February 25, 2017

Wildcard Denis Istomin Upsets No. 2 Seed Novak Djokovic in Second Round of Australian Open

Denis Istomin

(January 19, 2017) In a big upset, No. 2 seed, defending champion and six-time champion Novak Djokovic lost to Denis Istomin, a wildcard recipient ranked 117 in the world 7-6(8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 in the second round action at the Australian Open on Thursday. The match which lasted four hours and 48-minutes delayed the night session.

“I feel sorry for Novak. I was playing so good today,” Istomin said in his on-court interview.  “I surprised myself as well.”

This is the first win for Istomin over Djokovic in six tries.

The Uzbek  who ended Djokovic’s 15-match winning streak in Melbourne, will play Pablo Carreno Busta for a spot in the round of 16.

Istomin’s only win against a Top Ten player came in 2012 at Indian Wells when he beat No. 5 David Ferrer. Istomin is 1-33 against Top Ten opponents.

This is Djokovic’s earliest loss at a major since losing to Marat Safin in the second round at 2008 Wimbledon. It’s his first loss to a player ranked outside of the top 100 at a major tournament.

“All credit to Denis for playing amazing,” Djokovic said in his news conference. “He deserved to win. No doubt he was a better player in clutch moments.”

“It is the biggest win for me. It means so much,” Istomin said. “Now I feel I can play with these guys, and to be with them on the same level.”

“It’s a tennis match. On a given day, you can lose. Nothing impossible.”

“We played four-and-a-half hours. It’s just that, you know, it’s one of these days when you don’t feel that great on the court, don’t have much rhythm, and the player you’re playing against is feeling the ball very well.”

“Him playing this well, I mean, it’s amazing,” Djokovic said in his news conference. “He played obviously above his level. You got to give him credit for that. Many things came together for him today. He’s a well-deserved winner.”

“Today Denis, surely he was an underdog, but he didn’t show any nerves in the big moments. I think his experience in playing long time — surely he didn’t play that many big matches, but just everything came together. It was the right moment for him, the right day. He was better.”

This was the first time since 2007 that the 12-time major winner was extended to five sets in the second round. The last time he lost at the Australian Open was in the 2014 quarterfinals to Stan Wawrinka, who went on to win the tournament.

“It is unreal,” Istomin said in his news conference. “To beat Novak in five sets, it’s a great win, you know. I’m still feel tired little bit. I didn’t expect what I’m doing now and what I did on the court.

“I like the way I am playing. I mean, I feel just tired. I don’t think about that I win against No. 2 in the world.”

“If you don’t think that you have a chance, then no reason to come on court, you know. Of course, I also working hard, trying to do my best, and I did today. So that’s it.”

Asked if someone said at the beginning of the year that Istomin would beat Djokovic at the Australian Open, what would you say?

Istomin said: “I would say, Are you crazy or what? Especially in five sets, for sure. For me, was impossible to think about that I can hold it five sets with Novak, physically and mentally.”

In a rematch of the 2015 French Open No. 2 seed Serena Williams beat Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-4 to reach the third round. Williams hit 35 winners which included 15 aces. She’ll play Nicole Gibbs next.

“That was a great performance,” Williams said. “I played well. She’s a former top-10 player. The last time we played together was in the finals of a Grand Slam.

“You know, it’s not an easy match. She’s a really good player. You have to go for more, which obviously makes a few more errors.”

“She’s not someone you see in a second-round match. I know that final was a tough three-set match. She never gives up. Like she’s just always fighting to come back.

“So I knew that I wanted to jump out in the lead. I knew that I wanted to just be Serena. That’s what I’m good at doing, is being Serena. That’s what I wanted to do.”

Third seed Milos Raonic had his first-ever win over Gilles Muller, saving a set point in the third set, winning 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4).

He’ll face Gilles Simon next. Raonic on Simon:”I know a lot about his game. I’ve watched him play a lot. I’ve played him in quite a few important matches.

“He’s going to be there really trying to get me to play at his speed, his rhythm. Obviously he tries to slow things down, play low. I won’t have the opportunity to get too many swings at many shots.

“I’ve got to serve well and I’ve got to be aggressive and I’ve got to take it to him. The last thing I want to do is get into this sort of game of playing long rallies with him.”

 

Third seed Agnieszka Radwanska became the highest seeded woman to become an upset victim when she fell to No. 79 Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-3, 6-2.

 

U.S. Open finalist and Australian Open fifth seed Karolina Pliskova destroyed qualifier Anna Blinkova6-2, 6-0 in the second round on Thursday to reach her third straight third round in Melbourne.

“I’m feeling pretty good on the court, confident,” said the Czech. “I have some matches already what I won this year. I didn’t lose yet, which is also good thing.

“Yeah, I think I’m playing good. Even the opponents were not that high level, I would say, but still, I felt pretty good out there. Third round is going to definitely more tough than the first two. Also people are talking I have a good chance to win a Grand Slam, but we are just in third round, so let’s see.”

Pliskova will play Jelena Ostapenko, who dominated No. 31 Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-1.
Ninth seed and last year’s semifinalist, Johanna Konta, moved into the third round with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Naomi Osaka.

Konta’s next opponent will be former No. 1 and current 17 seed Caroline Wozniacki.
“I think my next opponent will be — it will be an incredibly tough one,” said Konta. “Every round so far has been — I think my first round and also today, they were incredibly competent opponents.

“I really — yeah, I think rarely do we get any easy rounds. That’s a given.

“But I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m looking forward to trying. I’m looking forward to being out on court, competing, and ultimately I’m just trying to make my stay here in Melbourne as long as possible.”

Wozniacki defeated Donna Vekic 6-1, 6-3.

“She plays really well” Wozniacki said of her upcoming match against her British opponent. “You know, big forehand, big serve. But I’m ready. I’m playing well. I’m excited for the challenge.
“She’s obviously won last week in Sydney. She had a good last year. I’m here to fight. I’m here to do my best, and try and win the match.”

“At the end of the day, doesn’t matter who is on the other side. I’m going to try and win. If you want to win the tournament, you need to beat great players along the way. Whether it’s in the third round or the semis, whatever it is, you need to get through them.”

2014 finalist Dominika Cibulkova, seeded sixth held off off Hsieh Su-wei 6-4, 7-6 (8). She’ll face off against No. 30 Ekaterina Makarova, who won when Sara Errani retire in the second set due to a leg injury.

Other women’s seeds advancing to the round of 32 include: No. 12 Timea Bacsinszky, No. 14 Elena Vesnina, No. 16 Barbora Strycova, No. 21 Caroline Garcia and No. 22 Daria Gavrilova.

Advancing to the third round on the men’s side: No. 6 Gael Monfils,No. 8 Dominic Thiem, No. 11 David Goffin, No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 15 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 18 Richard Gasquet, No. 20 Ivo Karlovic, No. 21 David Ferrer, No. 24 Alexander Zverev, No. 25 Gilles Simon, No. 30 Pablo Carreno Busta , No. 32 Philipp Kohlschreiber.

More to follow…..

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2017 Australian Open – Day 4 Men’s Preview

 

2017 AUSTRALIAN OPEN

DAY 4 MEN’S NOTES

Thursday 19 January

2nd Round Bottom Half

 

Milos Raonic

Featured matches

 

No. 2 Novak Djokovic (SRB) v (WC) Denis Istomin (UZB)

No. 3 Milos Raonic (CAN) v Gilles Muller (LUX)

No. 6 Gael Monfils (FRA) v Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR)

No. 8 Dominic Thiem (AUT) v Jordan Thompson (AUS)

No. 9 Rafael Nadal (ESP) v Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)

No. 11 David Goffin (BEL) v (Q) Radek Stepanek (CZE)

No. 15 Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) v Hyeon Chung (KOR)

No. 18 Richard Gasquet (FRA) v Carlos Berlocq (ARG)

No. 24 Alexander Zverev (GER) v (Q) Frances Tiafoe (USA)

 

On court today…

 

  • Six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic will look to reach the 3rd round here for the 11th straight year when he takes on wild card and world No. 117 Denis Istomin. Djokovic has only once lost to a player ranked outside the Top 100 in the last seven years – when he fell to No. 145 Juan Martin del Potro in the opening round at the Rio 2016 Olympic Tennis Event last year.

 

  • Hyeon Chung, only the second man from Korea to play in the 2nd round here in Australian Open history, is bidding to break more ground for his nation and become just the first Korean man to reach the 3rd round at a Grand Slam since Hyung-Taik Lee at the 2007 US Open. Standing in his way is the 15th seed and a man in form – this month’s Brisbane champion Grigor Dimitrov.

 

  • Radek Stepanek and Frances Tiafoe are 2 of the 3 qualifiers in action today from the 7 who progressed to the 2nd round here. There haven’t been as many as 3 qualifiers through to the 3rd round here since Marcos Baghdatis, Jean-Rene Lisnard and Bobby Reynolds all reached that stage in 2005.

 

  • On Court 8, No. 20 seed Ivo Karlovic will hope to continue the momentum from his marathon 1st round win over Horacio Zeballos when he takes on Australian wild card Andrew Whittington. At 84 games, Karlovic’s 67(6) 36 75 62 22-20 victory broke the record for most games in a match at the Australian Open since the tiebreak was introduced in 1971, surpassing the 83 games in Andy Roddick’s win against Younes El Aynaoui in the 2003 quarterfinals.

 

2 NOVAK DJOKOVIC (SRB) v (WC) DENIS ISTOMIN (UZB)

Head-to-head: Djokovic leads 5-0

2010     Australian Open           Hard (O)           R32      Djokovic                       61 61 62

2011     Miami-1000                   Hard (O)           R64      Djokovic                       60 61

2013     Montreal-1000               Hard (O)           R16      Djokovic                       26 64 64

2014     Australian Open           Hard (O)           R32      Djokovic                       63 63 75

2014     Dubai                           Hard (O)           R32      Djokovic                       63 63

 

A 6th hard court meeting for the 2 players and their 3rd at the Australian Open. Istomin has taken just one set off Djokovic in their 3 previous match-ups – winning the opening set at 2013 Montreal-1000.

