2014/04/24

Date-Krumm sees top 10 potential in Belinda Bencic

Kimiko Date-Krumm ©Tennis Panorama

Kimiko Date-Krumm ©Tennis Panorama

By Alana Mitchelson

(January 13, 2014) MELBOURNE, Australia – In her Grand Slam debut at the WTA level, 16-year-old Junior Grand Slam Champion Belinda Bencic has defeated 44-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm, 6-4 4-6 6-3, to progress into round two of the Australian Open 2014.

 

Having reached the second round of Tokyo and Osaka, the teenager has proven once before how she can up the ante at WTA standard but she is yet to determine how well she will fare in a Grand Slam, making her debut at Australian Open 2014.

 

Twenty-eight years her senior, Date-Krumm began on serve, immediately pushing her younger opponent out to the far wings of the court and planting a beautiful drop shot to start off the match in fine form.

 

The young Swiss double faulted on her first serve and looked quite nervous as, early on in the match, her hesitant net approaches opened it up for Date-Krumm to launch deep, forehand winners soaring past her. The Japanese eventually snatched the early break.

 

Bencic played more and more to the Japanese’s backhand, her own two-handed backhand proving as quite the weapon, and this strategy empowered her to seal out a break of her own. She backed up this form with her first solid service game to level the score 4-4.

 

The Swiss propelled top spin heavy serves in a stellar service game, featuring a pounding ace, to close out the first set over her largely flat-hitting opponent.

 

The teenager returned with the same level of energy and hunger displayed in the first while Date-Krumm worked to regain her confidence. And after a successful call challenge, the pace quickly turned in the Japanese’s favour.

 

The 16-year-old generated some incredible angles, maneuvering the ball about her fit opponent whose court coverage was nothing short of remarkable given her age. Date-Krumm’s unrelenting determination saw her snatch hold of the fifth game, one that proved particularly draining for the pair of them.

 

Date-Krumm was on the defensive and ensured her efforts in the hot weather did not go to waste, challenging the Swiss to a third deciding set.

 

Bencic made the most of Date-Krumm’s tiring muscles and as her older opponent’s energy levels dropped, she lengthened the rallies to reclaim control of play to seize her first ever match in the women’s draw of a Grand Slam.

 

The Swiss Newcomer Of The Year reflected on what was going through her mind during her first Grand Slam match at WTA level.

 

“I was a little bit nervous in the beginning… it was special.

 

“I didn’t play really at my best, but I was able to fight through, and it was the only thing I could do in that moment.”

 

Date-Krumm was very impressed by the young rising star’s game mentality and maturity on the court, so much so as to insist Bencic could be a top 10 contender in the future.

 

“Of course I know she’s very young but when I go on the court, I think of her as another player. But she’s not like a 16-year-old. And I’m talking about (in terms of) her tennis. She’s improved a lot. But fighting (against) her, she’s not a high school girl. She, of course, needs to learn a lot but she has so much potential,” Date-Krumm said.

 

“If she has more power and if she’s playing more smart, she could get to the Top 20 or even the Top 10.”

 

In contemplation of meeting world No. 4 Li Na in the second round later this week, the ambitious teenager sounded excited.

 

“It will be a nice experience for me. Hopefully on a big court.”

 

Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website http://alanamitchelson.wordpress.com

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Serena Williams Dominates in Opening Match at Wimbledon

SerenaWilliamsFaceoff11 - Copy

(June 25, 2013) Serena Williams began the defense of her Wimbledon crown in dominating style by conquering Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella 6-1, 6-3 in a first round match on Tuesday on Centre Court.

Williams did not lose a point on her serve in the first set which captured in 19 minutes. The 92nd ranked Minella took a 2-0 lead to open the second set when Williams double faulted on a break point.

Williams stormed back by winning the next four games and broke serve to seal the match. Williams has extended her career-best winning streak to 32

She’s now 68-8 at Wimbledon.

