2014/04/18

Tennis News & Net Notes

Federer sets Pre-Australian Open Exhibition Match to Benefit his Charity:  Roger Federer is set to play an exhibition match with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Rod Laver Arena on January 8, 2014 via The Australian

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2014 Golden Achievement Award: The ITF and the International Tennis Hall of Fame gives the Golden Achievement Award to David Jude, a longtime volunteer leader in the tennis community who served as Honorary Treasurer of the ITF for 37 years. via ITF Tennis

Fedex Reliability Zone: Best Under Pressure Rafael Nadal posted the best winning percentage against top 10 opponents in 2013 via ATP Tour

Rafael Nadal

The Kim Clijsters Invitational: See pics of Clijsters, Ivanovic, Flipkens, Malisse and Leconte from the event held in Antwerp. via WTA Tour

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Britain’s Laura Robson Ousts Tenth Seed Maria Kirilenko at Wimbledon

LauraRobson for Wilson

(June 25, 2013) Teenager Laura Robson became the first British woman to knock out a top ten player at Wimbledon since 1998 when she beat No. 10 Maria Kirilenko 6-3, 6-4 in the first round on Tuesday. The last time it happened it was Britain’s Sam Smith taking down No. 7 Conchita Martinez.

It was a big win for me,” Robson said. “I think it was good that I managed to tough it out after I got so nervous in the second set.  And, yeah, I’m happy.”

A former junior Wimbledon champion, Robson used her big serve to overpower the Russian. Robson and Andy Murray remain the only singles players from Great Britain still in the draw.

Robson’s victory was celebrated by Great Britain’s Prime Minister Davis Cameron who tweeted:

 

In her post-match news conference Robson was vehement in defending women’s tennis in Great Britain. When asked about what’s wrong with women’s tennis in her country she replied: “Nothing.  You know, I think everyone had tough matches.  You know, before this week, everyone was playing really well.  So it’s unfortunate that no one else made the second round.

“But that happens sometimes.  Last year I lost in the first round.  So, uhm, yeah, you know, you go through stages of ups and downs like everyone else.”

This was the 19-year-old’s third victory over a top ten player. At the 2012 U.S. Open she defeated Li Na and Kim Clijsters.

“I think I go out against the top players with nothing to lose, ” Robson said.  “I’ve always been like that.  And in the past I’ve started out well in the first couple of games of the first set and then just not been able to hold on to that lead.

“I’ve been really happy with my progress with the last couple months with that and, yeah, just being able to tough out wins.”

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Clijsters Plays Final Match at US Open

NEW YORK, NY, USA – Upon the completion of her US Open competition in singles, doubles and mixed doubles, Kim Clijsters’ professional tennis career, which has spanned 15 years, has come to an end.  With 41 career singles titles, including four Grand Slams and three titles at the season-ending WTA Championships, Clijsters says good-bye to the game secure in her position as one of the all-time greats.

 

“I have really enjoyed my years on the WTA,” said Clijsters. “It has been a great 15 years filled with so many memories. I could not think of a better tournament to finish with. Now I am looking forward to beginning a new chapter in my life and look forward to spending more time with my family. Thank you to all my fans for all their support throughout the years and I wish all my colleagues continued success on and off court.”

 

Clijsters, who had reached the finals at her last four US Open appearances, says farewell at the tournament that has in many ways come to define her career. Heading into her second round match against Laura Robson the 29-year-old Belgian was on a 22-match winning streak at Flushing Meadows – a run stemming back to her defeat by Justine Henin in the final of 2003. Only Chris Evert has won more consecutive matches at the US Open: 31, between 1975 and 1979.

 

“Kim is one of the all-time greats and a one-of-a-kind player that is loved by her fellow competitors and fans alike,” said WTA Chairman & CEO Stacey Allaster. “Kim’s fans around the world admire her strength, character and achievements in the sport, all of which will ensure her status as an icon and legend.  Among her many achievements in the sport, her incredible comeback after becoming a mother was one of the great inspirational moments in tennis in recent times.  I look forward to her ongoing friendship to all of us in the sport.”

 

Clijsters’ ‘first career’ was highlighted by two victories at the WTA Championships (2002-03), 19 non-consecutive weeks as World No.1 on the WTA Rankings (first attained on August 11, 2003 for 10 weeks), and a maiden Grand Slam title at the 2005 US Open. That triumph at Flushing Meadows came after four runner-up finishes at the Slams: Roland Garros in 2001 and 2003, the US Open in 2003 and the Australian Open in 2004.

 

Clijsters stepped away from tennis in May 2007, marrying Brian Lynch shortly after and giving birth to a daughter, Jada, in February 2008. But in July 2009, after 26 months away from the tour, she launched what would prove to be a famous comeback. In just her third tournament back, Clijsters won the US Open to become the first mother to win a Grand Slam title since Evonne Goolagong at Wimbledon in 1980. She defended that title in 2010, going on to capture a third WTA Championships title at Doha, and winning the 2011 Australian Open. Her win in Melbourne helped Clijsters return to No.1 one for a 20th career week in February 2011.

 

With 41 singles titles (41-19 in finals), Clijsters is placed third among active players, behind Serena Williams (44 titles) and Venus Williams (43), and 14th on the Open Era list. She reached at least the semifinals on 16 of her 35 Grand Slam appearances and also shined in doubles, winning 2003 Roland Garros and Wimbledon (both with Ai Sugiyama) among 11 titles and spending 4 weeks at No.1. She is one of just six women to simultaneously hold the top spot in both singles and doubles.

 

Over the course of her 15-year career, Clijsters delivered against the very best. She finished with a 13-12 record against fellow Belgian Henin; a 9-8 record against Lindsay Davenport; and an 8-7 record against Amélie Mauresmo. She went 7-6 with Venus Williams, 5-4 over both Martina Hingis and Maria Sharapova, and 3-3 against Jennifer Capriati. Among her fellow former No.1s, only Serena Williams built a winning record against her (2-7).

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Kim Clijsters’ Last Singles News Conference

An interview with:

KIM CLIJSTERS

 August 29, 2012

 

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

 

KIM CLIJSTERS:  Last time.  (Clapping.)

Q.  You look happy about that.

KIM CLIJSTERS:  Yeah, no.

Q.  Are we that bad?

KIM CLIJSTERS:  No.  It’s okay.

Q.  What are your emotions, Kim?

KIM CLIJSTERS:  Now?  I think the first hour after the match there was still disappointment and a little bit of frustration, I think.  You know, still kind of had that routine of going through the match and trying to figure out how to do it better next time.

But obviously now, I mean, after talking and kind of thinking about, you know, the retirement in singles, I’m happy.  You know, I’m happy that in the last year and a half or even two years, it’s been kind of up and down, and I’m happy that I stuck through it and I was able to kind of live a lot of these emotions that I’ve had in these 18 months or so.

