February 28, 2017

Serena Williams Defeats Sister Venus for Australian Open Title for Open Era Record 23rd Major

(January 28, 2017) Serena Williams has won an Open Era record 23rd major title when she defeated her older sister Venus 6-4, 6-4 to win her seventh Australian Open title on Saturday night in Melbourne.

Serena, who just passed Steffi Graf with 22 majors, is just one major behind Margaret Court for the all-time record which is 24.

The win puts Serena back at the top spot in the WTA rankings as of Monday. Venus will move up to No.11.

Serena did not drop a set in the tournament. She now holds the record for the most number Australian Open singles titles for a woman.

This is the 35-year-old Williams’ tenth major title since turning 30. This was the oldest major woman’s final in terms of combined age at 71 years, 11 months between them.

She is now 23-6 in major finals and 7-2 in major finals against her sister. Serena is now 17-11 against Venus overall.

“This was a tough one. I really would like to take this moment to congratulate Venus,” Serena Williams said during the trophy presentation. “She’s an amazing person. There’s no way I’d be at 23 without her. She’s my inspiration and the only reason I’m standing here today. Thanks for inspiring me to be the best player I can be.”

 

The match itself was not an instant classic. The match began with four straight breaks of serve/ Both women committed a total of 48 unforced errors in the 1 hour and 22-minute match.

“I feel like I had opportunities, for sure. Just missed some shots,” Venus said. But it’s not like I missed shots that I wasn’t going for. I went for those shots. It’s a matter of inches.

“So, you know, some errors here or there can mean the difference between a break of serve or a hold.”

“It’s such a great feeling to have 23,” Serena said. “It really feels great. Yeah, I’ve been chasing it for a really long time. It feels like, really long time. When it got on my radar, I knew I had an opportunity to get there, and I’m here. I’m here.

“It’s a great feeling. No better place to do it than Melbourne.”

“My first Grand Slam started here, and getting to 23 here, but playing Venus, it’s stuff that legends are made of. I couldn’t have written a better story.

“I just feel like it was the right moment. Everything kind of happened. It hasn’t quite set in yet, but it’s really good.”

“It was great to have an opportunity to play for the title,” Venus said discussing her rn to the final. “That’s exactly where I want to be standing during these Grand Slams, is on finals day, having an opportunity. That’s the highlight of all this, is to be in that moment.”

“A lot of great performances, you know. I didn’t lose a set until the semifinals. Played against a lot of players who were in form. So it’s a good thing.

“It’s a great start to the year. I’m looking forward to the rest of year. This is like tournament number two and it’s already a lot of work. I’m looking forward to tournament number three and four. It’s going to be awesome.”

For the No. 13 seed Venus this was just her second Australian Open final, the last won coming in 2003, when she lost to her sister.

“I feel motivated to continue, to continue to go out there and hit the ball the way I know I can,” Venus said about her year so far. “There’s only things I can improve on, to be honest, and to build on.

“I feel I played very well this week, pulled a lot of things out of my pocket. I got more stuff in my pocket. Get it out.”

On going after major No. 24, Serena said:”One thing I learned in the past is you have to enjoy it. That’s the beauty of winning Australia, you have a few months to relax. If you win the French, it’s like back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Australia, you have time to enjoy the moment before the next Grand Slam.”

“Well, so far I’ve been celebrating by doing non-stop press. But, you know, it’s fine. I feel good. Just to even talk about it is great. But it’s getting late. I don’t know how I’ll celebrate. I don’t know.

“I’m just still excited. Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep.”

The victory for Serena marks the 30th major title for the Williams family.

“We are just so proud,” said the winner. “We feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to be the ones that can do it, you know. Venus and I work so hard. Still to this day we work side-by-side each other at practice. We motivate each other. Like I said on the court, every time she won her match, I felt obligated to win, I’ve got to win, too.

“The motivation she gives me, it’s really second to nothing. It’s amazing.”

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An All-Williams Australian Open Final as Serena Beats Lucic-Baroni

 

(January 26, 2017) It will be the ninth all-Williams final for a major title on Saturday night. Serena Williams joined her sister Venus in the Australia Open final by easily defeating Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-2, 6-1 in fifty minutes to reach her eighth final in Melbourne.

“It felt really good because I felt like it was in my hands to force this Williams final,” Serena told media. “Believe it or not, I was feeling a little pressure about that, but it felt really good to get that win.”
“She’s my toughest opponent – nobody has ever beaten me as much as Venus has,” Serena Williams said about the match-up in her on-court interview. “I just feel like no matter what happens, we’ve won.”
“She’s been through a lot, I’ve been through a lot. To see her do so well it’s great. I look forward to it. A Williams is going to win this tournament.”

Serena will be attempting to make history on Saturday, trying to win her 23rd major, which would be an Open Era record. Should she win the title, she would also retake the No. 1 ranking, jumping over Angelique Kerber.

Serena holds a 16-11 record against her older sister Venus. She also leads her sister head-to-head in major finals 6-2.

“Obviously I was really proud of Venus, a total inspiration, my big sister,” Serena said. “She’s basically my world and my life. She means everything to me. I was so happy for her. For us both to be in the final is the biggest dream come true for us.”

“After everything that Venus has been through with her illness and stuff, I just can’t help but feel like it’s a win-win situation for me,” she said. “I was there for the whole time. We lived together. I know what she went through.

“It’s the one time that I really genuinely feel like no matter what happens, I can’t lose, she can’t lose. It’s going to be a great situation.”

It will be a battle of the thirty-somethings when 36-year-old Venus faces off against 35-year-old Serena.

More to follow…..

 

Related Articles:

Venus Williams Reaches Australian Open Final, Her First Major Final Since 2009

Venus Williams Reaches Australian Open Semifinals

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Thirty-Somethings Serena Williams and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni to meet in Australian Open Semifinal

 

Serena Williams

(January 25, 2017) Serena Williams reached her 34th major semifinal on Wednesday defeating No. 9 seed Johanna Konta of Great Britain 6-2, 6-3 at the Australian Open in Melbourne. The 35-year-old Williams, seeded No. 2 will play 34-year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, for a place in the Australian Open final. The 79-ranked Lucic-Baroni won her quarterfinal match earlier in the day.

“I don’t know. She’s playing really well. I think it’s so important not to underestimate anyone, Williams commenting about playing Lucic-Baroni. “This has been coming for her for a long time. She’s been wanting to win Grand Slams and to do well.

“It’s so important for me to just stay focused and hopefully play well. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a win. I’m here to win. I’m here to do the best that I can.

“Yeah, so hopefully I’ll be able to do well.”

Williams talked about the last time she played Lucic-Baroni: “It was in ’98, I remember. It was on Centre Court. That’s all I remember. I remember winning. I was so excited because I was so young. She obviously was super young, too. That’s all.

“Honestly, we have totally different games now, the both of us. We both have gone through a lot. We both have survived, and here we are, which I think is a really remarkable story.”

Should Williams win the final it would be her 23rd major, the most in the Open Era. She would also reclaim the No. 1 spot.

 

 

 

 

The dream continues for Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. The 34-year old ranked 79th in the world knocked out fifth seed and U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 at the Australian Open to reach her first semifinal at a major since Wimbledon in 1999.

Back in 1999, Lucic Baroni was a teenager in the Wimbledon semifinals, losing to Steffi Graf. After initial success, she had to contend with injuries and personal problem which took her out of the game.

“I was just really thankful, really thankful to God that I was able to do this today, that I was able to finish my match

“I started hurting pretty bad mid-match, especially towards the end. The fact that I was able to do it and so well at the end, I was really grateful.”

“This is what I’ve been dreaming about, this is what I’ve been training for. At 34 years old, like I said before, I have a wonderful home. I’m happily married. I would be perfectly okay being at home enjoying my family.

“But I really knew deep down in my soul that I have these results in me. To now be here and actually live these moments, it’s incredible.

