2015/01/30

Rafael Nadal Stunned by Tomas Berdych at Australian Open

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(January 27, 2015) 2009 Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal is out of the Australian Open in the quarterfinals. , No. 7 Tomas Berdych defeated the No. 3 player in the world 6-2, 6-0, 7-6 (5) on his fourth match point on Tuesday in Melbourne. Berdych has now reached his fifth career slam semifinal.

Coming into the match Berdych had lost 17 straight matches to Nadal.

The Czech was dominant in the first two sets, dishing out a second set bagel to the Spaniard. It was only the third time that Nadal lost a 6-0 set in a major. He lost 6-0 sets to Andy Roddick at the 2004 US Open in the second round and to Roger Federer in the 2006 Wimbledon final.

Berdych hit 41 winners to 21 unforced errors versus Nadal with 24 winners and 26 unforced errors.

The 14-time major champion was playing in just his seventh tournament since the French Open last June. Nadal had been sidelined with a wrist injury and then appendix surgery in November.

Nadal saved two match points in the 12th game of the final set. Berdych led 5-2 in the tiebreaker and Nadal rallied to get back on serve at 4-5. Berdych ended the match on the fourth match point as Nadal hit a return of serve into the net.

“As I said when I got here, it is always tough to come back from injuries,” said Nadal. “I am feeling OK, but it was not my day. Quarterfinals here is not bad for me.”

“I’m feeling ok. Just was not my day. It was a day that my opponent played better than me.”

“You can’t make the big difference of level during matches when you are coming back from injury.”

“You have to play well to play against a guy like Berdych. He’s a top player and today he played better than me.”

“As I said before, Tomas is ranked No. 5, No. 6 of the word, No. 7, I don’t know. He’s a top player. We cannot expect the things that — all the challenges that he put me on court today because he’s a top player. You have to play well to win against a player like Tomas. I didn’t play my best today. He played better than me and that’s it. That’s the sport. Sometimes, almost every time, is simple: the player who plays better, the player who is able to maintain the better rhythm, the better concentration, play with less mistakes, is the player who has more success. And today this player has been Tomas.”

“I start pretty well,” Berdych said. “I start with the plan that I set up before the match, and then it turns that it was the right one. I was able to keep going with the same plan all the way through the match. Even though that it was the first two sets kind of looks easy, you know, but you’re playing Rafa and you know what kind of opponent he is and you have to be ready for anything. So, you know, that’s why I keep myself really focused and was keep going all the way till the end and trying to make my chances. Even though he just changed a couple of things – he gets better in the third set – but still I was able to finish it and close it up in three sets.”

 

Andy Murray dashed the dreams of young Australian Nick Kyrgios on Tuesday night, winning 6-3 7-6 (5), 6-3 to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open.

In the round of 16, Kyrgios knocked out Andreas Seppi, the man who upset Roger Federer in the third round.

“It was a really good experience,” said Kyrgios. “That was my first Aussie Open Grand Slam match playing on Rod Laver, so that was really cool. But he was way too good for me tonight. There are some things I can take from that match and get better at. Yeah, he was just way too good for me.”

“Trying to win against Nick, which was tough ’cause he has an exceptional serve and makes it very difficult for you when he’s serving,” said Murray. “And, like I said on the court afterwards, it was very tricky conditions, as well. So I was quite happy with the way I handled everything tonight.”

“I think, you know, for me tonight it was a tricky one to judge, to say how well I played, because I found the conditions difficult tonight. So I tried to use the conditions to my advantage and played a slightly different style than what I had been in the other matches. I would say the match against Dimitrov was a very high level. It was a clean match. Both of us were striking the ball well. And, yeah, I made improvements with each of the matches. But then tonight, you know, I just tried to play the best with what the conditions were allowing you to do, and I think I did that quite well.”

Murray, a three-time losing finalist will next play Tomas Berdych.

“He’s a big guy,” Murray said of Berdych. “He strikes the ball very well. Yeah, he serves well. Yeah, he’s fairly calm on the court. I think he manages emotions fairly well. And, yeah, he’s obviously played extremely well this tournament so far. Just by looking at the results, he’s had some good wins and played well in Doha. He’ll be coming into the match with confidence.”

 

 

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Kyrgios Saves a Match Point to Join Nadal and Berdych in Australian Open Quarterfinals

Kyrgios

(January 25, 2015) Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios rocked the jam-packed Hisense Arena on Sunday in Melbourne Park coming back from two sets down and saving a match point by beating Roger Federer conqueror Andreas Seppi 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 8-6 to reach the quarterfinals. Seppi knocked out Federer in the third round.

He is now the first Australian to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on the men’s side since 2005. The 19-year-old also becomes the first male teenager since Roger Federer to reach two Grand Slam quarterfinals. Kyrgios reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year defeating then No. 1 Rafael Nadal along the way.

After the match in an on-court interview Kyrgios said to the crowd, “Thanks mate. Feels so good.”

“I know that he (Seppi) had a lot of confidence, obviously, beating Roger,” Kyrgios said. “Drawing all my experience from Wimbledon, coming back from two sets down, I knew I had the legs to do that.”

“I knew it was going to be a tough battle. He’s playing some of the best tennis he’s played ever since coming off that win against Roger. I knew it was going to be tough from the get-go. I just had to draw on my experiences of coming back from two sets to love. Paid off in the end.”

“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. When I saw I had finally won the match it was incredible. It was the best feeling I ever had. To know the body could come back from two sets to love, knowing I haven’t had matches, it’s just massive confidence.”

“As you all know – you’ve been asking about my back a fair bit – that’s a bit sore. Physically I thought my legs pulled up well throughout the whole match. I got a bit tired halfway through the fifth set, you know, I guess just by being out on the court. Being in that atmosphere is pretty tiring, but I knew he’d be feeling the same way. He’s never reached a quarterfinal before. All those thoughts going through his head. I think I had to draw on that. I just stuck in there.”

“I think I just played a couple bad games at the beginning of the third set, Seppi said. “I missed three easy forehands for the break for him. And, yeah, maybe he played a little bit more relaxed after that. Yeah, I think maybe if I could stay even in the third set it’s a little bit already change.”

The young Australian will play Andy Murray in the quarterfinals. The seventh seed Murray won the last five games of the match to take out Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5

Asked about the potential match against Murray or Dimitrov, Kyrgios said: “They’re both some of the best players in the world. Obviously for the last couple years, they’ve been in the best form of their life. Murray, I think he’s one of the greatest athletes on the tour. He’s going to make me play a lot of balls. And Dimitrov, obviously he’s got unbelievable talent, can come forward, can transition, returns well, mixes it up well. They’re both great players. I’m just excited to go up against either one of those guys.”

2009 Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych will match-up in the final eight.

Nadal fended off six break points in the first set before changing the momentum and passing Keven Anderson 7-5, 6-1, 6-4. Nadal will play No. 7 Berdych next. Berdych took out another Australian hope Bernard Tomic 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-2.

“The chance to be in the quarterfinals after a tough period of time for me is a fantastic result,” said Nadal. “But for me quarterfinals is a great result, talking seriously. Arriving here, losing in the first round of Qatar, not playing matches for the last seven months, to have the chance to be in quarterfinals again here is a very positive thing for me. I’m very happy for that. I am sure that going to help me for the next events. For sure I going to try my best after tomorrow. I am not a person that I am happy like this and that’s it. No. I try to play better and better every day. If that happens, I hope to keep having chances for the next match. But today is a day to be happy the way that I improved my level of everything, talking about tennis, all the things I have to do on court. I was closer today. Even if I played the first two sets the other day well, today I was much closer what I have to do to try to have success.”

More to follow….

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Notes and Quotes from Day 3 of the 2015 Australian Open

 

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(January 21, 2015) A few of the more off-beat questions and answers from Day 3 news conferences at the Australian Open.

 

Lots has been made about some of the hairstyles of the guys on tour. Have you noticed any of those on court?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Actually, no. I mean, there has been talk that I’m not going to play in the cap anymore. But in the conditions like that I just have to. It’s important to keep yourself fresh and just try to go through the heat and the sun and not playing with your hair. Let’s leave it for the football players.

 

For the soccer players?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Yeah, soccer players.

 

Congratulations on your engagement, even if it’s old.

TOMAS BERDYCH: Thank you.