The world No. 1 assessed her play:

“I feel like I was a little rusty for some reason today.  I don’t feel like I played my best.  I felt really upset when I lost my serve in the second set.

“With that being said, I think Mandy played really well.  I thought she was really mixing up her shots, mixing up her game.  It wasn’t an easy match for me.  I’m a little excited I was able to play a tough match and to get through it.”

Kimiko Date-Krumm ©Tennis Panorama

Kimiko Date-Krumm ©Tennis Panorama

The 42-year-old veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm demolished 18-year-old German qualifier Carina Witthoeft 6-0, 6-2.

Date-Krumm retired at 25 but made a comeback at 37 in 2008

“When I come back, I’m enjoying very much, even I’m losing,” said the Japanese tennis player.  “Of course, after losing, always very disappointed.  But still I’m enjoying very much.

“I have a lot of passion.  I like challenge because not easy for my age.”

Date-Krumm is the second oldest player to win a match at Wimbledon. Martina Navratilova was 47 when she won a first round match in 2004.

Sixth seed Li Na had an easy time with Michaella Krajicek winning 6-1, 6-1.

In a battle of young up and comers, USA’s Madison Keys defeated Great Britain’s Heather Watson 6-3, 7-5.

For Keys it was her first win at the All England Club.

“I was definitely pretty nervous at the beginning,” Keys said.  “Once I started playing the match a little bit, getting into it, felt a lot better.

“After winning my first one, feel really good about it.”

 

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BNP Paribas Open Names Wildcards – Includes Nalbandian, Blake and Date-Krumm

(February 27, 2013) INDIAN WELLS, Calif., – Former top-five players David Nalbandian, Tommy Robredo, James Blake and Kimiko Date-Krumm; Americans Tim Smyczek, Steve Johnson, Madison Keys, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Maria Sanchez, Melanie Oudin and Taylor Townsend; and Shahar Peer and Kristina Mladenovic were granted wildcards into the main draws of the BNP Paribas Open, to be held March 4 – 17 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, it was announced today by Steve Simon, tournament director.

David Nalbandian has won 11 ATP World Tour titles since turning professional in 2000 and reached the 2002 Wimbledon finals in his first appearance at the event. The Argentine and former World No. 3 will be making his tenth appearance at the BNP Paribas Open. Last year in Indian Wells, Nalbandian equaled his best result, reaching the quarterfinals for the second time in his career.

Former World No. 5 Tommy Robredo is continuing his comeback to the ATP World Tour after an injury derailed much of his 2012 season. The Spaniard has won 10 career titles and has reached five Grand Slam quarterfinals. American James Blake, former World No. 4, also has 10 career titles and defeated then-World No. 2 Rafael Nadal to reach the 2006 BNP Paribas Open finals. Kimiko Date-Krumm turned pro in 1989 and is currently the oldest player in the top 100 at 43 years old. The former World No. 4 has eight career singles titles and four doubles titles, including one in 2013 at Pattaya City.

In addition to Blake, seven other Americans have been granted wildcards into the main draws including two-time NCAA Champion from USC Steve Johnson, who reached the third round of the 2012 US Open; Milwaukee native Tim Smyczek, who is at a career-high ranking just outside the top 100 and pushed World No. 4 David Ferrer to four sets at the 2013 Australian Open; 19-year-old breakout star Madison Keys, who has already defeated five top-50 players in 2013 and cracked the top 80 earlier this month; WTA veteran Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who won the 2012 Australian Open Mixed Doubles title; another USC standout – Maria Sanchez, who is at a career-high ranking after jumping 560 ranking places in 2012 – more than any other player in the WTA; Georgia native Melanie Oudin captured her first WTA title last year in Birmingham (UK); and 17-year-old Taylor Townsend, who turned professional in 2012 after reaching the top of the junior rankings earlier that year.

