January 18, 2017

Six-Time Champions Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams Begin Quests for Seven Title with Wins

Serena Williams

(January 17, 2017) No. 2 seeds Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic took their first steps in their quest for a seventh Australian Open title on Tuesday, each winning in straight sets.

 

Djokovic beat Fernando Verdasco in the first round of Melbourne 6-1, 7-6, 6-2. Verdasco almost beat the Serb in Doha earlier this month. He had five match points and could not close the  match. Djokovic came back to win the match and the tournament beating No. 1 Andy Murray in the final.

 

“I’m very pleased with the first round, considering I had one of the toughest first-round draws, definitely considering his form, how well he played in Doha,” Djokovic said. Just overall I’m feeling good about my performance.

 

“It was about 10 days ago, the match that we played. So, of course, you still have traces of, I guess, that match, emotions and everything that has happened.

“I use it in a way to just analyze and to get myself prepared for what’s coming up, to just be able to do things better than I’ve done that day in Doha. Even though I won the match, I thought I hadn’t played as well as I did tonight. Starting off a match as I did out of my blocks was obviously very satisfying to experience.

Serena Williams had to hold off a late surge by her first round opponent former Top Ten player Belinda Bencic, winning 6-4, 6-3. The 22-time major champion is now 65-1 in the first rounds of majors.

“I think it was pretty good,” Williams said after the match. “I mean, she’s a really good player. So I think I was able to start out well.

“I just wasn’t as aggressive as I was during those games. You know, she started playing better.

“I made a few errors on some key points, but for the most part, I still was going for everything and I was able to close it out.”

I feel like she’s definitely been having a lot more power. Obviously she beat me in Canada the last time we played, but I really don’t remember much about that match. I do remember — I just felt like she was doing really well.

 

The recently engaged Williams came into her news conference wearing a shirt which said “Equality.” Williams is engaged to Williams to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Williams said: “with today being Martin Luther King Day, it’s important to spread the message of equality, which is something he talked about a lot and he tried to spread a lot, is equality and rights for everyone.

“With that, Nike and all the Nike athletes really want to be a part of this movement, especially, again, being that it’s Martin Luther King Day. And we really just want to speak up about things that we believe in and talk about equality.”

 

Rafael Nadal who won the Australian Open in 2009, back from a wrist injury beat Florian Mayer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the second round. Nadal lost in the first round last year to countryman Fernando Verdasco.

Nadal: “I think I played solid match, no? It was great to be back on the big stadium. I feel the support of the people, love the people. That is something that is very special for me. Just happy to see the court like this and the people supporting me. So just can say thanks.

“I am happy the way I am playing. I had good weeks of practice. Never easy the first round. Is always little bit more nerves at the beginning. I didn’t play against an easy opponent. The way that he plays is not a conventional game. You know, he change a lot of the rhythm of the point, you know, changing with a slice, then he hit a winner. Then he play little bit slower ball. Is not easy to read his game, no?

“So just am happy the way that I played. I played good all the key points. That’s very important for me.”

 

In the match of the day, 37-year-old veteran Ivo Karlovic won a five-set marathon lasting five-hours and 15 minutes beating Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 6-7 (6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20.  The match  set a record for most number of games (84) at the Australian Open in matches with tiebreaks. The Croatian  set a record for the tournament hitting 75 aces.

“It was real difficult match,” Karlovic said. It was also difficult mentally because I was down 2-0. I had to also fight against him and against my own head, you know. So it was definitely really difficult.”

“This is what I will, after my career, remember. If it was easy match or I lost easy, I wouldn’t remember. But this one definitely I will remember forever.”

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Australian Open 2017 – In Their Own Words – Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Others in Pre-Tournament News Conferences

(January 14, 2017) Top-ranked players at the Australian Open held pre-tournament news conferences on Saturday. Here are the transcripts of the conference from the interview section Australian Open tournament website.

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

Q. How does it feel to be the top seed at a slam?
ANDY MURRAY: I don’t feel any different really to normal, to be honest.

Q. What are your feelings coming into this tournament? Was the preparation this winter as good as you wanted?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I think it went pretty well. Doha went well. Played some good stuff, especially at the end of the event. Yeah, I mean, the off-season, I would have liked to have been a couple weeks longer. But, you know, I made sure I got enough rest. You know, I’ll get hopefully a bit of time in February as well.

But, yeah, I did some good training over in Miami. There’s a lot of good players over there for practice. It went well.

Q. You’re playing in the middle of the afternoon on Monday when the forecast is pretty hot. Would you have preferred to have had a bit more practice time in hotter conditions?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, yeah, but there’s not really much else you can do about it. I mean, obviously in Doha, the conditions were pretty cool. You’re playing most of your matches in the evening. Also, if you do well here, you’ll often play at least three matches in the evening, sometimes four.

So, you know, it’s good practice for that. But obviously the day matches here can get, you know, brutally hot. I think maybe the Hopman Cup is probably where you get the best conditions or most similar conditions to here to start the year.

But, yeah, I’ll just have to deal with it, just like all of the other players will.

Q. Have you been impressed with Dan’s effort this week?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, I haven’t seen loads of the matches. I saw the end of his match yesterday. I saw the first set and a little bit of his match with Thiem. But obviously he turned that match around kind of after I went out for dinner.

Yeah, I mean, it’s obviously a great week for a lot of Brits actually. Obviously Jo winning, as well, was great. My brother’s in the final. Yeah, it will be probably, you know, the best week that Britain’s had at tour level forever probably.

Q. When you practice, how much does the fact that Djokovic is normally looming in the latter stages of not just the slams, but tournaments like Doha, how much does that feature in the way you go about things?
ANDY MURRAY: In terms of the way I practice or…

Q. Tactical awareness, preparing for big matches.
ANDY MURRAY: Well, in terms of tactical awareness, I sort of study, watch video, to learn about things that I could do better or things that have worked well. Obviously, don’t do so much of that on the practice court. But there’s certain patterns of play that you practice that hopefully will help against certain players. Then also there’s things that are extremely important to your game and what makes your game effective, you know, not just against one player, but against the whole tour.

I feel like my movement and my speed around the court is a very important part of my game. That’s something that I try to work on all of the time without thinking about, you know, other players.

But, of course, there’s certain things you would practice, what would help you against the top guys, for sure.

Q. Not all the players have been able to beat you lately. David Goffin was one of them in Abu Dhabi, in the exhibition there. What do you think of him and do you think he could cause one or two upsets here?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, I think he’s a really, really good player, obviously. He’s very quick around the court. He’s made improvements most years really, last few years. But as you get closer to the top, it becomes harder and harder to do that.

So, you know, it will be an interesting year for him. He works hard. I practice with him quite a lot, as well. He’s a good guy. Down-to-earth. Very quiet and relaxed.

Yeah, I hope he does well. But he’s, yeah, a very, very good player.

Q. What do you make of your opponent? You played him a few years ago.
ANDY MURRAY: I don’t remember loads about that match. We played on Margaret Court. I don’t remember too much about that match. I saw him playing a bit at the US Open. He had a good run there a few months ago. Also had a very tight match with Wawrinka there.

You know, he’s not easy. He fights very hard. He’s got a great attitude. Plays predominantly from the back of the court and moves well. He doesn’t give you too many free points.

But, I mean, I’ve only played him once. I’ve never practiced with him. And that match, it was a long time ago. It would have been, I don’t know, 2008, ’09, something like that.

Q. Roger was asked earlier if he could remember what it was like when he gained the No. 1 ranking. He said he felt that other people treated him differently. Is that something that you’ve experienced? Have you had any feelings like that?
ANDY MURRAY: No, not really. I don’t think so. I mean, yeah, I haven’t really noticed it. It kind of happened for me right at the end of the year, so I haven’t been kind of on the tour much as the No. 1 player. Just one week really in Doha. So I haven’t noticed it yet.

I don’t know if that will come over time, if I’m able to stay there or not. But, yeah, I mean, it’s only been really a few weeks around the tour with that ranking. I haven’t noticed much change.

Q. Looking back 12 months now, how much what was going on at home with Kim affecting you during the tournament here?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, it was a tough tournament. Yeah, obviously the situation with, you know, Kim and the baby coming was tough. Then with what happened with Nigel kind of during the event made it really kind of awkward because there was times where I was thinking, like, you know, I want to go home. But then also my father-in-law was here and in hospital.

It was, like, I want to be at home for the birth, but then I’m not just going to sort of leave whilst my father-in-law is also in hospital.

Yeah, it was tough, and certainly not a position I would want to put myself in again, or my wife, or any of my family really.

Q. How close did you come to withdrawing before you lost?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, a few times. I mean, I don’t know how to say how close. But, yeah, it was certainly something that was talked about a lot, especially the second week of the event.

Q. Just get your reaction to Michael Downey resigning. Were you surprised to hear the news?
ANDY MURRAY: No, I wasn’t really surprised. I think everyone kind of thought that’s always what was going to happen there. It’s disappointing really, because it’s just another change for British tennis. Someone new will come in with a different direction for another three, four years, then it will change again.

I think for a system that’s — maybe everyone would say that’s not really worked for quite a long time, for change to happen, you need someone or a team in there that’s going to be in it for the long haul and not just a few years.

So I really hope the next appointment is something long-term. You can’t expect results, obviously, immediately. I don’t think there should be loads of pressure on that person to get stuff done straightaway. But, yeah, I’d like to see a long-term appointment so that there’s actually, you know, a chance for change to happen, but then stick. I think if you just do three years, then another three years, just keep switching all the time, it’s not good for anyone.

Q. In that you think it wasn’t going to be for the long haul?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, in terms of him moving back to Canada. I don’t think many people expected it to go longer than the term that he was signed up for.

But, yeah, I mean, I just hope that we get a long-term replacement. Don’t want it to be just a few years.

Q. Roger and Novak used to say that once you’ve reached the No. 1, you have to work double as hard to stay there. Do you see it like this?
ANDY MURRAY: I hope not (laughter). I hope not.

Well, yeah, I mean, I do think it is a mindset thing, because I think it could be quite easy that once you get to No. 1 that you think, Well, actually, I just need to keep doing what I doing.

The reality is, in sport, that things obviously keep moving on, the game will get better, I’ll obviously get older, the young guys will continue to improve, and also Novak and Roger and Stan and Rafa and all the guys at the top are still going to be wanting to get there. So that’s why having someone like Ivan on my team who has been in that position before and knows what that’s like has been important. I need to continue to improve. I for sure need to keep working hard.

I don’t think necessarily working harder than I have in the past, but just having the mindset I need to keep getting better and try to improve my game. Any weaknesses that are in my game, to try to get rid of them.

So, yeah, that’s how I feel about it.

Q. Your record here is really good. You haven’t actually won the thing. Do you feel like you’re in a really good position right now to go one step further?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, look, I obviously feel pretty confident after the way that last season finished. I do love it here. I love the conditions. I have played really well here over the years, and just haven’t managed to obviously get over the final hurdle.

But, yeah, I think I’m in a decent position, for sure, to do it. I think I have a chance to win here. Obviously nothing’s guaranteed. But, yeah, why not? I’m playing well. Practice has been good. I feel healthy. I’ll give it a good shot.

Q. Any other players called you Sir yet, Andy?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, yeah, but not genuinely, I don’t think (smiling).

Q. The host broadcaster is going to refer to you as Sir Andy. How does that make you feel?
ANDY MURRAY: I’m more than happy just being Andy. That’s enough for me. Yeah, if they call me Andy, that’s cool, I’d be happy with that (smiling).

 

Novak Djokovic

Q. You obviously had a bumpy at times second half of the last year. With the off-season, title in Doha, beating Andy there, do you feel more or less back on track? Is it that quick a fix or is it more a process still going?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I feel that already in London, World Tour Finals, I played very well, comparing to the three months, four months before that, where I was, you know, kind of struggling to find that right level in quality of tennis.

But, you know, I’ve worked very hard as I guess most of the players in the off-season, trying to get myself in a right state of mind, in a right shape and form. I couldn’t ask for a better start of the season, saving some match points in the semifinals, playing a really exciting match against Verdasco, then the next day against Andy. You know, thrilling final. It was great.

I got a lot of match play. Arriving to Melbourne, really excited to compete.

Q. You have a quite brutal first round against Verdasco again. How do you see that one?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I hope I will not get to the stage where I have to defend match points.

Again, you know, Fernando is a very complete player on any surface. In a given day, if things go right, he can beat really anybody on any surface, as I said. Nadal last year in five sets, he won first round. He has won against most of the top players. He’s not overwhelmed by, I guess, the occasion of playing on center court. He has had that experience many times.

So, again, a lot depends, of course, on how I feel, how he feels. It’s the first match of the Grand Slam. We both need to start with the right intensity, of course. We’re going to be obviously striving to do so.

But I’m expecting a tough one, there’s no doubt about it.

Q. Can you run us through your coaching team at the start of the season, let us know whether you’re thinking about bringing somebody else in.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’m not thinking of bringing anybody in. This is the coaching team that there is, yeah.

Q. Marian Vijda?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. And Dusan Vemic is the second coach.

Q. It’s going to be hot in a few days. Do you relish the heat or do you struggle?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t know still a player that enjoys playing in 40 plus or 35 plus. It’s same for everybody, you know. It’s not easy, obviously. In the end of the day, that’s what you expect. You come to Australia during the summertime, and the conditions can get quite challenging and extreme.

But, as I said, you’re preparing for that. Same for you and your opponent.

Q. On the Verdasco draw, people have called it a nightmare. Do you consider it a nightmare draw or…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I still haven’t had in I nightmares, so I can’t call it a nightmare draw. I just see it as a huge challenge. I hope I’ll be able to deliver.

Q. Do you see yourself as being in sort of a similar position to where you were three years ago, where you’re having to reestablish the air of invincibility?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I never had an invincibility, although I thank you for the compliment. Nobody is invincible. I never thought of myself as a superior player on the court, even though of course at times I was very confident, I was winning a lot of matches.

But, you know, knowing how it feels on the court, if you get overconfident, that’s why I don’t want to get into that kind of state of mind. I still want to put myself in a position where I’m quite even to other players, fight for this trophy as anybody else, even though I’m defending champion.

The fact that I’ve done so well in Melbourne Park the last 10 years of my career basically, it’s been the most successful Grand Slam that I’ve had, of course gives me a lot of thrill, a lot of confidence and excitement to approach it.

Q. Putting aside invincibility, do you feel there’s similarities to where you were three years ago?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I can’t compare, really, the seasons. I’ve been saying this before. Every year brings a new challenge personally and as a player. You’re just a different, different person. Every cell in your body every day changes.

It’s hard to really compare any kind of year. I just see it as a learning curve, as a process of developing into a more mature player, person, trying to get the best out of, you know, the circumstances, the live conditions that you’re in in the moment.

Q. The prospect of the seventh record-breaking title, does that sit in your mind, even at this stage?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Honestly, one of the reasons I’m here is to try to win every match that I play on, and eventually the title. I’m not the only one that is sitting here and talking about the title.

I love playing this sport. I love competing. I came in here as all the other 127 players to fight for this trophy, to enjoy competing. Of course, it’s an incentive, it’s motivation.

Q. Is there any specific reason as to why you do so well here? You do well everywhere, but especially here.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, one of the reasons is probably because it’s beginning of the year. I personally feel, I see many players feel very inspired and motivated to play their best tennis. They have been through a period of five, six weeks with no official matches. They recharge their batteries. They’re eager to get back on the court and play the sport.

It’s so early in the season, and we already have a first Grand Slam, one of the four biggest events in sport. I think that’s enough motivation for you to start off the season in best possible fashion.

Conditions play their role, for sure. I mean, I love playing on hard courts. Especially night matches play a bit slower, which I like. I guess it’s a combination of things.

Q. When you announced that you and Boris were going to go your separate ways, Boris did an interview in which he said that perhaps you haven’t been working as hard in the recent months as you had earlier on in your career. Do you think that is accurate? If so, do you think that has changed now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Boris and I have had an incredible three years. I can’t be more grateful to him, to our partnership, to our relationship, than I am. We’ve had amazing success. It’s all I can say.

I don’t want to go back and comment on anything. I kept a very friendly relationship with Boris. We just went separate ways.

