokovic Beats Monfils to Reach Seventh US Open Final; Wawrinka Defeats Nishikori to Advance

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

(September 9, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – In what was characterized by most as a “bizarre” match, Novak Djokovic moved into his seventh US Open final, beating 10th seed Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 on Friday.

In the first set, Djokovic dashed out to a 5-0 lead. The world No. 1 had three set points serving at 5-1, Monfils won the next two games but Djokovic closed the set at 6-3.
ESPN commentator and tennis Hall of Famer John McEnroe criticized Monfils’ “lack of effort” on the air.

Monfils was asked about this in his news conference:
“I like John. I think he’s a great person. I mean, I have nothing personal to him, so I’m very sad to heard that. I’m very sad to learn that such a legend criticize me, because at the end what I can say to John is, you know, John, I want to be the best. It’s tough, you know. And I try my best.

“I’m sorry if you think I’m unprofessional, but I guess I’m working, I’m learning, you know. I think I’m failing, for sure, a lot, but I try to stand up. You know, it’s tough, because when he call me unprofessional he calls my coach unprofessional, calls my physio unprofessional, calls my physic — all my team, actually, unprofessional. Is a bit tough, you know.

“And he knows what it is. I’m more than happy to talk with him, you know. For sure, you know, it’s easy to punish me because I not win anything, you know. Such an easy thing. I do different stuff. I’m happy. I’m always with a smile.

“I make it easy. But I think John knows that if I want to be in the semifinal of the slam, anything he can say, if I not play top seed or whatever, you know, I won couple matches and I have been trained hard, you know.

“So I just very sorry bring that, and tell to John that I’m more than happy to talk with him. You know, is someone that I always care about what he is saying, but I’m just sad that he criticize me that easy.”

Djokovic was also asked about Monfils’ effort.
“I thought at times that he was, you know, maybe behaving a little bit –you know, for some terms and judgments unacceptable — but, again, I guess that was part of his tactics,” he said. “If he said that you have to believe him, I guess.

“He was 5-Love down with his game and he mixed it up. It seemed like it was a bit of a lack of effort, but then he started playing great. He started playing aggressive. He took chances. He came to the net.

“In the end of the day, I thought it was a good match. We played a four-set match. I think the crowd enjoyed it in the end.”

Monfils came back to life in the third set, rallying from 0-2 in the third set to win the set 6-3.

Djokovic fully controlled the fourth set breaking Monfils three times to complete the victory.

Well, it was a strange match,” said Djokovic “as it always is, I guess, when you play Gael, who is very unpredictable player.”

Monfils was also questioned by media about his “competing.”
“Because first question is like you’re not competing. F*ck, yes, I’m competing, you know. Even I’m like at my best actually. The guy is too good. I just have to change, you know, Monfils explained.

“As I always say, the change is guts, you know. It’s like people told me, Ah… No, I think I’m gutsy to try that, you know, against the world No. 1 of the world, you know. 5-0, okay, I show you that I play none academic way.

“And then I won’t win a match like that, but I can win maybe 15 minutes, maybe two more games, one more games. I can push him a little bit to defend also myself, more confidence, and put him out his balance.”
After all of that, Djokovic will play Sunday for his third Grand Slam championship of the season, after those at the Australian Open in January, and the French Open in June — when the theatrics were at a relative minimum by Friday’s standards.
On Sunday, Djokovic will play for his third US Open title against Stan Wawrinka.

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka

The two-time major winner beat 2014 US Open finalist Kei Nishikori 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 to advance to his first final in Flushing Meadows. It will be a rematch of the 2015 French Open final, when the Swiss up set the Serb.

 

“I’m really excited,” Wawrinka said. “Really happy to make the final. Something amazing for me.

“To play Novak, the No. 1 player, it’s always really challenging. But we had some many big memories together, especially in Grand Slams, so it’s going to be an excited match.”

“Was some amazing match, for sure,”said the world No. 3 about his French Open win. “The secret is simple: I have to play my best tennis, my best game. He’s the No. 1 player, amazing fighter, amazing player, but I have enough confidence in myself that when I play my best level I can beat him.

“Hopefully I can bring that Sunday. But it’s the biggest challenge. When you play Novak, the No. 1 player in the final of Grand Slam, it’s the biggest challenge you can have.”

Wawrinka id 10 for 10 in his last 10 finals, but Djokovic is 20-4 against the Swiss.

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Day 12 of the US Open – In Their Own Words

Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils

(September 9, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Posting player interviews throughout the day as allowed.

Note from the US Open Media Operations Guide as why Tennis Panorama News is allowed to post transcripts:

Transcripts of player interviews cannot be posted until one (1) hour after the interview has ended. Player transcripts can only be posted on the website of the publication that was accredited.

U.S. OPEN

Friday, September 9, 2016

Gael Monfils

Press Conference

N. DJOKOVIC/G. Monfils

6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Strange match out there in that it seemed like you were both kind of fighting your bodies at times. Talk a little bit about the elements out there and how you were feeling.
GAEL MONFILS: Strange match why?

Q. It looked like physically you guys were both laboring at times. Was the heat getting to you?
GAEL MONFILS: I think it was hot and humid, but somehow I think also at one moment of the game it was very physical; was good rallies. Whenever it’s like that it’s never easy to recover quick, like 25 seconds. For sure, the heat help, I mean, not really help us, but I think also that was the way the match goes.

Q. Starting early in this match it seemed at times you were having problems competing. What was going on for you physically and psychologically?
GAEL MONFILS: What do you mean, competing?

Q. You didn’t seem to be able to give it your full effort.
GAEL MONFILS: No, at the beginning I think, you know, Novak was playing good. I didn’t serve great, you know. It was very quick 5-0. I get to change a little bit, you know. I get to change. That’s a little bit tough, because for sure people are not really ready to see that. You know, because, you know, why I will stay and lose 6-0 and not change anything?

So, yeah, definitely I try to get in his head. You know, try to create something new for him, you know, to see. And that was it. When the guy is too good, you know, playing clean and you’re playing very bad, I mean, not that good, you know, you need to change.

At the end, that’s why I think it was necessary, and I almost get back to the first set.

Q. Were there any times that you were not able to try your best?
GAEL MONFILS: I think I try my best every time. He was just too good.

Q. Do you think that strategy of trying to upset Novak didn’t work, probably? Obviously in the first set, and yet later on you competed very well. The third set, for instance, seemed far more successful.
GAEL MONFILS: I think it work, you know. You just don’t want to see it. If no one is doing that, you know, everybody is like, Play tennis like this. You have to do like this.

It’s okay, you know. We can change a little bit. We can, you know — it’s not only one way to play tennis, you know. When the guy is hitting clean and you’re not serving good — and actually, I wasn’t returning good — yeah, you just show him. You stand in the middle of the court. Start to double fault a little bit.

Then you give him very slow ball, but could I run, you know. And then he come to the net. I pass him. Was great strategy. What do you mean? I think I started 5-0 and then I was like 5-3, 15-40, and was bad. I think I guess. When I try a little bit to play “original” tennis is where he kill me.

Q. Have you had opponents do that to you, as well, change up the tactics?
GAEL MONFILS: No, because everyone not doing it because of all the question they gonna receive and all the — is not natural, and I know it is not natural. Because first question is like you’re not competing. Fuck, yes, I’m competing, you know. Even I’m like at my best actually. The guy is too good. I just have to change, you know.

As I always say, the change is guts, you know. It’s like people told me, Ah… No, I think I’m gutsy to try that, you know, against the world No. 1 of the world, you know. 5-0, okay, I show you that I play none academic way.

And then I won’t win a match like that, but I can win maybe 15 minutes, maybe two more games, one more games. I can push him a little bit to defend also myself, more confidence, and put him out his balance.

You know, it was a great strategy, I think.

Q. Good US Open. Congratulations.
GAEL MONFILS: Thank you.

Q. You once said that my culture is to be very fun and to enjoy life. In the big picture of your career, how important is it to have fun and to be creative for you?
GAEL MONFILS: I think it’s natural, you know. It’s not how important I think is like this. I think everything I do in my life I try to have fun, and I try to be creative on the tennis court, outside the tennis court.

So for me it’s just myself on the court.

Q. How are you creative outside the court?
GAEL MONFILS: I create music; I create painting; I create whatever I want to create. I create, what you say, clothes. I create, I don’t know, dance move. I create anything.

Q. It sounds like you were prepared for this question about the competition and your strategy and everything else. Did anybody say anything to you when you came off the court to make you aware that so many people, including John McEnroe, including some of the commentators, were kind of angry and really disappointed about this whole issue?
GAEL MONFILS: Yeah, for sure. When I decide to play like that for half a set I knew it is gonna be different. But at the end I’m not playing for those people. I play for myself. I try to win, you know.

At the end, you know, everybody have an opinion of something that not in my body, not in my mind. They not see what I’m saying at that moment, you know.

They will tell me, Oh, he’s so talented, so physical. Look, he’s playing like this in the third set and he won it, blah, blah, blah, blah. But at the time and at 5-0, it wasn’t that. I tell you. I just change something, you know.

Is not academic, but I try to win. I’m sorry, every time, you know, to hear that I get destroyed. For what? At the end, for what? To tell me I’m so talented I waste my time.

Sorry, I’m not wasting my time. I think I know how to try to play the best, and to play the best sometime is to improve.

And when the guy is too good, you know, you change. Not academic, but I try to be better.

If those people talking, talking, come help me. You know, I’m more than happy to have them help.

But I feel that, you know, they want to help me, he’s still Novak. He’s still Novak to play.

Q. Is there anything personal between you and John McEnroe? He’s been criticizing you all tournament, and today he was pretty tough on you in the first two sets. Called you unprofessional and said he never saw anyone lacking effort. Is there something in the past between you two? Are you surprised he’s so hard on you?
GAEL MONFILS: Well, I just know — I don’t know. You know, I like John. I think he’s a great person. I mean, I have nothing personal to him, so I’m very sad to heard that. I’m very sad to learn that such a legend criticize me, because at the end what I can say to John is, you know, John, I want to be the best. It’s tough, you know. And I try my best.

I’m sorry if you think I’m unprofessional, but I guess I’m working, I’m learning, you know. I think I’m failing, for sure, a lot, but I try to stand up. You know, it’s tough, because when he call me unprofessional he calls my coach unprofessional, calls my physio unprofessional, calls my physic — all my team, actually, unprofessional. Is a bit tough, you know.

And he knows what it is. I’m more than happy to talk with him, you know. For sure, you know, it’s easy to punish me because I not win anything, you know. Such an easy thing. I do different stuff. I’m happy. I’m always with a smile.

I make it easy. But I think John knows that if I want to be in the semifinal of the slam, anything he can say, if I not play top seed or whatever, you know, I won couple matches and I have been trained hard, you know.

So I just very sorry bring that, and tell to John that I’m more than happy to talk with him. You know, is someone that I always care about what he is saying, but I’m just sad that he criticize me that easy.

Q. Was it a spontaneous decision to change in the first set, or do you think that comment about Djokovic knowing how your match is going to go against him that would be something you could do?
GAEL MONFILS: Yeah, I knew definitely before the match is something I could do.

Actually, you know, I know it’s not good, but I made a sign to my coach and say, Okay, I’m going to Plan B, actually. (Laughter.)

I made it pretty clear, you know. And I knew it, because I have done that in the past against him, against Novak. You know, I played him, and actually, all the time I get little grip on him, you know, a little bit to get back in the game. Is always to play like that.

So, yeah, I was aware that if he was doing that in my way I have to play a little bit like that.

Q. How did you feel about being booed in the first game of the third set when you double-faulted?
GAEL MONFILS: It’s part of the sport, you know. I think for sure people was expecting a tougher battle, you know. And then, you know, it was strange, because as you say, maybe they will listen to commentary and say I’m unprofessional, I’m poor, whatever. So it gets very quick to people.

And then it’s tough, you know, tweeting during the match saying, and maybe John McEnroe say, Such a disgrace.

At the end, you know, if I have a mic, I would say to the audience that stop saying that, you know, I’m unprofessional. The guy is killing me, you know.

I’m just embracing the fact the guy is too good for me, and I try to switch strategy. Then somehow, you know, I had this small opportunity and I get it, and then I think the crowd was much better.

Q. You talked about changing things up. There were a few times late in the first set where on your return you came really far in. Was there anything that you saw in his serve that made you think, that would work, or was it just, you were trying anything?
GAEL MONFILS: When?

Q. On your returns, a few times late in the first you were coming — were really shallow halfway to the service line almost. Was that preplanned? Anything in his serve that made you think that would work, or was it just a random…
GAEL MONFILS: Because I know Novak somehow is not too confident with his serve now. I think closer you get, bigger the target, and it will force a little bit. And I think that’s why I have done it.

Q. Have there been other matches in the past where someone has tried a very different strategy and thrown off their opponent? Do you know about any of these matches? Does that inspire you? Arthur Ashe against Jimmy Connors.
GAEL MONFILS: And John McEnroe telling me it wasn’t professional? I don’t know. I haven’t seen it. I wish I could, you know.

As I say, I have done it because I want to win, you know. I just want to find a solution. Sorry if it wasn’t, I mean, academic, but at the end, you know, when you change, you change with what you got. What I got is my speed.

I got a little bit my instinct and flair and to show down the game, to make him play, to make him come in. That was my flair, and I hit the shot. You know, at the end it was just too good.

 

 

Novak Djokovic

Press Conference

N. DJOKOVIC/G. Monfils

6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Gaël just said he tried to get into your brain because he couldn’t get into your game, basically, and that he thought it was starting to work but in the end you were still too good. How did you see these first two sets and how did you win that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was a strange match, as it always is, I guess, when you play Gaël, who is very unpredictable player. I could expect that in a way. I was 5-Love up in less than 20 minutes, and everything felt great; couple of close games there.

And then just that service game on 5-1, that’s when it started. I was completely caught off guard when he just stood there and chipped the ball back and didn’t do much. If I would get to the net he would go for the passing shot and hit some impossible gets and balls.

But that’s Gaël. That’s the way he plays now. That’s the way he played always. He loves to come up with a variety in his game, and the defense shots. He loves long rallies.

So, yeah, I think I should not have allowed him to come back to the match after two sets to love up and 2-love in the third. That was the momentum shift when I lost my service game. He started believing in himself, and I think the crowd disliked his efforts, I think, towards the end of the second set.

I think he felt like he needs to step it up and start to play better, which he did, and then crowd was behind him. They wanted to see, you know, the long match.

I think we both physically struggled a little bit towards the end of the third and fourth set, beginning of the fourth especially. Long rallies; tense moments, obviously.

But he did try many things. You know, second serve, serve and volley. You know, just a very slow chipped ball in the middle of the court, and then, you know, invites me to the net basically and comes up with some good passing shots.

Sometimes you don’t understand the game, but that’s who he is. I think he actually played best tennis of his life on hard courts this season and the results are showing that.

So it was a good win for me today.

Q. You called him unpredictable and that’s how he always plays. Do you think that’s deliberate and effective strategy or just a personal preference? Is it a compliment to your game that he feels he needs to change it up to throw you off?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Compliment or not, I mean, that’s who he is. As I said, it’s not the first time that he comes out and just tries different shots and different splits and, you know, puts himself in a position to defend and come up with some intriguing points and entertaining points for the crowd.

You know, he loves that entertainment part. He loves to go left and right and jump and slide and all these things. He’s very athletic. I think he’s basically putting everything on the display on the tennis court.

But that’s the way it has been for so many years.

Q. John McEnroe was very critical through a lot of the match about Monfils as being unprofessional, lack of effort. Would you ever characterize a tactic like he used in that sort of way?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, again, it’s a question for him, really. I thought at times that he was, you know, maybe behaving a little bit –you know, for some terms and judgments unacceptable — but, again, I guess that was part of his tactics. If he said that you have to believe him, I guess.

He was 5-Love down with his game and he mixed it up. It seemed like it was a bit of a lack of effort, but then he started playing great. He started playing aggressive. He took chances. He came to the net.

In the end of the day, I thought it was a good match. We played a four-set match. I think the crowd enjoyed it in the end.

Q. How exactly does it feel to be serving at 5-1 in a slam semifinal and then to see your opponent returning your first serve from inside the baseline, slicing everything?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, as I said, you know, again, it was my fault for really — that game was 40-Love — and allowing him really to, you know, just disturb me, you know, with that kind of movement and just a different approach, I guess.

I don’t know how to call that. But, again, I made some double faults and just some — just really wasn’t myself at that game and the next game. I put myself in a really awkward position, you know, to allow him — from 5-Love up to allow him to come back to the set.

But I managed to hold my nerves in 5-3, close the set out; second set was good. Served I think 88, 89% first serves in. Everything was working. Started off the third well.

Then the momentum shifted. He felt his chance was there. He got it. Crowd got into it. Physically we both felt, you know, the humidity and the tough conditions today. So it was a tough one to be part of, especially in the third and midway through the fourth set.

But it’s semifinals. Again, you can’t expect just somebody to hand you the win. Just very glad to overcome that.

Q. Do you think he got inside your head at all during that set?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, that one or two games I allowed, yeah. But, again, it happens, I guess, because it was just so uncharacteristic and very unusual to see a player in the semifinals of a Grand Slam at the beginning, basically first set, just start to, you know, move around and play like that or behave like that.

But, again, it shouldn’t be my concern. What my concern is, you know, is my side and what I need to do. I allowed myself to drop the concentration and to lose the momentum for a little bit, but luckily I got back.

Q. We’re talking about Gaël’s play. Talking about your own, how do you assess the way that you played the match today? Thoughts going into the final?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As I said, I thought I played a very solid, very sturdy, 2-love in the third. And then, five games lost, two service games lost. Just all of a sudden wasn’t, you know, as effective from the baseline. He stepped it up, I think. That was the difference, that he started going for his shots rather than just putting the ball back in play.

And, yeah, that’s when the momentum shifted. But, again, in the fourth I just managed to hold my nerves and be patient and close out the match in good fashion.

So, you know, I have an extra day now to recover and get ready for the finals, which is, you know, where definitely I desire to be whenever I come to the Grand Slam. You know, I want to be able to put myself in position to fight for the trophy, and everything that has happened in the tournament so far is behind me now.

My thoughts are only on Sunday’s match.

Q. You’re an imaginative, free-form kind of guy, but he’s something else. You have known him since you were kids. He brings a lot of joy to people. What makes him special? Dances to his own drummer, talk about him as a guy, a free-form spirit.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As I said, you know, he’s one of the most charismatic guys on the tour. You know, he brings a full display of athleticism. Just different variety in the game. He’s an all-round player.

In the end of the day, he enjoys playing in the big stage. Enjoys playing tennis. And you can see that. That’s why the fans love him. That’s why he gets the crowd involved. You know, sometimes, as his opponent it’s not easy to handle his up and downs, but, you know, he’s very important asset to our sport. He brings that joy, as you said.

Q. Do you ever say to yourself, What do I do now? Get a little frustrated?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I have played him 13 times, I think, in our professional careers, so I know him well. I know what to expect. But again, even having that kind of awareness and coming into a match, it still happens that, you know, these kind of things that he does don’t go away unnoticed, you know.

Sometimes it can disturb you; sometimes it can bring a smile to your face. It really depends on you, how you react to that.

Q. Obviously as the first into the final we don’t know who you’ll face next. First with Stan, when you go against him, what is the biggest challenge for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I haven’t played Stan in some time now. He’s a big match player. He loves to play in the big stage against big players, because that’s when he, I think, elevates his level of performance in his game. Just gets much better.

I think he was very close to lose in second or third round in this tournament some match points and he was struggling with his form.

But the last couple of matches he’s getting in that shape that is, you know, winning him big matches. I lost to him in finals of French Open and I lost to him in quarterfinals of Australia when he won, as well.

So both of these Grand Slam trophies that he has he won against me on the way. So I know right now, having two Grand Slam titles and Olympic medal and Davis Cup under his belt, he believes in himself more. He doesn’t get, I think, too stressed by the bigger occasion. He actually likes playing in big matches.

So, yeah, he’s very powerful, powerful player. Big serve. Probably the best, most effective one-handed backhand in the world now. You know, he can play it all. You know, he has that variety in his game. He can be very dangerous for everybody.

Q. And if you do face Kei, how would you assess his game and the challenge it poses for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, Kei is in form, and winning bronze in Rio, playing finals in Toronto, and winning here against Andy Murray who was in tremendous form for last couple of months.

Kei is now very established, top 5, top 7 player in the world for last couple of years. He’s always there. He played in US Open finals; he won against me in semis that year. He also doesn’t really get too frightened by the big occasion. He’s actually looking forward to play the big matches. He’s very committed daily.

You can always see him in the gym or the practice courts. Michael Chang is there. He’s got a full squad of experts around him to, you know, to perfect his game.

It’s good to see that. He’s the best Asian tennis player in history of Asia. He’s got a lot of support. Yeah, he’s hungry for success, no doubt. He’s never won a Grand Slam but he’s always there. You know, he’s very close. I’m sure that, you know, he would be very, very motivated to play in the finals if I get to play him.

Q. Given what you said about Gaël, did he piss you off today or were you aggravated at your inability to see what you had to do to solve the riddle?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I had different phases, I must admit. (Smiling.) I had phases when I was pissed off, phases when I was entertained by what he’s doing, and phases where I was upset with myself for allowing him to — you know, whatever he does to disturb my game and my rhythm.

So I went through it all. It was a great theater experience today.

Q. Could you ever see yourself doing that to an opponent?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, we’re all different. You know, it’s hard to speak about — I don’t think that — I know Gaël for a long time so I don’t take things in a bad way from him. He’s a good guy, and just probably tactically tried a few things. That’s all.

Q. You said on court immediately after the match that the description was humid, but I’m wondering, how would you characterize or describe this trip to your seventh US Open final.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I obviously — I always wish to get to this match, the final match, whenever, as I said, come to a Grand Slam. I have those kind of ambitions. But specifically, before this Grand Slam there were things that were happening, you know, with my health and physical state that were, you know, making me a little bit skeptical about how the thing is going to go during the tournament.

I just wished for myself to be able to play on the level that I can. I hoped and I believed that as I progressed in the tournament that things would get better, in which they did.

So I was, of course, blessed to have more days off with no match so I could focus on the recovery and work things in my game and take things easily and to get to this phase.

You know, I’m very, very pleased to have achieved this result.

Q. How would you characterize this journey to the final?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I just characterized it, but not in one word. It’s hard for me to find a headline. I think you have to pick up from the transcript. Yeah, this time I don’t really have that word. I’m sorry.

Q. 42 years ago, Muhammad Ali invented the rope-a-dope strategy against Foreman; the famous Rumble in the Jungle. Were you familiar with that? Did you recognize possible tactic? Did you have any concern about possibly punching yourself out in the fourth set? Early in the fourth looked like both of you were leaning on the ropes a couple of times. Secondly, and again, speaking of Muhammad Ali, what are your views and thoughts about the role of athlete as entertainer, as well?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Wow. Okay. Thank you for your questions. Trying to make them as short as possible. Very interesting questions.

Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest athletes that ever lived. He was one of the most appreciated athletes that ever lived. Not just because of his achievements, but because of who he was and what he stood for and, you know, the values that he shared with people. He was a people’s champion. That’s what they called him.

So of course it makes me no different than other people towards, you know, the respect of the legacy that he left behind.

But it’s not really I think comparable, boxing and tennis. I mean, it’s one on one, but I wouldn’t like to be in the ring with Muhammad Ali and going with the punches.

But today there was a lot of punches on the tennis ball back and forth. It was really exhausting because, you know, the opponent today I played with loves to stay in the back of the court and always bring another ball back.

Physically we were taking each other to the limit. And, you’re right, that at times it looked like we were really in a tough battle. And The role of athletes as entertainer, yes. I mean, I think, you know, not just entertainment, but the whole picture, you know.

I think athletes have such a privilege to be always in the spotlight. Today’s world of media, you have a lot of attention. You know, you need to use that in a positive way, try to take that as a responsibility to kind of do something valuable with that rather than just spreading that kind of awareness about yourself being a champion and wanting to achieve.

Sure, people want to see you perform at your highest and fight for trophies, but you also can use this platform as an opportunity to share something different, something valuable, something that young kids around the world can use as a great example.

So I think it all fits in, right? Entertainment, the responsibility, human responsibility, the things that I guess have the same direction and same issue.

Q. You mentioned the physical concerns you had coming into the tournament cast against you. Do you have any concerns going into the final, or do you feel like that’s behind you as far as injuries?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Thankfully it’s behind me, so I don’t have any concerns. I have lots of excitement for the finals.

Q. The ripped shirt, how much did that surprise you and how much did it give you an opportunity to kind of forget about tennis for a while?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I can’t blame Uniqlo for that shirt. The quality is very good, by the way. I did rip it once, and then the second time just got out of hand, I guess, in heat of the moment.

But, you know, it felt nice, because my body could breathe a little bit more. (Smiling.)

But, yeah, I guess, you know, these things happen. Sometimes you’ll seen a thrown racquet here and there, a ripped shirt. It’s all in the heat of the battle.

Q. Is it in the garbage?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I guess so. I haven’t seen it ever since.

 

Kei Nishikori

Press Conference

S. WAWRINKA/K. Nishikori

4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How much did the match the other day take out of you?
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, I mean, definitely I was a little bit tired, especially in the end. Last two set was really tough.

But I think also he was stepping up a little more from the second set. I think he was missing a lot the first set and also I was playing good tennis, but I think he made some changes and he was start playing better.

I mean, yeah, it’s not easy after playing Andy five sets, but I’m physically — I was almost there. Yeah, I’m disappointed, but I’m really proud of myself, you know, playing four sets again with this condition.

Q. Novak described him as a big match player. He’s come up obviously winning a couple Grand Slams and playing big matches. Talk about facing him today and assessing his performance.
KEI NISHIKORI: You mean Stan?

Q. Yeah.
KEI NISHIKORI: Well, yeah, like I said, he was playing much better last couple sets. Well, yeah, I stop moving a little bit. Also, you know, he was playing much powerful tennis.

You know, he start using his backhand a little bit more down the line and angles. I think that was really working for him. For me, I think I was hitting too short and wasn’t making enough first serve.

Yeah, he step up, you know, really in the end. You know, there is reason, you know, he’s been top 5 for a long time now. Yeah, he played some good tennis today.

Q. I have heard quite a few big-named players, including Novak, when we were talking to him earlier, talk about you as a player that really can be a Grand Slam winner. You came close; went to the final. How much does getting this close make you want to go that extra mile to do whatever it takes to win? How hungry are you to get back in the finals?
KEI NISHIKORI: Well, yeah, there was only two more matches to go, so I felt really close and playing good level I think these two weeks. Especially beating Andy, you know, this big tournament I think gives me a lot of confidence.

I mean, it’s not easy when you have to play No. 2, No. 3, and, you know, Novak was waiting in the finals. It wasn’t easy job, but, you know, if I could win little easier last few matches I could have little more chance today and maybe in the final.

I think, you know, playing really good, especially big tournaments, the final in Toronto and good in Olympics and semis here, it was good summer.

Q. You mentioned Stan’s backhand and how he used that tonight. Can you describe what it’s like to face Stan’s backhand, which is known as being one of the best shots in tennis.
KEI NISHIKORI: Well, yeah. I think I went too much, little too much to his backhand. He was start using backhand down the line. He can hit angle really well with topspin.

Yeah, definitely I was a little bit struggling with his backhand.

Q. How difficult were the conditions? How grateful were you when they closed the roof?
KEI NISHIKORI: Well, yeah, today was really humid. That made me really tough first few sets. Won in second set, but after I think temperature little down and it was little easier.

But still, yeah, it was tough conditions today.

Q. In the second set you have many chances to grab it but end up giving away. How did that affect you emotionally, mentally?
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, definitely I had to win the second set if I wanted to win today. I had so many chance with my serve and with his serve games, too.

Yeah, that’s really disappointing, especially second set, I think that was the biggest mistake I did. Yeah, after that he was playing better, so I think gave him little confidence.

But even though, you know, if I win two sets, I had to still win one more set. So with this condition and my condition, it was really tough.

Q. How do you see the final?
KEI NISHIKORI: I don’t know. I think, yeah, Stan is playing good again, but still Novak is No. 1. I mean, yeah, we’ll see.

 

Stan Wawrinka

Press Conference

S. WAWRINKA/K. Nishikori

4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. First US Open final against an opponent you have had some epic battles with. How excited are you?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, I’m really excited. Really happy to make the final. Something amazing for me.

To play Novak, the No. 1 player, it’s always really challenging. But we had some many big memories together, especially in Grand Slams, so it’s going to be an excited match.

Q. You have the beautiful words of Samuel Beckett inscribed on your left forearm. That seems to match your philosophy and inspire you. Now that you’re one match away from being one Wimbledon away from a career Grand Slam…
STAN WAWRINKA: I am too far though. Why we should…

Q. Perhaps the poet Kipling’s words, If you can meet with triumph as well as disaster; and treat those two imposters are just the same…
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, it’s good, but you’re going too far with if I win and if I play Wimbledon well one time. No, so far I’m just really happy. I’m enjoying the moment right now after a tough match today. It’s something very special.

The feeling is amazing for me to tell myself that I’m going to play a US Open final. I watched it almost every year, so it’s going to be excited.

Q. When Novak was here before he said that you play your best tennis in the biggest of matches. How are you able to do that?
STAN WAWRINKA: Because the biggest matches, it’s the end of the tournament. Final, semifinal, and I had matches to get confidence to play well match after match.

Yes, I know I have some up and down during the year. I’m not playing my best tennis in every tournament, but I’m trying to work as hard as I can to give me the chance to play well every time I step on the court.

And in Grand Slam is where I want to play my best tennis. Is where I want to be the better player. Always find a way to find my game and to put everything together.

Q. When you’ve won majors you’ve had to go through Novak. What has been the secret to how well you’ve done against him in those situations?
STAN WAWRINKA: Was some amazing match, for sure. The secret is simple: I have to play my best tennis, my best game. He’s the No. 1 player, amazing fighter, amazing player, but I have enough confidence in myself that when I play my best level I can beat him.

Hopefully I can bring that Sunday. But it’s the biggest challenge. When you play Novak, the No. 1 player in the final of Grand Slam, it’s the biggest challenge you can have.

Q. About today’s match, from beginning until beginning of second set Kei seemed dominating, and then you made everything a turnaround. How did you make it? Could you talk about your backhand? How much are you confident and comfortable with your backhand?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, I think Kei start really well the match. I think he was moving really well. He was playing really aggressive. I didn’t find any solution to put my game. He was always dictating. I was feeling uncomfortable on the court. He was coming at the net. He was changing a lot.

I just tried to little by little play a little bit better, a little bit faster, a little bit heavier. I tried to make him run. I think in the middle of the second, that’s when I start to change a little bit who’s the player on the court. He was already inside the court at the beginning, but I turned that little by little.

I saw in the first set that he could also struggle with the heat and humidity today. It was a tough battle physically, and I know if I’m make him tired he’s not going to be as fast or aggressive as he was at the beginning. That was my goal, to play a little bit more aggressive.

Q. You mentioned humidity. We saw the racquet come right out of your hands at one point. Wet, was it, out there?
STAN WAWRINKA: It was really wet. It was tough conditions. I think the four players today, we suffer a lot on the court, that’s for sure.

I was struggling. I was suffering on the court first set, second set, and all the match.

But I just knew that it was important not to show it, to stay there, because I also know that in a five-set match there is some up and down. It’s important to not spend energy by being negative and show the opponent that you’re struggling.

I think today it make a big difference for myself.

Q. Novak lost one final in the last couple years, and that was to you. Will you think about it before the match?
STAN WAWRINKA: Not the match, but the victory. I think for sure he’s gonna give me confidence to tell myself that I know I can do it, because I did it at the French Open final. He knows also that I can play my best tennis in the final of Grand Slam.

But it’s gonna be completely different match. Also the way I arrive in the final, the way I arrive, hopefully we can both play great tennis and make a big final.

Q. You were already 28 years old when you lost 12-10 the Australian Open to Djokovic. Is that the moment when you realized that you were competitive with the top players? Are you surprised that you were the only one who won outside of the Fab Four two slams already, and you could win three?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, for sure that match was something special in my career, especially in the month outside. That’s when I start to believe and realize myself that, yeah, maybe I can beat top player in Grand Slam.

It took me little time, and step by step, I did it step by step by coming back into the top 10, by making first quarter, French, first semifinal.

But for sure this match was important for my career. Then if I’m surprised, yes and no. I’m surprised for sure with what I did winning two Grand Slam. For me it’s… (Discussion about Evian bottle of water.)

Yeah, I’m surprised what I have achieved, for sure, by winning two Grand Slam and being in final again. If I’m surprised? I’m not really surprised to see that the big four have won everything, because it’s been more than ten years.

So if you take out two years it’s still eight years. So during eight years I was looking at them, semifinal, final, every year. So I’m not surprised, because they just — they have been in different level than every other player.

Q. After the match against Del Potro you mentioned that you were a bit tight in your adductor. How was that tonight? Because, if I’m right, I think you have been on the court double the time in this tournament.
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, no, I feel good. I feel good. I was quite tired after Del Potro match. I had some, yeah, normal — I was tired the next day, but I didn’t practice. I did just some fitness. I did what I do when I spend too much time on the court. That mean no tennis and just focus on recovery.

But today I was feeling good. I had no pain so far. I’m quite happy with my body where I am, and we will see now in two days. It’s always gonna come later. Hopefully I’m going to be fresh enough with Novak who didn’t have too much time on the court.

Q. You played twice as long as Novak, but today he was compromised by the weather situation; physically was troubled by it. Do you think that stamina will have anything to do with Sunday’s final?
STAN WAWRINKA: Let’s see. I think the fact he didn’t spend too much time on the court compared to myself, I don’t think it’s gonna change much for what I’m going to do and who I’m going to be.

Was struggling with some injury problem before the tournament, so it helped him to be a little bit better. Also didn’t give him in so much time on the court, match time. You can practice as much as you want. Match is not the same.

And we saw today, it was interesting match to see, but Novak is a strong guy. He’s mentally a beast. Is not easy to play him. I’m sure he’s gonna bring him best tennis for the final.

Q. In recent years you and Djokovic are the most exciting matchup in tennis. Why do you think is it? Styles of play match or do your personalities match?
STAN WAWRINKA: Well, I think a little bit of the style of how we play. I think the matchup always been interesting to see because the way we are playing. I’m trying to be aggressive. I can play really hard.

He is amazing defender. And also, where we start. We started with five-set match in Australia a few years ago, 10-8. I was maybe one of the only player who start dominate in two sets and didn’t finish it. I was dominating the match.

And then if you look, then I played my first semifinal in Grand Slam against him here and again five sets. So for sure the fact that we play some long match and some crazy battle puts something different.

Q. Your matchup is not only a particular matchup, but matchup for life. He made you better and you make him better. (Indiscernible.)
STAN WAWRINKA: I’m not sure if I made him better. I think he only lost against me in French Open. I think he’s so good that he always find a way to be better. For sure he made me better. That’s for sure.

Him, because that’s the player I played that well in crazy match in the Grand Slam the first time. And not only him, but the big four, for sure. They made me better. The fact that I tried practice always with them, tried to see what they are doing.

My goal is to push myself until the limit where I can go to be the better player I want. I can. With them, every time I step on the court, even if they are way better in their career, I always have something I need to tell myself. Maybe I can beat them. You need to find a way. If you lose, it’s okay. You go back to practice.

That’s what happened with them. I saw so many players not even thinking they can beat them when they step on the court. I always try to believe in something, that maybe one day I can beat them, and that’s what happen in the past few years.

Q. When you play in a big match at a Grand Slam like today or Sunday against Novak, how important is it for you to be able to rely on your backhand?
STAN WAWRINKA: I don’t see that way. I feel it when I step on the court, how I feel, how I’m going to play, is my backhand going to be there.

But for sure when I play my best tennis my backhand is there, because that’s where I put a lot on my game, on it. But it can happen that sometimes at the beginning of the match my backhand is not there and I need to find other solution.

So I don’t expect my backhand to be at the top since — from the beginning.

Q. You won ten finals in a row.
STAN WAWRINKA: That’s good.

Q. What that means? Is that you’re so confident? And also, you’re so concentrated that every time you play an important match, not just because you put your finger in your head, that you’re concentrated. You do well. Is that the reason, or… Coincidence? Confidence?
STAN WAWRINKA: I won 10 in a row the last two years, and before that I lost many.

So I think it’s part of my career, the way I became a better player. I start to believe better in myself and take more confidence.

Again, as I say, normally when I arrive in the final, I’m full of confidence with myself and what I do during one week or two weeks in that tournament. I know that I can play my best tennis.

Again, I can lose Sunday. It’s still gonna be good to be ten and lose the eleventh one. But in general I know when I arrive in final I’m ready to play my best tennis, and that’s what I’m looking for. That’s what I’m trying to do.

But, again, now, when you play Novak, even playing your best tennis you can also lose. So it’s gonna be, I hope, a big match, and hopefully I can keep winning.

 

 

 

 

Laura Siegemund

Mate Pavic

Press Conference

SIEGEMUND-PAVIC/Vandeweghe-Ram

6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Congratulations. I have heard it described as a blind date. I don’t know if you know what that term means, but start out first, can you each tell me what it means to be a Grand Slam champion?
LAURA SIEGEMUND: Well, at this point, yeah, me personally I can’t really believe it yet. It hasn’t really hit me.

I mean, I’m just stunned a little bit at this point. I’m very happy. I think we played a great match today. We did play a great tournament. All the other matches were, yeah, very solid also in the important situations, although we never played together.

So it’s just amazing that even in the finals we could just play the same, you know, stay focused and stick to the system that was working the whole week.

He was, as the British say, cool as a cucumber. He was cooler than me maybe at times. (Smiling.) I was very glad about that.

Q. And your thoughts on being a Grand Slam champion?
MATE PAVIC: Well, it still has to settle down a little bit. I’m still kind of not feeling it at the moment. But, no, I mean, like she said, it was a great week for us. Maybe the story how we ended up playing together, you know, maybe that helped a little bit, because we had no expectations at all, you know.

We just kind of not sure we were gonna play or not. Maybe that helped a little bit.

Yeah, we played all the matches very solid, very good. It was a fun week. It was great.

Q. Can you talk about how you guys came together? I have heard the story, but I’d like to hear it from you guys. Like I say, it’s almost like the perfect blind date.
LAURA SIEGEMUND: Yeah, it’s really kind of a blind date. Honestly, I didn’t know him before. We don’t have too many combined events and I’m just starting to play the big ones, combined events. I have never seen him or heard his name.

I was not sure if I was gonna play because I wasn’t feeling very well at that point. But I still — I mean, I love the game of mixed, so I really wanted to play.

It was still a week till the first match of mixed, so I was hoping that someone would, you know, trust me that I would maybe get better. He was the only one that was very relaxed about the situation and also didn’t have a partner yet. So he didn’t have a lot of options. The cut is kind of high. Weren’t really a lot of girls around that were looking, so… (Smiling.)

MATE PAVIC: I was stuck with her.

LAURA SIEGEMUND: It turned out quite well in the end. So, yeah, that was the situation. And then even when I played my other matches — I had to retire from doubles. It was a day I couldn’t move.

And then singles was hard on me. And even after the singles he thought, I think, that I was maybe just gonna retire and just go home to get better.

MATE PAVIC: Yeah.

LAURA SIEGEMUND: I remember the text like the next — or after my singles. He’s like, So, are we gonna play tomorrow? I was like, Yeah, let’s do it. (Smiling.)

Q. Laura, until a year or two ago you were still juggling tennis and school. Now you are able to focus completely on tennis. How much has that helped your game?
LAURA SIEGEMUND: Honestly, I really think it always helped my game a lot if I had not only tennis on my mind. I kind of need some balance is what I found out for myself. So this season was a little bit tough for me because it was the first time after a couple of years where I had only tennis. Only thing I focused on.

So a great year, of course. Looking at the rankings, also and this title now.

But it is difficult for me. I feel like I need some time off, and if it’s not studying or coaching what I did before, I kind of, you know, make hobbies or whatever. I just take time for other things, which is really important for me.

But, yeah, the first season back full-time pro, it’s a good season.

Q. How do you celebrate winning a Grand Slam? What are both of your plans for tonight?
MATE PAVIC: I don’t know. I have a flight tomorrow evening, so I have the whole night to think about it. Probably go somewhere and celebrate. I don’t know. Don’t know yet.

LAURA SIEGEMUND: I trust his crew to have a good location. They said they have a good location; we just need to win. So we did it.

Q. Celebrating with strangers, right?
LAURA SIEGEMUND: Well, no. I mean, we kind of got to know the Croatian crew a little bit through the week.

Q. What do you think? Is this the beginning of something beautiful together?
LAURA SIEGEMUND: On my side, yes. I don’t know how you feel about it.

MATE PAVIC: Of course, yeah.

LAURA SIEGEMUND: Well, I think we should definitely play more together, and is also the matter of the cut.

MATE PAVIC: Hopefully we will get in Australia and maybe try there also to play.

Q. Just talk about the match today, also.
MATE PAVIC: I think it was a good match. It was very good. They are good. They are solid. They both serving good. Coco is also serving good for the girl. All the other matches the girls were not really serving that good or hitting the ball that good.

I think we were — like I said before, she’s returning very good for the girl, you know. So all the matches that we played, we broke the guy’s serve a lot of times. Like even today Rajeev was serving and we broke his serve twice.

Was putting the balls back, returning good, makes the guy feel pressure and he has to win those games and then it’s not easy to make the point. So I think that make a huge difference in all the matches that we played so far.

Q. Do you guys think the cut system needs to be changed? To me it sounds ridiculous that the US Open champions might not be able to play the Australian Open.
MATE PAVIC: Yeah. Yeah, maybe right. I don’t know if they should change it or not, but usually the cuts are very strong because they always look at the better rankings.

Also depends on a lot of singles guys and girls also, if they sign or not if they want to play.

LAURA SIEGEMUND: Me, personally, yeah, I think it’s hard. I had the situation for quite sometime that I really wanted to play mixed, but I was just out of the cut.

The group of people that have the ranking for that, they are kind of set with each other for a long time already. So if you’re coming from outside it’s very hard to get into that group unless you’re like pushing your own ranking up so much.

So, yeah, I really think it’s a little bit sad, yeah, that even we would have to see now if we get in in the Australian Open, for example. Yeah.

Q. Winning a Grand Slam, what does this do for your confidence moving over to men’s doubles tournaments going forward for the rest of the season?
MATE PAVIC: Well, I don’t know. We will see. It feels great. Of course it’s gonna give you confidence winning a Grand Slam. Even if it’s a mixed doubles, it’s still amazing feeling, you know.

So I had a good year so far. I won like four ATPs. So we’ll see. I hope to just continue like that. Get my ranking a little bit better. My goal is to get top 30 by end of the year to get to the majors of Masters 1000s and all these events. We will see how does it do.

Q. Laura, the same question. Just in terms of obviously being a Grand Slam champion now, what does this do for your confidence and also your goals going forward?
LAURA SIEGEMUND: Um, well, yeah, as he said, it’s always a push in the confidence winning a big thing like that. I think you learn — as a girl, I learn a lot about doubles playing the mixed. I mean, it’s just — everything is faster, even faster than if you play girls doubles, for example.

So you really learn to pick the spots and not be afraid at the net maybe. I mean, I learned a lot this week also where to move and all that, so I think I can use that in the women’s doubles.

Although it’s still a different game. I mean, it is different. But I definitely try to take that, you know, swing into the last tournaments of the year, yeah.

 

More to follow as the day progresses….

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Day 9 of the US Open – In Their Own Words

Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils

 

(September 5, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Posting player interviews throughout the day when allowed.

Note from the US Open Media Operations Guide as why Tennis Panorama News is allowed to post transcripts:

Transcripts of player interviews cannot be posted until one (1) hour after the interview has ended. Player transcripts can only be posted on the website of the publication that was accredited.

Gael Monfils

Press Conference

G. MONFILS/L. Pouille

6-4, 6-3, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How happy are you with the way you won today? Are you content with the way you played? Straight sets is always good.
GAEL MONFILS: Yeah, I’m happy with my performance. I think it is never easy to play quarterfinal against a French guy, you know. I think I handled it pretty good mentally and tennistically.

I’m happy with that and where my game is. I see new or good stuff today. Serve was a bit better. I have been saying I think to the French press that I could serve faster. I think I did it great today.

Still moving good. I’m very happy.

Q. To get to this point of the tournament – first time in semifinals of the US Open – you have had electric and great matches here, but to be able to play in the semis, how happy are you with that?
GAEL MONFILS: Yeah, I think I missed a good chance two years ago against Roger, but, you know, I just live now, and now I’m happy. I played great tennis so far.

You know, I have two days to recover to play my first semis here. I’m more than happy. I’m happy where I am now, so I gonna prepare great my match.

Q. Sometimes it seemed like to us that you play just as much to entertain the crowd; spectacular shots. Today it seemed like you were, very focused, playing a sharp, intelligent match, and controlled. Is that accurate, or what’s your feeling about that?
GAEL MONFILS: You know, about that is somehow — you know, those match, you never get, you know, those ball to entertain, how you say.

If, today, you know, I drop my racquet and I do a slide you will say I will entertain people, you know, no matter what. Sometime I can hear that — someone told me that my shoe laces, you know, it was one point on perfect win, clean win against Baghdatis. You make it up. Oh, like he’s doing a show.

Or if I do a trick shot, one, and still kill it, you will say, I’m a showman. So, you know, this one, with all the respect to everyone, is you guys to put me on the spot.

Today I think I haven’t the chance to do it, but Lucas, hit two good tweeners. I don’t think you will tell him he tried to entertain.