“On the other side of the draw, 36-year-old Venus Williams will play fellow American, 25-year-old Coco Vandeweghe ranked No. 35 in the world.”

“This time, it’s incredibly special, especially since it’s been so long since the last time I’ve been in semifinals. And the struggle has been so much bigger, and nobody in this world thought I could ever be here again, beside my closest family, my coach, and my brothers, my sisters, my husband, my mom. Beside my little circle, I don’t think anybody believed that I could do it. And it’s really fun.

“It’s fun to prove everybody wrong, and it’s fun to enjoy this for myself and live these incredible moments. It’s more special this time, for sure.”

“Serena is our greatest champion, for sure, the greatest tennis player that ever played the game. So it’s going to be incredibly tough. She is going to history. I’m sure she’s going to be motivated to play well.

“And I’m just going to do my thing like I’ve done before ever other match. I’m going to recover and try to rest. I’m going to go out there with my heart and do the best that I can tomorrow.”

Serena Williams has a 2-0 record against Lucic-Baroni.

On the other side of the draw, 36-year-old Venus Williams will play fellow American, 25-year-old Coco Vandeweghe ranked No. 35 in the world.

In men’s action, No. 9 seed Rafael Nadal and No. 15 seed Grogor Dimitrov advanced to the semifinals. Nadal defeated third seed Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6, 6-4, while Dimitrov stopped No. 11 seed David Goffin 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

Nadal has a 7-1 record against Dimitrov.

 

More to follow….

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Serena Williams Moves into Australian Open Quarterfinals

 

Serena Williams

 

(January 23, 2017) Serena Williams overcame her greatest challenge so far at the Australian Open advancing to the quarterfinals on Monday with 7-5, 6-4 over Barbora Strycova.

There were seven breaks of serve in the first set and the No. 2 seed had 23 unforced errors. Williams needed 8 set points in the first set to finally close it out.

Williams was broken serving for the match, but immediately broke back to close it.

“I feel like it was really good for me to win on probably not my best day, which is always good, because sometimes you rely on one shot and if it goes off, and then, like, what happens now?,” Williams said

“It was really good for me to almost lose that so I know my other game is going pretty good, too.”
“She’s hard to read, she’s scrappy, gets a lot of balls back,” she said of her Czech opponent. “She definitely plays a different game than the other three players I played before.

“It was definitely — it gave me a different look.”

Williams will be playing No. 9 seed Johanna Konta of Great Britain for a place in the quarterfinals. Konta defeated Ekaterina Makarova 6-1, 6-4 in her fourth round match.

“I have watched her game a lot,” Williams commenting on her next opponent. “She’s been doing really, really well, and she hasn’t lost yet this year, I don’t think.”

“Well, she’s been playing really well. She has a very attacking game. I know her game pretty well. I look forward to it.

“Like I said on the court, I have absolutely nothing to lose in this tournament. Everything here is a bonus for me. Obviously I’m here to win. Hopefully I can play better, I can only go better.”

 

Johanna Konta

“She’s one of the few players still playing I watched growing up,” Konta said of Serena Williams after the match. “It’s an incredible honor and I can’t wait to share the court with her.”

“I just hope we play a great match and that we bring a good level and so the crowd will enjoy it and will get into it.”

 

“I believe in my own ability,” Konta said. “I believe in the good things that I bring to the court, and I believe in my ability to fight till the very end.

“Now, there’s that and then there’s also an opponent out there, and this one’s going to be Serena Williams. I think it’s about playing, me going out there and doing what I want to do against her, and it will be about just staying focused on that. And if that brings me good things on that day, and if that puts me in a position to come through, then that’s great.

“But I’ve got to focus on the work and not think of whether I can or cannot beat her. Yeah, I just need to stay on the work.”

Thirty-four year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni reached her first major quarterfinal since 1999 Wimbledon when she beat American qualifier Jennifer Brady 6-4, 6-2.

“It’s incredible now, said the veteran. “I mean, back then (1999) was kind of expected of me and it was normal. I won a lot as a junior. Then I won a lot as soon as I started playing pro. It was kind of normal. It was normal to win tournaments, normal to win big matches and go far. I mean, it was incredible, of course, but it was more normal.

“But now it’s been so long, it’s extra fun, it’s extra special, for sure.”

Lucic-Baroni will play the winner of the Karolina Pliskova – Daria Gavrilova.

“Pliskova I played a few times but always have super tough matches,” she said. “Obviously playing great tennis right now, probably the best tennis of her career. Doing amazing.

“Same for Gavrilova. We never played each other. I don’t think we have even ever practiced together.

“Yeah, right now I’m just going to relax, watch the match a little bit, see how they’re playing, what’s going on, worry about it tomorrow.”

Lucic-Baroni will face US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals. The fifth seed beat Daria Gavrilova 6-3, 6-3.

Asked about her match performance, the Czech said: “Not best. But it’s a win, so it counts. But for sure we all know I can play better.

“But it was enough. It was strange match, I would say, even from Dasha. I think she didn’t also play really well today. The conditions were definitely different compared to the other days, which was much warmer, more humidity, it was faster. Even with the roof closed, was everything like little bit different, I felt.

“Even I didn’t feel my game that good, I still think was like solid somehow. A few serves, I served well a few times, but not as the last match.”

On the men’s side of the draw, No. 9 seed 2009 champion Rafael Nadal pushed aside No. 8 seed Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the final eight. Nadal closed the match by winning the last four games.

Nadal will take on Milos Raonic, the third seed who defeated 13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. The Canadian came back from a 1-5 deficit in the first set tiebreak to win the first set.

“Most of the match, it was quite inconsistent I think from both of us,” said Raonic who’s been nursing the flu this fortnight. “I was sort of there on the brink in the end of the third set, then turned it around. Made it really count, I think. After I held off those two breakpoints, I was able to reel off seven games or something along those lines. I was fortunate to get that point because it definitely could have been much longer.”

“I was very fortunate to get through today,” Raonic said. “There were moments where it wasn’t looking so good.”

No. 11 seed David Goffin is in the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time. The Belgian defeated eighth seed Dominic Thiem 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-2.

“I feel tired, but feeling so happy. It was a really good match. Not easy. I started the match really well. Was not easy to control the ball because the first two sets it was really sunny and the ball, it was bouncing really high, so it was not easy to control the ball.

“But, yeah, I’m feeling so happy that I found my way to find a solution in the second. I serve really well. Then I played two really good sets the third and the fourth.

“I’m really happy. It was a big fight, so I’m feeling really good.”

Goffin will play Grigor Dimitrov in the final eight.

“Of course, the ranking, it doesn’t matter the ranking they have,” said Goffin.

“Dimitrov, he won everything. He started the year really well. He won in Brisbane, a really strong tournament, Brisbane ATP 250. He was really solid this week.

“It’s going to be interesting to see the match now. I will prepare my match like always, like I did this week.”

Grigor Dimitrov

Grigor Dimitrov conquered No. 2 seeds Novak Djokovic’s conqueror – dismissing wildcard Denis Istomin 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-1. Istomin beat the six-time champion in the second round.

“It’s going to be a tough match, for sure, without a doubt,” said Dimtrov. “David is an excellent player. In a way I know what to expect from him. We’ve practiced against each other a few times this off-season. And he’s a very dangerous player.

“I just need to be ready mentally and physically for the battle. Honestly, there’s not much else you can say about that.”

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Serena Williams Moves Into the Fourth Round of Australian Open; Nadal Survives Five-Set Test

Serena Williams

 

(January 20, 2017) No. 2 seed Serena Williams cruised past U.S. countrywoman Nicole Gibbs 6-1, 6-3 to reach the fourth-round of the Australian Open on Saturday in Melbourne.

The 22-time major champion, who is seeking her 7th Australian Open title needed only  63 minutes to advance to her sixth straight round of 16 in Melbourne.