 

Can I ask how you popped the question, proposed?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, it was simple, as you normally do. We had a good time. It was in holidays after the season. Actually, it was funny. I had some plan how to do it, but like three days we get pretty bad weather, so it’s almost impossible to do that. Then it was nice, and they help us to make a nice setup. It was like after the dinner on the beach.

 

Obviously this is a big step for you in your personal life. A guy like Novak has had big changes in his life, too. How important is it for you to maintain that balance, having the strong personal lives off the court? How much does that help you on the court?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, I think both things goes quite well together. I feel good about it to have a good personal life, and then combine it with my tennis life as well. Because I know that whatever is happening in tennis or around my career, and then I can come back home or wherever I am, I can talk with my partner about basically everything. We can talk about the other things, which is great, that I can just completely switch off from the tennis. That’s basically the best way how you can relax. Like everybody is asking, What do you do for relax? You don’t have to go anywhere or do any special things. It’s just that you don’t have to think about again, forehand, backhand and stuff like that. So you just talk about different stuff. That’s the best thing. Then once you step back on the tennis side, then you are absolutely focus for whatever you do. That’s it. So for me, I think it’s a great combination.

 

Does your fiancee have any input on your outfits?

TOMAS BERDYCH: No, no, no. Honestly, no, because the designer team is quite big and strong and they are already coming up with the ideas. Basically the whole line or the whole year is already almost preset, so I already knew what’s going to be going on through the whole year. Well, it’s going to be interesting. There is going to be — or even me and my input is just like slightly. It’s good about small details and most likely how is the fit and fabric and stuff like that. That’s how it works so far.

 

It was hot out there today. Think you were the only person without any head gear on. Does the heat bother you at all?

RICHARD GASQUET: Yeah, it was hot on the court, but the Aussie fan was nice with me, so it was a great atmosphere on the court. So even if it was hot, the court is great. So it was a lot of fun to play today on the court.

 

 

You talked about how coming back feels like a second career. Do you feel after today you’re making the most of this chance?

VIKTOR TROICKI: Trying to. I would use any chance that I get. I’m enjoying playing tennis and having fun on the court. I missed it a lot and that gives me a lot of joy on the court and a lot of motivation. Trying to use any chance, any match, any tournament. It’s going well. (Smiling.)

 

You obviously had some good wins since you came back. Was today, because it’s in a slam, was that the best win you’ve had so far?

VIKTOR TROICKI: No, I wouldn’t say. It was a good win. Definitely Leonardo played great. He improved a lot. But I think I had better wins than this. This one was important since it was a Grand Slam and I had a long run. Yeah, it was a good win, but not the best.

 

Can you describe coming back last fall, playing qualifiers again, playing challengers, how tough that was? Was it humbling?

VIKTOR TROICKI: It was different. Very different. Playing small challengers, starting from the quallies, it was — it gave me some memories back when I was starting actually. I knew I’ve done it once, so why not do it again? I had a lot of support from everyone close to me, and my coaches were with me. I wanted to give my best and to get back to the top as soon as I could. I think I did a good job with that, so I’m pleased with that.

 

Did you ever question during the time away if you would come back or if you could return?

VIKTOR TROICKI: I never was thinking about quitting, but after I had some time off and I didn’t play tennis, I started missing it. Yeah, I started practicing hard, harder than ever before probably. I had some doubts, of course. I didn’t know how it was going to go and if I will come back. In the practice it looked good, playing against the good guys and everything. But in the matches, not having a match for a year, it was kind of — didn’t know how to feel. That first match in Gstaad gave me a lot of confidence. I’m thankful to the tournament of Gstaad where they gave me a wildcard to play in the main draw and beating Dominic Thiem first match after a year gave me a lot of confidence for my comeback. Also, I won my next match, so reached quarters in the first tournament, and that was — I knew I could get back fast, and that gave me a lot of confidence.

 

Who were you practicing with in the year you were out?

VIKTOR TROICKI: In the start, as I said, I didn’t practice at all. But afterwards, Novak probably the most. I traveled to some places where he was playing the tournaments. Obviously I could not play during the tournament on site, but before the tournament I was using any chance that I could to play with anyone. Also in Monte-Carlo where I spend most of the time because I live there. There’s a lot of players there, so I used any chance. Also back home in Belgrade when I was there, there is obviously a lot of young players. For me, since I couldn’t attend any — since I couldn’t be at any site, at any event, it was hard to get good players. But any chance that I could get, you know, I used it. That gave me a good practice. So I used any chances.

 

You’ve had some time to reflect on what happened. Do you still have any resentment about the way your case was handled?

VIKTOR TROICKI: You know what? Sometimes I see it in newspapers and some headlines it says that I refused to give a blood test. I never refused. That’s what hurts me. I want everyone to know that I never refused anything. I just asked for permission and I was allowed by the doctor that day not to give a blood test. I gave urine and I have blood test the next day. It hurts me. I know that I’m innocent and I didn’t do anything wrong. That hurts me obviously. And I’m being punished for following the wrong instructions. The instructions that I was given were wrong. That hurts me. I’m paying a penalty for someone else’s bad instruction, but it was my fault that I didn’t do it that day. At the end, I’m a player who needs to obey the rules. She was giving me instructions, wrong instructions, and she was not punished at all. So that’s what hurts me. I’m over it. I mean, that’s in the past. Trying to focus for the future. But it will always be a mark and I will always remember it as a bad memory.

 

One more question about the past. When you said you didn’t practice at all at first after the ban, why was that?

VIKTOR TROICKI: Because I had fun.

 

Okay. It wasn’t because you thought you might not come back?

VIKTOR TROICKI: No, no. It wasn’t that. Well, I started doing some things that I couldn’t do before while I was playing tournaments all the time. I just wanted to enjoy a bit. I skied a lot. I was month and a half spending on the mountain skiing. I was hanging out with my friends, family, traveling to some places. Novak was nice taking me to some places. Then I just had fun. I didn’t want to play tennis in the start because it was just a lot of negative thoughts. I just want to relax and enjoy. I never thought of giving up. It even made me more angrier and gave me more motivation to get back even better than I was. To all my team, actually. That’s why I was working even harder and better than ever. That work is paying off now.

 

The skiing and traveling wasn’t more fun than playing tennis?

VIKTOR TROICKI: Well, I needed some time off. Let’s put it that way, after when it happened. But after some time not doing something that you love, that ever since you are a kid I dreamed about playing tennis and professionally, and my goal was to play big stadium, big tournament, playing against the top guys, being a top guy. When you are forbidden to do something that you love, you start missing it a lot. You want to get back and be there again and be even better and prove to the world that you can be there again. That’s what was pushing me. Gave me a lot of motivation to get back.

 

You painted the lines there in that game that you saved a couple of match points. You were gutting it out. Can you tell us about your thought process.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I thought my thought process through the match to that point was pretty negative. I think I was dwelling too much on my mistakes, what I was doing wrong, not really being in the present, something that I’m really usually good at. At that point when you’re behind and you feel like you’re making a lot of errors, you don’t feel like you have a good rhythm out there, I just really tried to take it a point at a time, think positively, and change my thought process a little bit. When other things aren’t working, maybe the mental side of things will help you out. I think in the end maybe that’s what did.

 

You then had a service game where you easily held after having some trouble with that. Was that because you continued with that positive frame of mind?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, unlike the previous 30 service games, I actually served smart and did the right thing, I thought. I wasn’t trying to go for a line, for big first serve, when I didn’t have a good rhythm. They were good serves, but they weren’t over 180 kilometers. They were good placement serves, out of reach. Yeah, not too many rallies in that game.

 

Why do you think your mindset maybe drifted off track from where you’re usually able to keep something unusual happening that you thought led it astray?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I thought I did everything I needed to to have a good, solid first set. I was up 30-Love on the first service game, new balls, a few sloppy errors, all of a sudden your opponent gets a bit more confidence and thinks she has a chance to win. All of a sudden she’s out of the tournament. Then in her mind, Well, wait, I’m not out yet. Little by little it’s a combination of, you know, you kind of going the wrong direction and her starting to play, you know, quite well.

 

Did you know anything about her before the match?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, not too much actually, no.

 

You do a fair amount of fist pumping when you play. Is that sort of an important part of getting you mentally in the game, just a part of your process? What is that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t know how to answer, What is that? It’s something that I’ve done since I was quite young. I think I’ve always been a very intense and aggressive player. Yeah, I actually don’t think I did that as much as I maybe usually do. I think I was a bit more subtle about things today.

