2015/04/18

Serena Williams to face Madison Keys in Australian Open Semifinal

Madison Keys

Madison Keys

(January 28, 2015) No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 35 Madison Keys booked spots in Australian Open semifinals on Wednesday. Keys broke up what could have been an “all-Williams” semifinal when the 19-year-old knocked out 34-year-old Venus Williams 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to reach her first Grand Slam final four.

Serena Williams had a much easier time advancing, dismissing last year’s Australian Open losing finalist Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-2 in 69 minutes, is still on track to try and win her 19th major and sixth Australian Open title.

Statistics tell the story for the world No. 1 American who hit 58 winners including 15 aces and made only 18 unforced errors against the Slovak. Williams has won the title at Melbourne Park each of the five previous times she has advanced to the semifinals.

“I feel I played well,” said Serena. “I felt I had to. I feel like when you’re going up against a player like that who is confident on the court – she just had a few good matches – I knew that I needed to really play well or go home.”

“It was tough match for me today,” No. 11 Cibulkova said. “She was just playing really well today, I have to say. She was putting so much pressure from the serve and return. I didn’t have a chance to play my game. Just felt under so much pressure. It was a good day for her.

“It’s the way I struggle with reading her serves. I just don’t put many first returns in the game. That’s what makes it tough. And also then I feel under a bigger pressure on my serve. That’s why I try to go for much more first serve today. It just didn’t go in. Then my second serve, she was just going for it. Yeah, that’s make it really tough. She tries to make the rallies much shorter and not to get me in the rhythm. Yeah, that’s it.”

In a battle between tennis generations, Venus Williams and Keys, it was the first All-American quarterfinal since Sloane Stephens beat Serena Williams in Melbourne Park back in 2013.

After a dominant first set by Keys, who is now coached by former No. 1 and three-time slam winner Lindsay Davenport, she had to overcome a left leg injury and rally from a break down in the third set to win the match. Keys completed the match with 34 winners to 45 unforced errors, while Venus hit 10 winners to 38 unforced errors. The match saw 12 service breaks.

“I definitely didn’t serve as consistently as I wanted to,” said the seven-time major champion. “I felt like just not as aggressive off the ground as I would have liked. So I think in this kind of match you have to be aggressive. Like I said, I give a lot of credit to her because she really set her points up. She was swinging freely. Most of them went in for her. So it was just, you know, great for her.”

“It already feels like a long season already, so many matches in a row,” Williams said. “But it’s a great start. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this level up.”

Venus is 9-1 on the year, having won the tournament in Auckland.

“I think she played really well,” Venus said “Of course, I have to give credit to her just for playing well, landing a lot of great shots I think is ultimately — ultimately she played really well.

Venus hadn’t reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam since the U.S. Open in 2010 since being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome in 2011, an auto-immune disease which causes fatigue.

“I think just being able to come back from being down and from not being able to move as well, not having as effective of a serve, just being able to kind of grind through that, still figure it out, manage to win some points, is what I’m most happy about,” Keys said about her left abductor injury.

“It was definitely one of those things where it wasn’t nearly as bad as Wimbledon, but it was that nightmare of `I don’t want this to happen again,’” Keys said. “Luckily the pain meds kicked in.”

“I mean, it definitely feels amazing,” said the teenager about the victory. “It’s one of those things where you want to feel this way all the time. But it’s not, you know, this unbelievable excitement either ’cause you want to keep winning and you want to keep doing better. I am very happy and I am very excited, but also not getting too far ahead of myself and being too content where I am.”

This is the third straight year that a teenager has reached the Australian Open semifinals: 2013 – Sloane Stephens, 2014 – Eugenie Bouchard and 2015 – Keys.

“I think Genie and Sloane are both really talented and can play some really good tennis,” Keys said.” It’s not super surprising they made semifinals. But, no, it’s one of those things when you see some of your fellow peers doing well, going deep in tournaments, it’s inspirational. Makes you kind of believe that you can do the same.”

About how Venus sees Keys’ future: “Sky’s the limit. There is no limit on what you can achieve. No one can stop you. Sometimes you may not win every match, but there’s a lot of them you can win. Really the sky’s the limit for her and anyone out there.”

On playing Serena next, Keys said: “It’s just one of those things where I have to go out and I have to do my best and I have to really just have to stay focused on my side of the court, because she’s obviously very, very good and she’s going to play very well. So if I get too focused on what she’s doing I think I can kind of let the moment get away from me. So I’m just really going to stay focused on myself.”

Serena on playing Keys:“I think she likes the surface. I’m just happy to be in the semis, and whatever happens an American will be in the final.”

“She’s playing great. I told her I was really happy that she did well. She’s in the semis. It’s good to see another American, another African American, in the semifinals playing so well. Regardless, there’s going to be an American in the finals, so that is great. It’s also great for me and Venus because we know that finally there’s other Americans that are constantly playing well and playing better, showing that they want to be the world’s greatest.”

On the men’s side of the draw, No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka posted straight set wins to reach the semifinals. Djokovic defeated Milos Raonic 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 to gain his 25 major semifinal, while defending champion Wawrinka dominated Kei Nishokori with a powerful backhand 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

This sets up a repeat of the last year’s dramatic quarterfinal which Wawrinka won in five sets.

 

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Notes and Quotes from Day 2 of the 2015 Australian Open

Serena Williams

(January 20, 2015) A few of the more off-beat questions and answers from Day 2 news conferences at the Australian Open.

You’ve been well-known to have a lot of off-court activities in your career. Do you think all of that has helped you with your success in tennis or is that a whole other part of your life?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It’s definitely a different part of my life. I’ve always been different and I’ve always liked to plan for my future. I’ve always enjoyed different things. Even when I was younger, I just did so many different things. Inevitably it helps me appreciate what I love to do most, which is play tennis.

 

Your outfit today was pretty awesome.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Thank you.

 

Did you want to do something more adventurous compared to when you were a teenager? Sort of a bold look?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I’ve been more focused on different parts of the body. Throughout the years we went for a more conservative look. This year we really wanted to bring out a powerful woman and a strong woman, like I said. You can be beautiful and powerful at the same time. So what we at Nike wanted to do was to focus on beautiful back. So kind of a lot of my outfits this year are really based on the beauty of and the shape of the back, which a lot of people don’t think about. But it’s so beautiful and powerful on ladies, so we just wanted to focus on that.

 

Do you feel different when you wear something on court more revealing?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I definitely feel really different. First of all, I feel like I don’t want to eat too much (smiling). One peanut and I’m going to break the dress, so I try not to eat that much. Other than that, yeah, it depends. Sometimes I’m a little nervous. Yeah, but this one I think is really good. It’s really trendy and young, but at the same time it also has a great message and it’s also really nice. It goes really well. So, yeah.

 

Q. After having ordered the coffee, what are you allowed to order on court and what would you like to order beyond espresso?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Depends. If I’m down, I might want to call my buddy Jack. Maybe that wouldn’t be good (smiling). Yeah, no, I don’t know what’s allowed. A hamburger, French fries.

 

Q. Pizza?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I love eating pizza. I can’t have it this fortnight. I don’t want to break my dress (smiling).

 

Q. Do they ever instruct the players that these are the things you can do?

SERENA WILLIAMS: That’s why I asked. I want to be completely honest. Is it okay? I have no idea. I think that might be a new rule in the rule book. We’ll see.

 

Q. Did you watch any of the Kyrgios or Kokkinakis match yesterday?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s great opening matches that they both had, five-setters. The crowd. Could not ask for anything better. I was saying before that they both are very talented. Obviously they have a lot of reasons why they want to perform their best in Australian Open, their home soil. They have a huge support. They have a huge motivation to play their best. I congratulate them both. It’s not easy as an 18-year-old to overcome the challenges and pressure and expectations. Especially Kyrgios, with the amount of attention he got this week, prior to the beginning of the Australian Open. To be able to face that and win the way they both did, it shows the character. So I wish them both well in the rest of the tournament.

 

Q. What do you think of their flair on court?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, that’s what you need to have as a youngster, as a challenger, to all the players basically in the professional world coming up. It seems like, you know, sometimes you’re playing tennis without pressure or without really caring too much for what other people say or who is across the net. That’s what I felt like at that stage of my career. But, you know, there comes a time obviously when people start talking about you more, as they start talking about them. Obviously playing in Australia for them represents something more than playing anywhere else. Nick had a lot of attention in the media. Australia wants to have another big star, top player. I thought Kokkinakis did very well psychologically to win yesterday’s match, facing some match points and so forth. They both have the potential, no doubt about that. It’s still long road ahead of them. I’m sure they’re aware of it.