Kind of in a way proud of myself that I was able to do that.  So, yeah, I feel happy.  I have doubles tomorrow, so I got to stay focused.  (Smiling.)

Q.  Li Na said before the result of your match was known, in anticipation of playing you, she said it’s going to be weird because there’s mixed emotions because she so does not want to see you leave.  She cited all these wonderful qualities about you and your game.  Robson also just said she didn’t think about playing you in your last match, but she went on and paid so many tributes to you.  You hear that from players on the women’s tour.  What does it mean now that your career is over that you leave a legacy like that?

KIM CLIJSTERS:  I mean, it does something to you when you hear other players talk about me like that.  Obviously in these two rounds that I’ve played here, I’ve played players that I spoke to and they said that I inspired them.  That’s a great feeling, because I was once in that situation as well.

You think about those kind of things now.  Now that I’m almost completely finished, you think about when I first stepped on tour, you know and met Steffi Graf and Monica Seles.  First in Belgium when I was able to practice in a tennis center against Sabine Appelmans and Dominique Monami.

It’s been an incredible journey, and a lot of dreams for me have come true because of tennis.  As a little girl, I got tennis racquets under the tree and outfits of Steffi Graf and Monica Seles and I would want to wear them to bed I was so excited.

So for me to have been able to have been a part of women’s tennis, and on top of women’s tennis for so many years, now that I think back ‑‑ you know, you don’t think about it when you’re in it.  You’re kind of on automatic pilot.  You don’t think about those things anyway.

Now that I think about it, it’s been a crazy rollercoaster at times, as well.  All of a sudden when you’re 15, you kind of get thrown in the spotlight, you go through puberty in the spotlight, you have your first boyfriend in the spotlight, you know, everything.

It’s not just the tennis side of things that you think about now, it’s about life.  We’ve had a lot of things happen in these last 15 years that I’ve been on tour.  I’m able to look back at them, and I’m very happy with the progress that I’ve made.

Q.  What emotions or sensations on the court will you miss most?

KIM CLIJSTERS:  I don’t know.  You know, even moments like today where I’m able to save those match points, those are definitely moments that are fun to have, fighting for it when you’re not maybe playing your best, but still finding a way to battle through it and, yeah, playing hard.

I think at the end of the day that’s something that I don’t know if I’ll miss it.  Those are definitely the moments that I enjoyed the most, where you’re playing matches with your back against the wall and still find a way to come back and play well.

Q.  When you think about life after tennis, what’s going to happen from now?  What are the things that you’re looking forward to most about retirement?

KIM CLIJSTERS:  Just kind of being home, I guess, being home and kind of having that routine for my family, you know, for our daughter.  I’m sure in two months I’m going to be like, Ah…

But I told my husband, Look, I’ve been traveling since I’m 11 years old.  Every so often I need to go stay in a hotel where I can just go and line up for breakfast and don’t have to set up and clean the table, make up the beds every day, all that.

I enjoy that.  I enjoy it a lot when I come back from a long trip.  I want to do it.  But after a while, you’re like…

Even when I played, everybody who’s worked with me knows that I need a lot of variety.  Sam, my fitness trainer, never has one week been the same.  That’s something that I will always look for challenges.  Even in life without tennis, without tennis at a high level, I’ll always be involved in tennis.  I’ll always try to give back to others what tennis has given me.

So I look forward to kind of that next chapter, as well, where I can help younger kids and girls who would like to be in our shoes and live this kind of lifestyle.

Q.  Do you feel this is maybe a little bit easier because you’ve done this retirement thing before?  Can you talk a little bit about career one, career two.

KIM CLIJSTERS:  It is easier because, like I said, I’ve had moments like a year and a half ago where I already was in this situation where I don’t know if I want to keep going.

So I’m happy that I did.  But comparing, career one was obviously a lot longer than career two.  Hard to compare.  You know, you start when you’re 15 and I think up to 24, so 10 years my first career was.  It was an intense ride.  Emotionally hard at times, as well, dealing with some of the big losses.

Also having my first Grand Slam win here at the Open in ’05 was a dream come true.  Maybe then I felt like I had achieved everything in tennis that I’ve wanted to achieve.  I was No. 1, I won a slam, so I felt when I retired the first time it was out of ‑‑ yeah, it was a long career.

I don’t do anything at 50%.  Every practice that I’ve done, every workout, I’ve always mentally been 100% in it.  I think at the end of my first career it was physically and mentally hard to just grind through it again.  And then, you know, was off for two years; didn’t think about tennis at all.  Didn’t ever think that I would come back.  So I don’t know what happened.

But, yeah, started practicing for the Wimbledon event with the opening of the new Centre Court, with the roof, and gradually just started to feel ‑‑ you know, tennis was kind of a let‑out, as well.  It helped me kind of get rid of emotions and let me have a focus, yeah, on something ‑‑ like I was able to just let a lot of energy out.

After my dad passed away as well it was the perfect release for me to deal where a lot of things, and at the same time to think on court about life and about what happens, and once in a while just smack the ball as hard as you can to get a lot of the frustration out.

But it’s been good.

Q.  When you were playing, were you reading press?  Did you realize that the press was most of the time very positive about you, which doesn’t happen with most players?

KIM CLIJSTERS:  I don’t know.

Q.  Thinking about that, would you like to become a journalist?

KIM CLIJSTERS:  No, not at all.  (Smiling.)  Sorry.

No, I definitely read the press in my first few years that I was on tour, and then I completely ignored the press.  Also because positive, negative, I didn’t want it to get to me.  It did when I was younger whether there was negative press, positive press.

Q.  You had more positive than anybody else.

KIM CLIJSTERS:  Oh, I don’t know.

I’ve always been a sensitive person.  I always took things very personally, so after a while I completely not just ignored, but I had a habit the not even reading.

I followed results on tour and I watched the news, but whenever I saw my face somewhere I either skipped through the page or kind of changed the channel quickly.

Q.  So you don’t want to be a TV commentator?

KIM CLIJSTERS:  No, no.  It’s too easy to comment on players on court.  You know what I mean?  No.

Q.  When did you get comfortable with New York?  When did you first think that you could win this tournament?

KIM CLIJSTERS:  Well, I think I got comfortable with the surface in New York.  I always felt good playing in the States, whether it was the West Coast, all the tournaments leading up to the US Open, or here in New York.  I’ve always felt like when I stepped on a hard court I was the player that I wanted to be.

Movement‑wise here in New York, the atmosphere, I was able to take a lot of the energy with me, you know, in my tennis.  If people asked me which Grand Slam do you think you’ll ever win first, for me it was the US Open because I always felt like it just clicked for me whenever I played here.

