2014/09/02

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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Saturday Semifinals Set for Western & Southern Open

Roger Federer photo © Enrique Fernandez for Tennis Panorama

By Megan Fernandez

MASON, Ohio – Roger Federer gave Mardy Fish one racket-clap but not much else en route to a 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory in the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Open on Friday. Federer, four times a champion of this event, has faced a different semi-final opponent every time he has reached that round, and this year is no different. Across the net on Saturday he will see friend and fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka, a winner over Milos Raonic of Canada.

Mardy Fish photo © Enrique Fernandez for Tennis Panorama

Fish picked up his game in the second set, earning the familiar “too good” gesture from Federer for a dipping cross-court passing shot. As Fish hung tough, the Lindner Family Tennis Center’s full house rewarded him with effusive support. No doubt many in the audience remembered that the World No. 20 had stretched Federer to three sets in the 2010 final, and were hoping their baseline slugfest could extend longer into the gorgeously clear and cool Midwestern night.  It looked like they might get their wish as the pair matched strength with strength. Federer unfurled a dainty drop shot at 2-2. Fish boomed a 133 mph serve up the middle in the next game. But the Swiss’s mix proved superior to Fish’s fight, and Federer closed out the match with an overhead on this third match point

“It was a great atmosphere,” Federer said. “Playing an American here in America, it’s always special.”  He’s happy with his adjustment to this event’s surface and balls just two weeks removed from playing on the Olympic grass. “The bounce is completely different here than at Wimbledon,” he said.

After the Wimbledon champ improved to 8-1 against Fish, he was asked about the state of his career-defining rivalry, with Rafael Nadal. He couldn’t remember exactly the last time they played (“Indian Wells, maybe?”), but he’s sure it wasn’t their final meeting. “I haven’t thought about it, that I might play Rafa less,” he said. “One time one top guy misses one major, I think some make a big deal out of it. It’s true that it’s a big shock, but it does happen from time to time.”

Novak Djokovic tends to move quietly through the draw in Cincinnati every year, and for the third time he has reached the semi-final without dropping a set—although thanks to a first-round bye and a second-round retirement by his opponent, Nikolay Davykenko of Russia, Djokovic has played only three sets this week. Today, he defeated Croatia’s Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-2 and earned chance to avenge his loss to Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in the bronze-medal match at the Olympics—though he says revenge isn’t on his mind.

“I already put it aside,” the Serbian said. “As a tennis player, you have to do that.”

Del Potro defeated Jeremy Chardy of France, 6-1, 6-3, and Wawrinka came back from a one-set deficit to stop Raonic from reaching his first Masters 1000 semi-final. The Swiss No. 2, who won today 2-6, 7-6, 6-4, has struggled since his tough five-set loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the French Open. “It was not easy,” Wawrinka said, “but I’m really happy to be back on the hard court. Since the beginning o of the tournament, I’m focused on what I’m doing.”

Venus Williams photo © Enrique Fernandez for Tennis Panorama

Venus Williams reached her first semi-final in two years by defeating Australian Sam Stosur 6-2, 6-7, 6-4, sealing victory with a pair of service winners and booking a match with China’s Li Na, who took advantage of Agniezska Radwanska’s sore shoulder and rare inconsistency to notch an easy 6-1, 6-1 win.
In the other semi-final, the Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova posted a 6-4, 7-5 (4) win over Anastasia Pavlyunchenkova of Russia.
Almost giddy in her post-match press conference, Williams happily talked about everything from cornbread (“I’m probably going to throw some eggs in there”) to karaoke (nearly an addiction) to candy (something she’s given up to deal with Sjogren’s Syndrome). Little did she know that here sister, Serena Williams, was struggling against Angelique Kerber just outside the building on Center Court. Mere minutes after the elder Williams opined that her sister needed some rest, she was proven right: Kerber took a 6-4, 6-4 victory from the hottest player on the WTA Tour, ending her opponent’s 19-match winning streak.

Serena photo © Enrique Fernandez for Tennis Panorama

“Today was one of my biggest wins in my career, for sure,” says the world No. 7, who had now defeated both Williams sister in a span of three weeks. “I go out there not thinking that it’s Serena on the other side.”