 

Q. Becoming a parent is a happy time for anybody. Can you share with us your best daddy story you can come up with?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I can say definitely that it’s the best, most joyful thing that ever has happened to me and my wife. We are so blessed and grateful to have a child. He’s a little angel. They’re not here with me, so I’m trying to stay in touch with them. The technology nowadays helps me to stay connected and see them and watch them on a daily basis. I can’t wait to be with them. Everything that you do as a father is very special. Everything that you see, all the facial expressions, changes on a weekly basis, daily basis, as a matter of fact, is quite remarkable. It’s inexplicable for somebody that hasn’t experienced it before. That is what people were telling me before I became a father. They said, When it happens, you will understand the feeling. I do now. I’m completely fulfilled in every aspect of my life. That gives a whole ‘nother meaning and purpose to my tennis as well. I’m trying to draw that energy and motivation and love that I have for my family and for my boy into the tennis court as well.

 

Q. How would you rate your eye-hand coordination when it comes to diaper changing?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: My wife says I’m pretty good. I can’t say more than that.

 

Q. It was several years ago here you played Roger, you were a young guy. You expressed an opinion you had a good chance to win. What do you think about that younger Novak Djokovic?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As I said, I understand young players like Kyrgios and Kokkinakis that we’re talking about here, they have this I think necessary flair and energy that I think is directed in a positive way for them to get the crowd on their side, to get themselves rid of any kind of over-respect for the opponent and just be able to perform the best tennis, and then eventually get a big win, as they did, as Kokkinakis did against Gulbis, that is a top 15 player. So it’s a big part of the game and just an approach of a youngster, having that positive drive on the court. This is an ideal place for them to draw that energy and to explore that flair on the court.

 

Q. Serena got a lot of attention for ordering coffee on the court. What can you order on the court? Take-out Chinese? Could you order a beer?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I wasn’t thinking about that, honestly about the Chinese and a beer and the coffee, because I’m not a fan of those three things. But I guess, judging by what she did, it opens up a new chapter of rules I guess on the tennis court. Maybe we need to explore more and see what you’re able and what you’re not able to order. Maybe you can order some delivery service, as you mentioned. I don’t know. Something that comes to your mind. But it’s understandable. Some people can’t live without coffee in the morning. It keeps them going. I guess that helped her in that match. It wouldn’t help me because I’m not a fan of coffee.

 

Q. You would order something gluten free?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Gluten free coffee maybe (smiling).

 

Q. Nadal say he doesn’t feel ready to win. Do you think he’s trying to reduce the pressure on him by saying so?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don’t know what his intentions are, how he feels. But he is definitely always one of the top favorites in every tournament that he plays. There is no question about it. We always talk prior to the big tournaments, during the first days of the Grand Slams, about who the potential players are for winning the trophy. You know, more or less the same names have been going around for the last seven or eight years. So I don’t think there is any difference in terms of main favorites for this tournament even this year in the Australian Open. There are a few other players that are able to challenge the best.

 

 

Q. Busy with EleVen stuff?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I was busy with EleVen and V Starr and I was in school, so it was a lot, yeah. I’m glad that’s over.

 

Q. Is that something that has sort of continued to drive you, your off-court interests? Does that help you in your tennis to have those other things in your life?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Does it help me with my tennis? I don’t know. I think it maybe makes me more appreciative of tennis because I’ve had to start at the bottom with both of those. Obviously people know your name, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a given. You have to work hard. So I work really hard at both of those businesses. I’m in school because I guess I’m a geek. And other than that, yeah, I love tennis, so it’s always number one.

 

Q. You said a while ago that accounting kind of drove you crazy. What was so hard about accounting?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It’s hard because when you go to school on distance education, you have a ton of tools, but you have to be very disciplined and you have a ton more work. I literally mean an actual ton. It’s very challenging. I don’t like bad grades, so I have to have really good grades. So I put a lot of pressure on myself. It is so much work. It’s a lot of work. So I’m through accounting now, so I feel anything else is going to be a breeze.

 

Q. How are you at school? Is it tougher than tennis?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I love the information. I don’t like to do the work, so… I don’t know. I guess that’s the same thing. Yes, I like matches. Does anyone love practice? Probably not. So it’s probably the same concept.

 

Q. It’s been well-documented you’ve had a few health issues the last couple of years. You seem to have got back into the higher echelons of the game a bit under the radar. Are you feeling very healthy, very good in yourself right now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I got issues, but so do a lot of people. Everyone has different kind of issues. I deal with my own the best way that I can. I’m creeping closer. I did enter the top 20. But I had some issues. Now I’m back again. I’d like to think that moving forward I have a lot of good days ahead of me in terms of health. I think also learning to manage things, because it’s a mental challenge when you don’t feel well and I think I’m learning to manage that a lot better.

 

Q. Li Na announced her pregnancy. I’m wondering if motherhood is something that you ever think of?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, that’s so sweet. I didn’t know that. Maybe there will be twins and a doubles team. I hope I’m still not playing when they’re out (laughter). In any case, I don’t know, I’m still a big kid. I’m still growing up. She’s definitely made the right decision, I think, starting a family. I hope that one day I can get to that level. We’ll see. It’s a big job. It’s like the biggest job in the world. As much responsibility as I’ve taken on in my life, that still seems daunting.

 

Q. 19 Australian Opens now. It’s unprecedented. Are you still having fun? Is it still the same?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, the motivation, the buzz is still there, absolutely. You know, I love walking through the corridors, the practice sessions on Rod Laver Arena, the week leading up to the slam. The start of the Australian Open, there’s always a real buzz around anyway. But this is one of the things I really miss when I do eventually retire.

 

Q. This isn’t a farewell tour?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I get asked that every day, so…

 

 

Q. Is it weird being here and not being seeded? I think it’s the first time since ’07 or something like that.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, it would be weird if I was playing the whole last year and I wasn’t seeded this year. But since I missed so much, I think it’s kind of what it is. As I said, you just accept that and you just try to do the best as possible. So, you know, if you play against seed or unseeded player, it’s going to be tough. The depth in women’s game I think is really strong right now. You could see from the results from yesterday that it doesn’t really matter. You got to be ready 100% every day no matter who you’re facing.

 

Q. Li Na just said you will definitely win a Master in your career. How encouraging is that to hear from her?

KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, that’s a good thing to hear from her. It was very sad to see she’s retiring, because I was — she was big, big leadership for especially Asian tennis. I think I’m getting close to — not really — but getting close to her. Hopefully I can win a Masters. For sure that’s going to be my next goal. Hopefully I can come back Grand Slam final again.

 

Q. How long had you been thinking about starting a family with Dennis? In interviews you often talked about wanting to be a housewife. That was on your mind for how long before retirement?

LI NA: I think for my dream is be a housewife. I think every child they learn from the family. I was learn from my mom, so I was feeling the woman has to be like housewife. But I guess I’m not bad to play tennis. So I was feeling, okay, because tennis was take care a lot. I think now is the time to turn back. Yeah.

 

Q. How are you feeling? Do you have any morning sickness or any food cravings?

LI NA: Yes, I do. Until now I still have morning sick. Yeah.

 

Q. Any particular cravings or things you don’t want to eat anymore?

LI NA: No, no. I think I was pretty fine. I was ask my mom what I should care about. She was like, Do whatever you want to do. Don’t care about. She’s strong. So I was, Okay, okay.

 

Q. She’s a she?

LI NA: She or him. I prefer she. (Laughter.)

 

Q. Are you going to teach your kids tennis?

LI NA: I will see if they are interested about tennis or not. Yeah, yeah.

 

Q. If you could have changed one thing in your career, what would that have been?

LI NA: I think I’m perfect for the life. I wouldn’t change anything.

 

Q. Have you heard from any other tennis moms, someone who has reached out to you to congratulate you or give you advice?

LI NA: I got a lot message yesterday, yeah. I got a lot of congrats. So thanks for them.

 

Q. Why did you decide to make the announcement on Rod Laver Arena?

LI NA: I think we decide end of November. Yeah, because I know this is — Melbourne for me is very special area. So I know after that this is big moment for me. So I want to speak to all my fans, my friend. Yeah.

 

Q. Of all the qualities in you that helped you reach and achieve everything you did, what do you want your child to take from you?

LI NA: I try don’t to tell them I was the tennis player, you know. It’s pretty simple. Just like I wish them happy and healthy. That’s it. Yeah.

 

Q. What’s it like to be retired? You once said that you had sort of a lot of beasts within you that you got out on the tennis court and you felt all this pressure to win. What has it been like to leave tennis behind? Are you a different person now?

LI NA: I’m still the same. (Smiling.) Only not with tennis racquet anymore. It’s for me I decide because I cannot play anymore. I still love tennis, so that’s why I always doing the job. Yeah, of course right now I don’t have to worry about win or lose every day. Yeah, it’s less pressure. Yeah.

 

Q. If you could choose, would you still choose tennis as your career?

LI NA: If I have next life, I will still choose tennis, I will still choose the famous Asian as well.