She’ll take on 16th seed Barbora Strycova who defeated No. 21 Caroline Garcia 6-2, 7-5.

“I have seen her play a lot,” Williams said. “She’s always playing. Venus has played her a few times. I saw her play in Sydney. She’s super fit. She has a good game. She’s very aggressive, so that would be nice to play.

“Again, I don’t have anything to prove in this tournament here. Just, you know, doing the best I can.

“Obviously I’m here for one reason. But at the end of the day, this is all bonus for me and I look forward to playing her. I’m ready for her.”

“She’s human, and she is beatable,” Strycova said of Williams. “This is a Grand Slam, and we are talking that she already won, but I don’t like these talks.

“But if she wins, I will try my best. And I will have to work hard and play my best tennis to beat Serena, because she is amazing player. She know how to play these matches.”

2009 Australian Open winner No. 9 seed Rafael Nadal won a five-set, four-hour plus slug fest against 19-year-old Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2.

“I enjoyed a lot this great battle,” Nadal said. “I was losing the last couple of times in the fifth set and I said to myself, today’s the day.”

Asked on court about how he came back to win, Nadal said: “Well, fighting – and running a lot. I think you know, everybody knows how good Alexander is – he’s the future of our sport and the present, too.”

Nadal had lost 8 of his last 9 five-set matches in which he was down 2 sets to 1.

 

Before this Australian Open, Jennifer Brady had never made the made draw of a major, this year the American made her first main draw be going through qualifying and is in the fourth round in Melbourne.

Brady upset 14th seed Elena Vesnina 7-6 (4), 6-2. Brady survived five match points to win against Britain’s Heather Watson in the second round.

“It feels amazing,” Brady said in her news conference. “I mean, you know, coming here, being in the qualifying, you know, I didn’t expect to, you know, make it all the way until second week.

“One of my goals, actually, was, you know, in the next couple years to be playing in the second week of a Grand Slam. I sat down and had that discussion with my coaches and, you know, the rest of my team — when was it? A couple months ago.”

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni won 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Maria Sakkari. Nineteen years ago Lucic-Baroni won her last match in Melbourne as a teenager. The 34-year-old broke a record for the longest period between match wins at a major with the win on Saturday.

“It’s been so long, and my career has been so long and stop and go and all that stuff,” Lucic-Baroni said. “But I just take it, every win, it really is a big deal for me. It is like winning a tournament. I celebrate it.

“I don’t take losses well. I have gotten better over the years, but I really want to take my time and enjoy and celebrate my wins, and especially my big wins.

“And today it was really difficult. I’m really proud of myself. I enjoyed that I found the way to win.”

2014 finalist and sixth seed Dominka Cibulkova pushed 30th seed Ekaterina Makarova to a third set after rallying from a set and 0-4 down in the second set but lost 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-3.

“An amazing fight. I got, to be honest, a bit tight at 4-0 in the second set,” Makarova said after the match. “I want to enjoy my win today. It’s my first over Dominika, and she’s a great player.”

“I never beat Dominika before. But I lost two times in three sets, and I knew that it would be tough match, tough battle. And she fight until the end.

“Even I was winning 6-2, 4-Love, then maybe two games a little bit — I got tight, yeah. I really wanted to win the match. But after that, she play amazing tennis.

“It was tough in the end of the second set, and all third set, I think it was such a great tennis and fighting tennis. And I’m so happy that I could stay with all my focus and with my aggressive game.”

Makarova will play Johanna Konta match next.

Ninth seed Johanna Konta dismissed former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-1, 6-3 to advance. She hasn’t lost a set this tournament.

“Every time we play, we have a battle,” Kota said of Makarova. “I think last year was 8-6 in the third. Actually we played out on Margaret Court. I remember that was a high-level match from both of us. That was really a great match to be a part of.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge, the battle again. She had a great match against Dominika. Dominika is not an easy player to beat, and she was able to do that. She’s playing obviously great tennis.

“I think she really enjoys playing here. She always seems to do well on these courts. I’m looking forward to it. We’ll deal with whatever challenges come up the next day.”

On the men’s side of the draw, No. 11 David Goffin won 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 20 Ivo Karlovic. Goffin will play Dominic Thiem in the round of 16. The 8th seeded Austrian beat Benoit Paire 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

“I had a really good start, obviously,” Thiem said. “I mean, he was not really there in the beginning. He was giving me the set almost, and then he changed his game a little bit. He was playing much better. I didn’t know the right answers straightaway.

“Yeah, it was set 2 until set 4 was really close and tight match with a lot of breaks. Yeah, could be easily a fifth, but I’m happy to be through in four.”

Denis Istomin followed his dramatic upset win over six-time and defending champion Novak Djokovic winning 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2over Pablo Carreno Busta.

More to follow…..

 

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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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Serena Williams Withdraws from the WTA Finals with a Shoulder Injury

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(October 17, 2016) St. Petersburg, Florida — World No.2 Serena Williams will not take part at the WTA Finals in Singapore after receiving medical advice regarding a shoulder injury.

The 22-time major champion, 35, made the announcement late on Sunday after missing recent tournaments in Wuhan and Beijing due to the injury.

“I was looking forward to competing in Singapore this year and playing against the best players in the world,” said Williams. “However, I have received disappointing news from my doctor that I must undergo a series of medical treatments for my shoulder and will be off the court for the next several weeks.

“I will miss coming to Singapore for the year-end Finals and playing in front of my fans but truly hope to be back soon.”

Williams has participated in eight tournaments this season, winning two titles, Wimbledon and Internazionali BNL d’Italia – Rome.

Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep, Agnieszka Radwanska, Karolina Pliskova, Garbiñe Muguruza, Madison Keys and Dominika Cibulkova have already qualified for the tournament, which starts on October 23 and ends on October 30.

The withdrawal of Serena Williams has opened up the eighth qualification spot for the Singapore event, now providing chances to Britain’s Johanna Konta, Spain’s Carla Suárez Navarro and Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova.  Either Suárez Navarro or Kuznetsova must win the title in Moscow at the VTB Kremlin Cup next week in order to edge out Konta for the eighth and final qualifying spot.

Steve Simon, WTA CEO stated, “We’re as disappointed as the fans not to see Serena finish her season in Singapore. We wish her a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing her back competing, fit and healthy. The race now intensifies this week as players fight for the remaining berth. Fans can expect an exciting WTA Finals this year, with reigning champion, Aga Radwanska, defending her title and our World No.1, Angie Kerber, seeking to consolidate her outstanding season with a victory in Singapore.”

Click here to see Serena Williams’ video message to her fans regarding her withdrawal.

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In Their Own Words – Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka

 

(September 11, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Posting player interviews from day 14 of the US Open.

Note from the US Open Media Operations Guide as why Tennis Panorama News is allowed to post transcripts:

Transcripts of player interviews cannot be posted until one (1) hour after the interview has ended. Player transcripts can only be posted on the website of the publication that was accredited.

Stan Wawrinka

Press Conference

S. WAWRINKA/N. Djokovic

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

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You look like a happy man.
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, hopefully I’m happy after a win like that. Thank you.

Q. Congratulations. What does this victory mean, especially against an opponent like Novak who you attributed your success to?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, this is amazing, for sure, amazing two weeks. I spend so much time on the court. Today I knew it will be a really tough battle again playing the No. 1 player, Novak Djokovic, who always push you to play your best tennis if you want to beat him.

That’s why I start to do, and I try to do. Was not only in the tennis side but physically and mentally was really tough, again. Honestly after the match I was completely empty. I put everything on the court. Not only today, but the past two weeks.

Today I was trying to stay with him. I was trying to be tough with myself. Trying not to show anything. Not to show any pain. Not to show any cramp. Not to show anything. I was suffering on the court, but I’m happy and proud with what I have achieved today.