 

Djokovic has lost to a player ranked outside the Top 100 on only one occasion since he retired due to illness against No. 319 Filip Krajinovic at 2010 Belgrade – when he fell to No. 145 Juan Martin del Potro in the 1st round at the Rio 2016 Olympic Tennis Event. The lowest-ranked player he has lost to at the Australian Open is No. 68 Paul Goldstein in the 1st round in 2006.

 

DJOKOVIC                                      v                                        ISTOMIN

 

29                                          Age                                          30

2                                    ATP Ranking                                  117

67                                         Titles                                          1

229-36                     Career Grand Slam Record                      31-34

58-6                         Australian Open Record                         8-10

757-155                              Career Record                              195-209

502-92                         Career Record – Hard                         109-127

6-0                                   2017 Record                                   1-0

6-0                              2017 Record – Hard                              1-0

27-8                          Career Five-Set Record                          12-7

4                         Comebacks from 0-2 Down                         3

211-118                      Career Tiebreak Record                         99-86

3-0                            2017 Tiebreak Record                            0-0

 

  • DJOKOVIC is through to the 2nd round here after defeating Fernando Verdasco 61 76(4) 62 in the opening round on Tuesday night.

 

  • Djokovic is bidding to reach the 3rd round here for an 11th consecutive year. The last time he lost in the 2nd round at any Grand Slam event was at 2008 Wimbledon, when as No. 3 seed he fell to Marat Safin in straight sets. No. 75 Safin is the lowest ranked-player to defeat Djokovic at a major.

 

  • Djokovic is looking to win his 7th Australian Open title and take sole ownership of the record for the most titles here ahead of Roy Emerson, who won 6 Australian titles in 1961, 1963-67.

 

  • Djokovic is bidding to become the 8th man in history to win at least 7 titles at any Grand Slam event and move into joint 2nd place for the most titles at any one major behind Rafael Nadal (9 Roland Garros titles) (see Preview page 2).

 

  • Last year here Djokovic equalled Roy Emerson’s record of 6 Australian titles after defeating Andy Murray 61 75 76(3) in the final. He also won the title here in 2008 (d. Jo-Wilfried Tonga), 2011 (d. Murray), 2012
    (d. Nadal), 2013 (d. Murray) and 2015 (d. Murray). This is his 13th Australian Open and his 49th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Elsewhere at the majors in 2016, Djokovic won his first title at Roland Garros, defeating Murray 36 61 62 64 in the final to become the 8th man in history to complete the career Grand Slam. Having won the previous 3 majors, he also became the 3rd man in history to complete a non-calendar year Grand Slam after Don Budge and Rod Laver. He finished runner-up as defending champion at the US Open (l. Stan Wawrinka), but Sam Querrey ended his run of 30 consecutive Grand Slam match-wins in the 3rd round on his title defence at Wimbledon.

 

  • Djokovic won 7 titles in 10 finals in 2016. As well as becoming the first man to win the first 2 Grand Slam titles of the year since Jim Courier in 1992, he also won the titles at Doha (d. Nadal), Indian Wells-1000
    (d. Milos Raonic), Miami-1000 (d. Kei Nishikori), Madrid-1000 (d. Murray) and Toronto-1000 (d. Nishikori).

 

  • Djokovic surrendered his No. 1 ranking and fell to No. 2 in the world for the first time since June 2014 when Murray reached the final of 2016 Paris-1000. He missed the chance to reclaim the top spot when he fell to Murray in the title match at the ATP World Tour Finals.

 

  • Djokovic warmed up for the 2017 Australian Open by defeating No. 1 seed Murray 63 57 64 to win the title at Doha. He saved 5 match points against Verdasco in the semifinals before ending Murray’s 28-match Tour-level winning streak in the final.

 

  • Djokovic has been coached by Marian Vajda since June 2006. He announced Dusan Vemic as his assistant coach earlier this month after parting ways with 2-time Australian Open champion Boris Becker in December 2016. His wider team includes physios Miljan Amanovic and Gebhard Phil-Gritsch.

 

  • Wild card ISTOMIN is bidding to reach the 3rd round here for the 3rd time and equal his best Australian Open result.

 

  • Istomin advanced to the 2nd round here after defeating qualifier Ivan Dodig 61 64 36 75 in the 1st round on Tuesday to record his first Australian Open match-win since 2014.

 

  • Istomin’s 1st round win over Dodig was his first Tour-level match-win since he won 2 matches during Uzbekistan’s 3-2 Davis Cup defeat to Switzerland in September’s World Group play-offs.

 

  • Istomin’s best Tour-level result in 2016 was reaching the 3rd round at Wimbledon (l. David Goffin) – the only other time he recorded back-to-back Tour-level match-wins in 2016 along with Davis Cup. He ended a 7-match Tour-level losing streak at the start of the year by reaching the 2nd round at Miami-1000 (l. Andy Murray), and also reached the 2nd round at Marrakech (l. Pablo Carreno Busta), Madrid-1000 (l. Tomas Berdych) and Geneva (l. David Ferrer).

 

  • Also in 2016, Istomin finished runner-up at Challengers in Tashkent (UZB) (l. Konstantin Kravchuk) and Astana (KAZ) (l. Yoshihito Nishioka).

 

  • Istomin dropped out of the Top 100 for the first time since January 2010 after losing in the 1st round as defending champion at 2016 Nottingham. He dropped as low as No. 144 in October – his lowest ranking since July 2008 – but plays here ranked No. 117.

 

  • Istomin’s best Australian Open performance is reaching the 3rd round here in 2010 and 2014, losing to today’s opponent on both occasions. He is contesting his 11th Australian Open and his 35th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Last year here Istomin fell to Bernard Tomic in the 1st round. He also fell in the 1st round at both Roland Garros (l. Juan Monaco) and the US Open (l. Rafael Nadal).

 

  • Istomin warmed up for the Australian Open at the Bangkok Challenger (THA), where he fell to Christian Garin in the 2nd round.

 

  • Istomin’s best Grand Slam result is reaching the round of 16 at 2012 Wimbledon (l. Mikhail Youzhny) and the 2013 US Open (l. Andy Murray). He is the only Uzbek player (man or woman) to reach the last 16 at a Grand Slam.

 

  • Istomin has won just one of his 33 previous matches against Top 10 opposition, defeating No. 5 David Ferrer at 2012 Indian Wells-1000. He has a 0-10 win-loss record against Top 10 opposition at the majors. His career-best win at a major came against No. 15 Nicolas Almagro at the 2013 US Open.

 

 

  • Istomin broke his leg in a car accident in 2001 while travelling to a Futures event in Tashkent. He spent 3 months in hospital and did not touch a racket in 2 years, with doctors doubting he would ever play competitive tennis again.

 

  • Istomin has received support from the Grand Slam Development Fund, receiving travel grants in 2004.

 

  • Istomin is coached by his mother Klaudiya Istomina.

 

 

 

 3 MILOS RAONIC (CAN) v GILLES MULLER (LUX)

Head-to-head: Muller leads 2-0

2011     Wimbledon      Grass (O)         R64      Muller              2-3 ret. (right hip injury)

2012     Valencia            Hard (O)           R32      Muller              75 76(1)

 

A 3rd meeting for these 2 players, but their first in over 4 years.

 

                           RAONIC                                        v                                        MULLER

 

26                                          Age                                          33

3                             ATP Ranking (16 Jan)                            28

8                                          Titles                                          1

59-23                      Career Grand Slam Record                      28-34

20-6                         Australian Open Record                        10-10

262-121                              Career Record                              202-177

185-76                         Career Record – Hard                         145-118

3-1                                   2017 Record                                   6-1

3-1                              2017 Record – Hard                              6-1

8-5                           Career Five-Set Record                          11-6

1                         Comebacks from 0-2 Down                         5

162-102                      Career Tiebreak Record                       148-115

0-1                            2017 Tiebreak Record                            5-0

 

  • RAONIC is bidding to maintain his record of always having reached the 3rd round here. This is his 7th Australian Open appearance and his 24th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Raonic advanced to the 2nd round after defeating Dustin Brown 63 64 62 on Tuesday.

 

  • Last year here as No. 13 seed Raonic recorded his best Australian Open result by reaching the semifinals (l. Andy Murray). He was the first Canadian man – and only the 2nd Canadian player after Eugenie Bouchard – in history to reach the semifinals here.

 

  • Raonic recorded his best Grand Slam result at 2016 Wimbledon when, as No. 6 seed, he became the first Canadian man to reach a Grand Slam final, falling to Murray 64 76(3) 76(2). Elsewhere at the Grand Slams last year, he reached the round of 16 at Roland Garros (l. Albert Ramos-Vinolas) but fell in the 2nd round at the US Open (l. Ryan Harrison).

 

  • Raonic won his 8th career title at 2016 Brisbane (d. Roger Federer) to maintain his record of winning at least one title every year since winning his first at 2011 San Jose. All 8 of his career titles have come on a hard court. Also in 2016, he finished runner-up at Indian Wells-1000 (l. Novak Djokovic) and fell to Murray in the final at both Queen’s and Wimbledon. He reached 5 further semifinals.

 

  • Raonic reached a career-high ranking of No. 3 on 21 November 2016 after reaching the semifinals at the ATP World Tour Finals, where he fell to Murray in the longest 3-set match in the tournament’s history at 3 hours 38 minutes. He plays here on the same ranking of No. 3.

 

  • Raonic warmed up for the Australian Open as top seed and defending champion at Brisbane, where he fell to Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals.

 

  • Raonic became the first Canadian to be seeded in the men’s singles at a Grand Slam event in the Open Era at 2011 Roland Garros. He plays here seeded No. 3 – his highest Grand Slam seeding.

 

  • Raonic was born in Montenegro but moved to Canada in 1994. He started playing tennis aged 8.

 

  • Raonic started working with former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek, who reached the semifinals here in 1992, ahead of the 2017 season. He is also coached by Riccardo Piatti.

 

  • Lefthander MULLER is bidding to reach the 3rd round here for the 3rd time. This is his 11th Australian Open appearance and his 35th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Muller advanced to the 2nd round here for the 3rd consecutive year after defeating Taylor Fritz 76(6) 76(5) 63.

 

  • Last year here, Muller reached the 2nd round, where he lost in 5-sets to John Millman. He has a 12-6 win-loss record in 5-set matches and a 2-1 win-loss record in 5-set matches at the Australian Open.