 

Q. Why will you not immediately tell your child that you were a tennis player?

LI NA: I think tennis is my job, it’s not their job, you know. I think everyone has personality. Yeah.

 

Q. You have been the top Asian player for a long time, and in the men’s side, Kei Nishikori got very close to win Grand Slam last year. After you announced your retirement, he said he got a lot of motivation or confidence from you. So you give him any advices like Asian player, what kind of advice would you give him?

LI NA: I saw him play final on TV, of course. I think he’s amazing player. It’s not easy to be in the top. I know how hard working he has. So I will believe he can win Grand Slam. Seriously. Yeah.

 

Q. Will Dennis be changing diapers with you?

LI NA: No, no. The guys, it’s strange, I know how is another guy, but he never change, you know. Yeah.

 

Q. Just your thoughts on the players from China in the draw at the moment. Obviously a few defeats today. What are your thoughts?

LI NA: I even didn’t saw the match. Sorry about that, because I was like make me super busy. Yeah.

 

 

Q. Do you have a special place for your trophy at home?

STAN WAWRINKA: I already said it’s in a safe. It’s not at home yet.

 

Q. So you can’t watch it?

STAN WAWRINKA: No, I’m traveling all the year, so I don’t have time for that. (Smiling.)

 

Q. I have a question about your favorite football team. Where do you stand on Liverpool letting Stevie Gerrard go?

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I’m obviously sad. I think Stevie has done so much for the team over the years. He’s a legend. I think if that’s what he thinks is the right time, I have to support that.

 

Q. But you want him to stay?

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Yeah. But at the same time he had a talk with the manager and said that maybe he wasn’t going to be playing as much. Yeah, I’m a little sad. I don’t know. I’m going to have my Stevie G jerseys hanging somewhere. Unfortunately he won’t be playing there anymore. I’ll have to make a trip probably to L.A. to have a look again. But, yeah, 17 seasons, 17 years, it’s a long time.

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Top Seeds Williams and Djokovic Lead Charge into Australian Open Second Round

Djokovic melbourne

(January 20, 2015) World No. 1s Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic lead the charge on Tuesday in Melbourne, easily advancing to the second round of the Australian Open.

Serena Williams had an easy 6-0, 6-4 win over Alison Van Uytvanck in the night session. Despite a dominant win, the 18-time major winner admitted to nerves in the early rounds of majors.

“I just focus on holding serve in general, and I focus on breaking,” Williams said. “So I don’t focus on necessarily my nerves. I just think, Okay, I want to hold serve and I want to break. That’s all I do. That kind of helps me to get over it.”

She said the pressure is different in a final versus a first round. “Yeah, usually when you get to a final, you want to win. I just want to do the best I can. Yeah, I think it’s different because at least when you’re in a final, you have a little momentum. When you’re in a first round, you don’t have momentum. Usually the nerves aren’t as bad in general for me in a final. There’s been finals where I’ve been really, really tight.”

“If I could get to 19(th major) in Australia that would be amazing,” said the five –time Australian Open champion.

Meanwhile, four-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic had an easy time with No. 116 Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in his first-round match. Djokovic had been under-the-weather over the past two weeks.

“Just glad to be back competing on the highest level in tennis,” said the Serb. “Australian Open has been very dear to me. My most successful Grand Slam. I’ve been playing some of my best tennis throughout career on these courts. Trying to soak up every joyful moment on the court. Obviously the start was a bit slower performance, weaker performance, from my side. He had a couple of breakpoints. The match could have gone a different way in the first set. Never played him. Watched him only once. He did surprise me. I had a difficult time to read his serve. The courts are playing a little bit faster than they were the last two years than they were in previous years. So if you have a big serve, know how to use it, it’s a big advantage on these courts. He’s a good player obviously. He qualified. Reached the finals in Chennai. Qualified again here. He felt confident. He had nothing to lose. On the other hand, I managed to stay tough, overcome some kind of challenges that I faced in the beginning of the match. I played much more comfortably in the rest of the match.”

Defending Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka began his quest to with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win over No. 100-ranked Marsel Ilhan, in less than 90 minutes.

“It’s great, bringing me a lot of memories from last year,” Wawrinka said of his return. “It was great to come back here feeling happy, happy with my game.”

“Happy. First Grand Slam never easy, but happy the way I played today. I feel great to come in the court. I play some good tennis and I have confidence with my game in general. That’s what I did today. It was not so hot. A little bit humid, a little bit windy. But, yeah, it was a good match.”

 

Other men advancing on Tuesday were No. 5 Kei Nishikori, No. 8 Milos Raonic, No. 9 David Ferrer, No. 12 Feliciano Lopez saved 3 match points in defeating Denis Kudla 3-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 10-8, while No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 18 Gilles Simon and No. 19 John Isner also advanced. Upsets on the day included No. 16 Fabio Fognini, No. 21 Alexandr Dolgopolov, No. 25 Julien Benneteau and No. 27 Pablo Cuevas.

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka making a comeback after injuries sidelined her for most of 2014, defeated Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-2.

Seeded winners included No. 4 Petra Kvitova, No. 6 Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 8 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 11 Dominika Cibulkova and No. 18 Venus Williams. Upsets on the day included No. 12 Flavia Pennetta, No. 13 Andrea Petkovic and No. 15 Jelena Jankovic. Monday saw 8 women’s seeds bite the dust.

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2015 Australian Open Men’s Contender Profiles

(January 17, 2015) Profiles of the top Men’s Singles contenders for the 2015 Australian Open. Note: Grand Slam records for main draw matches only.  – by Jack Cunniff     http://twitter.com/jrcunniff

Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

2014 Record: 61-8

Grand Slam Record: 180-33

Australian Open Record: 43-6

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2008, ’11-’13)

Fast Fact: If Djokovic wins the title, he will be tied for 5th for Grand Slam titles won (8) with Agassi, Connors, and Lendl, and will have the most Australian Open titles (5) in the Open era.

 

Roger Federer

2014 Record: 73-12

Grand Slam Record: 279-45

Australian Open Record: 73-11

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2004, ’06, ’07, ’10)

Fast Fact: Over the last five years, the Australian Open has been Federer’s most successful Grand Slam event, with 26 match wins (French – 22 wins, Wimbledon – 22 wins, US – 21 wins).

 

Rafael Nadal

2014 Record: 48-11

Grand Slam Record: 187-25

Australian Open Record: 41-8

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2009)

Fast Fact: Over the last seven months, Nadal has lost as many matches (3) against players ranked outside the top 100 as he had over the prior seven years.

 

Stan Wawrinka

2014 Record: 39-17

Grand Slam Record: 82-38

Australian Open Record: 23-8

Australian Open Best Result: W (2014)

Fast Fact: In 2014, Wawrinka won 73% of his matches vs. Top Ten players (8-3); in prior years he won only 29% vs. Top Ten (27-67).

 

Kei Nishikori

2014 Record: 54-14

Grand Slam Record: 37-21

Australian Open Record: 12-5

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2012)

Fast Fact: In 2014, Nishikori won $4.4M in prize money, more than he had earned in his entire career prior to 2014 ($3.6M in 2007-2013).

 

Andy Murray

2014 Record: 59-20

Grand Slam Record: 134-33

Australian Open Record: 33-9

Australian Open Best Result: RU (2010, ’11, ’13)

Fast Fact: Murray has reached at least the QF in his last 15 Grand Slam events played, a streak dating back to 2010 US Open (lost 3R to Wawrinka).

 

Tomas Berdych

2014 Record: 55-22

Grand Slam Record: 103-45

Australian Open Record: 29-11

Australian Open Best Result: SF (2014)

Fast Fact: Berdych has played 15 five set matches at Grand Slam events, but only one at the Australian Open (2009, lost 4R to Federer).

 

Milos Raonic

2014 Record: 49-20

Grand Slam Record: 35-16

Australian Open Record: 10-4

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2011, ’13)

Fast Fact: Raonic has only one Top Ten win at a Grand Slam, defeating No. 10 Youzhny in the 3R of the 2011 Australian Open.

 

David Ferrer

2014 Record: 54-24

Grand Slam Record: 121-48

Australian Open Record: 32-12

Australian Open Best Result: SF (2011, ’13)

Fast Fact: Ferrer’s win over Berdych in Doha last week was his first win vs. a Top Ten player since May, 2014 (def. Isner, Madrid 3R).

 

Grigor Dimitrov

2014 Record: 50-18

Grand Slam Record: 20-17

Australian Open Record: 6-4

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2014)

Fast Fact: Dimitrov is the only player born after 1990 to have reached the Top Ten in the ATP rankings.

 

Ernests Gulbis

2014 Record: 41-21

Grand Slam Record: 27-29

Australian Open Record: 2-6

Australian Open Best Result: 2R (2009, ’14)

Fast Fact: Gulbis has lost in the first or second round in 22 of the last 24 Grand Slam events he has played.