Two other international players receiving main draw wildcards are Israeli Shahar Peer, who was a BNP Paribas Open quarterfinalist in 2007 and 2011 and reached a career-high ranking of No. 11 and French teenager Kristina Mladenovic, who is at a career-high ranking after defeating three top-25 players to reach the Paris semifinals earlier this year.

“This year’s main draw wildcards span from seasoned veterans, to rising American and international stars to those returning from injury,” said Simon. “Awarding wildcards to players like David Nalbandian, James Blake, Madison Keys and Taylor Townsend add to the allure of early-round matches for fans and provide the potential for these deserving athletes to break through and make a move up their respective Tour’s rankings.

Qualifying wildcards were given to Americans Christian Harrison, Jack Sock, Rhyne Williams, Dennis Novikov, Grace Min, Jessica Pegula and Irina Falconi, German Andrea Petkovic and Croatian Ajla Tomljanovic.

Harrison, the 18-year-old younger brother of American No. 6 Ryan Harrison, reached the quarterfinals in doubles with his brother at the 2012 US Open and is making his debut to the BNP Paribas Open. Sock is at a career-high ranking after reaching his first ATP World Tour quarterfinal in Memphis earlier this month. Williams, a former University of Tennessee standout, is also at a career-high ranking after capturing the ATP Challenger tour title in Dallas. Novikov, who won the 2012 BNP Paribas Open pre-qualifying tournament, is now a sophomore playing at UCLA and won the 2012 USTA Boys Championships in Kalamazoo. Min won the 2011 US Open Junior Championship and three ITF titles in 2012. Pegula won two matches in the qualifying tournament to reach the 2012 BNP Paribas Open main draw. Falconi cracked the WTA top 100 in 2011 and has won 4 ITF singles titles.

Petkovic is a former World No. 9 and has reached the quarterfinals in every Grand Slam. She is returning to tennis after a series of injuries kept her from competing consistently for more than a year. Tomljanovic has three ITF singles and 3 ITF doubles titles.

In addition to the aforementioned qualifying wildcards, the winners of each pre-qualifying tournament, which takes place February 25 – March 2, will also be granted a berth into the 2013 BNP Paribas Open qualifying draw. Women’s qualifying starts March 4 and men’s qualifying begins March 5 at 10:00am.

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Kirilenko Rallies to Capture Pattaya Open

 

Kirilenko

(February 3, 2013) No. 2 seed Maria Kirilenko of Russia captured the Pattaya Open on Sunday by rallying from a set down to beat Germany’s Sabine Lisicki 5-7, 6-1, 7-6 (1).

Lisicki was serving for the match at 6-5 in the third set when Kirilenko broke her serve at love and won 11 of the last 12 points to win the match.

 

“I feel great – to win a title is always special, but it’s even more pleasure when you win such a tough one,” Kirilenko said. “It was tough. Sabine played very well. I’m very happy to win this.”

 

“I hadn’t been in a final in a while, so even though it’s a tough one to lose, I still feel very good about my week,“ said Lisicki. “I played some good tennis here. I was working so hard in the off-season and it’s nice to see it’s already paying off, especially since we’re just at the start of the year.”

 

For the No. 15 ranked Kirilenko it’s her first WTA title since 2008, sixth title overall. Four of Kirilenko’s titles have come in Asia – Beijing (2005), Kolkata (2007), Seoul (2008) and Pattaya City (2013).

Kirilenko is projected to move up to No. 13 when the rankings are relaeased on Monday.

In the doubles final 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm paired with Casey Dellacqua to capture their first doubles title together. It was Dellacqua’s first-ever doubles title.

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Notes and Quotes From Down Under – Day Two

Kimiko Date-Krumm ©Tennis Panorama

Kimiko Date-Krumm ©Tennis Panorama

(January 15, 2013) A look at some the questions and answers from day one of the 2013 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne.

Kimiko Date-Krumm

Q.  I think you set a record today. ( At 42, Date-Krumm became the oldest player to win a match at the Australian Open)

KIMIKO DATE‑KRUMM:  Of course not.  You know, it’s many times I play the Grand Slam.  But since when I start play again, always I have a tough draw.  Almost every time I play the seeded player.  And many times I almost beat them, and then I lost many times.