Q. Obviously titles, preferably a Grand Slam, is most important to you. How essential is it to you to get back to that No. 1 ranking?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As a consequence of the results, if I become No. 1, that’s great. Of course, that’s what I want. But it’s not my main priority, let’s say. I really would like to take one tournament at a time and try to win as many matches as possible. Then, as I said, as a consequence to that, if I become No. 1, I’ll be thrilled.

Q. A word of the comeback of Roger Federer. What do you expect from him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t expect anything, and everything. With Roger, you can always see a top level and quality of tennis. I mean, that’s what he brings. He brings this aura of a champion on and off the court. The sport definitely missed him.

It’s great to see him back, no question about it. From a colleague/player perspective and point of view and fans, everybody loves to see Roger. He’s one of the most important people that ever held the racquet. Of course, for our sport it’s great to see him.

Q. What do you think is the most challenging part for a comeback after a half-year absence?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think he’s going to answer that question better. But the fact he was absent because of his injury, I think that’s obviously going to be the concern, maybe, or to see how that’s going to play out.

But he didn’t seem to have any issues playing in Perth. He’s fit. I’m sure he’s very motivated because he hasn’t played any official tournament ever since Wimbledon, I think.

With all his experience, talent, everything he has achieved in his life, I don’t think it’s going to take too much of a time for him to really get back into that kind of competitive zone.

Q. Yesterday we noticed you were blowing your nose during practice. You appeared to have something with your eyes as well. Any lingering health concerns at all?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No (smiling). It was probably the only time I blew my nose, when you saw it. I’m a human being, as everybody else. No, it’s all good.

Q. Last year’s Australian Open was also associated with some revelations about match fixing. 12 years on, what are your reflections how far the sport has come, where we are on that journey, if you like? Anything more on that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Ideally, we don’t want to see any kind of match fixing occurrences and situations. But unfortunately they do occur from time to time.

I don’t think there are too many. I mean, we haven’t experienced too many, even though every time something surfaces, of course everybody, especially media, makes a great deal about it.

But generally, you know, looking I think ATP and all the authorities are doing a good job in kind of tracking down those kind of potential match fixing matches. I haven’t had chance to see too many cases. Yes, there are some. On a lower level, as well, lower category of the professional tournaments.

 

Serena Williams

Q. You said in Auckland how windy it was there, wasn’t a great chance to assess how you were playing coming into Melbourne. Do you feel now that you’re here, you have a better sense of how you’re feeling under court?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I felt great going into my last event. Hopefully I can improve on that. Well, I can’t get worse, so that’s also very exciting. Hopefully I’ll be able to improve on that.

Q. Does it feel good to be back?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah.

Q. Or you’re so occupied on what you were doing?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I’ve been spending so much time on the court, so… But it feels really good to be back, just hitting on Rod Laver, hitting on all the stadiums, it’s a good feeling.

I love it here. It’s such a great tournament for me, so… Feels really good.

Q. In general, is there something in your game, because of the time off, you feel you really need to improve quite a bit to be back to where you were?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I always go in every off-season trying to improve pretty much everything all around. There’s things that I definitely focus on more than others. But for the most part… I don’t really talk about those things. For the most part I go off, try to do better in a lot of things.

Q. This winter when you sat down with the team, did you talk about a different approach for this season? What was the mindset coming into 2017?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I definitely wanted to work on some things, like I just said. Every season I always sit down with Patrick, I have a conversation on what I want to improve on. We work towards that.

Q. How do you view last season? We never really had a chance to get your opinion. Obviously Wimbledon I think is the highlight.
SERENA WILLIAMS: For me, it wasn’t a great season. I think for other people it would have been wonderful. For me, it wasn’t.

It was what it was. I’m still hitting.

Q. Health permitting, how much do you want to play this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely don’t want to play a lot, but I don’t think I’ve played a ton throughout the past. I’ve played a lot. I’ve always been super consistent the past five, six years. I definitely want to play probably around… Maybe not as many events.

If I can keep my consistency, that’s all.

Q. The reason I ask is last year you weren’t able to play that much, partly because of injury.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah.

Q. You mentioned it wasn’t a great year by your standards. Is there a certain amount you feel you do need to play in order to still find your best?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I think actually last year’s schedule would be perfect for me. But I was injured a lot last year, especially after Wimbledon. My year basically ended after that, so… If I could have played the tournaments that I would have played, I think that would have an ideal, perfect schedule for me.

Q. When you talk about last year and how injuries kind of interrupted it at different segments, with the time off, do you think you were able to kind of let your body heal up in terms of the things that were bothering you last year, or was it still a little bit of an issue during the off-season or pre-season training?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I got a lot better. I had a little bit of a problem initially in the pre-season. Just did a ton of therapy, exercises. I was able to get a lot better.

I felt that if I hadn’t of taken that time off, could have been bad for me.

Q. Have you seen the forecast for Tuesday, the warm weather, how that will affect things?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven’t seen it. Is it supposed to be hot?

Q. 38.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uh. Okay, better be ready.

Q. You’re playing Belinda, someone that has beaten you before. Thoughts about playing against someone as good as her right out of the gate?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it will be good for us both. I don’t know if she played here last year. Was it last year? She was quarterfinals, I think. I’m getting my years mixed up. Anyway, she’s done well here before.

So, yeah, she’s had a good win over me. It’s never easy for me. So I always go out there, and all I can do is do my best. I didn’t come here to lose in the first round, or the second round, or at all. If I can play the way I’ve been practicing, it will be fine.

I know she’s been playing well, so it will be good for both of us.

Q. In the six months that Roger was unable to play the sport because of injury, he spoke about a glimpse of life without tennis, but he still kept in touch with it, he still has the passion for it, it helps to motivate him for this year. Do you keep across the sport when you’re unable to play? Does that give you extra motivation, refresh you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t really keep up with it as much. I feel like when I take a break, I just need to really take a complete break, both physically and mentally. I definitely kind of take a step back.

But tennis is a sport that I absolutely love, that I definitely see myself — it’s my life, you know, for the rest of my life, whether I’m playing or whether I’m not playing. It’s definitely something that has made an incredible impact in my life.

Q. A few weeks ago you posted some personal, exciting news. Can you tell us a little bit about that.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, can you elaborate (smiling)?

Q. You said you were engaged.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh.

Q. That, remember?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I’m just kidding (smiling).

Yeah, it’s been really great. I’ve said from the beginning, I just didn’t want to think about it until after Australia because I was, like, Grand Slams mean a lot to me. I was, like, Well, I’m not going to think about it.

It’s almost a little unreal right now because I haven’t taken it in. I’m being rather selfish and focused on my career.

Q. You made it sound like it was a very romantic moment.
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was. It was. I’m actually just a really good writer, so… If you guys want any tips, I’m around (laughter).

Q. Does it feel different?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Again, not really because I don’t think I’ve had an opportunity to, like, let everything sink in. I won’t allow it to sink in because I’m so focused. It was right in the middle of pre-season. I’m really focused training, cardio, all kinds of stuff.

Now I’m on the road, already back at work. I don’t want to get too happy because I want to stay focused (smiling).

Q. The record, moving past Steffi, been around for a while. These days does it mean anything to you? What are your thoughts on that opportunity?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, I’m not talking about that. I’m just here to play and to win obviously, but just to play.

Q. I know you said you don’t want to get too happy. Do you feel like you need a certain amount of anger or something, a drive or focus, to switch on to full gear?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I wouldn’t call it anger, but I would definitely say drive and focus. What’s the word? Sacrifice? Yeah, sacrifices that you definitely have to have, so…

 

Roger Federer

Roger Federer

Q. How does it feel to be sitting in that chair? Were there any moments in the last 12 months when you wondered whether you might not be sitting in that chair right now?
ROGER FEDERER: No, 12 months ago I was always going to come back because my knee wasn’t so bad, so I never thought to miss the Australian Open a year later. But, of course, after Wimbledon, the race was on for Australia really, trying to make it for here.

I mean, I knew I had plenty of time. Probably in actual fact, if I would have kept everything short, it would have taken me four months then. That was pushing it. I would have had to take chances, test the knee earlier than what would have been good. But by giving myself six months, I had enough time, except if I had some setbacks. I never had that. So actually at the end I had plenty of time.

But so I always felt like I was going to be here. I’m happy I’m here, though. That means the job was well done. I can thank my team for that.

Yeah, was an interesting last six months, to say the least.

Q. What did you miss most?
ROGER FEDERER: Miss most? From here, you mean?

Q. Generally, when you were out. What was it about tennis that you missed?
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, from tennis.

I guess you do miss the matches at some point. You miss the feeling of winning, walking onto a stadium, seeing the guys. You know, it’s like an extended family to some extent anyway. You walk around here, it’s probably the same for you. You see faces you haven’t seen in a while. It’s just nice to see everybody again.

Plus I have a lot of friends on the tour, you know, because I’m the returning guest for like 20 years everywhere I go. It feels good to see those familiar faces every single year. It’s something I couldn’t quite enjoy the last six months. That’s probably what I missed the most.

Q. Are you happy how the body has reacted, the preparation, you feel everything is in order?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it’s under control. I felt great. I felt Hopman Cup was great preparation. We’ll see if it was perfect or not. But conditions felt virtually identical to me. Center court in Perth was sort of similar size. Court speed felt the same. Obviously same continent, all that stuff.

It felt really good. Then practice was more about just managing, maintaining, not overtraining, but nevertheless still play enough to get used to the conditions here again, even though it’s the same. You know how it is, you just have to put down the hours, play the sets. I did that.

Yeah, it’s just more quiet now, whereas in Dubai I was really forcing the issue. I was training extremely hard. I don’t have to do that anymore this week, so I feel like it’s been a light week.

Q. How do you know you’re going to be able to handle the long four or five sets that the Australian Open brings up?
ROGER FEDERER: I guess it’s slightly the unknown. You could then argue that it’s the same for everybody. We don’t play four-setters, five-setters every single week. You only play them in Davis Cup now and in Grand Slam play. I went through a year where I didn’t play any five-setters, an entire year.

You could think that’s a good thing for longevity, but it’s not a good thing because you don’t know how it feels to play a five-setter anymore. Yeah, a lot of guys haven’t played four-setters or five-setters in a long time, or never in their life. From that standpoint, I don’t feel like it’s a huge advantage or disadvantage for them.

I trained as hard as I possibly could, so I will be ready for it. I did numerous sessions where I trained over two and a half, three hours. I feel I’m ready.

But, like I said, it is the unknown. It’s the part that I can only once I’ve been there.

Q. There’s a lot of unknown for you in your draw because you play a qualifier, then another qualifier. Does any of you sneak out today to watch the qualifying matches, guys you don’t know, or is it not worth scouting until you know?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean Severin and Ivan, my coaches, are out and about checking it out.

Yeah, it would be good to know who I play. I guess I could tell you what I think. Like this, I’m waiting to find out. Once it’s out, it’s actually a good thing because then you can start actually mentally preparing for the Aussie Open. Is it a lefty, a righty? It’s a big deal. Is he a big server, a grinder? A bit of an unknown here the first round because that’s the part of the draw I care most about because of having not been playing.

Q. Do you feel you have to play catch-up having missed six months, more new faces you’re unfamiliar with than usual?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really, I don’t think. I’ve never known all the guys in qualifying. There’s always new faces coming up every season. The guys, a lot of them, who played futures or challengers a year ago may be 300, next thing you know they’re in the top 100. It’s nice to see those new faces. It’s nice to see the changes. It’s no different this year, I don’t feel.

Q. You will remember what it was like to first become world No. 1, which is what Andy is obviously experiencing this week. Does it feel any different? Do you get looked at differently, do you feel? Do you have a different sense of perception?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I think it definitely feels different, yeah, because everybody comes up to you and says, You’re the best. You start walking around a bit differently. Just feel more confident overall in your shots without having had to play. It’s a good thing. Usually when you win, you know, it solves everything.

From that standpoint, there’s only one virtually the last four months. I’m sure things have been very smooth for him in his life, family, everything is great. What is there to talk negative about? The negativity goes out of the door a little bit, which is a good thing in tennis. When you can think and feel positive, that rubs off into match play.

Then I guess you come to a point when you just can’t let it affect you, you just have to remind yourself how hard you had to work to actually get there. It’s going to require that plus more to stay there.

But I feel like because Andy is not 18 years old. He knows all about that. I don’t think the ranking in this regard changes him in a big way. I think he’s too laid back for him to also change in terms of attitude towards us.

Yeah, like I said, I’m super happy for him. He deserves it. He’s been in there for a long time. He’s had some tough losses, some great wins over the year. He never kind of strung it together that it would pay off. This time it did, so it’s great for him, great for the sport.

Q. From your perception, somebody who played the role of No. 1 player in the world, dominated many years, in many ways this year you’re kind of an underdog. You talked about the unknown. Are you looking forward to being that, the underdog?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, why not for a change? I mean, I prefer to be the favorite. Underdog is okay. Yeah, no, it’s fine. As long as I’m healthy and I feel like I can go four, five sets, I can go many matches in a row, then I think it’s going to be fun. If I feel like I’m in pain in the matches, then obviously it’s no fun. Then it doesn’t matter what your seeding or ranking is, it’s always the same.

But, no, it’s a great draw because I’m in the draw. So for me I’m super pleased that I made it here, that I have an opportunity to win matches. How many rests to be seen. I’m cautious myself. So, yeah, clearly an underdog this time around.

Q. Do you like the new logo of the Australian Open?
ROGER FEDERER: It’s okay (smiling).

Q. You were here last year when the headlines about match fixing were in the news.
ROGER FEDERER: I thought we were going to finish on a good one (smiling).

Q. There’s been 12 months of debate, a lot of people calling for money even in the qualifying of Grand Slams. What do you think of that notion? Is there anything left undone, something else we could be doing to address the problem?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, some guys who have been called for match fixing are ranked extremely low. That’s at the very beginning stages, I mean you can’t be offering — I don’t know how much prize money is there. You’re playing in futures or tournaments they’re playing in.

I think it’s important that the tournament does the utmost. The Integrity Unit is analyzing the situation. I think we’re going to get a report back in a couple months, what I heard, which I think is great. That’s going to change the sport for the better.

Clearly we have no space for that kind of behavior in our sport. The good thing is that it’s really only zero point something percent of players that actually have done something over the course of so many matches and so many players. I think we’ve done actually okay.

Like you said, there can always be more done. But I think also through experiences, you learn through those mistakes, whoever did them, the tour, the player, the Federation, I don’t know. It’s tough. But I think important is to support players and educate them the right way to make them aware of the dangers potentially, also what lies ahead as a player you don’t know. That’s where it’s good to have a mentor, older brother on the tour you can lean on and ask for advice.

I felt I was lucky early on in my days that I had that. I had a great coach who was on the tour before. I had guys like Marc Rosset, former players that I could always ask for advice, sound advice, because they’d been on tour for 10 years. Or just ask my parents. But they didn’t have a tennis background, so it’s more tricky there. Maybe the Federation, as well. I think it’s very supportive in a tough environment sometimes.

 

 

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka

Q. What’s your mindset going into this tournament after winning the most recent Grand Slam?
STAN WAWRINKA: I’m happy to be back, like every player probably. I think I’m work well in the off-season. Started well in Brisbane. I think my level is there. I’m ready to start the tournament. Excited to start the first Grand Slam of the year, first one against Klizan, a tough player that I played only a few years ago, but is a really dangerous player.

It’s going to be interesting to see the first match.

Q. What is the most dangerous aspect when you play against a lefty?
STAN WAWRINKA: Well, depends who you play. For sure, if you play Rafa, if you play Klizan…

I think for me, I don’t have really problem because he is a lefty player. I’m quite confident with my backhand, so it depends all about me, the way I’m going to start, the way I’m going to play.

Q. Last year you started the season in India. Now you move starting the season in Australia. Is there a special reason to do that?
STAN WAWRINKA: No. I’ve been playing India for nine years in a row. I always enjoy there. I always liked it there.

But I heard a lot of good things about Brisbane. Roger played also. He always told me was a great tournament. I wanted to change a little bit to see some new city, some new tournament. It’s also good mentally. So I took the decision to start here in Australia.

I think was a great week. I really enjoy there, the city, the people at the tournament, the fans. Was a lot of fans. Think was a perfect start of the year.

Q. You said you wanted to change a bit. Did you also change something in the preparation? What was the special focus in this off-season for you?
STAN WAWRINKA: Didn’t really change anything big. I had good time. I’m happy the way I did my off-season. Was some good quality fitness-wise and tennis. Keep improving, keep trying to find what I can improve in my game, keep pushing myself.