 

Feliciano Lopez

2014 Record: 39-26

Grand Slam Record: 73-52

Australian Open Record: 17-12

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2012)

Fast Fact: In his 17th year as a professional, Lopez had his most successful year in 2014, winning 39 matches.

 

Gael Monfils

2014 Record: 36-15

Grand Slam Record: 67-32

Australian Open Record: 16-9

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2009)

Fast Fact: Monfils is the only seeded man at the 2014 Australian Open to win the Boys Singles title (2004).

 

John Isner

2014 Record: 39-20

Grand Slam Record: 37-26

Australian Open Record: 7-6

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2010)

Fast Fact: Of Isner’s 18 career final appearances, 15 have been in U.S. events.

 

 

 

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Notes and Quotes from the 2015 Australian Open Pre-Tournament News Conferences

(January 17, 2015) Ana Ivanovic, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, Sam Stosur, Serena Williams, Grigor Dimitrov, Simona Halep, Andy Murray, Lleyton Hewitt and Petra Kvitova met the media on Saturday for Australian Open pre-tournament interviews at Melbourne Park.

A few “notes and quotes” from the Saturday media conferences:

 

Ivanovic in press2

Ana Ivanovic

Mentality coming into the tourney as a top-five player:
“To be honest, I try not to think too much about the rankings. I definitely thought about it towards the end of the last year. I really tried to make that push and finish in top five. At the moment I really want to focus on my game, what to do out there on the court, to enjoy every match because I know if I do that, the results take care of themselves, and rankings speak for themselves. This is my main focus for this season.”

Ivanovic spoke about what makes the Australian Open special:
“I think each Grand Slam, it’s very specific and very individual in the atmosphere and the feel about it. Here I really feel people get excited about tennis. You know, they love sport. They love to cheer. They get loud. That’s exciting. There’s lots of kids always out here that come and support us. Obviously it’s their summer holidays so people are a little bit more relaxed, I feel. But it is very exciting. Since I don’t have a tournament at home, this is like second home for me.”

“It takes time for certain things to fall into place. Last year I really felt I made big steps towards winning more matches, beating top players. These kinds of things you sort of have to have in place in order to do well at the big events. I feel like I’m ready for next step. Also I feel comfortable in my team. I feel I can communicate with them more. Last year at some points it was not the case. Then also US Open was just a fresh start with new team, with new coach. So it takes time to get used to. Now I feel I can communicate with them more and they can help me.”

Asked to pick the fittest woman on tour:
I mean, there is lots of girls who are getting fitter and fitter. Caroline (Wozniacki) ran a marathon. I don’t think I can do that, to be honest (laughter). Radwanska, she’s a type of player that does lot of running on court. It really depends what you consider, you know, because there are some girls who maybe hit harder, have more power, but then those girls that have very high endurance.

Federer in press

Roger Federer

Q. Novak Djokovic had a crack at the Aussie accent. Can you do anything?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I’m not very good at that. I’ll let him do that (laughter).
Q. No g’day, mate?
ROGER FEDERER: I can do that, but not on command.

How he feels coming into Melbourne this year compared to last year?
“Clearly things are more calm this year, I guess, coming in. Last year, you know, having the new racquet, having gotten through the back issues, having gone through the off-season, you know, feeling good but still not quite sure because I needed matches to see how it was going to cope. I came here also with Stefan Edberg helping me out. You know, there was many changes that took place in the six months leading into, I guess, the Australian Open, whereas this time around I’ve played so well. Also was able to win Brisbane last week. Makes me feel more secure, I guess, this year coming into the Aussie Open.

Asked about how close he is to his career-best form?
“Well, I mean, I would hope that over the years I’ve always improved. I think I’m serving more consistent and stronger than I ever have. That’s my opinion. I definitely think the racquet has helped me with that as well, a little bit. But, you know, my concentration I do believe is there, better than it’s ever been, at least I hope it is, because I feel over time you always want to improve. I think my backhand is working better than it has in the past as well. The question is confidence, forehand, movement. But clearly when I was winning almost everything, everything was so gold that nobody was even questioning anything. Maybe if there were different opponents, different times, it would have changed. But for that particular time, I was playing exactly the way I needed to. I had to adjust my game a little bit over the years. I feel I’m playing very well. If it’s the best ever, I’m not quite sure. But I’m definitely very pleased how things have gone now the last six months.”

Asked if fitness has become more of a priority moving forward in his career over the years?
“Hmm, I wouldn’t quite say that. It’s changed just because you’re more careful not to get injured. So sometimes less is more. Quality is more important than quantity. Whereas when you’re younger, you got to put in the hours, you got to put in the work. Doesn’t matter if you’re tired, all these things, you just got to get through it, you know, get match tough, go through the grind. Eventually you have experience, you know what you need to get ready for a tournament, in the off-season what you need to do. So clearly I’ve, you know, made mistakes and made right decisions over the years. You try to put them all together, assemble all those pieces, make it work for the off-season. I mean, I definitely work a bit different. But at the end of the day I really believe in good quality practices now rather than too much. Yeah, I mean, I am 33, so things are a bit different today than they were 10 years ago.”

On whether he will play Davis Cup this year:
“I probably also will decide that once the Australian Open is over. I’ve been talking, you know. Clearly it’s hard to get out from the chair after finally winning Davis Cup. It was always a goal of mine, for Swiss tennis, the guys on my team, for myself, after playing for 15 years. Yeah, I’m just talking to the captain right now, see what the plan is for him, for me, for everybody. After that, I guess I just need a little bit more time. Probably make a call after the Australian Open.”

Sharapova gets ready to serve

Maria Sharapova

Q. Do you consider yourself the woman to beat for the title here?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m sure I’m one of them, definitely. I mean, I’m No. 2 in the world. I’ve had a great season last year, winning a Grand Slam. I think there are a lot of players that have an opportunity to win this tournament, and I’m certainly one of them.

 

Q. You have a shot at the No. 1 position. Is it still a big motivation for you to be back as No. 1 in the world or is winning Grand Slams at this time of your career more important?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, that was a question that was nice not having to answer in December (smiling). Yeah, I mean, look, obviously No. 1 is a ranking that every single player wants to grab and works so hard for. There’s a lot of players that have an opportunity to get there, and I’m one of them. I am, of course, determined to do that. But by doing that you need to win more matches than the person that’s in the first place. So that’s the goal.

 

How much has fitness changed in the last 10 years compared to when you came up at Wimbledon? Has the tour grown in leaps and bounds as far as the physicality?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, definitely. I think you see a lot more people added to the team as far as a fitness coach. I mean, you didn’t see that 10 years ago as much. You know, I have a fitness coach. He doesn’t travel with me full schedule. It’s a pretty limited schedule. He’s always with me during the training weeks away from the tournaments. Never feel there’s too much you can do during a tournament week as far as really setting up a base. It’s more about recovery and getting ready. But the physical aspect of the sport has become, I think, very, very important. It’s always been, but I think it’s become more important than ever.

We’ve started to see on the women’s side these former champions coming in. What do you make from that, from your point of view?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think from experience-wise, there’s no better person that can help you in certain situations as a coach, as a motivator, as someone that just has been there, done that. I think it’s great to see. I think it’s always nice when you’ve been through a career and you have the opportunity or you have the desire to share it with other players, to share your knowledge and experience. I think it’s great.

You were talking about being happy to be in one place.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: That was in November. I played two matches for IPTL in November. Actually had a great experience, a great time. For an event that had its first year, I thought it was very well-organized, very professional. I think it was great to see tennis being brought into markets which have never seen professional sport like that before, and stars. I think their excitement was unreal. I mean, I felt like a rockstar literally, to put my feet on the ground the day after. It was really fun to see the excitement that people had. The format was fun. It was fast. A lot of the players took it very seriously. I mean, I came in after not practicing for many weeks. I was like, Okay, I’m going to take it easy. Some of the doubles players were really into it, which was great to see. So, yeah, I think personally I would never do the whole tour. It’s quite long. But I think to the girls that did, and guys, you see some were injured at the end of it, which is quite unfortunate. But to go out and to play a few matches in a market that’s never seen high-quality tennis before, very open to it.

What is the best game you remember here in the Australian Open?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’ve had a lot. My best game? Obviously, the one that sticks out is my victory. Winning a championships is a big moment, especially a Grand Slam. It was my third Grand Slam in my career. I thought throughout the two whole weeks, it was some of the best tennis that I played. I had one of the toughest draws in a Grand Slam. I actually thought the final wasn’t my best match throughout the tournament. But overall I came through a lot of challenges. Yeah, it’s tough to choose.