So this time also, when I saw the draw, I play against a 12‑seeded Petrova.  Well, it’s happen again, so…

But this time I don’t get injury.  My body is feeling lots good.  My tennis was not so bad.  So I felt even I lose, but I felt I’m interesting to play today.  So I’m very happy today, yeah.

Q.  Many people would like to know your secret to longevity?  Is it ice baths, miso soup?

KIMIKO DATE‑KRUMM:  I don’t eat not so much Japanese food when I’m traveling.  Only when I go back to Japan.  I love to eat Japanese food because, of course, quality is different when I’m traveling outside Japan.

So last night I ate pasta (smiling).

 

 

 Serena Williams

Q.  So Thursday is too early to call, whether you can play Thursday?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  Oh, I’ll be out there.  I mean, unless something fatal happens to me, there’s no way I’m not going to be competing.

I’m alive.  My heart’s beating.  I’ll be fine.

Q.  Is there any pain or swelling there now?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  Obviously there’s pain.  Obviously there’s swelling.  So it’s going to be really important to see how the next few hours unfold.

Q.  When you were down on the court for a while, how much of that was it actually hurting and how much was the memory rushing back to you?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  It was definitely a lot of pain.  Also a little bit of the memory, as well.  So it was definitely a little bit of both.

But also at the same time trying to gather myself together and trying to make sure that I can continue.

Q.  What do you think it says about how well you’ve been playing lately that you have this happen to you in the middle of a match and you still win 6‑Love, 6‑Love in less than an hour?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  I don’t know.  At that point I think I really started to focused.  For me, when I was injured, I just thought, Just relax.  Have nothing to lose at that point, so I just started swinging freely.

I don’t know if it says I’m a good player, I’m an average player.  I don’t go by that.  I just feel like I was just out there to swing and do what I could.

Q.  You’ve seen some pretty serious injuries before.  Is there something that switches on in your head, I’m injured, this is what I’m going to do?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  Absolutely.  I’ve been injured before.  I’ve played this tournament with so many injuries and was able to come off pretty on top.  So for me it’s just another page and a great story to tell the grandkids one day (laughter).

Q.  When you were on the ground lying there, do you have to tell yourself, Do not panic?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  Absolutely.  I think I was really, really close to panicking because a very similar thing happened to me last year, almost on the same side, the same shot.

So I almost panicked, and I thought, I can’t do that.  I just have to really remain calm and think things through.

Q.  Have the medical people indicated whether you’ll need a scan or an x‑ray?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  That’s definitely optional.  I’m going to play it by ear.  I would love to see the next few hours how I go, and then I’m going to decide what to do next at that stage.

Q.  Are you thinking the rest of your afternoon is going to be on the couch with ice?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  Unfortunately, I’m used to having ice on my feet.  It’s one of the things I ice the most, so I’ll be on the couch.

Q.  Do you wrap your own ankle?  Seems like you knew pretty much exactly what you wanted.

SERENA WILLIAMS:  No.  I do a lot for practice, I have for a lot of exhibitions, sometimes for doubles.  I’m a renowned ankle taper (smiling).  I know exactly what to do.  I’ve been taping my ankles for my whole career, so I hope I know how to do it.

Q.  Are you still going to play doubles with Venus?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, absolutely.  Again, unless something fatal happens to me, I hope not.  I’m going to be on the doubles court, too.  I’m not here to make excuses; I’m here to play.

Q.  How did it actually happen?  Did your foot slip on the court or it just rolled?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  I don’t know.  I don’t know.  I have no idea.  I just remember it going over, but I don’t remember how.  I have to see if it’s on the film.  But I don’t know if they even got it on TV.