 

  • Elsewhere at the Grand Slams in 2016, Muller reached the 2nd round at Wimbledon (d. Santiago Giraldo, l. Andrey Kuznetsov), but fell in the 1st round at both Roland Garros (l. Marcos Baghdatis) and the US Open (l. Gael Monfils).

 

  • Muller’s best Grand Slam result is reaching the quarterfinals as a qualifier at the 2008 US Open (l. Roger Federer). His best result at the Australian Open is reaching the round of 16 in 2015 (l. Novak Djokovic).

 

  • Muller warmed up for the Australian Open by winning his first Tour-level title at Sydney. He ended a run of 5 defeats in Tour-level finals by defeating Daniel Evans 76(5) 62. He also reached the doubles final with Sam Querrey, losing to Thanasi Kokkinakis/Jordan Thompson in the title match. He fell in the 1st round at Brisbane (l. Jared Donaldson).

 

  • Muller plays here on a career-high ranking of No. 28, first attained after winning the title at Sydney earlier this month.

 

  • Muller’s best results in 2016 were finishing runner-up at ’s-Hertogenbosch (l. Nicolas Mahut) and Newport (l. Ivo Karlovic). He also reached the semifinals at Sydney (l. Grigor Dimitrov), Sofia (l. Roberto Bautista Agut), Nottingham (l. Pablo Cuevas) and Basel (l. Kei Nishikori) and reached 3 further quarterfinals.

 

  • Muller is bidding to end a 19-match losing streak against Top 5 opposition. He has not beaten a Top 5 player since defeating No. 5 Nikolay Davydenko in the round of 16 at the 2008 US Open. Overall he has a 3-22 win-loss record against Top 5 players – but all 3 of those victories have come at the Grand Slams.

 

  • Muller has played Davis Cup for Luxembourg since 2000. He has played a total of 30 ties and has a 54-17 win-loss record in the competition. He carried the flag for Luxembourg at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

 

  • Muller is the only man from Luxembourg to have competed in Grand Slam tournaments in the Open Era.

 

  • Muller entered the men’s doubles here with Marcos Baghdatis. The pair defeated Cheng-Peng Hsieh/Tsung-Hua Yang 61 64 in the 1st round on Wednesday.

 

  • Muller is a former junior world No. 1 and was named the 2001 ITF Junior World Champion. He won the boys’ singles title at the 2001 US Open (d. Jimmy Wang) and finished runner-up in the boys’ singles at 2001 Wimbledon (l. Roman Valent).

 

  • Muller is coached by Alexandre Lisiecki and Benjamin Balleret. His physical trainer is Frank Eicher.

 

 

6 GAEL MONFILS (FRA) v ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV (UKR)

Head-to-head: Monfils leads 3-0

2013     Australian Open          Hard (O)           R128    Monfils             67(7) 76(4) 63 63

2013     Winston-Salem             Hard (O)           SF        Monfils             76(9) 63

2015     Monte Carlo-1000          Clay (O)            R32      Monfils             76(5) 76(6)

 

A 4th career meeting for the pair and their 2nd at the Australian Open. Dolgopolov has won just one set against Monfils – winning the first set of their first meeting here in 2013.

 

                          MONFILS                                       v                                   DOLGOPOLOV

 

30                                          Age                                          28

6                             ATP Ranking (16 Jan)                            69

6                                          Titles                                          2

83-39                      Career Grand Slam Record                      28-25

22-11                        Australian Open Record                          9-6

392-221                              Career Record                              189-175

247-133                        Career Record – Hard                         118-104

1-0                                   2017 Record                                   1-2

1-0                              2017 Record – Hard                              1-2

15-12                         Career Five-Set Record                           7-7

2                         Comebacks from 0-2 Down                         2

158-110                      Career Tiebreak Record                         78-77

0-0                            2017 Tiebreak Record                            1-0

 

  • MONFILS is bidding to reach the 3rd round here for the 9th time.

 

  • Monfils advanced to the 2nd round after defeating Jiri Vesely 62 63 62 in his opening round match on Tuesday. It was his first Tour-level match win since he defeated Kevin Anderson in the 2nd round at 2016 Shanghai-1000 (l. David Goffin). He had previously not played a Tour-level match prior to his opening match here since withdrawing with a rib injury after losing his opening 2 round robin matches at the ATP World Tour Finals.

 

  • Last year here Monfils reached the quarterfinals for the first time on his 11th Australian Open appearance, moving him into join 2nd place with Mark Woodforde on the list for the most attempts before reaching the last 8 here in the Open Era. He fell to Milos Raonic 63 36 63 64. This is his 12th appearance at the Australian Open and his 40th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Monfils’ best Grand Slam result is reaching the semifinals at 2008 Roland Garros, where ranked No. 59 he lost to Roger Federer 62 57 63 75, and at the 2016 US Open (l. Novak Djokovic).

 

  • Elsewhere in Grand Slam play in 2016, Monfils withdrew from Roland Garros with a virus and fell to Jeremy Chardy in 5 sets in the 1st round at Wimbledon. He has a 15-12 win-loss record in 5-set matches and a 3-3 win-loss record in 5-set matches at the Australian Open.

 

  • Monfils’ 2016 highlight was winning his 6th career title at Washington (d. Ivo Karlovic). He also finished runner-up at both Rotterdam (l. Martin Klizan) and Monte Carlo-1000 (l. Rafael Nadal) and reached 3 further semifinals.

 

  • Monfils reached a career-high ranking of No. 6 on 7 November 2016 and ended the year inside the Top 10 for the first time. He plays here ranked No. 6.

 

  • Monfils is a 2-time Davis Cup finalist, having helped France to the finals in 2010 (l. Serbia) and 2014
    (l. Switzerland). France will play Japan in the World Group first round in Tokyo on 3-5 February.

 

  • Monfils narrowly missed out on achieving the Junior Grand Slam in 2004 after winning the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon. His preparation for the junior US Open that year was hampered by a knee injury and he lost in the 3rd round to Viktor Troicki. He was named 2004 ITF Junior Boys’ World Champion. He is one of 6 former junior Australian Open champions to reach the 2nd round from the 7 who started the men’s main draw here.

 

  • Monfils is coached by former world No. 39 Mikael Tillstrom, who reached the quarterfinals here in 1996.
  • DOLGOPOLOV is bidding to reach the 3rd round here for the 3rd time.

 

  • Dolgopolov advanced to the 2nd round here after defeating Borna Coric 63 64 36 76(7) in the 1st round on Tuesday. He is making his 7th straight appearance at the Australian Open and his 26th appearance at a Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Dolgopolov is bidding to record back-to-back Tour-level match-wins for the first time since he reached the quarterfinals at 2016 Nottingham (l. Gilles Muller). His opening round win over Coric here ended an 6-match Tour-level losing streak and was his first Tour-level match-win since he defeated Jordan Thompson to reach the 3rd round at 2016 Washington (l. Sam Querrey) after receiving a 1st round bye.

 

  • Dolgopolov recorded his best Grand Slam result at the 2011 Australian Open where he reached the quarterfinals (l. Andy Murray). He defeated No. 13 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and No. 4 seed Robin Soderling both in 5 sets to become just the 2nd Ukrainian man to reach the last 8 at a major.

 

  • Dolgopolov’s victory over No. 4 Soderling at the 2011 Australian Open is his only match-win over a Top 10 player at a Grand Slam. He has a 1-5 win-loss record against Top 10 players at the majors overall. He has won just one of his last 10 matches against Top 10 players at Tour-level, with his only win against a Top 10 player in that time coming against No. 8 David Ferrer at 2016 Acapulco.

 

  • At the Grand Slams in 2016, Dolgopolov reached the 2nd round at both the Australian Open (l. Roger Federer) and Wimbledon (l. Daniel Evans). He withdrew from Roland Garros with a left abdomen strain and retired with nausea and fatigue in the 1st round at the US Open while trailing Ferrer 5-6 in the opening set.

 

  • Prior to coming here, Dolgopolov fell in the 1st round at both Brisbane (l. Rafael Nadal) and Sydney (l. Gille Muller).

 

  • Dolgopolov’s 2016 highlights included reaching the semifinals at Acapulco (l. Bernard Tomic) and 4 further quarterfinals – at Sydney (l. Grigor Dimitrov), Rio de Janeiro (l. Nadal), Barcelona (l. Kei Nishikori) and Nottingham (l. Muller).

 

  • Dolgopolov has won 2 career singles titles at 2011 Umag (d. Marin Cilic) and 2012 Washington
    (d. Tommy Haas). He reached a career-high ranking of No. 13 in January 2012, but plays here ranked No. 69 – his lowest ranking since August 2015.

 

  • Dolgopolov has won just one of his last 7 five-set matches with his only 5-set win in that time coming against Jesse Levine in the 1st round at the 2012 US Open. He has a 4-1 win-loss record in 5-set matches at the Australian Open and a 7-7 win-loss record in 5-set matches overall.

 

  • Dolgopolov entered the men’s doubles here with Gerald Melzer. They fell to No. 5 seeds Feliciano Lopez/Marc Lopez 64 36 64 in the 1st round on Wednesday. He has won one career doubles title – at 2011 Indian Wells-1000 with Xavier Malisse.

 

  • Dolgopolov has played tennis since he was 3 years old. His father used to coach countryman Andrei Medvedev, and Dolgopolov used to practice with the former world No. 4.

 

  • Dolgopolov is coached by Felix Mantilla, who reached the quarterfinals here in 1997.

 

 

8 DOMINIC THIEM (AUT) v JORDAN THOMPSON (AUS)

Head-to-head: first meeting

 

THIEM                                         v                                     THOMPSON

 

23                                          Age                                          22

8                                    ATP Ranking                                   76

7                                          Titles                                          0

21-12                      Career Grand Slam Record                        2-6

4-3                          Australian Open Record                          1-3

125-84                               Career Record                                 7-14

57-51                          Career Record – Hard                            6-10

3-2                                   2017 Record                                   4-2

3-2                              2017 Record – Hard                              4-2

3-2                           Career Five-Set Record                           1-3

1                         Comebacks from 0-2 Down                         1

52-50                        Career Tiebreak Record                          2-5

1-1                            2017 Tiebreak Record                            0-1

 

  • THIEM is bidding to reach the 3rd round here for the 2nd straight year and equal his best Australian Open result.