 

 

 

Nadal ao

Rafael Nadal

Is a question of everything to be ready, to feel yourself confident, to feel yourself that you are 100% competitive. Always you need to play more matches than four or five in seven months. That’s a thing that everybody knows. At the same time you feel in better shape physically when you are play matches, when you have confidence about your movements. Even if you practice a lot, then the competition is different. The stress of the competition is different than the practices, no? So is a question of time and work. I am working big-time.

I am doing lot of practice and doing the things that we believe we have to do to recover our level. Is true that having a Grand Slam that early in the season after injury like this not the ideal thing. But here we are. I worked a lot since 10th of December. I worked a lot last couple of weeks in Abu Dhabi and Doha, then here this week. I am with calm and happy the way I did the things. Then I need to play better than what I am doing. I think that thing is sure. But I know to play better, I need to win matches. I need to spend hours on court competing. The only way to make that happen is to be on the tour. So I am on the tour, and that’s the only way I can come back to my best level.

Every time is different. Every feeling is different. Every time you come back, you have the doubts, you have the feeling that you are far away from your best. But at the same time you know the only thing you can do is play with the right attitude and try to have the right schedule to play matches, to play weeks in a row. It’s the only way to find the positive feelings and the confidence back. When you have put all the things together, it make your game better again. That’s what I am doing. I am trying to do the calendar that will be better for me. Playing here, then playing on clay, that helps me physically, in terms of tennis, too. That’s all, no? Difficult to say more things. The only thing I can say is I need to play better, yes. But the only way to play better is to win matches.

In the end is difficult to say 50%, 55%, 20%. Doesn’t matter. This kind of thing is impossible. Is not mathematics. You never know when you are 100%. The only thing is I know I need to work, spend time on court, play matches. When that happens during few months, I know in terms of being competitive, in terms of rhythm, I will be ready again, no? But if I am able to win matches in a row before these few months, I’m going to be ready earlier, no? That’s what happened in 2013. But I started on clay, tournaments that give me the chance to play more matches, 250 tournaments. This time a little bit different. At the same time the only way is winning matches and spend time on court.

Q. You said Brazil is a lucky place for you. How do you feel about the Rio Open? Too much play, too many people with Carnival?
I hope not to have too much time for Carnival (smiling). Well, no. I have been in Brazil a couple of times. 2005 was the first tournament victory of a big season. 2013 was a special one, because after a lot of months without winning, without competing, I had a chance to win the title there. Helped me for the confidence for what happened later, no? Last year was important one, but was different situation. This year is a little bit like before, no? Going to be the first tournament on clay after a long time ago. I hope will be a good moment for me to have the full confidence back.

Q. Which aspect of your game are you happiest about as you’re returning to form? Which part is going well for you at the moment?
RAFAEL NADAL: Nothing (smiling). No, I am not serving bad. My serve is working more or less well. I need to be a little bit more dynamic on court with my movements. I am a player who find the confidence when I am able to defend well, when I am able to hit the ball knowing that the ball going to go in most of the times. So that’s when I feel myself strong. As I say before, no, to make that happen, you need to do that on the competition. For example, last week in Doha I did a very good thing in the first set, played very good first set. But then, you know, I lose the intensity on my game, I lose the rhythm, something that normally never happen to me when I am competing two weeks in a row. That is something you need when you didn’t play for a long time. I don’t know about in which part of my game I’m more happy. But I really know what I have to do to be happy with my game. My game is always good when my movements are good, when I am able to have control of the point with my forehand, and always hitting good backhands. But the forehand need to be aggressive, need to create space with my forehand. That’s the way that I need to play to have my chances back on being competitive against everybody.

Asked about who is the favorite for the tournament?
You know the same like me who is the favorite for the tournament. I think everybody thinks the same names. Novak finished the season great. He is a fantastic player. He’s in his favorite surface. Roger is the same story. Had a great season last year. He finished well. Plays in his favorite surface, or one of his favorites, grass and here. And Andy I think is playing well. We’ll see. The rest always are there. There is a few more players that always going to have the chances. But between these three names, it’s a big chance.
No, I don’t consider myself one of the favorites here. Last year, yes. This year is a different story. Would be lying if I say I feel that I am ready to win today. I don’t feel myself ready to win the tournament here today. If I am here in a press conference in one week, maybe I will say another thing because will have the feeling that I will play few matches, and if I’m able to win that couple of matches, then probably I will have little bit more rhythm, I will have more confidence. But in theory, playing four, five matches in seven months, you cannot be a favorite of a tournament that is not clay, is on hard. Is another thing. In terms of being favorites, the other names are more favorites than me at this time.

Sam Stosur

Sam Stosur

Sam Stosur

On playing in her home country.
“I guess it depends which way you want to look at it. It’s definitely different to playing outside of Australia, playing the other Grand Slams. But it’s not necessarily more difficult. It’s not easier. It’s just different. I think it’s a matter of, yeah, handling everything that’s going on. Obviously I know there’s probably more attention on me here than anywhere else. But, yeah, it’s okay. It’s just different.”

“I’ve been pretty pleased with the way my matches have gone. Obviously I would have liked to have won a couple more. But I think overall the way I’ve been playing in those matches has been pretty good. There’s always things to work on and improve. But I think considering it’s the first few matches of the year, I’ve been pretty happy with it. So I guess going into this first round on Tuesday, I got to be ready and do it all over again. I’ve got a couple more days to fine tune anything I want to get a little bit better before that match.”

Q. How do you feel about your first-round opponent and your part of the draw?
SAMANTHA STOSUR: To be honest, I don’t know much about my part of the draw. Playing Monica (Niculescu), she’s a very different player to a lot of different players on the tour. She likes to slice the ball a lot, slice the forehand even. She’ll serve and volley a little bit, she’ll come into the net. She’s very fast, moves well. She’s very creative and more crafty than maybe most of the other players out there. It’s certainly something that I need to know certain balls are going to come back a lot differently to playing anyone that I’ve played so far this year. I think it’s going to be a lot about concentrating hard and knowing that it’s going to be some funky stuff going on out there, and what I’m going to try to do to combat that.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

On her Australian Open preparation:
“It’s okay. I’m not very happy with it, but I’m never really happy about my practice or preparation. So maybe that’s a good sign. Yeah, I’m just still every day going out there, working really hard.

I definitely feel better now than I did a couple weeks ago. But I still want to improve some things. I feel like I should be doing some things better. But every day I can see something coming through, so… There’s a little light at the end of the tunnel.
“I absolutely hate running, but I do it because I hate the way I look if I don’t run (smiling).”

Asked about the absence of her hitting partner Sascha Bajin:
I keep forgetting to tweet about it. He’s away on injury reserve right now. He texts me almost every day. Like, I wish I were better. What are you doing? Who is there? I’m like, Gosh, leave me alone already. He sends me videos. Yeah, he’s super bummed out. We all are, so…
Yeah, he just got injured. There’s been a lot of stories on how he hurt himself. I’m not sure which one I should tell today. I jumped on his back and broke it (laughter).

I’m working with Jonathan now, forgot his last name. We started together in Florida so I could get used to him, kind of get used to each other. So that has been good.

Asked about her first round opponent:
I don’t know who I play. I never look at the draw. I guess her name is Alison. I always try to keep really focused, yeah.
Well, on a first round, no one wants to lose. So I think a lot of the top players, that’s when they’re looked at the most. People are like, What are you doing? What are they doing? What’s new? Especially at the Australian Open, it’s the very first one of the year. Did they do anything different in the off-season? That’s when the pressure is on, cameras are on, everyone is looking. For me, I get really nervous every single match, especially first-round matches, so…

Q. For Alison (Van Uytvanck), it’s the first main draw here at the Australian Open. What do you remember from your first main draw here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was my first main draw and my first Grand Slam, was Australia. I just remember I knew I wanted to win. I wanted to keep doing well. I had to play Venus in the second round. I remember that was a real bummer for me.

Q. We’ve seen Lindsay Davenport and Martina Navratilova, great women champions, now coaching. What is your point of view on that? Would you ever consider bringing in a coach like them?
The only thing I know is I never say never. I never thought I would play this long. So who knows? Anything is possible. Any and everything is possible. I’m a big fan of Martina and especially Lindsay. I think it would be really good to see them on the tour, bringing their expertise and their knowledge back to tennis.
On attempting to win Australian Open title No. 6:
It would be really great. I’ve been going for number six for a number of years now. It would be really special for me. I would be really happy. I want it I think more than anyone else here. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to get it, so I’ll have to fight hard to get it.

Dimitrov waves

Grigor Dimitrov

You’ve been asked a lot about the changing of the guard. But does it feel this season with Nishikori, yourself and Raonic, you’re getting closer to the big guys? Or after your defeat against Roger last week, do you feel the gap is still a little bit there?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: Yeah, I mean, I’m not going to lie. It was a tough match that I lost last week. Definitely didn’t perform the way I wanted to. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m discouraged to keep trying and keep believing that any of us is going to make it through, so to speak. I think that’s pretty much it. But the other hand, the year just began. We have already the Australian Open, the first major. Anything can happen out here. It’s a good way to start the year. Hopefully everything goes in a positive note.