But Kerber’s work wasn’t done for the day when she aced Williams on match point. As the tournament’s WTA blogger for the week, she had Friday’s column to write. Find it on www.cincytennis.com and see if she put as fine an end on her commentary as she did her match.

Megan Fernandez is covering the Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.

All photos by © Enrique Fernandez for Tennis Panorama.

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Players React to Nadal’s US Open Withdrawal in Notes and Quotes From the Western & Southern Open

Rafael Nadal announced on Wednesday that he will not play at the US Open. Players competing at the Western & Southern Open gave their reactions to the news during their post-match news conferences:

Q. Rafael Nadal is not going to play the US Open he announced today. Do you have any thoughts or comments on that?

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: No, I don’t have idea. It’s a very sad moment for him, for sure.

I wish him very fast recovery for him. We miss him in these kind of tournament. It’s really tough moment for him, for sure. I wish all the best, a good recovery. I don’t have too many words to say.

 

Q. I’m sure you heard that Rafa Nadal pulled out of the US Open with knee problems. What was your reaction when you heard that?

ANDY MURRAY: Well, yeah, I mean, it’s obviously a shame. I mean, I like Rafa a lot as a friend. Yeah, I’m disappointed for him. But I think for tennis and also a major competitions, it’s a huge benefit when you have the top players playing.

 

Yeah, it’s obviously tough for him. He’s had trouble with his knees in the past. So, you know, I hope he can rest, doesn’t come back too early, and gets them fixed so he can get back to playing his best tennis.

Q. What was your reaction when you heard that Nadal officially pulled out of the US Open today?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, not a surprise, because I wrote him and he told me like it wasn’t looking good at all. I kind of knew. Saw it coming. But obviously when it’s official it’s disappointing for tennis, there’s no doubt about it.

I would love to have him in the draw. In particular, sort of the 12 days before the Open you figure he might still have time to fix what he has to fix to get ready. If he pulls out that early before the Open, it must be something serious.

That’s what is sort of scary. There is obviously the whole debate going on if he is going come back for this year. I hope he will. He’s definitely got some more weeks off now because of it.

I hope in hindsight this is a very smart decision by him. But it’s obviously a big blow and disappointing news for the tennis world.

 

 

 

Q. You probably heard that Rafa pulled out of the US Open.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I heard.

Q. I’m just wondering what your thoughts are about that and his long term processes, if it seems like he has this chronic tendonitis.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I really don’t know what the injury is and how serious it is. Obviously it’s that serious that takes him, you know, out from the tour for last couple of months.

You know, he’s a great competitor, and, you know. He’s somebody I know really well on and off the court. I’m sure that if he was able to perform in US Open he would come.

So I wish him a quick recovery, obviously.

Grand Slams. Obviously great rivalry. Going into the US Open I realize there are a lot of other great players, but does it take away a little bit of the excitement for you knowing he’s not going to be there, one of your great rivals?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, my excitement is always the same when I am approaching any Grand Slam. Obviously it’s the biggest tournaments we have in sport.

Yes, the fact is that tennis is going to lose a little bit because of Rafa not being there and playing, because he’s somebody that has made a history of this sport. We all know how good he is and how popular he is.

Again, there is everybody else except him who is going to play there, so I am sure we will have a good tournament.

 

 

Q. Rafa is out of the US Open.

MARDY FISH: Really?

Q. I’m not sure if you heard that.

MARDY FISH: That’s too bad.

Q. Thoughts on that? It’s surprising.

MARDY FISH: Yeah, it’s too bad. You felt like if he wasn’t able to come to at least here — a lot of guys took Toronto off, but at least come here. Maybe he was in trouble. So it’s a shame.

You know, he made the final last year and he’s the past champion year before that. He’ll be missed.

Q. When something happens like Nadal pulling out of the US Open while you’re at a tournament, what’s the buzz in the locker room among the players like?

MILOS RAONIC: I don’t think too many players concern themselves too deeply about it. Everybody pretty much in the locker room had a match today. I don’t think it was by any means any, say, priority for them, that kind of news.