 

  • Thiem advanced to the 2nd round after defeating Jan-Lennard Struff 46 64 64 63 in the 1st round on Tuesday.

 

  • Last year here, Thiem recorded his best Australian Open performance by reaching the 3rd round. As the No. 19 seed, he defeated Leonardo Mayer and Nicolas Almagro before falling to David Goffin in 4 sets. This is his 4th straight Australian Open and his 13th consecutive Grand Slam.

 

  • Thiem recorded his best Grand Slam performance by reaching the semifinals at 2016 Roland Garros (l. Novak Djokovic). He became the 3rd Austrian man in history to reach a Grand Slam semifinal after Thomas Muster and Jurgen Melzer. He also broke into the Top 10 for the first time at No. 7.

 

  • Elsewhere in Grand Slam play in 2016, Thiem reached the round of 16 at the US Open, where he retired with a right knee injury while trailing Juan Martin del Potro 63 3-2, but fell in the 2nd round at Wimbledon (l. Jiri Vesely).

 

  • Thiem won 4 titles in 2016 – at Buenos Aires (d. Almagro), Acapulco (d. Bernard Tomic), Nice (d. Alexander Zverev) and Stuttgart (d. Philipp Kohlschreiber). He was the only player other than Andy Murray to win titles on clay, grass and hard court in 2016. He qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals for the first time, defeating Gael Monfils in the group stage but losing to Djokovic and Milos Raonic.

 

  • Thiem warmed up for the Australian Open by reaching the quarterfinals at both Brisbane (l. Grigor Dimitrov) and Sydney (l. Daniel Evans) after receiving 1st round byes.

 

  • Thiem has never lost a 5-set match on a hard court. He has a 3-0 win-loss record in 5-set matches played on a hard court, and a 3-2 win-loss record in 5-set matches overall. He won both of the 5-set matches he contested in 2016, defeating Gastao Elias in the first rubber of Austria’s Davis Cup Europe/Africa Zone Group I 2nd round tie against Portugal and John Millman in the 1st round at the US Open.

 

  • Thiem is seeded No. 8 here – his joint-highest seeding at a Grand Slam. He was also seeded No. 8 at Wimbledon and the US Open last year.

 

  • Thiem is a former junior world No. 2. He reached the boys’ singles final at Roland Garros as No. 14 seed in 2011, losing to Bjorn Fratangelo 36 63 86 and won the 2011 Orange Bowl (d. Patrick Ofner).

 

  • Thiem is coached by Gunter Bresnik.

 

  • THOMPSON is bidding to reach the 3rd round here for the first time and record his best Grand Slam result.

 

  • Thompson recorded his first match-win at the Australian Open after coming back from 0-2 down for the first time in his career to defeat Joao Sousa 67(2) 46 63 62 61 in the 1st round. It was his first career 5-set match-win and improved his career 5-set win-loss record to 1-3.

 

  • By reaching the 2nd round here, Thompson has equalled his best Grand Slam result. He also reached the 2nd round on his Roland Garros debut as a wild card in 2016, defeating Laslo Djere before falling to Ivo Karlovic in 5-sets.

 

  • Thompson is bidding to record back-to-back Tour-level match-wins for the 2nd time. Prior to coming here, he recorded back-to-back Tour-level match-wins for the first time after reaching the quarterfinals as a wild card at Brisbane, where he fell to Kei Nishikori in his first career meeting with a Top 10 player. He also reached the 2nd round as a wild card at Sydney (l. Philipp Kohlschreiber).

 

  • Thompson’s career-best win came against No. 21 David Ferrer in the 2nd round at Brisbane earlier this month – his first win against a Top 30 opponent. He has a 1-5 win-loss record against Top 30 opposition overall.

 

  • Last year here, as a wildcard, Thompson fell to Thomaz Bellucci in the 1st round. He also lost in the 1st round as a wild card here in both 2014, when he fell to Jerzy Janowicz in 5-sets, and in 2015 (l. Sousa). He failed to qualify here as a wild card into qualifying in 2013.

 

  • Elsewhere at the Grand Slams in 2016, Thompson fell in the 1st round as a direct acceptance at both Wimbledon (l. Roberto Bautista Agut) and the US Open, where he fell in 5 sets to Steve Darcis.

 

  • Thompson’s best results in 2016 were reaching the 2nd round as a wild card at both Sydney (l. Bernard Tomic) and Roland Garros and as direct acceptance at Washington (l. Alexander Dolgopolov). He also won 4 Challenger titles – at Cherbourg (FRA) (d. Adam Pavlasek), Anning (CHN) (d. Mathias Bourgue), Ho Chi Minh City (VIE) (d. Go Soeda) and Traralgon (AUS) (d. Grega Zemlja).

 

  • Thompson broke into the Top 100 for the first time on 2 May 2016 after winning the Anning Challenger. He reached a career-high ranking of No. 75 after reaching the quarterfinals at Brisbane but plays here at No. 76.

 

  • Thompson won his first Tour-level doubles title in doubles as a wild card at Brisbane earlier this month alongside Thanasi Kokkinakis. He entered the men’s doubles event here alongside Luke Saville, falling 62 75 to No. 16 seeds Dominic Inglot/Florin Mergea in the 1st round on Wednesday.

 

  • Thompson played in the boys’ singles event at the Junior Australian Open in 2011 and 2012, losing in the 1st round on both occasions. He finished as runner-up with Nick Kyrgios in the boys’ doubles at the 2012 US Open. He also represented Australia in the 2008 World Junior Tennis Finals and the 2010 Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Finals.

 

  • Thompson is coached by Des Tyson.

 

 

 

 

 9 RAFAEL NADAL (ESP) v MARCOS BAGHDATIS (CYP)

Head-to-head: Nadal leads 8-1

2006     AMS Indian Wells          Hard (O)           QF        Nadal                75 60

2006     Wimbledon                  Grass (O)         SF        Nadal               61 75 63

2007     Dubai                           Hard (O)           R32      Nadal                36 62 63

2007     AMS Madrid                  Hard (I)             R32      Nadal                64 64

2007     AMS Paris                    Hard (I)             SF        Nadal                46 64 63

2009     Beijing                         Hard (O)           R32      Nadal                64 36 64

2010     Cincinnati-1000             Hard (O)           QF        Baghdatis         64 46 64

2011     Madrid-1000                  Clay (O)            R32      Nadal                61 63

2015     Stuttgart                       Grass (O)          R16      Nadal                76(5) 67(4) 62

 

A 10th career meeting for the pair, but their first on a hard court since 2010, when Baghdatis recorded his only career victory against Nadal in 3 sets at 2010 Cincinnati-1000.

 

Nadal won the pair’s only Grand Slam meeting in straight sets in the semifinals at 2006 Wimbledon.

 

                           NADAL                                         v                                     BAGHDATIS

 

30                                          Age                                          31

9                                    ATP Ranking                                   36

69                                         Titles                                          4

204-31                     Career Grand Slam Record                      62-45

46-10                        Australian Open Record                        25-12

809-175                              Career Record                              343-243

384-118                        Career Record – Hard                         223-161

3-1                                   2017 Record                                   4-2

3-1                              2017 Record – Hard                              4-2

17-8                          Career Five-Set Record                          16-8

3                         Comebacks from 0-2 Down                         3

200-131                      Career Tiebreak Record                       142-110

0-0                            2017 Tiebreak Record                            1-0

 

  • 2009 Australian Open champion NADAL is bidding reach the 3rd round here for the 11th time. This is his 12th appearance at Melbourne Park and his 47th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Nadal advanced to the 2nd round after defeating Florian Mayer 63 64 64 in the 1st round on Tuesday.

 

  • Nadal is bidding to win his 2nd Australian Open title and become the first man in the Open Era – and only the 3rd man in history – to win each of the 4 Grand Slam titles twice. Roy Emerson and Rod Laver are the only players to have won each Grand Slam on two or more occasions [see Preview page 3].
  • Last year here Nadal lost in the 1st round for the first time in his career, falling to Fernando Verdasco in 5 sets. It was just the 2nd time that he had lost in the 1st round at a Grand Slam, having also lost his opening match at 2013 Wimbledon (l. Steve Darcis).

 

  • Elsewhere at the Grand Slams in 2016, Nadal reached the round of 16 at the US Open (l. Lucas Pouille), but gave a walkover in the 3rd round at Roland Garros and missed Wimbledon due to a left wrist injury.

 

  • Away from the majors, Nadal’s best results in 2016 came during the clay court season when we won back-to-back titles at Monte Carlo-1000 (d. Gael Monfils) and Barcelona (d. Kei Nishikori). It was his 9th title at both events, and took his career total to 69 titles. Nadal also reached the final at Doha (l. Novak Djokovic) and the semifinals at 5 other tournaments.

 

  • Also in 2016, Nadal won his 2nd gold medal at the Olympic Tennis Event after clinching the men’s doubles title alongside Marc Lopez at Rio 2016. He narrowly missed out on a medal in singles, falling to Kei Nishikori 62 67(1) 63 in the bronze medal play-off.

 

  • Nadal is looking to win his 15th Grand Slam title and close the gap on Roger Federer in the list of all-time Grand Slam title holders. He is currently joint-2nd with Pete Sampras on the list behind Federer (17). He was one of 7 Grand Slam champions to start this year’s men’s main draw.

 

  • Nadal’s best performance at the Australian Open is winning the title in 2009 (d. Federer). He also reached the final in 2012, losing to Djokovic in the longest men’s Grand Slam final on record at 5 hours, 53 minutes, and in 2014 (l. Stan Wawrinka).

 

  • Nadal is aiming to win his first hard court tournament in over 3 years. He has not won a hard court tournament since defeating Monfils to win 2014 Doha. His total of 16 hard court titles is the 4th highest among active players (behind Federer, Djokovic and Andy Murray).

 

  • Nadal warmed up for the Australian Open by reaching the quarterfinals at Brisbane (l. Milos Raonic). It was his first tournament since October, when he lost to Viktor Troicki at Shanghai-1000, after he pulled out of Basel, Paris-1000 and the ATP World Tour Finals with a wrist injury.

 

  • Nadal has been coached by his uncle, Toni Nadal, for his entire career. He added former Australian Open finalist Carlos Moya to his team ahead of the 2017 season. His fitness trainer is Rafael Maymo.