Have you set some specific goals for your game for the start of the season? Have you worked on something specific?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: I’ve worked a lot in the off-season. There’s nothing specific that I would like to say because obviously now I’ve had a pretty good 2014. Obviously we knew what was working for us and knew what we needed to focus on. That’s the one thing that we felt that was good. In the same time I’ve put a lot of work in the off-season on and off the court. I think that’s pretty much it. I never wanted to put too many tasks on my paper to say, Okay, in the off-season I need to work on this and that. Just the more you simplify it, the better it is, when you know what’s working for you.

 How important was your performance here last year?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: It was a major thing for me. Definitely gives you a lot of confidence. Gives you like a boost. Next time you come to any other tournament, you felt that you started on a good note. At the same time that confidence gives you, how do you say, to come and play every match better, feel that you can perform on a high level, beat better players. Eventually when I had to come up against better guys, I was able to win, and win quite a few tournaments. I think all that is a good factor. At the same time let’s not forget about the big picture.

Did you replay that tough loss to Rafa much?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: It took me awhile to get over it, especially having a set point in that third set, missing that shot by just like a few inches. Of course it’s something not to forget, but at the same time I think I took it really positive. I took that loss as a win even though it wasn’t the case. It gave me a good start. Eventually I think I was performing at a high level throughout the whole season. I think I finished it on a good note.

Halep fh

Simona Halep

Q. How were you feeling after having to withdraw from Sydney?
I’m feeling good now. I’m almost now like hundred percent recovered. I have two days. I slept very well. I ate very well. So I feel prepared to start this tournament. But still I have time, two days more, to feel like hundred percent.

Q. How different was your off-season? You changed coaches. Was there something you wanted to work on?
SIMONA HALEP: Just improve in my game more and more. I did in my serve very well in the off-season, and as well in my forehand. I’m moving better than last year. I’m working hard every day. I changed because I just wanted to change something, and I did. I think was a great idea for myself. Always I took my decisions and work very well. I think very good decision I had in the past.

Q. You made huge strides since a year ago. What surprised you most about your season, how successful you were?
SIMONA HALEP: I’m not surprised that I had big results last year because two years ago I just started to win some titles. I had more experience than before. I was improving a lot I think in my game. I’m much stronger now than before. My game is complete now, I think. I believe in my game. I think I was a little bit, I can say, surprised with the finals in French Open because I didn’t expect that I can play finals after just one quarterfinals in Grand Slam. But, you know, I had nothing to lose there. Was my favorite tournament, because I won in juniors, and I feel very well there. I was trying everything on court. Everything went in the right way at that tournament. I felt very well. Sometimes is very good to be close to your home because more people can come to watch you and can support you. So was a perfect tournament for me. That’s why I think I played the final. Then I had in Singapore the second big result. I played well, as well, there. I cannot say that I was surprised, but still I was very happy in the end of the year that I did few big results.

Q. After such a great year, do you feel more pressure coming into this year?
SIMONA HALEP: No. It’s better than last year. I can say now I feel no pressure. I have just to play my game during the matches and to see how good I can be, how many results I can do, how many matches I can win. So my goal is again to go to Singapore and to win matches with top players. Just I have no pressure.

Q. Do you feel this year’s Australian Open feels more wide open, like many different players could win?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I can say that all the players from here have a chance to do this. I was thinking a few days ago that even if I am third in the rankings, I have my chance, but is not like I have to be in the semifinals or in the finals. Everyone from top 20 I can say has their own chance to win this title. You saw Pliskova, last week she played very well. Kvitova as well. Everyone can win this title. The tournament is open I think for everyone.

Murray UnderArmour

Andy Murray

Q. Slightly different circumstances to last year coming in here. Talk about how the preparation has gone, how you’re feeling coming into Melbourne.
Yeah, I mean, obviously last year was tough because I prepared fairly well, but mentally it’s quite tough sort of going into your first slam and playing long five-set matches. You don’t necessarily know how your body’s going to respond, so mentally you’re kind of worrying a bit and you’d be apprehensive. That’s not the case this year, which is good. And, yeah, my preparation and training over in Miami and then in Dubai went very well. Practice this week’s been good. So, yeah, looking forward to getting started.

Q. Who do you see as your biggest threat in this tournament?
Well, I mean, there’s a lot of top players here. I mean, obviously Stan’s the defending champion, will be confident with that. A new experience, as well. It will be interesting to see how he handles that. But he’s obviously finished the end of last year with the Davis Cup and winning Chennai last week. So I’m sure he’ll be confident. And then, yeah, all of the obvious suspects, same names. Then if you add some of the younger guys that have been coming through the last year or so, you know, with Nishikori, Dimitrov, Raonic, these guys. Also you don’t know, a lot of guys can make big improvements in the off-season if they have five or six weeks’ training to work on things and get physically stronger. So it will be an interesting tournament. The Australian Open normally throws up a few surprises. It will be fun to watch.

Q. Is it easy to get used to the changes that have happened in your team during the off-season, being without Danny? Is it feeling weird for you or…
ANDY MURRAY: No, it hasn’t been weird. It’s been, in my opinion, positive. When things aren’t working well, there’s not a positive atmosphere, it’s not good for anybody. So when that changes and everyone’s working together, that makes things better. So the last two months for me so far have been very, very good.

Yeah, well, obviously very tough draw. Very difficult draw. It’s very hard to comment on it. If you have to play all of those players, obviously it’s going to be extremely difficult to come through that. I’m aware of that. That’s fine. But, yeah, often in these events, you know, there is upsets. And then, yeah, you just have to wait and see who you’re playing in each round because it doesn’t always work out as simply as that. You know, I’m sure Rafa just now, if you said to him, Give me a semifinal spot, he’d be very happy with that coming off a tough injury. But, yeah, it will be interesting to see how it goes. But definitely with the names you mentioned, it’s very challenging.

Q. What do you think of the young Aussie talent?
Yeah, a lot of very good young men. I don’t know on the women’s side. I haven’t seen as much of the young women. But I know on the men’s side, it’s very, very strong. There’s obviously Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, guys like Jordan Thompson, very good as well. They have a bunch of guys ranked between 100 and 200 in the world. Also the guy that Kyle Edmund played today I think is also pretty young from Australia, too. Yeah, they have a lot of talent, a lot of potential. I think the Aussies are going to have a good time the next 10 or so years watching all of them play.

Lleyton Hewitt

How do you rate your chances heading in, I suppose?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I just take it one match at a time obviously. Just try and focus on my first-round opponent, what I need to do to try to get through that match. Played him a couple times before in Davis Cup over five sets, so at least I’m well-prepared for what to expect out there. Obviously just try and get my body as close to 100% by Tuesday. Hopefully go out there and execute what I need to do.

 

Being a competitor, do you go into this thinking you have a genuine chance to win? Is that dream still alive?

LLEYTON HEWITT: When you start the tournament, that dream’s still there for everyone, the 128 of us that are in the draw. Nothing changes in that aspect. Over the years I think I pride myself on not looking too far ahead anyway. Even when I was No. 1 in the world, I always played every match on its merits, gave the utmost respect to my opponents, who I had to play. I’ve said it so many times: it’s a matter of trying to get through the first week of a Grand Slam. Doesn’t matter how you do it, but you have to try to find a way of getting through that, put yourself in a position in the second week. Yeah, anything can happen in Grand Slams. Over five sets, obviously, guys can get injured. There’s a lot of ups and downs over two weeks.

What do you think of the other young Aussie chances? Pretty good talent coming through.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, obviously Nick has a pretty good section of the draw I think that he’s in. Bernie is in a pretty good section, as well. Bernie has been playing well the last couple weeks. Obviously took someone like Nishikori to play extremely well – he’s a quality player – to beat him in Brisbane. Gilles Muller, 6-6, could have gone either way in Sydney in that match he lost. Obviously Nick would have liked some more matches under his belt coming in. If he can get his teeth into the tournament, I don’t think that’s a big worry for Nick. Thanasi has a tougher first round against Gulbis. He’s got a fighting chance in it, though, for sure Thanasi has improved a lot over the last year.

Is this the most excited you’ve been in your time of the youngsters coming through?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I guess it’s probably a few more in a group coming through than I’ve ever seen in my time. Probably happened a bit before I actually started. You had the guys, the Woodies, Stolz, Philippoussis, Rafter, Fromberg, so many guys coming through at that stage. For a while, I guess I was the only one and we didn’t have a lot of juniors, we sort of struggled to make that transition from really good junior players in the Grand Slams to making it onto the senior tour.