Q. He called you the more courageous player. How much did courage come into play?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, for sure. But there is no secret. If you want to beat the No. 1 player in the world, you have to give everything.

As I said the other day, you have to accept to suffer and you have almost to enjoy to suffer. Because I think this Grand Slam was the most painful, physically and mentally, Grand Slam that I ever played.

As I said, I was feeling tired already at the beginning of the match. I was feeling the cramp coming in the third set. In the fourth set I had some pain, but most important was what was clear with Magnus before was not to show anything. Not to show anything. Give everything and keep fighting and go try to win it.

Q. Every player has dreamed of winning a Grand Slam, but I think your dream is going a little bit further down. Maybe a career Grand Slam. Is it a coincidence in the last two years to collect these three Grand Slams or there is any, can I say a systemic plan with Magnus, focus on Grand Slam?
STAN WAWRINKA: So what? Are you saying next year I focus only on Wimbledon? (Smiling.) There is no plan. The only plan is trying to push myself the maximum to be the best player I can. I’m not good enough to start and say, Okay, I’m going to win a Grand Slam this year. No.

I’m trying every day, day by day, practicing hard, trying every match to win. And, again, I think the result will come because I’m doing that every day, because I’m fighting with myself to improve, to be a better tennis player, because I have a great team behind me pushing me every day to try to be a better tennis player.

I think this year I’m playing way better than last year. As you said, at the beginning, for me, I never dreamed to win a Grand Slam until I won the Australian Open. It was never a dream because for me it was way too far.

And, again here, I arrive here without putting goal to win it. Arrive here, take match after match. Every time I step on the court I know I can beat my opponent. Even today.

But when I start the tournament, I’m not seeing the draw and say, Okay, my goal is to win the tournament.

Q. You have had so much success now against No. 1 players in these finals at Grand Slams. What is it you’re able to do here and why hasn’t it so far translated — obviously these are the biggest matches, biggest wins. What is it that needs to happen to transcend to other matches?
STAN WAWRINKA: Well, I think I take confidence every time I win a match. In Grand Slam you play every two days five-set match. You have a little bit more time to make mistake. That’s what happen with me. I always try to be at my top in every Grand Slam.

As you can see, I don’t play my best tennis in the first round, but I’m trying to find a way to improve each match. Every match I won in a Grand Slam I take confidence of that, and when I arrive in the final I know that my game is there.

Today, before the final, I was really nervous like never before. I was shaking in the locker. When we start five minutes before the match talking, last few things with Magnus, I start to cry. I was completely shaking.

But the only thing I was convinced with myself that my game was there. Physically I was there. My game was there. Put the fight on the court and you will have a chance to win.

And that’s what happen after few games when I start to believe in myself, start to be in the match. I was only focus on the match, not what can happen if I win the match. Is it the final of the U.S.? No, I’m just focused what I’m doing in the court.

Q. You described the physical pain you endured and how you did not want to show it. What was going through your mind when your opponent called for an injury timeout in the fourth set?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, I saw he was struggling. I saw he was struggling physically. I knew also before the match that when I play against him I have to push the limit. When he took the timeout for injury I was just trying to stay calm, trying to stay warm. I didn’t want to get cold because I was also struggling a lot physically. I was cramping few times.

So I just wanted to make sure my body will be ready when we start again. Because sometimes we’re sweating. If you stop for five or seven minutes, then your body can react differently.

So I was really focused on my body.

Q. But what about the fairness of the timeout and the timing of the timeout? What were your thoughts about that?
STAN WAWRINKA: For me, I just ask the umpire because he asked the physio when he was serving and we played maybe seven more points and everything. I just wanted to know exactly what was the rule.

That’s it. If your opponent is struggling, if he has blood coming out, you have to stop. So when the umpire and the referee came to me saying, It’s like that. It’s just happening. We have to stop for him because there is blood coming out. We have to make sure he’s going to be okay.

For me I was fine. It was just have to focus on my body and make sure that I was going to be ready for the first point we play after that.

Q. Maybe you don’t remember eight years ago you were down two sets to love to somebody called Cipolla.
STAN WAWRINKA: I do remember. He never shake my hand. He’s Italian. He never shake my hand. I do remember on Court 11 or 14. Yeah, of course I remember. (Smiling.)

Q. Okay. I remember too. (Laughter.)
STAN WAWRINKA: Good.

Q. What were your goals at that time? What were you thinking that you could have become as a player? Were you thinking, Well, I’d be top 10, top 20 or whatever? That was one question. And the second one is very brief. Won three slams and only one Masters 1000. How?
STAN WAWRINKA: I don’t care. I’m happy. But I agree. I agree.

First question, my career was always the same. Always been step by step. First I wanted to be a professional tennis player. That’s mean living with your passion, with your sport. Then was to be top 100, then top 50. It’s always been like that.

That’s always how I deal with my goal. I never start anything I want to be No. 1. I want to win Grand Slam. For me, no. It’s always step by step. The only thing I want to do it’s to push the limit. That’s mean when I stop playing tennis I have no regrets. I cannot come back and say, Why you didn’t practice more? Why you didn’t did that or that?

No. I just want to push myself to the limit and see where I can go.

For the other question, there is no answer. I cannot tell you why do I have three Grand Slam and only one Masters 1000. I can only say I’m happy with that trophy tonight.

Q. Tomorrow in a few hours the people will wake up in Switzerland, home country, and they will be very proud and say, Stan is our man and very convinced about this. What I want to ask you, you’re very often struggling against players ranked 64 in this tournament. For example, Evans. Then when the tournament continues and you face the really tough opponent like Nishikori and of course today, Novak you getting better and better. So you have won out of the three Grand Slams two against Novak. What’s the secret that you can beat obviously the No. 1 player in the world easier than a player ranked No. so-and-so?
STAN WAWRINKA: Ah, as I say, before the tournament I tried to do everything to be ready. Before we started the tournament I was feeling good physically, mentally. My tennis was there. I was playing one of my best practice weeks so I was confident with myself.

But then when you start the tournament, you know you’re not gonna play your best tennis. You know you’re not gonna play your best game at the beginning. Also, you have to see that playing on Armstrong, on center, and now it’s completely different.

The day I play, the three match I play there was quite windy. I was struggling with my game. I was hesitating.

In general, the only pressure that I feel in a Grand Slam is the pressure I put on myself. When I play player like Evans, for example, I put too much pressure on myself. I don’t want to lose. I want to win. I want to keep advancing in the tournament.

So I’m not relaxed enough to play my best tennis, and that day was playing really well. I think you need to also understand that there is no easy match. Doesn’t matter the ranking. Evans was playing really well. He was making me play not my best game. I had to fight. I had to stay positive. I had to find solution. I did. I save match point.

For sure you get a little bit lucky when you save match point, but that’s tennis. The more I win in a Grand Slam, the better I feel. As I said yesterday, I practiced. I was feeling the ball. I could close my eyes. I was feeling the best tennis I ever played.

So I was sure that in the final I would be ready for that.

Q. You remember the last year Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in the final of this tournament. How did you face him today? Any chance to chat Roger about how to, you know —
STAN WAWRINKA: To lose?

Q. — to face Novak today?
STAN WAWRINKA: (Smiling.) No, I didn’t have a chance to chat with Roger. I think Roger is one of my closest friends on the tour. It’s not the first time I play Novak. It’s not the first time that I play Novak in the big final or important match.

In the past we talked many times with Roger. He ask me advice. I ask him advice. But, no, I didn’t ask him anything. I think I know exactly what I have to do when I play Novak, especially in final of Grand Slam. I need to be ready. I need to be focused and go for it.

Q. In your career we have seen a lot of determination, a lot of perseverance, and we saw a lot of that tonight. You hung in there and came back after losing the first set. Talk about perseverance and determination. Is that an important part of your game and was it important tonight?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, it’s important in my career in general. For sure tonight was important, but if you look, I have to be always like that. That’s why I saved match point against Evans. I wasn’t playing my best tennis, but I keep trying, keep fighting. Do the right thing.