It’s a little bit sad just because he’s a really good guy and a lot of people get along with him; but at the same time, it’s a competitive sport.

 

 

Q. Not sure if you heard, but Rafa is out of the US Open.

SLOANE STEPHENS: I just read it on Twitter. I’m devastated. This is so sad.

 

Q. What is it like when he’s not in the locker room at slams? What does he bring that might be…

SLOANE STEPHENS: I’m not sure because I’m not in his locker room. (Laughter.)

I love Rafa so I love seeing him at tournaments. I get star struck when I see him. I’m like, Oh, my God I wish I could touch him.

It will be sad with him not there, obviously. I mean, he’s such an amazing player. I just kind of — I like seeing him practice. He’s on the P1 through 5 or whatever and he’s always on the first court so everyone can see.

I like eating my lunch and watching him. I’m kind of bummed he won’t be there. I’m sure we will have, you know, still an amazing tournament.

 

Q. Does it affect the buzz of the tournament even when somebody on the other draw is out? Can that really carry over to the women’s side?

SLOANE STEPHENS: I don’t really think so. I mean, Murray is still playing, Olympic gold medalist, Federer, Djokovic still playing.

Rafa will be missed, but I’m sure that people think that Djokovic and Murray and Fed are pretty hot too. So I think it will work out.

 

Non-Nadal quotes:

Venus’ Success Ring

Q. You’re known to wear bling on the court. There is a ring you used to wear all the time, the big round ring. What happened with that and did you replace it? What’s the ring you have now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: The ring I have now is actually my last shopping purchase. It’s called a success ring, actually. But my match ring, I do have it here with me. I always have it. I haven’t been wearing it as much lately.

I have been wearing it since ’03 I think, so it’s been a long time. Actually 2002. I think it’s been a very long time. Just switching things up a little bit.

 

“I’m Not a Model”

Q. Professional photographers take lots of pictures of you. How do you feel about the pictures when you look at them? Like them? Don’t like them? Don’t care?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I like looking at the pictures. I critique myself. It’s good stuff. More than anything it’s fun to see the pictures over the years. It’s like seeing your life. It’s a beautiful thing.

Q. Back to the picture thing, do you feel pretty comfortable? You have been doing photo shoots for a long time. Do you feel pretty comfortable in front of the camera now? Is it different from being photographed on the tennis court?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I’m pretty comfortable. If I had a choice I’d go to practice over a photo shoot. I’m not a model. I’m an athlete, you know, a fighting athlete on the court. That’s my main thing.

 

 

Agniezska Radwanska

 

Love you sis, but I want to be No. 1

Q. Your sister (Ursula) has been playing really well. Probably a career high ranking. How much of that do you think is partially how well you’ve been doing also? Do you think the family feeds off each other at all?

AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Well, I think so, but I’m just very happy that, you know, she’s playing very good and have some good results last couple weeks.

Actually, I think she’s on court now, so I really gonna cheer for her maybe from the locker room because it’s really hot out there and I need to rest after my match.

But I think it’s great thing to have a sister on tour, especially that we are very close. I just hope she can be also, you know, maybe not No. 1 but No. 2, because I want to be No. 1. (Smiling.)

 

Q. Are you focused at all on how close you actually are to No. 1 right now?

AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Well, I know that I am close, but it’s, I think, it’s still a little bit, you know, far from No. 1. I’m just going to do everything in my power to be No. 1, at least for a week, so I know that I have chances this year to do that.

 

Doesn’t have a goal to be No. 1 right now

Q. Not too long ago you were very close to being No. 1 in the world, and I was wondering, with respect to that, what’s your goal for getting there eventually?

PETRA KVITOVA: I don’t have any goal like be No. 1 right now. Yeah, I knew that in the beginning of the year was really huge for you guys, but not for me.

Yeah, I was injured in the season, but still I’m trying to do my best and still be in game, improve my game. For me it’s important to stay healthy that I can play.