 

  • BAGHDATIS is bidding to reach the 3rd round here for the 9th time.

 

  • Baghdatis advanced to the 2nd round when Mikhail Youzhny retired due to illness while trailing 63 3-0 in the 1st round on Tuesday.

 

  • Baghdatis is a former Australian Open finalist. He reached the final here in 2006 – his only appearance in a Grand Slam final to date – losing to Roger Federer in 4 sets.

 

  • Last year here, Baghdatis fell to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the 1st round. This is his 13th Australian Open and 46th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Elsewhere at the Grand Slams in 2016, Baghdatis reached the round of 16 at the US Open (l. Gael Monfils) – his best result at a Grand Slam since he reached the same stage at the 2009 Australian Open. He reached the 2nd round at Roland Garros, where he fell to Tsonga in 5 sets, but fell to John Isner in the 1st round at Wimbledon.

 

  • Baghdatis’s best results in 2016 were finishing runner-up at Dubai (l. Stan Wawrinka) and reaching the semifinals at Newport (l. Ivo Karlovic). He reached 4 further Tour-level quarterfinals – at Montpellier
    (l. Richard Gasquet), Houston (l. Jack Sock), Halle (l. Alexander Zverev) and Nottingham (l. Pablo Cuevas).

 

  • Baghdatis is bidding to end a 9-match losing streak against Top 10 opposition at the Grand Slams. His last victory over a Top 10 opponent at a major came in the round of 16 at 2007 Wimbledon, when he defeated No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko. Overall, he has a 5-13 win-loss record against Top 10 players at the Grand Slams.

 

  • Baghdatis has won 8 of his last 9 matches against lefthanders. His only loss in that time came against Gilles Muller in the 2nd round at 2016 Tokyo.

 

  • Baghdatis is a former Top 10 player. He broke into the Top 10 following 2006 Wimbledon, where he reached the semifinals, peaking at No. 8 in August that year. He ended 2016 ranked at No. 36 – his highest year-end ranking since 2012 – and plays here at the same ranking.

 

  • Baghdatis is one of the 6 Australian Open boys’ singles champions to reach the 2nd round here from the 7 who started the men’s main draw. He won the junior title in 2003, and finished runner-up in the boys’ singles at the US Open in the same year (l. Tsonga). He was named 2003 ITF Junior World Champion.

 

  • Baghdatis entered the men’s doubles here with Gilles Muller. The pair defeated Cheng-Peng Hsieh/Tsung-Hua Yang 61 64 in the 1st round on Wednesday.

 

  • Baghdatis was part of the Grand Slam Development Fund 14&U East European Team in Europe and the 18&U International Team to the Orange Bowl in 1999. He received travel grants to play ITF Junior Circuit events and Pro Circuit events in 2001 and was the recipient of an ITF Olympic Solidarity scholarship in 2004.

 

  • Baghdatis has played Davis Cup for Cyprus since 2000. He holds the record for the most consecutive singles rubbers won in the competition, having won 38 straight singles rubbers.

 

  • Baghdatis is coached by Juan Spina.

 

 11 DAVID GOFFIN (BEL) v (Q) RADEK STEPANEK (CZE)

Head-to-head: Goffin leads 1-0

2012     Roland Garros               Clay (O)            R128    Goffin              62 46 26 64 62

 

A 2nd career meeting for the pair. Goffin recovered from 2-sets-to-1 down to win their only previous encounter at 2012 Roland Garros.

 

Goffin has only once lost to a player ranked outside the Top 100 at a major – when he fell to No. 122 Jared Donaldson on his last Grand Slam outing at the 2016 US Open.

 

GOFFIN                                        v                                      STEPANEK

 

26                                          Age                                          38

11                            ATP Ranking (16 Jan)                            102

2                                          Titles                                          5

26-18                      Career Grand Slam Record                      58-54

5-3                          Australian Open Record                        15-13

144-105                              Career Record                              384-301

93-65                          Career Record – Hard                         214-171

2-1                                   2017 Record                                   3-1

2-1                              2017 Record – Hard                              3-1

8-4                           Career Five-Set Record                         15-24

1                         Comebacks from 0-2 Down                         6

40-46                        Career Tiebreak Record                       162-150

1-1                            2017 Tiebreak Record                            1-0

 

  • GOFFIN is bidding to reach the 3rd round here for the 2nd time. He defeated qualifier Reilly Opelka 64 46 62 46 64 in the 1st round.

 

  • By defeating Opelka in 5 sets in the 1st round here, Goffin improved his 5-set win-loss record to 8-4. He has won 6 of his last 7 five-set matches, with his only defeat in a 5-set match in that time coming against Milos Raonic at 2016 Wimbledon. He has a 1-1 win-loss record in 5-set matches at the Australian Open.

 

  • Last year here, Goffin recorded his best Australian Open result by reaching the round of 16 (l. Roger Federer). He was just the 4th Belgian man to reach the round of 16 at Melbourne Park and the first since Olivier Rochus in 2005. This is his 4th Australian Open appearance and his 19th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Goffin’s best Grand Slam result is reaching the quarterfinals at 2016 Roland Garros (l. Dominic Thiem). He was just the 2nd Belgian man to reach the last 8 at Roland Garros after Filip Dewulf (1997-98) and only the 3rd Belgian man in the Open Era to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal after Dewulf and Xavier Malisse (2002 Wimbledon). He rose to a career-high ranking of No. 11 as a result – and plays here on the same ranking.

 

  • Elsewhere at the Grand Slams in 2016, Goffin reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon, where he fell to Milos Raonic in 5 sets, but lost in the 1st round at the US Open (l. Jared Donaldson).

 

  • Goffin’s best results in 2016 are finishing runner-up at Tokyo (l. Nick Kyrgios) and reaching 4 further semifinals, including at back-to-back Masters-1000 events at Indian Wells (l. Raonic) and Miami (l. Novak Djokovic).

 

  • Goffin warmed up for the Australian Open by reaching the 2nd round at Doha (d. Robin Haase, Fernando Verdasco). He also played at the Kooyong Exhbition Event – defeating Bernard Tomic 62 64 and winning a single set against Ivo Karlovic 76.

 

  • Goffin has played Davis Cup for Belgium since 2012. He helped Belgium reach its first Davis Cup Final since 1904 in 2015, which they lost 3-1 to Great Britain in Ghent. Belgium will play Germany in the World Group first round in Frankfurt on 3-5 February.

 

  • Goffin was taught to play tennis by his father, who is a tennis coach at the Barchon Club in Liege.

 

  • Goffin is coached by Thierry Van Cleemput and trains with the Belgian Tennis Federation in Mons.

 

  • At 38 years 63 days old, qualifier STEPANEK is looking to become the oldest man to reach the 3rd round at a Grand Slam since Jimmy Connors (aged 39 years 6 days) reached the semifinals as a wild card at the 1991 US Open.

 

  • By defeating Dmitry Tursunov 62 76(1) 63 in the 1st round here, Stepanek became the oldest man to win a match at the Australian Open since Bob Carmichael (38 years 183 days) and Ken Rosewall (44 years 62 days) reached the 3rd round in 1978.

 

  • Stepanek is bidding to reach the 3rd round here and equal his best Australian Open performance. He has reached the 3rd round on 5 previous occasions – on his debut here in 2003 (l. Lleyton Hewitt), and in 2005 (l. Guillermo Canas), 2007 (l. David Ferrer), 2009 (l. Fernando Verdasco) and 2013 (l. Novak Djokovic).

 

  • As No. 1 seed, Stepanek defeated Sekou Bangoura (USA) 63 67(2) 62, Blaz Kavcic (SLO) 63 67(4) 86 and John-Patrick Smith (AUS) 62 64 in the 3 rounds of qualifying here.

 

  • Last year here as a qualifier, Stepanek reached the 2nd round (l. Stan Wawrinka). It was the first time he had to qualify for a Grand Slam since 2002 Wimbledon. He also reached the final of the men’s doubles event with 43-year-old Daniel Nestor, becoming the oldest team to reach a men’s doubles Grand Slam final (l. Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares).

 

  • Elsewhere at the majors in 2016, Stepanek fell in the 1st round as a qualifier at both Roland Garros (l. Andy Murray) and the US Open (l. Gilles Simon), and as a wild card at Wimbledon (l. Nick Kyrgios).

 

  • Stepanek’s best results in 2016 were reaching the quarterfinals as a qualifier at Stuttgart (l. Philipp Kohlschreiber) and the 3rd round as a qualifier at both Barcelona (l. Andrey Kuznetsov) and Toronto-1000 (l. Djokovic) – the only 3 occasions in which he recorded back-to-back Tour-level match-wins in 2016.

 

  • Stepanek won the mixed doubles bronze medal alongside Lucie Hradecka at the Rio 2016 Olympic Tennis Event (d. Sania Mirza/Rohan Bopanna).

 

  • Prior to coming here Stepanek reached the quarterfinals as a qualifier at Doha (l. Djokovic).

 

  • Stepanek has won just one of his last 15 meetings against Top 20 opposition. His only victory in that time came against No. 13 Marin Cilic at 2016 Stuttgart. He has lost 18 of his last 19 meetings with Top 20 opposition at the Grand Slams, with his only win in that time coming against No. 16 Mikhail Youzhny at 2014 Roland Garros. He has a 4-26 win-loss record against Top 20 players at the majors overall.

 

  • Stepanek’s best Grand Slam result is reaching the quarterfinals at 2006 Wimbledon where as No. 14 seed he lost to Jonas Bjorkman in 5-sets. It was his 3rd straight 5-set match, having come back from 0-2 down to defeat Juan Carlos Ferrero in the 3rd round before defeating Fernando Verdasco in the round of 16. This is his 14th Australian Open and his 55th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Stepanek is a former Top 10 player having reached a career-high ranking of No. 8 in July 2006. He has won 5 career singles titles, most recently at 2011 Washington (d. Gael Monfils). All 5 of his career singles titles have come on a hard court. He plays here ranked No. 102.

 

  • Stepanek is a 2-time Grand Slam men’s doubles champion having won the 2012 Australian Open and the 2013 US Open titles with Leander Paes. He has won 18 career doubles titles, most recently at 2015 Bogota with Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

 

  • Stepanek lost in the 1st round of the men’s doubles here as No. 12 seed with Vasek Pospisil, falling 62 64 to Australian wild cards Matthew Barton/Matthew Ebden in the 1st round.