If I go on court and I do the right thing, the things that I think can help me to win and I lose, then I say congrats to my opponent. I push myself.

Tonight, for sure, when you play Novak he’s a beast mentally. He’s gonna stay there. He’s gonna push you. Normally he always find solution. He’s No. 1 player. He won so many title, so many trophy, and it’s always the biggest challenge to play against him.

Q. Congratulations, Stan. I want to ask you, after your match against Evans on Armstrong, underneath there was a great moment when you were walking off and applauded by the ball boys and girls. I want to ask you what that sort of love and affection you get from the people and the fans, how that impacts you?
STAN WAWRINKA: I love it. I love the fans, but especially also the person working the tournament every day. Every day you arrive you see them. I love the ball kids. They always there. It was great to see them being happy for me after the match on the Armstrong against Evans.

If I can sign or give picture or anything, I’m always happy. I think all the person, I see them every day. Every day I come here. Every day I’m leaving. They always take care of me, my team, of everybody.

So I really enjoy spend time with them.

Q. You had mentioned Roger just before. Have you heard from him at all across the tournament or even…
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, a few message, yeah. Congrats, good luck. Things like that. Yeah.

Q. Was it encouraging…
STAN WAWRINKA: What I just said. (Laughter.) Few message.

Q. You mentioned before that you wouldn’t focus on trying to win Wimbledon. What do you think your chances are of winning there eventually?
STAN WAWRINKA: It’s too far. Too far to think about Wimbledon. I think I can play my best tennis on grass also, but so far I didn’t pass the quarterfinals. There is way better tennis player than me on grass.

I’m trying. I’m trying every year to improve. I’m trying every year to find solution. This year I had someone in my team to help me to understand a little bit better the game, but I didn’t play my best tennis yet there. Hopefully it will come.

Q. You mentioned earlier being so nervous tonight that you shook and cried in the locker room. Is this the most nervous you have ever been before a match? If so, why more tonight than, say, the French or Australian?
STAN WAWRINKA: I think the most close to that was the French Open final. I was also — because I don’t want to lose the final in a Grand Slam. That simple. That’s the only reason.

The pressure, I was feeling amazing after the semifinal. I was feeling great yesterday. Really happy. But this morning it start to be there, the feeling of you don’t want to lose. I don’t want to come to the court and lose a final. So close, so far.

So maybe it’s the reason why I was feeling so nervous.

Q. What did you do to quell your nerves?
STAN WAWRINKA: I had to put my shit together. (Smiling.) Sorry. That’s how I say it.

Q. You have always declined to say that you felt you were one of the Big 4.
STAN WAWRINKA: But I’m not.

Q. In his press conference, Novak was asked about whether it should now be a big 5 and he said you deserve consideration. What is your feeling on that? Are you saying you’re not?
STAN WAWRINKA: Okay, let’s — Novak is always so nice with me. I love him. He’s a good friend. He always say a lot of nice thing about me.

The Big 4, I’m really far from them. Just look the tournament they won, how many years they been there. If you look, yes, I have three Grand Slams. How many Masters 1000 have Murray? They have been there since ten years.

They have not only been winning, but being in semifinal, final every time. That’s why I’m not there. I don’t want to be there. For me, there is no question about that. But I’m trying the best I can with my career.

I’m really, really happy with what I’m doing so far. I’m proud of myself by winning three Grand Slam. This is something I never expect and dream about it, but I have them and I’m happy to take the trophy back home.

Q. Is the No. 1 ranking a goal for you at all?
STAN WAWRINKA: No.

Q. What do you think you have to do to achieve it?
STAN WAWRINKA: That question come every time I won a Grand Slam. But my best ranking was No. 3 in the world. It’s simple. I’m way too far to even think about being No. 1. Look at Novak is No. 1. He’s winning two or three Grand Slam a year. He’s winning five Masters 1000 minimum. He’s winning everything or being in the final.

I’m winning four tournaments a year. I’m happy with that. I’m really happy with that. Four tournaments, one Grand Slam. It’s amazing. It’s huge. It’s big. But I’m way too far to be No. 1.

Q. You were saying that the only pressure what you put yourself. Do you think that pressure is gonna diminish or decrease? You like be expected to do better every time?
STAN WAWRINKA: I think my first Grand Slam final I was winning really well. I was not feeling nervous; I was feeling good. I was basically already happy with the final. I came on the court to win it, but I knew it will be okay to lose it, also.

But then… Then… Then I’m not that young anymore. Then you start. You’re in another final of a Grand Slam. You don’t want to lose it. You don’t want to lose the opportunity to win that trophy there, especially a Grand Slam.

So I think for sure the pressure in general during the year go down, but when I play final the pressure go up. Because the trophy of winner finalist is not the same.

 

 

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

 

Novak Djokovic

Press Conference

S. WAWRINKA/N. Djokovic

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

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Does this match mean that tennis officially now has a big 5?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, he deserves to be in the mix, no doubt about it. Stan won three Grand Slams now and three different ones; Olympic medal. Been around for so many years, and he plays best in the big matches.

I mean, he definitely deserves to be mentioned in the mix of top players.

Q. You called him a big match player just now and said it the other day. You said today he was the more courageous player out there tonight. What did Stan bring to you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Simple as that, you know. I just didn’t capitalize at all on my opportunities. I had plenty of them, break points. It was a terrible conversion of the break points. Just terrible from my side.

You know, in the matches like this, if you don’t use the opportunities, the other guy comes and takes it. And that’s what he did. That’s why I said he was more courageous, because he stepped in and played aggressive where I was kind of more waiting for things to happen.

And that’s it.

Q. You sometimes had matches where you’re the one saving lots of break points, including the final here last year. Do you remember a match like this for you before where you weren’t able to capitalize?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: To be honest, I don’t know. I’m not sure. You know, obviously Grand Slam finals are different than any other match. I have lost a few Grand Slam finals, some close matches.

You know, this has been one of the worst stat on the break point conversion for me, that’s for sure.

Q. What exactly was your fourth-set injury? What effect was it having on you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Just the toenails were off and bleeding. Yeah, it was quite painful to move around.

You know, I tried.

Q. The past few years we have been used to you being focused and keeping your cool under pressure. After the first set it seemed like there was a lot of anger towards your box. Can you explain?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, you know, I lost my nerves in the important moments. He kept his cool. I think that’s what decided the match.

I guess sometimes it happens, even though you have the experience and know what to do. Just the heat of the moment and importance of the match, I guess, you know, was too strong for me at certain periods of the match. Just if you lose your cool, the match can go away.

Q. You mentioned on court that you considered not playing in the Open I guess after Rio. How seriously did you consider that, and was the toe injury something that bothered you at all before today? Was that more the wrist?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, no, it wasn’t the toe. The toe just happened today. Some other injury that was, you know, very serious at the time. I really didn’t know whether or not I’m going to come, to be honest. Decided like eight, nine days before the start of the Open just to try.

To play finals, it’s quite amazing.

Q. You lost two Grand Slam finals now against Stan. What makes it so difficult for you especially to beat him in strong moments like Grand Slam title?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, he just steps in. He loves to play in the big matches. He comes up with his best game. He’s so solid from both corners. He’s got a good slice and amazing one-handed backhand, all corners. Big serve. Moves well.

He’s a very complete player. Sometimes if he feels right he doesn’t miss much and makes a lot of winners and it’s hard to play him. That’s what happened today.

Q. Was there any cramping going on in the last set from you or just the toe?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No.

Q. And what was the effect of the toe having on your game?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t think it’s necessary for me to talk about that now, you know. He won the match. He deserved to win this trophy, and that’s it.

I don’t want to talk about this and you guys think I’m finding excuses. It’s just not necessary.