 

 

 

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Mardy Fish – On the Way Back

Mardy Fish revealed in May  that he had been suffering from a heart arrhythmia and that he underwent an electrophysiology procedure to “re-wire” his heart. Fish is playing the Western & Southern Open this week and spoke to media on Monday about his physical condition. Here are some excerpts from his news conference:

Q.  With respect to coming back this year, you about 75% or all the way back?

MARDY FISH:  No, my practices, I’ve tried to keep them as normal as possible.  You know, one of the things with trying to just get your fitness level back is you got to push it more and more.  That sometimes has been a little hard mentally.

But, you know, I mean, everything’s checked out okay.  Past few weeks have been good minus the ankle injury in Atlanta.

Couldn’t have asked for a better couple weeks after that considering I wasn’t able to move around for eight days or so to make sure that it was okay.  Couldn’t practice, couldn’t train at all, and that’s hard going into tournaments where you need fitness to rely on quite a bit.

So I couldn’t have asked for a better Washington D.C., to be honest.  And then any time you make quarterfinal in a Masters 1000 event is a pretty good result for almost everyone.

So it’s been good.  It was a good test on Friday to play two matches as well.  I was super tired in the third set of the second match, but these are all good problems to have.

Getting through most of the matches pretty well, so I’m getting there.  Certainly getting there.  I don’t want to necessarily put a number on it.  I don’t feel like I did 12 months ago certainly talking to you guys here, but I feel pretty good.

Q.  Are you going to continue to play some more dubs with Mark Knowles?

MARDY FISH:  Yeah, we played last week.  I won’t play the rest of the summer, but it’s nice sometimes when you don’t get the matches that you can get out there before a match, before a singles match.

Conditions in Toronto are completely different than conditions here.  It’s been weird.  The weather has been strange the past few times we’ve gone, past few places we’ve gone.  The weather was terrible in Wimbledon; extremely hot in D.C.; really bad in Toronto with the rain and stuff; and now here.  It’s August 13th and it’s 72 degrees outside.  It’s a little strange right now.

So that’s been hard.  It’s been hard for most of the players to try to get used to.  You come here thinking of a certain type of weather and it’s the complete opposite and you got to get everything in line for that.

Q.  Talk about trying to get your conditioning back when you’re in the heart of the season.

MARDY FISH:  Yeah, I mean, that’s the hardest thing because you need matches.  You can train all you want on the practice court and things like that, but just can’t duplicate the actual matches.

Like I said earlier, I couldn’t have asked for a better couple weeks after what happened in Atlanta.

I mean, to be honest, my past few events since my health stuff have actually been relatively good:  Fourth round Wimbledon and semis in D.C.

Tommy Haas, I felt like I could have won that tournament, and he played a great match against me in the semifinals.  He’s playing great tennis.

So I haven’t put any shockers out there since I’ve been back, which has been a good thing.  I’ve been able to get on the court and play seven, eight matches in the past couple weeks that I didn’t think I was going to be able to get.

That’s the hard part coming in.  Twelve months ago I was extremely fit, extremely confident.  Sort of the opposite sort of fitness‑wise here, and usually the weather is just brutal here and you need to rely on that a lot.

I was able to do that last year throughout the summer, but maybe we won’t even need to with the weather like it is now.

Q.  Do you think the Open is the toughest slam physically and mentally?

MARDY FISH:  I think probably the French Open would be the toughest physically.  Mentally I definitely put it up there just with sort of the surroundings and what you have to sort of put behind you.

It seems like every year you get one or two days where you got to get pushed back and pushed around with the weather and the rain and stuff.  You have to deal with going back and forth from Manhattan and sort of the traffic concerns and things like that.

So there is a lot that goes on on the side.  The week before is always so hectic.  You’re trying to sort of meet every sponsor’s visit that you have and shake everyone’s hand that you promised to shake at the beginning of the year.  Seems like it always happens during that week.  That makes it hard leading up to the biggest tournament of the year for us.

That’s probably one of the most satisfying ones to do well at.  I think physically probably the French would be harder than that.

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Davis Cup: Looking Back at US vs France in 2002 at Roland Garros

Tennis Panorama News will be covering the Davis Cup quarterfinal tie this weekend between the United States and France being held at the Monte Carlo Country Club. We’re taking a look back at  past ties between the two countries.