Obviously, winning in 2005, the two more wins after that, the victory before always inspired me when I came back.  It’s hard to describe.  It’s hard to know why in some places you just feel really good.

It’s not like I am like, Okay, I’m moving to New York because I love being in the city.  I enjoy it for a week or ten days, and then I just lock myself into the room because it becomes too crazy, too loud, too hectic.

But I enjoy, you know, being in this environment, being here on‑site.  Playing on center court has been an incredible experience still, even now after so many years.  When I step out there in my first round, the night match, it was still very special.

I’m happy that, although I’ve been there a few times, that the specialness of that situation has never gone away.  So that’s nice to have those emotions.

Q.  Does your daughter understand what’s going on now?

KIM CLIJSTERS:  I haven’t seen her yet actually.  But, you know, I’ve been telling her even this week a couple times where she was like, Why don’t you come with us to go out, to go for a walk?  I’m like, Mama is almost done.  When I’m done with this tournament, I’ll be there and I’ll do all those fun things with you ‑ or try at least.

So, yeah, I think she’s going to be excited to kind of have her mom around more, on a more regular kind of basis.

Q.  A career in a way is a collection of moments.  If you had to point to the really special moments ‑ impossible question ‑ but in your long career, would it be the slam victories or can you point to any others?

KIM CLIJSTERS:  I think my first Championships that I won were very special.  Every victory has a special meaning because there’s like a personal story behind each one of them.  So it’s hard to pick one.

First, becoming No. 1, although I hadn’t won a Grand Slam, but it was still something that is so surreal.  As a youngster, I looked at No. 1′s and I admired them so much.  For me being in that situation, it was incredible.

Winning my first Grand Slam.  Of course every victory has a special meaning, and it’s very hard to say this one meant more than the other one, because, you know, I think now that I’m a little bit older I’m able to kind of understand what those emotions mean.

When I was younger it’s like the adrenaline rush and it goes by so fast, and you don’t really have time to think about it.

Q.  You’re always so sunny.  I think people may underestimate how great a competitor you’ve been.  How important and how painful was losing to you and how important was winning?  Was it tough to handle losing?

KIM CLIJSTERS:  It was.  I hate to lose.  My husband and I, we play ping‑pong in our garage and I don’t even want to give him a point.  I hate to lose, but I’m very aware or I understand and appreciate when you have an opponent who’s playing really well and plays good tennis.

I always try to be better than my opponent.  I always try to find a solution to try and win a match, but I was also aware or understood that, you know, players can be better than you on the day.

Losses have always motivated me more to go back.  I have a little gym in my basement downstairs.  Even when I was supposed to take a few days off, I would go into the gym and just run and do intervals and workouts to try and be better next time after a loss.

I think probably most of the time I’ve done those moments by myself.  But then obviously in the last few years with my team, and especially with Sam.

Q.  What was the most painful one and why, the loss?

KIM CLIJSTERS:  The most frustrating ones were the Grand Slam finals where I wasn’t able to ‑‑ against Justine where I didn’t play my best tennis.

The funnest Grand Slam final that I played was the one against Li Na because we both played at a high level; we were really into it.  It was physical.  It was a very well‑played match.

I think the frustrating thing was that, Okay, maybe at the French Open, even up to the finals, I never really played my best tennis.  But you always want to, for myself, but also obviously for the crowd you want to play your best tennis on the special occasions.

That’s probably been the times that I’ve been most frustrated after a loss.  Not so much that I lost, but the fact that I didn’t play my best tennis was probably where I felt like I let myself down the most.

Q.  What are your thoughts on Laura Robson the player and also what she said on court after the match?

KIM CLIJSTERS:  I mean, I knew before I stepped out on court that I would have to play well.  I’ve practiced with her in Wimbledon.  We had a really good practice, and I said to my team as well she hits the ball so clean.  I think today as well she moved really well and she anticipated really well.

I think obviously physically if she gets better, even more explosive, then I think she’s going to be a great player, and someone that I’ll be watching, keeping an eye on.

As a person, she’s always been a girl that’s always been really nice and friendly in the locker room.  I obviously don’t know her that well to say, but the words that she said on court afterwards were very nice.  I got a little bit emotional there.  It was very nice to hear those things from another player.

Q.  What were those emotions?  What were you feeling?

KIM CLIJSTERS:  Thankful, I think, first of all, for the things she was saying about me.  Kind of saying that she’s obviously watched, when she was younger, a big part of my career.

Then, again, you start thinking kind of about, you know, these last 15 years or so.

Q.  Do you think you may have lost this match already yesterday in a way because the pressure of this is your last tournament?

KIM CLIJSTERS:  No, not at all.  Not at all.  I can honestly say that I didn’t approach this tournament any differently than the last nine years that I’ve been coming here.  I’m staying in the same hotel.  I have my same routines.

It’s not like, Oh, let’s go out and enjoy the New York nightlife.  No, I’m serious.  I was as focused, if not even more, than ever.

I knew when I stepped out on court that I was going to have to play good tennis to try to beat her.  I knew that.  But I didn’t feel any more pressure because of this being my last tournament.

Maybe the opposite, because it feels easier to one last time try your hardest and do that last workout, so…

It doesn’t make it harder, it actually makes it easier for me.

Q.  Studying your legacy from a very specific aspect, what is your reaction when your name will be mentioned as the greatest Grand Slam winner as a mother with Margaret Court?  Do you think another player can come back as completely as you did?

KIM CLIJSTERS:  When I hear it, it is special, and I feel proud that I was able to win a slam as a mother, just because I know how much work it took after I had Jada to get back physically, tennis‑wise, and mentally to get back into the sport.

On the other hand, I never thought about that when I was playing.  You know, there were moments that it was hard.  Especially when I first started coming on tour it was hard to find the balance between figuring out ‑‑ when I was home, I was still working out, practicing hard, but I was 100% mom.

If Jada was sick, I would call up and say, I need to be home now.  During a tournament, I can’t call the tournament director and say, Hey, can you move my match because I need to be home for Jada or something.

Again, you know, you have a team that you work with.  Nicole, our nanny, has been maybe the most important member of our team because she’s given me so much comfort knowing that my daughter was with somebody I trust.

When I want Brian to watch me play, Jada is with her.  Whether they’re in the hotel or sitting somewhere in the stadium, it’s so comforting knowing that she’s okay.  Knowing that, that’s when I’m able to play tennis and go to practice.  It got a little bit easier for me to leave home when she started going to school because I didn’t have to feel that guilty of leaving her behind when I had to go to practice.

It’s been tough at times, too.  As a mother, you feel guilty if something happens that you can’t be there, good things or bad things.  Unfortunately, those kind of things have been there.

On the other hand, I know with our lifestyle I’m maybe more with her than parents who work hard and who work from 9:00 to 5:00.