I’m really happy with the level I’m playing right now. I know that if I can keep pushing during the year, keep doing the right thing, the big result will come.

Q. I saw you and Roger are already out of Davis Cup in the U.S. Is that an easy decision for you, having to go to a different continent?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, schedule-wise it’s really tough after one month in Australia to go back to States, to come back to play in Europe, then go back to States after. It is never easy to not play Davis Cup, but with that schedule, was really tough for me to be available for the team.

Q. The local reaction to the draw, forecasting past round one?
STAN WAWRINKA: Not really, because it can be in the fourth round. I’m not there yet. He’s not there yet neither. For me it’s all about focus, what we do the first round. If I won the first round, then it’s going to be the second round.

We all know how the draw is. We all look the draw, full draw, we all see what can be the draw for after. But at the end the focus, it’s in the first match because if you don’t pass it, you never get to that match.

Q. Last year you had Richard Krajicek for the grass court season. Do you plan to have another coach?
STAN WAWRINKA: For the season or for the grass?

Q. The grass court season.
STAN WAWRINKA: Grass is really far away from where I am right now, so… Not really, no. I focus on everything we have before starting the first Grand Slam now. That’s the main focus.

 

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori

Q. You’re in the same quarter as Murray and Federer. After your Brisbane performance, how confident are you that you can go deep in the Australian Open?
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, it was great run last week in Brisbane. First time to get a final. So I’m really happy with my start of the year. Yeah, we’ll see. Have a tough first round. Try to play one match at a time. Yeah, hope I can make to second week.

Q. How are you feeling physically at the moment? Obviously you have an off-season. It’s an unusual schedule in a way that you finish your long year, have a break, then suddenly you have one of the biggest events of the year straightaway.
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, feeling pretty good. I had a good off-season. I rest a lot before I do the training session. Had a good off-season, you know. Good training, good practicing. I thought I, you know, started well this year.

So, yeah, it’s going to be really important how I do here to get a lot of confidence for start of the season. Yeah, feeling pretty good after I hurt in Brisbane in the final, but I feeling pretty good.

Q. You’ve obviously been a top-10 player now for quite a long time. What do you think you’re still capable of doing in this sport?
KEI NISHIKORI: Well, yeah, it’s been three years now maybe to be in top 10. Well, I got really mentally strong. I think I’m more consistent and much more mature for everything, you know, even off the court, on the court too.

Yeah, everything is getting better now.

Q. Do you think you can win one of these tournaments? You reached a Grand Slam final. From what you’ve seen of your level, and everybody else’s level, do you think you can win a Grand Slam?
KEI NISHIKORI: Well, yeah, that’s what I believe in myself. I hope I can get a Grand Slam title sometimes. But I haven’t get big title yet, even the Masters tournaments. That’s something what I need for my confidence and experience.

Yeah, my goal this year is to win a big tournament.

 

 

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

Q. Why did you change your coach to Krajicek?
MILOS RAONIC: It was just a timing of how things went. I feel like for me to make the steps I want, especially forward, specifically with that focus, you have these two guys that move very well laterally. I don’t think I’m ever going to be the best guy from the baseline by any means, especially not against them. If I’m going to take it to them, it’s by coming forward. So I wanted to improve in that aspect.

Q. Why did you add Richard Krajicek to your staff?
MILOS RAONIC: That’s the same exact question.

No, it’s really to help me be more efficient going forward. I believe you have these two guys that are phenomenal right now at the top of the game covering the baseline. It’s really hard to get by them, especially with the way they move. I can’t expect to move like they do. I think I’ve got to be at least 20, 25 pounds heavier than them. It’s going to be about moving forward.

I think Richard could really help me in being more aggressive, more forward orientated, and more efficient when I’m able to get myself coming in.

Q. With regard to that, a year ago here you seemed to be doing a lot of that. You were going to the net a lot this time last year. You got to the semifinals. You were one set away from the final here. Do you think you need to be up there even more? Does Richard think you need to be up there?
MILOS RAONIC: I wouldn’t say even more. I think it’s about the consistency of it. When I was here last year, I was very efficient at coming forward. I did a lot of things well.

It could be because of the sort of injury. After that I didn’t have really the capacity to train properly. It sort of drifted away. It had come time to March in Indian Wells, Miami, I wasn’t coming in as much. Obviously on clay, it’s its own situation. Wimbledon and through the grass, obviously the situation did help me come forward more. But then through the rest of the summer and fall, I didn’t do it that much.

With those lapses of consistency, it’s really hard to make the true progress. So that goal is to some days it’s going to be more efficient than others. But if I’m able to put myself in that situation more consistently, I will continue to improve.

Q. Is it something that comes naturally to you psychologically, or do you have to actually remind yourself?
MILOS RAONIC: It depends on what the scenarios are. Sometimes against guys that are lower ranked, I can get away with staying further back. Sometimes I’m not disciplined enough, or attention focused on that specific thing in those situations.

Then obviously, you don’t want to be arriving to a quarterfinal or a semifinal in these big tournaments and expect yourself to be efficient coming forward. So it’s about obtaining that perspective, that command within myself to do it from the beginning of the tournament, so that when it does get to later stages where it’s not very optional, it’s something I need to do if I want to give myself the best opportunity to win. It’s been already tried, tested and true by then.

Q. How do you feel game-wise coming into the tournament after the few matches you had since the start of the tournament?
MILOS RAONIC: I feel good. Obviously this year is a lot different than last year. Last year the first matches of the year were the most important to me because I didn’t play at the end of 2015. So I really needed to get an understanding of where I was at. Right now I have a much better understanding of where I’m at, and now it’s really about I know what I can get out of myself. It’s more important to be mentally prepared, sort of grit my way through and get that out of myself. Some days I’ll be successful, some days not. But if I’m mental able to really be on top of myself, I’ll give myself a chance to win, and hopefully progress throughout the tournament.

Q. You are world No. 3 right now. Could you catch up Novak and Andy? Do you have confidence?
MILOS RAONIC: I definitely do have that confidence. But it’s going to take some time. They’re significantly ahead of anybody as far as points go and as far as results over the past 12 months.

Q. Have you changed anything in your preparation physically to try to get rid of the injuries you got last year?
MILOS RAONIC: We focus on different things. I think sort of the hours spent on court, we did that a little bit less in the off-season. Most of my injuries do tend to be in the lower half of my body. There was two focuses. Obviously spending less time pounding my lower body on concrete. Spent more time in the gym, sort of changed around that ratio a little bit.

Obviously the off-season was as long as previous years as well. Then focused on losing a little bit of weight, refocusing on that. Something that can help me throughout the year. Obviously those hours spent with a few extra pounds here and there can make a difference.

Q. What are your experiences with Krajicek?
MILOS RAONIC: They’ve been very positive. We spent somewhere close to I believe now eight to ten days together. We spent the last week of the off-season together. We spent Abu Dhabi together. It’s been very positive.

We’ve focused on a lot of things, especially obviously coming forward being the main thing. Last year there was a few things that I did well. There was two specific matches I was — two important matches I was able to get ahead a set and a break. I gave that away. We focused on in those situations I could take better care of my serve. Then we focused a little bit technically on cleaning things up at the net so I can be a little bit more efficient, where I position myself, how I cover the net, so forth.

Q. Is he now your head coach or is there no difference between the two coaches?
MILOS RAONIC: Virtually there’s really no difference. Richard is going to be doing mostly tournaments with me, where he’s going to help me getting the best out of myself. Ricardo is more doing the weeks when I sort of go home, do the training weeks, these kind of things.

I think both of them have equally as important a role as the other.

Q. You mentioned you focused on when you’re a set and a break ahead, that kind of situation that you had with Andy.
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, there were two situations. There was the situation in Queen’s and obviously in the semifinals there.

You can’t really put yourself in that situation through practice. You got to deal with those situations. There was attention put into what do I need to do differently or what can I expect in those scenarios that I look for.

I believe obviously the situation in Queen’s was quite different from the one in the O2 because the one in Queen’s, it came down to one or two points, whereas in the O2 it was 4-4, I had mistakes, I believe. It’s how to manage those situations, being a little bit more aware of them.

Q. What is the conclusion?
MILOS RAONIC: The conclusion is sometimes I have to take more time. Sometimes I’d veer off what I was doing to get myself to that point. It’s being more disciplined, remembering those things, sort of sticking to that, no hocus-pocus.

Q. I can’t imagine anything worse than trying to lose weight over Christmas personally.
MILOS RAONIC: Thanksgiving, as well. That wasn’t easy (smiling).

No, it’s something that actually I started preparing for all the way in September, after the disappointment at the US Open, just being aware of that. I knew I can’t really expect too much from myself, especially changing habits while I’m playing.

The grunt part of it, the main focus of it was done in those three, four weeks that I had.

Q. Did you change your diet completely?
MILOS RAONIC: To some extent, you know. I think it’s more before I have what I can and cannot eat, then just manage it. Now it’s I have what I should eat and how much of it I should eat.

 

Garbine Muguruza

GARBINE MUGURUZA

Q. I was watching the tournament in Brisbane, watching some of your matches there. You seemed super motivated. You seemed really excited to be back out on the court. Do you feel a little bit different this year, maybe refreshed from the off-season and so forth?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: I don’t feel very different. I think it’s just like the continuation, I don’t know if it makes sense, of the last year.

I know it’s a new start. Like you said, I’m very motivated. I think I’m in a great position to be, and looking forward to play, try to find my best level, hopefully more weeks.

Yeah, that brings me a lot of motivation.

Q. Have you done anything different in your off-season this time compared to previous years?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Not really something different. I think I did a good preparation with my team. We focus a lot my kind of weak parts of the body, just to not get injured, or to be more days more prepared for the matches.

I spend a lot of time on the court. But I think it’s part of the pre-season, you know, schedule.

Q. Since Brisbane, what have you been up to in terms of trying to get your body as fit as possible for the tournament?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Well, when I stop Brisbane, I just rest actually for a lot of days. Like rest, did nothing, no tennis, no fitness. I just trying to recover with my physio until I arrived here, and I started playing again. You know, just refreshing my body from those difficult matches to try to be here 100%.

Q. How have things been feeling for you on court physically and rhythm-wise?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: I think good. I had enough off days to prepare. I think it took me long than I thought to recover from those matches.

But, yeah, I feel good. I’ve been training here for the past three days. Yeah, I feel ready.

Q. I imagine this tournament has some pretty fond memories for you. It’s probably the first time I really became aware of your potential, the matches you had here two or three years ago. What is it like to play here compared to the other slams for you?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Well, I remember this was the first Grand Slam — was it first one? Was not the first one that I played the main draw, but was the first one that I win a match in the main draw. I was very happy. So it brings me a lot of memories, you know, getting into more level matches. I remember playing on Rod Laver and Hisense. Like you said, very good matches that make me more, you know, self-confidence.

I think I always play well here, so I’m very happy to be back. It’s one of our favorite tournaments, Australian Open. They improve a lot of things every year, which is amazing for us. My manager still remember the first match he saw me here. It was 14-12 the third set, so is funny (smiling).

Q. Every slam offers different challenges, like specific things to the US Open or the French or Wimbledon that make it difficult. At the Australian Open, what are the particular challenges of playing this tournament and trying to win it?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: I usually fight with the heat. I mean, I think not only me, everybody fights against the heat. Sometimes is very tough. I know when you play in the beautiful center courts, there’s air-conditioning. But we all started in the outside courts, you know, where you have to fight. It’s 40 degrees. You’re exhausted.

So I think that’s the most harder. But I think there’s a lot of good things here. I think I feel when I come to Australia there is like a tennis month. It’s like crazy. I’m okay, tennis month. I put the TV, everybody is watching tennis. The fans, they’re so involved in this month because of the tennis.

Q. I remember a match you played at the US Open against Johanna Konta a couple years ago. She won that match. It was incredible. She’s gone on from there to be a top-10 player. She just won in Sydney. Is that a surprise to you, that she’s managed to go from the player that beat you that day? Did you expect her to be as high as she is right now?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Well, before we played that match, I knew her before. She used to train sometimes in Spain. I remember that match. It was like five-hours match. It’s true that since that year, kind of, she went very like this, up.

I think she’s just a very good player, and she’s showing it. I mean, everybody takes their moment and their timing to start climbing. But she’s definitely showing a lot of consistency since last year. She’s improving, improving. I saw little bit in Sydney.

So, yeah, she’s playing great.

Q. When you think back to those early days when you would play here at this tournament on the outside courts, nobody knew who you were, your manager is walking around outside taking a look, how different was it to play a first-round match when you were a little bit less known, a little bit more anonymous, compared to what is the feeling like nowadays as a top player playing the first match as a Grand Slam? Mentally and emotionally, how different is that?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Is different but is not that far away. Okay, like, five years ago I came here, I’m like, I’m in Australia. It’s a Grand Slam. I walking through the rooms and I see all these top-10 people. Amazing, I follow them and stuff. You are so nervous, so nervous.

But now you come and you’re so nervous, too, for different reasons. Is a very important tournament, you work so hard to go out there and play good and perform well. It’s different, but at the same time emotionally it takes a lot of energy.

 

 

 

Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios

Q. The knee update, please?
NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah, it’s feeling really good. I’ve done four or five treatments on it. Got one more tomorrow. Yeah, it’s feeling a lot better since I last competed, which was in Perth. So I’ve had massive improvements in my knee.

Q. And the treatment is?
NICK KYRGIOS: Just putting, like, patches on my knee. It’s another way to insert some cortisone in my knee.

Q. Happy about the Hisense situation?
NICK KYRGIOS: Definitely. I think Hisense is one of my favorite courts, if not my favorite. I feel confident on that court. I love the way it looks. I like the dimensions of it. It’s a great serving court. Yeah, I like playing there.

Q. When you played the Fast4 just a few days after Perth, you looked pretty good. Were you feeling pain-free?
NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah, a couple, two days. I think I played four days after. Yeah, I had a couple treatments. I had to test it out there. If I wasn’t able to play Fast4, I probably wasn’t going to look good to play a best of five match. I had to test it out there. It was still giving me some pain, but definitely feeling some improvement already.

Q. How do you feel about your draw?
NICK KYRGIOS: I think it’s very good. Obviously you get rewarded with a good draw the higher your seeding is. I played well last year. Got my ranking to top 30 in the world. I’ve been awarded with a pretty good draw.

Saying that, Elias can play some pretty high-level tennis. Everyone in the draw can, can beat anyone on the day. I got to go out there and not expect to win the match. I got to go out there and just play and we’ll see how it goes.

Q. What are your expectations, Nick, coming in here, given obviously you haven’t played a regular tour event for a while, and the knee? Where are you setting the bar?
NICK KYRGIOS: You know, I’m never been a player to play many tournaments before a Grand Slam. I like to come in pretty fresh. So my expectations are high. I still feel like I can do some major damage and get to the second week and really cause some upsets, so…

My expectations are still pretty high.

Q. Do you get a sense from the Australian public, there’s been some rocky moments lately, do you get a sense that everyone is behind you and wants to see you play to your full potential?
NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah. I thought in Perth everyone was behind me. In the Fast4, as well. I think it would be silly not to. We got two players in the top 30 that can do really well and go deep in the draw. We got a lot of guys in the draw that can do well, younger guys. Jordan Thompson is playing well now. It’s exciting. It’s an exciting time for Australian tennis. Yeah, I think everyone should just get behind everyone because we all can play well.

Q. Did you do much different in the off-season this year compared to previous years?
NICK KYRGIOS: I had a bit more of a schedule this year. I had a strength conditioner. We’ve been working pretty hard. Yeah, I guess it was a couple weeks where I didn’t have him this year. I kind of did my own thing. I think that’s how my knee started flaring up a little bit. Live and learn, hopefully next year I’ll get it right.

Q. Do you feel a different player than last year when you sat in that chair?
NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah. I feel like last year I was an established top-hundred player. I hadn’t beat top guys on a consistent basis. I feel like now I know what I can do on the court. Last year I was pretty consistent throughout the year. Won three titles. Got to 13. I feel more comfortable on the court. I know what my game is, I know how to play it. I know I can beat anyone on the day.

 

Bernard Tomic

Bernard Tomic

Q. How would you sum up your preparations?
BERNARD TOMIC: Pretty good. I was practicing very well. And, yeah, I got a bunch of exhibitions in, so it was important for me get matches regardless of win/loss.