 

  • Stepanek is coached by Petr Korda, who won the title here in 1998.

 

 

 15 GRIGOR DIMITROV (BUL) v HYEON CHUNG (KOR)

Head-to-head: first meeting

 

The last time Dimitrov fell to a player ranked outside the Top 100 was at 2016 Shanghai-1000, when he fell to No. 131 Vasek Pospisil. The lowest-ranked player Dimitrov has lost to at a Grand Slam is No. 95 Joao Sousa at the 2013 US Open.

 

DIMITROV                                      v                                         CHUNG

 

25                                          Age                                          20

15                                   ATP Ranking                                  105

5                                          Titles                                          0

34-25                      Career Grand Slam Record                        2-4

12-6                         Australian Open Record                          1-1

222-142                              Career Record                                24-26

135-91                         Career Record – Hard                           18-17

6-0                                   2017 Record                                   2-1

6-0                              2017 Record – Hard                              2-1

5-5                           Career Five-Set Record                           1-1

0                         Comebacks from 0-2 Down                         0

92-76                        Career Tiebreak Record                          3-17

2-0                            2017 Tiebreak Record                            0-0

 

  • DIMITROV is bidding to reach the 3rd round here for the 4th straight year.

 

  • Dimitrov advanced to the 2nd round after defeating wild card Christopher O’Connell 76(2) 63 63 in the 1st round on Tuesday.

 

  • Dimitrov’s best Australian Open result is reaching the quarterfinals here as No. 22 seed in 2014 (l. Rafael Nadal). Last year here he fell to Roger Federer in the 3rd round. This is his 7th consecutive Australian Open appearance and his 26th major overall.

 

  • Dimitrov’s best Grand Slam result is reaching the semifinals at 2014 Wimbledon. He defeated defending champion Andy Murray in the quarterfinals before losing to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. He broke into the Top 10 for the first time afterwards at No. 9.

 

  • At the Grand Slams in 2016, Dimitrov reached the round of 16 at the US Open (l. Andy Murray) and the 3rd round at both the Australian Open (l. Federer) and Wimbledon (l. Steve Johnson). He fell to Viktor Troicki in 5 sets in the 1st round at Roland Garros. He has a 5-5 win-loss record in 5-set matches and a 2-1 win-loss record in 5-set matches at the Australian Open.

 

  • Dimitrov’s best results in 2016 were runner-up finishes at Sydney (l. Troicki), Istanbul (l. Diego Schwartzman) and Beijing (l. Murray). He reached 4 further semifinals – at Delray Beach, Cincinnati-1000, Chengdu and Stockholm.

 

  • Dimitrov reached a career-high ranking of No. 8 in August 2014. He dropped as low as No. 40 on 18 July 2016 – his lowest ranking since February 2013 – but has since climbed back up the rankings and plays here at No. 15.

 

  • Dimitrov warmed up for the Australian Open by winning his 5th career title – and first since 2014 Queen’s – at Brisbane (d. Kei Nishikori). 3 of his 5 career titles have come on a hard court.

 

  • Dimitrov finished 2008 as 3 in the ITF Junior Rankings after winning the boys’ singles titles at Wimbledon (d. Henri Kontinen) and the US Open (d. Devin Britton).

 

  • Dimitrov has played Davis Cup for Bulgaria since 2008. He has a 16-1 singles win-loss record in Davis Cup and a 20-4 overall win-loss record. Bulgaria will host – and compete in – the Europe/Africa Zone Group III event in Sozopol in April.

 

  • Dimitrov was part of the ITF 14 & Under European Team in Europe in 2004-05 and the ITF 16 & Under European A Team in Europe in 2006, funded by the Grand Slam Development Fund.

 

  • Dimitrov started working with Dani Vallverdu, former coach to Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych, in July 2016. His physio is Azdine Bousnana.

 

  • CHUNG is bidding to become the first Korean man in history to reach the 3rd round at the Australian Open. Hyung-Taik Lee is the only Korean man to reach the 3rd round at a major – reaching the round of 16 at the US Open in 2000 and 2007, and the 3rd round at Roland Garros in 2004 and 2005, at the 2004 US Open and at 2007 Wimbledon.

 

  • By reaching the 2nd round here, Chung has become the 2nd Korean man to reach the 2nd round at the Australian Open after Hyung-Taik Lee, who reached this stage in 2003 and 2008.

 

  • Chung advanced to the 2nd round after defeating Renzo Olivo 62 63 62 for his first Australian Open match-win. This is his 2nd Australian Open appearance and his 5th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • By reaching the 2nd round here, Chung has equalled his best Grand Slam result. He also reached the 2nd round at the 2015 US Open (d. James Duckworth, l. Stan Wawrinka). He fell in the 1st round on his 3 other Grand Slam appearances – at 2015 Wimbledon (l. Pierre-Hugues Herbert), the 2016 Australian Open (l. Novak Djokovic) and at 2016 Roland Garros (l. Quentin Halys).

 

  • Prior to coming here, Chung reached the 2nd round as a qualifier at Chennai (d. Borna Coric, l. Dudi Sela).

 

  • Chung missed 3 months of the 2016 season from June-August due to an abdominal injury. He dropped to No. 146 in October 2016 – his lowest ranking since February 2015. Chung reached a career-high ranking of No. 51 in October 2015 but plays here at No. 105.

 

  • Chung’s best result in 2016 was reaching the quarterfinals at Houston (l. John Isner) – the last time he recorded back-to-back match-wins at Tour-level. He also won 2 Challenger titles at Kaohsiung (TPE) (d. Duck Hee Lee) and Kobe (JPN) (d. James Duckworth) and finished runner-up at Nan Chang (CHN) (l. Hiroki Moriya).

 

  • Chung is bidding to end a 12-match losing streak against Top 30 player The highest-ranked player he has defeated is No. 34 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez at 2016 Rotterdam.

 

  • Chung is a former junior world No. 7. He finished as runner-up in the boys’ singles event at 2013 Wimbledon (l. Gianluigi Quinzi) and reached the boys’ singles quarterfinals at both the 2014 Australian Open (l. Alexander Zverev) and 2014 Wimbledon (l. Stefan Kozlov).

 

  • Chung is coached by Yong-Il Yoon.

 

18 RICHARD GASQUET (FRA) v CARLOS BERLOCQ (ARG)

Head-to-head: Gasquet leads 3-0

2014     Roland Garros               Clay (O)            R64      Gasquet            76(5) 64 64

2015     Australian Open            Hard (O)           R128    Gasquet            61 63 61

2015     Roland Garros               Clay (O)            R64      Gasquet            36 63 61 46 61

 

A 4th meeting for Gasquet and Berlocq, with all of their previous encounters coming at the Grand Slams. Gasquet has won all 3 meetings to date – including in the 1st round here in 2015 – but Berlocq took Gasquet to 5 sets in their most recent meeting at 2015 Roland Garros.

 

                         GASQUET                                      v                                      BERLOCQ

 

30                                          Age                                          33

18                            ATP Ranking (16 Jan)                            90

14                                         Titles                                          2

96-47                      Career Grand Slam Record                      10-30

21-12                        Australian Open Record                          3-7

458-262                              Career Record                              122-164

271-159                        Career Record – Hard                           26-54

1-0                                   2017 Record                                   1-0

1-0                              2017 Record – Hard                              1-0

11-13                         Career Five-Set Record                           3-4

2                         Comebacks from 0-2 Down                         1

159-131                      Career Tiebreak Record                         47-52

0-0                            2017 Tiebreak Record                            2-0

 

  • GASQUET is bidding to reach the 3rd round at the Australian Open for the 9th time. He advanced to the 2nd round after defeating qualifier Blake Mott 64 64 62 in the 1st round on Tuesday.

 

  • Gasquet’s best Australian Open result is reaching the round of 16 on 4 occasions – in 2007 (l. Tommy Robredo), 2008 (l. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga), 2012 (l. David Ferrer) and 2013 (l. Tsonga). This is his 13th Australian Open appearance and his 49th Grand Slam appearance overall.

 

  • Gasquet’s Grand Slam highlight is reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2007 (l. Roger Federer) and 2015 (l. Novak Djokovic), and at the 2013 US Open (l. Rafael Nadal).

 

  • At the Grand Slams in 2016, Gasquet reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros (l. Andy Murray), where he claimed the record for the most attempts before reaching the last 8 in Paris by reaching the quarterfinals for the first time on his 13th appearance. He reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon, where he retired with a back injury while trailing Tsonga 4-2 in the opening set, but fell in the 1st round at the US Open (l. Kyle Edmund). He missed the Australian Open with a back injury.

 

  • Gasquet’s best results in 2016 are winning the titles at Montpellier (d. Paul-Henri Mathieu) and Antwerp (d. Diego Schwartzman). He also finished runner-up at Shenzhen (l. Tomas Berdych). 8 of his 14 career titles have come on a hard court.

 

  • Gasquet warmed up for this year’s Australian Open by winning the Hopman Cup for France alongside Kristina Mladenovic. He won 3 of his 4 singles matches in Perth, defeating Alexander Zverev, Daniel Evans and Jack Sock but losing to Federer.

 

  • Gasquet has played Davis Cup for France since 2005, compiling a 15-11 overall win-loss record and helping his nation reach the Final in 2014 (l. Switzerland). France will travel to Japan in the 2017 World Group first round in Tokyo on 3-5 February.

 

  • Gasquet was named ITF Junior World Champion in 2002 after winning the boys’ singles at Roland Garros (d. Laurent Recourderc) and the US Open (d. Marcos Baghdatis). He reached the semifinals of the 2002 Australian Open boys’ singles, losing to Todd Reid.

 

  • Gasquet is coached by Sergi Bruguera, who reached the round of 16 here in 1993, and Thierry Champion.
  • BERLOCQ is bidding to reach the 3rd round at a Grand Slam for the first time. He defeated Radu Albot 64 76(4) 57 76(8) in the 1st round on Tuesday.