 

2002 US Davis Cup Team (L-R Todd Martin, James Blake, Mardy Fish, Andy Roddick and Captain Patrick McEnroe)

By Guillaume Willecoq

 

2002, Davis Cup semifinals in Roland-Garros  (September 20-22) : France d. USA 3/2.

The French Tennis Federation pays tribute to the Musketeers hosting the tie in Roland-Garros. In the beginning, the French stadium was built in 1928 to receive the United States after the Musketeers won their first Davis Cup in Philadelphia. Seventy-five years later, France and USA face each other again at Roland-Garros.

 

The players:

France: The team built by Guy Forget is the current champion, and the captain brings the best line up possible: Sébastien Grosjean, 9th, as the leader, followed by Arnaud Clément, 42nd. The doubles team is a young Michaël Llodra with the almost veteran Fabrice Santoro. On clay, French players are the favorites of this tie.

 

USA: Since his arrival at the head of the US team, in 2000, Patrick McEnroe makes the choice of bringing new blood to the team. For this tie against France, he lines up three young guns: Andy Roddick (11th), James Blake (27th) and Mardy Fish (88th). The last guy is Todd Martin (still 51th), veteran of the glorious 90’s for the US tennis. The view from France – Roddick and Blake are a scary duo, with loads of potential! In seven matches, Roddick is still undefeated in Davis Cup.…

 

The tie :

Clément d. Roddick 4/6 7/6 7/6 6/1

Grosjean d. Blake 6/4 6/1 6/7 7/5

Blake - Martin d. Santoro – Llodra 2/6 7/6 2/6 6/4 6/4

Grosjean b. Roddick 6/4 3/6 6/3 6/4

Blake b. Clément 6/4 6/3

 

The quotes :

Sébastien Grosjean : “Before, I was struggling to give my best in Davis cup. I wanted to do too well for all the team and I didn”t play my best tennis. This time, I think this tie between France and USA was my best performance. I tried to play for myself on court, and only after I shared my joy with the rest of the team. It helps me to focus on myself on the court.”

Andy Roddick: “It hurts me. I’ve lived so many things not very funny this week, new sensations for me, and I will have to learn from it. Now, I think I will be better prepared to play difficult matches in Davis Cup… But the atmosphere here was absolutely fantastic. I hope some day I will live that with the US team !”

Arnaud Clément: “There is nothing more exciting than playing this match against Andy. I knew that if could run well, I would neutralize him on the baseline, and eventually drive him nuts !”

James Blake: ”It”s the biggest deception of my life. Really, losing a match in Davis Cup breaks your heart, particularly because I had my chances. I never felt so bad, but now I’m going home and try to forget. I look forward to do something well in this team in the future. It’s when I lose like this that I really want to go back to work harder. I’m going to do the gym.…It will look less painful than before.” 

Fabrice Santoro: “I would say that those kind of matches are the ones I enjoy the most. I really had fun during this doubles, even if we lost. You enter the Central of Roland-Garros, your team leads 2/0, the Central is packed from the start… There is something in the air!”

Michaël Llodra : “This loss against the Americans in doubles really hurt me a lot. The press said it was my fault if we lost, that maybe I shouldn’t have play, that I lacked experience. I took everything in the face and it took me sometime to get over it. But I bounced back… Since 2003, I was never out the team. It”s Davis Cup! There is a lot of pressure. It has made me stronger. “

 

Todd Martin – The End: Does he know? Probably. This France/USA tie is the last selection of the long career of Todd Martin. The American, who won the Davis Cup in 1995, is here to bring his experience for his young fellows. I did the perfect job during the doubles, with James Blake. The veteran made a strong impression about his knowledge and tennis culture in his news conferences, citing Decugis, Lacoste and Cochet as legends of the French tennis.

 

After that :

In December, in Bercy, the French will lose the final against the Russians. The end of a great period for that team: Guy Forget gets his first critics about the selection of young Paul-Henri Mathieu for the last rubber; the French captain splits with Fabrice Santoro a few months later; and, little by little, Escudé, Grosjean and Clément step down from the team during the following campaigns, to let young Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils and then Jo-Wilfried Tsonga take over. Three time finalist in four years between 1999 and 2002, it will take 8 years for the French team to reach another final.