Q. You’re 30 years old now. Has your philosophy changed about these things? Are you trying to be more conservative with your body or anything like this?
GAEL MONFILS: Yeah, not really. I think I’m very blessed genetically, you know. I guess the only thing is a bit different the recovery. I think it’s a bit tougher.

But if not, I’m even stronger than before, I think.

Q. If you were to face Novak Djokovic, how would you describe what that match will mean to you and what it will depend on?
GAEL MONFILS: I have a second opportunity to get to my first slam final, and the opportunity to maybe beat him for the first time in the main tour, to beat the world No. 1. That’s it.

Q. What do you think the outcome will depend on? What is most important for you to do to give yourself the best chance to win?
GAEL MONFILS: I have today to think about it. (Smiling.)

Q. Are you having fun?
GAEL MONFILS: Always. You know, always. No matter what, looks maybe a bit more serious, like everyone mention it this year, but I play tennis because I have fun. I play tennis because I love the sport.

If not, I won’t wake up every morning, train, because most of people think that jumping or do trick shot is gifted. Yes, it’s gifted, but is a lot of work. I won’t say I work on the trick shot, but it’s like I think physically I’m one of the best.

And to do that is because you’re in a great shape, you know. If I don’t have funny I stop playing tennis, for sure.

Q. Doesn’t matter whether you’re entertaining or whatever, you’re having fun?
GAEL MONFILS: Yeah, have fun.

Q. Does it frustrate you when people talk about trick shots and entertaining?
GAEL MONFILS: Make me laugh. You know, make me laugh, because honestly, if I can do it today, let’s say today if I have a 360 smash, definitely I do it, but I don’t have the ball.

Sometime I have it and I do it, and then the first thing is gonna be talk about is all match it was an exhibition and maybe I hit one shot.

So it’s funny. Now, you know, I get to be more consistent with the winning, you know. Because, I mean, now it’s easier to say, Oh, because I’m winning more, you know, more matches, so it’s tougher for some people to say that I’m just a showman.

Now I’m winning and faire le show.

Q. Do you ever want people to understand that you’re…
GAEL MONFILS: No, you know, I always say if I have the ball I do it because I love it. I think when I dive on the court I not dive for people. Come on. To be honest, I gonna hurt myself for people? No.

I dive because I want to win the point. Definitely I want to win the point. You know, when you make the show, honestly, it’s to entertain, but it’s to win. So what’s the point to make the show and lose actually.

That’s why people think, Oh, he’s jumping, he’s sliding. In the end, you think I’m stupid? (Laughter.)

Q. Novak could have a tough match, perhaps will have a tough match with Jo tonight, but he’s had a rather easy US Open so far. Is it important for top players to be challenged early on to get things going later in a tournament, or if you are winning well and things are going well it doesn’t matter for you?
GAEL MONFILS: I mean, for him is different, you know. He’s super confident for years. I think doesn’t need many matches to feel his best tennis.

So I think everybody is different. I’m guy I don’t need much tennis to feel confident. Me, myself, it’s more about if I feel 100% physically is good enough to play tough tennis.

Q. You mentioned that match two years ago against Roger and how you had a chance. Did that one stick with you? Did you think about that a lot afterwards?
GAEL MONFILS: Not really, you know. What stays I had a wonderful time. It was one of the greatest match I play, you know. It’s always great to play against Roger, you know. Even if you have match points, it happen in sport.

I gave the best I had. You know, when you have opportunities you try to get it, and I think I got it back today to be in semis.

So I have been waiting for two years.

Q. You’re quite a sports fan. Do you ever learn anything from watching other sports like football or basketball that can help you on the tennis court?
GAEL MONFILS: Definitely. I mean, this year, you know, with the — I mean, I have been respecting a lot what LeBron James — I mean, what he done this year was unreal. His mindset and the work he put in to win this final, I think this is big inspiration for me.

Q. You were asked earlier about the possibility of facing Novak. I wanted to ask you to talk about the possibility of facing Jo in the semis, and both maybe what you think would be the key to that match, but also if you could speak a little bit about how long you have known each other and what it might mean to face Jo in a Grand Slam semifinal.
GAEL MONFILS: Oh, it would be a huge dream, I think. A dream. Definitely we will choose the final, but semis would be good enough.

You know, it’s not a good friend. He’s one of my best friends. He’s a brother. He’s someone I grew up with. He’s someone I look at when I was younger because he was a bit older than me.

You know, we have been through this Federation center. He was stronger than us and playing earlier, you know, the futures and everything. We always, you know, put the work to play with him, to be with Jo, you know.

So we found out, you know, ourself on the tour together, playing Davis Cup together. Go to Rio together. Share a room together in Rio. Do some fun stuff together, you know, since actually we have been 10, 11. It’s been great.

I mean, if you can have a reward and play, I mean, the semifinal in two days, it would be amazing.

Q. (Regarding five-set match with Djokovic.)
GAEL MONFILS: I mean, I remember, yeah, that was a tricky match actually. With the roof will be different, because it was taking a long time and I lost this one 7-5 in the fifth.

It was long time ago I think now. Novak is the best player ever, and that time he wasn’t. So I think it was just a good memory.

Q. But now you’re saying he is the best player ever.
GAEL MONFILS: He is. Yeah, he is. I mean, so far — when I say “ever,” not yet, because it’s still Roger. But so far what he’s doing is amazing. He’s better player than me, definitely. I think I have no shame to say it. He is better than me.

You can be the best, but one match is enough, you know. If I face him, I will take the one match as enough.

Q. You have been really consistent this year. I’m just wondering, what do you think is the key? Like you’re healthy? Maybe the confidence just keeps like helping you?
GAEL MONFILS: Yeah, my health has been big trouble I think all my career, and now it is somehow stabilized. I think I work differently. I think I understand different stuff.

I think it helps me a lot to be stronger.

Q. What’s the secret of success of the French players? This tournament especially, but generally speaking. You always have new talent and you have always a group of players in last few players, in the last eight, which no country has. What do you think is the secret?
GAEL MONFILS: I don’t know if secret, but I think it’s good. I think it’s good for sure for our country.

But I think it’s — I’m not sure it’s a secret. I think we all work hard, and somehow we know we make it in the same moment.

Obviously, you know, sometime it was I think the States, was Spain, you know, other countries. At the end it happen here, you know. I think I have no words to say what to say about that, but the only thing I hope is maybe next year we’re gonna have maybe even one or two more.

Q. You said you feel Novak is one of the greatest players ever, possibly the greatest player ever. What do you admire most about him?
GAEL MONFILS: His consistency, his game, the way he hit the ball clean.

I mean, so far, you know, it’s very hard to remember a match where. You know, he wasn’t hitting the ball clean. You know, maybe one or two a year. It’s amazing. The way tactically he handle, you know, every tactic, like we try to made against him.

And I think, yeah, so far he’s the best. I think he’s a great champion.

Q. How important is it for you to have a coach? How is your relationship with your trainer? What’s it like?
GAEL MONFILS: I think it’s important, for sure, for me because I need to have someone that can tell me, you know, drive me, I would say, drive me a little bit.

I got a lots going on with my tennis, which mean sometime I want to defend, I want to attack, I want to go to the net.

I think I can actually make all those shots myself, but it’s easier when someone drive you and help you to find your way, you know.

I think Mikael do it pretty good.

Q. You earlier mentioned LeBron James. Have you ever had a chance to meet him? And if you did, what would you want to ask him?
GAEL MONFILS: No, I never have this chance, but, you know, if I met him first time, first thing I would tell you is I want to dunk on you. (Laughter.)

No, I might ask him, I don’t know, so many questions. You know, I watch a lot of the commentary on him. Got many question about how he is, how he feels, how it is to be the leader, like a great champion playing with him. How do you think about everything. You know, I think I’d be a great day if I can.

Q. You mentioned your health being good and working differently now. What are you doing differently? Maybe some examples. Is it a new diet? More time in the gym?
GAEL MONFILS: I working better. I working better. Differently.

I’m not always talk about how I do it, but — what I can say I find a way to take care of my knee, take care of my body, you know, take care of everything. So far it’s good.

Angelique Kerber

Press Conference

A. KERBER/R. Vinci

7-5, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Can you tell us the first set, which you were behind three times and you were able to recover. How was difficult? Were you tense? You started to play much better later.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I think the key of the match was the first set. I mean, it was really close and tough. It’s always difficult to play against Roberta.

I mean, she’s a tough opponent with her slice. Yeah, I was trying to staying in the match and not thinking that I’m the break down. Just going for it, yeah.

Keeping my mind a little bit relaxed, and, yeah, staying in the moment. I think that was my key also like for the first set to being a little bit more relax and had not too negative, actually.

Q. You were not so much relaxed in the first set, correct?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, no, because it was tough and I knew that it’s really close now. So that’s why I talked to myself, Okay, stay positive. Think about the good things you did in the first set.

And that’s it. After I won the first set I was more relaxed at the end. I think in the second set what I did good that I played the first few games really tough so that I was up 3-0 very fast.

Then I could continue my good play, yeah, in the next few games.

Q. In the first set especially she used the dropshot a lot and you went to the net. Sometimes it worked; sometimes is didn’t. How do you feel you did against that? Do you think other players are going to use that going forward?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I know that she’s playing like this. I know how she play and I was actually prepared for that. So, yeah, it works sometimes, but I think a lot of players are playing like that already. Also me.

So I was not surprised that she was playing so many dropshots.

Q. Against a player like Roberta who hits so much variety and slices, is it especially important to stay patient and calm?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I think it was also important to have patience against her and wait for your shots, because she is actually a good mover and she brings a lot of balls back with her slice, as well.

So I was trying to moving good, and, yeah, keeping my eyes on the balls and going for it. Because the spin is a little bit different than when you play against others. They are just hitting the balls really strong.

Q. Did you watch her match against Serena last year? What did you make of her performance in that one?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: No. I just saw the final. I didn’t saw the semis. I saw a lot of matches after. She is a great player and she played very good in the last few months, so I was trying to, yeah, watch the match.

And also, I talked with my coach a little bit because he saw the match before. And, yeah, my plan was playing with patience and when I have the chance to going for it.

Q. This is becoming common for you now to get to this stage in a major. How would you describe the transformation in your game and your thinking to get to where it is becoming common for you?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I think it’s changed a little bit. For me, I’m going out on Arthur Ashe, on the stadium, and playing against top player, as well. I have I think right now more confidence to going out there.

I’m not thinking about quarters, semis, or whatever. I’m just going there to playing a good match and to win the match.

I know that I can beat everybody, and this is what gives me also a lot of confidence and motivation for going out there and playing with a lot of emotion.

Q. So how different is your sense of belief in yourself right now than it was before this year?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: It’s bigger, for sure. It’s one of my best years now, so that’s why my belief in myself is growing for sure. That’s why I think I’m playing like I’m playing right now, that I really going for it with a lot of belief in my game and myself.

Yeah, it’s changed a lot in the last few months.

Q. You just hit on this in terms of thinking your way through a match. Two years ago, three years ago, how different would this match have played out? Do you think you would have been as mentally strong against an opponent who really throws you off?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I don’t know. I think this is a good question. I don’t know. Maybe not, because I think I grow a lot in the last few years.

And also with my mentality, that I’m, yeah, staying more positive and believing in my game. I think that, yeah, that right now I can win matches like that.

Also, the match before I played, just staying positive and believe in my shots. That gives me a lot of confidence.

So I think I learned a lot from the last years.

Q. You were saying that you kept telling yourself today to stay in the moment and focus on right now, not look ahead. How does that help you and how does that get more difficult and certainly facing your next round?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Today, that was I think the key for the match, to staying in the moment and not thinking ahead or like what’s happen or whatever.

And I think this is also what I have learned in the last few months also, to not thinking ahead against who I’m playing or if it’s the same as other final or first round actually.

I’m just trying to, yeah, believe and having fun out there, enjoying what I’m doing right now. I think this is the best way for me to playing my best tennis.

Q. It’s been five years since you were in the semifinals here. It must be very, very good to be back at this stage. How different is it going in now with the accomplishments that you have, the Grand Slams and great results you have had lately and the mental maturity than it was for the 23 year old who did it five years ago?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, it’s completely different. I mean, I remember the semis here like years ago when I reached it for my first time. That was maybe also a little bit surprise.

I had nothing to lose. I came here. I just played great tennis. I think a lot of things, yeah, happened since then.

Now I’m a completely different player, I think. I’m going out. I have a lot of confidence. I know how to win big matches. I know how it feels playing on the stadium.

I’m also enjoying it more than years ago. I’m trying to, you know, going there and enjoying the atmosphere and also win the matches.

I mean, years ago I came here and I had nothing to lose and my goal was playing good, and now my goal is winning the matches and this is a little bit different.

Q. When you had your quarterfinal press conference, when you were doing this five years ago, do you remember feeling a bit differently, maybe a bit more nervous or apprehensive, do I really belong here, as opposed to where you are right now sitting there talking to us?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I think so. Five years ago I was a little bit nervous. I was sitting here and I had no idea what to answer, I think. I was like, Okay, let’s see.

But right now I think for me it comes normal to came here in front of you guys, speaking with you. So it’s like after every match it’s the same rhythm.

Q. You’re speaking in terms of positiveness and all mental, but of course the physical part, is your practice different now? It’s awesome what you’re saying in regards to all the positive thinking and that is fantastic, but is your practice different now as opposed to how it was several years ago or a year ago or whatever? What has changed? And is there one strength in your game that has really made a significant difference in the past several months or so of this year?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I think my practice change a little bit. I’m trying to focusing just on one or two things during the practice and really trying to focusing on this and improving few things and not making things also too complicated. To going out there and practicing like not maybe two hours, but just one hour, and full intensity. I think this is what I change.

Yeah, my game, I think my serve improved a little bit more than like few months ago. Of course that helps me a little bit more on my game style when my first serve, yeah, cames more.

Q. Question regarding Wozniacki.)
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Caroline is always a tough opponent. I know this. We know each other very well.

So let’s see who will win the quarterfinal tonight, but for me, it’s — I will watch it a little bit for sure, but for me it’s actually doesn’t matter against who I’m playing.

I’m now in the semifinals, and if it’s Caroline, yeah, it will be great match for sure. I know how she is playing; she is strong again; she had great wins here.

So it will be a good semis.

Q. What do you remember about the matches against Caroline in the past particularly? You obviously had some long ones; some insane long rallies in Indian Wells.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I remember long matches with her. I remember we have tough rallies and always really tough ones.

So for sure it will be – if it’s her again – really tough battle.

But, yeah, I’m looking forward to take the chance again with her to play and to take the challenge. It’s the semis, so it doesn’t matter against who I’m playing. I mean, it will be tough one. I’m looking forward if it’s Caroline.

Q. You’re known for working so hard on your game, and your game has gotten better and better each year. You still have a ways to go. What would it mean to you to finally become the best player in the world? What would that mean to you?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Um, this would mean a lot to me. I mean, when I was a kid I was always dreaming to being the No. 1. Let’s see. I mean, there are still matches to go.

Also, Serena has to play as well very good. I mean, let’s see. I mean, I’m looking forward to play, first of all, my next match. If the day will come, it will be amazing.

Q. As you mentioned, we don’t know the name of your next opponent. I’d just like to ask you about the specific challenge of each one, starting with Caroline. When you face her, what do you consider to be the greatest challenge in her game for you? And then the same with Anastaija?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: With Caroline, I mean, I know she’s moving very well and she brings a lot of balls back, so I have to be really patient, like today, and waiting for the shots and being aggressive. That will be for sure the challenge with her.

And against Sevastova, I think I never played against her yet, so… But this is also — I mean, she has nothing to lose. She plays now also one of her best tennis. She reach the quarters here, so she will give everything. Yeah, actually, I don’t know exactly how she’s playing right now.

Roberta Vinci

Press Conference

A. KERBER/R. Vinci

7-5, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Obviously disappointing. You had a rough break and then all of a sudden she broke back and kind of seemed like a different match. Talk about what happened.
ROBERTA VINCI: Yeah, was of course a tough match. Bad luck for the first set. I had so many chance. Probably I was playing better than her the first set.

But she’s a great player. She miss maybe two or three balls and she run a lot. She’s in confidence. So I lost the first set, and then the second set she started to play better than the first set. I was a little bit down.

But anyway, of course I’m so sad about today. In general I played a great tournament. Now just will go home and take some days off; see what I have for my injury, and then we will see.

Q. You felt that she became a significantly better player?
ROBERTA VINCI: Yeah.

Q. Because she had said she sort of learned to relax; she had nerves coming in and you are a tricky player. It wasn’t so much that your game fell, it’s that she was able to raise the level of her game?
ROBERTA VINCI: Yeah, I have different kind of tennis, of course. Yeah, she was a little bit nervous probably because she knew that I am different player. Probably she prefer to play with some opponent that play flat.

But I have a different game, and, well, to beat her, she’s tough. You have to play great tennis, high level. I played high level for just one set.

But that was the best that I can do today.

Q. Last year you were coming in and facing Serena, clearly the hottest player on tour. Right now you can say Angie is the hottest player on tour right now. Two years in a row. Did you draw upon last year, what you were able to do against Serena?
ROBERTA VINCI: Well, this morning in my mind I said, of course, Okay, try your best; tough opponent like Serena last year. You have nothing to lose. Play your game. Try to enjoy. I knew that I was in the quarterfinal after a lot of problems, but I was fighting also today.

But, yeah, she’s No. 2 in the world. Maybe No. 1. So she’s in confidence. For me was tough, but I play good game today. I knew it was tough, tough to win against her.

But, yeah, she’s a great player. She won, so she played better than me. And that’s it.

Q. From what you remember of her a couple years ago, what is different about the level of her game today? Is it mental…
ROBERTA VINCI: My game or her game?

Q. Her game. What has raised?
ROBERTA VINCI: Well, she’s a great player. Yeah, probably different is mentality, from the mentality. She’s confident. She miss not so many balls, and she say always focus every single point. She run a lot, so you have to push a lot to win a point. You have to run a lot.

Yeah, she’s No. 2 in the world, so now she’s probably better mental, and also tennis. Both.

Q. It appears that you’re saying that the mental toughness has been a significant factor that has transformed her game.
ROBERTA VINCI: Okay, okay. Sorry.

Q. So if that is the situation, so her game has been basically the same —
ROBERTA VINCI: Yeah.

Q. — in the past several years. It’s just now she’s mentally tough and says, I can beat you; Vinci, I can beat you?
ROBERTA VINCI: Yeah. She won a lot of matches this year. She won one Grand Slam. She won a lot of match. So when the moments is tough, probably she’s…

Q. So does that create a fear within you now, her mental toughness? Because I’m hearing something here that’s mental, mental, mental, so perhaps it’s creating fear in you and some of the other girls that she’s…
ROBERTA VINCI: She’s on fire. She won a lot of matches. She’s in confidence. When the moment is tough and both are so close, she’s focused. She’s in good shape. She’s No. 2. So probably this is the difference between us.

Lucas Pouille

Press Conference

G. MONFILS/L. Pouille

6-4, 6-3, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Obviously disappointing result, but it’s been a great run for you. Obviously you came in off those five-setters and the rough one against Rafa. Talk about how that contributed to some fatigue, if that was the case. Talk about the match.
LUCAS POUILLE: Of course I was a bit tired today. I played four matches, one in four sets, and then all three in five.

So, yeah, it would have been better if I played a bit less time on court. It’s okay. I did my best today. Gaël was playing very good. He’s physically very fit. He’s moving so well. And I think, as I said after Nadal’s match, he’s in very good form.

Yeah, I think he was better than me today.

Q. What are the takeaways from the tournament? Obviously the win against Rafa, the hard-fought battles, but that one in particular?
LUCAS POUILLE: Yeah, the one against Rafa, of course. It’s the best win of my career so far.

It’s a lot of confidence. Even if I lose today, I will leave New York with a lot of confidence for the rest of the year and the next season. Now I know I can be in quarterfinal again and maybe more.

Yeah, give me power to work harder and to be, yeah, next time in quarter. I want to be stronger physically and, yeah, to be more fresh.

Q. Here and Wimbledon, are you at a point now where you have higher expectations coming into Grand Slams?
LUCAS POUILLE: Yeah, of course. Now the next one gonna be in Australia. It’s going to be a new year.

But I won’t go there to win only one match. I want to do second week and more. That’s gonna be my goal next year.

Q. How much did it bother you that several times you were at the net, seemingly good position to win the point, and he was able to lob you, get to a tough ball and then lob you?
LUCAS POUILLE: Ah, a lot. He’s moving — as I say, he’s moving so well. When you come to the net he always push you to the limit. He always put one more ball in the court.

So if you want to make a winner you have to make the perfect shot. Maybe I was a little bit tired. I was not so close to the net or I was not fast enough to come.

So, yeah, gave him a lot of space to pass me. Yeah, it was difficult.

Anastasija Sevastova

Press Conference

C. WOZNIACKI/A. Sevastova

6-0, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How much was your ankle injury affecting your play?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: For sure it was affecting my play, but I’m not a person that likes to retire during a match, so I just tried my best.

But the movement was different. It was harder to move. And also on serve it was harder to get out of the serve. Yeah.

Q. The second time the trainer came out, what was that discussion about?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: It was a discussion like she wanted to do something else. I was asking her what she can do maybe to help me, because I don’t like tapes normally on my ankle, because it’s different feeling plus it’s so tight, so I was just asking her. And, yeah…

Q. How tough was that just to be out there knowing that you couldn’t play the tennis that you wanted to play on Ashe Stadium, night session?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: For sure it was tough, but what can I do? I tried my best. I don’t like to retire, as I mentioned, but Caroline played great tennis. I think she made no mistakes. She did what she could best. She was a better player anyway. Yeah, even I think if I had no injury it would tough to beat her, yeah.

Q. How did you hurt it? Did you just twist it while…
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: I don’t know. I think I stopped on the serve. I didn’t follow through. I fell over. And, yeah, I heard some sounds there, but it happened to me couple of months ago as well on clay.

So it’s pretty much the same injury, same ankle, twice in six months. (Smiling.)

Q. Obviously an incredible two weeks for you and everything, but does the way it all ends kind of change what you take away from it, or is it still…
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: I don’t think it takes away. I still won two games. (Laughter.)

Yeah, it’s tough to end like that, but, yeah, it’s tennis. I could have played amazing but still lost. It would hurt more, I think.

But now, ankle, yeah. I have to stop and have to take time off. It was still great two weeks.

I mean, if somebody asks me like before, Would you take a quarterfinal, lose 0 and 2, or would you take a first round and lose 7-6 in the third, for sure I would take quarterfinals.

Q. How much did it mean to you getting to play three matches on Ashe? Not all quarterfinalists get to…
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: I don’t know why they put me on Ashe three times. I’m like playing more often than some other players who are like top 10. It’s a great feeling. It’s a great stadium. It’s the biggest one. It’s unbelievable.

I feel very welcomed here.