 

When you saved the two match points, did you sense that Alexandra lost the belief that she could win it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I was down two breaks in the third. I mean, the only belief I had was just try to get into the rallies. She served some really good games out there where I didn’t have much chances. When I did, I thought I could put a little more thought into her mind, get those first serves back. I think that was really important. You know, I think she became a little bit more tentative in that last game. Of course, based on experience, you lift yourself up both mentally and physically.

 

Going forward in the tournament, what are the positives that can come out of surviving a scare like that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just the fact that you did pull through and that you’re giving yourself a chance to keep going. You know, as I say, you never know how you’re going to feel until you go out on the court and compete and play. No matter how you prepare, what you did, once you get out there, everything starts from scratch. It was a tough day, but I pulled through. I guess at this point that’s what matters. Certainly gives me a lot amount of confidence that I didn’t play my best tennis and was able to come through. Sometimes that’s good.

 

You’re one of the toughest mental players in the game. What do you think the key is to your mental toughness and fighting spirit? Where does that come from?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, I don’t know, but I like winning more than I like losing. I’m sure that goes for many people. But, you know, no matter how things go within a match, that’s why I said I didn’t feel that I was positive enough, even though I was making a few more errors than I would have liked. And I wasn’t making enough first serves. But I was thinking about it too much instead of just like being in the present, saying, Hey, go up to the line; do what you do; do what you’ve done thousands of times. I’m good at that and I’ll continue to be good at that. But some days are just a little off. Today was one of them.

 

There’s been a change in one of the ITF rules about players who can play for Fed Cup or Davis Cup. Now a player can only play for one country. For example, if for any reason you wanted to play for the United States, you can’t because you represented Russia before. What’s your opinion on that kind of rule? Do you think players should be able to play for whatever country they want to?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I haven’t heard of that rule. I’m not sure. I don’t have any plans of playing for another country at this point. I’m very happy playing for Russia, as I have for my whole career. That’s the way I see the rest of my career going.

 

What goes through your mind when your back is against the wall?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it’s not the easiest position to be in because you feel like things are just kind of getting out of your control. Usually I’m a type of player that is aggressive, the one that’s doing something out there, not really waiting for another person’s mistake. You know, until the very end I still try to dictate’, I still try to find my way. But, yeah, your back is against the wall, I guess.

 

You play either Diyas or Schmiedlova next. Neither of those are probably well-known to you. What are your thoughts about having a first week of unfamiliar faces?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I guess that’s the way the draw shaped up. I have faced players I haven’t played in a long time, or like today someone I haven’t played before either of the girls coming up in my next match. It’s always tricky. No doubt about that. It’s unusual after being on the tour for many years. Yet there are always girls coming up that are rising, doing well. Diyas is a top-32 seed now with some of her results last year. Don’t know too much about the other girl. Depending on that result – I’m sure my coach is out there watching a bit – we’ll talk a little bit. But I don’t think the focus is really on the other side. I think especially after today’s match, I really just want to focus on what I have to do.

 

Do you ever watch things yourself, pull up YouTube?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, we usually do a little bit of that, especially if I’m unfamiliar with a girl I’m facing against, or sometimes a few highlights of matches I’ve played against players. I don’t watch too much. But, yeah, it’s nice to have. YouTube is a good source.

 

Do you ever watch your own videos?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I really dislike doing that. I’m not a fan. But it’s quite educational, at least that’s what the coaches tell me. But, yeah, it’s good once in a while. It’s nice to see something from a different perspective because, I’m quite a stubborn individual. You see something from your own eyes on the court, but sometimes your coach, or this little camera on top shows you a different picture. It’s nice to see that painting because sometimes it comes out completely different.

 

Why don’t you like watching yourself?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t know. Sometimes I just feel like I have better things to do.

 

Who do you think is dressing the best on court this year?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I quite like my outfit, so…

 

But others?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I haven’t seen all the outfits yet. Maybe I’ll check on Getty, yeah.

 

 

You’ve been playing quite well in the exhibition matches recently, but how much more satisfaction do you get from putting together a match like that here at a Grand Slam?

ANDY MURRAY: Well, it depends. I mean, some exhibition events are different to others. You know, a lot of the events I played at the beginning of the year — everyone’s wanting to get matches at this stage. You don’t want to come in having not sort of played competitive matches. Yeah, I felt like the players I played in Abu Dhabi and at the Hopman Cup. Everyone wants to win those matches. They’re not sort of gimme matches. I felt like I was playing well coming in. I feel like I started the tournament pretty well. First round was tricky. I didn’t know my opponent well. Today was better.

 

There’s been a lot of talk about ITF rule changes regarding Davis Cup participation; getting stricter about one player being able to play for one country in their career. Do you think someone like Bedene should be able to play for Britain when he becomes a citizen?

ANDY MURRAY: I don’t know. It’s not really my area. Yeah, I mean, I heard they changed the rules a little bit and that you can only play for one nation.

 

As it is now, if you ever played for anybody, that’s it.

ANDY MURRAY: That’s it, yeah, which I think is fine. But I believe he had all of his paperwork and stuff in before the rule change, so I’m not sure exactly what’s happening with his situation. But, yeah, that’s not really my area to say what’s right and wrong, though.

 

Do you think you’ve proven a point today, you and Amelie, given Marinko’s comments?

ANDY MURRAY: No. I get on well with Marinko. I spoke to him a little bit about what he said. He didn’t mean any harm. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion on anything. If he wants to get coached by a man, that’s absolutely fine. I have absolutely no issue with it at all. I still think he’s a good guy. I get on well with him. I wasn’t trying to prove a point at all when I was playing Marinko today. I was trying to win the match.

 

You’re a guy that likes to watch a lot of other sports and has opinions on other sports. I wonder if our cricketers would envy you with a 10-nil victory ratio against Australians. Where does all that come from?

ANDY MURRAY: I don’t know, to be honest. That’s not loads. Obviously, I played loads against like French players, a lot more than that. But, yeah, I don’t know exactly why. I think, like I said on the court, there’s obviously going to be a lot more challenging matches I think over the next few years when all the young guys keep improving and are getting better. So, yeah, I’ll struggle to keep on to a perfect record against Aussies, I would say, in the coming years. But, yeah, I have played well against them in the past.

 

Do you watch cricket, the Ashes?

ANDY MURRAY: I do from time to time. I obviously can’t watch the whole tests. But, yeah, I watch bits and pieces when it’s on. But normally, yeah, I’m training. It’s one of those things. I don’t know if anyone here sits and watches like the whole five days or not. You kind of see bits and pieces.

 

Is part of the thrill of being in Australia being two weeks ahead on what’s happening on Neighbours?

ANDY MURRAY: I’ve never watched Neighbours in my life, here or back home (smiling).

Q. Were you surprised about the first set of Bolelli, who never won a set versus you? Are you also surprised he never beat a top-10 player in 33 matches, and now 34?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I thought he played two really good sets against me in Davis Cup, so I felt like he was really, you know, imposing his strength at the baseline. I could sense there that he had a good forehand; committed, you know, on the return; solid backhand with the option to hit the slice. I wasn’t that surprised, to be honest, you know. I was just surprised how well, how consistently he was doing that, and especially how well he was serving actually. But then again, conditions were fast, which made it easier to serve well and harder to return. Maybe the break, I shouldn’t be broken, but he was really playing very well from the baseline. I guess in these conditions sometimes a break can be a set. That’s when I was under pressure for a while in the second set, but I’m happy I fought my way out of it.

 

Q. How is your finger and how is the blister?

ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know if it’s a blister. I don’t know what that thing is. It’s the weirdest thing. I don’t know. I feel it on the tip of my finger. Just felt really odd starting after the break, and for three, four games, it was the funniest feeling I have. I feel like it’s numb and swollen. So, I don’t know, I just wanted to have a chat with the…

 

Q. When you touched it, it was weird?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I don’t know what it was. I still don’t know. I just wanted to have a chat with the — what is his name — the physio just see what we can do. I know there is nothing we could do. I knew we couldn’t tape it up because then it would be even bigger and more weird. I just said, I hope it doesn’t get worse or stay like this. Actually it went away, but now I feel again. I don’t know what the feeling is.

 

Q. Might be a bee sting, you were saying?

ROGER FEDERER: I was thinking it could be that.