Q.  Would you rather not know what the exact damage is and just play with the pain for the rest of the tournament?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  Honestly, yeah, really, because I would really rather not know.  I know one year I won this tournament and had two bone bruises in both knees.  I had no idea.  I just knew I was in pain.

I think sometimes what you don’t know cannot hurt you.

Q.  How do you get to the point where you say to yourself, Oh, it’s perfectly okay for me to run out wide on my forehand; I’m not going to worry about rolling the ankle?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  You know, I have a day.  I have a day to work on it.  At this point it’s not a lot of time.  But I’m not 18 years old where I want to sit this one out or I don’t have to run to the forehand.

I feel like with my experience, I feel like I’ve gone through a lot, and that I just have to mentally adapt.  I’ve been able to mentally adapt to a lot of things.

You know, I think it will be a good challenge and almost a good game for me to mentally adapt to this.

Q.  How much better do you think the tape made this experience today compared to if it hadn’t been there?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  If I didn’t have tape, I would not be playing.  It would have been fatal (laughter).

 

 Andy Murray

Q.  What did you make of the singing fans that supported you?

ANDY MURRAY:  Yeah, I think it’s the same group of guys that come every single year.  So, yeah, they’ve been there, yeah, I would say at least four or five years.  They’ve been coming to watch.  Try to sort them out some tickets when we can.

Yeah, they’re good support and pretty amusing songs.  Although I think they haven’t come up with too many new ones, so challenge them to that.

Q.  Are they Australians?

ANDY MURRAY:  Yeah.

 

Q.  Did you check in which half of the draw Janowicz is in?

ANDY MURRAY:  It wasn’t the first thing I did when I saw the draw, no.  I didn’t focus on that too much.  But I’m pretty sure he played yesterday.  I saw him warming up for his match, so…

I see he’s in the top half.

Q.  There has been so sad news today about Brad Drewett, the ATP World Tour chairman stepping down.  Do you have a message for Brad?

ANDY MURRAY:  Of all the people in his position, since I’ve been part of the ATP, I spent more time with him than I did with any of the other guys before him.  We had, you know, numerous meetings with him, with the Grand Slams, you know, chatted to him a lot privately, as well.

Yeah, it’s obviously very shocking news.  Very sad.  You know, he’s done a very good job for the tour.  He’s done a good job of bringing the tournaments together and arranging, you know, the meetings we had with the slams.  He’s definitely had an impact in the time he’s been working there.

So, yeah, it’s a big shame to hear something like that happen.  Hope he’s okay.

 

Victoria Azatenka

Q.  You probably heard that Serena had an injury today, but still won.  Suppose you can’t be worried about other players, but have you heard anything about her?

VICTORIA AZARENKA:  I actually haven’t heard that because I was just off my match and doing my own stuff.  I heard she won love and love, so what kind of injury are we talking about (laughter)?

 

 Milos Raonic

Q.  Trying to incorporate a few new things into your game this year.  I guess you weren’t too successful with that today.

MILOS RAONIC:  No.  The only thing I incorporated is winning the match and getting by and trying to be better.

 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Q.  I noticed that a lot of French players are living in Switzerland.

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Okay, I don’t want to talk about this today.  I just want to talk about tennis.  If we could have another question, it would be perfect.

 

Roger Federer

Q.  He said  (Paire) he couldn’t read your game at all.  Do you know you have that effect on your opponent and are you aware of it in a match that guys maybe don’t anticipate at all?

ROGER FEDERER:  Well, I mean, I guess the advantage for us as top players is that we do play against top players more often than they do, so we’re used to maybe bigger serves all around, better movement, you know, more unpredictable stuff, which they don’t get the opportunity obviously to play against, you know.

So that’s I think an advantage for us, but that’s why I think it’s very important, the work ethic and bringing it day in and day out to give yourself that opportunity.  Every match you play against a top guy is usually going to bring you a step further because you realize what else you have to improve.

You know, this guy has apparently got the biggest forehand or backhand out there, all the rest you face is going to be a little bit easier, you know.