Q. Does it mean much to you to join the Last Eight Club? Do you know about that?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: I don’t know about that. I heard about that. What does it mean? Do I get something special?

Q. Last Eight Club means basically you get free credential and tickets for rest of your life.
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: Cool. Do I get also to practice alone on the court? Because before the tournament we were always sharing.

Q. Can you tell us how some things have changed in your life over the last ten days? Have you gotten new endorsements? What kind of benefits have you gotten over the last ten days?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: Not really. Latvia is a poor country. No, not really.

Q. Nothing?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: Nothing changed.

Q. Have you heard from any special people that you didn’t expect?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: No.

Q. Nothing?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: No, not really.

Q. Did you get that hat recently?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: No. It’s my hometown in Latvia.

Q. Kristaps is from the same…
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: Yeah, exactly.

Q. How far away did you grow up from his family?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: I don’t know his family, no. I’m not into basketball that much.

Q. But that was…
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: It’s the same town. We are from the same town, yeah.

Q. Did you hear from the Olympic hockey —
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: They lost. I heard about that.

Q. Do you feel you were able to cheer them up a little bit?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: I don’t follow hockey that much actually. (Laughter.)

I mean, I heard about that. This is qualifying. But, yeah. We still won — they still won against Austria 8-1.

Q. Did you brag to your boyfriend?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: That’s what I can brag about all the time.

Q. So do you leave New York the same as when you got here, or has the last 10 days changed you a bit?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: For sure. I have more confidence in my tennis. I think on a good day I could beat good players, top players.

And, yeah, the season is long. I mean, there is still some tournaments I can play, and it’s a good position to start the next year where I am now. So we’ll see. I have to just keep working.

It cannot happen like this today maybe. I have to start better. But for sure I’m more confident, and I’m more happy with my tennis, yeah.

Q. Did you feel that the crowd was particularly noisy tonight, more so than your other matches on Ashe?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: Like a pro on Ashe. (Smiling.)

Q. Was it distracting at all?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: Actually tonight it was not that distracting personally for me. They were loud, yeah, for sure, but I expected that from the first match during the night against Garbiñe.

So tonight it was okay. The problem I couldn’t hear the referee saying time, or chair umpire. I couldn’t hear.

Q. We couldn’t either.
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: Yeah.

Q. Do you know what your schedule is for the fall? You’re right around where could you get seeded for the Australian Open.
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: Tokyo, not International —

Q. Little Tokyo or big Tokyo?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: I just withdraw because of my ankle. I’m playing the second one, then Wuhan and Beijing, and probably Moscow. Maybe Linz. Depends on the results from before. After Moscow, I’m done.

Q. You probably haven’t had an opportunity to really, really celebrate everything that’s happened this week.
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: Not really.

Q. How do you celebrate now that you don’t have to play a match for a while?
ANASTAIJA SEVASTOVA: I’m quite tired now actually. My ankle hurts. Maybe on the flight home. I don’t know.

No, no idea. No. Really, maybe we will go out tonight. If we are not sleeping. But probably at home we would go somewhere for dinner or to nice drink. Yeah.

 

 

Caroline Wozniacki

Press Conference

C. WOZNIACKI/A. Sevastova

6-0, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How does it feel to be back in the semifinals of New York?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: It feels great. It’s a tournament that I love. I love being here. Life playing in this incredible stadium.

So it’s a great.

Q. It’s always hard to keep your focus when maybe the opponent is injured or something happens. You seemed to do that very well tonight.
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I think I was just extra focused, because I saw her fall in that second game. She stood up, and I knew if she can still walk and still put weight on it and stuff then she’s going to go obviously more for her shots and stuff like that.

But I thought, cool. I kept serving well and made her run. I’m pleased with how I managed to keep composed.

Q. Do you feel like you have home court advantage here being that you have your apartment sleeping in your apartment?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I definitely do feel like I have an advantage there. I sleep at home in my own bed, have home-cooked food, and have my friends and family here.

I also feel like I have a bit of a home court advantage when I step out on court. The crowd is always supporting me and is sweet to me. I think it helps I played so well here in the past. It’s just a great combination.

Q. What have been your observations of Angie’s improvement both in a physical way and mental way to get to the stage where she is now in late stages of nearly all the majors this season?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: To be honest, you know, obviously I have seen the results and she’s been doing great. I’m really happy for her. She’s a hard worker.

But to be honest, when I was injured I didn’t watch one match. I don’t know. I have to watch tapes. Obviously I have had tough matches against her in the past. She’s a great competitor. She looks fit, so it’s going to be a tough one.

Yeah, I haven’t really thought about it yet. I just kind of want to enjoy this moment first.

Q. How inspirational is that for you with all the Polish folks behind you?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Well, there is a lot of Polish people living here. Obviously there is a big fan base from Poland here.

Obviously I was born in Denmark and feel Danish, but I have some Polish blood in me. It’s nice I can take the best of both worlds. Also I have a big part of the New York crowd with me. It’s a great combination here.

Q. Cook any Polish food?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I haven’t this week, actually. After the tournament. (Smiling.)

Q. You have known Angie for a very long time and you hung out when you were younger, et cetera. Does it surprise you she finds herself in world No. 2, Grand Slam champion, based off how you were when you were younger?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: No, I don’t think so. We are similar in that we are both hard working. I think that, you know, hard work pays off. She’s obviously very passionate. She loves what she’s doing and it shows.

She’s had a great year and I’m happy for her.

Q. This isn’t a position you have been in quite often the last couple years. Does it make easier playing Angie, someone you know so well?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I don’t think it makes it easier. We will have to wait and she. She’s had a great year so she will be tough to beat, but I’m going to do my best. That’s all can I ask for myself.

Q. You said you didn’t really want to look ahead and go on to the next match right away. You really wanted to enjoy the moment and looked very happy at that time. How does being able to stay in the moment and not go out of yourself, how has that helped you?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I think it’s really helped me. You know, there is always going to be uphill battles, and sometimes it’s not going to go your way.

But I always believe if you work hard and you have the belief, and obviously you give it your all, eventually it will turn. It’s been a great week or ten days for me. I’m really pleased.

I think the fact that I have friends and family here and I can just go home and relax and kind of unwind, it’s really helped me to kind of just enjoy it and not look ahead and not stress and just show up. I’m like, Well, I get another day; I get another chance.

It’s great.

Q. I think your father was talking to the Danish press. Thinking about retiring? Have you given much thought to that, plans on that sort of front?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I kind of — I think I don’t want to really talk about that now. When I feel ready to open up and say something then I will, but for now I’m just here to play this tournament.

Hopefully I have two more matches here. Yeah, it’s really all I’m focused on right now.

Q. You have had to answer a number of questions about No. 1 or the No. 1 ranking. What is it about ranking? Angie is in a race for it. Is it something coveted on tour? You talked about ranking is just a number. Where does No. 1 fit into it?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I think when you’re a little kid and you don’t know what anything really means, everybody knows what it means to be the best in the world and everybody knows what it means to be No. 1.

So I think getting the No. 1 ranking is extremely special and it’s something that everyone can kind of relate to and every little kid understands.

So obviously being No. 1 in the world is extremely special, and I’m sure Angie is feeling it, too. I’m sure that she is going to do everything to get that ranking. She’s been playing really well this year.

It’s something that very few people in the world has ever achieved. I mean, how crazy is it to say that you’re the best in the world at something? Doesn’t matter if tennis, football, being a lawyer, whatever it is. It’s really special.

You know, for me, when I’m saying ranking is just a number, I have been No. 1. I have been there for two year years. That is something I’m extremely proud of.

But right now, for me, being 70-something, it’s not really — you know, it doesn’t really mean much to me. I still believe and feel like I’m one of the top players and grinding my way back, so that’s why I’m saying for me right now the ranking is just a number: because I’m not No. 1 and there is a long way for me right now to get back to No. 1.

But I’m doing my best to just play my best tennis and have fun with it. It’s really all that I can do right now.

Q. Would it be strange to see that number with not Serena Williams’ name next to it?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Yeah. I mean, she’s held that ranking for so long. Obviously, I think, it’s sad she’s only played eight tournaments from this time last year. She’s such an unbelievable and inspiring player. Obviously being so close with her, just it’s special. She’s just a special athlete. You know, it’s incredible what she’s achieved. It’s something that probably very few – or it will take a long time before someone else gets to that level.

Q. How many weeks a year do you spend at your Manhattan place and where you train?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I don’t know. I mean, we travel so much, so I don’t get to spend as much time here as I want.

But when I’m here lately I have been training at the McEnroe Academy on Randall’s Island. Sometimes I go to the Westside Highway; it’s public courts. They usually let me in and let me in and train for as long as I want. I kind of like being there, because I feel like a proper New Yorker.

Q. There is a queue to get on to those courts. Have you waited?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I actually haven’t waited because people have been so sweet that they’ve let me in.

Q. That’s fair.
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: But if I had to wait, I would. What can I do? I have to follow the rules, right?

Q. Your serve has been particularly reliable for you over the course of the tournament. That hasn’t always been the case in the past. Can you talk about the evolution of that shot? What is kind of the specific work that you have put into it to make it a shot that you can rely on here?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: It’s been something that I have worked on for the last 20 years. It’s something that I have spent a lot of time on, and it’s something that maybe doesn’t come — the return comes more natural than the serve, but I have been working really hard on it.

It’s been great at periods in my career and then it’s been really bad in periods where I am like, I don’t know why the timing isn’t there. It’s been good again, so it’s kind of on and off.

When it’s on, I’m just praying that it’s going to stay on for a while. I don’t know.

Q. Has it been on here? Would you consider this on?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Yeah, I think it’s been a good two weeks. Hopefully I can keep it up.

Q. You spoke a moment ago about belief and enjoyment and about your two weeks as No. 1 player in the world. How do those things compare now with the belief and enjoyment when you were the No. 1 player?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I think it’s much different. I’m older. I have been through everything. Right now I’m happy every time I get to play on a big court.

It’s special, you know. Like obviously being injured and being away from the game you kind of put things in perspective. You’re like, I could get injured again tomorrow and maybe I won’t have another shot out there.

I think I’m enjoying it much more now than back I was then. Back then I was just trying and grinding for staying at the top of the rankings for as long as possible, and obviously just winning every match.

Now obviously I want to win every match, but it’s different. I’m not the favorite in most of my matches anymore, or on paper at least. I’m just going in there as the underdog and going out doing my thing.

Q. How does that increased enjoyment affect your belief as a player?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I think I have always had the belief. The belief hasn’t changed. I just think I’m enjoying it now more than I was in the past.

I think it’s less stressful. It’s more going out and having fun.

Q. There was a picture on Twitter of the vacation you took with Angie and the Radwanskas, like, years ago.
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I look pretty round in that picture, actually. I think we all did.

Q. You were at a different stage in your lives. But everybody grows up, and on the tour everybody becomes more professional, has their own teams. Can you look back on that kind of time and how different it was and maybe if you have any stories to share about that vacation with Angie?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Actually, I don’t think it’s that different. We would still go on vacations, but the problem is like, you know, Aga is getting married, so then all of a sudden we’re like, We just want a girls trip, but it’s tough when everyone has their own thing.

But even last year Angie and I were talking. I was like, Part of my offseason I will be in New York. I’ll be somewhere else. If you want to join, you’re more than welcome.

So it’s not like we are separated, but it’s like sometimes like we have different priorities or there is just a little bit more busy now. But, yeah, I think still we hang out and we have coffees and sit and talk and have a good time.

I think the great thing about our little group of people is that we have kind of hung out together for years and years now, and doesn’t matter who is No. 1 or who is lower ranked or who is beating who, we always have that little clique, and it’s nice to be able to just hang out and have a nice little conversation and a good laugh.

 

 

Novak Djokovic

Press Conference

N. DJOKOVIC/J. Tsonga

6-3, 6-2, (ret.)

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How would you describe your road to the semifinals?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’m in the semifinals, so that’s what matters for me the most; to be able to play as well as I did in fourth round and today in the quarterfinals for at least a couple of sets.

I thought that I came out with the right intensity. The quality of my game and level of performance has raised in last couple of days, which obviously encourages me prior to the last four.

I put myself in a position again to be one match away from the finals. As tournament progresses, I feel like I’m getting better. Of course that this Grand Slam is very unique for me. I never experienced something like this to have three retirements on the road to the semifinals.

I can only wish all of my opponents a speedy recovery. That’s all I can do on my end. I obviously try to focus on things that I need to do; stick to the game plan. I notice Jo already midway through the second set was upholding his first serve and you could sense that something is going on.

So I’m sure it’s not an easy situation for him to handle, playing quarterfinals and having to retire night session. But, again, it’s sport.

Q. Did you sense that you broke him mentally as much as physically with just how sharp you were?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, that’s I guess a question for him. On my side I said I tried to come in with high intensity, concentration, and trying to execute the game plan I prepared with my team.

I played Jo many times on the big stage. First Grand Slam final for both of us was back in 2008 in Melbourne. Yeah, played over 20 times against each other, so I know Jo very well. I know his pros and cons.

So I tried to analyze the matches that we had before, and as I said, get myself, you know, prepared the best way I could. I thought I did well on the return; put a lot of pressure on his second serve. First serve is sometimes a gamble because it’s a big serve. Just tried to get as many balls back in play, move him around the court, and I thought at least that I have done well.

Q. Does the lack of match competition concern you at all going forward?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Not really. Actually, in this stage of the season, considering some physical issues I have had in the last month, month and a half, this was the scenario that I needed and I wished for. I got a lot of days off and recovered my body. Right now I’m feeling very close to the peak. That’s the position where I want to be.

Q. But would a fourth or a fifth set maybe be a bit of uncharted territory for you in the current sense?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Not really. I mean, I have played so many times. I was so many times in this particular situation where I had long matches on the road to the semis of a Grand Slam. Also had some Grand Slams where didn’t spend too much time on the court.

It really just depends how you feel, how your season has been, how many matches you have played throughout the year.

As I said, this scenario with easy was ideal at this stage.

Q. You played Del Potro in Rio and now he’s in the quarterfinal here. How well do you think he’s playing right now? How close is he to his form?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think he’s playing very well. His forehand and his serve are two huge weapons. For somebody of his height he’s moving very well. His anticipation is great.

At the end of the day he is very, very motivated, you can see that, to perform his best. He hasn’t played for, you know, couple of years on the tour with those wrist injuries and surgeries and everything was happening.

I know him very well. Very pleasant, very nice person. He deserves what he’s getting at the moment.

It will be interesting to see how he goes around in the big matches, you know, from quarterfinals, from tomorrow onwards.

Q. With sort of the lack of match play here, do you treat the next couple of days differently than you might at a different slam? Will you guys sort of talk through or walk through different scenarios that you might face, say, in a fourth or fifth set since you haven’t been there now in a couple of months?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I’m not going to practice for three or four hours just to feel that kind of potential for the fifth set scenario. Just keeping the routine as it is. I’m glad, you know, I have another two days now to work on things. You know, at this stage of the tournament and season, I think one of the most important things for a player is this freshness of the mind, of the body, and just having that right supply of substance in your body and the enduring strength that you need, the speed, the alertness.

All these things come with, you know, some time that you have around. Time management, most of all. You know, I’m really looking forward to come out on the court on Friday in semifinals.

Q. You go way back with Monfils. He’s a player that a lot of fans like to watch. They think he’s very entertaining. Obviously you have had the better of him in the record, but as a player, do you enjoy watching him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I love watching Gaël. He’s one of the few players that I will definitely pay a ticket to watch.

He’s very charismatic. Plays with a smile. Enjoys tennis. Enjoys life.

I mean, this is – well, in my eyes – what everybody is supposed to be like, whether you’re a sportsman or whatever. Bring that smile; bring that good energy. That’s why people like him.

But also, he seems more focused at this time of his career. Especially on the hard court this year maybe he’s playing the best tennis he ever played. He’s very consistent. He hasn’t dropped a set till semis. That says a lot about the level he’s on.

Definitely expecting a tough battle.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Again, it’s a question for him. I don’t know Gaël that well to understand what’s happening, what was happening throughout his life and career. Because, you know, sometimes the circumstances in your private life affect your profession. In this case, tennis career.

But he was always enjoying playing tennis, you know. In the end of the day, it all comes down to that, whether you’re happy doing something. If you’re successful or not, that’s something that’s is on the priority list of the society we are living on. Trophies, fame, money, influence, all these kind of things that I don’t believe they are the best values that we all should share.

I think happiness intrinsic, really belonging to something and really being fulfilled doing something. That’s what Gaël is bringing to this sport. I think he’s a very valuable asset to tennis, so I’m really glad that a player like him is doing well. He’s, you know, obviously bringing that energy to the court.

Q. When you say you’re reaching your peak, do you mean in terms of your physical problems or in terms of form?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’m reaching my peak in terms of my form. I don’t know how you understood that.

Q. Do you feel like 100% here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, that’s what I said, yes.

 

 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Press Conference

N. DJOKOVIC/J. Tsonga

6-3, 6-2, (ret.)

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Why did you make the decision to retire after the second set?
JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: Just because I have a pain on my left knee. It’s something I had already in the past, so I know exactly what’s happen.

So, yeah, I knew it was over for me straightaway, because when I have my knee, of course, it’s already tough to play against one of the best tennis player.

But when I don’t have my knee, I have no chance to come back from two sets to love. So for me, it’s important to save what I can save. And that’s it.

 

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Djokovic, Monfils, Wozniacki and Kerber Reach US Open Semifinals

20-Monfils split bh

 

(September 6, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – A focused Gael Monfils reached his first major semifinal in 8 years on Tuesday, when he beat French countryman Lucas Pouille 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

Monfils, known for hitting some spectacular shots, took a shot at the media in questioning how he plays on court.

 

“If, today, you know, I drop my racquet and I do a slide you will say I will entertain people, you know, no matter what. Sometime I can hear that — someone told me that my shoe laces, you know, it was one point on perfect win, clean win against Baghdatis. You make it up. Oh, like he’s doing a show.

“Or if I do a trick shot, one, and still kill it, you will say, I’m a showman. So, you know, this one, with all the respect to everyone, is you guys to put me on the spot.

“Today I think I haven’t the chance to do it, but Lucas, hit two good tweeners. I don’t think you will tell him he tried to entertain.”

“I dive because I want to win the point,” the No. 10 seed said. “Definitely I want to win the point. When you make the show, honestly, it’s to entertain, but it’s (also) to win. So what’s the point to make the show and lose, actually?”

“That’s why people think, ‘Oh, he’s jumping, he’s sliding.’ In the end, you think I’m stupid?”

 

The 24th seed Pouille ran out of gas after three straight five-set matches.

“Of course I was a bit tired today,” he said. “I played four matches, one in four sets, and then all three in five.

“So, yeah, it would have been better if I played a bit less time on court. It’s okay. I did my best today. Gaël was playing very good. He’s physically very fit. He’s moving so well. And I think, as I said after Nadal’s match, he’s in very good form.

“Yeah, I think he was better than me today.”

Monfils will have a tough task ahead for his semifinal match. He’ll take on No. 1 Novak Djokovic, a man he has never beaten. He’s 0-12 against the Serb.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Djokovic beat another of Monfils’ countrymen, ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, when Tsonga retired with a left knee injury down 6-3, 6-2.

Djokovic has only played nine full sets this tournament, two full matches – his second round opponent withdrew, his third round opponent retired after six games and Tsonga retired after 2 sets in his quarterfinal match.

The 12-time major winner has now reched his 10th straight US Open semifinal.

 

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki

Coming to the US Open, former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki was ranked No. 74 in the world, stemming from time off due to an injury combined with some bad results. She’s made a run to the semifinals beating an injured Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 6-0, 6-2. It’s the first time the Dane has reached the semis since 2014, fifth time overall.

Sevastova twisted her right ankle in the second game of the match, which left her hobbled for the rest of the match.

“It feels great,” the Dane said about reached the semifinals. “It’s a tournament that I love. I love being here. Life playing in this incredible stadium.”

“I think I was just extra focused, because I saw her fall in that second game,” she said. “She stood up, and I knew if she can still walk and still put weight on it and stuff then she’s going to go obviously more for her shots and stuff like that.

“But I thought, cool. I kept serving well and made her run. I’m pleased with how I managed to keep composed.”

 

“I’m not a person that likes to retire during a match, so I just tried my best,” said the Latvian.

“But the movement was different. It was harder to move. And also on serve it was harder to get out of the serve.”

“It’s tough to end like that, but, yeah, it’s tennis. I could have played amazing but still lost. It would hurt more, I think.

“But now, ankle, yeah. I have to stop and have to take time off. It was still great two weeks.”

Angelique Kerber photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

Angelique Kerber photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

Wozniacki will play No. 2 Angelique Kerber for a spot in the final. Kerber had a tough opening set, but then won the last nine games of the match to stop last year’s losing US Open finalist Roberta Vinci of Italy 7-5, 6-0 bothered by an injury.

“I think the key of the match was the first set,” Kerber said. “I mean, it was really close and tough. It’s always difficult to play against Roberta.

“I mean, she’s a tough opponent with her slice. Yeah, I was trying to staying in the match and not thinking that I’m the break down. Just going for it, yeah.

“Keeping my mind a little bit relaxed, and, yeah, staying in the moment. I think that was my key also like for the first set to being a little bit more relax and had not too negative, actually.”

 

Kerber, who has a chance to move past Serena Williams and become No. 1, will be playing her third major semifinal this year. She beat Williams in the final of the Australian Open.

 

“I’m not thinking about quarters, semis, or whatever,” Kerber said. “I’m just going there to playing a good match and to win the match.

“I know that I can beat everybody, and this is what gives me also a lot of confidence and motivation for going out there and playing with a lot of emotion.”

 

More to follow….

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Lucas Pouille Upsets Fourth Seed Rafael Nadal at US Open

 

(September 4, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – In the biggest upset of the 2016 US Open tournament so far, fourth seed and two-time champion Rafael Nadal lost to 24th seed Lucas Pouille 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(6) in the fourth round. Pouille came back from being a break down in the fifth set to win the four-hour and seven minute match for the most important victory of his career.

Pouille will join fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final eighth. He’ll face ninth seeded Monfils for a palce in the semifinals, which guarantees a French semifinalist.

The last time three Frenchmen were in the quarterfinals of the US Open was back in 1927. Last time that three Frenchmen were in the final 8 of any major was the 1947 French Open.

The win means that the 22-year-old Pouille has won three straight five-setter in this US Open – second through fourth rounds – his first three five- set wins of his career.

“It took everything. I could not dream better than that,” the world No. 25 said on court after the match.

“I think it was the best atmosphere I played on a center court. Ashe is so big. I’m not used to play on this court. It was the first time. I practiced once last year.

“I didn’t even warm up on this court before the match, because otherwise I would have to come at 10:00 or 9:00 in the morning today. So at the end it was full. Sometimes I couldn’t even hear myself when I was saying, Allez, allez, allez. Sometimes you can’t even hear yourself.”