On the other hand, this tie starts a new chapter for the US team. Roddick and Blake take the lead of the group, joined by Bob and Mike Bryans in 2003. They will be the hard core team for almost ten years, occasionally joined by Mardy Fish. They will reach the final in 2004, and most of all win the title in 2007.

Tennis Panorama News is covering the Davis Cup between the United States and France this week taking place at the Monte Carlo Country Club from April 6-8.  Look out for updates here and on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Djokovic, Fish, Verdasco Take Part in K-Swiss Desert Smash to Help Raise Money for Children’s Charity

 

 

LAQUINTA, CA – (March 6, 2012) -   Heading into the BNP Paribas Open this week top players including Novak Djokovic, Mardy Fish, Mike Bryan, Fernando Verdasco and Sam Querrey were out and about for the eighth annual K•Swiss Desert Smash  charity celebrity tennis event at the La Quinta Resort & Club.  The March 6th & 7th event benefits  Variety – The Children’s Charity, which is dedicated to promoting, and protecting the health and well-being of underprivileged and special needs children in the Coachella Valley.

For more information on the event www.k-swissdesertsmash.com and more about Variety – The Children’s Charity www.varietyofthedesert.org

All photos by Beth Wilson editor of Nadal News and  tennis photographer.

 

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U.S. Completes Davis Cup Sweep of Switzerland

DAVIS CUP: U.S. SWEEPS SWITZERLAND
Harrison, Isner Victories Complete 5-0 Shutout

By Junior Williams

FRIBOURG, Switzerland — The United States has swept a Davis Cup tie for the first time in eight years, beating Switzerland 5-0 in the first round
of the World Group.

Ryan Harrison won his first-ever Davis Cup match by defeating Michael Lammer 7-6(0), 7-6(4), as both players entertained the Forum Fribourg crowd for 2 hours and 14 minutes. John Isner wrapped up the shutout with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Marco Chiudinelli that took only 58 minutes to complete.

Harrison — ranked 95th in the world — posted a bagel in the first set tiebreak. The American put away a Lammer shot at net for a 2-0 mini-break, and finished the set with a forehand winner up the line.

The second set was chock full of long rallies: Harrison hitting powerful shots while the 251st-ranked Lammer did a great impersonation of a backboard, with stellar defensive play. The Swiss was also very successful coming to net and executing winners.

Neither player would give in during the first game of the second set tiebreak. A long rally culminated with another Harrison forehand winner to secure a mini-break. His streak of twelve straight tiebreak points ended with Harrison serving a double fault up 5-0. That sparked the crowd and Lammer, who rallied to narrow the score to 5-4. But the 19-year old American ramped up his service game to win the next two points and the match.

Just how close was the match? Harrison won 94 points, three more than Lammer.

Marco Chuidinelli was Switzerland’s last hope for averting a whitewash at home. But he had a tall order (literally and figuratively) in facing 6-foot 9-inch John Isner, who was coming off his stunning upset of Roger Federer.

The second dead rubber of the day involved lots of short points, mostly due to Isner’s booming serves. It took the American only 28 minutes to win the first set.

The 17th-ranked Isner broke Chiudinelli early in the second set, putting USA up 2-1 with a forehand winner up the line. Isner served out the match in grand style, holding at love with four consecutive aces.

The last U.S. sweep of a Davis Cup tie was in February 2004 when the Americans hosted Austria at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. Back then the U.S. squad consisted of Andy Roddick, Robby Ginepri and the Bryan twins.

The Americans and Captain Jim Courier now await the winner of the Canada-France tie, which will host the quarterfinals in April.

As for the Swiss, they must wait to find out who they will draw for the World Group play-off in September. The loser will be relegated to the second tier.

===========================

DROP SHOTS:

Even though the Americans had clinched the tie on Saturday, kudos to the Swiss fans for what was still a relatively healthy turnout for Sunday’s dead rubbers. Same goes for Roger Federer, who showed up to support his teammates despite suffering two defeats. However, no sign of Stanislas Wawrinka.

