2015/01/28

Americans John Isner, Sam Querrey, and Steve Johnson to Play U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship

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(January 27, 2015) HOUSTON – The top three Americans on the ATP World Tour rankings will play at River Oaks in April during the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship.

John Isner, the 2013 tournament champion, will be joined by his countrymen Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson, playing singles at the tournament while fellow Americans Bob and Mike Bryan highlight the doubles draw.

The trio of American singles players joins a field that will include defending champion Fernando Verdasco, Kevin Anderson and Feliciano Lopez for the April 6-12 tournament.

Five of these six singles players reached at least the third round at the Australian Open. Anderson and Lopez both reach the fourth round, while Johnson, Isner and Verdasco made it to the third round.

Isner has won at least two titles in each of the past four seasons on the ATP World Tour. During each of the past three seasons, Isner has finished as the No. 1 ranked American. He has an 11-6 record at River Oaks, including the title in 2013 and a run to the final in 2012.

Querrey has finished in the Top 50 of the ATP rankings six times in the last seven years, including this past season. He has won seven career titles in 12 finals. Querrey is 7-5 in his career at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship, including a run to the final in 2010 and the semifinals in 2014.

Johnson completed career-best season in 2014, improving his ranking by over 120 positions during the year. He won back-to-back NCAA titles while playing at USC. As a pro in 2014, he reached the semifinals in Delray Beach and four other quarterfinals. Johnson will be playing at River Oaks for the third time. Both previous appearances ended with a loss to Verdasco.

These player commitments were announced as a new tournament website was launched. www.usmensclaycourt.com.

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Rafael Nadal Stunned by Tomas Berdych at Australian Open

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Maria Sharapova to Play Ekaterina Makarova in Australian Open Semis

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Makarova

(January 27, 2015) It will be an all-Russian semifinal in the bottom half of the women’s draw at the Australian Open. 2008 champion Maria Sharapova and No. 10 seed Ekaterina Makarova advanced in Melbourne with easy victories on Tuesday.

No. 2 Sharapova took down 20-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-2 to keep her record perfect against the world No. 7 at 4-0. Earlier in the day Ekaterina Makarova upset No. 3 Simona Halep 6-4, 6-0 in 69 minutes.

“I had to produce a really good performance against Genie,” Sharapova said after the match. “She’s been playing so confidently and aggressively.”

Sharapova rallied past Bouchard the last time they played each other, in the semifinals of the French Open where the Russian went on to win her second Roland Garros title, her fifth major.

“I felt under pressure the whole time, a bit on my back foot,” Bouchard said. I mean, that’s not how I want to play. I feel like I didn’t start well, and it kind of all went downhill from there. It’s definitely easier when you have a good start to the match.”

“I’m never happy with losing. I wanted to obviously win today, win the tournament. But, you know, I feel like I dealt with, yeah, pressure, outside expectations well. I wasn’t really focused on the whole defending thing. I really just tried to block that out of my mind. So I think, you know, that helped me get through the first week, get through some, you know, matches that could have been tricky. But, yeah, you know, I always want to do better, especially than the year before. I’m always trying to aim for that.”

“I knew I had to play a really complete match,” Sharapova said. “She’s someone who really goes after it and goes after her strokes, so I knew that the second and third balls would be really important. I knew I had to take time away from her and be aggressive – I wanted to get in the rallies a little bit, but I also wanted to something on my own first few shots today.”

“I felt pretty good from the start,” said the Russian. “I thought I had a really good start. I kept my focus throughout the whole match. I didn’t feel that I had too many letdowns, which is important. When I did have a few slips I was able to come out with great first serves or really powerful returns. But overall really happy with the way the match went.”

Bouchard hit 30 unforced errors to Sharapova’s 18.

For Makarova, this marks her second straight major semifinal having reached the semifinals of the 2014 US Open.

“I was just I was a little bit stressed, I don’t know why,” last year’s French Open finalist Halep said of her loss. “I had experience from last year to play quarterfinals, so it doesn’t mean that I felt pressure. I just I didn’t feel the game, the ball. It was a very bad day for me.”

“I practiced very well in the morning, but maybe I was a little bit too stressed before I started the match. Wasn’t my good day. I had a bad day. But she played well and everything was in for her. So she deserves this winning. I’m really sad a little bit now that I could not play my tennis, my game, but that’s tennis and I have to look forward to the next tournament.”

“I have experience. I had experience to play quarterfinals in Grand Slams. But sometimes you cannot manage the situation. I tried. I did everything I could this match. But, you know, just mentally because during the points maybe I didn’t fight very well today. I just lost my concentrate to win the points, to win the match. So I didn’t believe any more in second set, and that’s maybe why I lost 6-0.”

Makarova talked about her strategy in the match; “I just tried to stay solid and to play my game. She’s a tough opponent, and I lost to her already two years ago. She doesn’t miss a lot, so every point we had really tough one and really long one. I tried to be more aggressive more to win this point because she never miss and she never give up. So I tried to stay solid and to keep my game.”

“I was playing my good tennis, so maybe in the second set she was a little bit upset. She, like, didn’t understand what to do. But she’s a great player. She had a great season last year. She always like sometimes can turn around the game, doesn’t matter what’s the score, so I was so concentrate.”

Makarova goes into the semifinal against Sharapova with and 0-5 record, having never won a set.

“Well, I never beat her,” said the 26-year-old on playing Sharapova, “so it will be tough. Definitely she’s a great fighter. Like here on the second round, she almost lost, but she turned around. I’m looking forward. I’m want to enjoy this time and want to rest and we’ll see what happen in semis.”

“She likes playing here,” Sharapova said of next opponent. “She uses that left-handed serve really well. It’s always tricky playing a lefty and your compatriot, as well, but one of us will be in the final and that makes me happy.”

“Well, besides playing another Russian, I’m also facing an opponent that wasn’t necessarily a favorite coming into that stage,” Sharapova said. “That’s always a tricky situation because she’s going to come into that match free and almost happy to be in that situation, and that’s dangerous. You know, I haven’t faced a lefty in this tournament yet. She’s been using her lefty serve extremely well from what I’ve seen. But, yeah, I’ll be looking out for that, work on a few things tomorrow, and be ready for that match.”

“I’m so comfortable here, it’s all the atmosphere and maybe memories from New York that I bring here,” said Makarova.

 

AUSTRALIAN – MELBOURNE, AUS
$15,561,973
19-31 JANUARY, 2015

Results – Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Singles – Quarterfinals
(2) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. (7) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 63 62
(10) Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. (3) Simona Halep (ROU) 64 60

Doubles – Quarterfinals
Mattek-Sands/Safarova (USA/CZE) d. (3) Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS) 76(5) 46 62
(13) Krajicek/Zahlavova Strycova (NED/CZE) d. (5) Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) 36 63 76(3)
(14) Chan/Zheng (TPE/CHN) d. Jans-Ignacik/Klepac (POL/SLO) 61 62
(16) Goerges/Groenefeld (GER/GER) d. Bertens/Larsson (NED/SWE) 62 75

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Venus Williams Reaches First Grand Slam Quarterfinal Since 2010

(January 26, 2015) Seven-time major champion and former No. 1 Venus Williams reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since 2010 on Monday when she upset No. 6 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 at the Australian Open.

Venus Williams is one win away from a potential semifinal match against her sister Serena Williams. The 34-year-old Venus will play 19-year-old American Madison Keys in the quarterfinals.

Williams had not been past the fourth round of any major since Wimbledon in 2011. Venus Williams had been formally diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome in the fall of 2011. The auto-immune disorder causes extreme fatigue.

No. 18 Williams was aggressive in her play against Radwanska – she hit 43 winners and made 36 unforced errors to her opponent’s 23 winners and 19 unforced errors.

Williams came into the net with success, winning 24 out of 40 points there.

Venus was broken to begin the third set and then surged past Radwanska.