But, yeah, I think as a parent you always feel like you miss out on things or feel a little bit guilty and you want to do better and be the perfect parent.

Q.  You mentioned the competitive ping‑pong games with Brian.  How important is it to have someone as a partner who understands your competitive nature?  How important was that for your comeback?

KIM CLIJSTERS:  Really important.  You know, I was very happy when I retired to be behind him and help him out, whether it was cooking pregame meals for his basketball games and having his basketball teammates over and trying to, yeah, just help out and make him feel comfortable.  I loved that.

In a way, I really look forward to doing that again.  You know, I’ve always worked with a team, but I hate being in the spotlight and in that it’s all around me.  I’ve always said to my team members I don’t want them to feel like they have to drop everything in life for me, because I wouldn’t feel happy or comfortable with that.

I want everybody in my team to grow and get something out of this, as well.  It’s the same with Brian.  I wouldn’t have been able to do this if he would have said, No, I want to keep playing basketball and I want our daughter to stay home and you to stay home.

You know, he’s very easygoing, but he’s a very smart guy.  I’ve learned a lot from him in these last few years.  We were married five years this summer.  You know, he’s obviously been the person who’s been with me through the tough times that we dealt with, but also through the great times.

I think you learn so much from each other when things are tough.  And like I said, he’s always been there.  He’s always tried to help out.  It hasn’t always been easy for him.  He’s in a different country.  We live in Belgium.  He’s finding his way.  He feels happy there.  I’m very appreciative of that and that he’s willing to do that for me.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

 

Editor’s Note: Per the USTA as a media outlet credentialed to cover the US Open, Tennis Panorama News is allowed to post the interview transcripts on our site. Citing the 2012 US Open Media Operations Guide:

“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 for which you were accredited.”

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Clijsters’ Career ends with Upset Loss to Robson at US Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Kim Clijsters has played her last singles match.  The Belgian saying that she would call it a career after this tournament, fell in the second round of the US Open 7-6 (4), 7-6(5) to British 18-year-old Laura Robson. The loss which ended the Belgian’s,  career also snapped a 22-match winning streak which last over seven years. Her last loss at the US Open came in the 2003 final when she fell to Justine Henin.

In her on-court interview the 29-year-old said “This completely feels like the perfect place to retire, I just wish it wasn’t today.”

Clijsters won four major titles in her career – US Opens in 2005, 2009 and 2010 and the 2011 Australian Open.

 

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A New “Sunshine” – Victoria Duval

Victoria Duval photo by Steve Pratt

 

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Tennis may already have a player with the nickname “sunshine” in Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, but in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday night a 16-year-old wild card entrant from Florida may be taking that “sunshine” nick name away from the Dane. Meet the US National 18 and under champion and Florida native Victoria Duval. She was a hit with both the public and media at the US Open despite losing to 25th seed Kim Clijsters 6-3, 6-1.

The charming, high-pitched teenager ranked 562 in the world welcomed the fact that she drew Clijsters, one of her idols in the first round. I felt like one of the luckiest 16-year-olds ever,” said Duval. To play Clijsters in her last tournament, it was exciting.”

It was like history repeating, when Clijsters was 16, she played Steffi Graf in the German’s last tournament. “She told me that walking out to the court,”Duval noted.

“I had moments when I was younger when I played Steffi (Graf) at Wimbledon and she was my big idol,” Clijsters said. “So it kind of takes you back through a lot of emotions and memories.

“It was nice in a way to get a feeling of the atmosphere from her side. I just told her that we’ve all been there, and it’s great to have these opportunities. We spoke a bit after the match. She was really sweet. I think she has a good game to be out there.”

“I was saying that I couldn’t even sleep I was so excited, so she (Clijsters) said ˜I know how you feel.”

From the moment she stepped on court, the New York crowd was supporting the teenager and loudly cheered her on, for every point and game she won. It was the Floridian of Haitian descent’s first-ever tour-level main draw match.

“Indescribable feeling,” was Duval’s reaction in regard to 23,000 fans supporting her, “it was much more than I expected. The whole atmosphere was just incredible.”

“I was really nervous. But I thought I did a good job of not showing it.”

“What surprised me was the crowd, it was a different experience when you are hearing it on TV than when you are actually there. Having all those people behind me since the first game, it was incredible,” said the teenager with almost the sense of disbelief.

Duval actually had a 3-2 lead in the first set against Clijsters, “Walking to the chair, I was like, `I am actually up 3-2 right now!’” Duval said. “She definitely picked up her level a lot¦.she played like Kim Clijsters from that point on.”

Duvall”s engaging personality dismissed the struggles her family has had while living in Haiti. Although she was born in Florida, she grew up in Haiti where her parents are from. As a child, Duval and some of her cousins were taken hostage by robbers.

Her father also survived a 2010 earthquake in Haiti, in which he survived being buried under rubble and his legs were broken.

Her hardships have made her and her tennis stronger.

“It helped my tennis in the sense that in those circumstances, we were just saying, no matter how tough things get, you’re always going to get out of it.’ So in my tennis, that’s basically what I’ve been living by,”

“We were in the locker room and Kim asked to take a picture, just for her memory. I thought that was so nice cuz I was he one that should be begging her her for her picture.”

“She is definitely, you know, my idol, and that”s why it shows again why she”s a nice person.”

Duval”s other tennis idols include Venus and Serena Williams.

“I got a chance to see Venus,” Duval commented. “I didn’t get a chance to interact with her.. but hopefully I”ll get a chance because I love her too.”

“I get compared to Venus with my game, because of our physicality, “ Duval said. “So I always watch her tapes to see what I can improve in my game.”

Answering a question on whether or not she’ll reach Venus’s height, Duval quipped: “I was told my growth plates are still open, so it looks goooood!!! Six feet, C’mon!”

With a large Haitian community in the New York City area I asked her about their support. I’m sure a lot of them were watching,” Duval said. “Maybe all of Haiti but I don’t know.”

Duvall may be out of the women’s singles but she’ll play the Junior tournament. “Downgrading,” she said jokingly. Last year she played three junior slams – the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

She’s planning on playing more professional tournaments, while playing some of the junior Grand Slam events. She’s hoping to get her ranking high enough to play in the professional ranks. “My dream is playing pro tennis,” Duval said.

Karen Pestaina is covering the US Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.

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Notes and Quotes from Day 1 of the 2012 US Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Some of the more off-beat questions and answers from Day 1 of the 2012 US Open.
Q.  Not too many WTA players are named Sam.  Can you take a moment and say like what the upside of having a name like that is, is there any downside, or give us on a rainy day a good story about your name.
SAMANTHA STOSUR:  No, there is no downside.  I’m happy ‑‑ I guess over the course of my life, my career, Samantha got shortened to Sam.  The one person that always called me Samantha was my grandfather.  It’s good.  You certainly don’t get confused in the locker room.  You hear your name and you know it’s about you.
It’s fine.
 