I’m feeling pretty confident. I play a tough player first round here, so it’s going to be a tough match. He’s not easy to play for me, so I have to get ready for this match with all my effort.

Q. You expect he’ll make you work pretty hard? Is that the way he goes about it?
BERNARD TOMIC: Yeah, he’s very intense. He’s beaten a lot of top players. I think he’s reached almost top 20 in the world, won multiple titles. For me he’s a top 10, 15 player on clay. It’s going to be tough.

His ranking now is 60, 70. He’s one of those players, where he’s playing well, he’s not an easy player to play.

I have to come into this match 100% from the first point. That’s going to be very important for me, you know.

Q. What do you make of your draw more generally?
BERNARD TOMIC: Yeah, I saw the first two matches potentially. It’s tough. Everybody in the first round can play. I don’t look any more further ahead. The times I’ve looked further ahead, I’ve sort of lost. I think you have to respect everyone. Everybody can beat everybody here. It’s a Grand Slam. Everyone is playing to win, playing for themselves at the best level. They’ve prepared at their best.

For me this first round is important. After that I’ll see who I play, but I really don’t care.

Q. It’s going to be hot, Monday and Tuesday.
BERNARD TOMIC: It’s not going to be easy. I just have to deal with it. It’s going to be the same for everybody on that day. Tuesday is going to be tough. I have to be hydrated, ready. We’ve seen many times here at the Open where people are not physically ready, have to withdraw. It gets sometimes out of hand sometimes with the heat. It’s something you have to play, not just the opponent, but the heat. I guess I have to be ready for this.

Q. There’s been a lot spoken about your fitness. Where would you rank it out of 10?
BERNARD TOMIC: I think honestly, if I can say there are 50 people fitter than me outside of the top 70 to 150 in the world. There are some players not as fit as me inside the top 10, 15 in the world.

Will fitness help them? I don’t think so. I feel obviously the big servers, Isner, Raonic, Kyrgios, Karlovic are there. I don’t think fitness can help them. Fitness has got me… I’ve based my sport, what I’ve got in my career, with my serve, my ability to play tennis.

I think there are many fitter players than me that are outside the top 100 in the world. I think we can skip this question.

Q. Has your weight stabilized?
BERNARD TOMIC: I’m not going to answer that.

Q. How would you describe your sort of hunger or desperation for bigger and better things this year, at this tournament, and in 2017 generally? How high of goals do you set for yourself, what is success, what is failure?
BERNARD TOMIC: Well, top 10 is my goal. Top 20, because my goal two years ago, a year and a half ago. I achieved that from being 130 in the world prior to two surgeries from that. Now my goal is to get to top 10 and stay there many years. You have to work for this. It’s not going to happen overnight.

I think my year last year was pretty solid. I didn’t play many tournaments. I think I pulled out of two Masters Series. I think I only play two Masters Series out of the nine. My ranking ended 26 at the end of the year, from a start of 17, 18. I think I did reasonably well last year compared to the tournaments I missed.

Yeah, this year I have to play all the Masters Series and try to do well at them. I’m looking forward to this year.

Q. Are there big steps between you and the top 10 or are you already doing everything right?
BERNARD TOMIC: Well, I think there are a lot of good players in the top 20, top 30 that are top-10 players. You got to get there. You got to earn it. Whether it comes like that or in four, five years, you know, you obviously are going to get your chance. If you’re consistent, you work hard, do the right things, you have a big chance at this.

There are, like I said, many, many players from top 20, 30 in the world that are amazing tennis players, potentially play better than some of the guys in the top 10. But it’s a different game. You have to be more consistent, you have to work for this. It takes a year. It doesn’t take three tournaments.

Q. You’ve been pretty consistent here throughout the years. Is that because it’s at home, the time of year? How do you explain that?
BERNARD TOMIC: Well, I think this is my ninth Australian Open. I’m 24, just turned. This is my ninth Australian Open. It’s crazy to think how long it’s been. I obviously played my first match year at 16, where I think I won the youngest match. It’s gone pretty quickly. I always played well. Always made a lot of third rounds, fourth rounds. I’d like to go a step further, play better.

But, yeah, it’s obviously a tough draw. It’s going to be tough. I think I’ve got to use the moment, use the crowd. Obviously the fans get behind me, I’m sure they will. They always get behind our Australian players and support them to their limits. I think that’s what makes us play really good in Australia.

Q. When you say you’re not looking at the wins and losses, other people are saying it’s not great preparation. What make you more confident, what makes you shrug this off?
BERNARD TOMIC: Well, yeah, I think I chose to play a few different events as opposed to playing Sydney like I played in the past four, five years. So I feel like, yeah, Brisbane I lost to a former world No. 3. It was a tough match. I take a lot from it. I went down to Sydney, played the exhibition. Same as Kooyong. Different sort of matches, I was working on a few things. I don’t really rate these matches as winning or losing, Sydney and Kooyong. That’s not important to me. What’s important for me is to get out on the court, do my thing and work on a few things I needed to do. And just to be ready mentally for the Open. I played very good in my past here where I haven’t been prepared for tournaments. Sometimes it happens just like that. Sometimes I prepared well and not been as ready.

But that’s tennis. Players work hard, try their ass off, sometimes you lose. Sometimes you’re less prepared, and you do well.

Q. You’re looking forward to the fans getting behind you? To 10,000 Aussies. Be put out on Hisense?
BERNARD TOMIC: I think Hisense is an amazing court. It’s huge. The atmosphere builds there. Everybody is behind everybody. It’s a good court.

Regardless of where I play, I think I’m going to have huge support. It’s an amazing feeling to see people supporting in a Grand Slam the Australian players. It’s very motivating. I hope the fans can all support us.

 

Belinda Bencic

Belinda Bencic

Q. How did you find out about your first-round opponent? What was your reaction?
BELINDA BENCIC: Twitter (smiling). My Twitter was blowing up. I was like, What’s going on? That’s when I saw it.

My first reaction was actually, like, really happy. So I think I’m super pumped, like excited I get to play on the big court, I guess.

Yeah, like everyone is like, Oh, bad luck with the draw. Me, I’m, like, pretty happy and excited about it.

Q. Why do you think it’s not bad luck?
BELINDA BENCIC: Well, I think we’re going to play on the big court. It’s a big match, playing against Serena Williams. It’s what everyone’s working for. To play Australian Open, of course like first round, but that’s how it is. I’m just pumped about it, yeah.

Q. What are your memories of that match at the Rogers Cup against her?
BELINDA BENCIC: Memories, like, they never go away. They’re always there. The best ones, for sure.

I still remember, like, the last game, like every point, everything. It was, for sure, my biggest win until now.

I hope I can take this memory and put it to positive energy to be, like, super confident on the court, and play good.

Q. Do you remember thinking after that match or when you talked to your father, whoever, about what exactly you thought you did well in that match to get that win?
BELINDA BENCIC: Yes, I think I did very well that I always, you know, even though she killed me the first set, I always stayed there, putting the balls back, playing, trying the best. I always was there.

At some point she also got a little bit, like, down in the match. That’s where I kind of could take the overhand and get to the third set, yeah.

Q. It seems as though you’ve had a tough time in the last year or so physically. How do you feel right now? If we were to look at 100%, where are you right now?
BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, exactly, last year was very tough. I got one injury, then it was a circle into the next one. I just didn’t stop. I was really happy about it. I came back, didn’t play very good.

Now I think I’m really motivated to play, first of all. I’m so happy to be here.

Physically I have nothing that bothers me, except this thing in Sydney. No, I think I’m pretty close to 100%.

Q. People see you as a dangerous floater, somebody who can cause trouble. Do you feel yourself that way? Do you feel like somebody that Serena should be not afraid of, but somebody that can possibly make some noise here?
BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, of course I want to see myself that way. I think I had good result when I was playing. Of course I was injured. It was not that great. But first of all, every first-round opponent is a dangerous floater, so you have to be careful with everyone.

But, I mean, we played each other two times already. We both know what to expect now. I think it will be, for sure, a good match, yeah.

Q. How is the toe?
BELINDA BENCIC: It’s good. It fell off (laughter). If you want to see a video or something.

No, no, it’s okay. The physio take good care of me, they tape it for the match, for the practices. When I stop, it’s not that bad. I made a hole into my shoe, so I don’t put it like this.

But it’s a common tennis injury. It’s the first time I had.

Q. Can you talk through your pre-season a little bit. Where did you do it? What was the main priority, especially given your last season? What was the main thing you were working on?
BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, I practice in Florida, at Evert Academy. We flew straightaway to Perth. I think the main priority was for sure to stay healthy. I didn’t practice that much like I’m used to. I didn’t work that much on fitness, that much on tennis. My priority was to stay healthy, to always feel good on the court.

I think we did pretty well. Then I had a great first tournament in Perth, so that help me a lot to get the matches again. It was amazing. Put me in a positive mood from the first tournament in the year.

Q. Do you remember what sort of game plan it was that worked against Serena last time? Are you already thinking, I know it worked, I can do that again?
BELINDA BENCIC: Yeah, for sure I remember. I’m going to try to do that again. I’m not going to tell you now what exactly because then she will know (smiling).

Q. Quick turnaround from Sydney over to here. How are you feeling with all of the matches in your body through the first two weeks of the season?
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Well, to be honest, I feel very good. I think much better than in China after the first couple matches. Of course, losing the match rhythm, your body not used to the matches last two months…

I feel good. Of course, losing finals always disappointing. But still a good week. Couple great matches against top players. So hoping I can play the same good tennis here in Melbourne.

Q. Your opponent in round one is a former world No. 31. She actually beat you in your last meeting in the French Open. What was your reaction when you saw she was your first-round opponent?
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Yes, well, it’s a tough draw for sure. We played so many times. Obviously in Paris the last time, but we had a lot of good three-set matches I think on every surface.

Well, the draw is the draw. We’ll see after the match.

Q. Your performance in Sydney, you said yourself you couldn’t have played any better. You must be pretty confident heading in.
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Yeah, I’m very confident. I really hope I can play the same tennis, even the tennis I played in the final.

Well, of course, every tournament is different story. Especially in the tough first round. Well, I still have two days to practice here, adjust to surface and conditions. We’ll see.

Q. Pironkova can be a tricky opponent. Does it help you kind of having the string of wins and the matches? It’s almost like you’re mid tournament form instead of going in completely cold.
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Yeah, for sure, tournament like Sydney is helping a lot. Playing pretty much two, three days later against a good player for sure is better than playing as a first match.

So, like you said, Pironkova is a very tricky opponent. I’m expecting everything from her side. For sure it’s going to be a lot of running. I’m going to really have to work on each point.

Q. Have you had a chance to hit on these courts yet?
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Not yet. I just arrived like two hours ago.

Q. With the heat in Sydney, it was a hot week there, how does that make you feel heading into the tournament? Does that make you feel more confident with the conditions?
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Well, I was the lucky one playing in the evenings. But it was still very humid and hot. But, yes, well, that was for sure a very good warmup before here. I know it’s going to be hot as well here next week.

We’ll see the schedule. Of course, playing second or third match isn’t going to be easy.

Q. Most people talk about your chances of winning Wimbledon, but you’ve had good success here in the past, semifinals last year. What helps you in your game here at Melbourne Park? What has been the challenge of making the final here?
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Well, every Grand Slam is different. We can see even different top seeds, different opponents.

What is helping? I really feel good on this center court. I like to play here. I like Australia. I’ve been always playing good tennis here. Two semis. Of course, that’s always very close till the end. Hopefully I can do one step forward and play seven matches here.

Q. Does Kerber and everything she did last year play on your mind at all in terms of being a player of that generation, being able to have that very unexpected breakthrough? Do you think of that at all? Is it a separate thing?
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Well, I think this is big inspiration for everyone. Winning two Grand Slams the same year, other couple big finals. That’s for sure something amazing. She really played unbelievable tennis whole season. She just proved that she can do it. I mean, two Grand Slams just from pretty much nowhere.

But, well, I think in moments that’s going to happen. I think she just proved that last year, that she can really play great tennis, beating even Serena in the final.

 

Karolina Pliskova

Q. You had the week off. How are you feeling after Brisbane? How is the body feeling fitness-wise and all that?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I took just two days off, then I’ve been practicing here since Tuesday. Even yesterday. I had three days off.

But I’ve been feeling good so far. Yeah, I was even ready for Monday start, but will be ready even for Tuesday.

Q. How are the courts playing for you?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I was practicing few times on the outside courts, which I think is pretty fast. Obviously the bigger courts are not that fast, I would say, but still fast.

I like it. So let’s see.

Q. Has your life changed very much in the Czech Republic after being in the US Open final?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: Not much. It was already kind of before the same. When we won the Fed Cup final, then it changed, I would say. I don’t know how many people are following this tournament in Czech. But Fed Cup is just the biggest thing in Czech.

So little bit, and now it’s still about the same, so… It’s not that bad, but like people recognize me a little bit.

Q. Do you mind that? Do you care that people recognize you?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I don’t need this, to be honest, no. I’m fine with that. I just know it. It cannot get any other way than this. But I don’t need it, definitely not (smiling).

Q. Has your preparation for Grand Slams changed over the years or is it pretty much the same preparing for the Open, as it was in New York, other slams before that?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I would say this week is similar to New York actually with the playing. I won Cincinnati, then I would withdraw from New Haven. I’m trying to be 100% ready, even if I feel something a little bit after that week in Brisbane. If you’re playing well, have a lot of matches, I don’t see any reason to play another tournament which is ending Saturday, then you would have to still play on Monday, which I think it’s tough, especially in these conditions here in Australia.

That’s what I did in New York, as well. So I just did it here.

I don’t know if it’s going to worked. But I just want to leave everything in this tournament, in this Grand Slam. For me the main goals are Grand Slams. So I want to be ready for it.

Q. Which Grand Slam do you think you have the best chance to win?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: Well, I should now say US Open because I was in the final there. But, yeah, I think I have chance little bit everywhere. It’s smallest I would say obviously the clay, French Open.

Q. Do you consider yourself as one of the favorites to win this year, after winning Brisbane and playing so well over there?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I would definitely not take me as a favorite of this tournament. It’s a big draw. There is a lot of players. I just take it step by step.

I just know my opponent from the first round. I want to pass this one. Then we can talk about the next one.

There is still I think many more players better than me. I guess everyone is in shape and everyone is excited to play this Grand Slam. It’s the first Grand Slam of the year. Everyone was working hard in the off-season, so it’s tough to say. We will just see after few rounds here.

Q. You just got a new coach. What do you want from a coach?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I just want him to believe in me and just to prepare me for the tournament which I want to play the best tennis, which are all the Grand Slams, like I said. Just to be ready and give me the advices which I need, just to know little bit about me, my game. I want him to go the way where I want to go. We both decided we definitely want to play aggressive tennis. He’s just pushing me this way, to be better player than I am now.

Q. What do you like from on-court coaching? How can he help?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: So far with my new coach I did it just once in Brisbane. Was not that needed there. So let’s see in the next tournaments.

But, yeah, it’s more about maybe tactics, what to play. Obviously you call coach when you are losing, it’s about the same. He sees it definitely different from the place where he’s sitting than me on the court. Maybe he can just give me few advices, what to play, what not to play, where she’s better or not. Also little bit to motivate.

You have one minute. You cannot say much.

Q. What’s the primary memory you have when you won the junior title here?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: It’s seven years now, so… I still remember, of course I do. But, yeah, it was my first Grand Slam what I’ve played. So obviously the final, what I was playing on Rod Laver, it was huge for me. I was small and scared, and then I won. So was a big thing, first big result what I ever had.

Q. What do you make the vibe of the Melbourne? You did so well at the US Open. That’s a tournament that’s very New York. It’s crowded, loud, hot, traffic. Melbourne is very different from that. Does this environment suit you during your off time?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I would say this is little bit better place for me than New York. But I don’t want to compare. Every city is different. Here you have time. Doesn’t take you one hour to get to the hotel, which is nice. Even the weather I would say it’s quite similar. Can be colder. Can be also more hot here.

Yeah, every Grand Slam is different. I think this can be the place where I can play my best tennis as well, because the courts suit me. The weather as well, the balls as well. Why not here?