“Honestly, I don’t know, “Williams said. “I just felt like in the third set I was trying to get back to the form that I was in in the first set. I didn’t do a lot wrong in that first game. It was just overhit some, missed an easy one that would have definitely helped my cause. It was frustrating but I stayed focused and I wanted to just continue playing like I did in the first game because it was really the right way to play.”

With the win, it marks the 21st time that both Venus and Serena have reached the quarterfinals of the same major.

“For me I’m just really focused and poised right now,” said Venus. “I feel like I’ve been here before, so it’s not like I’m jumping up and down for joy, Oh, shoot, what is this? I’ve never done this. Yes, I’ve done this. This is what I’m always going into each tournament thinking I want to do, even when I fall short. It’s definitely not the first time. I guess that’s how I feel.”

“I think I played well when it mattered. Her style of game was completely different than the first three players I played. The first three players I played tried to blast me off the court. This was the first time there was any sort of rhythm at all. The way she hits the ball is so different. A lot of times, especially for a player like me, you feel like, Wow, why am I not hitting more winners? That’s not just always the answer. It’s definitely a balance between being aggressive and being patient and being smart because the way she plays is very deceptive. Not everyone plays that way. Definitely a good win against her.”

Serena Williams Gets French Open Revenge to Reach Australian Open Quarterfinals

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More to follow….

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Maria Sharapova to Face Eugenie Bouchard in Australian Open Quarterfinals

 

(January 25, 2015) Maria Sharapova and Eugenie Bouchard will face off for a place in the Australian Open semifinals after reaching the quarterfinals in Melbourne on Sunday.

No. 2 seed Sharapova won the last 8 games of the match in her 6-3, 6-0 dismissal of No. 21 seed Peng Shuai in the fourth round.

Seventh seed Bouchard won nine of the first 10 games against No. 42 Irina-Camelia Begu, but was pushed to win her first three-setter of the tournament in her 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 win.

On the road to the round of 16, the Romanian Begu defeated No. 9-seeded Angelique Kerber in the first round.

Bouchard, advanced to semifinals or better at the first three major tournament in 2014, took a break after the second set.

“I gave myself a good, long hard look in the mirror,” Bouchard said post-match in regard to going off court. “I said, `Genie, this is unacceptable.’ I really kind of kicked myself in the butt a little bit.”

The Canadian spoke about how the match switched momentum to her opponent in the second set. “It’s disappointing for me because I want to play so well and I want to be perfect. That’s not possible. It happens. Yeah, I think I started being a bit less aggressive, a bit too passive, and you know, that’s not my game at all. I don’t do well when that happens. She could string together a few good points here and there, hit some good shots and serves and got some confidence in the second set. You know, that helped her. So definitely disappointing. But I learned a lot from it and I’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen next time. I’m happy that I could regroup and, yeah, play a bit better tennis in the third. I want to build on that for the next match”

“Clearly I need more practice!” she said.

The 20-year-old Bouchard will play Sharapova next. The Russian has a 3-0 career record against Bouchard. Sharapova fell in the fourth round at Melbourne Park last year, while Bouchard reached the semifinals in her Australian Open debut.

Sharapova said, “Last year I lost in the fourth round here, getting to the quarters is really special.”

Asked about what she expects in her match with Bouchard, Sharapova responded: “She’s been playing really well in this tournament and also in the slams the last year. Really confident tennis and inspired form. I expect her to come out and play a really good match. I think we only played each other one time last year, which was at the French. That was a really tough match for me. I had to come back from being down one set to Love. Yeah, I’m sure she’ll come out and play extremely well.”

“She’s a pretty aggressive player. She stays really close to the line, she likes to dictate the points. Yeah, I feel that’s where she’s hurt a lot of players and been really successful.

 

“I would definitely look forward to that match,” Bouchard said. “I think it’s always great to play the best players in the world. We’ve had a couple matches, and a good match last year. You know, I think I was close. It was just a tough battle. But I think I’ve progressed a lot since then, and, you know, I definitely want to keep playing my game no matter what. Really kind of take it to her, go for my shots. That’s what I want to do on the court. And it’s more fun when I play that way, too. I had more fun in the third set today. So I want to try to do that.”

Sharapova was asked about Bouchard being compared to her. “I think we all want to go through our own paths and we all want to — when I was coming up, I was compared to Kournikova for many years in my career and still occasionally name always comes up in interviews and articles. That’s just part of it, part of the game, part of the business. It’s understandable. It is what it is. As I have said, I believe I was still a teenager, I don’t want to be the next anyone. I want to be the first Maria Sharapova. And that’s how I’ve been throughout my whole career. And we all want to create our own path and go through our own career. And we’re all destined for some sort of thing. We work extremely hard at a sport, and that’s what we want to be known for.”

Asked about if she sees Bouchard in her, Sharapova responded:

“I personally don’t know Genie very well. As a tennis player she’s a big competitor. She’s an aggressive player as well that likes to take the ball early and dictate points. From that perspective, yeah, definitely.”

 

In another fourth round match, No. 10 Ekaterina Makarova of Russia won 6-3, 6-2 over Germany’s Julia Goerges to reach the elite eight, where she’ll face off against No. 3 Simona Halep.

Halep is in the Australian Open quarterfinals for the second straight year with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Yanina Wickmayer.

For Makarova it’s her third trip to the Australian Open quarterfinals.

“A lot of confidence I have now because I didn’t lose a set,” Halep said. “I had good matches here in first week, so I’m really happy that I’m in second week now like last year. Here I started to play my best tennis in Grand Slams. So means a lot for me. I really have more confidence now to play the quarterfinals.”

“I’m so happy, yeah, that I’m showing my good tennis here and already in the quarter; third time here in Australian Open,” said the Russian. So I’m so happy that I beat today Julia. She’s tough opponent. She’s in great shape. She played great her matches. So I’m happy that I came through.”

 

Makarova upset Serena Williams at the Australian Open in 2012.

On playing Halep next, Makarova said: “Well, we played once in New Haven I think not the last year, the year before. I lost 6-1, 7-6, something like that. She’s one of the greatest player now, and I’m really looking forward. If she wins today, depends, yeah. I will want to forward and forward step by step.”

Halep on matching up against Makarova: “I know her. I play a few times against her. She serves pretty well; she’s moving well; she’s playing aggressive. I have my chance. I believe in my chance next round. So I have to make my game again to be aggressive and to serve well like today.”

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Roger Federer Upset in Third Round of Australian Open

(January 23, 2015) In the biggest upset of the tournament so far, No. 2 seed Roger Federer was knocked out of the Australian by world No. 46 Andreas Seppi of Italy 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the third round on Friday.

“I just tried to enjoy to play on the center court again, so I just tried to do my best,” Seppi said in a post-match on-court interview on ESPN Televison. “It was one of my best matches for sure, or else I couldn’t win against Roger. It was fun to play in front of a full stadium.”

The loss for Federer ends an 11-year run of at least reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open.

Coming into the match, Seppi was 0-10 against the world No. 2, winning only one set.

Seppi’s win breaks a 23-match losing streak against the Top 10.

Federer won 145 points to Seppi’s 144. Federer served at 59% for first serves with 15 aces and 9 double-faults. He hit 57 winner to 55 unforced errors. Seppi had 50 winner to 40 unforced errors.

Federer had his chances. In the second set tie-breaker, the 33-year-old Swiss could not hold onto a 4-1 lead. Seppi won six out of the next seven points.

Federer was also up 3-1 in the fourth set tiebreak and could not hold the advantage.

The 17-time major champion had won his last 41 third round Grand Slam matches, is now 51-4 overall in third round of majors.

“You never feel comfortable playing against Roger, but I was focusing on my service game, I didn’t have many chances on his serve,”  Seppi said.