 

  • By reaching the 2nd round here, Berlocq has equalled his best Grand Slam result. He also reached the 2nd round at Roland Garros in 2007 (l. Potito Starace), 2011 (l. Lukasz Kubot), 2014 and 2015 (losing to today’s opponent on both occasions), and as a qualifier in 2016 (l. David Goffin), at the US Open in 2011 (l. Novak Djokovic) and 2013 (l. Roger Federer) and at the Australian Open in 2012 (l. Ivo Karlovic) and 2013 (l. Kei Nishikori).

 

  • This Berlocq’s 8th Australian Open appearance and his 31st Grand Slam overall. He missed last year’s event here. Having played a limited schedule in 2015, he didn’t start his 2016 singles season until Miami-1000 (where he lost in qualifying) due to a right adductor injury.

 

  • Berlocq’s best result in 2016 was reaching the semifinals at Umag (l. Andrej Martin) – the last time he recorded back-to-back Tour-level match-wins. He recorded just one other Tour-level match-win in 2016 – at Roland Garros – and played mainly on the Challenger circuit, winning the title at Blois (FRA) (d. Steve Darcis) and finishing runner-up at Aix En Provence (FRA) (l. Thiago Monteiro) and Campinas (BRA) (l. Facundo Bagnis).

 

  • Berlocq warmed up for the Australian Open at the Canberra Challenger (AUS), where he reached the quarterfinals (l. Alejandro Falla).

 

  • Berlocq is a former Top 40 player, having reached a career-high ranking of No. 37 in March 2012, but plays here ranked No. 90.

 

  • Berlocq’s best surface is clay. 91 of his 122 Tour-level match-wins have come on the surface as well as both of his career singles titles at 2013 Bastad (d. Fernando Verdasco) and 2014 Oerias (d. Tomas Berdych). Just 26 of his Tour-level match-wins have come on a hard court.

 

  • Berlocq has played Davis Cup for Argentina since 2012, compiling an 8-9 win-loss record in 10 ties played. Defending champions Argentina will host Italy in the 2017 World Group first round in Buenos Aires on 3-5 February.

 

  • Berlocq was a member of the South American 16 & under Team to Europe in 1999, funded by the Grand Slam Development Fund.

 

  • Berlocq is coached by Francisco Yunis. His fitness trainers are Horacio Anselmi and Hernan Rojas.

 

 

 24 ALEXANDER ZVEREV (GER) v (Q) FRANCES TIAFOE (USA)

Head-to-head: first meeting

 

ZVEREV                                        v                                        TIAFOE

 

19                                          Age                                          18*

24                                   ATP Ranking                                  108

1                                          Titles                                          0

7-6                        Career Grand Slam Record                        1-3

1-1                          Australian Open Record                          1-0

63-48                                Career Record                                 3-12

31-26                          Career Record – Hard                            3-9

1-0                                   2017 Record                                   1-0

1-0                              2017 Record – Hard                              1-0

3-2                           Career Five-Set Record                           0-1

0                         Comebacks from 0-2 Down                         0

27-26                        Career Tiebreak Record                          4-8

0-0                            2017 Tiebreak Record                            0-1

*Turns 19 on 20 January

 

  • ZVEREV is bidding to reach the 3rd round here for the first time and equal his best Grand Slam result.

 

  • Zverev advanced to the 2nd round here after defeating Robin Haase 62 36 57 63 62 in the 1st round on Tuesday. It was his Australian Open match-win and improved his win-loss record in 5-set matches to 3-2.

 

  • Last year here on his Australian Open debut, Zverev fell to Andy Murray 61 62 63 in the 1st round. He failed to qualify here in 2015.

 

  • Zverev best Grand Slam result is reaching the 3rd round on his debut at Roland Garros (l. Dominic Thiem) and on his 2nd appearance at Wimbledon (l. Tomas Berdych) in 2016. Also in 2016, he reached the 2nd round at the US Open (l. Daniel Evans). This is his 7th Grand Slam appearance.

 

  • Zverev’s best Tour-level result in 2016 was winning his first Tour-level title at St. Petersburg, where he defeated No. 9 Berdych in the semifinals and No. 3 Stan Wawrinka in the final to become the youngest Tour-level champion since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori at 2008 Delray Beach. He went on to defeat No. 10 Dominic Thiem in the 1st round of his next tournament at Beijing to become the first teenager to defeat three Top 10 players consecutively since Boris Becker defeated 4 in a row at the 1986 year-end championships.

 

  • Also in 2016, Zverev finished runner-up at Nice (l. Thiem) and Halle (l. Florian Mayer), where he defeated Roger Federer in the semifinals to become the youngest player to defeat the Swiss since Rafael Nadal at 2005 Roland Garros. He reached 4 further semifinals at Montpellier, Munich, Washington and Stockholm.

 

  • Zverev reached a career-high ranking of No. 20 on 17 October. At 19 years 6 months, he was the youngest man to reach the Top 20 since No. 13 Novak Djokovic in November 2006. He plays here at No. 24.

 

  • Zverev warmed up for the Australian Open at the Hopman Cup, where he won 2 of his 3 matches – defeating Federer 76(1) 67(4) 76(4) and Daniel Evans 64 63 but losing to Richard Gasquet 75 63.

 

  • Zverev is a former junior world No. 1. He was named 2013 ITF Junior World Champion and went on to win the boys’ singles title at the 2014 Australian Open (d. Stefan Kozlov). He also finished runner-up in the boys’ singles at 2013 Roland Garros.

 

  • Zverev is one of 6 former junior Australian Open champions who have reached the 2nd round here this year from the 7 who started in the draw. Stefan Edberg is the only player to have won both the junior and senior title here in the Open Era.

 

  • Zverev’s brother, Mischa, has already reached the 3rd round, after defeating Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 63 76(5) 64 in the 1st round on Monday and No. 19 seed John Isner 67(4) 67(4) 64 76(7) 97 in the 2nd round on Wednesday.

 

  • Zverev is coached by his father, Alexander Zverev Sr. His fitness trainer is Jez Green and his physio is Hugo Gravil.

 

  • Qualifier TIAFOE is through to the 2nd round at a Grand Slam for the first time on his Australian Open debut.

 

  • Tiafoe recorded his first Grand Slam match-win to reach the 2nd round here, defeating Mikhail Kukushkin 61 67(3) 63 62 on Tuesday. He lost in the 1st round on each of his 3 previous Grand Slam appearances – as a wild card at 2015 Roland Garros (l. Martin Klizan) and as a wild card at the US Open in 2015 (l. Viktor Troicki) and 2016 (l. John Isner).

 

  • As No. 2 seed, Tiafoe defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 63 57 75, Yannik Reuter (BEL) 64 60 and Tim Smyczek (USA) 36 60 75 in the 3 rounds of qualifying here. It was the first time he had qualified for a Grand Slam, having failed to qualify on his previous 4 attempts to qualify for the majors – at the US Open in 2014, and the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2016.

 

  • Prior to coming here Tiafoe attempted to qualify at Brisbane, losing to Alex De Minaur in the final round of qualifying.

 

  • Tiafoe’s best results in 2016 came on the Challenger circuit. He won 2 Challenger titles – at Granby (CAN) (d. Marcelo Arevalo) and Stockton (USA) (d. Noah Rubin) – and reached 3 further Challenger finals.

 

  • Tiafoe broke into the Top 100 for the first time, at No. 100, after winning the title at the Stockton Challenger (USA). He plays here at No. 108.

 

  • Tiafoe is bidding to record his first victory against a Top 30 player. He has lost all 4 of his previous meetings with Top 30 opposition. He fell in 5-sets to John Isner in his most recent meeting with a Top 30 player – his only career 5-set match to date.

 

  • Tiafoe is bidding to record back-to-back Tour-level match-wins for the first time in his career. Prior to the 1st round here, he had won just two Tour-level matches in his career, when he reached the 2nd round at 2015 Winston-Salem (d. James Duckworth, l. Thomaz Bellucci) and at 2016 Indian Wells-1000 (d. Taylor Fritz, l. David Goffin).

 

  • Tiafoe had a successful junior career. Aged just 15, he won the 2013 Orange Bowl (d. Stefan Kozlov), becoming the youngest boys’ singles winner in the event’s history. He also reached the boys’ singles semifinals at the 2014 US Open (l. Quentin Halys) and achieved a career-high junior ranking of No. 2. He never competed in the junior event here.

 

  • Tiafoe is coached by Jose Higueras.

*All statistics courtesy of the Grand Slam Media team, Australian Open Men’s Information Team and the International Tennis Federation.

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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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Singles Draws Made at Australian Open

 

(January 13, 2017) Friday saw the singles draws made for the first major tournament of the tennis year, the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Top men’s seed Andy Murray will open his campaign to try and win his first major down under against Ukrainian Illya Marchenko. Second seed, defending champion and six-time winner Novak Djokovic faces a tricky opponent in Fernando Verdasco. The Serb beat the Spaniard in Doha last week, saving five match points. Verdasco upset Rafael Nadal in the first round of last year’s Australian Open.

Third seed Milos Raonic will play German Dustin Brown, while fourth seed Stan Wawrinka faces Slovakian Martin Klizan.

Men’s Singles Draw

Potential round of 16:

Andy Murray-Lucas Pouille

Tomas Berdych- Kei Nishikori

Stan Wawrinka-Nick Kyrgios

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga- Marin Cilic

Gael Monfils- Rafael Nadal

Roberto Bautista Agut – Milos Raonic

Dominic Thiem- David Goffin

Grigor Dimitrov- Novak Djokovic

Roger Federer, the 17th seed could meet Tomas Berdych in the third round.

 

t-align:left;”>Embed from Getty Images

In the women’s draw, top seed and defending Angelique Kerber drew Ukraine’s  Lesia Tsurenko, to open her title defense. Serena Williams, the No. 2 seed and six -time Australian Open champion, who is seeking her 23rd major, faces a challenge from former Top Ten player Belinda Bencic of Switzerland.

Third seed  Agnieszka Radwanska plays Tsvetana Pironkova, who upset her at last year’s French Open. Fourth seed Simona Halep of Romania, matches up against American Shelby Rogers.