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Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic Set Up Showdown for Year-End No. 1 in ATP Finals

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

(November 19, 2016) Semifinal wins by Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have set up a showdown for year-end No. 1 in the final of the ATP World Tour Finals in London’s O2 Arena on Sunday. This will mark the first time that the two top players will play for the year-end No. 1 spot in the last match of the season.

“I must say that I’m very honored to be part of the history,” Djokovic said. “I hear this is the first time in the history of the ATP that the two best players are deciding the rankings in the last match. That is something we should all be conscious of.

“I’m excited to go out on the court and battle.”

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

Top seed Murray won another marathon match, this time 3 hours and 38 minutes and saved a match in his 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(9) win over Milos Raonic. This was the longest ever three-set match at the ATP World Tour Finals. It will be the first time that the Scot has reached the year-end final.

I don’t know how I’ll feel tomorrow,” Murray said. Obviously tired just now because it was a really hard match. It wasn’t just that it was physically hard, it was mentally a tough match, too. It was pretty stressful.

“I was quite far behind obviously in the second set. A set and a break down, managed to turn it round. Then it was back and forth in the third set.

“The physical side, obviously the body is a bit sore after such a long match, but mentally it was tiring, too.”

I think it was pretty dramatic. Both of us had chances. In the tiebreak, I think we played some pretty good stuff in the tiebreak. I don’t think it was, like, bad points that we were losing or bad shots we were losing. As points, I think we played some good stuff in the breaker.

“But, yeah, I mean, it was one of the tougher matches I played this year. For sure it was not easy, for the reasons I gave, obviously with it being very long, but also mentally tiring as well. The nature of it was very up and down.”

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

“I have to be proud that I finished the year with giving it every ounce of energy I had,” said the Canadian. “I’m pretty sure I’m going to feel like crap tomorrow.

“I’ll look back at 2016 with a lot of good moments, a lot of pride, a lot to be proud of.”

 

The best match I’ve ever competed, yes,” explained Raonic. “I don’t know necessarily playing-wise. I don’t think I necessarily served phenomenal throughout the match, these kinds of things.

“But the way I was constantly trying to stay positive, keep my energy up, trying to fight through, that’s definitely the most significant thing I’ve done today.”

Raonic will finish the season at a career high No. 3.

 

 “Well, I fought really hard today, yeah,” Murray said. “I fought hard. I fought very hard this week. I have also the last few months, too.

“It would have been easy today when I was behind to have gone away a little bit, but I didn’t. I fought hard. Even after serving for the match twice, having a bunch of match points in the tiebreak, still stayed tough, chased balls down, fought as best as I could. It was enough to get me the win.”

The victory extended Murray’s winning streak to 22.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

No. 2 Djokovic’s task was much easier. The Serb needed only 66 minutes to dismiss Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-1. The man from Japan could only hold his serve once during the match.

Yes, I mean, the best performance of the tournament came really at the right time,” he said. “Everything kind of clicked together tonight.

“I felt really well. I started with a great pace, great concentration, dictating the play, mixing up the pace. Everything was going well. I must be very pleased. I enjoyed myself.

“On the other hand, you know, Kei was not obviously close to his best. The fact that he played late last night, it’s been a long year for him, long tournament, so he was probably a little bit tired.

“Nevertheless, I tried to make myself present on the court, make him feel that I’m playing till the last shot, which I did. Even 6-1, 5-1, I was really committed.

“All in all it was a really good performance. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s final.”

Kei Nishkori

Kei Nishkori

“I think Novak played pretty awesome,” said Nishikori. “Well, nothing I can complain. But I wasn’t ready to play against Novak I think physically.

“Well, yeah, I tried to play good tennis, but I couldn’t today.”

The 2014 US Open finalist will end the year at No. 5

I think it was one of the best year for me. Play a lot of matches, you know, beating those top players this year a lot. I get a lot of confidence this year.

“Maybe this is not the finish what I wanted to finish, but still I think it was good year.”

As I said at the beginning of this tournament, concerning the rankings situation, I actually have things in my hands,” Djokovic said. “I don’t need to depend on anybody else. That’s all I’ve been focusing on, to be honest, really building my game, getting myself to a higher level, quality level of tennis in each match. As I progress through the tournament, that’s what’s happening. Hopefully I’ll be able to stick with it and perform as well as I did in last couple of matches tomorrow.

“Andy, you cannot take anything away from what he did in the last four, five months. Yes, we haven’t played against each other, but his level was phenomenal. He deserves to be in the situation where he is at the moment. He’s No. 1 of the world, and deservedly so.

“He’s had 20-plus matches won. He got himself out of trouble today because of that confidence. He really has been winning a lot.”

“I’m sure, even though he has had a couple of very long matches in the last couple days, I doubt that he’s going to feel tired. I know that he’s very fit. He’s committed to the working ethics. He’s going to do everything to recover and to be ready for tomorrow.”

Djokovic goes into Sunday’s final having won 22 of 23 matches in the O2 Arena.

“I’ve had lots of success on this court in the last five, six years,” said the 12-time major winner. “Every time I step on the court, I relive certain kind of memories from the years before. 80% of the guys that I get to play year after year are more or less the same. That gives me that comfort. But it’s not something that decides the match. I’ll say it that way.”

Djokovic leads in the head-to-head record against Murray 24-10. The Serb is seeking his sixth year-end title, while Murray is in the final for the first time.

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Andy Murray Reaches Semifinals of ATP World Tour Finals

 

(November 18, 2016) Andy Murray finished a perfect 3-0 in the John McEnroe group on Friday at the ATP World Tour Finals, beating Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-2.

“I weathered the early storm a little bit,” said Murray. “Stan came out hitting the ball huge. He was hitting a lot of winners, a lot of aces.”

“But once I got through the early part of the match, I started to create chances in most of his service games. I served very well myself, got a lot of free points with my serve. That allowed me to also dictate a lot of the points, whereas at the beginning of the match I wasn’t able to do that.”

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka

“I think he was serving really well, especially playing good after the serve,” said Wawrinka. “He didn’t give me many chance, especially at the beginning.

“Yeah, he make me hesitating a little bit with my game, when to go, when to stay back. That’s why he’s so good. That’s why he’s No. 1. He’s in full confidence. He’s playing the right things.”

The Scot who advances to the semifinals against Milos Raonic, keeps his hopes alive for trying to end the year as the top player for the first time. Novak Djokovic is trying to end the season as No. 1 for the fifth time in six years. The Serb will play Kei Nishikori in the other semifinal.

“It’s a big match, obviously,” Murray said of his semifinal against the Canadian. Milos, you know, he obviously serves big, goes for his shots. He moves forward when he has the chance. I think he probably likes the conditions here. It’s a little bit quicker.

“Yeah, you don’t normally get loads of opportunities against the big servers. Then it comes down to when you do get those chances, whether you take them or not. And this year when I’ve played him, I’ve created a few opportunities in the matches. When they’ve come, I’ve been pretty clinical. I’ll need to be the same tomorrow if I want to win.”

Should Djokovic lose to Nishikori, and Murray beats Raonic, the Murray will finish as No. 1. If Murray loses in the semifinals and Djokovic wins, the 12-time major champion will finish the year at No. 1.
Earlier in the day, Murray’s brother Jamie along with his doubles partner Bruno Soares clinched top spot in doubles for the year.

“They had an amazing year,” said Andy. “Only started playing with each other in January. Won the two slams, you know, which is fantastic. Jamie had not won a slam before this year, a men’s doubles slam. Bruno neither.

“They obviously complement each other’s games very well. They’ve played I think really good in most of the big competitions. They deserve it. They’ve obviously played extremely well this week. They knew pretty much what they were going to have to do. Yeah, won all three of their matches here.

“It’s a great achievement for both of them. Very proud of Jamie.

“I think my mum is here. My grandparents came earlier in the week. They went home on Thursday. My dad was here for the first few days, and he went home on Tuesday morning. He saw me and Jamie play one match each.

“But, no, I mean, obviously, the whole year has been fantastic for both of us. Obviously, yeah, we would like to finish it perfectly if we can. Still there’s a good chance that doesn’t happen. Yeah, regardless of what happens over the weekend, we can look back on this year and be very proud of what we’ve done as a family.”

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

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Novak Djokovic First to Qualify for ATP World Tour Finals Semis

Novak Djokovic

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

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

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

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

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

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

88 Raonic

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

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

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

 

Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem

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

 

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

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

“But I’m very happy with the win.”

Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils

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

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

 

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

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

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

ANDY
MURRAY

[1] (GBR)

KEI
NISHIKORI

[5] (JPN)

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

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

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

STAN
WAWRINKA

[3] (SUI)

MARIN
CILIC

[7] (CRO)

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

05-Djokovic yell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem

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

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

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

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

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

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

Milos Raonic and Gael Monfils

Milos Raonic and Gael Monfils

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next up for Raonic is Djokovic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

“I am,” said a smiling Soares.

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Raonic Falls to Qualifier, Muguruza and Kuznetsova Also Lose at US Open

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

(August 31, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Wimbledon finalist and US Open fifth seed Milos Raonic along with French Open winner and third seed Garbine Muguruza became the biggest upset victims so far at the US Open on Wednesday. Ninth seed and 2004 US Open title holder Svetlana Kuznetsova also lost.

Top seed Novak Djokovic advanced to the third round when his opponent Jiri Vesely withdrew from the tournament with a left forearm injury.

Cramps caused Canadian Raonic a 6-7 (4), 7-5, 7-5, 6-1 second round loss to American qualifier Ryan Harrison ranked 120th in the world. Raonic said the cramping began halfway through the second set.

“I don’t think hydration was an issue,” Raonic said. “I think I always take that precaution. Probably just nerves and stress, a mental sort of overexuberance rather than — probably more than it should.”

“I think I didn’t start off well in the match,” explained the Canadian. “I started off feeling a little bit heavy, which has happened to me before. You sort of get through the first set. You pull that one out and you sort of start to relax a little bit. I didn’t do that today. I just sort of compounded the stress. I kept trying to force the shots. I was hesitating mentally on the shots. I just felt a little bit a step slow.”

“I was my own worst enemy today. I tried the best I could to find my way out of it. My body didn’t let me.”

“The sort of expectation of pressure on myself to get out of that situation like I normally would in a situation like that, like happened to me in the beginning of Wimbledon, I didn’t do that.

“Then all that kind of forceful play caught up to me there in the end.”

Raonis hit 15 double faults in the match.

Raonic did credit his opponent: “He played well. He did a lot of things well. I think he stepped up and he played a solid match. There was a few breakpoints. I can’t remember if it was in the second or third. Hit three aces down the T; won three out of four of them.

“At the beginning of the second, a breakpoint. I hit a good forehand cross. He went for it down the line and made it. A reaction volley, made it as well. He stepped up and got through those important moments.

“I didn’t create this pressure for myself or this kind of stress on myself. He did that.”

Ryan Harrison

Ryan Harrison

“The cool and exciting thing was that I had a great win today, and there was no point where I felt like I was red lining or playing a level that wasn’t consistent,” Harrison said. “Kind of like going back to the first question I answered, when I broke early in the first set, I got broken back, there was no panic because I didn’t feel I was playing above my level to get up the break.

“That’s when I was just focused on staying the course. Lose a tight first set. Obviously a lot of people are going, you know, long, tight first set. The first couple games of the second are really important. I saved like four or five breakpoints in that first game of the second set. That was a huge hump, because you don’t want to be down a set and a break to that guy because he can just take the racquet out of your hand at times.

“That was another pivotal moment. I’m sure looking back there were plenty of times where it could have gotten away from me. I’m excited that emotionally and from an execution standpoint I was able to put enough in play and be aggressive enough to take the win.”

 

No. 3 Garbine Muguruza of Spain hit 38 unforced errors in losing 7-5, 6-4 in the first night match to Anastasija Sevastova from Latvia. Sevastova who retired and came back to tennis last after two years dealing with injuries, said she returned to play the majors.

“It still hasn’t settled in,” Noted the Latvian in regard to the upset win. “It feels great, but it’s still not like I won the tournament. It’s only second round.”

“We can enjoy it today, but tomorrow is a new day. There are other matches. Nobody thinks about the previous match. You have to think forward. Tonight I can enjoy.”

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki

In another major surprise of the day, ninth seed and former US Open champion Kuznetsova jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but her opponent two-time US Open Finalist Caroline Wozniacki won 12 out of the next 15 games to seal the win 6-4, 6-4. Wozniaki, now ranked at 74th in the world is unseeded in Flushing Meadows for the first time since 2007.

 

“I always believe in myself and I always think that in my head I belong to the top of the game,” she said. “You know, I’m going to have tough draws because of my ranking but in the end of the day I’m healthy, and that’s the main thing. Then I can start building from that.”

 

“I love playing here at the Open,” the Dane continued. “I have great memories here. I have had matches against Sveta so many times before here where she’s been killing literally on court 6-1, 4-1, and then I have managed to come back and win the match in three sets.

“It’s like, you know what? Just keep going, wait for your opportunity and your chance, and I did that today.”

 

Other seeds advancing to the third round included Australian Open champion and second seed Angelique Kerber, last year’s women’s finalist 7th seed Roberta Vinci, Madison Keys the eighth seed, the 12th seed Dominika Cibulkova, Johanna Konta No. 13, 14th seed Petra Kvitova, No. 22 Elina Svitolina and No. 24 Belinda Bencic. Moving to the third round on the men’s side –  two-time US Open winner and fourth seed Rafael Nadal, 2014 US Open winner Marin Cilic, No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 10 seed Gael Monfils, No. 15 Roberto Bautista Agut, 20th seed John Isner, No. 23 Kevin Anderson, No. 24 Lucas Pouille, and No. 26th seed Jack Sock.

 

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Day 1 of the US Open – In Their Own Words

 

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

 

U.S. OPEN

Monday, August 29, 2016

Roberta Vinci

Press Conference

R. VINCI/A. Friedsam

6-2, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

U.S. OPEN

Monday, August 29, 2016

Taylor Townsend

Press Conference

C. WOZNIACKI/T. Townsend

4-6, 6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q. Good match.
TAYLOR TOWNSEND: Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

U.S. OPEN

Monday, August 29, 2016

Kyle Edmund

Press Conference

K. EDMUND/R. Gasquet

6-2, 6-2, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

U.S. OPEN

Monday, August 29, 2016

Belinda Bencic

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

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

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

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

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

 

Angelique Kerber

Press Conference

A. KERBER/P. Hercog

6-0, 1-0 (ret.)

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Catherine Bellis

Press Conference

C. BELLIS/V. Golubic

6-2, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No, I don’t really look back on it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q. Glad to hear.
CATHERINE BELLIS: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Gael Monfils

Press Conference

G. MONFILS/G. Muller

6-4, 6-2, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Rafael Nadal

Press Conference

R. NADAL/D. Istomin

6-1, 6-4, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

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

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

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

I feel that I was changing a little bit, you know, playing a little bit longer the cross shot, and then changing down the line, like last point. It was positive one.

That’s it. My serve worked well almost all the time. I am hitting very well the backhand, but it’s true that the forehand I need time. I need confidence and I need to keep practicing the forehand, no?

Is not easy to go two months-and-a-half out of competition in the middle of the season without hitting a forehand. I need to have the confidence again with my wrist. That is coming, because I feel the wrist much better, and every day feel that the wrist a little bit better. That’s very important thing for me. By the way, the most important thing.

I need to recover the normal movement with the forehand. Even if I played very well in Rio, you know, when you have pain you try to change the movement to avoid a little bit that pain no? So I need to find again the normal movement. But I am in the way.

Q. How different with the roof on is the wind or the shadows?
RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, the wind, there is no wind. It’s just a little bit of wind, no? Since the first day that I practiced here I checked that was not wind at all, no? Because I remembered one of these days that I was practicing in the center court outside was very, very windy, and in the center court was not wind at all, no?

The shadows are, you know, always a little bit of inconvenience during, but it’s true after 2:30, 3:00 in the afternoon it’s over. That’s a good thing. In general terms, is great. Is beautiful court. Is an amazing job that USTA did, and I think is a great improvement for everybody, for the players, for the fans who are visiting here Flushing Meadows, and for sure for the people who are following the tournament on the television.

Q. In Rio you said that you played there just because it was the Olympics. You wouldn’t have played in any other tournament. It ended up you had to play a lot. In hindsight, looking back, do you think that much court time did good for your recovery or you think that you just got too tired?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, was too tiring. After the Olympics I feel myself destroyed. But it’s normal, no? Is not because I was not ready. It’s because I didn’t competed and I didn’t have the chance to practice strong practices on court, no? I was doing a lot of physical performance, training in the gym.