 

Q. Physio didn’t know what it was?

ROGER FEDERER: No. You can’t see anything (laughter). But it is definitely swollen and it’s funny. I don’t know what it is. As long as it’s not getting bad, it’s okay.

 

Q. You didn’t like the cameraman when he came too close. You said, Do you need to come that close?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, the guy is like in my ear. No I don’t like it because I think there’s a bit of privacy. In that space I’m just discussing the options of what we can do, and you feel like the guy is sneaking up on you. It’s not the best feeling, yeah. So I asked him if he needed to be that close. He clearly didn’t, because he backed off (smiling).

 

Russia has become one of the main organizers of sports events. It’s also a country that’s involved in all sorts of political problems. Do you think professional athletes should go to any country a federation sends them to, or do they have a personal responsibility playing in countries that are involved in war or human rights violations?

ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know. I mean, in tennis we can do whatever, I guess. It’s up to us where we want to go. We don’t get sent by the federation or anybody. It’s our call if you want to do it or not. Then whatever your beliefs are, it’s going to get you there or not.

 

Have you ever considered boycotting an event for political reasons?

ROGER FEDERER: I’ve never been in a position like this, to be honest.

 

You haven’t played in Russia since 2002. Is that a coincidence?

ROGER FEDERER: It’s not a coincidence. It’s just because it didn’t fit in my schedule.

 

Can I ask you a question about age?

ROGER FEDERER: I’d love to talk about that (laughter).

 

Do we lay too much emphasis on it? Do you feel like you’re the same guy in the same body as you were a couple years ago, or do you actually feel you have to adjust a little bit because you are no longer the youngest?

ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I feel fine. I don’t feel any different to let’s say four years ago. I really don’t. You maybe pay attention a bit more and listen to the signs of your body a bit more. By now I know my body even better. Clearly as the years go by I guess you also want to try out new things. But that’s not really necessarily always down to age. It’s simple just to say, Okay, you did that because such and such. But actually it was just to make it different, make it fresh, make it new, try something else. That may be whatever the decision it was, but clearly you have to listen to your body. I think the mind also becomes important. How badly do you want to be out there? How badly do you want to play and win? Why are you still doing it? Are you doing it for the right reasons? I think that becomes, in my opinion, more important than the whole body talk that everybody puts emphasis on.

 

I know you’re a fan of a lot of sports. What do you think of rugby? Who would you be supporting in this year’s Rugby World Cup?

ROGER FEDERER: I’ll be supporting South Africa, of course. Yeah, I honestly don’t see it very often. I don’t know why. I don’t know where we are in the world when it’s happening, why I keep missing it. I was talking to somebody, maybe some — I don’t remember. But I see cricket frequently. When we go to the States and we follow the American sports over there. In Europe it’s more of the football, soccer, all that. With rugby, for some reason I don’t see it enough. But I’ll be supporting South Africa.

Do you choose to, on your days off, attend some of these sports? While in America, do you go see the L.A. Kings?

ROGER FEDERER: I’ve been to the Heat and the Lakers. Never been to a cricket game or a rugby game. Never been in Formula One. When we’re in town or they’re in town, there’s no other event happening. It’s the same for us. Yeah, I mean, Moto GP I’ve gone to see. There’s clearly many things I would like to do. I went to an Arsenal game during the World Tour Finals now. That was good fun. I try to, but it’s not always that simple, you know.

 

What are your thoughts on how Mandela used the South Africa rugby team to change the course of history in South Africa?

ROGER FEDERER: I think it’s wonderful how he brought the country together. It was a big, big moment in sports for everybody, more so for the people in South Africa. It was an amazing moment.

 

With Li Na not playing this year, do you feel more attention, more people watching you back home in China?

PENG SHUAI: I didn’t really watch this because the tennis now in China for sure is more popular than before because more tournament, more player on the tour. I think she make two Grand Slam, and also before like start from 17, 18, first with the Olympic go, then get more and more the good result in China. And also, you know, like the marketing, more popular, more tournament in China. For sure is more people watch tennis now. Yeah.

 

Do you think it’s important for Chinese players to continue to do well in order for the sport to get bigger in China?

PENG SHUAI: I think tennis is really good sport and also good for, how you say, like also be professional and to play, have fun. Because young kids or old people, they all can play and then they have fun. If more people watch, play for sure have a lot more player. I think everybody is want to improve, get better result. Is not only like a girl, for sure. Maybe future have a boy. I think everybody ask, are looking for this. And then, yeah, I wish I can get more better, but I don’t know, yeah.

 

 

Q. Would you mind talking about what men’s rivalry has been sort of the most impressionable on you, whether it’s coming up or now, in men’s tennis?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: Whew, I don’t know. Personally for me, I haven’t felt that there’s a rivalry at the moment to play against one player over and over again. I mean, obviously, so to speak, the younger generation, the younger guys are really pushing through and winning rounds. If you can call that a rivalry, maybe that’s the way it is. But, you know, so far in a way it’s early in the tournament to say that. In general, the year just began. Let it unfold a little bit before we jump into any conclusion.

 

Q. What about for you when you were younger? Were you a tennis fan growing up when you were a kid?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: Well, I’m not that young anymore if you think about it, but definitely growing up of course I had idols. I’ve looked up to a lot of players, following their success, their path. But I think now all that is behind me. I’m doing my own personality in my own way. So I think that’s good.

 

Q. Within yourself, do you think you’re ready to win a slam or do you think you might have a little ways to go?GRIGOR DIMITROV: If you ask me, of course I’d say yes. But that’s something that I definitely need to show I think throughout all the matches and be even more consistent. If I’m ready? Yeah, I think I’m ready. But before you get to the final or something like that, you need to go through quite a few players that are the top right now and playing their greatest tennis. I think the game has evolved so much in the past years that instead of getting easier, it’s getting harder. I think you have a lot of guys, they have more experience, they’re older, they’re fitter. You have that on the radar. But in the same time, you know, I’ve worked throughout my career so far to position myself in those kind of matches. I’m out there to win those ones, so I think I’m aiming higher.

 

Q. Maria scored an incredible come-from-behind win today. Can I ask you what makes her so tough?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: I think days like that defines who you are. It’s simple.

 

Q. And the definition of Maria is just…

GRIGOR DIMITROV: Well, I think I should be the last person to sort of judge that, but I think you can’t name one thing in particular with her. I think she’s been fighting throughout all those years, through everything that is in her way, jumped all the hurdles and all the obstacles. By far the greatest fighter ever.

 

 

 

How much did the crowd help you in the tough moments?

NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah, I thought the crowd was massive today. They got behind me a lot at some really key moments. They got a bit carried away with some things. That’s going to happen. It was a lot of fun as well. I was interacting with the crowd. At stages they were telling me where he was going to serve. They obviously think it’s pretty easy out there. No, it was a lot of fun.

 

The atmosphere on Rod Laver compared to a show court is a lot different. Do you have a preference either way?

NICK KYRGIOS: No, I don’t mind. I guess when you play on a show court you know it’s going to get a bit more rowdy, a bit more out of control I think. I’ve never actually played on Rod apart from my junior final against Thanasi. The crowd was pretty empty for that. Yeah, I’ve never experienced that, so I can’t give you that answer.

 

Do you feel the crowd is giving the Australian players an advantage?

NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah, they’re getting behind us. I think it’s tough right now when you have Groth versus Kokkinakis, who to go for. But, yeah, I think they’re helping the Aussies a lot.

 

Did you put in a request for a show court or…

NICK KYRGIOS: No, I didn’t put a request for any court. I just saw I was on Show Court 3. It’s a good court. I’m not going to complain. It’s a Grand Slam. Yeah, it was a really good court.

 

What do we take from your hair? What does it tell us about your personality? Tell us a little bit about your eyebrow, too.

NICK KYRGIOS: I don’t know. I guess it’s just youth. You know, you’re not going to see Roger or Novak doing things like this. I don’t know. Just doing it.

 

It’s a bit of fun for you, too?

NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah, I guess. I got sort of known for having some lines in my hair at some stage last year. It’s my last Grand Slam as a teenager. I don’t think I’ll be doing this stuff when I’m 20.

 

Are you someone who looks ahead in the draw?

NICK KYRGIOS: Not usually, but it’s hard when social media these days when guys are saying, Kyrgios, Federer fourth round when the draw just came out. It’s hard not to look ahead, but I think especially for me, this tournament I wasn’t looking too far ahead. I knew that I had a big task ahead of me with Delbonis. I’m really happy that I’m getting through.