“Just a bad day, yeah,” Federer said in his post-match news conference.  “I mean, I wish I could have played better, but clearly it was tough losing the first two, you know. Had chances to get back into it. I let it slip, I mean, both times in some ways. I guess I won the wrong points out there today. I knew how important that second set tiebreaker was, so clearly that hurt, losing that one. The end wasn’t pretty, you know. It wasn’t easy to play with the shadow. But it was the same for both of us. Just a disappointing loss, you know.”

“I guess it was just an overall feeling I had today out on the court that I couldn’t, you know, really get the whole game flowing. You know, was it backhand? Was it forehand? Was it serve? It was a bit of everything. At the same time, I think I got broken in the last couple of sets. The second set also I only got broken once. I was hanging in there. Gee, what did I have, 4-1 in the breaker, 3-1 in the breaker? I don’t remember what it was. I hit a pretty good serve that I shouldn’t — downwind I should never lose that point. So it wasn’t all bad. It’s just when it counted the most somehow it just ended up going his way. I think that was because overall I wasn’t feeling it quite as well. I had to play it a little bit passively at times when normally I would play aggressive. You know, it was just a tough match for me.”

This is the earliest exit for Federer  at a major since Wimbledon in 2013, when he fell to Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round.

“You know, to beat Roger first time, especially in a Grand Slam, best-of-five, is a special moment for me,” Seppi said. “Of course at the beginning I just went on the court to enjoy the match and to play my best tennis. Yeah, but especially after the first set, then I felt, you know, I am there, I am hitting the ball very well. I start to believe that I can do more. Yeah, then I think very important was the second set tiebreak. And, yeah, it worked out pretty well.”

“I had to believe that I could win,” said Seppi.

“It’s first time I beat him. I beat once Nadal in Rotterdam when he was 2 in the world. Was also a big win. Against Roger, you know, I never went close. I never had the chance. To have this win in my career, it’s for sure something big.”

Seppi will face young Australian Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round.

 

No. 3 seed Rafael Nadal had easy time with Dudi Sela 6-1, 6-0, 7-5 and will face Kevin Anderson in the round of 16.

Andy Murray defeated Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-1, 6-1, 7-5 to reach the fourth round. Tomas Berdych was the first man to book a place in the fourth round when he defeated Viktor Troicki 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

Another young Australian is also in the fourth round. Bernard Tomic will play Berdych.

No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov won five-set battle against 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. He will face Andy Murry next.

“Thought Marcos was playing dominating tennis early on in the match,” said Dimitrov. “I wasn’t really able to turn things around as fast as I wanted to. I felt quite good physically, which was I think the best sign for me today. I’m not going to hide my excitement of winning the match because it meant a lot to me. To be able to play three and a half hours and win 6-3 in the fifth and feelin really good after the match physically, that says a lot for me. Just getting ready for the next one.”
On the women’s side,No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova moved into the fourth round with a 6-1, 6-1 dismissal of Zarina Diyas.

Third seed Simona Halep moved into the fourth round of the Australian Open with a 6-4, 7-5 win on Friday over Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

“Here I started last year to play my best tennis. I (reached) my first quarterfinal in Grand Slams then I made final in French Open,” said Halep. “I have more confidence now during Grand Slams and I believe I have my chance at every tournament.”

The 2014 French Open finalist will play Yanina Wickmayer next, who beat 14th seed Sara Errani.

No. 7 seed and a Melbourne semifinalist last year, Canadian Eugenie Bouchard eked out a tough first set before breaking away to win 7-5, 6-0 over Carolina Garcia to reach the round of 16.

“Yeah, I don’t think it was the prettiest tennis out there,” said the 20-year-old.

“I wasn’t playing great tennis in the first. I feel like she was putting some pressure on me and I really didn’t feel like I got a rhythm. But I’m happy that I just kept going. Even if it wasn’t going so well, I was able to turn it around.”
Other seeded women advancing to the fourth round included No. 10 Ekaterina Makarova and No. 21 Peng Shuai.

More to follow….

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Notes and Quotes from Day 4 of the 2015 Australian Open

VenusWilliamsFedCup

(January 22, 2015) A few of the more off-beat questions and answers from Day 4 news conferences at the Australian Open.

 

Q. After some of the results here, how good to be back in the third round?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely. Always good to advance. That’s pretty much the goal when you step on the courts, it’s like, Come on. Let’s get to the next round. Met the goal today.

 

Q. Helped playing her in your last tournament?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think it definitely helped because I never played her before. She actually hits the ball quite powerfully and she’s very aggressive. I think she played even more aggressive than when we played in Auckland. I think maybe her strategy was maybe to try to take control of the point. So I had to play some defense there as well as offense today.

 

Q. How do you feel about your game in general right now? Feel like you’re playing well?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely. I’m hitting the ball a lot like how I want to. Yeah, some points you play well and some not as well. I’m just continually trying to be as consistent as I can on the court and still play consistent while taking risk as well. Find that balance.

 

Q. You seem so relaxed, pretty happy — very happy. Is this the happiest period in your career? How are you feeling about that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I’m always pretty happy, actually, so… I’ve had a lot of great times and I had losses, just like everyone else, but I’m always pretty happy. I haven’t let tennis affect the rest of my life, whether it was good or bad. Also you can play so well and be on top of the world and that can affect you and make you not so fun to be around, too. I try not to let any of that stuff happen to me.

 

Q. The other day you said with a smile, Hey, I’m still a big kid. Talk about that. Do you feel just a certain joy?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think just my attitude toward life is just very nonchalant. I’m a hard worker and I definitely work toward goals and I have a serious side. More than anything I’m a big joker. You don’t see that on the court because that’s when you’re most intense. I think people who may know me and don’t know much about tennis, when they see me on the court they’re like, Oh, I’m scared of you are now. Someone told me that recently. So definitely have two sides. You know.

 

Q. All this about the struggle you’ve had with injuries. Is this part of your career a rejuvenation, a second coming?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think sometimes in life you just have to learn to deal with the cards you been dealt. I’ve just been trying to get used to my new life, I guess. I think it’s just an adjustment to getting used to how I need to live now. Just hanging in there I think a lot of it, too. The good part is I know how to play tennis and I have a lot of experience, so that helps me a lot on the court.

 

Q. Are you driving in Melbourne again?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I haven’t been driving. There were times I went on adventures. I think Melbourne is one of the cities I know best because I’ve gone so many different places here on my own actually in a car. Pretty scary. I drive really slow. You always think in the back of your head, I don’t want to get on the wrong side of the road. So you drive real slow and always get a car I can follow, especially on those turns, so I make sure I’m following someone. Just to make sure nothing goes wrong. But it’s definitely an adventure.

 

Q. Do you remember driving when your dad told you to take over the VW bus when you were going around the neighborhood after the first tournament you won?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know how dads are though. They’re usually a little more lenient than moms. Usually, I thought. My dad would let us behind the wheel. Not too crazy. Like in parking lots and things like that. We obviously weren’t on the 405.

 

Q. You made it to a bunch of third rounds during this phase of your career. Haven’t gotten past this stage in a few years. What do you think it’s going to take to that next step into the second week?

VENUS WILLIAMS: For me, I’ve won in my life. I’ve won a lot of things. For me it’s about titles, so no matter what the title is for me, to the finals is the same thing as the third round if I didn’t win. For me, it’s about hopefully trying to take titles home. You know, last year I got in the circle to hopefully take titles quite a few times, and sometimes came up short. That’s pretty much where I want to be. That’s my focus really is, how close can I get myself to be in that winner’s circle.

 

Q. Why did you and Serena pull out of doubles?

VENUS WILLIAMS: According to the rules you don’t have to give a reason. I think we’ll stick with that.

 

Q. Nothing to do with the heat?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It was warm. I don’t think it was as warm as it could have been. But, no, that wasn’t it.