 

 Andy Murray was saying he thinks the tournament is wide open. There’s a lot of talk that the top four are more challenged than previous years. Do you feel that’s the case?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Possibly. It’s still hard. Obviously Andy Murray is not in the top four in the rankings at the moment. I think guys still see him as one of those big threats as the top four anyway. Obviously there’s Raonic, Dimitrov coming up, putting pressure on. Nishikori. Cilic won a Grand Slam now. These kind of guys. I still think the core is going to be those top three or four guys. Over five sets, it’s still extremely tough to beat two or three of those guys back-to-back at the end of these tournaments.

Petra Kvitova

You must be delighted with your preparations coming into the Australian Open with the win in Sydney?

PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah, for sure. I’m very glad how everything went. I’m glad to have a title in the beginning of this new year. Yeah, I’m glad that I have matches under my belt and I can be well-prepared for the Melbourne which is starting pretty soon and I’m excited.

How did your winter go? Anything you looked at or worked on? Are you feeling good about your game in general?

PETRA KVITOVA: I’m very happy that I have a new fitness coach and physiotherapist in the same person. It’s Alex. I’m just really glad that he’s part of my team. It’s something really special. I know that he’s experienced so well. He knew exactly what we have to do, so that’s great. I’m just glad that we did everything what we could in the off-season to prepare myself for the new season. I tried to be a little bit quicker, fitter, to be in the shots on the time. Normal routine, practicing, practicing, practicing.

Who do you see as the biggest threats in this tournament?

PETRA KVITOVA: I think it’s a lot of great players playing. I know Maria won Brisbane. Serena is always one of the favorites. Simona played really well in Shenzhen. It’s a lot of great players who really can play the best tennis here.

What were you most pleased with in Shenzhen and Sydney with your game?

PETRA KVITOVA: I think that my serve was work very well. I think it was one of the keys of the matches which I played. So that’s really nice because we work on that every day probably. I think that my fitness improved, as well, so I’m just glad for it. I just need to be used to everything what I did, show it on the court with the typical shots and with the rallies.

Having lost first round here, does that make you come back to this tournament thinking it’s exciting that you have no points to defend or remembering what happened last year and being worried about that?

PETRA KVITOVA: I would like to forget about the last year. Unfortunately it’s impossible. On the other side I know I can do only better. So that’s the good thing. I’m excited to play, of course. It’s a Grand Slam. It’s what I love to play. I just will do everything what I can to be just better than the last year because it was very disappointing. It wasn’t really nice time for me. So just will do everything what I can.

What do you like most about the Australian Open?

PETRA KVITOVA: I like the people here. I mean, it’s just beautiful to see the friendly faces, the smile. I mean, the weather, of course, when it’s not really hot, hot, that’s nice. The crowd is always amazing. I love hard courts, as well. So I’m just glad that everything is very nice here.

Anything different in the hard courts between here and the US Open?

PETRA KVITOVA: I think so. I never played well in the US Open, so I think that’s a little bit slower over there than here. Of course, the weather is different. There is more humid than here, what is better for me as well.

 Li Na said she thinks you’re the woman to beat this tournament. What do you say to that and how do you feel about that?

PETRA KVITOVA: It’s nice of her, of course. I don’t feel really favorite of the tournament. I’m just come here and try to be focusing on the match after match if it’s possible, of course. I think it’s a lot of great players, how I said. I don’t think really it’s like one big, big favorite of the tournament. So we’ll see.

 

 

 

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Djokovic is Stunned by Karlovic at Qatar Open

Ivo Karlovic

(January 8, 2015) Croat Ivo Karlovic earned his second win over a No. 1 player on Thursday when he rallied past Novak Djokovic 6-7(2), 7-6(6), 6-4 to reach the semis of the Qatar Open on Thursday.

Karlovic, who surpassed the 9000 ace mark earlier in the week, fired 21 aces past his Serbian opponent, along with 49 winners. His career ace count is now up to 9,062.

“It was unbelievable,” said Karlovic in an on-court interview. “When I arrived here, I didn’t expect that one. He wasn’t able to show his full range because it was windy. I just focused on my game and in the end I was a little luckier.”

Karlovic last defeated a No. 1 player back in 2008 when he stopped Roger Federer at the Western & Southern Open.

Karlovic will face off against David Ferrer in his semifinal.

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Nadal Upset in First Round of Doha

 

Nadal at changeover

(January 6, 2015) Defending champion Rafael Nadal was upset, while No. 1 Novak Djokovic had very few problems in the first match of the 2015 season in Doha at the Qatar Open on Tuesday.

In his first tour match since October, Nadal was stunned by German qualifier Michael Berrer, ranked 127 in the world, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round. Nadal was sidelined for most of the fall with appendicitis, having an appendectomy in November.

“These things happen after long time without being on the road, being on rhythm, being in competition,” the Spaniard said to media. “I was playing with more nerves because after long time (away) I wanted to win.

“When you are back from an injury, that takes time.”

Djokovic, had an easy 6-2, 6-1 win over Serbian countryman Dusan Lajovic in 59 minutes. Djokovic’s first-round victory took 59 minutes. Djokovic pulled out of the Abu Dhabi exhibition final last week with the flu.

 

qatar open 2015

RESULTS – TUESDAY, 6 JANUARY 2015

Singles – First Round
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) d D Lajovic (SRB) 62 61
[Q] M Berrer (GER) d [2] R Nadal (ESP) 16 63 64
[3] T Berdych (CZE) d D Istomin (UZB) 61 64
[4] D Ferrer (ESP) d [Q] T de Bakker (NED) 67(4) 64 63
J Struff (GER) d [5] P Kohlschreiber (GER) 76(3) 46 61
A Seppi (ITA) d [8] L Mayer (ARG) 57 76(4) 76(4)
S Stakhovsky (UKR) d [WC] J Ali Mutawa (QAT) 61 61
[Q] N Basilashvili (GEO) d M Youzhny (RUS) 75 62
[Q] B Kavcic (SLO) d J Monaco (ARG) 76(3) 64
J Souza (BRA) d [WC] M Jaziri (TUN) 36 64 63

Doubles – First Round

B Becker (GER) / A Sitak (NZL) d [1] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) 53 ret. Peya (left leg)
J Knowle (AUT) / P Oswald (AUT) d [2] A Qureshi (PAK) / N Zimonjic (SRB) 57 76(5) 10-3
D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) d [4] I Dodig (CRO) / M Mirnyi (BLR) 62 76(2)
L Rosol (CZE) / S Stakhovsky (UKR) d P Andujar (ESP) / A Seppi (ITA) 62 64

SCHEDULE – WEDNESDAY, 7 JANUARY 2015

CENTER COURT start 3:30 pm
[Q] N Basilashvili (GEO) vs [7] I Karlovic (CRO)
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs S Stakhovsky (UKR)
[Q] B Kavcic (SLO) vs [3] T Berdych (CZE)
[6] R Gasquet (FRA) vs S Bolelli (ITA)

COURT 1 start 4:30 pm
[4] D Ferrer (ESP) vs F Verdasco (ESP)
B Becker (GER) / A Sitak (NZL) vs J Monaco (ARG) / R Nadal (ESP)
After Suitable Rest – [3] J Cabal (COL) / R Farah (COL) vs [WC] N Djokovic (SRB) / F Krajinovic (SRB)

COURT 2 start 3:30 pm
D Brown (GER) vs J Struff (GER)
I Dodig (CRO) vs [Q] M Berrer (GER)
After Suitable Rest – L Rosol (CZE) / S Stakhovsky (UKR) vs J Knowle (AUT) / P Oswald (AUT)

COURT 3 start 4:30 pm
A Seppi (ITA) vs J Souza (BRA)

Not Before 5:30 pm
After Suitable Rest – D Inglot (GBR) / F Mergea (ROU) vs D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP)

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Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic named 2014 ITF World Champions

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(December 18, 2014) The ITF announced on Thursday that Serena Williams of the United States and Novak Djokovic of Serbia are the 2014 ITF World Champions. Williams is named Women’s World Champion for the fifth time, while this is the fourth occasion that Djokovic has received the honor.

 

Americans Bob and Mike Bryan are named Men’s Doubles World Champions for the 11th time in 12 years, while Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy become Women’s Doubles World Champions for the third successive year.

 

Catherine “CiCi” Bellis of the United States and Russia’s Andrey Rublev are named ITF Junior World Champions, while the ITF Wheelchair World Champions are Japanese duo Yui Kamiji and Shingo Kunieda, who becomes men’s champion for the sixth time.

 

The ITF World Champions will receive their awards at the 2015 ITF World Champions Dinner on Tuesday 2 June, in Paris, during Roland Garros.