Q. Can you talk about the weight of his shot? Seems like he hits just a really heavy ball, heavier than others, compared to, say, a Rafa and Roger and Andy.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, he hits a very heavy ball, especially from the backhand corner. Forehand is very flat. You know, he goes for his shots from the forehand side. Backhand, you know, great chip, great slice. He uses that when he’s defending and then he comes up, you know, and can get you off the court with a backhand crosscourt.

That’s probably one of his best shots in the game. Physically he’s very strong, so he can endure a lot.

Q. Were you surprised that you were allowed to take a timeout before Stan’s serve? Do you think that was fair?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I was allowed, so I took it.

Q. Were you surprised that you…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Why would I be surprised if I was allowed?

Q. Because the rules say it should be a key medical condition.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was.

Q. Of course in a match that lasted for almost four hours there are many moments which could be decisive. Do you think there is one more than the others or some more than the others? I remember, for instance, when you were up — when Wawrinka was 2-1 in the second set, long time ago, you made two double faults. I don’t know if you were nervous, but two doubles in the same set is not usual for you.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I made a lot of double faults throughout this tournament. I was struggling with that shot and with, you know, with the motion, with the movement and on the serve, with the technique because of what I carried into this tournament.

So, you know, I was working a lot on it and trying to find that rhythm, but my body has kind of compensated and, you know, made some different things to protect the problem I had with the arm.

You know, unfortunately it wasn’t — the serve wasn’t there. When it was needed it wasn’t there, and in the big matches like this you need the serve. I lost decisive games in second and third set. Just handed him over with some unforced errors and bad serves.

But, you know, I guess I was trying to protect the serve, I guess, with other shots, but it wasn’t to be today.

Q. I guess your schedule means that you next play or are due to play in Asia. Are you concerned these injuries you have been worried about before the tournament and the injuries you suffered during the tournament, they have an impact on you maybe not playing there?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I sincerely doubt that this is going to prevent me from playing there. I think I’m going to be ready.

Q. Obviously just stepped off the court after a tough loss, but it is the end of the Grand Slam year; there are still major tournaments. You had that great triumph in Paris. (Indiscernible) What’s your assessment?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, winning four Grand Slams in a row for me was an incredible achievement. I’m very proud of it, so this loss today cannot overshadow the great moments I have had in Australia and especially in Paris.

So winning two out of four Grand Slams is pretty good year, and playing another final. I have no complaints. Obviously I wish that I could win another title, but this is what it is. You have to shake hands and accept the loss from a better player and move on, you know.

It’s not the first time. It’s not the last time I’m going to lose a match, big match. Hopefully I can learn from it. Hopefully I can get better, because, you know, that’s the cycle of life, I guess, for us athletes.

Q. Not just tonight, but this whole tournament there has been a lot of debate about injury timeouts, toilet breaks, whatever. You’re obviously a big guy now on the player council. Do you think tennis needs to look again at the rules? Do you think the game needs to look at trying to clarify what’s allowed and what isn’t?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: We’ll talk about it, sure. If players bring that up to the table, you know. You know, I didn’t have any I guess major complaints about that against me or me against any other player.

If there are — if this is a debate and players think there should be something changed in the rules, of course we are there to discuss. Will bring this up to the council soon I guess if this is a big deal.

Q. When you’re talking about your mindset coming into the tournament on court, another thing you added is if anyone would say you’d play finals you’d take it. Now you have played the finals and obviously disappointed in…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: In this moment I don’t take it, but…(Smiling.)

Q. That’s my point.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, sure. Of course. Just coming off the court, it’s never easy to lose Grand Slam finals, big matches, playing four hours, of course.

Of course everybody wants to be victorious, but at the end of the day, sometimes you win, you lose, and you’ve got to accept it, gotta accept it and gotta let it go. From a larger perspective, why I said I’ll take it because it was really, you know, in doubt whether or not I’m going to come here and up to really last day.

So I came in here, you know, struggled first couple of days with practice and first match and so forth, and then to get the finals, I mean, it’s a big result. Of course I set up a high standard for myself with great results I have had in last couple of years. I’m really successful and I’m grateful for that.

But, you know, again, I have to try tomorrow to look from this different perspective and say, Wow, I played finals. I mean, that’s not too bad.

Q. You sound pleased to get to the final, but I’m just wondering if you feel like the lack of match play on the way through the tournament took its toll.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Not really. You know, I don’t feel like the lack of match play affected my performance today. I just felt all right. You know, I was hitting the ball well in quarters, fourth round, quarters, semis I was playing good. Today I started off well, but down the stretch he was the better player. As simple as that.

You know, sometimes in sport these things happen.

Q. Sorry to come to the question of medical timeouts, but I just wanted to clarify. You said if other players are concerned it’s something you would talk about on the player council. Can I clarify what your personal opinion is? Do you feel the present rules are okay?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I’ve gotta check the rules even better, I guess, after you guys brought it up. Obviously there is a bit of a concern from, I don’t know, media or players. You know, there is speculations whether the rules are accurate or not.

So I’ve got to first check all the rules, because I don’t know every single rule to, you know, perfection. First I have to inform myself before I make any kind of statements.

For now, I know we out the inability for a player to ask for a medical timeout of he has cramps, for example. That was a big debate couple years ago. That’s effective right now.

Other than that, I didn’t hear too many complaints, to be honest. But again, maybe I just haven’t heard. Now I have to speak with other players and get myself informed and see what it takes.

Q. In light of your doubts about coming to the tournament, thank you for your dedication to this hard-working city and those around the world who respect such courage as well as entertainment. Why and how do you give so much of yourself in defeat as well as in victory in the sport of no substitutes or penalty serves after 235 minutes? Is it the way you grew up or have you evolved into such a champion in all outcomes?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, thank you for your nice words and compliments. I have to speak on my own behalf because obviously everybody is different. But the way I see things in life, you know, my kind of mindset and ideology I guess is that whether or not you win or lose, you know, in the end of the day you have to be very respectful towards the opponent, towards the sport, towards the occasion, to those people who come to see you.

Of course in the heat of the moment your emotions are here or there. You’re tense. You’re trying your best to win. Of course everybody is playing the sport because you want to make some kind of success in life. You know, what defines success now, that’s different for each one of us.

For me, success is not just winning tennis matches and winning trophies, you know. It’s more than that. I guess my main source of playing tennis, main source of motivation for playing the sport, is because I really like it. It’s my choice to do it.

But, you know, once you get to the top and you have that privilege, status, and position, then I guess the importance of what you say, how you behave, what you do, is much larger. Just not comparable to any other position in the rankings or so forth.

So I guess that kind of privilege, status, taught me a lot of lessons in life, and I got experience. I learned a lot about myself, about who I should be, who I should become, and it’s an everyday evolution for me and for everybody else.

That’s the way I take it.

Q. You have had moments on this court, including today and in some of the big semifinals against Roger, where you kind of call for the crowd to get behind you. Do you feel like that could have helped you in the fourth set? I mean, you were injured, but also had your chances to have break points against him. Did you want that support from the crowd?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I heard crowd chanting my name many times, so I’m very thankful. I don’t feel that that lacked on my side.

Of course Stan was getting support. I was getting support. The crowd was really enjoying the match and was really into it. I saw a full stadium for four hours. It was amazing. Amazing atmosphere.

Q. A key stat was the break point stat. Why do you think you had such troubles specifically on break points today?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I was saying before, you know, I didn’t take my chances. I had many break points where I was in the rally, where I had a second shot, where I just missed some easy balls. That’s it.

Sometimes you get that kind of uncomfortable feeling and you’re not able to, you know, let everything flow as you want it. You know, you don’t have things working the way you want them. That’s it.

Q. Being a protagonist of this match, can you compare the quality of this match with the one in Paris? In Paris you were strong favorite before. This time a little bit probably less because of your condition, situation, and so on. At the end, what do you think you played better? What do you think he played better?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Similar matches. You know, I started well and won the first set in both finals, and then, you know, close second set.