 

Q. That wasn’t the reason?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Uh-uh.

 

Q. Were doctors consulted as part of the reasoning?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No further questions on that. I object. Sustained. Thank you.

 

Q. You play Camila Giorgi next. What do you know about her?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not sure if I played her before, but she definitely raises her game depending on the caliber player that she plays. I think it’s just important to remain consistent and aggressive, just as I’ve been this whole year. That’s my goal.

 

Q. With your interest in the Dolphins, wondering if you had any thoughts on the Patriots and the “deflate gate” controversy. What affect in tennis do the balls have as the matches go on? They change your play at all?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I’ve been so focused on my own match that I’ve lost focus on football, especially since the Dolphins aren’t in the playoffs. I have no idea what “deflate gate” is.

 

Q. What affect do the balls have? Do they change much?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I’ve never been a sensitive player, so I just keep hitting whether the balls are heavy or light or whatever ball it is. I just go. So there are other players who are much more sensitive. And I’m happy that I don’t notice or it doesn’t affect me. I’m not the player to ask about that.

 

Q. Pretty intense situation to have to deal with all your health situations as a young woman. What are the one or two things that you’ve taken away from this experience in terms of lessons and how has it affected you as a person?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think more than anything I’m appreciative of all the opportunities I’ve had in my life. I’m appreciative for good health, because there was a period where I couldn’t even play professional tennis, so I had to not be on tour. So I’m appreciative for good health and just to be able to feel good every day. You know, there was a point where I didn’t just in regular life. So to overcome that, I’m grateful. And also I think when things are out of your control, it’s easy to be afraid and fear can really hold you back. So I think you have to just conquer that fear. That’s I think something I’ve learned as well, just to not be afraid. If you are, you have to learn how to deal with it.

 

Q. Is it fair to call this a rejuvenated version of you or is that something we projected on to you and you don’t feel that way?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I’m just doing the best I can. (Laughing.) I always was, even when it wasn’t what I wanted. So whatever that is, I’m doing absolutely the best I can. I think as long as I’m doing my best, something good will come out of it. There is a Scripture that says faith without works is dead. So you have to have faith, but you have work too. So I’m doing both.

 

Q. So the same old Venus, just back to where you were sort of thing?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I’m in a lot of places. (Laughter.) Which one we talking about?

 

Q. Level of tennis, I suppose.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. Honestly, I think I understand the game a lot more. Even when I’m not playing as well, I think I’m able tactically to be more strategic than even, let’s say, Venus of 2000. So I think there is a big difference. I watched some old matches, and I’m like, Wow, if I could have been more strategic I could have won this match a lot easier. So I think strategically it’s more helpful, even if I am not on top of my game. I understand things a lot more. So that’s one of the beauties of continuing to play as you get a lot of the years under your belt.

 

Q. You mentioned work. What have you learned the most from doing your whole EleVen project? Has it impacted your tennis in any way?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You have to make a lot of hard decisions, and sometimes the hardest decision is the right one but not the easiest to make. I think that’s what I’ve learned. It’s important to know everything about the business that you’re in and not just specialize in one part. Oh, I’m going to do the design. It’s great. It’s pretty. I love colors. You have to know the whole business. Am I liking this to tennis? I don’t know. I don’t even remember the question. I learned a ton, a lot of which I would like to not get into because some of the lessons are also failures as well.

 

Q. Is business tougher than tennis?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. (Laughter.) It’s always hard. If tennis was easy, everyone would be doing it. There are a lot of people that would love to do this. It’s not easy, whether you don’t have the physical talent or the mental endurance to put up with all this. It’s definitely a roll of the dice if you’re going to play pro tennis or any professional sport.

 

Q. Learning more about the game and learning how to play it – said you were watching little videos of yourself or however you’re doing it – how much of that is net play for you and understanding how to use the net and your strengths up there, and do you wish you maybe had done it differently over the years?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don’t know. I think I’ve always been a player that likes to come to the net. I think I may have even come to the net more in the past actually. But I think you have to be a little bit more strategic when you come to the net now. The courts are a little bit slower so the ball will stand up a little bit more, so you have to be a little bit more strategic to make sure you don’t get killed when you get to the net. So things change in the game, and you have to be willing and ready to adjust. The best players are the ones that can transition. Typically it’s always has been that way.

 

Q. What’s a lasting memory, if you think back to playing Serena here 15, 16 years ago?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I just remember what a tough match. It was just relentless. I think it finally ended with a break in the third. That’s all I can remember. It was very tough I think for both of us. Neither one of us could get the upper edge. It was just a marathon. That’s mostly what I remember.

 

Q. Maybe I missed it, but seems like it’s been a long time since we’ve seen your wonderful dad. How is he doing? How is his health? How is he doing as a new dad?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, dad is good. Everybody is happy. He’s really done his time since the ’80s, so… He’s done so much tennis there is a point like, All right, kids, go ahead and do it or not do it, but I’m proud of you anyway. So I think he’s at that point.

 

Q. Going back to another match, what do you remember about the time you played Karsten Braasch.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, that was a long time ago. I remember that I didn’t win. I was a kid; I was 17. Let me tell you, his strategy was a thousand times better than mine could have been. Yeah, it was one set though, not a full match.

 

Q. You do a little better today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, he’s older and I’m smart now. But it was really just for fun really.

 

 

Q. Things really clicked halfway through?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, things really clicked. I had no other option but for things to click. Yeah, I just had to start playing better.

 

Q. How important is luck of the draw for you, even as No. 1 seed? You can get somebody who hasn’t done much in their career for the first few rounds and get somebody like her.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean, it depends. That’s one thing about the Grand Slams. You have to be ready for anyone at any stage. Playing Vera is like, I had to get my mind like, Serena, this girl has been ranked as high as No. 2 in the world, she’s been on the tour and she’s a very quality player, she knows what to do. She knows how to win. I had to kind of snap into that.

 

Q. When you look at your sister at this point in her career, what do you see from her?

SERENA WILLIAMS: She is really motivating. She is playing so well, she’s doing so good right now. Yeah, it’s like makes me look behind my shoulders and like I have to play better and I want to do better. I always want to be able to stay ahead as much as I can. So I think that’s been, for our whole careers, we’ve kind of motivated each other. We hopefully continue to do that.

 

Q. She also seems just really happy.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah.

 

Q. And in a good place.

SERENA WILLIAMS: She’s in a good place. She talks about how she feels and like, Wow, it was a good match today. She’s like, Yeah, if I win it’ll be great. If not, I’m not going to worry about it. I think that’s a great attitude because it takes a lot of pressure off of you. She’s done so much in her career. She doesn’t have to win another match. The same thing for me. As long as we can kind of look at it that way, then we both will do really well.

 

Q. When she came in and things were pretty intense; wasn’t easy to have success on the tour. She’s gone through all these different phases. Talk about how she’s grown from basically a girl to an incredibly mature woman.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, she came in as a new face, a black woman that was shaking up the world. She had all the pressure on her shoulders. I kind of came in behind her. You know, just snuck in there. There was no pressure on me at all. She dealt with it so amazing. She had a lot of confidence and she had so much class and still does throughout everything. You can see that her personality is pretty much the same. She’s definitely grown but she’s always been very mature and very regal.

 

Q. Was there a public moment in public when you were most proud of your sister?

SERENA WILLIAMS: So many things. I mean, her sticking up for equal rights in Dubai when they wouldn’t let certain players play, her sticking up for equal prize money for the WTA in Wimbledon. So many different things that she’s done for the tour that’s made it a better place not just for me but for all the female players.

 

Q. What was the thinking behind pulling out of doubles this year?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think we were just here. I don’t think we have to give a reason. I think Venus answered that already.

 

Q. Just affects on singles for both of you.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Sure.

 

Q. Speaking of luck of the draw, what do you make of Victoria and Caroline having to play each other second round? You know both of them pretty well.