Q.  So is your grandfather a traditionalist and not happy for it to be shortened?
SAMANTHA STOSUR:  Yeah, I guess he was.  My mom and dad only called me Samantha when I was little and did something naughty, so I didn’t hear it too often, I don’t think.
I guess it’s one of those names that is not as common.
Q.  You very obviously are one of the best tennis players in the world, but you talk about sort of putting match after match together.  Could you talk about the art of sort of putting seven big matches together on the biggest stage?  Part of that of course is getting past the big three or four that we now have in men’s tennis.
JOHN ISNER:  Yeah, I don’t really know much about that art.  Actually, I have never done it.  (Laughter.)  The closest I have come was last year at this tournament.  I had a little bit of a taste of what it’s like.
You know, I know it’s so tough.  You know, I think for me, my goal is, my first goal is to get through the first week.  That’s so, so hard.
You know, I want to win my first few matches and take it from there.  I was able to get to do that last year.  My round of 16 match I won.  It was a really close match, and I had to turn around and play the very next day because of all the rain.  That was a bit of a tough turnaround.  Ran into a guy who was just better than me.
You know, like I said, I don’t know much about it, but I know it’s very hard.  I got to the quarterfinals last year, and I’d love to get back to that spot this year and have another crack at it.
Q.  Do you feel anything different in your game since you started working with Carlos?
NA LI:  Maybe a little bit change; maybe not.
 
Q.  What changed?
NA LI:  I say maybe change; maybe not.  (Laughter.)
Q.     Families sometimes can be very, very tricky.  What was the hardest part day in, day out of having your husband as your coach?
NA LI:  Yeah.  I mean, after I got new coach I think for both me and my husband I think much, much easier.  Love is love; coach is coach.  You have to separate.
You know, I mean, after I change the coach, didn’t say my husband didn’t do a good job.  I think he’s still doing good job.  But for both sometimes it’s too much, you know.  Like it’s really tough to find a balance between coaching and husband.

Q.  After all the development, the planning, the trips to Spain, it’s finally going to come out, if I understand correctly, but there’s a little bit of a problem.  There’s a guy named Roger Federer who has Lindor truffles.  As a marketing person now, how would you tell America to try Sugarpova and not Roger’s?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well that’s chocolate.  Mine are gummies and gumballs.  It’s like, What’s your preference?  That’s made in Switzerland; this is made in Spain.  No, a lot of differences.

I mean, those are quite different.  I’m just happy that it’s finally over with.  I worked on it for a long time.  There’s not much to be done from my end in a way except promote it and letting the world know about it.

Q.  Ultimately can a gumball stand up to a truffle?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It depends what your preference is.  I mean, mid‑afternoon I’m not a big truffle person; I’m more of a gum girl.  But it depends what everybody likes.

Q.  Are you to the point in your career where you’re starting to get old jokes from your peers?
JAMES BLAKE:  I have been that way for a while.  The thing is I knew I was going to get them, because when I was a kid starting out around here I dished them out.  So I knew they would come back to haunt me.
I remember I used to make fun of Todd Martin.  Todd Martin was one of my key guys I would get.  I made fun of him for taking so long to warm up, for his gray hair, for all that kind of stuff, for just in general being old.
He said, Just wait, just wait.  You will be, too.  Now I’m getting it from everyone.  I deserve it, because if I dish it out, I’ve got to be able to take it.  I’m getting the old jokes, the grandpa jokes, and I’m okay with that.
Q.  There was stunning news about Lance.  In our sport, there has been incidents.  Do you think the situation of performance enhancements are under control in tennis?  Is there any problem?  What are your thoughts on that topic?
JAMES BLAKE:  In tennis I think they do a great job of testing.  Of course at times it’s inconvenient to me when I get woken up at 6:00 a.m. to pee in a cup.  It’s their job.  I know they’re doing it.  I know if they’re doing it to me, they’re doing it to everyone else.  I’m happy too do that.
I may not be cheery at 6:00 in the morning when they’re coming, but I’m happy to do that and I’m happy to take part of in the USADA and WADA regulations.
I don’t know what to think about Lance.  Cycling has seen what seems to be like the steroid era in baseball where it seems like everyone is clouded.  You don’t know.  Like he said, he’s passed like 500,600 tests.
But have no idea.  I don’t know Lance at all.  Never met him.  I don’t know what he’s like.  I know his story is inspirational.  I know how many people he’s helped.  That’s incredible.  However he did it, it’s still inspirational, no matter what he did.
He’s definitely someone that makes a difference in this world in a positive way.  I don’t know if erasing seven titles will matter in terms of his true meaning to this world, because it’s going to be a positive one no matter if he has seven titles or not.
In tennis I think I’m sure there are guys who are doing it, getting away with it, and getting ahead of the testers.  But, you know, I do my best to go out there and win and give myself whatever advantage I can legally in terms of just protein shakes and Gatorade and that kind of stuff.
I’ve gotta believe it’s out there at a level playing field, but I also am realistic with this much money involved, $1.9 million for the winner of the US Open, people will try to find a way to get ahead.
It’s unfortunate, but I hope tennis is doing the best job of trying to catch those guys trying to beat the system.
Q.  Along those lines, do you have any theories on Federer as a parent, fountain of youth thing going on here?
JAMES BLAKE:  The guy’s a freak.  He’s so good.  It’s really incredible.  I could spend another hour talking about the things I’m impressed with by him.  His streak of quarterfinals, most people would have that an incredible streak just to play that many slams in a row, and he has to make it make quarterfinals or better.
To do it at that level and not injure yourself is amazing.  It’s so easy to go out and roll your ankle or tear up your knee or for your back to be sore.  For him not to do that is amazing.  I think it shows how much work he probably puts in stretching, getting his body strong enough and physically ready to play all these slams.
You know, he has the luxury of being able to pick and choose his tournaments.  He obviously is pretty comfortable with his ranking and where he’s sitting not needing to worry about that, but it’s still really, really impressive.  He focuses on the big picture and is always ready for these slams.
I need to worry about one match at a time.  I can’t worry about quarters or semis or finals right now.
I’m still kind of scratching to get through these matches and get my confidence back and feel like I’m ready to compete.  I don’t think that will change if I’m playing someone that’s 1, 2, or 3 in the world.
I have been fortunate enough.  I am an elder statesman.  I have been around and have won a lot of matches.  I have beaten guys 1 in the world, I’ve beaten guys that are top 3, top 4, top 5 plenty of times.  There is no reason for me to go out there and play one of those guys and be scared.
I think it will take an unbelievable effort.  I will have to play my best tennis.
Q.  First round do you worry too much about your performance or is it just a case of trying to get through?
ANDY MURRAY:  I won in three sets.  You know, I didn’t serve very well.  Only lost seven games in three sets, so I must have done something well today.
Bogomolov, you know, I think he was seeded here last year.  He made the third round.  He plays his best tennis on the hard courts.  He’s a tough player.
So, I mean, I played fairly well from the back of the court.  I just would have liked to have served a bit better because, you know, I wasn’t getting many free points on my serve.
Because of that, there were a lot more rallies.  When he’s in a rhythm, he’s tough to break down.
 