 

Any thoughts on that potential matchup?

NICK KYRGIOS: Not at this stage, no.

 

How much does it do for your confidence, beating a player that you regard so highly?

NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah, I’m feeling really confident now, especially I played a good clay-courter first round. I thought he played really well. Obviously physically backing up after five sets as well, I can take massive confidence out of that. Ivo today, I thought he had the best year of his life last year. He got to top 20 at some stage. He’s 25 now. He’s playing some good tennis. With that serve, he can obviously beat a lot of players. I think he beat Djokovic a couple weeks ago. I knew he was going to be tough. That gives me massive confidence.

 

How much attention do you pay to what’s going on in the media?

NICK KYRGIOS: A lot. It’s hard to not read that stuff. I mean, there should be a lot of expectation on Australians playing their home Grand Slam. We all know there’s a lot of expectation on us. It’s fair enough. We should be performing at Grand Slams. Yeah, I’m just happy I got through.

 

Was there one rivalry when you were younger growing up that you really watched that you liked to watch as a fan, I guess?

NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah, I mean, it’s hard to go past Federer and Nadal. I mean, they haven’t played each other in a long time, but every time they were in the same section or anything like that, they’re definitely thinking about it. I think it’s the greatest rivalry of all time. That’s the generation I was watching when I was a kid. I mean, I still am a kid. It’s happened pretty quick.

 

As you get older, do you think your bravado and showmanship on court…

NICK KYRGIOS: Are you asking me if I’m going to mature?

 

Pat Rafter said you were still a bit too emotional on court.

NICK KYRGIOS: Uhm, geez, I don’t know. I don’t know what to say to that. He has his own opinion, I guess.

 

 

During the warmup Genie’s Army was going crazy. You had a big smile on your face. How much enjoyment do you get from them being present?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: It’s really fun. I think they brought a lot of energy tonight. I think they played well. They were aggressive, showed their presence at good moments. It just makes it more fun. I think the rest of the crowd appreciates it as well. They kind of laugh and get into it. During the warmup they were also playing the Taylor Swift song Shake It Off. That’s why I was smiling. I almost wanted to sing, but I told myself not to.

 

Did you follow Sharapova at all today? A chance you might see her down the road. Did you see it was pretty tight?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: I didn’t. I mean, I know like what happened, but I was like warming up and doing my things. But, yeah, I mean, that’s far off in the future. So I just have a match on Friday and that’s all I’m concerned about.

 

Does the surprise you someone 25 years old, 150, can hold two match points against Sharapova? Does that surprise you?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: No. We’re at a Grand Slam. Every player can perform well. It’s just if they bring their game on that day and maybe someone else is not play as well that day. I mean, there are a lot of good players out there. This stuff happens all the time. Doesn’t surprise me.

 

Sleeping until 1:00 p.m., can I ask how many hours of sleep that was?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: That was like between 12 and 13 hours of sleep.

 

This may be the first time in your professional career that you are going to face a player whose coach has coached you and may know you better than other coaches. If you were Nathalie Tauziat, what would you tell Caroline Garcia about you?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: I don’t think I’m going to answer that. She’s amazing; you’re going to get killed. No, I’m kidding. Yeah, that’s true. I worked with Nathalie a little bit. I guess that’s how the tennis world is. It’s a small world. Kind of musical chairs in terms of coaching. I’m sure it won’t be the last time in my career. Yeah, but it won’t really bother me. I’m not playing against the coach, I’m playing against the player. I’m not going to worry about it. I’m still friendly with Nathalie, so it’s all good.

 

Last week there was a story that the Hong Kong Tennis Association were fined by the WTA because of what happened in Hong Kong. The reason was they felt they damaged your reputation. Did you feel the incident damaged your reputation?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: I don’t think so. You know, I didn’t make any mistake in any way. I never entered the tournament, so I can’t withdraw from a tournament if I’ve never entered it. It’s just unfortunate what happened, but I think the WTA is good in terms of they want to protect their players, protect their own image. I think what they did is fine.

 

You seemed to have a little trouble with the twirl.

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: With the what?

 

Twirl.

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: It was very unexpected. I mean, yeah, I don’t know. An old guy asking you to twirl, it was funny.

 

I guess Serena did it.

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: Well, Serena is good at her twirls. She does them all the time.

 

Serena was telling us this year, it’s the year of the back in terms of dresses. Are you going to get on that bandwagon?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: Maybe I should. I mean, she must know like what’s coming up in fashion and stuff. Maybe I should cut a hole in my top tonight and show off my back like Serena.

 

You said after your first-round match you didn’t know a whole lot about Tim. How much did you learn in the last couple days? Were you surprised by the way he played in the end?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I saw him play some videos. I checked some videos. Well, I think he played well, but is true that what he did at the end of the fifth is just amazing. Congratulate. I say on the court, but I want to say here, too. Very few players can do that after four hours something of match, 5-All, Love-30. So just will say thanks to him because he’s a great example what he did today.

 

What was your reaction? Were you surprised?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, sure. At the end should not be surprising, but is surprise. That’s not positive thing. But is good. Is great. Is very difficult to make it and he did, so just congratulate.

 

After the third set, what was happening in your mind and body? Did you feel at this moment that you can still turn this around?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, no. I felt very tired. I felt, I don’t know. At the end of the first set, I start to feel my body very bad, very tired. I don’t know. I was worrying crazy. Then when I was serving for the third, almost throw up. So was terrible feeling, no? I suffered too much on court for three hours and a half. I was suffering a lot. Too much. You know, was not funny today the way that the match was. Obviously is a very positive thing that finally have the chance to win, but, yeah, I hope to recover myself.

 

Any explanation of what went wrong?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I don’t know yet. I just go out. But is true that the weather was different today than the last couple of weeks. Very humid. I am sweating a lot always when it’s humid. But, I don’t know, long time without competition, with tough conditions, but at the end happened something more. Is obvious, no? I practiced a lot. Should not be that tired after 40 minutes. That’s obvious, no? Something happened, and I feel lucky to have the chance to finish the match, and then to find a way to win. So very positive for me. As I say the other day, all the moments I spend on court are important. Is not positive be like this, but in general you know important to win these kind of matches. That’s give me the possibility to play again, and I going to try to make better the next day.

 

The suffering that you had on the court today, is that one of the toughest wins you’ve ever pulled off?

RAFAEL NADAL: In terms of feeling bad on the court, yes. Probably yes. I was close to not continue because I felt that I was very dizzy. I felt that I can lose little bit the – I don’t know how to say – can fall down. So is true that after the third, fourth, and fifth, I tried to play much more aggressive, without running, no running anymore, and try to go for the winners and play little bit better, play little bit more relax. In terms of physically, at the end of the match I started to felt little bit better.

 

What do you feel about your ability to dig down and come through? Do you think that is a talent that you have?

RAFAEL NADAL: All during my career is obvious that I was able to find solutions for tough moments. I was able to win matches where I was in trouble. Sure, is an ability, but you know I worked very hard during all my career to resist, to try to be strong mentally. Is obvious that all the practices when I was a kid, all the moments that I suffered, helps.

 

If someone at the final of the challenger in Napa said, Don’t worry, in a few months you’ll be the attention of world media in a fabulous Australian Open match against one of the great players of our era, what would you say?

TIM SMYCZEK: I probably wasn’t really thinking about that at the time. The challengers are great for honing your game and really getting some work done. That’s the way I treat them. So, you know, it’s kind of just like an added bonus coming here and playing well. That was really special tonight. It was pretty clear Rafa didn’t have his best stuff. But it just shows the kind of player, the kind of champion he is because, you know, he was sick and not playing well. That was his C or D game. He found a way to win. So hats off to him. That’s why he’s one of the best.

 

You’re proud of your performance? Talk about your performance.

TIM SMYCZEK: Yeah, I mean, very happy with the way I played. I had a good game plan going in. The most important thing I thought was for me to try and stay within myself. I thought I did a pretty good job of that. I didn’t really struggle with nerves too much just because I got nothing to lose. Very happy with the way I served. I was happy that I was able to go for four hours and still feel okay. But, yeah, very happy.

 

At the end you feel a little bit disappointed because at the end you didn’t win?