SERENA WILLIAMS: That is not good luck. Those girls are really sweet to me and I really like them both obviously. So it’s definitely a tough draw, but I think no matter what, just got to go out there and play.

 

Q. I don’t know if you saw any of Nadal’s match last night. He had 6-5 in the fifth.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, wow.

 

Q. You didn’t know about that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No.

 

Q. Smyczek let Rafa rehit a first serve after a fan shouted out. What do you think of those gestures, especially with what happened at the French Open with Henin and the hand and everything?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn’t see that, so I can’t comment on that. I was proud to see another American player do so well. I went to sleep at the start of the fifth set, and — actually, the fourth. After Smyczek won the fourth I thought, Wow, this is crazy. I went to sleep. I’m a big Rafa fan, but obviously anyone that’s American, especially on the men’s side, I’m always proud of and always rooting for. So it was good to see both.

 

Q. How are you feeling generally? Energy levels and general health?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I’m feeling better every day. I think in the beginning of the tournament every player feels a little sluggish; at least I do. Now I’m feeling like I’m starting to hopefully feel better.

 

Q. Last night, I don’t know if you saw this as well, Bouchard was asked to do a twirl. There was a bit of a reaction on social media about that saying it’s sexist. What are your thoughts on that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know. I twirl all the time in dance class. It’s called a Chaines Spin. I’ve been working on it. I have to really work on my spotting. My coach tells me to whip my head around. As a dancer, we do lots of turns and have soft of hands.

 

Q. I guess the reaction has been you wouldn’t ask a male athlete after a match to twirl. Do you think it’s sexist for a commentator to ask her to twirl?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, a commentator asked me to twirl. I wouldn’t ask Rafa or Roger to twirl. Whether it’s sexist or not, I don’t know. I don’t know. I can’t answer that.

 

Q. Were you bothered when you were asked to do it?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn’t really want to twirl because I was just like, you know, I don’t need all the extra attention. But, yeah, it was fine. I don’t think and look that deep into it. Life is far too short to focus on that. We have so many other problems we want to deal with that we should focus on. Whether I twirl or not, it’s not the end of the world. It’s about being positive and just moving forward.

 

Q. In general though, you obviously do a lot of press and you’ve seen what Roger and Rafa get asked. Do you feel like the women get asked different categories of questions because they’re women?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Contrary to that, I don’t watch press conferences, so I don’t know what the men get asked. I do know that I’m often asked about my age. Maybe Roger is too, I’m not sure. So I can’t answer that fairly. Sorry.

 

Q. It’s one thing to talk about sort of fashion dustups, but you’re also a pretty serious person. You sent out a pretty serious or interesting tweet after the situation in Ferguson where I think you said it’s shameful; what will it take. Long way from home, but could you reflect on what your thoughts were.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think a lot of Americans were affected by the decision. You have to look at both sides of the picture. I wasn’t in that jury room. I wasn’t in the area. But we just all come a long way. In retrospect, my shoes are Black History Month shoes, so I’m starting Black History Month a little bit earlier. It’s been a great opportunity with Martin Luther King’s birthday just passing and all the stuff that’s going on with that over in the States as well. I’m really honored and proud to represent Black History Month by wearing my special Black History Month shoes that Nike made for me. And also just to support African Americans in the United States. I always try to have a voice of reason and be positive and try to look at both sides of everything. You know, things definitely, you know, may or may not be a good decision, but it’s hard to say when you’re not there and you’re not experiencing it.

 

Q. When you use the phrase, What will it take? What are your thoughts on that? Do you think it’s a long process?

SERENA WILLIAMS: What will it take? That’s just the question. What will it take?

 

Q. A lot of news back home is on Deflate Gate with the Patriots.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Deflate Gate?

 

Q. The Patriots supposedly deflated the football for their game, the AFC Championship, which is apparently easier to use.

SERENA WILLIAMS: No way.

 

Q. It’s true.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Allegedly or for real?

 

Q. I think it’s pretty close to for real.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, we at the Dolphins, we don’t do that, so…

 

Q. What was reaction in Madrid when Medina Garrigues was fluffing the ball in your match?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I didn’t realize it. I was just trying to play and get out of that match and get a win. At the end of the day, whether the ball was fluffy or slow or fast, I think really depended on what I was able to do and how I was able to play. I don’t know about football. That’s a totally different sport. I don’t play it. I can throw the ball well. You can ask Peyton. I threw it really, really well. But I don’t know anything about deflating or anything.

 

Q. How much does the ball affect your play?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Ask Caroline tonight when she comes in here. She’s asking me, How are the court? I don’t know. How are the balls? I don’t know. She has to ask Aggie. She’s like, I can’t ask you. I grew up in Compton. This is amazing situations for me. The ball is great, you know. Wow. We used to hit with dead balls. What am I going to complain about?

 

Q. Patriots or Seahawks?

SERENA WILLIAMS: That’s a tough one. I mean, I do love Tom Brady. I do love Russell Wilson. It’s gonna be a great match to match. Flip a coin.

 

Q. Maria Sharapova said she loves her own outfit yesterday. She didn’t say much about others. Just wondering, do you like her design for her outfit? I’m sure you love yours, but how about hers?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think it’s great. I think it’s kind of cool we’re both wearing a little cutout in the back. It’s amazing. It’s cool. I think the whole — Nike did a wonderful job making the bright colors. All the Nike athletes look unified. I really love that about it. Everyone looks great in their outfits. It’s amazing. So I think it’s the first time all Nike athletes can take one big picture together and all look really great.

 

 

Q. How far away are you from playing your very best tennis?

KEI NISHIKORI: I think getting close. Maybe these couple matches didn’t play 100%, but still winning good three set and four set. I think it’s getting there. I’m playing good. For sure this match will help for next match. You know, try to be 100% little by little.

 

Q. I don’t know if you saw last night when Rafa was playing Tim, do you know what happened in the end?

STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, I saw the end of the match. It was quite interesting match. (Laughter.)

 

Q. The fact that he gave Rafa another serve at that point in a match, is that a smart thing to do? Is that something you think…

STAN WAWRINKA: I think it’s great. I don’t know when I saw the match. I think it’s tough a little bit to serve also. I think it was great for him to give back the point. You don’t see it so many times and it’s great sportsmanship.

 

Q. Would you do that?

STAN WAWRINKA: I don’t know. Let’s see. Yeah, I don’t know. You cannot answer that. After four hours of match you don’t know what’s in your mind. Sometimes you react just like that. So it’s not like you don’t ask you that question when it’s happening. You just do it. Hope so I will do it.

 

Q. What did you think in general when you watched the match?

STAN WAWRINKA: In general? I think Tim was playing really great tennis. I think that’s what you can expect from Rafa, especially at the beginning of the tournament after few months out of tournament, so many tough battle, big up and down. I don’t know what’s happen with him physically. But, yeah, I think, like I said before the tournament, if you get through the first week he’s going to be really, really dangerous to win the title. Let’s see what’s going to happen now.

 

Q. The first two matches, how are you feeling within your own game? Happy with where you are?

STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, I’m happy with my game in general. To win two first matches in three sets, it’s great. I’m playing great tennis. I’m practicing well, feeling well the ball. As I say, if you want to get far in the tournament, it can be two long weeks. So you need to be ready to have some up and down. So far it’s been good tennis. I’m happy.

 

Q. How is it compared to your experiences of last year?

STAN WAWRINKA: What?

 

Q. How do you feel compared to this time last year?

STAN WAWRINKA: I don’t know. I don’t compare from last year to this year. Just a new Grand Slam. It’s been two matches now. Going to be ready now for the next one, Jarkko. I have one day off tomorrow where I can practice like I always do with my coach. That’s it. Nothing compared to last year.

 

Q. The feeling of coming into the tournament as defending champion hasn’t changed anything about your preparation at all?