Then he managed to kind of make this breakthrough, you know, in the second and third. Then just both matches I think in the fourth set he was just playing his best where he was just swinging from every shot and every corner, going through the ball and being aggressive, taking his chances.

That’s how I can, I guess, explain and maybe compare the same.

Q. Quality?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Quality, I mean, quality was there I think from both of us. We both tried. When you have top two players — I mean, two top players playing against each other in a Grand Slam final, you expect good quality, of course. We played four hours here and Roland Garros was almost the same, so I thought the tennis was good.

Q. Given the high standard you set for yourself and the great start that you had for this year, how are you going to look back on this summer from a physical and a psychological standpoint?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, there is a lot to learn. You know, life is a big lesson. It’s a big book. You know, we keep writing the stories. There is another story to be written.

Of course, the end of this story for US Open. I wish that it was a bit different, but again, I think — and I will mention it again: we learn much more from the losses like this than from wins. Because when you’re winning, everything is fine and you maybe, I guess, shadow certain things that are relevant for you to face and to tackle and to work on.

But when you lose, then all of a sudden, you know, you just start questioning yourself whether, you know, you have done things right or not and what can you do to be better as a person, as a player.

So that’s where I’m at right now, and that’s what I will think about for the rest of this season and next year.

 

 

Felix Auger Aliassime

Press Conference

F. AUGER-ALIASSIME/M. Kecmanovic

6-3, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You’re out there, have two of the best players in the game right now playing on the stadium. Kind of a short dropshot away from you. Emotions there with you with them? What’s it feel like here and what’s going on there and you’re finishing up your match?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, it was kind of funny. It was not the same atmosphere as yesterday, I would say. Yesterday was pretty packed up and it was good atmosphere on the court.

Today was a bit dead because at the same time they had the men’s final. I really had to push myself. You know, sometimes you’ve got to play by yourself. I look around and find solutions outside. It can help, but I really try to focus and win my match, yeah.

Q. After what happened in Paris, how satisfying is this for you to win this?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, it’s obviously really great. Yeah, obviously I’m not gonna lie. I had some nightmares about this heartbreaking final. You don’t really want it to happen again.

So I was really focused on going into this match. I really wanted that win. Yeah, it’s obviously a great feeling. Yeah.

Q. Your opponent said you just played too good. How do you rank your performance today in all the performances you’ve had in your career?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, I think it was one of the best performance I have had. And also in the final you never know what can happen. You know, you don’t always play your best level because you’re a bit nervous and there is something big to go get.

But, yeah, I just stayed really steady. My serve, first-serve percentage, was really high today. I had a few aces, so of course it helps.

And in the second set I think I was really going through him and putting a lot of pressure on him, yeah.

Q. I think you were serving at 4-2 in the first set and you were down 15-40, I think. I think that might have been the only break points that he had.
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah.

Q. How important do you think it was for your confidence and for maybe his, you know, for you to get back in that there?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, I think there was a pretty good, pretty big game to go get. After, you never know what’s gonna happen. Maybe he gets back in the match and he gets more pumped.

Anyway, I would have been on the — on the next game would have been mentally prepared, so I didn’t put too much importance on that game. Because you didn’t want to get nervous at 4-2 in the first set because you’re down a break point.

Yeah, it was great to fight and get that game.

Q. And it was your serve that kind of bailed you out of that, would you say?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah. I had two good first serves, if I remember well.

Yeah, of course the serve was there today. I didn’t really hesitate. I didn’t look at the score that was down. I just went for my shots, and that’s what I do best, yeah.

Q. In theory, you’ve got another two years of junior career ahead of you.
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah.

Q. Is this win gonna change anything in your future plans?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, it might. It might, because I have already had some good wins at the pro level. I know I can compete with these guys.

And now being able to win a slam, make a final on two different surface, I think it might be time to go to the next level. But you never know what’s gonna happen next year. If I want to go back and play the junior Grand Slams, I will. Yeah, we’ll see how it goes, yeah.

Q. How exciting a time is it for Canadian tennis? Obviously Denis had a good win a couple months ago, and now you. What’s the general fight like at the moment?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, it’s pretty cool for the Canadian tennis. I’m happy for all of us. I’m happy for the people that work with us. They have put in so much work.

Obviously I was very proud of Denis’ win. I’m sure he probably texted me already to congratulate me because he’s one of my good friends.

But, yeah, it’s great to see us having success like this. I hope we can reach the highest stage.

Q. When you’re looking at turning pro, how much do you follow what other guys, other teenagers, have been able to do at the next level? Casper Ruud just won a challenger today. Do those sort of things influence you or you think differently about yourself, or is it all just about you?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I mean, I think everyone has his own path. Some guys, they win early in juniors but it doesn’t go as well in the pros.

A guy like Taylor won the US Open last year and was top 100 the year after. No, everyone is kind of different. We’ll see how my body feels after this year. We’ll make the adjustments that we need to do, yeah.

Q. Is being No. 1 junior, does that have any significance for you?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Not so much, I would say, honestly. I think the junior level is really great to play the Grand Slams. You know, you kind of get the feeling of the environment and you see the big guys next to you and you have the chance to see these unbelievable tournaments.

But after all, it’s really in the pro circuit that that is really important. Obviously I would want to be No. 1 in the world. It would be a big bonus, but that’s not what we are aiming for here.

Q. After the French Open you said you had to go back to school. Is that the same thing now?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, same thing. Not quite, because I’m leaving for junior Davis Cup in a few days in Hungary. Yeah, obviously school’s gotta keep going. Yeah.

Q. Can you explain to us what you have experienced during the week leading up till today, till your win?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, it wasn’t an easy week. I have had some tough matches in the first rounds. It’s never easy to come to a Grand Slam. You know, you’ve reach a final before, but every opponents are still going to be tough. You still have to go win and win every match. There is no free rounds.

Yeah, it was tough. Also with the heat and my health it was kind of difficult at some points, but that’s where you have to mentally stay calm, stay on your feet, and just take it one day at a time. Yeah.

Q. Can you tell us how tall you are?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: 1 meter 88, so 6’2″, 6’2.5″. Not 6’3″ yet.

Q. Have you been growing lately?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I haven’t looked at it so much, but yeah, obviously I have been growing. Yeah, I feel it in my game, I feel it in everything.

But, yeah, I have been growth a few inches in the last year, yeah.

Q. You have played a whole week with the serve clock. Do you have any impressions on that, whether that’s good for the game or whether it made any difference to you?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I don’t know. Maybe I’m not the right person to ask because I don’t really look at it. It’s kind of — I try really not to look at it, because it’s kind of in weird places. Sometimes you have to look up, so I’m not really comfortable with that.

It’s good. I think it helps everyone around and I think it helps the umpire to make the calls. Yeah, it’s not bad.

 

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Lucie Safarova

Press Conference

MATTEK SANDS-SAFAROVA/Garcia-Mladenovic

2-6, 7-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You like that?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: We were just looking at the names.

LUCIE SAFAROVA: Pretty good company.

Q. Your names will join those names. How does that feel?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: That’s pretty cool.

LUCIE SAFAROVA: Amazing.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Some greats on there. I just noticed that Martina Hingis won it in ’98. That’s pretty impressive for her to be No. 1 right now, or 2.

Q. So talk about, first of all, you guys were down. What a turnaround in the second set; obviously carried it right into the third. Talk about the match.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Yeah, you know what? It was a little bit of a slow start, but I’ve gotta give credit to our opponents. They came out playing big, serving big, making all their rolls, ripping returns.

You know, I think one of the things that we do really well is we don’t get too down no matter what the score is. We’re really positive.

It was funny. I think Lucie had more energy than me. She was carrying me on her back and getting me pumped up.