Nadal’s drought in major tournaments continued with the loss. This is the first time since 2004 that the 30-year-old Spaniard hasn’t reached a major quarterfinal in a season. The 14-time major champion lost in the first round of the Australian Open, withdrew from the French Open after the second round and missed Wimbledon with a wrist injury.

“I think he played a good match,” Nadal said. “He started so strong. I fight until the end with. There were things I could do better. Had the right attitude. I fighted right up to the last ball.

“But I need something else, I need something more that was not there today. I going to keep working to try to find.

“But, yes, was a very, very close match that anything could happen. Just congratulate the opponent that probably he played with better decision than me the last couple of points.”

“Needed to play with a little bit more calm,” he continued.

“Is true that I don’t have lot of matches on my shoulders for the last three, four months, but even like this I lost an opportunity. That’s the real thing, no? That’s the true. I lost an opportunity to have a very good event here. I am sad for that.”

Pouille who broke into the top 100 last year talked about the changes he made that have improved his game this year: “I moved to Dubai. We work a different way. We work, I think, harder. During the pre-season I change many things. I took my own physical trainer. He’s traveling almost every time with us so we can work every day. Even in tournaments we keep working. We keep working.

“I think mentally I’m stronger. I took a lot of confidence. The way I’m going on court is not the same as last year. Yeah, I think that’s why I’m better than the year before. Of course, I’m a bit older, as well.”

Evaluating Pouille, Nadal said: “He’s a player that has all the shots. He’s a potential top 10 and good fight for the big things the next couple of years. If he’s able to keep playing well, keep improving.”

“I lost an opportunity to play a great event,” Nadal said. “Doesn’t matter if I had the injuries or not, no? I didn’t play in Roland Garros; I didn’t play in Wimbledon. That’s an opportunities lost. Here again, another opportunity lost.

“At the end of the day is not a moment, as I said before, to find excuses or to be less painful. Is a painful defeat because I believe myself, I feel myself ready for that match, ready for the tournament. That’s it.

“We can find stories, but I lost. That’s the only thing that really matter now. I going to fight to change that. But is not less painful or more painful. Is a defeat. Is not the first one in my career; is not going to be for sure the last.

“When you play sport, you accept that when you go on court you can lose, you can win. That’s part of the life. I’m happy to be playing again. That’s the most important thing. I’m happy that I feel myself again close to be hundred percent healthy.

“If I am hundred percent healthy, I have the energy to keep going. I believe that I can have a couple of more good years.”

Pouille talke about playing his next opponent, countryman Gael Monfils: “He’s in very good form. He has won so many matches, yeah, for the last two months. He’s very confident. He hasn’t lost a set, so I know it’s going to be hard.

“But I’m playing well. I have good feelings on the court, so we’ll see. I think it’s going to be a tough match for me, but for him as well. It’s going to be interesting.”

Tenth seed Monfils beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 , while No. 9 seeded Tsonga topped 26th seed Jack Sock 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-2, the last man from the United States in the singles draw.

Tsonga will face  Novak Djokovic  to vie for a spot in the semifinal. Djokovic beat Kyle Edmund 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in the evening session.

“I think he was overwhelmed by the stage today, ” Djokovic said of Edmund. “I think he hasn’t played on the level that he can, to be honest. But his forehand is really big. When he sets it up very nicely, he can hit a very good forehand from all over the court.

“Obviously his first Arthur Ashe night session. His first match on the biggest stadium. He made a lot of errors. But generally he played a good tournament. He beat Gasquet; he beat Isner. For someone his age he’s showing mental maturity, no doubt. He’s getting things together.

“I am sure we going to see more of him in the future.”

 

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US Open – Sock Knocks Out 2014 Champ Cilic; Djokovic and Nadal Advance

(September 2, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – No. 26 seed Jack Sock kept his record against 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic perfect on Friday, when he upset the No. 7 seed 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 on Friday to reach the fourth round at Flushing Meadows. The 23-year-old Sock, the 26 seed felt confient about his game.

 

“I think just all around I think I’m putting things together better and better,” said Sock. “I definitely feel more confident out there in everything I’m doing.

“Used to be some liabilities people would talk about in my game. I feel like I have cleaned those up pretty well. Returning was big for me. I think I’ve gotten a pretty good hold on that. Feeling comfortable. Getting in a lot of guys’ service games now.

“Overall I feel my purpose out there. I’m executing it well and I feel like I know what I’m going to do on almost every point.”

Sock, reaching just his second fourth round at a major, will meet No. 9 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Frenchman defeated No. 23 seed Keving Anderson in straight sets.

Sock’s American countryman, John Isner did not fare as well. The 20th seed Isner who fell to Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5). For the Brit ranked 84th in the world, this will be his first round of 16 at a major.

“It’s been a great week so far, absolutely,” the 21-year-old Edmund said to media. “Tonight was a really good win. I was pleased with my consistency throughout the match. Weren’t too many dips. On that stage, as well, in front of a good crowd, a big crowd, against John in his own country, I was pleased with the performance I put out there.”

“I think the match swung a bit in the first game of the third set when I had Love-40,” Isner explained. “I played three really good points to get to Love-40, and then kind of wear myself out trying to finish that game off.

“I didn’t break, and then the next game I didn’t make any first serves and got broken. That was a bit disappointing. But it was just a struggle out there a little bit. Kind of the whole tournament. Nothing really felt great the whole tournament.

“But credit to Kyle. I thought he played well. Certainly played better than I did in the big moments, so hats off to him.”

Edmund will have a tumultuous task ahead of him for the next match – No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Djokovic played only six games in the match on Friday when his opponent Mikhail Youzhny retired. Djokovic has only played one complete match at the tournament, in the first round. His second round opponent withdrew.

“It’s not great for neither players nor the fans pay tickets to come and watch,” noted the world No. 1.” Spent 20 minutes on the court. Of course, it’s not something you want considering, as well, the fact I haven’t played last match at all.

“But it is what it is. I got an extra hour of practice on the center court. They were kind enough to allow me to practice. Got to focus on positives.”

Rafael Nadal produced a spectacular between-the-legs lob shot during the night session in his 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win over Andrey Kuznetsov in a night session match.

Asked if he ever hit a long like that before, the 14-time major winner said: “Well, actually yes. Not many times, but I remember one in Madrid against Djokovic.”

Other men reaching the fourth round include: No. 10 Gael Monfils, No. 24 Lucas Pouille and Marcos Baghdatis.

In women’s action, the most dramatic match of the day saw eighth seeded American Madison Keys rally from 1-5 down in the third set to survive Japanese player Naomi Osaka 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (3). The 21-year-old American said it was her best comeback win. She said: “For sure. Hands down.”

“No matter what the score was, it was always just trying to get back in the match. Once I was able to get a little bit of momentum I felt like I found my game a bit more. At that point I knew I had to kind of step up or else I was going to be going home.”

Keys will play two-time US Open finalist and former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki for a place in the quarterfinals.

“It’s been a rough year because I haven’t been able to catch a break from injuries basically,” said the current No. 74 player in the world. “Every time I have come back something else has been hurting. Knock on wood, right now I’m feeling good. Everything is feeling good.

“I’m hoping I can keep this up for the end of the year and hopefully start fresh next year.”

Other women moving into the final 16 are No. 2 Angelique Kerber – Australian Open champion, No. 7 Roberta Vinci – who stopped Serena Williams bid for a Grand Slam last year, No. 13 Johanna Konta, Two-time Wimbledon champion No. 14 Petra Kvitova, Anastasija Sevastova and Lesia Tsurenko.

 

Related Articles:

Jack Sock Rallies From Two Sets Down to Beat Marin Cilic; John Isner Also Wins, Gives USA 2-0 Lead in Davis Cup Quarterfinal

Day 5 of the US Open – In Their Own Words

 

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Day 1 of the US Open – In Their Own Words

 

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

 

U.S. OPEN

Monday, August 29, 2016

Roberta Vinci

Press Conference

R. VINCI/A. Friedsam

6-2, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. The great memories from last year, if you could just talk about do you still carry those with you? How does that help you coming into the tournament this year knowing that you had such great success last year?
ROBERTA VINCI: Yes. Was great to be back here to play on center court first match. I was proud to play in Open, this US Open 2016.

Yeah, it’s incredible to be here. It’s pass one year, so like yesterday. But I had of course a great memory, but today just think about the match and keep the positive things of the last year.

Was a tough match. Is always tough play the first match of a Grand Slam, but I won. So this is important thing today. I start to play great first set, and then 2-Love in the second set a little bit nervous, a little bit scared about the match because, well, she’s — also in Australia when I lost against her I won the first set easy and then I lost in the third.

So just my mind to stay focused and think about every single point. Don’t think about the opponent. Just keep — just try to play aggressive.

But was a little bit nervous, so I fight a lot and I won the second set.

Q. Talk about how you feel coming into the tournament and what your expectations are. You know you can go far here. You have done it before.
ROBERTA VINCI: It’s tough to repeat of course the results of last year (Smiling.) But I’m No. 7, so of course I have a lot of pressure. They expect me semifinal, quarterfinal, step by step and match by match.

So now I’m really happy that I won the first round. Tomorrow relax and play the second round. I don’t know the opponent right now, but will be of course a difficult match, tough match. I try my best and don’t think that I have a lot of points to defend.

 

 

U.S. OPEN

Monday, August 29, 2016

Taylor Townsend

Press Conference

C. WOZNIACKI/T. Townsend

4-6, 6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You take her three sets, winning the first. How do you look at the result? Even though it’s a loss, are you to the point you’re satisfied or do you feel you should have had this?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: No, this is one of the wins that — or losses that really stings. I had so many chances.

Overall, I just have to take the positive from it. This is definitely not satisfying for me. I want to continue, go back out, I mean, if I could I’d go back out on the practice court now. That’s just how I feel. Just to get better because I know that I’m so close.

So that was just — that match proved a lot to me today, but I’m not satisfied at all.

Q. It was a pretty special match in the sense it was the first match on Grandstand. Did that give you a special feeling? Have you ever been, especially at an opening of an event, of a venue — was that a special moment for you?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: Definitely. I didn’t have a chance to hit on the court at all before I went to play the match, so obviously — you know, I played quallies. I was on other courts.

But the court is amazing. It’s beautiful. I didn’t realize how big it was until people started to come in and started to get a little bit more packed. You know, people started cheering. I was in awe. You know, it’s such a beautiful stadium. And to see the improvements they have made in the course of a year, it’s amazing.

I was really happy to be able to, you know, to break the court in, quote/unquote (Smiling.) It was really great, and especially putting in — being an American, it was awesome.

Q. How hot was it out there? Looked like it was really blazing.
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: It was — it was decently hot. You know, I didn’t use the ice towel for the first two sets. I’m from Atlanta, so the heat is not really a big deal. It wasn’t that hot to begin with.

But as the match progressed it got a little bit hotter, a little bit more breezy, so it was — and obviously, you know, it’s 10 degrees hotter on the court than it is like wherever you are.

It was getting pretty toasty. The conditions, it wasn’t affecting me that badly because I’m used to it. I train in the heat. The Atlanta heat is different than here. I was kind of used to it.

Q. Did you take a break between sets with heat protocol?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: No. I just went to the restroom after the first. The heat rule was in, but I didn’t take the break.

Q. When you look at this match, when you look at it as a whole, are there specific points that come out? Like if that point went one way or the other, or was there something she was consistently doing and you are weren’t doing that was impacting the outcome?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: Yeah. I mean, obviously she stayed steady, which is her game. There are a lot of different points that I feel like if I could have done something different or if I made a different decision that it could have maybe changed the outcome.

Instead of getting broken, could have got broken. Instead of being down 30, could have been up 15-30 or 15-all. But that’s tennis. There are so many points during the match where it can go either way. You have to make a decision in a split second. Sometimes you make the right decision; sometimes you make the wrong decision.

I have to learn from it. I can pick apart the match and tell you every little thing, but overall I’m just going to assess it, watch the film, learn from it, and keep moving.

Q. Is it just more the decision-making maybe you’re disappointed in or execution-wise? What do you think?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: Just the decision making, I think. Because if I would have made a different decision then I probably would have executed the shot. I think I was doing a good job of executing my shots when I had it.

But, you know, there are points in the match where I did something and I was like, Oh, I should have done that. You know, I can’t change it. Like I said, I’m just going to look at it and try to build on it.

Q. Would you say that maybe those couple of dropshots you tried during the match would fall into that decision making category?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: Definitely.

Q. And what kind of vulnerability did you sense in her? First set she had a point for 4-1 and you turned around and won the set. What sense did you get from her?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: I wasn’t really concerned about what she was doing. I was more into myself. I realized that I could win the match (Smiling.)

Ultimately, it just comes down to that belief in myself and the things I have been working on and the training I have been doing.

You know, winning three quallies matches obviously it’s great, but to win a main-draw match against someone like that, she’s been No. 1 in the world so she knows what it takes to win matches.

But, you know, I could taste it. It was so close. I just think that — I don’t know. Like I said, I just want to continue to build on it, really. It really was a great match. I can’t beat myself too much, but just going to keep building and keep working.

Q. What do you think has been the key to your ranking turnaround? You are up several hundred spots from where you were earlier this year.
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: I think great coaching, great people around me, just having peace of mind. You know, knowing that my team and everyone that I surrounded myself with has my best interests and I’m just moving forward.

You know, we’re not complicating anything, not putting too much into it besides just going out and playing tennis.

Just getting out on the court and just playing a lot of matches, you know, and having to go through that grind of, you know, playing 25s and losing quallies. You know, all of that stuff.

I just think that, you know, just great coaching. I have worked really hard on and off the court. I just think that when you give yourself opportunities and you keep playing, you get experience more than anything.

I think that you begin to grow as a player and get results.

Q. Do you feel like you’re moving up for good now, or do you still like you have to keep battling to work your way, steadily keeping your ranking up and moving up?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: It’s always going to be a battle. It’s like you can see — I mean, it’s always going to be a battle because you know that when you gain points the following year you have to defend or do better or you will lose those points.

So it’s always going to be about to continue to grow and push yourself and just get better and better and better.

I mean, I can’t worry about what I have done or I don’t know what’s ahead of me. I just have to continue to focus on what I’m doing right now and the results will come.

Q. It was a great match to watch. What do you think Billie Jean would say about it?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: I have no clue.

Q. Are you still in touch with her much?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: Not really, but, you know, she sends me messages. We chat back and forth sometimes every blue moon. But, you know, you talk to Alana (ph) every once in a while, and I was able to sub for a TeamTennis match. I got to see her there but didn’t get to chat much. Opening night is always super busy for them.

Q. Do you think you would have trouble seeing the ball if your opponent was wearing the same color as yours?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: No, I don’t think so.

Q. It doesn’t kind of fade —
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: No, not really. I mean, I feel like at this point, you know, we should all know how to watch the ball (Smiling.) If we don’t, then we’ve got a problem.

So I don’t think that it’s really a problem. During the Open, they always — all the companies always go with bright colors and super fun outfits. That’s not really something that you can worry about or control.

Q. Who’s the coach you’re working with now or coaches?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: Donald Young, Sr., and this week I have been working with his wife, Illona Young. They have all been helping me, those two together.

Q. Where are you doing your training now?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: What train?

Q. When you practice when you’re home.
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: I hit with a majority of people. The tennis community in Atlanta is pretty broad. There are a lot of colleges and a lot of players that come out of the South, you know, that visit there and that live there.

So I hit with a lot of college guys, college girls. It just depends on who’s in town, because, you know, obviously our schedules sometimes don’t match up together.

But there are a lot of people. I can’t really sit here and name them all because it is a lot.

Q. You seem to be in pretty good frame of mind after a loss. You also seem to be growing and maturing. I wanted to ask you just a general question about the sport. What is it that you really love about the sport of tennis?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: Well, not this (Smiling.) Well, no, actually, I do. Moments like these before, you know — obviously, you know, I was crying and upset, but at the end of the day, you know, I have good people around me, like I said.

And Mrs. Young kind of helped me a lot just understanding the growth I have made over the last year. It’s been monumental. Like I said, I can’t really beat myself up too much. Moments like these where I have played and I left my heart out there and I know I could have done things better, it just drives me more to want to get out on the court and fix it, just try and do better.

Luckily, you know, I was able to get an opportunity to get a wildcard for doubles, so I have another chance to get out on court and play competitively. I know I have an opportunity to not really fix what I did, but to work on it and just be able to get back out on the court and compete.

So, you know, just the opportunity to be able to redeem yourself or, you know, just grow. Because, you know, you know in your head what you did. Now it’s about executing and just doing it.

Q. Good match.
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: Thank you.

Q. Do you feel when you get on the court there was bigger pressure on you as a sport we are still trying to get in with more African-Americans?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: I wouldn’t really call it pressure. You know, I think that it’s an opportunity to use a platform that we have been getting in with talent and blessings and gifts. Just to be able to inspire other kids, you know, I don’t think that it’s a pressure situation.

Because, you know, there are kids that no matter how you do, they’d just be happy to be able to see you and watch you play. They are just even more excited when you do well.

Just to be able to inspire people like that, it’s not really pressure. I think it’s more of a blessing and a gift, you know, just to be able to do that. To be able to be on this platform, it’s amazing. I can’t complain at all.

Q. There was a 29-shot rally in the third set that you were able to win. What does a rally like that do for you in terms of your confidence with all the hard work and everything that’s been going on? That was impressive stuff, the construction and putting it away. In that moment, is that something you look back on and think, that’s one of those breakthroughs?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: Yeah, like first of all, catch a breath. That was the main thing (Smiling).

No, I think that it was really good. I didn’t know how long the rally was, but I knew it was long. It is a confidence builder, because I know that for someone like her who she just thrives on rallies like that and she can hang in points all the time – that’s her game – for me to be able to win a long point that was probably the longest point of the match is good, and it proves something to me that I can hang in rallies like that.

And then to go even farther and win the game, you know, you can win a point like that, but if you lose the game it kind of defeats the purpose of it.

But then I was able to bounce back, hold my serve, and stay in it, you know, neck to neck, that really is great.

 

 

U.S. OPEN

Monday, August 29, 2016

Kyle Edmund

Press Conference

K. EDMUND/R. Gasquet

6-2, 6-2, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Given the context of the match, the opponent, and the tournament, was that your best-ever win?
KYLE EDMUND: Yeah, I think so. Yeah, I played really well. Yeah, on ranking I think, yeah, it’s probably my best win. And the way I went about it, the way I played, a lot of things went well.

Yeah, definitely one of my best wins in my career. Yeah, very pleasing. Very encouraging the way I played, the way I handled myself, dealt with situations. I thought I was smart with the way I played when I needed to be in certain situations.

Yeah, a lot of good things. Yeah, days like this feel really good. You know, just lots of positives. There is definitely days where they are not like that, so, you know, that’s when you put the work in.

I have had a few days like that over the past few weeks on the hard. Really haven’t quite found my form, but luckily the match when I needed it it came good against a good opponent.

Q. Was there something about New York that lifted you?
KYLE EDMUND: Yeah, I guess so. It’s a Grand Slam, and you always get a little bit more excited about it. Yeah, to be honest, it’s just been a really long trip. I haven’t really felt too comfortable as much as — well, coming from Davis Cup where I was playing really well, and then to come to Toronto, I guess you compare — form was really good.

You’re always comparing to how you’re playing. Like as I said, I just didn’t quite find that. It had been a long trip and stuff, so I just accepted the way I was playing and just, you know, sort of said, Look, this is the situation. You’re playing a good player. You’ve got nothing to lose. Just go out there and play.

I knew after this tournament anyway I’ve got a bit of a break before Davis Cup in Asia. Either before Davis Cup or after Davis Cup, just depends on how I do.

So maybe that just relaxed me a little bit and made me enjoy it as well a bit more. You know, not playing so tense. Just played a lot freer.

So I definitely played better than I expected to be playing. The last few days actually have been a lot better than the start of the trip. So there were good signs. But it just already clicked today, so I’m very grateful for that.

Q. How has the pressure of playing and winning the Davis Cup helped you when it comes down to the Grand Slam tournaments?
KYLE EDMUND: Those two matches were a big thing for me. Just probably because I value them very highly. So in my head I knew what was at stake or maybe the pressure I put myself under. You know, however you want to put it.

I valued those matches very highly, and I targeted that just because I knew I had a good chance of playing them. And especially when Andy said he wasn’t going to play, I knew I was definitely going to play. I was going to have the responsibility of playing two matches.

I really wanted to do well there, and obviously when I beat Lajovic it was a lot of relief because you wanted to do well. So I guess I played in a pressure environment, plus in the final it was an intense environment. So those absolutely definitely helped coming out there. You know, playing the 13th seed in the first round of a slam, you want to do well.

But, yeah, from having those experiences, they definitely do help me. No doubt about it.

Q. As a player, is it frustrating at all that you’ve put a lot into Davis Cup and the Olympics, and there is no ranking points at stake for those? It’s been quite a big part of your summer, hasn’t it, and not playing for points?
KYLE EDMUND: Yeah. It’s just one of those things. I think — well, like I said, I value them highly, so I wanted to play them. But, yeah, I don’t know the reason why the ITF changed that. There were points last year; obviously not this year. And I would have gotten a nice chunk of points from Davis Cup, but it’s just one of those things.

The way I look at it is I am 21. I still do have lots of years. So I’m not hanging on two tournaments for my ranking. You know, that doesn’t make my ranking, those two tournaments or anything.

So I see it as building experience. Even though there is maybe not points in there, the experience from that will benefit me far more than the points in the long term.

So, yeah, that’s just the way it is. I’m sitting around 80 at the minute, maybe with the points I could be sitting at sort of low 70s, high 60s. So there is a small jump, but as I said, that doesn’t really concern me, you know. You want to be 30s, 20s, 10s. That’s where you want to be — 80/60 is not a huge difference, so I think the experience is more beneficial.

Q. Was there any degree of immaturity out there? I remember the Davis Cup final. We all remember it. Started off like a dream. But here, a break down in the third set and brought it back, which maybe you wouldn’t have done 18 months ago.
KYLE EDMUND: No, yeah. I think it’s, again, getting back to that experience. Just when you’re more experienced you’re a little bit probably more calmer in those situations in your head. You’re more relaxed about it. You’re not — maybe because — if it’s happened the first time you’re a bit unaware of what will happen, but maybe you’re a bit calmer about the situation.

When I did go a break down I thought I didn’t do too much wrong. I didn’t make enough first serves. Maybe he was trying to get something going so he was playing a little bit more freer.

But the way I had been playing, I was playing very consistently and I wasn’t playing out of myself. I was very confident with what I was doing, so I knew it wasn’t going to take much to get that back.

So I just remained calm. Yeah, I had a good game to break him, and then because I got that momentum, it really helped me kick through towards the end of the match.

Again, those experiences definitely do help, and I think I’m getting some good ones now.

Q. When you beat someone like Gasquet so convincingly, as well, how much belief do you get that you can beat these kind of top players more and more regularly?
KYLE EDMUND: Yeah, it gives you more belief, absolutely.