TIM SMYCZEK: Yeah, I thought I had him for a minute. When he was kind of doubled over I could see he was really hurting. I started to believe that I really, you know, had a chance and could get it done. But he turned it up to another gear. That’s why he’s been one of the best for years and years.

 

Have you ever played a better match? Is that the best level of tennis you’ve hit so far?

TIM SMYCZEK: I think that’s the longest I’ve sustained a level like that. I think throughout my career I’ve had flashes like that. But that’s definitely one of the positives I’ll take from it, you know, being able to sustain that for four and eight/ninths of a set.

 

What was your game plan going in?

TIM SMYCZEK: I kind of studied him. He’s maybe the one that I’ve studied the least out of the top guys just because he does so many things that I’m not capable of. But that being said, I have spent a lot of time watching him. We were going to try and just try and keep him from hitting forehands in his backhand corner because it’s lethal from there. Trying to pin him in his forehand corner, then when I had a chance, to really be forceful with a ball to his backhand.

 

Talk about what happened at 6-5 in the fifth when the spectator shouted. Rafa was serving. You indicated he should take another serve.

TIM SMYCZEK: I couldn’t make out what he said. I don’t know if the guy didn’t know he was tossing the ball or not, but it clearly bothered him. You know, I thought it was the right thing to do.

 

Where is your next match going to be?

TIM SMYCZEK: I’m entered in the Maui challenger next week. I think I might pull out of that one unfortunately. Need a couple days off after that. But assuming I’m healthy and everything, I’ll start up at the Dallas challenger.

 

What I was getting at with the question is you come off 15,000 spectators, several million around the world, and your next will be somewhat fewer. Where is the motivation going to come from?

TIM SMYCZEK: Like I said earlier, the challengers really serve a very specific purpose. It will be on me to go in there and really take care of business, you know, try and pick up points and work on my ranking. So, yeah, it’s definitely not going to be the same as playing a night session on Rod Laver. It’s just part of the deal with being ranked 100 in the world. You’ve got to do it.

 

If you had to point to something, what is the most remarkable point of Nadal’s game?

TIM SMYCZEK: Just his competitiveness. I mean, he was playing terrible. I have to be careful what I say. He was not playing well and he still found a way to just come back and hit another gear that he could tap into. It’s hard to argue with how good his forehand is. It will probably go down as the best lefty forehand of all time.

 

At the point he doubled over, you were up two sets to one. Even when you were racking upsets you weren’t thinking you might do it?

TIM SMYCZEK: Like I said going into the match, I wouldn’t have walked out on the court if I didn’t think I had a prayer. But there was a certain point in the match where I started to really, you know, think it was going to happen.

 

Talk about Rafa’s competitiveness. Is that something as a player that you feel on the other side of the net?

TIM SMYCZEK: At one point, I think it was in the fourth set, I had a service game where he didn’t really move for any of my serves, and I hit a couple aces. I think that kind of struck me as odd. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do that. So I think just, you know, the fact that I was so surprised with him not making moves for balls just goes to show — he’s been on the tour for 10, 11 years, whatever it is. But you almost never see him take a point off. So that was kind of one of the biggest challenges going into the match. I knew there wasn’t going to be a lot free. That puts a lot of pressure on a lot of guys.

 

Did you have any difficulty with the spacing of the court, how big behind the baseline is? Did that ever throw you off?

TIM SMYCZEK: I loved it. It gave me a little room to run. It was a little bit odd. I hit on Laver yesterday. I was flagging balls into the stand. It was a little bit of an adjustment. By the time the match rolled around, I was fine.

 

Do you have Polish roots?

TIM SMYCZEK: I do. I don’t speak Polish, though. Sorry.

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Pironkova’s Run Continues and Wild Cards Thrive at the Apia International

By Dave Gertler

(January 12, 2015) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Tsvetana Pironkova‘s endearing and heroic run of 12 straight wins at the Apia International in Sydney might finally be cut short on Tuesday by the big game of the USA’s Madison Keys. The Bulgarian defending champion yesterday won an unlikely battle against Indian Wells champion Flavia Pennetta to advance to the second round of the main draw. Then again, her win over Pennetta is merely one of four top-12 wins the now-ranked No. 67 Pironkova has enjoyed in Sydney the last two years.

 

“I think I played a great match today,” said Pironkova of her 6-3, 7-6 win over the Italian, “I felt very good on court. I think we both did. It was a very  entertaining  match  for  the spectators. Definitely hard. I’m glad I could finish it only in two sets.” Pennetta was starting to find her range in the second set, battling from a break down to force the tie-break, at which point Pironkova’s air of Sydney invincibility took over again.

 

“Well, I obviously love it,” said Pironkova, 27, whose first and only career WTA title is last year’s Apia International. “I have very nice memories from last year. I like the surface very much. I like the people around here.  I like the city, which I think it’s important for every player to enjoy the whole experience. So I am, and I feel very, very good here.”

 

Due to her 2014 Apia International championship points being stripped at the beginning of this week, Pironkova ranking has dropped a staggering 30 spots to No.67, yet she has still managed to spin into a positive the fact that as defending champ she was declined a wildcard into the main draw this year. Pironkova said, “That was past. You know, once I came to the tournament, I had a different mindset. I was like, OK, you’re playing quallies. Just go out on the court and forget about what’s happening. Obviously you’re not getting a wildcard. Get over it and try your best. And that’s what I’m doing.”

 

While tactics, craftiness and overall tennis smarts are how Pironkova separates herself from most opponents, she will have to find a new level to beat her next opponent Madison Keys. Keys was demonstrative in her first-round win over Svetlana Kuznetsova on the main court, Ken Rosewall Arena on Sunday and will be well-rested after a day off to face an opponent who has played four matches in as many days here in Sydney.

 

Finding out for the first time in the media conference who her next opponent was, Pironkova said, “I didn’t know I play against her. Very strong opponent. I think she’s very good right now, in good form, and one of the players to look out for. So, you know, I’m just going to go out there and do my best, and hopefully I’m going to win.”

 

The two wildcards in the women’s draw were given to Australian local hopes Jarmila Gajdosova and Daria Gavrilova, who both – like Pironkova – scored upset wins in their first-round matches. Journey-woman Gajdosova’s win over world No.12 Andrea Petkovic was her highest-ranked win since 2011. In an all-Slovak battle today of sorts – Gajdosova was born and spent her formative years in Slovakia – she will take on world No.11 Dominika Cibulkova on Grandstand Court, one of many standout matches scheduled for today at Olympic Park Tennis Centre. Gavrilova’s win over Swiss Belinda Bencic was also standout, her first win over a top 20 player since 2012.

 

The Apia International’s Tuesday order of play is full of drawcards, and reads almost like a grand slam middle Saturday, perhaps minus the top-10 men’s players. Headlining action on Ken Rosewall Arena will be Juan Martin Del Potro. In his first match back from injury since February 2014, the Argentine US Open champ will face Sergiy Stakhovsky to begin his campaign to defend his 2014 Apia International title.

 

Sam Stosur, who finally managed to turn the tables against Lucie Safarova on Monday, will face her second Czech opponent in two days. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova made it into the second round when her opponent Caroline Wozniacki withdrew from their match citing wrist problems.

 

Also in action on KRA on Tuesday – Bernard Tomic, Sam Stosur, and Petra Kvitova, Nick Kyrgios and Jerzy Janowicz, while Simona Halep, Agnieszka Radwanska, Vasek Pospisil and Sam Groth take on their opponents on Grandstand and the outer courts.

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and is covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Stars Descend On Sydney for the Apia International

Julien Benneteau and Ken Rosewall at Sydney International draw ceremony

Julien Benneteau and Ken Rosewall at Sydney International draw ceremony

By Dave Gertler

(January 10, 2015) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Stars of the tennis world have been descending upon Sydney over the last days, while qualifying heats have been contested at the Apia International in Sydney. Last year’s women’s champion Tsvetana Pironkova, who qualified and won eight matches in a row at the 2014 Apia International, has had to navigate through qualifying again – albeit as top seed this year – and will make it into the main draw if she defeats American Nicole Gibbs on Sunday. Despite lifting her ranking from outside the top 100 a year ago to where it is now at No.37, that Pironkova still needed to qualify is testament to the depth of the women’s draw at this year’s event.