So I didn’t know I had that effect out there today, but, you know, I do have some options in my game and I used them well.  You know, I kept coming in at him as well to shorten the rallies and make him feel the pressure.  I guess that was the good play today against him.

 

Q.  Will you be watching Bernard Tomic’s match tonight?

ROGER FEDERER:  Is he playing first?  Second?  I don’t know.  I haven’t got my plan yet for tonight, dinner plans.  I saw a bit of Lleyton yesterday.  I decided at the end I’d rather go out with my friends and have dinner and hopefully come back for the fifth set in case, and that never happened, unfortunately.  (Laughter.)

Today maybe.  I mean, I don’t know.  I will plan around the beginning of the match maybe.  We’ll see.

 

Juan Martin del Potro

Q.  Do you see an opening now with Rafael Nadal on the sidelines?

JUAN DEL POTRO:  No, I think the favorites are the same even if Rafa is not here.  If Rafa could be here would be a favorite for sure also.  But Roger, Novak, Andy Murray, and other guys can be the favorites to win the tournament.

 

Q.  Did Li Na provide any advice before the match today?

WU DI:  Not technically, but mentally.  Last night before I go to bed I get a text message from her.  She told me, Don’t be nervous.  Don’t think about tennis.  Just go to bed.

Your answer will be tomorrow, not tonight.  So don’t think about anything else.

Bernard Tomic

Q.  Couldn’t hope for a better start.

BERNARD TOMIC:  Yeah, pretty good match.  I felt, you know, in control the whole match.  You know, off the ground I played pretty good, served pretty decent.  I’m happy.

Q.  When you are in control as much as that, is it difficult for you to maintain the concentration that you really do need on the court?

BERNARD TOMIC:  It’s always a challenge, and now I’m much better at it.

You know, when you have the feeling that you’re playing well on the court, you are in charge, you are in control, and you’re winning, sometimes you’re going to try a few different things and experiment.

But I’m pretty sure I played pretty focused out there today and did a good job.

Q.  You mentioned after the match that people keep asking you about the potential third‑round clash with Roger, and you said you’d rather focus on your next opponent.  Is it hard to not focus on what is coming ahead in the draw, or are you good at just focusing on what the next task is?

BERNARD TOMIC:  It’s difficult, you know.  Everyone expects and everyone draws it out before the tournament that probably we’re going to meet.  But you don’t know.  Tennis is very strange.  I have learned that last year.  I played a lot of strange matches and lost a lot of matches I should have won.

You just don’t know how you can feel.  You can get sick.  You know, if everything goes according to plan we should get there, but the next round I have to play a player who I don’t know as well.  I haven’t practiced with him a lot, and it can be as difficult.  He just beat the top 30 players, so it’s difficult.

And obviously Roger is playing Davydenko now.  It’s not easy.  That’s a guy that’s also beaten him a few times before, so we have tough rounds.  I’ve got to win next round.

Q.  Are you the sort of person that reads the newspapers over the next two days now and watches the television or you try to turn it off?

BERNARD TOMIC:  Oh, no.  You know, I try not to, but, you know, I like the TV so I do happen to see stuff on there.  (Smiling.)

You know, you try to ignore those sort of things.  I just want to focus on the next match.  My main target is just playing the next match and winning.  That’s why I’m doing a good job the last few weeks at this.  I take every match seriously.  I prepare every match, I mean, as 100% as I can.

Q.  So your preparations have changed over past six, eight months?

BERNARD TOMIC:  My preparation?

Q.  Yeah.

BERNARD TOMIC:  Not so much that.  Last year I was struggling ‑ we all know that ‑  but the last two months is where I have improved.  I’m feeling so good out on court, and I’m going to keep this up.

I like getting out on court now and feeling like this and playing and winning.  It’s just an amazing feeling, so I’m just going to keep doing it.

Q.  For the young players in Australia, would you like to send a message to them?  They want to see you as an example.  What would you like to say to all of those players who want to be like you?