But since one week before the Olympics I was not hitting forehand, no? Just practicing 45 minutes to 30 to one hour. That’s the maximum thing that I was practicing, no?

So was a very important event for me, and in general terms have been very, very positive. I will say more than very positive, and I’m 100% recovered physically, no?

In terms of the wrist injury, I was not sure when I was there, but the real thing is the wrist improved. Was a very good decision.

Q. You’re known for your love of our sport and also for the love of your country. When you came out of the tunnel holding the flag for Spain, you were beaming and smiling. As you walked down the track, what went through your mind about the country and your journey? What were your thoughts?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I was just enjoying that very unique moment, no? Olympics are the most important event of the world of sport, so for me was something that I missed the opportunity in London, 2012, to bring the flag.

And I see it like (Asking for translation) for award, reward. Is an award after a lot of years of hard work, a lot of years of passion for the sport, a lot of years having represented well I think my country around the world no?

That moment was unique, unforgettable, and was just very, very high emotions.

Q. If that’s the case, can you understand why players choose not to play the Olympics because they are not getting ranking points and not getting prize money?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. No, in my personal feeling, you know, in terms of importance, the events are — always you need to find in your interior, no? You need to find what’s the motivation of yourself for everything, no?

But for me personally, Olympics is the closest thing to a Grand Slam. That’s my feeling, no? And I can’t understand some players that are a little bit older that they decided to not go because they prefer — they have been there. If they believe that there is no chances for medals I could understand, but some young players that choosed to not go there, it’s difficult to understand, no?

Olympics are once every four years and is something that is an experience you can’t miss. Even if you are young, you need to have the right people around you to advise you that have to go there. You know, because then when you are older you appreciate a lot these events and these experiences that are completely special and unique.

So that’s a thing the same what happened in golf, the same what happened in tennis with a couple of players.

But is something that makes the sport bigger, no? I think if the stars are going to Olympics makes the Olympics bigger. But at the same time, have the golf in Olympics I think makes the golf bigger, and having the tennis in Olympics have — you know, is true that we help to have the Olympics bigger, but the Olympics help us to be bigger in the world of sport, no?

Because there is a lot of fans around the world that they don’t follow tennis normally, but during the Olympics everybody see the Olympics, no? So you have a lot of visibility during that week. In my opinion we should promote that.

Q. Much less serious experience is at the end of matches here when you hit the balls into the crowd. What is that like? Where are you trying to hit it? How far and which direction?
RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, I don’t know. (Laughter.) No idea. Don’t know. Just I try to send the balls where more people are. No, I just try to send the ball where the people really want the ball. That’s it.

Q. In our stadium do you ever try to hit it out of the stadium?
RAFAEL NADAL: No chance. We tried before. I try when I was younger but have more power without the roof, and there was no — impossible.

Q. You said you would have rested longer with the wrist had it not been for the Olympics, so if there had been no Olympics do you think you would have been playing in this tournament or still resting?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, sure I would be playing this tournament. The wrist is better, yeah.

Yes, if there is not Olympics probably I will start here. That’s the normal thing that will happen, no? But the real thing is I was very happy to play the Olympics, no, because was nothing against the injury. Nothing happen against the injury.

So the improvement had been very positive. Sometimes you take decisions, and I take the decision to play in Roland Garros and it was a very negative decision. It was very important event for me.

After that I break a little bit the wrist so had to stop for two months and a half. Then I decided to play in the Olympics and was positive thing, no?

So in terms of decisions, after the decision when you know what happened, everything is easy, but before you need to take a decision. So when you take decisions, you have mistakes or you don’t. People take decisions are the people who can have both things.

Q. You have seen it happen in basketball where there are a lot of players that want to rest because of injury. You have Laver Cup and other things happening in tennis. Is tennis too full schedule-wise, or how much more tennis do you think guys can play or players can play because the sport is also so physical?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, don’t compare the exhibitions or the tournaments outside of the tour than when we are competing on tour, because it’s a different story in terms of, you know, what is the tougher thing for the body. What really damage your body and your mental strength is other real competition.

When I have exhibition I relax. We try to do it for the crowd, to try to play good for the crowd. We try our best, but we don’t know what is the limit. You have problems when you go to the limit, so is not fair to compare that.

And in terms of calendar, I never said that calendar is too long. In my opinion the calendar can be as long as you want. For me it will be great if we have tournaments since the first week of the season every single week.

The only negative things sometimes are the mandatory events. We have a lot of mandatory events, and that creates very short periods of rest, no? But as many tournaments as we have, as more tournaments we have the better, because there is more jobs.

One sport is bigger and better not only if the best players win a lot of money, if is a lot of players can have the right money to live well.

So that’s how much more players can have the work on the tennis life, better for our tour. So the only thing is the mandatory events.

Q. You were just talking about how each of the players have to find their own motivation. In the past you said your motivation for tennis comes from your love of the sport. Talk about that. Talk about the love that you have for tennis and how that affects your motivation and drive.
RAFAEL NADAL: I always say the same, no? Sport in general is one of my hobbies and is one of my passions. Not only like player, like a spectator, too. I love the sport with a lot of competition, when I am practicing, and when I’m watching on the TV. I love the sport in general, and my life and my family always have been very close to the world of sport and living the sport with a lot of passion.

That’s why I always tried hard and I love what I do.

Q. You have done it many times, but do you still wake up on the morning of the first round of a Grand Slam and feel that nervous energy of a big tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: If you are not nervous a little bit it’s time to say good-bye. That’s the real thing, no? You need to be nervous. No, that’s part of the competition, no?

If you don’t feel that then it’s because you really don’t want to win as much as you need or you are not afraid about the lose. When you don’t have those feelings it’s because you don’t have enough motivation for what you are doing.

 

Garbine Muguruza

Press Conference

G. MUGURUZA/E. Mertens

2 6, 6 0, 6 3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What was wrong physically that you called the trainer after the first set? How were you feeling the rest of the match?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: I started and it was difficult a little bit to breathe for me. It was really humid. I don’t know. When you feel the heat that makes you a little bit, like, down kind of, you know.

I was talking in the locker room a little bit with the physio. Was kind of like similar to Australia, you know, where is hot.

I forgot that there was the ice towels and everything. So I start using them, trying to breathe a little bit better, I don’t know, taking more calm just to, you know, go with the match.

But I didn’t remember that was that hot in here. I don’t know why I felt this today. It was like really, really humid.

Q. Were you not feeling well before the match or was it just the heat of today that made you feel unwell?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: No, I kind of felt this also in the practice two days ago, that I’m like, Whew, this is hot here.

Today in the warmup I didn’t feel it. It’s only half an hour in a warmup. It’s only a warmup. But as soon as I started the match moving and running, also with the competition makes you more tense. I guess that, yeah.

Q. You mentioned the next player, you don’t know who she is, never seen her play. How do you mentally prepare for a game like that where you just don’t know your competition?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Well, it happens more in the Grand Slams at the beginning of the rounds because there’s a lot of people and sometimes you don’t know the opponents.

But today was the case. I went to the court and I didn’t really know the opponent. You play and you do your stuff. You kind of see a little bit during the match how she plays, but you cannot know anything before.

It’s like that. I don’t know.

Q. Coming in as the 3 seed, a Grand Slam champion, somebody not really known to the public here, how does it feel to come in with higher expectations? Does that raise the confidence level and your own expectations of yourself?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: I think is different. If I would say no it would not make sense. Someone that, I don’t know, has reached the last rounds of the tournaments or, you know, the important moments every time you go to a tournament, you believe, Maybe I can do it again. You have more expectations, that’s for sure.

But I got to play with that. I have to go on the court, try to don’t have in my mind all the time, Hey, let’s go for this match, let’s try to win this. That’s the way.

For sure maybe a lot of people is talking. All this kind of stuff that I cannot control. If I cannot control it I don’t put it in my bag, you know. I’m minimizing and doing everything very simple around me.

Q. Some people thrive on the environment here; others find it daunting. Where do you come in there? Do you enjoy this atmosphere?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: You mean in the court?

Q. Yes.
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Yes, I felt there’s more movement, more noise, more stuff. But it’s well known also because of the environment and the crowd and the vibes, I don’t know, that feeling that brings New York.

I think it’s also special to feel. I don’t know. There’s a lot of people. They’re watching you. Maybe it’s not as silence as Wimbledon, that everybody is like this, but I enjoy a lot also.

Q. Aside from the tennis, can you enjoy the city of New York? Anything besides tennis?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: You can enjoy. For me it’s difficult during the tournament. I came one week earlier here to prepare and everything. In those days I have more chances to, Hey, let’s go watch this show. This is the city of shows. There’s 10 every day and restaurants and everything.

Once I start the tournament I’m very, I don’t know the word, like in a cave. I’m in my room. I do simple stuff. I don’t go to a lot of places. I just try to keep my energy with me and not going there and there and there.

Q. You came here early this year?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: I came one week early.

Q. Shows or anything?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Yes. Where did we go? We went to a Mark Anthony concert. I loved it. I was dancing. I have to say, there was all womens. Not one man in that concert.

And are trying Greek restaurants. I love Greek restaurants. Italian and steakhouses. I love the steakhouses. I just discover places.

Q. Did you have a lot of media appearances for sponsors? Was that part of that week?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Yes. Here is where they’re all more or less based. This is the part of the year where you’re more compromises, or, I don’t know. It’s just more people, more sponsors, more people that want more time from you.

Yeah, it would be more here. You have to really schedule everything.

Q. But you also have to train.
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Yes, because between this, this, this, I have to practice, go back 10 blocks, one taxi.

Q. First round match, having difficulty breathing, playing against somebody you never played before, it’s very easy to panic. Did you ever come close to that? Did you ever feel like you were panicking? If not, how did you reel the match back in?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: No, I don’t feel I panic. I think I always have a chance. I’m there. Even though I’m down 4 1 I always try to see what can I do to turn these things around.

Maybe you’re like, Oh, this is dangerous situation, because you feel that you’re like 4 1 or in the third set you know last set.

These kind of things, I think all the players feel that. But you always have to focus and, Okay, what should I do now to win this point? How can I turn this set? Where should I play? You kind of think about something else.

 

John Isner

Press Conference

J. ISNER/F. Tiafoe

3-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. When he’s serving for the fifth set, what advantage do you have not being 18 years old?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I guess, I mean, experience is definitely on my side in that match, but sometimes experience is overrated.

You know, I think in that instance I actually probably played the best return game I played all match.

You know, he played very well, I thought, and he earned everything up to that point for sure. I just tried to stick with it. Was able to get back into that set at 5-4.

Actually, even though I was pretty haggard out there, I got a jolt of energy when I got it back to 5-4.

Q. Were you at all surprised by his level of play?
JOHN ISNER: No, I wasn’t. I mean, I know how talented he is. At such a young age, he seems to be the type of kid that can rise up to the big occasion, big moment, and great atmosphere. He played I thought very well.

I was struggling matching his intensity. In the early goings of the match he was all over me and was the better player hands down.

I had to stick with it and had to try to tilt the match in my favor a little bit, which I was able to do.

Q. You’ve won some epics in your career. You’ve also had a lot of tough, close losses this year. Where do you rank this match as far as the drama, being out on the Grandstand for the first time?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I mean, the atmosphere was amazing. I mean, you guys saw it. Standing room only in that fifth set. The crowd was going nuts. A lot of people were cheering for him – rightfully so.

But it’s definitely up there. I feel like I was due. I’ve lost a number of close matches this year, so to be able to pull that one out feels really good. And in the way I pulled it out feels especially good, so…

Yeah, I can’t say enough about Frances. I’ve always liked him. Always. He’s a great guy. He has a fantastic future.

Q. Can you describe what you really thought of the play of the new Grandstand? What kind of court was it? Is it quicker?
JOHN ISNER: I’m not the best person to ask when it comes to that stuff. I don’t pay too much attention to it.

If I had to say, it’s probably a little on the quicker side, I think. You get rewarded for the right type of play out there. I don’t know.

I mean, I practiced on Armstrong. Maybe it’s a little quicker, but I don’t know.

Regardless, the court is beautiful and it’s fun to play on.

Q. He’s obviously the youngest player in the draw. What elements do you think he has to grow to play big points?
JOHN ISNER: He’s got so much room to grow as a tennis player. Yeah, I think probably his second serve. He’s improved his serve from when I practiced with him.

He’s been at some Davis Cup ties. He definitely has improved his serve. I think the best thing he has going for him is he’s just an incredible athlete. You can’t really teach that.

He’s got wheels; he’s got the hands; he’s got shots on both sides. One area, if he improves his second serve a little bit. But I would certainly buy stock in him right now for sure. He’s a great player.

Q. At the end of a match when you’re hitting balls into the crowd, what is that experience like and what are you trying to do?
JOHN ISNER: Oh, I don’t know. I was enjoying it at that moment. The atmosphere was awesome. A lot of people were on their feet cheering for that match. They weren’t just cheering for me at the end.

It’s why you play. It’s why you work so hard, to have moments like that. Everyone that’s been part of a painful loss like that, as well. The wins, in an atmosphere like that, in a close match like that, are really sweet.

Q. How about in general, the whole experience of hitting balls in the crowd? Do you try to hit them out of the stadium? Where are you aiming?
JOHN ISNER: No. I was pretty tired. I just hit them up. I didn’t hit them anywhere in particular at the end there.

Q. What did you and Frances say to each other up at the net?
JOHN ISNER: I can’t really recall. I don’t think he said much. I think I said, Great match. It was really fun to play against you today. Keep your head up. You know, your future is immensely bright.

I mean, I didn’t say that. Keep it going, man. It was fun. I think that’s what I said.

Q. How important has that slice backhand been for you to develop as a shot that gets you out of trouble sometimes? Does it get you into trouble ever?
JOHN ISNER: No, it’s improved. Sort of a shot that sometimes I feel it really good and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes it’s not there at all. You know, leading up to this match, practicing here, I feel like that shot has been working pretty well for me.

For me to use that shot in a sort of defensive fashion is very important to get it low and get it down cross-court.

I’ve worked on that shot ad nauseam forever now. It’s always going to be a pretty important shot for me.

Q. Does someone hit that shot best on tour?
JOHN ISNER: Roger probably. Yeah.

Q. After a match like that, when you lose a close match, how do you make it learning experience instead of making it a scar that lasts?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah. As I said before, I’ve lost a lot of close matches this year in final-set tiebreakers. You have to try to learn from it, even though it can sort of scar you up, as you said.

But you have to try to learn from it. You have to try to stay positive and stay the course and know that it will turn around.

I know with how I play, very good chance I’m going to be in that situation a lot. Maybe not at a Grand Slam like this, but, you know, I just stuck with it. I was confident in that fifth set icebreaker. I really believed I was going to win it.

I had no reason to believe that considering how many matches I lost, but I was positive and believed I was going to pull through.

Q. What do you like most about his game?
JOHN ISNER: His backhand is world class. His backhand return is world class. He was handling my serve better than anyone really, maybe outside of Novak. I mean, he was really on it. His forehand’s great. I think that shot’s improved a lot.

As I said earlier, he’s such an incredible athlete. He’s got that on his side. That’s not going to go anywhere, so…

He’s got a very bright future.

Q. As someone who follows football and other sports, what is your reaction to Colin Kaepernick’s statement with not standing for the National Anthem?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I thought that was pathetic from him. The cause he was going for, fine by me, but don’t do it in that fashion. He could have found some other ways to present his voice there. A lot of NBA players have done it, and good on ’em.

For him doing it in that way really irked me. I’m a big Blaine Gabbert fan now.

 

Frances Tiafoe

Press Conference

J. ISNER/F. Tiafoe

3-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Where do you think you had the better chance of winning, the third set tiebreak or when you served for the match?
FRANCES TIAFOE: Both, I mean, about the same. Yeah, pretty disappointed I missed that backhand at 5-All with that much court I had to work with. Overcooked it.

But, yeah, serving for it I thought I definitely had it. I thought I definitely thought the match was over, but he played a good return game. Didn’t make that many first serves that game. Probably should have played a higher percentage, but it’s tough.