The tournament’s top seed Simona Halep will arrive in Sydney on Sunday, from Shenzhen, China where she won the tournament.
Petra Kvitova lost in the semi-finals of Shenzhen.
Caroline Wozniacki  arrived at Sydney Airport last night from Auckland, losing her Auckland final to Venus Williams.
Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska will complete the Apia International’s top four seeds when she arrives in Sydney from Perth, where she and Jerzy Janowicz – who will also feature strongly on the men’s side of the Sydney tournament – have won the Hopman Cup in an eventful final against USA’s John Isner and Serena Williams.

Janowicz will continue to be a headline act of Australia’s Summer of Tennis, as he plays young Australian giant-killer Nick Kyrgios in their first round match, which was allotted yesterday during a draw ceremony whose guests of honour included Ken Rosewall and Lesley Bowrey. 2005 Sydney finalist Sam Stosur, as well as 2012 Sydney finalist Julien Benneteau, were also in attendance for their respective WTA and ATP draw ceremonies.

 

While the men’s draw is less stacked than a women’s draw which boasts six top-10 players, Benneteau called the men’s draw, “Very compact,” saying, “Maybe there is not top 10 players, but from the top seeds to the end of the draw, there are tough players between 20, 30, 40, very good players, so I really think that anyone can win on Saturday.”

The men’s top two seeds, Fabio Fognini and David Goffin, will fly surprisingly under the radar at this tournament given that last year’s champion Juan Martin Del Potro, has chosen this event to stage his comeback from injury that has left him sidelined for almost a year. Del Potro flew in on Thursday night and has been using the days since to practice on Ken Rosewall Arena, with some light strapping on his wrist.

 

Ken Rosewall predicted a big year for the new Australian men’s No. 1, saying, “Because of his rapid improvement and his performance at Wimbledon and other senior events, there’ll be a lot of players who’ll be wanting to be in top form when they play against him. Hopefully Nick can remain physically clear without any problems, and he’ll be in good form. But I think there’ll be extra pressure on him this time to kind of stand up to being the number one player in Australia.”

 

At the women’s draw ceremony, Lesley Bowrey, winner of the French Open in 1964 and 1965, had some timely and compassionate words of wisdom for Sam Stosur, who is known for her struggles to win matches on home soil. “I just want to wish Sam all the best,” said Bowrey, “And just go out there and be free and easy, really, and not worry, as you say about everyone else, and what they’re telling you, just play your own game and do what you want to do.” Stosur has been drawn to face Lucie Safarova, the Czech world No.15 to whom she has lost their last six matches.

 

“Look, sometimes when I used to lead in matches, and I used to lose them too,” continued Bowrey, perhaps referring to Stosur’s loss last week in Brisbane to Varvara Lepchenko, after having a match point at 5-1 in the deciding set, “We all do that, it’s nothing new, you just have to find a way. What I used to do is just say, well, if I’m leading 5-1 or 5-2 or 5-3, I’d just tell myself I’m down that, and just take the pressure right off myself. That’s how I used to handle it, just tell myself I’m not leading, I’m down. Tennis is a tough game, it’s a tough sport.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and is covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Code Violations Almost Knock Out Kyrgios at US Open

 

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(August 25, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Nick Kyrgios knocked out Rafael Nadal Wimbledon in the fourth round. At the US Open on Monday, the Australian almost knocked himself out of the tournament with his conduct. The 19-year-old was hit with three code violations for fits on anger, one away from being defaulted in his victory over the 21st seed Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (1).

Kyrgios hit a ball out of the court and uttered two audible obscenities for code violations.

“I guess just heat of the moment,” said the youngster. “I was frustrated the way I was playing, and, yeah, it was just all that sort of stuff. It was just an outburst, and hopefully I will be able to control that the next time I play.”

“It was a tough first match playing Youzhny,” Kyrgios said. “Someone that’s played well here in the past and last year making the quarterfinals. I knew I had to serve well, and I hit 26 aces. Those are good stats. I was struggling a little bit about the two-and-a-half hour mark, but I knew that if I hung in I would get that second wind where I could start playing good tennis again, and that’s what happened in the fourth set.”
Andreas Seppi will be the Australian’s next opponent.
“It will be an interesting match. He’s solid on both wings. He has a good serve, as well. I think I’m going to have to play aggressive and keep the match on my racquet. It’s going to be exciting.”

“I’m not going to look past Seppi at all,” he said. “He’s a quality player. It’s going to be a tough match. It’s good to get a win over a seed, but I have to just focus on my next match.”

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A Consistent Murray Moves Past Teen Kyrgios in Toronto

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

 

By Dave Gertler

(August 6, 2014) TORONTO – Andy Murray has averted the potential threat coming from Nick Kyrgios at the Rogers Cup in Toronto on Wednesday. Back from his hiatus that commenced after he was ousted from the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, the world No. 9 appeared fresh and in rhythm, employing a mixture of rock-solid consistency and relentless pressure to weather the initial onslaught from the explosive Australian teenager, and ultimately move through to the round of 16.

 

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After both players exchanged holds of serve on Stadium Court, cracks began to appear in Kyrgios’ game. An unforced error-laden game saw him get broken for 1-2. “It was a solid match for a first match back after sort of four-and-a-half, five weeks. I was happy,” said Murray after the match, “I  thought I did most things pretty solid. I didn’t make too many errors. I moved well. High first-serve percentage.”

 

After a series of love-holds from both players, Murray struck again with a second break for 5-2, consolidating for the first set. After compound-fracturing his racquet at the tail-end of the first set, Kyrgios set about gaining a foothold in the second set, new racquet in hand.

 

But after both players held twice early in the second set, the 27-year-old wielded his experience over the 19-year-old, breaking him twice, sealing the next four games. The final scoreline of 6-2, 6-2 was achieved in 54 minutes. “He played way too good for me today,” said Kyrgios, who leaves tomorrow morning for Cincinnati to prepare to qualify for the Western & Southern Open, his last stop before the US Open later in August.  “I never felt comfortable out there. I felt awkward and wasn’t serving great, and he made me pay the price, so there’s a lot of things I can take away from that match today.”

 

To reach the second round, Kyrgios had to spring back from a set behind in the first-round against Colombian Santiago Giraldo yesterday, but Kyrgios said about today’s match. “I don’t think I can beat myself up too much,” said Kyrgios,”I haven’t played that much tennis at this sort of level yet. I’ve played a couple of grand slams, and this is only my third tour event, so it’s all new to me still, I’m getting used to it though.”

 

Having won the Rogers Cup twice before, Murray has not made it past the quarterfinals since 2010, and will now play Richard Gasquet in the round of 16, while Novak Djokovic will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his third-round match. While Tsonga made it through his opponent, compatriot Jeremy Chardy, in straight sets on Grandstand Court, Djokovic found himself in a dire situation against another Frenchman, Gael Monfils. While it was the Serb world No.1 who made it through in the end, it was not without dropping a set to Monfils, both players electrifying the crowd with highlight-reel tennis over a devastating two hours and 40 minutes on Stadium Court, the final score going Djokovic’s way, 6-2, 6-7, 7-6(2).

 

Other winners to advance to the third round included Ivan Dodig, Marin Cilic, Julien Benneteau, Tommy Robredo and Kevin Anderson.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

 

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Semifinals Set for Both Men and Women at Wimbledon

 

 

(July 2, 2014) WIMBLEDON – Grigor Dimitrov ended the run of defending champion Andy Murray 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-2 to reach the semifinals of Wimbledon, becoming the first Bulgarian man to do so. Dimitrov joins No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic, seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer and another newcomer Milos Raonic in the semifinals.

The No. 11 seed ended Murray’s 16-match winning streak at the All England club which went all the way back to the 2012 Olympic Games.

“I have very good memories from that court out there,” Murray said.  It’s a special court for me.

“Yeah, I mean, you can have bad days as an athlete.  You don’t win all of the time.  Sometimes you just have to take it on the chin and move on.

“But, yeah, when you don’t feel like you played as well as you can, that’s disappointing and frustrating.  Yeah, that’s happened a few times in the slams over the last year, so I’m disappointed about that.”

“I think I got early on in the match on top of him, and I think that really helped me, you know, progress in that way.” Dimitrov said.  “I think second and third set was just a little different.

“But, I mean, I can’t say much about the match because I came out to win the match.  I was really positive.  I was ready.  I had a lot of patience no matter how many sets I was supposed to play.

“But I was just composed and I was looking for every point that I had to play.”