LUCIE SAFAROVA: Any time.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: But that’s what good friends and partner do. It happens sometimes. You play a team that’s playing good or you might not be making all the shots, but any match can turn around in a couple of points.

That’s just a matter of sticking to it.

Q. You guys seem like you’re genuinely good friends.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Or we’re really good at faking it. I don’t think we’re that good of actors, otherwise I might have to consider a career switch.

Q. Talk about the chemistry between the two of you. How much does that contribute now, just your third Grand Slam title?
LUCIE SAFAROVA: It’s amazing. Third.

No, I think the chemistry is great. We complement each other so well. Our games just fit. We have done so well in all the tournaments, and now this year has been tough year for us because I have been out for half a year with my sickness and missed Australia.

Then Bethanie broke her finger just before French Open, so that kind of like…

But we both stick together and believed that once we are again strong, healthy —

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Feeling good.

LUCIE SAFAROVA: — and feeling that we can do this, and we did, so it’s amazing.

Q. Going forward, are you sniffing a career Grand Slam?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: We actually just got asked that on the court now. They were talking about Wimbledon. I was like, We have so many tournaments before Wimbledon. I don’t even know if we can start to think about it.

I mean, really, we’re enjoying the moment. I mean, this is a huge win. I mean, we both looked at each other and we said, We have a US Open trophy right now. I think especially being 9/11, it’s really a big thing to enjoy the people you’re with, enjoy the moment. I get a little emotional.

LUCIE SAFAROVA: No, our thoughts and prayers are with the families. I know it’s a tough day for everyone.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: So it was really special to win it today, I think.

Q. Can you talk about how you first got together?
LUCIE SAFAROVA: My coach Rob.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Yeah, it was a blind date, actually. We both didn’t have partners for Australia.

LUCIE SAFAROVA: You were coming back after injury.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I hadn’t actually played a lot of doubles. I actually didn’t have a ranking. Lucie took a chance on me. (Smiling.)

It was like, all right, come on.

LUCIE SAFAROVA: Knew here before but not so well and never played obviously together. Then I asked her if we should do like Sydney before the Australian Open. She’s like, No, I’m playing with Sania already.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I was like, We’ll be good. We’ll just roll with it in Australia. All good.

LUCIE SAFAROVA: And then we won the Grand Slam.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: That’s pretty good.

Q. It’s an Olympic year and so any teams that are like different countries, I’m sure you maybe would have thought, maybe I should play, like, Bethanie, full time with Coco theoretically or Lucie practiced with Barbora, and even with injuries and everything, you stuck together as a tour team. Can you talk through that decision? Was it ever tenuous at all?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I don’t think so. I mean, I played with Coco at Indian Wells. I think just kind of with my track record, I feel, you know, either I mesh with a partner or I don’t.

I don’t feel like I need, you know, 50 tournaments to get used to. I was really confident going into the Olympics with Coco. And if something happened to Lucie where she couldn’t play, you know, playing with Coco was fun.

Me and Lucie talked about our schedule and we really stuck to that, because that’s what we had talked about. It wasn’t — I didn’t feel like I needed to kind of play a guessing game, you know, whether it was with Coco or with Lucie.

I felt confident with both of them by me. Me and Lucie, had a lot of fun here. (Giving dap.)

Q. As an American, 9/11 has touched people from all nationalities around the world. As an American, to be playing on this very heavy, significant day, winning a Grand Slam in your home country, I mean, I can only imagine the emotions that you must have felt.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Yeah, and actually when we got to the locker room the news was on when they were reading all the names. You know, it kind of put things in perspective. As much fun as we’re having and as much joy as we get out of competing and all of the glitz and glamour of, you know, playing the finals of the US Open, it’s humbling to know that you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.

You know, it’s something where I just — I really appreciate the moment, my family, and my friends, because you don’t know what’s going to happen.

You know, I really — it is an emotional day. And it was funny. I was going to retire my American flag socks after the gold medal match. I said, You know what? For the final of the US Open, 9/11, have to bring them out. Had a great crowd and great support. It was really special for me to win it here today in New York.

 

Kayla Day

Press Conference

K. DAY/V. Kuzmova

6-3, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It was tough for you after last night to come back. Got off to a really good start. How did you do that? How were you able to recover after that late night last night?
KAYLA DAY: I think I was really able to mentally set aside what had happened last night and just move on, because I knew I had a really important match today.

I knew I had to forget about it, and that’s what I did.

Q. Is that something you have had success with to this stage in your career, or is this like something that you really summoned the focus to do it?
KAYLA DAY: No, I think I’m pretty good about, you know, leaving the past behind me and just focusing on being in the moment. And, yeah.

Q. Congratulations. You played in the main draw in the women’s event and the juniors. What’s the transition like going back and forth mentally? Or is it the same?
KAYLA DAY: Well, I think mentally it was a little bit hard just because it’s such a long time being here. I have been here for I think over three weeks.

But my coach told me I needed to separate the two tournaments, like to really make sure when I come back to play juniors like I’m coming to play a new tournament.

Q. You missed a chance to go up 5-1, I think it was in the first set, and then you got down Love-40 on your serve. Holding on in that game must have been a huge confidence boost for you.
KAYLA DAY: Yeah, that was a huge game. I got down Love-40 and then I served some really good serves. I was a little bit — getting a little bit nervous at that point, but after that game I felt really confident.

Q. You had a tough semifinal against Bianca and you kind of turned that around. What enabled you to turn that around? And then after the break for the heat, I know this is a few days ago, after the break for the heat you came out storming. Why do you think that was?
KAYLA DAY: I think I was definitely nervous in the first set and I didn’t fully believe in myself. Then at the beginning of the second and after like the heat break, I really believed in myself that I could do it.

I was really confident and going for my shots more and being more aggressive.

Q. You had a tough match against Madison earlier in the main draw. Have you spoke to her or any of the American women on tour since then? Any words of wisdom?
KAYLA DAY: No, I haven’t talked to any of them since.

Q. What does the rest of the year look like for you?
KAYLA DAY: I think I’m going to play a lot of pro circuit tournaments in the U.S. I haven’t decided if I’m going to play the junior tournaments at the end of the year, but definitely a lot of pro circuits to build up my ranking to be able to make the Grand Slam quallies next year.

Q. Where does school fit in?
KAYLA DAY: Um, I find a way to fit it in. I haven’t started school yet this year, so that’s nice. I start a little bit later than normally like other people do, I guess.

But whenever I have like a free day or like a weekend when I don’t have anything I do it then and try and get — either catch up before — get ahead before a trip or, you know, catch up after. (Smiling.)

It’s hard, but I manage to do it.

Q. What does it mean to you to sort of add your name to the illustrious list of Grand Slam junior champions?
KAYLA DAY: It means so much. It’s really great. I knew that coming into the match like an American or like somebody from outside of Europe hadn’t won — a girl hadn’t won a junior slam in like four years, so it means so much to me to be able to play for America and win.

Q. The ITF tells me you’re the No. 1 junior player in the world now after winning today. Did you know that?
KAYLA DAY: No, I didn’t know that.

Q. How important would that be, you know, to finish the year? Will that change your schedule to make sure that you finish No. 1?
KAYLA DAY: No. I haven’t really thought about that. I know that there is some type of rule that if you finish a certain ranking or if you get to the finals of a slam you get more tournaments.

I think that would be the most beneficial thing for me since I’m still quite young and I can’t play a full pro schedule.

Q. Where does this win rank obviously in your young career? And when you look back on all the different things that have happened these past few weeks, how do you see these two weeks how they unfolded?
KAYLA DAY: These were like the best two weeks of my life. Every day was great.

I had so much fun every single day, and it was just a great experience overall.

Q. How will you celebrate? Do you have any plans for that?
KAYLA DAY: No, not yet. (Smiling.) I’m sure I’ll think of something.

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