I had a good summer. I beat some good players, and, well, I beat a guy Simon, but then had a good experience against Andy. Those matches, top players, give you more experience, more confidence with your game, that you are able to take it to him. Especially the way I play my game is very much on the offensive, wanting to take it to the opponent.

So I have to be expressive. I have to express myself, and that’s the way I play.

So it gives me confidence doing that. Definitely Davis Cup I expressed myself very well. Was very aggressive on that weekend. And today I thought I was aggressive but playing smart at the right times; not being too overly aggressive. I got the balance right.

That’s against a good opponent, so that gives you more confidence about your game.

Q. How did you feel with the heat out there? In the end, did you feel like you would have hoped it went to four or even five sets in those conditions?
KYLE EDMUND: Yeah, I mean, it’s difficult to say. I would always back myself to do it. Like going out there, if I needed to play five sets I was ready to play five sets, you know. I had done all the preparation I normally do for five sets and stuff.

So, yeah, I would have felt confident doing it. It’s hard to say in hindsight how you would have coped, but, yeah, it was pretty hot out there.

I don’t think it was hot as last year. I thought it was more humid last year; a lot of pullouts last year. So I think that just shows in itself.

It’s hot but you adapt to it. The body adapts. I have been in America, what, four or five weeks now, so your body does adjust to it.

Yeah, I guess I wasn’t out there about an hour and a half or something, so it wasn’t that long compared to other people.

Q. Do you know anything about Escobedo?
KYLE EDMUND: No. I actually played him in the first round of Binghamton challenger last year, so I think that was three sets. I honestly can’t remember a huge amount of the match because it was a year ago.

I will watch a little bit of tape of him. You see a few things you pick up. You see his game style. But, yeah, I mean, all these matches here are going to be — you have to get your game out there.

But I’m pleased with the way I played today, so I think the main thing for me is trying to keep that going, and basically what I did today, try to put that in my next match and I’m sure you’ll have a good chance.

Q. I think he’s a wildcard. Always a tough match. A great opportunity to make round 3?
KYLE EDMUND: Yeah, it’s a good opportunity. Maybe, yeah, on paper not as high ranked as someone like Gasquet. But, again, you have to respect the opponents. The worst thing you can do in sport is get ahead of yourself, get too forward thinking, start looking what’s going on.

Definitely not — you have to look at one match at a time, look at the guy in front of you right now, stay in the present. You start looking elsewhere then you’ll get called out. I have always done that. You have to give respect to your opponents. He is in round 2, so there is a reason he’s in round 2 is: because he’s playing well.

But, yeah, I definitely look forward to it for sure.

Q. I know you kind of touched on this the other day, but is there an element of the sort of head-to-head between you and Evo for the second Davis Cup spot at this tournament?
KYLE EDMUND: I guess so like in terms of the last tie and there is not that much time. So I guess it’s almost like whoever is maybe doing well at the time or has that bit more confidence.

But, again, it’s Leon’s decision, how he sees it, how he sees matchups.

Again, we will see what happens. We have actually had a lot of ties over the past few years now because — and that’s a good problem, I guess, because we have been doing well.

It’s sort of like another tie that’s come up. So, yeah, for me, I will just concentrate on here, first.

But, yeah, it’s just really is Leon’s decision. Nothing more to say than that, because you do what you do, as in play your match. Results give you a good chance of getting that, getting a pick.

We’ll see. I mean, it’s just one of those things. I mean, Dan’s obviously had a good summer. He’s had some good results. I’m sure my result today would have helped things. Yeah, we’ll see.

 

U.S. OPEN

Monday, August 29, 2016

Belinda Bencic

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. 4-nothing lead in the tiebreaker. She came back to win it. How did you regroup and save your best tennis?
BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, the first set was so frustrating because I had so many chances which I didn’t convert. I honestly didn’t deserve to win this set because I didn’t use my chances, and always when I was leading I was super tight.

I think it’s normal after the injury to have this. I mean, in the moment I was very frustrated, but, I mean, I had nothing left, just to fight and win the next two sets. That’s what I did.

Q. You want to make easy work out of your competitors in the first match, but it’s good to be pressed a little bit and know you can turn things around.
BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, I don’t want to practice, so I practice in the match. (Smiling.)

No. I mean, it’s good. I didn’t play a lot of matches, so I don’t mind playing longer match. For me, it’s nothing. I don’t need to save energy now. I didn’t play for so long.

 

Angelique Kerber

Press Conference

A. KERBER/P. Hercog

6-0, 1-0 (ret.)

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Not a lot of work out there today. It was a pretty quick match. Just kind of the way you like to get a Grand Slam fortnight started?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: To be honest, it’s never the way I would like to finish the match, but I went out there to feel my rhythm and start the tournament well. I played the first set really good, so this is what I will take from this match, that I’m playing my tennis.

For me, it’s always tricky the first few rounds. So it’s always good, yeah, to have the first round done. Just now focusing on the next rounds.

Q. You have had a terrific season. You come in seeded No. 2. Just talk about coming in the highest seed you have ever come into a Grand Slam and the level of confidence that I would think comes with that?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I have a lot of confidence, especially also from the last few weeks and from the whole year, actually. I mean, I’m playing one of my best tennis now.

To come in here is always special. You know, for me, especially. I’m not looking too much about the seeds because I know every round it’s tough in the Grand Slam.

But I think that I know that I’m playing good right now. That gives me a lot of confidence. And also, the experience I had from the last years and the last weeks especially, yeah, gives me the confidence of going out and playing really good tennis.

Q. Serena and Venus Williams have inspired so many young players to take up tennis. Who, for you, was the most inspiration as you were getting to learn the game?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: When I starting, of course, Steffi was always my inspiration when I was growing up. I was always watching her on German TV. I was always like thinking, Okay, one day I can play like her and playing the big tournaments.

So that was always like my inspiration. But also when I start, of course Serena and Venus, they played already. So for me, the both, they, yeah, are also great champions for me.

Q. Besides the power of Steffi Graf and of course the Williams sisters, what about the intelligence of the way they played? What did you learn maybe from the mental side of it?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: You know, when I was young, I don’t know. I was not thinking too much about mental stuff. But when you are like growing up and you’re playing your tournaments and matches and a lot of like experience you take, then you start to think also that the mental side, it’s really important, and to think about like strategy and everything what’s coming with this.

So I think you have to take time to grow with all the stuff around you.

Q. You were asked on the court today again about the prospect of being so close to No. 1. You said you didn’t want it to be a distraction, but that if it would come it would certainly be something that you would look forward to. Without it distracting you, how does the prospect of that inspire you?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I mean, for sure to be one day No. 1, I think this is a goal from everybody, especially also for me. But I will not putting too much pressure on myself like I said a lot of times, because I know that when I put the pressure I’m not playing my tennis then.

You know, I will go out there to win every match going step by step. If the day will come someday it will be amazing. But, yeah, just let’s see. I have to win few more matches.

Q. We have been hearing about records in women’s tennis a lot lately. They separate them whether they happened in the open era or it didn’t. Do you know why they separate like that? Do you think they should?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I don’t know. I mean, I have — I don’t know actually. No.

Q. What is the thought of playing indoors on Ashe Stadium? What are your thoughts about that?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: It’s really like — it’s really huge when you go out there, and for me it’s nice to have now the chance to play on this court and like indoors. It’s nice, actually.

Q. Anything specific about what you think will make it special indoors?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: It’s always a little bit different when you play indoors or outdoors. It’s always like not the same, but, I mean, the surface is the same. So, yeah.

Q. Do you find it any different this year? Because even though the roof is open, there is a lot of structure that encapsulates the stadium.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah. It looks of course a little bit huger and bigger. It’s also like of course you have the first few hours you have like one side it’s sun and the other side is shadow.

But at the end, I think if it’s raining we all are happy about that. (Smiling.)

 

Catherine Bellis

Press Conference

C. BELLIS/V. Golubic

6-2, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. They keep calling you Catherine in the media room. You are still CC, right?
CATHERINE BELLIS: Yes.

Q. Can you talk about the value of coming through the qualifying and what you gained, the experience of winning three matches going into today?
CATHERINE BELLIS: Yeah. I think just playing actually three matches made me so much more comfortable, and knowing the surface of the courts and just playing on the courts in general is I think a big advantage for me.

I think it’s better for me to come through qualifying rather than getting just a wildcard.

Q. You have talked about going to Stanford. What would make that decision change?
CATHERINE BELLIS: It just — it used to be ranking-wise. I used to think of it, you know, the past couple years about, oh, I should be close to the top 100 and stuff like that.

But I think now it’s just more me being confident that I can, you know, compete at this level consistently.

Q. As of right now you’re still going to Stanford?
CATHERINE BELLIS: Yes. Yes.

Q. You are waffling?
CATHERINE BELLIS: I am. For right now. I verbally committed and I talked to the coach a lot. I think the signing date is in November.

Q. How much of a reminiscent moment was that for you to win out on that court today and do what you did? How much do you feel you have changed as a person and as a tennis player in the two years?
CATHERINE BELLIS: Yeah, I think it was really great that I was on that court again for the first round. It was really cool. When I saw the schedule, I was like, Oh, my God. I’m on that court again.

Yeah, it was great. The girl I played was really good. I’m glad I got through it. I think I have grown as a person and as a player last couple of years. I think my game has matured a lot. I think I have improved pretty much everything in my game a lot.

Back when I was younger I could have some good wins here and there, but now I can consistently, I think, have better results.

Q. Four matches, including qualifying, and dropped only one set. What’s been the key?
CATHERINE BELLIS: I think I have been focusing on playing for myself and my game style. Not focusing on anything else going on. Just thinking about each point one at a time.

Q. Coming into New York, what were the emotions like? You’re going to go play qualifying. Typically it might have been a wildcard situation. What was your thinking once you got here about what you could do and what you wanted to maybe prove to yourself or to other people?
CATHERINE BELLIS: Qualifying was actually one of the biggest things that I wanted to do here, and just do in general in a Grand Slam.

That’s one of the biggest, you know, moments for me in my tennis so far, so I think that was one of the main things. Everything else is icing on the cake for now.

Q. You come from a beautiful but very quiet California suburb, yet you come here to The Big Apple and sort of kick back. What makes you do so well, do you think, here in New York?
CATHERINE BELLIS: Honestly, I think it’s all the support that I get and everybody that comes out to my matches.

If I didn’t have that support I don’t know if I’d be doing as well as I am right now. (Smiling.)

Yeah, I think that’s one of the main things. I just love the atmosphere. Atmosphere. The courts are amazing. Everything about it I love.

Q. Have you gone back at all and watched the tape or do you reminisce at all and — that was such a big moment I think in your life. Do you sort of waffle over that at all?
CATHERINE BELLIS: I don’t have any tape of it. I haven’t watched it at all. Yeah, I mean, it was so long ago. I don’t think it really has anything to do with me or my game right now.

No, I don’t really look back on it.

Q. You played Shelby once and she said it was on clay. She knows that you swing for the fences. What are you thinking about going into that match?
CATHERINE BELLIS: Yeah, we played each other a couple months ago. Yeah, I mean, I haven’t really thought about it too much. I’m just focused on I went out and practiced and focused on my game, everything like that.

I think I will think about it more tonight and tomorrow. I’m just going to focus on me, focus on myself.

Q. You practiced after your match?
CATHERINE BELLIS: Yeah.

Q. For how long and what did you work on?
CATHERINE BELLIS: I mean, I do it after every match I play. My coach and I usually go out for 30, 45 minutes and we practice. We do all my groundies, you know, cross-courts, down the lines. We do counting just to groove everything. Volleys, overheads, serves, returns.

Q. Is it dependent upon how you do in a match?
CATHERINE BELLIS: No.

Q. No matter what you have the same routine after every single match?
CATHERINE BELLIS: Unless I’m on the ground dying tired, then I’m going and practicing. That hasn’t happened yet, so… (smiling.)

Q. Glad to hear.
CATHERINE BELLIS: Yeah.

Q. What did you think of Shelby’s run at the French Open?
CATHERINE BELLIS: Oh, my God, it was amazing. Yeah, it’s unbelievable for American tennis and for Team USA. Yeah, she was playing unbelievable there. It was really great.

Q. There was so much attention to her run and she was said to be the Cinderella. Did it ever cross your mind there was a little bit of sameness to your experience when you first emerged here?
CATHERINE BELLIS: No. No. I think it’s a lot different. She, I think — round of 16 or quarterfinals there? Yeah. I mean, that’s obviously a lot better than what I did.

I don’t think it really has anything to do with that. I mean, different surface, different tournament, so…

Q. At this stage of your career, what is fun for you in terms of your tennis? What do you get the most enjoyment out of?
CATHERINE BELLIS: Still playing. Yeah, playing matches I love so much. Having all my like hard work from practice come out in my matches. That’s the best thing any tennis player can possibly be a part of.

Q. Are you harder on yourself than anybody else could ever be on you?
CATHERINE BELLIS: Yeah, definitely.

Q. Why?
CATHERINE BELLIS: Because I think that I can do big things in tennis and that I think if I don’t — you know, say I didn’t play well one day or something. I know can I do a lot better than what I did.

So, yeah, I think it’s good. I think it’s good that I am.

Q. You talked about all your hard work. What element of your work really has borne the most fruit? Has it been the physical work? Has it been stroke technique? Has it been the mental side and mental toughness?
CATHERINE BELLIS: I think it’s a combination. Yeah, in the last year I have worked very hard on my fitness and just getting a lot stronger. I mean, even in the last couple of years when I have played here, like I said, I could have some good matches.

But my body couldn’t handle playing consistently at this level. Neither could my game.

Definitely my fitness, but also just everything in my game being a little more solid.

Q. The NCAA keeps changing the rules on amateurism. It’s changed last year again where you could keep money for expenses or…
CATHERINE BELLIS: Yeah. You get to keep $10,000 a year, plus like at every tournament that you go to, whatever you can make you can expense that money if it adds up to however much you expense.

Q. Are you going to seek out some pretty nice expenses if you keep on going here?
CATHERINE BELLIS: Yeah. I have already upgraded to a suite in my hotel. I had my dad do that for me. (Laughter.) I was excited about that.

Q. Maybe you can buy us members in the press corps a gift as part of your expense account.
CATHERINE BELLIS: (Laughter.)

Q. After your match today or after qualifying?
CATHERINE BELLIS: Qualifying. Yeah, couple days ago.

Q. I mean, I know you won four matches and there was so much attention around you because you were 15 and you beat a seed two years ago, but how much more satisfied, if you are, of what you’ve accomplished the last few days?
CATHERINE BELLIS: Yeah, I think I have earned my way into the tournament this time rather than — I mean, I did last time. I won the National Hard Courts, but it’s different.

I think getting through qualifying, for me, it means a lot more than, you know, just getting straight into main.

 

Gael Monfils

Press Conference

G. MONFILS/G. Muller

6-4, 6-2, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. So when you crashed into the wall, did you think you had hit it that hard?
GAEL MONFILS: Ah, no. When you are in the moment you don’t feel really anything. Just jump. I saw was a wall, but it was quite lucky.

Q. How surprised were you when it kind of came over?
GAEL MONFILS: I was surprised, because it hurt me a little bit. You know, could be pretty bad. Could have fallen on my ankle or calf and could be more than that.

Q. What thoughts do you have on the situation for the big four that has dominated for so many years: Murray, Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer, where they are right now?
GAEL MONFILS: Oh, I have no idea, you know, actually, because I don’t very focus about the big four you call them. I just focus about I know all of them, and I can beat them, you know, no matter what.

So I think Roger is out for his injury, but the other ones, still tough players for sure. Novak is still cruising again a little bit this year. The other ones are playing tough also. I think we all improve all the time a little way to try to beat them sometime and to actually put them in more trouble.

Q. Who do you draw most inspiration from as far as your tennis?
GAEL MONFILS: For me? Actually like current player?

Q. Could be current or past.
GAEL MONFILS: For me, past definitely Arthur Ashe for me. I used to watch a lot of documentary of him. Really love his life and what he achieve. It’s him for me I look up for most of the time.

Q. You obviously have wonderful power shots with your forehand and your serve, but you’re also known for your wonderful creativity, spontaneity, and different shots. Is that one of the things that you love about your tennis that keeps you going? Talk about that aspect.
GAEL MONFILS: You know, to be honest, I always say that is very natural, you know. Just instinct player, you know. And I do what I feel to do at that time.

You know, I think I played a lot of sport when I was young and still play now other sport. Maybe have different coordination of others, so that’s why sometimes it looks a little bit different.

Q. Do some of your shots sometimes surprise you? Was there one shot in particular that you can…
GAEL MONFILS: You know, it’s tough because when I’m inside, you know, I have no look, you know, by myself. And actually when I jump or when I dive or whatever, you know, for me it’s natural.

So I have no look. Right after if someone show me, say, Shit, it was good. (Smiling.)

Q. Coming up obviously you had really good results right up and through the Olympics, and having the Olympic experience this year and coming out to the Open. Are you feeling good? Are you feeling satisfied with the way you’re playing coming in?
GAEL MONFILS: Yeah, I feel good, you know. I think I have a strong first round, and obviously I know it was a little bit worries, my back a little bit.

Today I just play tough and cruised. I’m satisfied. Still have won a lot of matches. No, I just feel good and hopefully going to keep going.

Q. And you take the first set, straight sets, do you feel good the way things went out there?
GAEL MONFILS: Yeah, because this one, I think it was a bit more than a first round. I think Gilles is just out to be seeded and he’s a tough player.

I feel like to win this match straight sets was I think a good effort for me, so it give me a lot of confidence.

Q. What about the possibility of playing under the roof here? What do you think it will be like to play indoors?
GAEL MONFILS: I don’t know. I don’t know. No one ever ask me this question. Would be cool. Would be more electric, I guess. I think it’s gonna be more noisy. Yeah, actually, can be a really cool experience.

Q. You had that incredible match with Federer here. What has been the most wonderful match in your career?
GAEL MONFILS: Honestly, the first time I beat my dad. But in the tour, I always say when I lost to Lleyton Hewitt in 2004 in Bercy. I lost 6-3, 7-6. For me, it was the best match I ever play so far.

Q. When you’re in the zone, you know that expression, in the zone, playing your best, how would you describe that feeling?
GAEL MONFILS: I can’t, because I will do it every time. I can’t, because I think actually we practice, you know, to be at this zone. You know, for the zone is like when you’re in the top and you achieve anything, you can beat anyone, and no one can beat you.

Somehow, you know, I think maybe Novak is the one can say it most because he’s not losing a lot.

But me, I can’t I tell you. I know it’s a great feeling, but never happen a lot in the season, when you’re in the zone, what, a match, two matches maximum? But when you’re in the zone it’s very rare to have this sensation.

 

Rafael Nadal

Press Conference

R. NADAL/D. Istomin

6-1, 6-4, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. If you can, assess the match. How you feel you played today?
RAFAEL NADAL: Normal. That’s the real thing. Not very good; not very bad.

I think I played — was a good start for me obviously winning here in straight sets. I have been dominating the match comfortable after 6-1, 4-1, and I think in that game I could have the second break in the second set, no, and go 5-1.

Didn’t happen. And then the second set was tougher, no? Was tough at the end. He had some chances in the 4-All. Happy that I finally saved that game. I had the break in the last one. In the third I think I finished playing well. Last couple of games I played a little more aggressive with my forehand.

I feel that I was changing a little bit, you know, playing a little bit longer the cross shot, and then changing down the line, like last point. It was positive one.

That’s it. My serve worked well almost all the time. I am hitting very well the backhand, but it’s true that the forehand I need time. I need confidence and I need to keep practicing the forehand, no?

Is not easy to go two months-and-a-half out of competition in the middle of the season without hitting a forehand. I need to have the confidence again with my wrist. That is coming, because I feel the wrist much better, and every day feel that the wrist a little bit better. That’s very important thing for me. By the way, the most important thing.

I need to recover the normal movement with the forehand. Even if I played very well in Rio, you know, when you have pain you try to change the movement to avoid a little bit that pain no? So I need to find again the normal movement. But I am in the way.

Q. How different with the roof on is the wind or the shadows?
RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, the wind, there is no wind. It’s just a little bit of wind, no? Since the first day that I practiced here I checked that was not wind at all, no? Because I remembered one of these days that I was practicing in the center court outside was very, very windy, and in the center court was not wind at all, no?

The shadows are, you know, always a little bit of inconvenience during, but it’s true after 2:30, 3:00 in the afternoon it’s over. That’s a good thing. In general terms, is great. Is beautiful court. Is an amazing job that USTA did, and I think is a great improvement for everybody, for the players, for the fans who are visiting here Flushing Meadows, and for sure for the people who are following the tournament on the television.

Q. In Rio you said that you played there just because it was the Olympics. You wouldn’t have played in any other tournament. It ended up you had to play a lot. In hindsight, looking back, do you think that much court time did good for your recovery or you think that you just got too tired?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, was too tiring. After the Olympics I feel myself destroyed. But it’s normal, no? Is not because I was not ready. It’s because I didn’t competed and I didn’t have the chance to practice strong practices on court, no? I was doing a lot of physical performance, training in the gym.

But since one week before the Olympics I was not hitting forehand, no? Just practicing 45 minutes to 30 to one hour. That’s the maximum thing that I was practicing, no?

So was a very important event for me, and in general terms have been very, very positive. I will say more than very positive, and I’m 100% recovered physically, no?

In terms of the wrist injury, I was not sure when I was there, but the real thing is the wrist improved. Was a very good decision.

Q. You’re known for your love of our sport and also for the love of your country. When you came out of the tunnel holding the flag for Spain, you were beaming and smiling. As you walked down the track, what went through your mind about the country and your journey? What were your thoughts?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I was just enjoying that very unique moment, no? Olympics are the most important event of the world of sport, so for me was something that I missed the opportunity in London, 2012, to bring the flag.

And I see it like (Asking for translation) for award, reward. Is an award after a lot of years of hard work, a lot of years of passion for the sport, a lot of years having represented well I think my country around the world no?

That moment was unique, unforgettable, and was just very, very high emotions.

Q. If that’s the case, can you understand why players choose not to play the Olympics because they are not getting ranking points and not getting prize money?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. No, in my personal feeling, you know, in terms of importance, the events are — always you need to find in your interior, no? You need to find what’s the motivation of yourself for everything, no?

But for me personally, Olympics is the closest thing to a Grand Slam. That’s my feeling, no? And I can’t understand some players that are a little bit older that they decided to not go because they prefer — they have been there. If they believe that there is no chances for medals I could understand, but some young players that choosed to not go there, it’s difficult to understand, no?

Olympics are once every four years and is something that is an experience you can’t miss. Even if you are young, you need to have the right people around you to advise you that have to go there. You know, because then when you are older you appreciate a lot these events and these experiences that are completely special and unique.

So that’s a thing the same what happened in golf, the same what happened in tennis with a couple of players.