You have to go back to 1996 for the last time Switzerland was swept in a Davis Cup tie. The loss was to Germany in Geneva, and just like this weekend, the tie was played on clay.

My favorite delicacy at the Forum Fribourg was the bratwurst. Yes, it cost 7 swiss francs ($7.64 U.S) but well worth it.

Hopefully, next time they host a tie in Fribourg, the folks in charge will open more doors to allow ticket-holders access to their seats. The “sardine effect” is not helpful. But overall, they put on a good show.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Fribourg, Switzerland covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the US and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

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Notes and Quotes from Day 2 of Davis Cup – US versus Switzerland

FRIBOURG, Switzerland – The United States clinched a berth in the Davis Cup quarterfinal round with the doubles team of Mardy Fish and Mike Bryan stunning the Swiss team of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. The win gave the US an unassailable 3-0 lead to gain victory in the tie.

 

Federer on the loss: Actually played pretty good considering again it was a high standard of match on both sides.  We did have our own chances.  Maybe they were just a touch better than us today and it showed in the score.

We had our chances, played well for a long time actually.  Sometimes we struggled a bit too much.  But they deserved it.

I think they did really well.  I think they played well in the singles and the doubles, too.  It’s a pity we couldn’t go to Sunday, but that is how it is, unfortunately.

Sure, it’s disappointing, but we’re not too down about it.  We have respect for their performance.  They did really well.  We had missed opportunities.

Swiss Captain Severin Luthi: I mean, we knew that it was going to be a very difficult tie for us on any surface.  That’s what it was.

We know, for example, that Isner is dangerous on every surface.  Mardy is a top‑10 player.  He’s going to be a tough one anyway.  We didn’t underestimate them at all.  For sure we wished for another result, but it has nothing to do with underestimation.

Mike Bryan:  This is probably going to go down as one of the most memorable, after Portland (2007 Davis Cup final).

It was a really tough tie, playing Switzerland.  Really tough team on the road, on dirt.  Everybody stepped up.  Jim did a great job coaching.

It was a dogfight.  We just hung in there.

 We just thought we had to go in there, make a lot of first serves.  We were just going for our shots.

Came down to a few breakpoints there.  Luckily we capitalized.  It’s not very easy to win on the road.  The crowd was pretty loud.  I think Mardy stepped up.  He played a five‑and‑a‑half‑hour match yesterday.

US Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier: Obviously on paper you look at the American team in recent years and you go, ‘of course, no brainer, play us on clay’.

But altitude indoors is a different surface than outdoor slow clay.  I’m sure they recognized that.  Conditions we knew were not going to be our favorite, but also not the worst for us.

I have to give our guys credit for coming in here and grinding all week on a surface which started off as a pretty poor court and got better every day.

Our attitude remained strong all week long.  We were ready for whatever.  That’s really what we needed to be.  Every road tie you have to come in for the unexpected, ready for everything to be the worst.  Our guys never wavered from that commitment.  I think it showed.  When we got bad bounces, as did the Swiss team, we just shook them off, just kept playing.  It worked out well from that standpoint.

I mean, if I was the Swiss captain, I was looking at the American team, I would have said, Of course, red clay.  I think every team would be thinking that if their team were as good as Roger and Stan are on this surface.

Mardy Fish: Physically I felt fine.  It’s what we train for.  Mentally Davis Cup obviously takes a lot out of you.  So three days in a row would have been tough to play.  But we’re happy about that.  We’re happy to pull through, obviously.

It’s great that the guy that I have to tee it up with is the best doubles player ever.  It’s pretty easy.  I’m just trying to do my part on that side.  He played great today, Mike did.

Courier fielded a question on whether it’s “all business” with his suit:  That’s not really what I’m saying with it.  But I made a decision when I was offered this captaincy that I would do that because I wanted to make it clear to everyone that there’s absolutely no chance that I’m going to be swinging a racquet.  I’m going to be sitting down, watching what’s going on.

When it’s hot outside in a place like Santiago, Chile, I wore slacks and a collared shirt because it was too hot to wear a suit.  This will be my uniform just as this is these guys’ uniform.  I hope you don’t mind too much, but I honestly don’t really care what you think (laughter).