 

Serena Williams is named Women’s World Champion for the fifth occasion, after maintaining the No. 1 ranking throughout the year. The 33-year-old captured her 18th Grand Slam title at the US Open to equal the achievements of Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. She won six other titles during the year, including the season-ending WTA Finals. Williams is the oldest player ever to be named an ITF Singles World Champion.

 

Williams said: “I’m so honored to be named ITF World Champion for the fifth time. This was a year of challenges and triumphs, so to win another Grand Slam and retain my year-end No. 1 ranking is an accomplishment I’m very proud of. I’m grateful to have the support of the tennis community in every way possible. I can’t wait for 2015.”

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic becomes Men’s World Champion for the fourth time after reclaiming the No. 1 ranking in 2014. The 27-year-old won his seventh Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, and was also a finalist at Roland Garros and semifinalist at the US Open. He won a total of seven titles during the year including the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals. Djokovic is one of only four men to be named World Champion four or more times, alongside Ivan Lendl, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer.

 

Bob and Mike Bryan become Men’s Doubles World Champions for the 11th time after capturing their 16th Grand Slam title and 100th title overall at the 2014 US Open. They won a total of ten titles during the year, including the ATP World Tour Finals, taking their total career titles to 103. They were also runners-up at Wimbledon. The brothers now stand within two trophies of the record of wheelchair tennis star Esther Vergeer, who was named World Champion 13 times.

 

Mike Bryan said: “The 2014 season was one of our best seasons on tour and it’s one we’ll fondly remember for a lot of reasons. We look forward to the awards dinner in Paris and sharing the stage with all the other world champions.”

 

Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci are only the second pair to be named Women’s Doubles World Champions on three occasions. The Italians completed the career Grand Slam with their first victory at Wimbledon, and were also champions at the Australian Open and runners-up at Roland Garros. They won a total of five titles during the year and finished 2014 co-ranked No. 1 on the WTA doubles rankings.

 

Errani and Vinci said: “We are both really happy to be Women’s Doubles World Champions for the third consecutive year. It is a great pleasure and honour to have finished this year as number one in the doubles ranking again. Our goal for 2015 is to defend our Australian Open and Wimbledon titles.”

 

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “All of our World Champions have demonstrated great consistency at the top of the game in one of the strongest eras for our sport. Serena Williams is one of the toughest competitors of all-time, while Novak Djokovic’s performances at the biggest events make him a deserving winner. Bob and Mike Bryan’s remarkable achievement is a testament to their continued drive and determination, while Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci have shown the importance of teamwork both on and off court.”

 

The ITF’s selection of its senior World Champions is based on an objective system that considers all results during the year, but gives special weight to the Grand Slam tournaments, and two ITF international team competitions, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas.

 

Catherine “CiCi” Bellis is the second American in three years to become ITF Girls World Champion, and is the youngest world champion since 2006. The 15-year-old won four singles title during the year, sealing the year-end No. 1 ranking at last week’s Orange Bowl. She also led the United States to victory in the Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, one year after being a member of the USA’s 14-and-under ITF World Junior Tennis winning team.

 

Bellis said: “It was my goal to be the year-end No. 1 from when I started playing in the juniors two years ago and I am ecstatic that I was able to reach this milestone as a 15-year-old.  It is an honour to be in such great company with all of the amazing and legendary juniors before me.”

 

Andrey Rublev is the first Russian male in any category to be named ITF World Champion after achieving the year-end No. 1 boys’ junior ranking. The 17-year-old was the most consistent performer on the ITF Junior Circuit, winning his first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, and capturing singles bronze and doubles silver at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing. He reached a total of five singles finals during the year, winning two titles.

 

Rublev said: “I am happy to finish this year as World Champion. I thank my family, coaches and team for all the support I was getting all the time. I also understand that this is just the first step and will do my best to score further victories.”

 

Shingo Kunieda becomes Men’s Wheelchair World Champion for the sixth time after retaining the year-end world No. 1 ranking. The 30-year-old only lost one match all year, winning 12 singles titles on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour and boasting a 51-1 overall win-loss record. He won all three Grand Slam singles events, taking his total major titles to 17, and was also champion at the season-ending NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters.

 

Kunieda said: “I am very happy to be world champion six times. I played well this year and still feel I am improving my tennis. I’d like to thank my team and am already looking forward to next season.”

 

Yui Kamiji is named Women’s Wheelchair World Champion for the first time after dominating the Grand Slam tournaments. The 20-year-old captured her first two major titles at Roland Garros and the US Open, and was runner-up at the Australian Open. She also partnered Britain’s Jordanne Whiley to the women’s doubles Grand Slam. Kamiji won a total of eight singles titles during 2014 and is the first Asian woman to receive this honour.

 

Kamiji said: “2014 is definitely the year to remember in my career. I was proud to win my first two Grand Slam titles and reach the final of the Australian Open. It was also very special to achieve the doubles calendar Grand Slam and win the Doubles Masters with my best friend on tour Jordanne Whiley.”

 

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “I would like to thank all the 2014 ITF World Champions for their contribution to another memorable year for our sport.”

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Federer Withdraws from Year-End Final with Back Injury

Federer on changeover

Chalkdust Chronicles – Sad end to a low-key tournament

 

(November 16, 2014) LONDON – After semi-finals that finally set the tournament alight, there was an audible gasp from the crowds who had gathered for the Finals as Roger Federer wandered out in a cardigan and trousers to announce that he was pulling out of the ATP World Tour Finals with World No. 1 and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic.

 

The rumors had already been circulating when he had not shown up for practice, having opted for one of the courts in the public area and not on the main court.

 

As the announcement was made to media to take to the court for the announcement, it seemed a fitting end to one of the strangest tournaments, with the only shining lights being the semi-finals.

 

“Unfortunately I’m not match fit,” Federer said to the crowd at the O2 Arena. “I tried everything I could last night, also today: painkillers, treatment, rest, so forth, warm-up, until the very end. But I just can’t compete at this level with Novak. It would be too risky at my age to do this right now and I hope you understand.”

In a muted on-court presentation, for his third consecutive title, Djokovic said:

“I feel really sorry for Roger. If he could have come out and played, he would have done.”

 

People who had paid good money for the tickets over the entire week have been disappointed over the week with heavy one-sided matches in the singles until the semi-finals.

 

However the gasping audience were partially mollified with the news that Djokovic would be playing Andy Murray in a pro-set followed by another exhibition match pitting Murray with John McEnroe against Tim Henman and Pat Cash.

 

Meanwhile Swiss thoughts must turn to how they mentally and physically prepare for the Davis Cup on French clay, as that had to have been part of Federer’s decision to pull out.

 

A further complication arises as John McEnroe hinted at a fall out with the Swiss team that went on well into the night. During the match Wawrinka had seemed to have an angry altercation with someone in Federer’s box, and with them being the mainstays of the Swiss team, could spell a mental triumph for the French team before they all even step on court.

 

The World Tour Finals of 2014 will not be known as one of the classics, and if next year should be its last year in London, hopefully it will go out with a bang, and not the whimper of this year.

 

 

Federer’s message on his Facebook page:

fedpullout

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Tournament thriller to set up World 1 Djokovic versus No. 2 Federer in the ATP World Tour Finals

Chalkdust Chronicles – Tournament thriller to set up World 1 Djokovic versus No. 2 Federer in the ATP World Tour Finals

 

(November 15, 2014) LONDON – After a week of sometimes lackluster performances at the ATP World Tour Finals, finally the crowds had something to shout about as Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka battled through an intense three-setter, with Wawrinka just being edged out by the most heartbreaking of margins 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(6), unable to take advantage of any of the four match points he held.

 

That Federer won is no surprise, but to come from a set down after being left standing as Wawrinka built up a double break was not in the script. Maybe nerves caught up with him the first time he tried to serve out the first set as the always dangerous Federer clawed back one of the breaks, and Wawrinka did the deed on the second time of asking.

 

The quality certainly did not diminish in the second set as Federer still failed to capitalize on his opportunities to push into a decider sooner rather than later.

 

Soon it would be Wawrinka’s turn to send a match-point begging, and beating each other up into the deciding set tie-break, Federer got the predictably more confident start. By the time Wawrinka got himself in the lead again, he was starting to feel the effects of the match, cramping up. With Davis Cup around the corner, Federer opted to go for the attack, finally saving four match-points and taking one of his own with a cutting drop volley to set up the final the organizers were longing for.

 

“For sure that game at the end I was nervous,” Wawrinka said in regard to failing to serve out the match. “You make some choice, especially when you’re tired, when you’re nervous. Just wanted to go for it and not wait for mistake.”

 

“I got lucky tonight,” admitted Federer. “Stan played better from the baseline and that usually does the job on this court. But I kept fighting. It’s tough but I’m thrilled to be in another final in London. Novak is playing great tennis. It usually brings the best out of me.”

 

Federer will face off against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Federer is seeking his seventh year-end title, while Djokovic is looking for his third in sucession.

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