STAN WAWRINKA: No. We already middle of the week, so it’s too late to change something or to think about anything. As I say, when you start the tournament you focus on the new — on this tournament this year. Again, all my focus are on what I’m doing and that’s it.

 

Q. You go to the same tournaments and same places every year. Is there anything in particular that you always have to do when you come to Melbourne?

STAN WAWRINKA: Not really. Win matches. (Laughter.). that’s it. I’m happy to come back. There’s many things I love to do every year, but there is not one thing that I have to do it.

 

Q. Were you surprised to see Rafa in such a physical state of distress last night?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I watched a little bit of the last few games of the fifth set only. I haven’t seen the whole match. He knows to answer the best how he feels on the court. I don’t know. From what I have seen, he was out there fighting, you know, deserved to win because he fighted his way through. Now it happens that you have opposite the net an opponent that plays as well as Smyczek played, has nothing to lose. I don’t know about his health issues or physical state. Definitely was not expected to see him playing four and a half hours against Smyczek. People expect him and top players to dominate most of the matches that they play on, especially in the opening rounds of a Grand Slam. This is tennis. This is sport. People need to realize that other players are playing as well as the top players do. In the Grand Slams, you have motivation more. If you have a fight like they had last night, you just have to congratulate the better player. I’m sure Rafa spoke nicely and praised his opponent. I’ve seen actually the great gentleman gesture and sportsmanship from Smyczek in the last game. I think that’s something that people should talk about. This is something that is not very common in the sport today, you know, where media and people generally emphasize on the rivalries, feisty, aggressive kind of approach to matches. It’s nice to have something that is greater than sport itself, you know, the sportsmanship and fair play.

 

Q. Kuznetsov said he’s going to get a tape of today’s game and watch it to see where he has to go as a player. How well do you feel you played in the first two sets?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: First two sets definitely have been great. Overall I executed the game plan. Everything I intended to do, almost 100%, from every second in my game, serve, baseline play, aggressive shots and aggressive returns. He dropped his first-serve percentage a lot in the second set and obviously allowed me to have a lot of looks at the second serves. That, as well, gave me an opportunity to step in and just swing through the ball.

 

Q. Viktor was talking about how much you helped him. How happy are you that he is at the stage he is at?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think it’s fair to say that he did a fantastic job reaching top 50 of the world, and he can go even further, with playing only six months, maybe even less, after more than a year of absence from the tour. As his great friend, I’m very proud of him. I’m very happy to see him win, to see him feel good on the court. We talk a lot, of course. He won now 10 matches in a row. He’s going to play now a top-10 player. Tomas, he doesn’t have a great record against him. Again, I think Viktor is a different player than what he was two years ago. This experience that he had in some way helped him to get stronger and change his approach maybe to the court and allows him to do things that he didn’t have a chance to do before. Sometimes a few months’ rest from tennis, from sport, from kind of a lifestyle that you’re basically following on a daily basis for many, many years sometimes is useful to kind of refresh, regroup, and get a different kind of philosophy and approach. So I wish him all the best. I think if he’s playing as well as he did in last two weeks, he has a fair chance.

 

Q. You’ve had the question before, but your coach is Becker. His biggest rival in his playing days was Edberg. Yet you name your son Stefan. What do you have to say about it?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I have nothing to say about it. I didn’t name my son by Stefan Edberg, if you refer to that. Well, generally it’s good to see the legends of our sport being in an active tennis right now as a coaches, you know, having this role. Stefan with Roger, Boris with me, Cilic has Goran, Michael Chang with Kei Nishikori, Magnus Norman with Stan Wawrinka. It’s good for sport. They get a lot of attention, fairly so, because they have incredibly successful careers and did a lot for this sport on and off the court. I’m glad we have them again back on the tour.

 

Q. Last night I watched your Jacob’s Creek commercial. Is it the best commercial so far from you?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s definitely one of the best that I’ve done so far in my career because it’s different in a way. We did three short films that allow people to see a different side of me. Yes, I’ve said many times about my childhood, growing up, so forth, how it was in these circumstances of war and so forth. But to put it on the screen, make it alive in a way, was very nice. Was very emotional for me to go through that, to create such story with people from Jacob’s Creek. I’m very proud of what they’ve done. Hopefully the people can enjoy the films, as well.

 

Q. Since 2007 you’ve only lost a total of two sets in your first and second round matches here. You’re playing lesser-ranked opponents in these matches. What is it that you find so comfortable in this tournament in the early stages?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, generally this is my most successful Grand Slam and the tournament where over the years I’ve performed my best tennis. Reason? I think there is not one reason. A few reasons together. Probably the fact that I enjoy the conditions of play. Even though last two years the courts have played faster, significantly faster than they were before, still I do enjoy being here in Australia. Some nice, positive, easygoing, sport-oriented energy going around. People appreciate the sport and make you feel good. Of course, it’s the beginning of the year. It’s the first big tournament. Everybody comes fresh and motivated. I guess in this kind of package it’s a combination of things that make me feel comfortable on the court here.

 

Q. You had such an epic battle with Venus at Wimbledon last year. What makes her so tough as an opponent at her age still?

PETRA KVITOVA: You know, I think that she’s playing still because she really love it. I think that she’s really true champion, otherwise she’s not playing probably. She’s still coming up. She’s very dangerous player, I have to say. Of course, she has a big serve. She has a very good confidence still. I think she really believe that she can play good tennis, what she is doing actually. So that’s why.

 

Q. How pleased are you with finding your range back again?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think it was a very good match, very high quality. I’m happy with the way I stayed consistent throughout the whole match. I think there’s always things you can improve, but it’s a great progress from one match to another. I just want to keep trying to stay in that path and continue to grow, continue to improve. But I missed you so much. You didn’t come to my last press conference. I have a question for you.

 

Q. You have a question for me?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yes. Over the last couple years you had a lot of comments on fashion. I wanted to hear your thoughts because you haven’t tweeted about it.

 

Q. About your outfit?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Everybody’s. You have fashion sense, so I’m curious.

 

Q. I like Serena’s the most this year. I think she won this tournament fashion-wise.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Perfect, okay.

 

Q. Maria is good. I like yours. The long sleeves I’m not so sure about.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: You think I should take off the long sleeves?

 

Q. It’s up to you.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: But fashion advice.

 

Q. It’s a lot of one color.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: A lot of yellow color. I appreciate it.

 

Q. You could have played anybody here, unseeded. Still it has to be tough to play a friend, a top-eight player. How was it going out there in the second round against her?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: You know, I think sometimes it doesn’t really matter on what stage you play. It’s probably tougher in the beginning of the tournament. But for me I knew that I’m unseeded so I can play anybody. I just accept whoever is on the opposite side. I just try to do my best. She had such an incredible end of last season so I knew I had to step up my game and really take my chances today. I think I did that pretty well.

 

Q. Do you sympathize with her at all?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I guess I’m very lucky with the draw. But I don’t know how I feel on that level of sympathy, you know. It’s kind of tricky. Like you have to play against somebody, but she’s still your friend. So I think when you are on the court you kind of have to forget about it. But we’ll have some fun after this tournament, so… No worries.

 

Q. Back to the outfit. You started with such intensity.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: That’s the key. That’s the whole point, the outfit, yeah (smiling). You answered my question.

 

Q. But then you continued playing with such intensity.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Don’t be nervous, it’s okay. Well, I didn’t take off my outfit, so the energy and intensity stayed there with the outfit. But really, that’s how I play. I try to imply that intensity. I play aggressive. I think that’s one of my trademarks. Not the outfit, but the intensity.

 

Q. Is there anything you’ve done today on court that you were searching for these past few months that finally clicked?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think my net game was pretty well today. I think I took those chances and really went for it. I’m mostly pleased about that today.