But is something that makes the sport bigger, no? I think if the stars are going to Olympics makes the Olympics bigger. But at the same time, have the golf in Olympics I think makes the golf bigger, and having the tennis in Olympics have — you know, is true that we help to have the Olympics bigger, but the Olympics help us to be bigger in the world of sport, no?

Because there is a lot of fans around the world that they don’t follow tennis normally, but during the Olympics everybody see the Olympics, no? So you have a lot of visibility during that week. In my opinion we should promote that.

Q. Much less serious experience is at the end of matches here when you hit the balls into the crowd. What is that like? Where are you trying to hit it? How far and which direction?
RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, I don’t know. (Laughter.) No idea. Don’t know. Just I try to send the balls where more people are. No, I just try to send the ball where the people really want the ball. That’s it.

Q. In our stadium do you ever try to hit it out of the stadium?
RAFAEL NADAL: No chance. We tried before. I try when I was younger but have more power without the roof, and there was no — impossible.

Q. You said you would have rested longer with the wrist had it not been for the Olympics, so if there had been no Olympics do you think you would have been playing in this tournament or still resting?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, sure I would be playing this tournament. The wrist is better, yeah.

Yes, if there is not Olympics probably I will start here. That’s the normal thing that will happen, no? But the real thing is I was very happy to play the Olympics, no, because was nothing against the injury. Nothing happen against the injury.

So the improvement had been very positive. Sometimes you take decisions, and I take the decision to play in Roland Garros and it was a very negative decision. It was very important event for me.

After that I break a little bit the wrist so had to stop for two months and a half. Then I decided to play in the Olympics and was positive thing, no?

So in terms of decisions, after the decision when you know what happened, everything is easy, but before you need to take a decision. So when you take decisions, you have mistakes or you don’t. People take decisions are the people who can have both things.

Q. You have seen it happen in basketball where there are a lot of players that want to rest because of injury. You have Laver Cup and other things happening in tennis. Is tennis too full schedule-wise, or how much more tennis do you think guys can play or players can play because the sport is also so physical?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, don’t compare the exhibitions or the tournaments outside of the tour than when we are competing on tour, because it’s a different story in terms of, you know, what is the tougher thing for the body. What really damage your body and your mental strength is other real competition.

When I have exhibition I relax. We try to do it for the crowd, to try to play good for the crowd. We try our best, but we don’t know what is the limit. You have problems when you go to the limit, so is not fair to compare that.

And in terms of calendar, I never said that calendar is too long. In my opinion the calendar can be as long as you want. For me it will be great if we have tournaments since the first week of the season every single week.

The only negative things sometimes are the mandatory events. We have a lot of mandatory events, and that creates very short periods of rest, no? But as many tournaments as we have, as more tournaments we have the better, because there is more jobs.

One sport is bigger and better not only if the best players win a lot of money, if is a lot of players can have the right money to live well.

So that’s how much more players can have the work on the tennis life, better for our tour. So the only thing is the mandatory events.

Q. You were just talking about how each of the players have to find their own motivation. In the past you said your motivation for tennis comes from your love of the sport. Talk about that. Talk about the love that you have for tennis and how that affects your motivation and drive.
RAFAEL NADAL: I always say the same, no? Sport in general is one of my hobbies and is one of my passions. Not only like player, like a spectator, too. I love the sport with a lot of competition, when I am practicing, and when I’m watching on the TV. I love the sport in general, and my life and my family always have been very close to the world of sport and living the sport with a lot of passion.

That’s why I always tried hard and I love what I do.

Q. You have done it many times, but do you still wake up on the morning of the first round of a Grand Slam and feel that nervous energy of a big tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: If you are not nervous a little bit it’s time to say good-bye. That’s the real thing, no? You need to be nervous. No, that’s part of the competition, no?

If you don’t feel that then it’s because you really don’t want to win as much as you need or you are not afraid about the lose. When you don’t have those feelings it’s because you don’t have enough motivation for what you are doing.

 

Garbine Muguruza

Press Conference

G. MUGURUZA/E. Mertens

2 6, 6 0, 6 3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What was wrong physically that you called the trainer after the first set? How were you feeling the rest of the match?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: I started and it was difficult a little bit to breathe for me. It was really humid. I don’t know. When you feel the heat that makes you a little bit, like, down kind of, you know.

I was talking in the locker room a little bit with the physio. Was kind of like similar to Australia, you know, where is hot.

I forgot that there was the ice towels and everything. So I start using them, trying to breathe a little bit better, I don’t know, taking more calm just to, you know, go with the match.

But I didn’t remember that was that hot in here. I don’t know why I felt this today. It was like really, really humid.

Q. Were you not feeling well before the match or was it just the heat of today that made you feel unwell?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: No, I kind of felt this also in the practice two days ago, that I’m like, Whew, this is hot here.

Today in the warmup I didn’t feel it. It’s only half an hour in a warmup. It’s only a warmup. But as soon as I started the match moving and running, also with the competition makes you more tense. I guess that, yeah.

Q. You mentioned the next player, you don’t know who she is, never seen her play. How do you mentally prepare for a game like that where you just don’t know your competition?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Well, it happens more in the Grand Slams at the beginning of the rounds because there’s a lot of people and sometimes you don’t know the opponents.

But today was the case. I went to the court and I didn’t really know the opponent. You play and you do your stuff. You kind of see a little bit during the match how she plays, but you cannot know anything before.

It’s like that. I don’t know.

Q. Coming in as the 3 seed, a Grand Slam champion, somebody not really known to the public here, how does it feel to come in with higher expectations? Does that raise the confidence level and your own expectations of yourself?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: I think is different. If I would say no it would not make sense. Someone that, I don’t know, has reached the last rounds of the tournaments or, you know, the important moments every time you go to a tournament, you believe, Maybe I can do it again. You have more expectations, that’s for sure.

But I got to play with that. I have to go on the court, try to don’t have in my mind all the time, Hey, let’s go for this match, let’s try to win this. That’s the way.

For sure maybe a lot of people is talking. All this kind of stuff that I cannot control. If I cannot control it I don’t put it in my bag, you know. I’m minimizing and doing everything very simple around me.

Q. Some people thrive on the environment here; others find it daunting. Where do you come in there? Do you enjoy this atmosphere?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: You mean in the court?

Q. Yes.
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Yes, I felt there’s more movement, more noise, more stuff. But it’s well known also because of the environment and the crowd and the vibes, I don’t know, that feeling that brings New York.

I think it’s also special to feel. I don’t know. There’s a lot of people. They’re watching you. Maybe it’s not as silence as Wimbledon, that everybody is like this, but I enjoy a lot also.

Q. Aside from the tennis, can you enjoy the city of New York? Anything besides tennis?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: You can enjoy. For me it’s difficult during the tournament. I came one week earlier here to prepare and everything. In those days I have more chances to, Hey, let’s go watch this show. This is the city of shows. There’s 10 every day and restaurants and everything.

Once I start the tournament I’m very, I don’t know the word, like in a cave. I’m in my room. I do simple stuff. I don’t go to a lot of places. I just try to keep my energy with me and not going there and there and there.

Q. You came here early this year?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: I came one week early.

Q. Shows or anything?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Yes. Where did we go? We went to a Mark Anthony concert. I loved it. I was dancing. I have to say, there was all womens. Not one man in that concert.

And are trying Greek restaurants. I love Greek restaurants. Italian and steakhouses. I love the steakhouses. I just discover places.

Q. Did you have a lot of media appearances for sponsors? Was that part of that week?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Yes. Here is where they’re all more or less based. This is the part of the year where you’re more compromises, or, I don’t know. It’s just more people, more sponsors, more people that want more time from you.

Yeah, it would be more here. You have to really schedule everything.

Q. But you also have to train.
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Yes, because between this, this, this, I have to practice, go back 10 blocks, one taxi.

Q. First round match, having difficulty breathing, playing against somebody you never played before, it’s very easy to panic. Did you ever come close to that? Did you ever feel like you were panicking? If not, how did you reel the match back in?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: No, I don’t feel I panic. I think I always have a chance. I’m there. Even though I’m down 4 1 I always try to see what can I do to turn these things around.

Maybe you’re like, Oh, this is dangerous situation, because you feel that you’re like 4 1 or in the third set you know last set.

These kind of things, I think all the players feel that. But you always have to focus and, Okay, what should I do now to win this point? How can I turn this set? Where should I play? You kind of think about something else.

 

John Isner

Press Conference

J. ISNER/F. Tiafoe

3-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. When he’s serving for the fifth set, what advantage do you have not being 18 years old?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I guess, I mean, experience is definitely on my side in that match, but sometimes experience is overrated.

You know, I think in that instance I actually probably played the best return game I played all match.

You know, he played very well, I thought, and he earned everything up to that point for sure. I just tried to stick with it. Was able to get back into that set at 5-4.

Actually, even though I was pretty haggard out there, I got a jolt of energy when I got it back to 5-4.

Q. Were you at all surprised by his level of play?
JOHN ISNER: No, I wasn’t. I mean, I know how talented he is. At such a young age, he seems to be the type of kid that can rise up to the big occasion, big moment, and great atmosphere. He played I thought very well.

I was struggling matching his intensity. In the early goings of the match he was all over me and was the better player hands down.

I had to stick with it and had to try to tilt the match in my favor a little bit, which I was able to do.

Q. You’ve won some epics in your career. You’ve also had a lot of tough, close losses this year. Where do you rank this match as far as the drama, being out on the Grandstand for the first time?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I mean, the atmosphere was amazing. I mean, you guys saw it. Standing room only in that fifth set. The crowd was going nuts. A lot of people were cheering for him – rightfully so.

But it’s definitely up there. I feel like I was due. I’ve lost a number of close matches this year, so to be able to pull that one out feels really good. And in the way I pulled it out feels especially good, so…

Yeah, I can’t say enough about Frances. I’ve always liked him. Always. He’s a great guy. He has a fantastic future.

Q. Can you describe what you really thought of the play of the new Grandstand? What kind of court was it? Is it quicker?
JOHN ISNER: I’m not the best person to ask when it comes to that stuff. I don’t pay too much attention to it.

If I had to say, it’s probably a little on the quicker side, I think. You get rewarded for the right type of play out there. I don’t know.

I mean, I practiced on Armstrong. Maybe it’s a little quicker, but I don’t know.

Regardless, the court is beautiful and it’s fun to play on.

Q. He’s obviously the youngest player in the draw. What elements do you think he has to grow to play big points?
JOHN ISNER: He’s got so much room to grow as a tennis player. Yeah, I think probably his second serve. He’s improved his serve from when I practiced with him.

He’s been at some Davis Cup ties. He definitely has improved his serve. I think the best thing he has going for him is he’s just an incredible athlete. You can’t really teach that.

He’s got wheels; he’s got the hands; he’s got shots on both sides. One area, if he improves his second serve a little bit. But I would certainly buy stock in him right now for sure. He’s a great player.

Q. At the end of a match when you’re hitting balls into the crowd, what is that experience like and what are you trying to do?
JOHN ISNER: Oh, I don’t know. I was enjoying it at that moment. The atmosphere was awesome. A lot of people were on their feet cheering for that match. They weren’t just cheering for me at the end.

It’s why you play. It’s why you work so hard, to have moments like that. Everyone that’s been part of a painful loss like that, as well. The wins, in an atmosphere like that, in a close match like that, are really sweet.

Q. How about in general, the whole experience of hitting balls in the crowd? Do you try to hit them out of the stadium? Where are you aiming?
JOHN ISNER: No. I was pretty tired. I just hit them up. I didn’t hit them anywhere in particular at the end there.

Q. What did you and Frances say to each other up at the net?
JOHN ISNER: I can’t really recall. I don’t think he said much. I think I said, Great match. It was really fun to play against you today. Keep your head up. You know, your future is immensely bright.

I mean, I didn’t say that. Keep it going, man. It was fun. I think that’s what I said.

Q. How important has that slice backhand been for you to develop as a shot that gets you out of trouble sometimes? Does it get you into trouble ever?
JOHN ISNER: No, it’s improved. Sort of a shot that sometimes I feel it really good and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes it’s not there at all. You know, leading up to this match, practicing here, I feel like that shot has been working pretty well for me.

For me to use that shot in a sort of defensive fashion is very important to get it low and get it down cross-court.

I’ve worked on that shot ad nauseam forever now. It’s always going to be a pretty important shot for me.

Q. Does someone hit that shot best on tour?
JOHN ISNER: Roger probably. Yeah.

Q. After a match like that, when you lose a close match, how do you make it learning experience instead of making it a scar that lasts?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah. As I said before, I’ve lost a lot of close matches this year in final-set tiebreakers. You have to try to learn from it, even though it can sort of scar you up, as you said.

But you have to try to learn from it. You have to try to stay positive and stay the course and know that it will turn around.

I know with how I play, very good chance I’m going to be in that situation a lot. Maybe not at a Grand Slam like this, but, you know, I just stuck with it. I was confident in that fifth set icebreaker. I really believed I was going to win it.

I had no reason to believe that considering how many matches I lost, but I was positive and believed I was going to pull through.

Q. What do you like most about his game?
JOHN ISNER: His backhand is world class. His backhand return is world class. He was handling my serve better than anyone really, maybe outside of Novak. I mean, he was really on it. His forehand’s great. I think that shot’s improved a lot.

As I said earlier, he’s such an incredible athlete. He’s got that on his side. That’s not going to go anywhere, so…

He’s got a very bright future.

Q. As someone who follows football and other sports, what is your reaction to Colin Kaepernick’s statement with not standing for the National Anthem?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I thought that was pathetic from him. The cause he was going for, fine by me, but don’t do it in that fashion. He could have found some other ways to present his voice there. A lot of NBA players have done it, and good on ’em.

For him doing it in that way really irked me. I’m a big Blaine Gabbert fan now.

 

Frances Tiafoe

Press Conference

J. ISNER/F. Tiafoe

3-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Where do you think you had the better chance of winning, the third set tiebreak or when you served for the match?
FRANCES TIAFOE: Both, I mean, about the same. Yeah, pretty disappointed I missed that backhand at 5-All with that much court I had to work with. Overcooked it.

But, yeah, serving for it I thought I definitely had it. I thought I definitely thought the match was over, but he played a good return game. Didn’t make that many first serves that game. Probably should have played a higher percentage, but it’s tough.

Q. You were very gracious on court. What were you feeling after the match, having chances? What is going on in your head?
FRANCES TIAFOE: I mean, toughest loss of my career so far for sure. But, you know, think I’m getting over it now a little bit. I mean, not much to really say. It’s tough. I was so excited serving for it 5-3; the crowd is going nuts; I’m going nuts. You have so much adrenaline going.

Come up a little short, it hurts.

But it’s against an experienced player. Me and John are great friends. It was a good battle and I had a lot of fun today.

Q. (Question regarding experience.)
FRANCES TIAFOE: I think that played a part in it. If I could replay that, probably wouldn’t have gotten as hyped up when I broke. Maybe would have taken a little bit out of it.

No, I mean, I think that played a little part in it.

Q. Talk about the atmosphere playing on the new Grandstand. What was that like?
FRANCES TIAFOE: I think it’s going to be the best court at the US Open in years to come. It was unbelievable. It was pretty much packed the whole time.

Yeah, I mean, it still feels pretty intimate, just like the old Grandstand. I think it’s going to definitely be a court I want to play on for sure in the future.

Q. What did you and John say to each other at the net when you hugged? There’s always a lot of questions about the future of American tennis. With young guys like you and Taylor Fritz, how bright is the future? Can you compete for slams down the road?
FRANCES TIAFOE: To be honest, yeah, I don’t really know what John said. I just heard him say, You’re going to be great, you know, and I was kind of crying on his shoulder. But, yeah, I mean, he’s so nice. I mean, we’re such good friends.

And then the last thing I heard him say is, Don’t let this get you down.

For American tennis, I think it’s looking really good. I think we have a lot of guys that are going to be very good. I think American tennis is definitely on the right path. We just got to keep our heads down and keep doing the work and I think we’re going to have good careers.

Q. What did those first two sets feel like? Looked like you could do no wrong.
FRANCES TIAFOE: Seemed like everything I touched was golden. Came out playing pretty much lights out. I was returning unbelievable. I was guessing right on everything. Wasn’t really expecting that. I was ready to play a couple breakers going in.

But, yeah, I mean, it was a lot of fun today. I really enjoyed myself and I really thought I played one of the best matches I’ve played so far.

I pretty much did everything but win the match today. It was an unbelievable experience.

Q. Did your dad have anything to do with tennis before he got the job at the camp?
FRANCES TIAFOE: No, nothing at all. Nothing at all. Never really even held a racquet before he came there at all. No relation to tennis whatsoever.

Q. How do you build off a match like this going forward, take the positives out of it?
FRANCES TIAFOE: I think the positive is that I can play that level, you know, on a big stage like that. Also that I think one day I could maybe have a good run at a slam.

You know, just keep going on the practice courts and keep doing what I’ve been doing: working hard, get my strengths even better, and my weaknesses to one day be strengths.

Q. I saw you in the Orange Bowl when you were 15. What part of your game has made the biggest advance since then?
FRANCES TIAFOE: I think I’ve just gotten a lot stronger physically. I think that’s helped me a lot. Moving better. You know, hitting the ball stronger from both sides. Serving a bit better.

I mean, yeah, I just grew a lot as a person, as a player since then. I think that’s really what’s been helping me the last couple years.

Q. Which tennis figure has provided you with the greatest inspiration?
FRANCES TIAFOE: As far as player or… ?

Q. Can be a player. Doesn’t have to be.
FRANCES TIAFOE: I’m a big DelPo fan. Huge DelPo fan. Seeing him win a slam here when he was 19, 20, that was huge inspiration for me. I always wanted to be like him.

Seeing him in the locker room, now we’re talking, that even seems surreal. I think he was a big inspiration for me.

 

Monica Puig

Press Conference

S. ZHENG/M. Puig

6-4, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How tough was it out there today?
MONICA PUIG: It’s always a little bit tough, especially coming off winning the Olympic gold medal. A lot of pressure, a lot of expectation, but I can always continue to learn. That’s what I’m going to try and do.

All credit to her, though. She played well. She complicated me just enough. But, you know, I’m still learning. I’ll still growing. Trying to find the positives out of everything.

Q. Does this feel like something you’re going to have to take some time to process in terms of recovering in a way from this big career achievement?
MONICA PUIG: Sure. I’ve never been here before. These are new waters for me, new territory. I’m going to have to start getting used to it. Once it starts becoming a little bit more of a habit, then I’ll feel comfortable.

It took me a while to be comfortable being in the top 50, the top 30, all this stuff. It’s always a process. I’m just going to have to keep learning and just take it day by day.

Q. New York City has such a big Puerto Rican community. What did you make of the crowd support for you?
MONICA PUIG: Well, it was great. Everyone was there supporting me. They didn’t really let down at any moment. It’s even great to see that at my lowest points they were there for me. I really appreciate it.

I know that I can always come back to New York and have a Puerto Rican family there for me.

Q. You mentioned positives that you want to take from this match. What are some of those positives that you are going to work on?
MONICA PUIG: At no point in the match did I have a bad attitude towards what was going on, and no moment did I give up. That’s really positive for me, because no matter how tough situations get, I know that I won’t give up and I’ll always keep trying.

I tried to be aggressive when I could. It didn’t happen today. But we have bad days as tennis players. I just got to keep working on my game.

Again, I’m still in the process of learning. There’s so much to be done still with my game. I’m 22 years old. There’s always room for improvement. I’m just going to go back to the drawing board with my team and see what else we can fix.

Q. How tough is it that it was such a big tournament so soon? Did you feel maybe there could have been an extra week between the Olympics?
MONICA PUIG: I wish. Everybody does. Kind of had some time to come down from the high a little bit. At the end of the day, the calendar doesn’t really give you much room to, you know, ask and take, whatever. You have to get back out there like everybody else does.

Kerber went out after the final of the Olympics and made finals of Cincinnati. But, again, she’s been there. She knows what it’s like. She knows she’s No. 2 in the world. She’s tested the waters out a little bit. I’m brand-new to this.

I need to keep racking up as much experience as I can. You know what? This isn’t going to be the last of me. I know I’m going to keep working hard. The Olympics was something that happened because of all my hard work.

I’m just going to keep working harder to get those results as soon as possible.

Q. Kerber, after she won her first Grand Slam, she had struggles. Does that give you confidence knowing they were able to rebound from that?
MONICA PUIG: Of course. I mean, I’m playing well. I’m playing good tennis. I feel good out on the court. I feel good hitting the ball. It’s something I did tell myself.

Garbine won her first Grand Slam and then she had a little bit of a letdown. She’s coming into her own as well.

A lot of people go through this. It’s not, you know, just me. That’s what a lot of people need to kind of understand sometimes. I’ve gotten a lot of negativity over these past few weeks. I’m like, Well, okay, take your time a little bit. You know, I’m still learning. I’m still coming about.

With time everything will become a lot easier for me. Again, it’s all about hard work and it’s all I’m going to keep doing.

Q. What are some of the things you’re going to work on for the next tournament?
MONICA PUIG: I’m going to keep on working on everything in general. I know what type of game I like to play. I know how I play. It’s just continuing to make myself as solid as possible to try and patch up all the holes in my game. Just make everything as solid as I can.

There’s only a few more tournaments left in the year. I’m going to definitely try and finish the year off with a high. I have had a great year until now, so only going to try and build my confidence up with that and just keep going.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Press Conference

J. TSONGA/G. Andreozzi

6-3, 6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Did the match pretty much go as you expected? Were there any surprises for you? You won in straight sets.
JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: Yeah, I played well enough. I served pretty consistently. Then it was easier for me to put pressure on his serve.

So, yeah, I expect to win, of course, before the match, and I did it. So, yeah, that’s great.

 

Taylor Fritz

Press Conference

J. SOCK/T. Fritz

7-6, 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. I know it’s a tough one to lose. After Australia, you were positive after that match because it showed you you could stay at that level. What do you take from this?
TAYLOR FRITZ: You know, I’ve always been a fighter and someone who competes till the end. I don’t know what I really take from it. I think I’ve proven I can come back from two sets to love down; never really out of it.

It’s just really tough to do everything that I did, get back to the point where I was at, and then after all that lose the match.

Q. Must be hard to go from day to night on a court. Were there visual conditions that were difficult?
TAYLOR FRITZ: In the very, very beginning of the match, first set, it was kind of tough with the shadows that were coming across the court, but those went away pretty quick.

So I think the whole second set and on the shade covered the court, so it wasn’t tricky with the sun in your eyes or anything.

Q. How about the color of Jack’s shirt? Does the ball ever get lost in that?
TAYLOR FRITZ: No. Didn’t seem like that to me. I mean, I was wearing the same shirt, so…

Q. Looked so similar.
TAYLOR FRITZ: Never. Didn’t see a ball come out and thought, Wow, the shirt did something. I never even thought that was an issue at all.

Q. What’s next for you?
TAYLOR FRITZ: I play doubles here. Afterwards I’m going to have a couple weeks to myself to just train and get stronger. It’s been a while since I’ve had a nice long training block to get stronger and really improve my game.