Q.  I meant more in general in first‑round matches do you worry too much about your performance?
ANDY MURRAY:  No.  I mean, sometimes I play great at the start of tournaments and not done well; sometimes I’ve played badly and got better.
I mean, in Australia this year I struggled in my first‑round match with my game a bit.  Physically didn’t feel great.  Then went on to have a good tournament.
You know, the first‑round matches are tricky.  Like I say, the conditions were hard today for both of us.  That’s probably why it was quite an up‑and‑down match.
Q.  Do the other players see Andy Murray differently now that he’s won the Olympics or does it not compare to a Grand Slam?
IVAN DODIG:  No, I think is for me like these four players, everybody can beat everybody.  Of course with these Olympics he showed that he’s ready for big things, so we will see.
Everybody exciting about him.

Q.  Are you working with Mark Knowles here?  You guys in a lot of ways are peers.

MARDY FISH:  He’s like 20 years older than me (laughter).  Just kidding.

No, he’s helped me a ton.  Maybe none more evident than tonight when I lost my serve in both of those sets to serve it out and still was able to mentally focus back and realize that, you know, I haven’t just lost the set, he’s just gotten even in the set so there’s still opportunities to win the set.

In times past maybe I would have struggled with that scenario, especially twice in a row.  And that’s hard.  Any time you lose one of those two sets, you’re in a dogfight.  I knew that if I did win that second set, that was going to be a big, big factor in the match.

I mean, that’s a long way back for him after two hours of pretty physical tennis.  It’s pretty humid out there.  Not necessarily the heat, but the humidity.  You could feel it.  It’s pretty humid.  That was pretty physical.

So that was a long way back for him, so obviously felt good to win that.

 

Q.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how good was your serve today, knowing what you can do on a good day?

JACK SOCK:  I think my second serve was a 9.63.  I think my first serve was pretty good.  I mean, when I missed the first serve, I think my second serve really helped me.  I was able to start off the point ahead even with the second serve.

When I think I was down a game, my serve was a 10 coming up big on some points where I was down or some games where I was down.

Q.  A lot of Europeans want to win Roland Garros or Wimbledon; for many Americans it’s winning the US Open or becoming No. 1.  If I recall correctly, you said your goal for your career is to make friends.  Could you to talk about that.

KIM CLIJSTERS:  I don’t think I said it that way.  Obviously my goal in my career was obviously to be the best tennis player that I can be, but at the same time not be, you know, antisocial and not spend 15 years on tour, and when you step away from the sport not having any friends at the end of the day.

I think, you know, it’s not like I started on tour when I was 25 and I built up kind of a normal friendship base when I was home.  My friends were girls from tour.  You know, I have a few friends at home, but I think a lot of the girls I was close with, a lot of the girls, we went through puberty together, boyfriends on tour, and I think it’s something that we shared and talked about.

I don’t like to be on tour and not talking to players or not knowing kind of what’s behind the tennis player.  It’s not like it was the most important thing because I was here to play tennis, and still am.  But at the same time, there’s a place for work and focus and at the other times there is the social part.

Karen Pestaina is covering the US Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.

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Clijsters, Federer Victorious in US Open Night Session

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Kim Clijsters and Roger Federer both stopped young Americans on Opening Night at the 2012 US Open.

Clijsters, after an inconsistent start, held herself together to dispatch 16-year-old Victoria Duval 6-3, 6-1 while Federer pushed back Donald Young 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

“The U.S. Open, for me, was always, I don’t want to say easy, but very natural and I’ve always looked forward to it in a big way,” Federer said in his quest for a record sixth US Open title in the Open Era.

“It’s a place that brings out the best in me,” Federer said.

Young who had a 17-match losing streak earlier in the year,  saw his 2012 record fall to 3-22.

Duval who received wild-card by virtue of winning the  National Girls’ 18 and under  championship event in San Diego earlier in the summer, is ranked 562nd in the world. This was her first WTA tour-level match – a debut at a major on Opening Night.

“I was freaking out,” said effervescent Duval.

Clijsters herself said she was nervous “It was a special occasion. … I was nervous, maybe almost as much as she was,” Clijsters said.

“I was just excited to be out there and to have, you know, the opportunity to play in this kind of condition, prime time.

“You know, a night match, it’s always a very special occasion.  The energy, when you step out on court also after the opening show, the stadium was almost full.  So it was a lot of fun to go out there.

“But, you know, still a bit nervous, too.”

Duval grew up from some difficult circumstances. She  was born in Florida and grew up in Haiti and as child was taken hostage by robbers along with her cousins. In 2010, her father was injured in Haiti’s earthquake, buried under rubble but survived his injuries.

She feels that her life has helped her tennis: “It helped my tennis in the sense that in those circumstances, we were just saying: No matter how tough things get, you’re always going to get out of it.’ So in my tennis, that’s basically what I’ve been living by, no matter how down and out I am, I can get out of it.”

A giggling Duval said that Clijsters snapped a photo with Duval in the locker room  after the match.

“I thought that was so nice, because I was the one that should be begging her for a picture,” said a joyful Duval said. “She’s definitely my idol.”

Clijsters, a three-time US Open Champion is playing her last US Open. She’s retiring again at the end of the year. She had previously retired in 2007. She has won 22 straight US Open matches.

Karen Pestaina is covering the US Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.

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Notes and Quotes from Saturday’s US Open Pre-Tournament News Conferences

 

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY -  Samantha Stosur, Kim Clijsters, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic held Pre-Tournament news conferences at the US Open on Saturday.