 

Q. How do you think this tough draw you’ve had sets you up for the rest of the tournament? Is that a good thing going forward?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: We’ll see. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. I just want to be able to control what I can. It’s my preparation towards the next match. That’s really what I’m going to do and not think about what’s going to happen. Just really be very well-prepared.

 

Q. The game was on a very high level. You played really well. Caroline played pretty decent as well. You’re on Twitter while the game was on. People very much agreed. Is that something you notice while you’re playing?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, you know, I think, as I mentioned before, when you play against a top player like Caroline, she’s capable of doing pretty much anything on the court. Really, she’s not going to give anything away. She’s really going to try to make you miss and go for bigger shots. I think the level of play is required to step up your game to play against a player like her. So I think we had a lot of long rallies, high quality of tennis. But I think when you face somebody who is that good, you have to raise your level, as well.

 

Q. You’ve had such success here. Is there anything about Australia that you don’t like? Maybe Vegemite or anything?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I actually don’t like Vegemite. It’s probably one of the things. But does it really relate to Australia, Vegemite?

 

Q. Yes. It’s Australian.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Does it? Well, you found one.

 

Q. What do you attribute your success here to?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I love the energy of people here. Really, I think the whole country is like sport nation. They really love sport. Really excited. Also it’s the first Grand Slam of the year. What the tournament has been doing to improve is very, very impressive. I think you feel very excited every time you come here to play. I don’t know, I guess like I’m going to adopt an Aussie kid or something like that.

 

Q. You were talking about fashion. Do you care at all about the image, what people are going to say about the way you behave or what you wear? Is that something you look at or you don’t care?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I got to wear what I have, so… But I think the importance is to stay true to who you are, what you believe in. As long as you’re being respectful to others, you know, to everybody. You can be the most ripest and beautiful peach there is, but you’ll still find somebody who hates peaches, so what are you going to do, right (smiling)?

 

Q. What was it like to be out there playing healthy, able to move without pain? I’m assuming that’s the case.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yes.

 

Q. What is that like and how much does that mean to you?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: That’s just fun. That’s really fun. Because I really enjoy playing. You know, sometimes there’s pressure, tough moments. But just to be able to go through all those emotions once again, it’s really fun, you know. For me, I enjoy it so much. I can’t wait to just keep working and keep playing, having more matches, more tournaments. Yeah, it’s the beginning of the year, so I’m looking forward to it.

 

Q. What caused the turnaround in the match?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He definitely raised his level. The first two sets I felt like I was dictating play the whole time. Yeah, he obviously tightened up some of his errors start of the third set. He started serving a lot better as well. I couldn’t get into as many of his service games to build pressure on him. He served, and then, yeah, he played a good game to break me halfway through the third set. He seemed to really get confident after that.

 

Q. When you left the court, did you take an extra moment tonight at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. You know, it sort of happens that quickly when you walk off. Obviously, a great reception. But you probably don’t take it in as much as you should.

 

Q. I had a look at your five-setters. You’ve lost five of your last six. Does that come into your thinking? Were you aware of that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It doesn’t come into my thinking when I’m out there. Obviously I’m aware, though. I lost to Seppi last year. Lost a tight one to Janowicz at Wimbledon. I think Simon at the French. Been decent players, though. Obviously frustrating tonight because I was playing so well for the first two sets.

 

Q. Were you expecting the game to change so suddenly in the third?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I never looked ahead, that’s for sure. I was focused. I was more trying to hold my service games through the third set, then trying to get that small opportunity to break. In the end, as I said, he played a really good game. He got aggressive, got hot on a couple of returns at 3-2 in the third set. Then after that he wasn’t missing as many easy balls as he was for the first two sets. His serve picked up.

 

Q. You said you didn’t look around when you left the court. The television replay showed at the last sit-down, changeover, you were looking around, taking everything in. What was going through your mind then?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know more than me then. If I looked at every TV changeover, I’m probably doing exactly the same thing. There was nothing different going through my mind. It was more just trying to work out the situation. I was trying to bust my guts to get the first couple points, put some kind of pressure on him. Nothing else entered my mind.

 

Q. 19 consecutive Australian Opens is an incredible record. 20 has a nice look to it. Is that a lure at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: For some people I’m sure it is. Yeah, I don’t know. As I said the whole time, I haven’t been kidding anyone, really I don’t know. I’ve just tried to focus on what I’ve wanted to do, to get the best out of myself this year. I’ll sit back and assess everything after this tournament.

 

 

 

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Coco Vandeweghe
Coco Vandeweghe bio
Transcribed Interview Transcribed Interview

Start of Transcribed Interview

Q. Did you get nervous at all? Didn’t appear to be.

COCO VANDEWEGHE: Last game I missed probably the easiest volley I had in the match. Yeah, I was a little bit nervous. But, you know, we were talking about the first match I played against Schiavone, I was super nervous the whole match. My coach was talking about, We don’t train for you to be nervous out on the court and to potentially lose a match because of nerves. So play like you can make every shot and play like you own this court out here. That’s what I was thinking when I was playing out there. I enjoyed my time. So I had a lot of fun.

 

Q. What is it like being out on that sort of stage in a Grand Slam?

COCO VANDEWEGHE: It’s pretty cool. I’ve played on Arthur Ashe twice. That stadium is humongous. I played against Jankovic on there and Serena Williams. But on here, different result, I won, so of course I enjoyed my time. It was fun to play against an Australian in Australia, just to have fans really engaged in a match. It was more of sort of an environment that I enjoy. Even though they were against me more so than with me, just the noise factor and the engagement, highs and lows with the fans, everything like that, that’s fun to play in.

 

Q. You’ve enjoyed WTT for that reason?

COCO VANDEWEGHE: I enjoy World TeamTennis. I didn’t start playing till I was 11. I still played basketball along with tennis until I was 15. So tennis was the last sport I played. I didn’t really enjoy it so much as opposed to basketball, which I grew up loving. Kind of basketball runs in my family a little bit. In an arena in sports, I was always kind of around my older brother, who played volleyball and basketball, ended up playing volleyball for his university. That’s the kind of environment I grew up in. It’s more weird for me to hear the quietness of a court than it is for me to hear the noise.

 

Q. What did you make of the Australian fans in general? They’ve received a fair amount of criticism this week for yelling after points from overseas players.

COCO VANDEWEGHE: It didn’t happen during my match. If it did, I didn’t notice it. It’s their right to cheer. It’s their right to not cheer. I can’t complain either way. Just have to play through it.

 

Q. Madison Brengle next. What do you make of how that draw shaped up for you?

COCO VANDEWEGHE: Yeah, I mean, I don’t look at draws too much. I just look at the opponent ahead of me. I heard that I could potentially play either Irina or Madison. I’m good friends with Irina. I was looking forward more to playing Stosur. Just out of the last half hour or so that I’ve been off the court to think about it. Madison has been on the challenger circuit for a while. It’s a very new experience for her to be in a third round or just in a Grand Slam, period, as opposed to I’ve played a couple Grand Slams. It’s also a new experience for me to be in a third round. You just go out there, try to play the best you can, enjoy your time out there, see what happens.

 

Q. Does the all-Americanness of that make it any different for you?

COCO VANDEWEGHE: I don’t really care. It’s cool that all Americans are there in the third round, because it means at least one American is going into the fourth round. If she’s American, Czech, whatever, it doesn’t matter, I have to go out there and compete and win the match because that’s what I go out there to do.

 

Q. You were talking a little basketball. In the past you’ve mentioned learning from Phil Jackson. Talk about what you learned from that.