So I’ll do that.

Q. Where will you do that?
TAYLOR FRITZ: Probably in Carson.

Q. Do you work at all with Christian Groh anymore?
TAYLOR FRITZ: When I’m in San Diego we work, but I’ll be in Carson, USTA.

Q. Does he work with you at Carson, too?
TAYLOR FRITZ: No. At Carson I work with mainly David Nainkin, and Mardy Fish comes in sometimes, too, to supplement and help out.

Then my first tournament back is going to be in Tokyo.

Q. You’re a little bit further along in the year now. Quite a bit further along. In January you were looking ahead. What do you think you’ve gotten in this year so far?
TAYLOR FRITZ: I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in this year. I feel like overall when I look back at it, it’s better than I expected. I have to be proud of being where I’m at at the age I’m at.

It’s tough because I just set the expectations so high for myself. I want to do better and I want to do more than I’ve done. Didn’t want to have any of the lows in the season.

At the end of the day, need to step back and look at the big picture. I’m 18; I’m 50 something in the world. It’s way farther than I thought I’d be at this point a year ago. I have to stay positive and keep looking at the positives that I can take out of this year, and there are a lot.

Q. What are the tournament highlights of this year for you?
TAYLOR FRITZ: Memphis, for sure. Memphis and Acapulco were two great tournaments for me. I’ve been to a lot of great places.

But towards the end of this season I haven’t had the results I’ve been looking for, even though I felt like I’ve been playing some pretty decent tennis.

I’m not too worried, though. I think if I keep playing well, the results will come. It’s just I’ve had some close matches I’ve lost and some tough draws. I’m not too worried.

Milos Raonic

Press Conference

M. RAONIC/D. Brown

7-5, 6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. A little uneven the first set. Didn’t seem to have timing on your serve.
MILOS RAONIC: Had trouble with my serve even throughout the match. It got better and better, but definitely something I’m going to put some time into tomorrow.

I know it’s something that I can get back on track pretty quickly, but definitely was not where I would have liked it to be to start the match.

Made good progress throughout.

Q. Overall a pretty easy way to start. Would that be the way to put this match?
MILOS RAONIC: I was efficient at the end of the day. Three sets; not too much time on court. I would have wished to play better, but it’s not the goal to be playing my best tennis in the first round. It’s about getting through and giving myself a chance to get better in the next round.

Hopefully my level continues to improve.

Q. Can you clarify the situation for us with John and you now. He was sort of going back and forth in his comments.
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, well, John, throughout these weeks, will not be helping me. We’ll see where it goes after that.

Q. Do you have an idea of what you want already after?
MILOS RAONIC: I believe it was just too many things going on throughout this period of time. He felt like that was the right decision.

At the end of the day, it’s a decision we’re both okay with. We spoke about it, were up front, and there’s no ill feelings over it.

Q. Is it hard to be on the other side of a net from a guy who is kind of a Harlem Globetrotter?
MILOS RAONIC: I don’t know if that’s necessarily a fair way to call him.

It is from the aspect you don’t know what you’re going to expect. The match is going to go through many different stages and you just have to sort of stay on top of it.

I did that well for certain bits; then I didn’t. The thing I always did was I rebounded quite well, so I’m happy with that.

It’s a first round. It’s about getting through. It’s about getting yourself to go through this tournament.

Q. You practiced with John McEnroe here.
MILOS RAONIC: Yes.

Q. Did you get advice from him?
MILOS RAONIC: For today?

Q. Last week practice.
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, we spent some time. We were working on certain things. Then Carlos arrived later in the week then, after Ricardo departed. Yeah, we worked on a lot of things two weeks before Cincinnati, as well.

There’s certain things I’m trying to bring awareness to in my game. I’m trying to improve what I feel I need to do better. We’ve had some good matches to reflect on over the last little while.

Hopefully I can implement those things I’m working on.

Q. For so long other players have been trying to get to where the big four are. How would you describe right now the status of the big four?
MILOS RAONIC: Well, I think it’s a little bit spread out. You have Roger, who was always there, that is unfortunately unable to be playing at this moment, who is sitting out for a little while.

You have Andy and Novak who have pretty much led the charge of those big four. Have been leading it at least throughout this year.

Rafa is still one of the most dangerous players on tour.

You’ve got to navigate your way through. You’ve got to be trying to play your best. Hopefully you face these guys later in tournaments and you can bring your best tennis.

Q. What is the message to guys such as yourself about where those guys are now, because it has been so hard to break into where they’ve been?
MILOS RAONIC: Well, I’ve just personally looked at it from the chance of I’m trying to get better every single day. I compare myself to those four guys, what I need to do to compete against them, to win against them. ‘Cause you can’t avoid these guys, especially not in the big tournaments. Even the smaller ones as well. If they’re there, they’re consistently playing well.

I’ve always had that outlook of what I can do better and how I can go about it. I guess there’s a little bit more opening now than there used to be, but you still have Andy and Novak holding a pretty good lockdown on the big tournaments.

They played all the finals this year, at least one of them, and two of them were against each other.

Q. How much have you worked to develop that slice backhand as a defensive shot? The one-hander. Do you feel it’s become more important in the men’s game to have that in your arsenal?
MILOS RAONIC: I believe you have to defend well; you have to move well; you have certain guys that do it different ways.

Novak doesn’t defend too much with a slice. He’ll actually slide out and try to get two hands on it and play pretty flat down the middle of the court. He doesn’t give you much.

You have other guys that have made great careers for themselves defending with the slice.

I think for each player it’s their own difference. Obviously for me it’s important as a guy with a big reach. It helps me out. Also buys me some time if I’m out of position to get back in a situation that I have a better opportunity.

Q. Your stretch at Wimbledon was a very important run in your career. What would be the one or two takeaways from that experience?
MILOS RAONIC: I think the most positive side of it was the way I was able to fight through two probably of the most identifying matches, coming down [sic] from two sets to love down, coming back in that situation, and sort of being able to turn that around against Roger late in that semifinal, as well. Those I think are steps that I can try to implement more and more.

I’m sure I’ll be facing similar scenarios many times where I’ve got to step up. I think that puts something in my pocket as far as understanding of how to get through those situations.

And then it was great to put myself in that situation, to have a chance to be one match away from winning a Grand Slam. But at the same time, the negative side of it was I wish I played with a little bit more intensity and stepped up a little bit better, which I would try if I could put myself back in the situation, which I believe I can.

Q. Was it nerves?
MILOS RAONIC: I thought I was doing it. That’s the different aspect of it. Only when I re-watched the video I sort of put myself back and saw the whole picture. I was unable to do that. I know that everything I had I did put into that match, into that final, because I knew the importance of it.

But I think I could have expressed it more externally to get a little bit of pressure off myself and get a little energy out and convert it and use it in a better way.

Q. Writing for the players tribune, what was that like?
MILOS RAONIC: It was a fun process. It was a process in the sense of you get to say what you want to say. There was a lot of different theme lines that they wanted me to stick to. This one was the one I felt was more relevant on the timing that they were looking to put out the article.

I worked with two other guys really to get the meat of the work done, and then I put in my own words. So it came from my voice. I’m happy with how it looks. I haven’t read it other than the last draft we went through and I feel comfortable with.

But I feel like I got to say what I wanted to say, and that was the most important thing.

Q. Is that a way to help you with what happened in the match, to write it?
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, but I write everything down. So I’ve already dealt with it myself. I think this was I guess a more public accountability for it.

Q. Funky looking shoes you’re wearing. How would you describe the color? Is it your choice?
MILOS RAONIC: The color’s very pink and loud, but I like the outfit. Definitely I think it was a color they wanted to work with. I like the sort of disconnectedness. That that’s sort of the focal point of the outfit. Then something more classic and more toned down for the rest of the outfit. I think it works nicely.

Q. When you say they, you mean New Balance?
MILOS RAONIC: Yes.

Q. Was the goal to have everybody wear the T-shirts in your box and your parents said no?
MILOS RAONIC: I don’t know how many people were wearing them.

Q. Two. Is the one you’re wearing, is that a little bit of brand building?
MILOS RAONIC: I’m just having some fun with it. Having some fun with it. The other one, I don’t know what you’d call it with the badger, whatever my girlfriend made for fun. These were made by New Balance alongside with their designer, and they’re actually pretty close. They communicate back and forth about it. I guess they’ve helped each other in a way.

Q. Could you talk about New York City as an art center.
MILOS RAONIC: Probably right now with the generation of artists coming up, and after the unfortunate events of 9/11, I think there have been a lot of very influential New York artists that have really grown up through the city and made a difference.

I think you have that sort of current of guys passing through. Then you have previous phenoms that have changed the world. A lot of it has been based and centered in New York, so I think this is one of the cities where you don’t have to travel too far to see the different influences.

There’s galleries on many different corners. Some small, private, to much bigger public things as well. There are many collectors throughout the city as well, so you can amuse yourself through that outlet pretty easily.

Q. Can you briefly give few names?
MILOS RAONIC: Dan Colen, Jeff Elrod, Rashid Johnson. There’s many great artists that have, after that whole unfortunate event of 9/11, stepped up and I think done great things.

Q. (Question regarding records and the Open era.)
MILOS RAONIC: Which records?

Q. For example, Serena’s slam count. She’s tied with Steffi Graf in the Open era, but Margaret Court before still has more.
MILOS RAONIC: I think people compare it. I think Rod Laver’s Grand Slams are compared. I think that was before the Open era, if I’m not mistaken. People still consider the fact that he completed a slam in a year as one of the greatest feats.

I think people like to have that discussion for argument’s sake, but people still appreciate the great things that were done throughout any period of time in tennis.

Q. When would be the first time you played Ryan Harrison? How do you feel about playing him in the next round?
MILOS RAONIC: I can’t remember the first time I played him. It would have to be a long time ago. Juniors. He was younger than me. Probably second to last year or last year of my junior career. I think the last time I played him was in San Jose.

I know the things he liked to do back then. Obviously times have changed on both sides of the court, mine and his. So I’ll definitely do some research and maybe try to watch a little bit of that match he played yesterday, maybe have a few words with other players that have played him over a recent period of time.

Jack Sock

Press Conference

J. SOCK/T. Fritz

7-6, 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How many times have you played him in a tournament?
JACK SOCK: That was the second.

Q. All your matches go five sets, right?
JACK SOCK: Two for two. Yeah, today was obviously a back-and-forth match. Two sets my way, two sets his way and then a battle in the fifth, but just happy to get through.

Q. What do you think made the difference tonight?
JACK SOCK: I thought I came out and I thought I returned well the whole match. He’s got a great serve. He can really pop the first serve. Can’t be spotted well. It’s tough. I was able to get on a lot of second serves and put pressure on him I think. That paid off in the fifth getting up two breaks. Obviously didn’t help me too much when I gave them right back.

Yeah, once again, I was able to come up with some good returns at the 5-4 game and played a couple good points and got it done.

Q. How badly did the color of his shirt throw off your game?
JACK SOCK: I guess it could have gone both ways because I was wearing the same one for the first few sets.

Q. An adjustment you have to make?
JACK SOCK: No. We’ve seen them before. Nothing new.

Q. Doesn’t ever get lost?
JACK SOCK: No.

Q. What are your thoughts on the state of men’s tennis in America right now with the younger players who got a chance to play in the first round against a couple more veteran American players?
JACK SOCK: Yeah. I mean, you never want to see a bunch of Americans playing first round. Less chances for us to have more in the second round. But draws are draws. I saw some of the Isner-Tiafoe match earlier. These guys are in the main draw for a reason. Grand Slam matches are always tough.

I think the younger Americans are doing a great job of making a splash, making names for themselves early. Taylor has been a pro for a year and some change now and he’s already in the top 60 or 70 or wherever he is.

Yeah, these guys are playing great tennis. They’re playing with confidence. As many for some of us, my first few years I wasn’t top 100 right away. It took a little more time. These guys are playing free and with nothing to lose and coming out playing well.

Yeah, I mean, I saw Frances serve for the match earlier. Didn’t get it, but the experience does go a long way. This is my sixth or seventh US Open. Sixth, I think. I know John has played however many.

The experience does play a factor.

Q. When you win a match here you hit balls up into the crowd. What is that experience like and where are you trying to hit the balls?
JACK SOCK: Whoever’s loudest probably most of the time. If I have a certain section or a few people that are really loud supporting me throughout the match, I’ll try to hit it to them to kind of thank them.

Other than that, I usually have a sort of signature one where I will face one direction and kind of hit it backwards and tease them a little bit. That’s one I usually like to do.

For the most part, whoever is being loudest and whoever helped me most in the match.

Q. What is the experience like when you get to do that after a match?
JACK SOCK: I mean, it’s fun. The people go nuts. They get really loud. It’s a fun experience for them. They stuck around for however many hours you played a match. It’s the least we can do to give back.

Q. You talked recently about wanting to build on your doubles success. How has your experience in Rio or the medal and success there, how do you channel that into singles?
JACK SOCK: I’ve never considered myself a doubles player. I’ve just enjoyed playing it. Happened to have pretty good success in it so far in my career.

But like I’ve said recently in the media, I won’t be playing any more doubles in slams. I want to put my focus solely on singles. Been a few instances in these slams where obviously you’re playing three-out-of-five, and especially here in New York where it can be 95 degrees, 70 percent humidity, you need to have all your energy. You need to rest up for these singles matches.

There’s been a couple places where I always loved playing doubles 100%, and obviously I go out there and give it my all. Yeah, just decided to put it aside and be able to rest and put everything into singles. Maybe there’s schedule mishaps where on your day off you’re waiting to play last on in doubles and all of a sudden you’re here.

This happened to me last year a little bit. I was here, played until 9:30, 10:00 at night and you’re not out of here until 11:00, 11:30, and they put me on second the next day.

There is nothing you can do about it. You can’t control the schedule. But it can be avoided if you’re not in the draw.

Q. Is there something you try to do differently on the big points from the not-so-big points?
JACK SOCK: Win them would probably be the most important. I mean, no. My game is pretty straightforward, I feel like. If there’s a big point I’m looking for a forehand; looking to be aggressive.

If I’m serving, looking to make first serves. If I’m returning, dictate with my forehand as much as possible. Get the majority of the points. Yeah, any point, especially big points, that’s what I’m trying to do.

Q. From which tennis figure have you drawn the most inspiration and why?
JACK SOCK: Oh, man. It’s tough. Growing up, I’ve said this numerous times being from Nebraska, Roddick was a big influence watching him. I can remember to this day watching him win this tournament with his spiky blonde hair and visor and wearing the Reebok clothes.

That was big for me growing up one city over from where he was from. Other than that, when I was really younger I watched Andre a lot, Andre and Pete, and then Andy when I started taking tennis seriously when I started getting older.

Just as time has gone, you’re focusing on your game and trying to get better yourself. But you can pick up things even your first few years on tour when you watch the top four guys, what they can do. You can always take a few things what they’re doing and apply it into your own daily routines, professionalism.

There’s always something to be learned. Yeah, I mean, I would say the majority of people.

Q. A little while ago in your career you were playing in the Wimbledon doubles final. You score the great championship point. This summer you go to Rio and become a bronze medalist. Can you compare the two different peak experiences?
JACK SOCK: How did you describe the first-round loss?

Q. I called it wretched.
JACK SOCK: The guy’s a pretty good player, so I wouldn’t consider it a bad loss. He took a set off Del Potro next round, so I think he’s a pretty solid tennis player. So we can make that clear.

But, yeah, I mean, it wasn’t my day in singles. He played good tennis. Had to regroup and get ready for the doubles. Then in the mixed, able to come away with two medals, one being gold. Had one of the best weeks of my life.

I mean, I put Rio and my time there at the Olympics at the same level as Wimbledon and my first singles title, if not in front of it. Something about the Olympics. Obviously you dream of it as a kid. It’s even different being there, I think.

I’ve heard so much going in and the expectation and everything, but I think it’s that much and better when you’re there. It’s definitely one of the best weeks of my life being there with all the athletes and supporting everyone and the camaraderie, and the overall experience was incredible. I think all the guys would say that.

Q. Can you try to put into words the rush you get at the moment of victory?
JACK SOCK: I mean, the bronze was awesome. I’m a big golf fan. One of my favorite golfers is Matt Kuchar, and had the pleasure of him watching our bronze medal match. I was pretty hyped up for that, having him there and then being able to win in there. Went over and gave him and the whole team a hug afterwards. That was a pretty special moment for me.

And then a few days later winning gold and hearing the U.S. National Anthem standing in the middle of the podium with a gold around your neck, there’s really nothing like it. Don’t really know if it’s sunk in totally. Just flew from Rio, and the next day started training, the day I got off the plane, for this tournament.

Different from the other sports where you maybe have a little time off after the Olympics. After this maybe I’ll sit back and enjoy it a little more.

 

Novak Djokovic

Press Conference

N. DJOKOVIC/J. Janowicz

6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. First of all, what is your physical status at this moment, and what was it before the match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s getting better and better each day. I’m glad that I’m experiencing that. So hopefully as the tournament progresses, I’ll reach my peak.

Q. What were you having treatment for and what pains were you suffering?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was just prevention. It’s all good.

Q. Of what?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of my arm.

Q. When you come back to New York and you have all this fun in post-game interview, why is this tournament different?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, each Grand Slam has something different about it. US Open is the most entertaining Grand Slam, I think. There’s a lot going on on and off the court. You’re in one of the biggest, most important cities in the world. New York City, always something going on.

There is a great vibe during these couple of weeks for the tennis. Everybody’s in town. It’s always fun to be out there.

Q. It was the first match for you after a long break during this period of the season. What were you looking for in your game? Now that it’s done, were you satisfied completely with what you did?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, each day presents us some kind of challenges that we need to overcome, accept and overcome. It wasn’t easy today playing against Jerzy for the first time. He’s a very, you know, potent player, powerful serve, big forehands. Unpredictable really.

Play well as he did in the second set and he can make a couple double-faults in a row in the important moments. It’s really up and down. That’s why it wasn’t easy to keep the concentration.

But I thought I’ve done well in the third and fourth to bounce back from the dropped second set. It’s an opening match, night session. After all I’ve been through in last couple of weeks, it’s pleasing, of course, to finish the match and win it. I’ll try to look positive and just think about the next day.

Q. With injuries you’ve had coming in here, how you’re feeling, is it fair to say your expectations are measured or lower for this tournament? You’re willing to not be too much of a perfectionist?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: To be honest, I take it day by day. That’s what I feel at the moment. It’s good, as I said, just to finish the match. I’m pleased that as the match progressed I was feeling better and better.

Tomorrow is a new day. I hope that I’ll feel overall good so I’m able to perform at my best for the next match.

Q. Vesely next, one of the guys who has beaten you this year.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Different surface, different circumstances, best-of-five. But still, Vesely deserves respect. He’s somebody that has been kind of trying to break through as the next generation.

Couple years ago he already was there. He made a name of himself. Just gained the consistency I think over the last couple of years. He has a big game, a big serve, big forehand, and moves well for his size. So let’s see.

Obviously he hasn’t played many times on the Arthur Stadium. If you get to play there, it’s quite different. I like playing there, especially with the roof construction. Conditions are quite suitable to my style of the game. Hopefully I’ll be able to slow his serve down a little bit and then take it from there.

Q. One of the great things about you is you’ve learned and grown over the years. People love you because you’ve been transparent and open. Can you share about what you’ve learned or how you’ve grown over the past couple months?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Last couple months? Whew. I think as anybody else really, life arranges things to happen for you so you can evolve. Whether you recognize those kind of signals and circumstances as an opportunity to grow, that really depends on you, how conscious you are.

I’m really grateful to be able to have that conscious at the moment. Hopefully I’m at the right path, you know. As everybody else, I’m trying each day, day in and day out, to first of all find always new ways of motivating myself to play tennis.

I have more than enough happiness in my life and blessings to be a father and a husband. Life is wonderful. I mean, there is no doubt about it. I cannot sit here and complain and whine about the issues that, you know, everybody has in each day in their lives, privately, professionally.

But that’s a beautiful thing. When you expect the least, that’s when you have things coming at you as life’s lessons. I’m glad that I’m able to accept them and to greet them with a consciousness of wanting to evolve and wanting to get the best out of them.

That’s all I can say. I’m very grateful.

Q. You had the beautiful statement on court where you said Ashe is like a dark tunnel; at least there’s a beautiful light at the end. Does that in some way reflect your spirit some days?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Ashe is like a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe I said something wrong. It’s not like a dark tunnel.

It does feel like you’ve been illuminated on the court with all these lights and all the show and everything that’s going on. The opening ceremony is always a special night, of course. Phil Collins is one of my favorite singers. I was enjoying that and getting pumped before the match.

Yeah, it was wonderful to come back and play a night session that is undoubtedly the most special night session that we have in sport.

To be there and play another time, I don’t take anything for granted. I know the player in my position earns a right to play these kind of matches in the biggest stadium. But, again, I try to be aware, be present. It’s really a beautiful moment.

Q. You’ve been elected to the players council. How do you see this new role?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: First of all, an honor to be elected to be part of the council. I was part of the council some years ago for three years, then I had a little gap where I wasn’t involved in the politics of tennis, if you want to call it that way.

Now the players, most of the players, majority of the players that were in the council, they put my name in the election group, so I was elected to be in the council. I gladly accepted it, because it’s a calling. It’s a responsibility. If, as it is the case, my colleagues and friends have given me the trust of being there, I need to take it.

Of course I’ll do my best to contribute to the evolution of this sport for the time being. The first council meeting was very long but productive. I was elected the president. Kevin Anderson is vice president.

But to be honest, you know, it doesn’t change much. In the council we are all even. We are all equal. It was interesting to really sit there and hear and talk about, discuss, debate about different subjects that are ongoing right now, new ideas, new prospects.

You know, we are all in the same ship basically: the council people, the board people, and in the end of the day, tournaments as well. Even though historically the system is such that there is 50% of players, 50% of tournaments, many times there is a conflict of interest a little bit.

In the end of the day, we are all part of the same governing body. We’re all part of the same organization. As I said, we’re all in the same mission to make this sport better.

Q. Did you come into this tournament, and now that you’ve won this first match, do you think it’s a little easier road that Roger is not part of this tournament or does that not factor in at all?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, to be honest, it doesn’t really factor in. I mean, still the draw is 128. You still have guys like Andy, Rafa, Cilic, Nishikori, Raonic. You still have the best players in the world.

Certainly it’s not the same when you have Roger and you don’t have Roger for the tournament, for the fans. He’s been one of the most popular players of all time, one of the most successful players of all time. There is no doubt that every tournament is missing him. Of course.

But on the other hand, we got to focus on the players that we have at the moment. So I think even without him, it’s a very strong field. I’m sure it’s going to be a good tournament.

 

 

 

Note from the US Open Media Operations Guide as why Tennis Panorama News is allowed to post transcripts:

Transcripts of player interviews cannot be posted until one (1) hour after the interview has ended. Player transcripts can only be posted on the website of the publication that was accredited.
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