BERNARD TOMIC:  I mean, look, you’ve got to try and compete as best as you can and you’ve got to work hard, and, you know, I’ve only learnt that last year.

Time does fly.  Time flies by.  You have to use every second every day.  You’re going to become a better player and better person and feel confident with yourself if you go through those boundaries.

That’s what I did.  I overcame those sort of things, and I managed to put my head down and work hard. You know, for anyone that’s trying to get there, you know, they’ll always be an opportunity.  You know, sometimes you’ll need a little bit of luck.

But if you knuckle down and work hard and do the right things, make the right sacrifices, then you’ll get a chance.

Q.  Your next opponent, how do you go about getting information and preparing for that match specifically?

BERNARD TOMIC:  YouTube.  (Smiling.)

You know, I’ll just see it on the Internet maybe and watch over the next few days.  Obviously my dad and my team will also look at his stats and where he plays and how he’s played.

I think he played well one year at Wimbledon when he made the fourth round.  That’s all I know. I have never played or hit with him, so I will definitely study up on how to play him.

Q.  Is it difficult when you have little information to prepare for a match?

BERNARD TOMIC:  Yeah, it is.  You just don’t know how the guy plays.  You’ve got to know where he serves and where, you know, where his weaknesses are.  With this guy, I don’t know.

So I have got to look in the next day or so and give myself the best chance of playing him.

Q.  Do you now enjoy hard work or is it still a burden?

BERNARD TOMIC:  It’s still difficult, it’s still hard, but you know when you work hard and you really push yourself that you’re confident and you know what you’ve done.  You know, if you can just be fitter than the other player and mentally stronger and hang in there, you never know what can happen.

I do have the tennis.  I can play tennis.  It’s not a problem about that.  But I needed to build something of my own, and that’s where I spent two months trying to become fitter, better, and mentally stronger.

Now on the court it’s a piece of cake.

Q.  That said, have you set a goal yourself specifically for this year personally?

BERNARD TOMIC:  Yeah, I want to reach the top 10.  I think it’s very achievable the way I’m going.

I’m going to have so many opportunities, and, you know, hopefully I can win more tournaments this year.  You know, I’m looking at every tournament I go into to try and win it.  Doesn’t matter who I’m playing, I’m going to try and win.

That’s why I think whoever was on my ‑‑ whoever I played the past few weeks, I beat them because every match I go into I knew I could win.  It’s just about me committing, and I was doing that.  I’m so happy with myself, and I feel like I can do it and reach the top 10 if I just do those things.

I don’t know when it can happen.  You can’t put a time limit on these things, but I know it will.

Q.  About that, your goal of reaching top 10, you mentioned that to Jim after the match.  When did you sort of decide that and how did you come to that sort of goal?  Talk us through that.

BERNARD TOMIC:  Well, I mean, everyone’s got goals in tennis, and personally just I want to become, you know, in the top 10 best tennis players, and then potentially move myself into No. 1 in the world.  That’s always my goal.

It’s important to have steps on the way and try to reach the top 20, but I think I’m pushing the top 10.  It’s far, but I think it’s achievable the way I’m playing.

Once you achieve that I think I’m going to set new goals, but, you know, for that now, I’m going to work as hard as I can to reach top 10.

Q.  Do you feel like you have matured a lot not just as a tennis player but also as a person, as well?

BERNARD TOMIC:  Yeah, absolutely.  I think, you know, off the court and on the court I have changed so much, and it’s just helping me play better tennis and focus.  Because sport is all about focus and, you know, who can keep the most focus.

You obviously have to play, but I have changed so much, and, you know, it’s made me become a better person off court and a better player on court.

It’s just strange how it works, but if you do put in the hard work and if you do do the right things, you know, you improve.

You know, that’s what any tennis player wants, is to improve.  But you’ve got to find a way.  It’s not easy.  It’s not easy, but you’ve got to find a way.

 

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