COCO VANDEWEGHE: Well, currently Phil Jackson is coaching my favorite basketball team, the Knicks, not coaching, but somewhat coaching. They’re stinking it up real bad. Other than that, I mean, I like to read definitely mental books. I’m an avid reader. I read silly, dumb books. Right now I’m finishing up “Maze Runner.” Other than that, a friend gave me the hardest book I’ve ever read. I forget even the title. I’ve read the first page 10 times and I still have no idea what the heck is going on. I enjoy reading other people’s thoughts, especially great coaches like Phil Jackson who has not only been called the Zen master but also has shown that he can produce time and time again with different groups of players, different mindsets from each of them. Basketball is not a singular sport. There’s how many people on a roster, 15 or so on a roster, 12. Whatever. That’s 12 people you have to manage. To be able to do that for multiple seasons, to claim a championship out of that, that’s something that is hard to replicate.

 

Q. Watched you play Serena at the US Open.

COCO VANDEWEGHE: I got spanked, yeah.

 

Q. That spanking to tonight, different continent, but different sort of setting. What’s changed in your game?

COCO VANDEWEGHE: I think it’s more the confidence in myself and in the game. That was like three years, four years ago. Totally different person out there. It’s hard to compare. That person that played Serena back then just made the first final of her career at Stanford, and it was kind of like a fluke. I lost to Serena in the final of Stanford. So, you know, as opposed to this past year where I have a new coach, it’s a different mindset, different work that I’ve been putting in. So of course the matches have come with that, the match wins, the tournament win I had last year. So, of course, I’m going to have more confidence playing today as opposed to when I played Serena or even Jankovic at 16. I just turned 23. Hopefully maturity has come along with me at 23, but not too much.

 

Q. Stosur is well-known for her serve and forehand. Tonight you beat her with serve and forehand. Does that make you feel proud?

COCO VANDEWEGHE: Yeah, I mean, our games are quite similar. We like to dominate with the serve. For whatever reason today I just had somewhat of a beat on her serve. I was making her play a lot of balls. I may not have been close in every game, but I was making her keep hitting balls that I was giving her off the returns. I know as a big server I like to have the free points right away instead of having that ball coming back, even if it’s short, easy, doesn’t matter. It’s the repetitiveness of someone getting your serve back. That’s what I was focusing on doing. Keep making her play. I have utmost confidence in my forehand, that I could out-rally Stosur today. But even tomorrow or whatever, I have to have confidence in my forehand that I’m going to out-rally someone, even if it’s their strength. Even with the backhand. I can’t change my game because someone has a serve and a forehand. I have to know I can do that better than they can.

 

Q. Caroline Wozniacki, No. 8 in the world, lost in the second round as well. Had 11 seeds go out in the first round in women’s. Weird tournament. Do you think that’s showing the rankings don’t mean a lot?

SAMANTHA STOSUR: Look, again, it proves that almost anyone can beat anyone. Even though we’re in one of the biggest tournaments of the year where everyone is trying to peak and do everything right, you think the seeds are going to go through in the first couple of rounds, yeah, it shows there’s a lot of quality players who haven’t quite gotten to that ranking yet. Maybe they’re a bit younger and haven’t had the opportunities. But they’re very good players and on any given day, they can beat someone. I think it does show the depth in women’s tennis, especially at the moment. Yeah, no match is a given, that’s for sure.

 

 

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Serena and Venus Williams Reach Australian Open Third Round

(January 21, 2015) The Williams sisters have reached the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday. No. 1 ranked Serena rallied from set points down in the first set and won 10 straight games to beat Vera Zvonareva 7-5, 6-0. Venus defeated American countrywoman Lauren Davis 6-2, 6-3.

Five-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams said that her opponent started out aggressive and that she was too passive.

After have set points against Serena in the first set, Zvonareva could only win a total of eight points in the second set.

“Yeah, things really clicked,” Serena said. “I had no other option but for things to click. Yeah, I just had to start playing better.”

Venus Williams is happy to be in the third round.

“Always good to advance,” said the 7-time major winner. “That’s pretty much the goal when you step on the courts, it’s like, Come on. Let’s get to the next round. Met the goal today.”

“I’m hitting the ball a lot like how I want to. Yeah, some points you play well and some not as well. I’m just continually trying to be as consistent as I can on the court and still play consistent while taking risk as well. Find that balance.”

When Venus was asked about why she and her sister Serena withdrew from the doubles on Wednesday, she said: “According to the rules you don’t have to give a reason. I think we’ll stick with that.”

When further pressed by a reporter, Venus ended the line of questioning by politely saying: “No further questions on that. I object. Sustained. Thank you.”

Venuswill play Italy’s Camila Giorgi in the third round.

“Not sure if I played her before,” the 34-year-old 18th seed noted, “but she definitely raises her game depending on the caliber player that she plays. I think it’s just important to remain consistent and aggressive, just as I’ve been this whole year. That’s my goal.”

With her new coach Martina Navratilova in attendance, No. 6 Agnieszka Radwanska began the day on Rod Laver Arena with an easy 44-minute, 6-0, 6-1 win over Sweden’s Johanna Larsson.

“I think it was great match. I really start well. I play aggressive from the beginning to the end. And well, short, good match. So, you know, it’s better, especially that it’s really hot today. Be fresh for the next one.”

Also advancing were No. 4 Petra Kvitova, No. 11 Dominika Cibulkova the 2014 finalist, No. 19 Alize Cornet and No. 24 Garbine Muguruza and No. 30 Varvara Lepchenko. Seeds falling on Thursday included 8the seed Caroline Wozniacki who lost to two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, No. 20 Sam Stosur lost to young American Coco Vandeweghe.

 

On the men’s side top seed Novak Djokovic had an easy win to reach the third round 6-0, 6-1, 6-4 over No. 88 Andrey Kuznetsov. Defending champion Stan Wawrinka also advanced with a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-3 win over Romanian qualifier Marius Copil.

No. 4 seed Kei Nishikori needed four sets to stop Ivan Dodig. No. 12 Feliciano Lopez was trailing 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 4-0 when Adrian Mannarino retired from the match and No. 19 John Isner beat Andreas Haider-Maurer 6-4, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-4.

Steve Johnson upset No. 30 Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

 

 

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Rafael Nadal Survives Tim Smyczek in Five Sets at Australian Open

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(January 21, 2105) In a celebration more reminiscent of winning a Grand Slam than winning a second round match, Rafael Nadal fell to his knees clasping his hands after defeating American qualifier, No. 112 in the world Tim Smyczek in a comeback battle 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-5 on Wednesday night at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Nadal survived dizziness, extreme sweating and stomach pain in the four hour as 12 minute match.

“All during my career is obvious that I was able to find solutions for tough moments,” said the 14-time major champion. “I was able to win matches where I was in trouble. Sure, is an ability, but you know I worked very hard during all my career to resist, to try to be strong mentally. Is obvious that all the practices when I was a kid, all the moments that I suffered, helps.”

The world No 3, after splitting the first two sets Nadal asked for a trainer during a medical time out in the third game of the third set.

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

Nadal served for the third set at 5-4, but double-faulted on break point. Smyzek went on to win the third set in a tiebreak 7-2.

The Spaniard rebounded in the fourth set breaking his challenger in the sixth game and broke the American in the 11th game of the fifth set and held to close the match.

In an act of sportsmanship, when a spectator yelled as Nadal was tossing the ball as he served, the 27-year-old Smyzek let Nadal replay the serve.

“Very tough night for me. Just first of all I want to congratulate Tim – he’s a real gentleman,” Nadal said. “What he did in the last game is … not a lot of people will do something like this at 6-5 in the fifth set.”

“I think he played well, but is true that what he did at the end of the fifth is just amazing,” Nadal said of Smyczek. “Congratulate. I say on the court, but I want to say here, too. Very few players can do that after four hours something of match, 5-All, Love-30. So just will say thanks to him because he’s a great example what he did today.”

Nadal is now 17-5 in five-set matches. He won just six points more than his opponent during the match 158 -152.

Nadal will face Dudi Sela, in the third round. He defeated No. 28 seed Lukas Rosol 7-6(2), 5-7, 7-5, 6-3.

 

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One-on-One with American Tennis Player Tim Smyczek

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