 

Courier on what team the US will face in the quarterfinal round in Davis Cup on the road: Worst draw you can have.  If it’s Canada, it’s not as bad as France on paper.  But you saw what paper meant here, which is absolutely nothing.

I think the winner of that most likely gets Spain away.  So we have a very tough draw, but we got through a tough one here.  That should give us some confidence going forward.

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Nethead Photo Album from US-Switzerland Davis Cup Tie

FRIBOURG, Switzerland – They travel the world to cheer on the United States Davis Cup team. You’ve probably noticed them wearing red, white and blue adorned with a net that says ‘USA” on their heads – they are the Netheads.

A few of the Netheads attending the USA- Switzerland Davis Cup tie were kind enough to send Tennis Panorama News a few of their personal photos from Saturday’s Davis Cup action which saw the US clinch a spot in the quarterfinals of Davis Cup. The Netheads had a special moment after the US won the doubles as players John Isner, Mike Bryan and Mardy Fish made their way in to the stands to shake their hands and thank them for their support.

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Bryan, Fish win doubles over Switzerland’s Federer, Wawrinka to Send USA to Davis Cup Quarterfinals

DAVIS CUP: U.S. HEADS TO QUARTERFINALS
Bryan, Fish win doubles over Switzerland’s Federer, Wawrinka

By Junior Williams

FRIBOURG, Switzerland — The shocker is complete.

The United States is moving on to the Davis Cup World Group quarterfinals after Mike Bryan and Mardy Fish defeated Switzerland’s Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka in doubles competition 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. The win gives the U.S. an unassailable 3-0 lead over the Swiss, with two dead rubbers on tap for Sunday.

The home crowd of 7000 was pumped up from the start, hoping that the 2008 Olympic gold medalists would keep Switzerland’s hopes alive.
The Swiss got off to a fast start by breaking the U.S. in the first game, which included two double faults by Fish. The home team went on to win the first set as Federer’s strong service game and Wawrinka’s lethal backhand led the way.

It was a different story in the second set. The U.S. capitalized with a break of their own. This time it was Wawrinka with two double faults in a game, and the U.S. held on to knot the mach at a set apiece, thanks to Fish’s strong net play and Bryan’s serves keeping the Swiss of balance.

The U.S. capped the third set with a Mike Bryan winner up the middle, breaking Federer for the first time in the match, and making the Swiss faithful uneasy.

But the crowd wasn’t giving up, and in the fourth set was louder than at any time during the match, the fans shouting their trademark chant “Hop Suisse” (Let’s go Switzerland). But the U.S. broke the Swiss to go up 3-1, as an unfriendly net cord for Federer resulted in a Bryan winner. At 4-2 Federer saved two break points and the Swiss faithful erupted, hoping for a momentum shift. It was not to be.

The last two points of the match were indicative of a lost weekend for Switzerland. Federer whiffed on a ball resulting in match point, after which Wawrinka netted a deep Bryan serve to clinch the victory for the U.S.

The stunned crowd left the arena, buzzing about how Federer wasn’t at his best, but giving the U.S. credit nonetheless. The question is whether Federer will play for Switzerland in the Davis Cup World Group playoff in September. A loss would relegate the Swiss to the second tier of Davis Cup.

As for the Americans, they are waiting to find out their destination for the quarterfinals. It’ll either be a trip to France, or a hike north of the border to Canada. But first, there’s another day of tennis to be played. The U.S. will likely field 19-year old Ryan Harrison in one of the dead rubbers.

DROP SHOTS:

At the end of the match, after the on-court interviews were complete and much of the crowd had left the arena, Mardy Fish, John Isner and Mike Bryan climbed up into the stands to high-five the NetHeads, the cheering squad that follows the U.S. Davis Cup Team around the world.

The Americans’ last three victories have been on clay: Colombia in September 2010, Chile in March 2011, and now, Switzerland. Their last loss was on the U.S.’ favorite surface, a hard court at a quarterfinal home tie in Austin, Texas last year against David Ferrer and his friends from Spain.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Fribourg, Switzerland covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the US and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

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