Women’s Singles Draw 

Potential round of 16:

Angelique Kerber- Roberto Vinci

Carla Suarez Navarro-Garbine Muguruza

Simona Halep-Venus Williams

Elina Svitolina- Svetlana Kuznetsova

Karolina Pliskova-Timea Bacsinszky

Elina Vesnina- Aga Radwanska

Dominika Cibulkova-Johanna Konta

Barbora Strycova-Serena Williams

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Novak Djokovic Beats Andy Murray to Defend Qatar Open Title

Novak Djokovic

(January 7, 2017) World No. 2 Novak Djokovic won his first tournament since July on Saturday when he held off No. 1 Andy Murray 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to defend his Qatar Open title.

Murray saved three match points in the second set, as Djokovic was serving for the match leading 6-3, 5-4. The Scot broke serve, held and broke again to even up the match.

The victory snapped the Brit’s 28-match win streak and the 12-time major champion is now 25-11 in head-to-head matches.

“Best scenario I could ask for in the beginning of the season,” Djokovic said. “Playing all five matches in this tournament and then three hours against the No. 1 of the world, biggest rival, and winning in a thrilling marathon match.

“He’s such a great defender and he is fighting so much and always gets the ball back… It was really, really thrilling performance from both of us. Just a great way to start the year.”

“Obviously disappointed not to win tonight, but I played pretty good the last couple of the matches,” Murray noted. “I think physically it was a good test to start the year, and I did good there. My body feels all right just now, so that’s positive.”

Murray has reached the final of 13 of the last 14 tournaments he’s played.

This is the Serbian’s 67th career title. His last tournament crown came at the Rogers Cup in Canada.

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Andy Murray Beats Novak Djokovic to Claim ATP Year-End Title and World No. 1

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

(November 20, 2016) Andy Murray reached two milestones on Sunday in London’s O2 Arena – he beat Novak Djokovic to win his first ATP World Tour Finals title and sealed the No. 1 spot for 2016.

The three-time major champion beat Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-4. It marked the first time in ATP World Tour history that the No. 1 ranking was on the line for both players in the final match of the ATP Tour’s season.
It was also the first time since Lisbon in 2000 that the year-end No. 1 ranking was decided in the final when Brazil’s Gustavo Kuerten beat Andre Agassi in the final to finish at No. 1 ahead of Marat Safin.

“I would like to try and stay there, obviously,” Murray said of his top ranking.  “It’s taken a huge effort the last five, six months to get there. I would obviously like to stay there. I’m aware that’s going to be extremely difficult because I had a great year this year. I only managed to do it by one match. To repeat that again next year is going to be extremely difficult.

“But now that I’ve got there, I obviously would be motivated to try and stay in that position. But yeah, I mean, the majors are what gets me working hard and what really, really motivates me.

“When I go away in December to train, I’m training with the Australian Open in mind. Because of the best-of-five-set matches, they’re the ones you have to really put in the extra work for and the extra training for. That’s what motivates me.”
The 29-year-old spot leapfrogged Djokovic for the No. 1 ranking on November 7, when he won the Paris Masters event.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

“I expected him to play on a high level, said the 29-year-old Serb. “As I said yesterday after my semifinals, I didn’t expect him to be too tired.

“But I just played very poorly, made a lot of unforced errors from the backhand side. It just wasn’t my day. On the other hand, credit to Andy for being mentally tough and playing the right shots, making me play extra shots in every rally. He definitely deserved to win.”

 

“Well, right now the goal is just to rest a little bit,” Djokovic said in his post-match news conference. “It’s been a long season, a very nice year, a lot to reflect on, a lot to take in. But, you know, it’s time to leave the racquet aside for a little bit, just recover, then I’ll start thinking about next season.”
The last five, six months have not been ideal. Surely, you know, I could have maybe done slightly better in some tournaments. Nevertheless, I played finals of US Open, finals here. It’s still pretty good playing finals. Even though I set a high standard for myself, especially the last couple years, I’m very grateful to have had the career that I’ve had.

“But, you know, sometimes it’s just normal, I guess, to experience, to live these kind of things, not to have the half seasons as well as you want them to be, as well as they’ve been in the last three, four years. That’s all, you know.

“Surely there were things I could have done better on the court. I know that. It was also a tough season considering there were Olympic Games. I’ve just been through so much emotions in the first six months with Roland Garros in place. I needed some time to really take it all in, digest it. But I didn’t have that time. I had to a few weeks later be on the court right away. I guess that all had its toll.

“Right now I’m actually looking forward to have a month and a half with no tournaments. That’s something that is a luxury in the men’s tennis.”

 

For Murray, it’s been a career year, winning a second Wimbledon title, defending his Olympic gold and claiming three Masters Series titles. He was victorious in 8 finals and now has a total of 44 career titles. He’s on a 24-match win streak. He completed the year at 78-9.
“It’s a very special day, playing against Novak in a match like this,” said Murray. “We’ve played in Grand Slam finals, Olympics and matches like this – it’s been a tough rivalry. I’ve lost many of them, but I am happy to have got the win today to clinch the year-end No. 1. It’s very special, it’s something that I never expected. My team and family have been a great help, making a lot of sacrifices for me and my tennis. I’d like to congratulate Novak on everything he has achieved this year.”

Andy’s older brother, Jamie Murray and his partner Bruno Soares claimed the year end No. 1 doubles ranking as a team. This marks the first time in the history of the official ATP rankings that two brothers have finished year-end No. 1 in singles and doubles in the same season.
“These next few years, obviously I want to try and make them the best of my career, yeah, try and win as much as I can,” Murray said. “But it’s going to be tough because as you get older, you know, the young guys are going to keep improving and getting better. There’s some really good young ones now.

“It’s going to be hard, but I’ll try to keep going.”

 
ATP WORLD TOUR YEAR-END NO. 1 HISTORY
Year    Player
2016    Andy Murray (Great Britain)
2015    Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
2014    Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
2013    Rafael Nadal (Spain)
2012    Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
2011    Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
2010    Rafael Nadal (Spain)
2009    Roger Federer (Switzerland)
2008    Rafael Nadal (Spain)
2007    Roger Federer (Switzerland)
2006    Roger Federer (Switzerland)
2005    Roger Federer (Switzerland)
2004    Roger Federer (Switzerland)
2003    Andy Roddick (U.S.)
2002    Lleyton Hewitt (Australia)
2001    Lleyton Hewitt (Australia)
2000    Gustavo Kuerten (Brazil)
1999    Andre Agassi (U.S.)
1998    Pete Sampras (U.S.)
1997    Pete Sampras (U.S.)
1996    Pete Sampras (U.S.)
1995    Pete Sampras (U.S.)
1994    Pete Sampras (U.S.)
1993    Pete Sampras (U.S.)
1992    Jim Courier (U.S.)
1991    Stefan Edberg (Sweden)
1990    Stefan Edberg (Sweden)
1989    Ivan Lendl (Czech Republic)
1988    Mats Wilander (Sweden)
1987    Ivan Lendl (Czech Republic)
1986    Ivan Lendl (Czech Republic)
1985    Ivan Lendl (Czech Republic)
1984    John McEnroe (U.S.)
1983    John McEnroe (U.S.)
1982    John McEnroe (U.S.)
1981    John McEnroe (U.S.)
1980    Bjorn Borg (Sweden)
1979    Bjorn Borg (Sweden)
1978    Jimmy Connors (U.S.)
1977    Jimmy Connors (U.S.)
1976    Jimmy Connors (U.S.)
1975    Jimmy Connors (U.S.)
1974    Jimmy Connors (U.S.)
1973    Ilie Nastase (Romania)

 

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Approach Shots –  Judy Murray Q & A Part One

Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part Two

Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part Three

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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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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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Andy Murray Survives Kei Nishikori in Three-Set Battle to go 2-0 at ATP World Tour Finals

Andy Murray fh

(November 16, 2016) World No. 1 Andy Murray survived a three-hour and twenty-minute struggle against Kei Nishikori to win 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4 to go 2-0 in round robin play at the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena on Wednesday.

The match set an ATP World Tour Finals record as the longest three-set match in time.

Murray is in the top position in his group to qualify for the semifinals of the year-end event for the first time since 2012. This is the first time since 2009 that the Scot has won his first two matches at the event.

Murray has won 21 straight matches.

“Especially the first set, beginning part of the second set, he was dictating almost all of the rallies,” said Murray. “At one stage they put up the graphic on the screen in the first set, said I made 96% of returns, which at that stage means maybe I missed one. There wasn’t any quick points on his serve. There was a lot of rallies one after another.

“Often on a surface like this, you’ll play some quicker points where you maybe get aced or don’t make returns. But it was kind of every point there was rallies, and you’re having to play four, five shots.

“It’s tough. Like you say, he does move the ball around extremely well, better than anyone maybe. So, yeah, it was physically tough. Thankfully I was getting quite a few free points on my own serve, which helped.

“It wasn’t easy because I wasn’t able to dictate many of the points, it felt. More so in the third set I was able to. But not in the first couple sets. I was having to run, fight, get as many balls back as I could.”

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori

“Well, it’s never feel good, you know, after losing the match,” Nishikori said. “I know it was close. I mean, definitely disappointed. But there’s much is coming into this, so try to be ready for that.”

“He’s tough player, so… Think it was great match, both of us. Also for me, played really consistent, playing with good energy.

“Well, I’m sure he’s going to qualify for the group. I try to aim for the second spot.”

It could all come down to a battle for year-end No. 1 against Novak Djokovic later in the tournament

“It could come down to a match between me and Novak,” Murray said. “Who knows what’s going to happen the next few days. Just from my side, concentrate on trying to win my own matches, get through as many as I can, make it as tough as possible for Novak to jump me.”

Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils has withdrawn from the year-end event with an 0-2 group record. He’s still suffering from a rib injury he’s had since the Stockholm event.

“Definitely I can’t play for tomorrow because I still feel worse and worse, my ribs, that I had lately,” Monfils said in a news conference. “Yeah, I feel that even yesterday was tough in the game. I feel unfortunately today I couldn’t be feeling great and couldn’t practice, so I just decide that I couldn’t play tomorrow.”

“I hurt myself in Stockholm tournament. From then, you know, I just start to practice last Monday.

“You know, I knew it’s going to be six weeks, they told me, of rest. I try to make it. I couldn’t really make it.”

“I’m very happy first to be here in the top eight. I think it’s the greatest season I ever done. I can say also I missed quite a lot. Big occasion to play.

“It give me more hope for next year. Definitely, I had a lot of big change for me. I think for the new season I will have new changes and hopefully I can be even stronger next year.”

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