On Friday, Dimitrov face 2011 Wimbledon champion in Novak Djokovic who reached the semifinals for a fifth straight year. Top seed Djokovic had to rally to top No. 26 Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-2.

On the lower half of the draw, Federer will play No. 8 Milos Raonic, the first Canadian man in a Grand Slam semifinal since the early 1920s.

Federer dropped his first set of the fortnight to Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka en route to a 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4 win over his Swiss countryman.

“There was a lot on the line today playing against Stan,” Federer said.  “Quarters sort of shows the direction on how you’re playing and all these things.

“I’m really pleased to have come through.  Like you said, last year was a major disappointment for me because I always see Wimbledon as one of my main goals of the season, side-by-side with rankings and some other highlights that I choose that there are for me.

“I try to be in the best possible shape, so last year was rough.  I was very disappointed.  Went back to the practice courts.  Didn’t have any options left at that point.

“So I’m happy that one year later I’m back in the semis and with a chance to go further.”

In the battle between big servers, Raonic defeated teenager Nick Kyrgios, who beat Rafael Nadal in the fourth round 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (4). Raonic hit 39 aces.

In the women’s quarterfinals, No. 3 Simona Halep beat 2013 Wimbledo runner-up Sabine Lisicki 6-4, 6-0, and will take on No. 13 Eugenie Bouchard, who beat No. 9 Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-4.

“It was a great match for me today,” said Halep.  “I played really well and I’m really excited that I can play semifinals tomorrow.

“I like this tournament and I feel really well here.  I’m looking forward for the next round just to play good tennis and to try my best on court.”

Bouchard has reached her third straight major semifinal.

“I’m excited to be in the semis,” said the 20-year-old.  “But, of course, you know, never satisfied, so definitely want to go a step further, or as far as I can.

“I think, you know, I played some great players when I lost in the semis.  You know, you don’t win every single time.  But, you know, I’m going to look forward to try to play a little bit like I played today.  I thought I was pretty solid out there and playing the right way on the grass.

“So that’s going to be a key.”

Thursday’s other Ladies’ semifinal will be a battle between two left-handed Czech women -2011 champion Petra Kvitova versus No. 23 Lucie Safarova.

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French Open Champions Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova Lose at Wimbledon

(July 1, 2014) WIMBLEDON – French Open Champions Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova were the victims of major upsets on Tuesday at Wimbledon.

World No. 1 and No. 2 seed Nadal fell to Australian wild card Nick Kyrgios 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3 in the fourth round. For the up-and-coming Kyrgios ranked 144th in the world who hit 37 aces against Nadal, it was the match of his life and the biggest upset of the tournament.

“I’m pretty happy,” said the 19-year-old Australian. “That’s the biggest win of my career obviously, and that’s something I’m never going to forget. I’m going to draw so much confidence out of that no matter where I play now. To have that under my belt, it’s massive.”

“The thing is this surface,” Nadal said. “When you have an opponent that he decides to serve and to hit every ball very strong, you are in trouble.

“I think that I didn’t play really bad. But that’s the game in this surface.

“I think in the second and the third set I was better than him, but I was not able to convert that opportunities. And for the rest, I think he play better than me.

“So, in general, talking about what you need to win in this surface, he did the things better than me.”
It was the fourth straight match at Wimbledon where Nadal dropped the opening set.

Kyrgios became the first man to reach the quarterfinals in his Wimbledon debut in 10 years. He is also the first teenager to defeat the No. 1 player man at a major since Nadal did it at 19 when he beat Roger Federer at the 2005 French Open.

“I think I had to play a solid game that gave me the best shot,” said the 6’ 4” Australian. “That’s serving big and playing aggressive. I thought today my serve was something that got me over the line. It made me, you know, be able to put pressure on his serve as well.

“I think that was very important.”

“In the tiebreak he was able to serve better than me,” the Spaniard said. “So that’s an advantage. I could serve better on the tiebreaks. But 5‑All in the second set in the tiebreak, second serve, net, inside for him, second serve big. Then he repeat the second serve with 140 miles the second serve.

“You know, that’s happens when you have nothing to lose. You can play that way. Players who really play for being in the last rounds, think about win the titles, it’s not easy to create the second serve 114 5-All in the tiebreak, but that’s what happened today.

“Congratulations to him. For me, beach,” Nadal said smiling.

“It still hasn’t sunk in yet,” Kyrgios said of the win. “I was just overwhelmed with every feeling out there. I turned to my whole box, you know, just shared that moment with them. It still hasn’t hit me what I’ve done.”
Next up in the quarterfinal for the Aussie will be another big server in Canadian Milos Raonic.

“Milos has probably got the best serve in the world,” he said. I’m just going to go out there and have fun again.”
Maria Sharapova became the favorite to win Wimbledon when Serena Williams lost on Saturday. Germany’s Angelique Kerber, the No. 9 seed dismissed the fifth-seeded Russian from the tournament 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-4. The match was a tale of errors.

Sharapova made 49 unforced errors, 38 more than her opponent.

“I think there were a few little key moments in each set actually that I can learn from,” Sharapova said. “I was up in the tiebreaker and didn’t follow through. You know, it was great to come back in that second.
“Had a really slow start in the third. She rode with that confidence. It was just a few points in the end of that. Maybe things would have been different if I won that game, but in the end I didn’t.”

“Before I went on court I was just telling myself, you know, Just go out there, enjoy it, and play like you are at practice,” Kerber said. “You know, not focus on her, just focus on yourself, yeah, and believe that you can beat her.”

“At the end I was trying to focus just from point to point. I was telling me, you know, You can do it. She will not make mistakes. If you would like to win the match, you need to do it, to be aggressive, just go for it.
“Yeah, and I did it. Yeah, I’m just happy that, you know, actually I won the match. I think she didn’t lost the match; I won it. That feels good.”

“The next match against Bouchard, it will be tough one,” Kerber added. “I lost against her in Paris, but I’m feeling right now better and I’m feeling better on grass.

“I never played against her on this surface, so I will be focused like today just on myself. Just try to be aggressive, play my game, and not focusing on her.”

The women’s quarterfinals set for Wednesday are No. 3 Simona Halep against 2013 runner-up Sabine Lisicki, and No. 9 Angelique Kerber versus No. 13 Eugenie Bouchard. The semifinal on the other side of the draw is already complete 2011 champion Petra Kvitova against No. 23 Lucie Safarova

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Nick Kyrgios Saves 9 Match Points in Win over Richard Gasquet

(June 26, 2014) WIMBLEDON – Nineteen year-old Australian, Nick Kyrgios saved nine match points before beating No. 13 Richard Gasquet 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5, 10-8 at Wimbledon on Thursday. For the wild card, he has reached the third round of a major tournament for the first time in his young career. He is the youngest player in the draw.

“It was an unbelievable match out there,” said the Australian.  “My first ever two sets love down, coming back and winning.  It’s an amazing feeling.  So proud of yourself the way you hung in and fought it out.

“I played some unbelievable tennis today.  He was coming up with some really good shots as well.  I think I saved nine match points.  There’s plenty of opportunities he could have taken.  I came out on top, I’m really happy.”

For the young Australian beating Gasquet represents the biggest win of his budding pro career, his first against a top 20 player.

So what was Kyrgios thinking about as he was facing match points against him?

“I was just thinking I just need a big serve every time,” he said.  “That’s what I was thinking.

“You know, a couple times where I missed my first serve.  Obviously the challenge kept me in it.  I was just thinking about going through my routine, coming up with something, going after it, playing aggressive.

The match lasted almost four hours and ended when the Aussie hit his 21st ace of the match.

“My goal is to become the No. 1 player in the world,” Kyrgios said.

Kyrgios will face another youngster in Jiri Vesely in the third round. Vesely took out Frenchman seeded 24, Gael Monfils in five sets 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-7 (1), 6-7 (3), 6-4.

“He had a massive win today, winning in five sets,” Kyrgios said of his next challenger.  “He’s also young.  He’s on the rise.  He’s got a really aggressive game, big serve.  Big hitter as well.

“I think the grass is suiting him nicely.  Well done to him, as well.”

“He is a very talented player and today he was a beast,” Gasquet said in his post match news conference.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga completed his match suspended by darkness on Wednesday night and broke Sam Querrey’s service in the 25th game of the final set to win the match 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (4), 6-3, 14-12 at Wimbledon on Thursday.

 

Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon

 

Related article:

“The Journey Starts Today” An Interview with Nick Kyrgios

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