Serena photo © Enrique Fernandez for Tennis Panorama

 

Q.  A lot was made of the Olympics about your joyous celebration.  Do you think the media made too much about it and we might see some choreography here in Queen’s next two weeks?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I don’t know.  I read zero press.  That was been my policy since I was 17.  I don’t know what was made too much or whether it was too little.
I think winning the Olympics was awesome for me and for the USA.  I’m still kind of in the Olympic moment.  I love the Olympics.  You know, I was just so proud of the final tally of gold medals that I contributed to.  It was really awesome.
http://youtu.be/-I78nPTJFAM
Q.  Going back to the first question that was asked, you of all people know that the Crip walk is not just a dance.  I was wondering, do you have any regrets doing it in front of everyone?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  First of all, it was just a dance.  I didn’t know that’s what it was called.  Second, why are you asking me that?  Like that’s so ‑‑ I mean, if anything you should be trying to ask me questions to lift me up not bring such things.
Q.  It was just the fact…
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I’m done with that question.
Q.  You didn’t say the name of it.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

 

 

Sam Stosur

 

Q.  I think last year was kind of Samantha who for a lot of tennis fans.  Do you think this year it shows that 2011 was not a fluke?
SAMANTHA STOSUR:  Yeah, sure, but I think even if I don’t win the tournament I don’t think it was a fluke anyway.  It was one of those things of course you want to come back and do just as well as the year before.
I have been trying hard and training well, and really looking forward to this year’s tournament, as well.
Q.  What has Kim Clijsters mean to the tour, and what are your thoughts about her ending her career at this time?
SAMANTHA STOSUR:  Well, I mean, I think it’s going to be a loss for the tour, and she’s obviously been a great player and a great champion and great role model to a lot of people, you know, out here on tour and probably, you know, all the kids playing at home.
http://youtu.be/qPVe3XUnA4w

KIm Clijsters

Q.  You mentioned Serena and then some of the other greats who were around when you started your career.  Where do you rate Serena in terms of her talent and her accomplishments?
KIM CLIJSTERS:  I mean, to me Serena is the best ever just because I think physically she just stands out.  When she’s in good shape I think she just stands out tremendously.  I mean, you know, she’s fast, she’s strong, she has a very good eye, as well.  I think the combination of that is ‑‑ I mean, what we have seen over the last few months is the best player ever.
Q.  What has she shown you by her ability to come back from life‑threatening illness to where she is today?
KIM CLIJSTERS:  I mean, every day there is people that inspire me just by whether it’s, you know, seeing a mother on TV or seeing ‑‑ reading a story in the paper.  Serena’s is one of those, as well, what she’s been through.  Not just with, you know, the health problems, but dealing with the loss of their sister and all those kinds of things.
It’s not just one thing.  We sit here and do our press conferences, but we have a personal life, too.  That’s something that’s maybe not always ‑‑ you know, on the court everything always looks great and perfect, but it’s not always that way.
I think it’s great to have, you know, big names like that and open up about it and be role models, as well.
Q.  When you think about Venus and what she’s been through, she’s had injuries and the latest illness, why do you think she can continue to play?
KIM CLIJSTERS:  I don’t know.  I mean, like I said, tennis, you know, has been for so long the only part of our lives almost.  Okay, we traveled with our family and so did they.  We have been playing since we were four or five years old.  In a way we almost don’t know any differently.
You know, I think in my case it’s easy.  You know, when I retire I go home and I have my family.  But, you know, it’s something that’s probably ahead for all the girls that are going to retire at some point in their career.
It’s a feeling that you need to have in the inside if you still want to keep going and you want to have more of those adrenaline rushes.  Everybody is individual.  You know, I just know for me the time is right.
http://youtu.be/rDPraC61Bok

Venus Williams photo © Enrique Fernandez for Tennis Panorama

Q.  Kim Clijsters was in a moment or two ago.  She said when your sister, Serena, is at the peak of her form and in good shape that she regards her as the best player ever.  I just wonder, what are your thoughts on that?  Is it possible for you to detach yourself and make a verdict?
VENUS WILLIAMS:  Yeah, she’s amazing.  I think when she’s playing great and feeling confident ‑ even when she isn’t ‑ it still takes a hurricane to beat her.  You have to be on your best tennis and basically make no errors.  I think her record speaks for what an amazing player she is.
http://youtu.be/xbyaINiyn8s
Q.  I was walking here from Citi Field, and I saw the American Express banners with you, Sloane Stephens, Ryan Harrison.  Some people didn’t know any of the three of you.  You’re becoming celebrities on just that alone.  Have you had a chance to see yourself on the boardwalk, so to speak?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  Yeah, I have.  I actually have a picture with me.  I barely actually touch my knee standing up.
Well, I have been a partner with American Express for a second year now.  We had the great campaign last year.  This year has changed.  I’m really excited to be working with them again, so, yeah.
http://youtu.be/UnLKCHMKuoc
Q.  How did you come up with the name Sugapova, and can you tell us a little bit about the company?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I can’t take credit for coming up with the name.  I was having a meeting with my manager who had met with Jeff Rubin, who is a pretty influential in the candy business, and they had started talking about it.
I mean, originally it was something that I was going to be a part of.  Then I thought it’s not something I wanted to be a part of.  I really wanted to own this.
http://youtu.be/rmxR_VksmSk
Q.  Do you feel more confident coming into this than you ever have before?
ANDY MURRAY:  I get asked that before every slam.  Am I more confident?  You never know what’s going to happen when you get out there on the court.  I prepared well.  I trained hard the last five, six days, so I’m ready to go.
I mean, I guess I can say it started because I have been a part of so many little things in my career, been a part of collaborations and collections.  It came to a point where I really wanted to invest my own money into something, make all the final decisions.
Even though I was always ‑‑ you know, I was influential in the things I did.  You know, I never just put my name on something.  But at the end of the day, I wanted to be 100% owned by me.  That’s how the name came about.
Then I thought it was really funny and young and full of energy.  And then I put candy together, and God knows how much candy I eat and how much food I eat.
Yeah, it was just something that I wanted to start from scratch.  It took two years since the idea came out.  18 months; feels like two years.
http://youtu.be/H39414fCAl8
Q.  Exactly how many months were you feeling tired before the doctors could pinpoint what the disease was?
VENUS WILLIAMS:  Years.  Years.
Q.  Like starting what year?
VENUS WILLIAMS:  The main year for me was 2007 when I really started to feel tired.
Q.  You still won Wimbledon 2008.
VENUS WILLIAMS:  Yes.
Q.  Then was it worse year after year after year?
VENUS WILLIAMS:  I just didn’t know what was wrong with me.  I just had to get a lot worse before I could get diagnosed.  I had different diagnoses, like asthma.  One doctor told me that maybe I should go see a psychiatrist.
I want to go back to him. I watch a lot of the Golden Girls.  There is episode where Dorothy has chronic fatigue syndrome, and the doctor tells her to go buy a new dress or whatever.
She goes back to him and tells him off.  I want to go to that doctor and say, I had something real.  Don’t go see a tell me to see a psychiatrist.  Something is wrong with me.  So I want to go see him.
http://youtu.be/xbyaINiyn8s
Q.  How would you describe your mindset right now and the level of your game?  Do you feel the season has been emotionally draining?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It’s been a long season and a long summer, but my year has been really good.  You know, it’s hard to compare obviously with 2011, even though I have got that question asked many times this year.  You know, what has changed from 2011.
But I actually try to always look from a positive side.  I do feel physically stronger and very prepared than I did last year.  Mentally I had some ups and downs throughout the season, but I think that was maybe expected in a way.  It’s normal to have ups and downs.
I mean, it’s really hard to expect that I can go, you know, five, six months every year without losing a match, so, I mean ‑‑ on this level.
But as I said, I feel good.  You know, I had exhausting four‑and‑a‑half weeks and also successful.  I was very glad that I had a very successful Toronto and Cincinnati tournament.
Coming into US Open, it was very important for me to get into some hard court matches.  Hard court is my most preferred surface, so I really look forward to the start of this major.
Q.  When you think back about that forehand on match point against Federer, a year later, what do you think about that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It brings me the nicest memories, that’s for sure.  That point, you know, saved me from losing the semifinals and giving me the opportunity to win the title.  I have done it.
I mean, this is another example that on this highest level in men’s tennis, few ‑ maybe one point, one shot ‑ can decide a winner.
Yeah, it was a great shot, and, you know, it’s something that I will remember forever.
Q.  Does it feel strange to be at a slam and not have Rafa around?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it is strange because he hasn’t missed a slam for a long time.  I think neither of us top four have really missed a slam for a long time, which can only work in favor of the sport.
I think that’s why it’s one of the reasons why we are experiencing a great era of men’s tennis, because all the top players are really committed in their performing and all the top events and, you know, reaching the final stages of those events.
So Rafa is a great competitor and somebody I know really well on and off the court.  I’m sure that there is something serious going on, you know, because otherwise he would come here and play.
So I know it’s in a way a loss for the tournament and, you know, for tennis itself, because he’s greatly appreciated, successful, and very popular athlete around the world.
But, you know, I wish him a speedy recovery, obviously.
http://youtu.be/ai6P7-BH4fA