Q. You were very gracious on court. What were you feeling after the match, having chances? What is going on in your head?
FRANCES TIAFOE: I mean, toughest loss of my career so far for sure. But, you know, think I’m getting over it now a little bit. I mean, not much to really say. It’s tough. I was so excited serving for it 5-3; the crowd is going nuts; I’m going nuts. You have so much adrenaline going.

Come up a little short, it hurts.

But it’s against an experienced player. Me and John are great friends. It was a good battle and I had a lot of fun today.

Q. (Question regarding experience.)
FRANCES TIAFOE: I think that played a part in it. If I could replay that, probably wouldn’t have gotten as hyped up when I broke. Maybe would have taken a little bit out of it.

No, I mean, I think that played a little part in it.

Q. Talk about the atmosphere playing on the new Grandstand. What was that like?
FRANCES TIAFOE: I think it’s going to be the best court at the US Open in years to come. It was unbelievable. It was pretty much packed the whole time.

Yeah, I mean, it still feels pretty intimate, just like the old Grandstand. I think it’s going to definitely be a court I want to play on for sure in the future.

Q. What did you and John say to each other at the net when you hugged? There’s always a lot of questions about the future of American tennis. With young guys like you and Taylor Fritz, how bright is the future? Can you compete for slams down the road?
FRANCES TIAFOE: To be honest, yeah, I don’t really know what John said. I just heard him say, You’re going to be great, you know, and I was kind of crying on his shoulder. But, yeah, I mean, he’s so nice. I mean, we’re such good friends.

And then the last thing I heard him say is, Don’t let this get you down.

For American tennis, I think it’s looking really good. I think we have a lot of guys that are going to be very good. I think American tennis is definitely on the right path. We just got to keep our heads down and keep doing the work and I think we’re going to have good careers.

Q. What did those first two sets feel like? Looked like you could do no wrong.
FRANCES TIAFOE: Seemed like everything I touched was golden. Came out playing pretty much lights out. I was returning unbelievable. I was guessing right on everything. Wasn’t really expecting that. I was ready to play a couple breakers going in.

But, yeah, I mean, it was a lot of fun today. I really enjoyed myself and I really thought I played one of the best matches I’ve played so far.

I pretty much did everything but win the match today. It was an unbelievable experience.

Q. Did your dad have anything to do with tennis before he got the job at the camp?
FRANCES TIAFOE: No, nothing at all. Nothing at all. Never really even held a racquet before he came there at all. No relation to tennis whatsoever.

Q. How do you build off a match like this going forward, take the positives out of it?
FRANCES TIAFOE: I think the positive is that I can play that level, you know, on a big stage like that. Also that I think one day I could maybe have a good run at a slam.

You know, just keep going on the practice courts and keep doing what I’ve been doing: working hard, get my strengths even better, and my weaknesses to one day be strengths.

Q. I saw you in the Orange Bowl when you were 15. What part of your game has made the biggest advance since then?
FRANCES TIAFOE: I think I’ve just gotten a lot stronger physically. I think that’s helped me a lot. Moving better. You know, hitting the ball stronger from both sides. Serving a bit better.

I mean, yeah, I just grew a lot as a person, as a player since then. I think that’s really what’s been helping me the last couple years.

Q. Which tennis figure has provided you with the greatest inspiration?
FRANCES TIAFOE: As far as player or… ?

Q. Can be a player. Doesn’t have to be.
FRANCES TIAFOE: I’m a big DelPo fan. Huge DelPo fan. Seeing him win a slam here when he was 19, 20, that was huge inspiration for me. I always wanted to be like him.

Seeing him in the locker room, now we’re talking, that even seems surreal. I think he was a big inspiration for me.

 

Monica Puig

Press Conference

S. ZHENG/M. Puig

6-4, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How tough was it out there today?
MONICA PUIG: It’s always a little bit tough, especially coming off winning the Olympic gold medal. A lot of pressure, a lot of expectation, but I can always continue to learn. That’s what I’m going to try and do.

All credit to her, though. She played well. She complicated me just enough. But, you know, I’m still learning. I’ll still growing. Trying to find the positives out of everything.

Q. Does this feel like something you’re going to have to take some time to process in terms of recovering in a way from this big career achievement?
MONICA PUIG: Sure. I’ve never been here before. These are new waters for me, new territory. I’m going to have to start getting used to it. Once it starts becoming a little bit more of a habit, then I’ll feel comfortable.

It took me a while to be comfortable being in the top 50, the top 30, all this stuff. It’s always a process. I’m just going to have to keep learning and just take it day by day.

Q. New York City has such a big Puerto Rican community. What did you make of the crowd support for you?
MONICA PUIG: Well, it was great. Everyone was there supporting me. They didn’t really let down at any moment. It’s even great to see that at my lowest points they were there for me. I really appreciate it.

I know that I can always come back to New York and have a Puerto Rican family there for me.

Q. You mentioned positives that you want to take from this match. What are some of those positives that you are going to work on?
MONICA PUIG: At no point in the match did I have a bad attitude towards what was going on, and no moment did I give up. That’s really positive for me, because no matter how tough situations get, I know that I won’t give up and I’ll always keep trying.

I tried to be aggressive when I could. It didn’t happen today. But we have bad days as tennis players. I just got to keep working on my game.

Again, I’m still in the process of learning. There’s so much to be done still with my game. I’m 22 years old. There’s always room for improvement. I’m just going to go back to the drawing board with my team and see what else we can fix.

Q. How tough is it that it was such a big tournament so soon? Did you feel maybe there could have been an extra week between the Olympics?
MONICA PUIG: I wish. Everybody does. Kind of had some time to come down from the high a little bit. At the end of the day, the calendar doesn’t really give you much room to, you know, ask and take, whatever. You have to get back out there like everybody else does.

Kerber went out after the final of the Olympics and made finals of Cincinnati. But, again, she’s been there. She knows what it’s like. She knows she’s No. 2 in the world. She’s tested the waters out a little bit. I’m brand-new to this.

I need to keep racking up as much experience as I can. You know what? This isn’t going to be the last of me. I know I’m going to keep working hard. The Olympics was something that happened because of all my hard work.

I’m just going to keep working harder to get those results as soon as possible.

Q. Kerber, after she won her first Grand Slam, she had struggles. Does that give you confidence knowing they were able to rebound from that?
MONICA PUIG: Of course. I mean, I’m playing well. I’m playing good tennis. I feel good out on the court. I feel good hitting the ball. It’s something I did tell myself.

Garbine won her first Grand Slam and then she had a little bit of a letdown. She’s coming into her own as well.

A lot of people go through this. It’s not, you know, just me. That’s what a lot of people need to kind of understand sometimes. I’ve gotten a lot of negativity over these past few weeks. I’m like, Well, okay, take your time a little bit. You know, I’m still learning. I’m still coming about.

With time everything will become a lot easier for me. Again, it’s all about hard work and it’s all I’m going to keep doing.

Q. What are some of the things you’re going to work on for the next tournament?
MONICA PUIG: I’m going to keep on working on everything in general. I know what type of game I like to play. I know how I play. It’s just continuing to make myself as solid as possible to try and patch up all the holes in my game. Just make everything as solid as I can.

There’s only a few more tournaments left in the year. I’m going to definitely try and finish the year off with a high. I have had a great year until now, so only going to try and build my confidence up with that and just keep going.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Press Conference

J. TSONGA/G. Andreozzi

6-3, 6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Did the match pretty much go as you expected? Were there any surprises for you? You won in straight sets.
JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: Yeah, I played well enough. I served pretty consistently. Then it was easier for me to put pressure on his serve.

So, yeah, I expect to win, of course, before the match, and I did it. So, yeah, that’s great.

 

Taylor Fritz

Press Conference

J. SOCK/T. Fritz

7-6, 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. I know it’s a tough one to lose. After Australia, you were positive after that match because it showed you you could stay at that level. What do you take from this?
TAYLOR FRITZ: You know, I’ve always been a fighter and someone who competes till the end. I don’t know what I really take from it. I think I’ve proven I can come back from two sets to love down; never really out of it.

It’s just really tough to do everything that I did, get back to the point where I was at, and then after all that lose the match.

Q. Must be hard to go from day to night on a court. Were there visual conditions that were difficult?
TAYLOR FRITZ: In the very, very beginning of the match, first set, it was kind of tough with the shadows that were coming across the court, but those went away pretty quick.

So I think the whole second set and on the shade covered the court, so it wasn’t tricky with the sun in your eyes or anything.

Q. How about the color of Jack’s shirt? Does the ball ever get lost in that?
TAYLOR FRITZ: No. Didn’t seem like that to me. I mean, I was wearing the same shirt, so…

Q. Looked so similar.
TAYLOR FRITZ: Never. Didn’t see a ball come out and thought, Wow, the shirt did something. I never even thought that was an issue at all.

Q. What’s next for you?
TAYLOR FRITZ: I play doubles here. Afterwards I’m going to have a couple weeks to myself to just train and get stronger. It’s been a while since I’ve had a nice long training block to get stronger and really improve my game.

So I’ll do that.

Q. Where will you do that?
TAYLOR FRITZ: Probably in Carson.

Q. Do you work at all with Christian Groh anymore?
TAYLOR FRITZ: When I’m in San Diego we work, but I’ll be in Carson, USTA.

Q. Does he work with you at Carson, too?
TAYLOR FRITZ: No. At Carson I work with mainly David Nainkin, and Mardy Fish comes in sometimes, too, to supplement and help out.

Then my first tournament back is going to be in Tokyo.

Q. You’re a little bit further along in the year now. Quite a bit further along. In January you were looking ahead. What do you think you’ve gotten in this year so far?
TAYLOR FRITZ: I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in this year. I feel like overall when I look back at it, it’s better than I expected. I have to be proud of being where I’m at at the age I’m at.

It’s tough because I just set the expectations so high for myself. I want to do better and I want to do more than I’ve done. Didn’t want to have any of the lows in the season.

At the end of the day, need to step back and look at the big picture. I’m 18; I’m 50 something in the world. It’s way farther than I thought I’d be at this point a year ago. I have to stay positive and keep looking at the positives that I can take out of this year, and there are a lot.

Q. What are the tournament highlights of this year for you?
TAYLOR FRITZ: Memphis, for sure. Memphis and Acapulco were two great tournaments for me. I’ve been to a lot of great places.

But towards the end of this season I haven’t had the results I’ve been looking for, even though I felt like I’ve been playing some pretty decent tennis.

I’m not too worried, though. I think if I keep playing well, the results will come. It’s just I’ve had some close matches I’ve lost and some tough draws. I’m not too worried.

Milos Raonic

Press Conference

M. RAONIC/D. Brown

7-5, 6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. A little uneven the first set. Didn’t seem to have timing on your serve.
MILOS RAONIC: Had trouble with my serve even throughout the match. It got better and better, but definitely something I’m going to put some time into tomorrow.

I know it’s something that I can get back on track pretty quickly, but definitely was not where I would have liked it to be to start the match.

Made good progress throughout.

Q. Overall a pretty easy way to start. Would that be the way to put this match?
MILOS RAONIC: I was efficient at the end of the day. Three sets; not too much time on court. I would have wished to play better, but it’s not the goal to be playing my best tennis in the first round. It’s about getting through and giving myself a chance to get better in the next round.

Hopefully my level continues to improve.

Q. Can you clarify the situation for us with John and you now. He was sort of going back and forth in his comments.
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, well, John, throughout these weeks, will not be helping me. We’ll see where it goes after that.

Q. Do you have an idea of what you want already after?
MILOS RAONIC: I believe it was just too many things going on throughout this period of time. He felt like that was the right decision.

At the end of the day, it’s a decision we’re both okay with. We spoke about it, were up front, and there’s no ill feelings over it.

Q. Is it hard to be on the other side of a net from a guy who is kind of a Harlem Globetrotter?
MILOS RAONIC: I don’t know if that’s necessarily a fair way to call him.

It is from the aspect you don’t know what you’re going to expect. The match is going to go through many different stages and you just have to sort of stay on top of it.

I did that well for certain bits; then I didn’t. The thing I always did was I rebounded quite well, so I’m happy with that.

It’s a first round. It’s about getting through. It’s about getting yourself to go through this tournament.

Q. You practiced with John McEnroe here.
MILOS RAONIC: Yes.

Q. Did you get advice from him?
MILOS RAONIC: For today?

Q. Last week practice.
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, we spent some time. We were working on certain things. Then Carlos arrived later in the week then, after Ricardo departed. Yeah, we worked on a lot of things two weeks before Cincinnati, as well.

There’s certain things I’m trying to bring awareness to in my game. I’m trying to improve what I feel I need to do better. We’ve had some good matches to reflect on over the last little while.

Hopefully I can implement those things I’m working on.

Q. For so long other players have been trying to get to where the big four are. How would you describe right now the status of the big four?
MILOS RAONIC: Well, I think it’s a little bit spread out. You have Roger, who was always there, that is unfortunately unable to be playing at this moment, who is sitting out for a little while.

You have Andy and Novak who have pretty much led the charge of those big four. Have been leading it at least throughout this year.

Rafa is still one of the most dangerous players on tour.

You’ve got to navigate your way through. You’ve got to be trying to play your best. Hopefully you face these guys later in tournaments and you can bring your best tennis.

Q. What is the message to guys such as yourself about where those guys are now, because it has been so hard to break into where they’ve been?
MILOS RAONIC: Well, I’ve just personally looked at it from the chance of I’m trying to get better every single day. I compare myself to those four guys, what I need to do to compete against them, to win against them. ‘Cause you can’t avoid these guys, especially not in the big tournaments. Even the smaller ones as well. If they’re there, they’re consistently playing well.

I’ve always had that outlook of what I can do better and how I can go about it. I guess there’s a little bit more opening now than there used to be, but you still have Andy and Novak holding a pretty good lockdown on the big tournaments.

They played all the finals this year, at least one of them, and two of them were against each other.

Q. How much have you worked to develop that slice backhand as a defensive shot? The one-hander. Do you feel it’s become more important in the men’s game to have that in your arsenal?
MILOS RAONIC: I believe you have to defend well; you have to move well; you have certain guys that do it different ways.

Novak doesn’t defend too much with a slice. He’ll actually slide out and try to get two hands on it and play pretty flat down the middle of the court. He doesn’t give you much.

You have other guys that have made great careers for themselves defending with the slice.

I think for each player it’s their own difference. Obviously for me it’s important as a guy with a big reach. It helps me out. Also buys me some time if I’m out of position to get back in a situation that I have a better opportunity.

Q. Your stretch at Wimbledon was a very important run in your career. What would be the one or two takeaways from that experience?
MILOS RAONIC: I think the most positive side of it was the way I was able to fight through two probably of the most identifying matches, coming down [sic] from two sets to love down, coming back in that situation, and sort of being able to turn that around against Roger late in that semifinal, as well. Those I think are steps that I can try to implement more and more.

I’m sure I’ll be facing similar scenarios many times where I’ve got to step up. I think that puts something in my pocket as far as understanding of how to get through those situations.

And then it was great to put myself in that situation, to have a chance to be one match away from winning a Grand Slam. But at the same time, the negative side of it was I wish I played with a little bit more intensity and stepped up a little bit better, which I would try if I could put myself back in the situation, which I believe I can.

Q. Was it nerves?
MILOS RAONIC: I thought I was doing it. That’s the different aspect of it. Only when I re-watched the video I sort of put myself back and saw the whole picture. I was unable to do that. I know that everything I had I did put into that match, into that final, because I knew the importance of it.

But I think I could have expressed it more externally to get a little bit of pressure off myself and get a little energy out and convert it and use it in a better way.

Q. Writing for the players tribune, what was that like?
MILOS RAONIC: It was a fun process. It was a process in the sense of you get to say what you want to say. There was a lot of different theme lines that they wanted me to stick to. This one was the one I felt was more relevant on the timing that they were looking to put out the article.

I worked with two other guys really to get the meat of the work done, and then I put in my own words. So it came from my voice. I’m happy with how it looks. I haven’t read it other than the last draft we went through and I feel comfortable with.

But I feel like I got to say what I wanted to say, and that was the most important thing.

Q. Is that a way to help you with what happened in the match, to write it?
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, but I write everything down. So I’ve already dealt with it myself. I think this was I guess a more public accountability for it.

Q. Funky looking shoes you’re wearing. How would you describe the color? Is it your choice?
MILOS RAONIC: The color’s very pink and loud, but I like the outfit. Definitely I think it was a color they wanted to work with. I like the sort of disconnectedness. That that’s sort of the focal point of the outfit. Then something more classic and more toned down for the rest of the outfit. I think it works nicely.

Q. When you say they, you mean New Balance?
MILOS RAONIC: Yes.

Q. Was the goal to have everybody wear the T-shirts in your box and your parents said no?
MILOS RAONIC: I don’t know how many people were wearing them.

Q. Two. Is the one you’re wearing, is that a little bit of brand building?
MILOS RAONIC: I’m just having some fun with it. Having some fun with it. The other one, I don’t know what you’d call it with the badger, whatever my girlfriend made for fun. These were made by New Balance alongside with their designer, and they’re actually pretty close. They communicate back and forth about it. I guess they’ve helped each other in a way.

Q. Could you talk about New York City as an art center.
MILOS RAONIC: Probably right now with the generation of artists coming up, and after the unfortunate events of 9/11, I think there have been a lot of very influential New York artists that have really grown up through the city and made a difference.

I think you have that sort of current of guys passing through. Then you have previous phenoms that have changed the world. A lot of it has been based and centered in New York, so I think this is one of the cities where you don’t have to travel too far to see the different influences.

There’s galleries on many different corners. Some small, private, to much bigger public things as well. There are many collectors throughout the city as well, so you can amuse yourself through that outlet pretty easily.

Q. Can you briefly give few names?
MILOS RAONIC: Dan Colen, Jeff Elrod, Rashid Johnson. There’s many great artists that have, after that whole unfortunate event of 9/11, stepped up and I think done great things.

Q. (Question regarding records and the Open era.)
MILOS RAONIC: Which records?

Q. For example, Serena’s slam count. She’s tied with Steffi Graf in the Open era, but Margaret Court before still has more.
MILOS RAONIC: I think people compare it. I think Rod Laver’s Grand Slams are compared. I think that was before the Open era, if I’m not mistaken. People still consider the fact that he completed a slam in a year as one of the greatest feats.

I think people like to have that discussion for argument’s sake, but people still appreciate the great things that were done throughout any period of time in tennis.

Q. When would be the first time you played Ryan Harrison? How do you feel about playing him in the next round?
MILOS RAONIC: I can’t remember the first time I played him. It would have to be a long time ago. Juniors. He was younger than me. Probably second to last year or last year of my junior career. I think the last time I played him was in San Jose.

I know the things he liked to do back then. Obviously times have changed on both sides of the court, mine and his. So I’ll definitely do some research and maybe try to watch a little bit of that match he played yesterday, maybe have a few words with other players that have played him over a recent period of time.

Jack Sock

Press Conference

J. SOCK/T. Fritz

7-6, 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How many times have you played him in a tournament?
JACK SOCK: That was the second.

Q. All your matches go five sets, right?
JACK SOCK: Two for two. Yeah, today was obviously a back-and-forth match. Two sets my way, two sets his way and then a battle in the fifth, but just happy to get through.

Q. What do you think made the difference tonight?
JACK SOCK: I thought I came out and I thought I returned well the whole match. He’s got a great serve. He can really pop the first serve. Can’t be spotted well. It’s tough. I was able to get on a lot of second serves and put pressure on him I think. That paid off in the fifth getting up two breaks. Obviously didn’t help me too much when I gave them right back.

Yeah, once again, I was able to come up with some good returns at the 5-4 game and played a couple good points and got it done.

Q. How badly did the color of his shirt throw off your game?
JACK SOCK: I guess it could have gone both ways because I was wearing the same one for the first few sets.

Q. An adjustment you have to make?
JACK SOCK: No. We’ve seen them before. Nothing new.

Q. Doesn’t ever get lost?
JACK SOCK: No.

Q. What are your thoughts on the state of men’s tennis in America right now with the younger players who got a chance to play in the first round against a couple more veteran American players?
JACK SOCK: Yeah. I mean, you never want to see a bunch of Americans playing first round. Less chances for us to have more in the second round. But draws are draws. I saw some of the Isner-Tiafoe match earlier. These guys are in the main draw for a reason. Grand Slam matches are always tough.

I think the younger Americans are doing a great job of making a splash, making names for themselves early. Taylor has been a pro for a year and some change now and he’s already in the top 60 or 70 or wherever he is.

Yeah, these guys are playing great tennis. They’re playing with confidence. As many for some of us, my first few years I wasn’t top 100 right away. It took a little more time. These guys are playing free and with nothing to lose and coming out playing well.

Yeah, I mean, I saw Frances serve for the match earlier. Didn’t get it, but the experience does go a long way. This is my sixth or seventh US Open. Sixth, I think. I know John has played however many.

The experience does play a factor.

Q. When you win a match here you hit balls up into the crowd. What is that experience like and where are you trying to hit the balls?
JACK SOCK: Whoever’s loudest probably most of the time. If I have a certain section or a few people that are really loud supporting me throughout the match, I’ll try to hit it to them to kind of thank them.

Other than that, I usually have a sort of signature one where I will face one direction and kind of hit it backwards and tease them a little bit. That’s one I usually like to do.

For the most part, whoever is being loudest and whoever helped me most in the match.

Q. What is the experience like when you get to do that after a match?
JACK SOCK: I mean, it’s fun. The people go nuts. They get really loud. It’s a fun experience for them. They stuck around for however many hours you played a match. It’s the least we can do to give back.

Q. You talked recently about wanting to build on your doubles success. How has your experience in Rio or the medal and success there, how do you channel that into singles?
JACK SOCK: I’ve never considered myself a doubles player. I’ve just enjoyed playing it. Happened to have pretty good success in it so far in my career.

But like I’ve said recently in the media, I won’t be playing any more doubles in slams. I want to put my focus solely on singles. Been a few instances in these slams where obviously you’re playing three-out-of-five, and especially here in New York where it can be 95 degrees, 70 percent humidity, you need to have all your energy. You need to rest up for these singles matches.

There’s been a couple places where I always loved playing doubles 100%, and obviously I go out there and give it my all. Yeah, just decided to put it aside and be able to rest and put everything into singles. Maybe there’s schedule mishaps where on your day off you’re waiting to play last on in doubles and all of a sudden you’re here.

This happened to me last year a little bit. I was here, played until 9:30, 10:00 at night and you’re not out of here until 11:00, 11:30, and they put me on second the next day.

There is nothing you can do about it. You can’t control the schedule. But it can be avoided if you’re not in the draw.

Q. Is there something you try to do differently on the big points from the not-so-big points?
JACK SOCK: Win them would probably be the most important. I mean, no. My game is pretty straightforward, I feel like. If there’s a big point I’m looking for a forehand; looking to be aggressive.

If I’m serving, looking to make first serves. If I’m returning, dictate with my forehand as much as possible. Get the majority of the points. Yeah, any point, especially big points, that’s what I’m trying to do.

Q. From which tennis figure have you drawn the most inspiration and why?
JACK SOCK: Oh, man. It’s tough. Growing up, I’ve said this numerous times being from Nebraska, Roddick was a big influence watching him. I can remember to this day watching him win this tournament with his spiky blonde hair and visor and wearing the Reebok clothes.

That was big for me growing up one city over from where he was from. Other than that, when I was really younger I watched Andre a lot, Andre and Pete, and then Andy when I started taking tennis seriously when I started getting older.

Just as time has gone, you’re focusing on your game and trying to get better yourself. But you can pick up things even your first few years on tour when you watch the top four guys, what they can do. You can always take a few things what they’re doing and apply it into your own daily routines, professionalism.

There’s always something to be learned. Yeah, I mean, I would say the majority of people.

Q. A little while ago in your career you were playing in the Wimbledon doubles final. You score the great championship point. This summer you go to Rio and become a bronze medalist. Can you compare the two different peak experiences?
JACK SOCK: How did you describe the first-round loss?

Q. I called it wretched.
JACK SOCK: The guy’s a pretty good player, so I wouldn’t consider it a bad loss. He took a set off Del Potro next round, so I think he’s a pretty solid tennis player. So we can make that clear.

But, yeah, I mean, it wasn’t my day in singles. He played good tennis. Had to regroup and get ready for the doubles. Then in the mixed, able to come away with two medals, one being gold. Had one of the best weeks of my life.

I mean, I put Rio and my time there at the Olympics at the same level as Wimbledon and my first singles title, if not in front of it. Something about the Olympics. Obviously you dream of it as a kid. It’s even different being there, I think.

I’ve heard so much going in and the expectation and everything, but I think it’s that much and better when you’re there. It’s definitely one of the best weeks of my life being there with all the athletes and supporting everyone and the camaraderie, and the overall experience was incredible. I think all the guys would say that.

Q. Can you try to put into words the rush you get at the moment of victory?
JACK SOCK: I mean, the bronze was awesome. I’m a big golf fan. One of my favorite golfers is Matt Kuchar, and had the pleasure of him watching our bronze medal match. I was pretty hyped up for that, having him there and then being able to win in there. Went over and gave him and the whole team a hug afterwards. That was a pretty special moment for me.

And then a few days later winning gold and hearing the U.S. National Anthem standing in the middle of the podium with a gold around your neck, there’s really nothing like it. Don’t really know if it’s sunk in totally. Just flew from Rio, and the next day started training, the day I got off the plane, for this tournament.

Different from the other sports where you maybe have a little time off after the Olympics. After this maybe I’ll sit back and enjoy it a little more.

 

Novak Djokovic

Press Conference

N. DJOKOVIC/J. Janowicz

6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. First of all, what is your physical status at this moment, and what was it before the match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s getting better and better each day. I’m glad that I’m experiencing that. So hopefully as the tournament progresses, I’ll reach my peak.

Q. What were you having treatment for and what pains were you suffering?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was just prevention. It’s all good.

Q. Of what?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of my arm.

Q. When you come back to New York and you have all this fun in post-game interview, why is this tournament different?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, each Grand Slam has something different about it. US Open is the most entertaining Grand Slam, I think. There’s a lot going on on and off the court. You’re in one of the biggest, most important cities in the world. New York City, always something going on.

There is a great vibe during these couple of weeks for the tennis. Everybody’s in town. It’s always fun to be out there.

Q. It was the first match for you after a long break during this period of the season. What were you looking for in your game? Now that it’s done, were you satisfied completely with what you did?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, each day presents us some kind of challenges that we need to overcome, accept and overcome. It wasn’t easy today playing against Jerzy for the first time. He’s a very, you know, potent player, powerful serve, big forehands. Unpredictable really.

Play well as he did in the second set and he can make a couple double-faults in a row in the important moments. It’s really up and down. That’s why it wasn’t easy to keep the concentration.

But I thought I’ve done well in the third and fourth to bounce back from the dropped second set. It’s an opening match, night session. After all I’ve been through in last couple of weeks, it’s pleasing, of course, to finish the match and win it. I’ll try to look positive and just think about the next day.

Q. With injuries you’ve had coming in here, how you’re feeling, is it fair to say your expectations are measured or lower for this tournament? You’re willing to not be too much of a perfectionist?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: To be honest, I take it day by day. That’s what I feel at the moment. It’s good, as I said, just to finish the match. I’m pleased that as the match progressed I was feeling better and better.

Tomorrow is a new day. I hope that I’ll feel overall good so I’m able to perform at my best for the next match.

Q. Vesely next, one of the guys who has beaten you this year.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Different surface, different circumstances, best-of-five. But still, Vesely deserves respect. He’s somebody that has been kind of trying to break through as the next generation.

Couple years ago he already was there. He made a name of himself. Just gained the consistency I think over the last couple of years. He has a big game, a big serve, big forehand, and moves well for his size. So let’s see.

Obviously he hasn’t played many times on the Arthur Stadium. If you get to play there, it’s quite different. I like playing there, especially with the roof construction. Conditions are quite suitable to my style of the game. Hopefully I’ll be able to slow his serve down a little bit and then take it from there.

Q. One of the great things about you is you’ve learned and grown over the years. People love you because you’ve been transparent and open. Can you share about what you’ve learned or how you’ve grown over the past couple months?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Last couple months? Whew. I think as anybody else really, life arranges things to happen for you so you can evolve. Whether you recognize those kind of signals and circumstances as an opportunity to grow, that really depends on you, how conscious you are.

I’m really grateful to be able to have that conscious at the moment. Hopefully I’m at the right path, you know. As everybody else, I’m trying each day, day in and day out, to first of all find always new ways of motivating myself to play tennis.

I have more than enough happiness in my life and blessings to be a father and a husband. Life is wonderful. I mean, there is no doubt about it. I cannot sit here and complain and whine about the issues that, you know, everybody has in each day in their lives, privately, professionally.

But that’s a beautiful thing. When you expect the least, that’s when you have things coming at you as life’s lessons. I’m glad that I’m able to accept them and to greet them with a consciousness of wanting to evolve and wanting to get the best out of them.

That’s all I can say. I’m very grateful.

Q. You had the beautiful statement on court where you said Ashe is like a dark tunnel; at least there’s a beautiful light at the end. Does that in some way reflect your spirit some days?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Ashe is like a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe I said something wrong. It’s not like a dark tunnel.

It does feel like you’ve been illuminated on the court with all these lights and all the show and everything that’s going on. The opening ceremony is always a special night, of course. Phil Collins is one of my favorite singers. I was enjoying that and getting pumped before the match.

Yeah, it was wonderful to come back and play a night session that is undoubtedly the most special night session that we have in sport.

To be there and play another time, I don’t take anything for granted. I know the player in my position earns a right to play these kind of matches in the biggest stadium. But, again, I try to be aware, be present. It’s really a beautiful moment.

Q. You’ve been elected to the players council. How do you see this new role?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: First of all, an honor to be elected to be part of the council. I was part of the council some years ago for three years, then I had a little gap where I wasn’t involved in the politics of tennis, if you want to call it that way.

Now the players, most of the players, majority of the players that were in the council, they put my name in the election group, so I was elected to be in the council. I gladly accepted it, because it’s a calling. It’s a responsibility. If, as it is the case, my colleagues and friends have given me the trust of being there, I need to take it.

Of course I’ll do my best to contribute to the evolution of this sport for the time being. The first council meeting was very long but productive. I was elected the president. Kevin Anderson is vice president.

But to be honest, you know, it doesn’t change much. In the council we are all even. We are all equal. It was interesting to really sit there and hear and talk about, discuss, debate about different subjects that are ongoing right now, new ideas, new prospects.

You know, we are all in the same ship basically: the council people, the board people, and in the end of the day, tournaments as well. Even though historically the system is such that there is 50% of players, 50% of tournaments, many times there is a conflict of interest a little bit.

In the end of the day, we are all part of the same governing body. We’re all part of the same organization. As I said, we’re all in the same mission to make this sport better.

Q. Did you come into this tournament, and now that you’ve won this first match, do you think it’s a little easier road that Roger is not part of this tournament or does that not factor in at all?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, to be honest, it doesn’t really factor in. I mean, still the draw is 128. You still have guys like Andy, Rafa, Cilic, Nishikori, Raonic. You still have the best players in the world.

Certainly it’s not the same when you have Roger and you don’t have Roger for the tournament, for the fans. He’s been one of the most popular players of all time, one of the most successful players of all time. There is no doubt that every tournament is missing him. Of course.

But on the other hand, we got to focus on the players that we have at the moment. So I think even without him, it’s a very strong field. I’m sure it’s going to be a good tournament.

 

 

 

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

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

Milos Raonic 1

From Tennis Canada: (July 15, 2016) Milos Raonic announced on Friday that he has decided to withdraw from competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my withdrawal from participation in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games,” said Raonic. “After much deliberation with my family and coaches, I am making this decision for a variety of health concerns including the uncertainty around the Zika virus. This was a difficult, personal choice and I do not wish for it to impact the decision of any other athlete heading to the Games. I would like to thank Tennis Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee for their ongoing support. I am very proud to have competed for Canada at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, and on the world stage at several Davis Cup events. I look forward to cheering on Team Canada this summer.”

“We fully respect Milos’ decision as we are sure this is not one he made easily,” said Kelly Murumets, president and CEO, Tennis Canada. “Milos represents Canada proudly week after week around the world and we look forward to future opportunities for him to join Team Canada again on the court.”

Pending invitation by the International Tennis Federation and Canadian Olympic Committee approval, Tennis Canada will nominate Daniel Nestor to replace Raonic in the men’s doubles draw to partner with Vasek Pospisil.

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