Roger Federer photo © Enrique Fernandez for Tennis Panorama

Q.  I believe your twin daughters who are turning three years old were at Wimbledon when you won this year.  I heard you quoted saying that having a family has helped you become a better player.  I know in years past there were champions that sometimes got distracted getting married or juggling family and career.  Do you think that having children, being married, has made you a better player?
ROGER FEDERER:  I mean, not worse.  I mean, I’m back to world No. 1.  (Laughter.)
Honestly, I think, was it 2009 when the kids were born?  I think I won Cincinnati I think the second tournament back; and when I turned 30 I also right away won a tournament where people thought now I’m old.
I think it’s always worked out well for me.  Of course it’s not been just easy cruising either.
You know, having twin daughters and traveling and trying to manage the situation with my wife and the kids and just seeing what’s best, what can we learn.  It was a hard process, too.
I mean, not that we’re through it, but it’s definitely getting a little bit easier now that they’re three and not newborns.
Also definitely had its role to play with them.  Happy I have been able to combine them, because first up when I heard Mirka was pregnant with twins I was worried about my practices.  I was worried about the playing schedule, that it was never going to be the same again.
But my wife has made it work for me.  She’s made incredible sacrifices for all of the family.  I couldn’t be more grateful or thankful.  It’s been a great ride.  Yeah, for that reason, having that Wimbledon victory plus seeing my kids in the stands after the match, yeah, doesn’t get any better than that.  It was a dream come true for me.
Q.  Do you miss Rafa’s presence here in sort of that odd way that rivals miss each other?
ROGER FEDERER:  I mean, it would be better if he would be here, but then again, it’s good to see him maybe giving it a chance to heal and taking tough decisions like not coming here.
It’s been a brutal process for him, I’m sure, missing the Olympics, which I’m sure was also a big goal for him.  Then the North American swing and now this?  I mean, this is significant, but it’s not been six months yet.
So I think it’s not the end of the world, but it’s obviously much better if he were to be here.  There’s no doubt about that.  But he’s had a great run in Grand Slams as well and playing so many tournaments.
Many people thought he was going to break down way earlier, and he has played I think four years longer than people already expected.  People thought four years ago the end is very near.  None of that.
I just hope he’s taking a little rest right now and hopefully coming back strong for the end of the year.

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Clijsters calls Serena Williams the “Best Ever”

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY -  In a pre-tounament  US Open news conference Kim Clijsters called Serena Williams the “best ever.”

“I mean, to me Serena is the best ever just because I think physically she just stands out,” said the Belgian playing in her last US Open.

“When she’s in good shape I think she just stands out tremendously.  I mean, you know, she’s fast, she’s strong, she has a very good eye, as well.  I think the combination of that is ‑‑ I mean, what we have seen over the last few months is the best player ever.”

Clijsters spoke to media about Serena being an inspiring figure.

“Every day there is people that inspire me just by whether it’s, you know, seeing a mother on TV or seeing ‑‑ reading a story in the paper,”Clijsters said. ”

“Serena’s is one of those, as well, what she’s been through.  Not just with, you know, the health problems, but dealing with the loss of their sister and all those kinds of things.

“It’s not just one thing.  We sit here and do our press conferences, but we have a personal life, too.  That’s something that’s maybe not always ‑‑ you know, on the court everything always looks great and perfect, but it’s not always that way.

“I think it’s great to have, you know, big names like that and open up about it and be role models, as well.”

In her news conference later Serena Williams was questioned about Clijsters comment.

“I never think about that, Williams said.  “I can’t sit here and say I’m the best ever.  I’m not.  I’m not worthy of that title.  I’m just Serena.  I love playing tennis and I’m good at it.  Just because I’m good at it doesn’t make me the best.

“I think Kim, you know, she’s had such a fabulous career, especially here at the Open.  She just brings some special tennis.  She’s always so bright and has such a positiveness about her that you can’t help but wish her the best.”

Sister Venus was also asked about Clijsters’ comment about Serena: She’s amazing,  I think when she’s playing great and feeling confident ‑ even when she isn’t ‑ it still takes a hurricane to beat her.  You have to be on your best tennis and basically make no errors.  I think her record speaks for what an amazing player she is.

Clijsters is looking forward to her final US Open.

“I’m excited,” Clijsters said.  “I’m obviously very excited to be back here after not being able to participate last year due to an injury in my stomach muscle.  I’m really excited to be here.

“You know, obviously this place is magical for me.  I have had so many beautiful memories.  I have enjoyed coming here from when I was a junior.

“You know, I love the surface, I love the atmosphere, and I’m excited.  I’m not really thinking about retiring yet, you know.  I’m still focusing on trying to, you know, be in the best shape that I can be.

“You know, when I start Monday I want to be playing well.  I’m focusing on that for now.”

Clijsters plays her first match at the US Open on Monday. She’ll play the first night session match versus young American Victoria Duval.

Karen Pestaina is covering the US Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.

 

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