2014/04/21

Upgrade of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Set to Begin in February

 

US Open_Aerial SE_HR

(December 4, 2013) Lisa Colangelo of the New York Daily News is reporting that the $500 million upgrade of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center will commence in February. The first part of the upgrade involves the installation of piles to support the new retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“We have to host the Open each year, so we had to work on a construction schedule that’s longer than we would like,” National Tennis Center Chief Operating Officer Danny Zausner told community board officials at Queens Borough Hall on Monday night in the Daily News report.

The roof which will peak at 190 feet, was described as an “umbrella” that can open and close over the stadium.

More on the expansion plan:

USTA Announces Plans for Transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

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2014 Tennis Season, More of the Same for the Men?

Centre Court-001

By James A. Crabtree

 

(November 24, 2013) Of those who can truly challenge for a major, the list is very small. Consider in 2002 when swede Thomas Johansson won the Australian Open as the 16th seed or Gustavo Kuerten won the French Open ranked 66th in the world. Compare that with today’s rankings and we have Fabio Fognini winning in Melbourne and Yen-Hsun Lu in Paris. If you think that either of these results is far fetched for 2014 you are on the money.

 

When fourth seed David Ferrer made the French open final this past year nobody but his mother felt he could win it. Not surprising considering his opposition, Rafael Nadal, has only lost once out of the sixty matches played at Roland Garros. Only a mad man would bet against him over five sets on clay.

 

Add that to the fact the big four have not only dominated the slams but since 2009 only Nikolay Davydenko, Ferrer, Ivan Ljubicic, Andy Roddick and Robin Soderling have been able to add their names to the ATP 1000 champions list. That is only five differing names to the usual four out of 45 tournaments.

 

Although the dominance of the big 4 has been lessened since the 2013 horror campaign of Roger Federer, the collection of contenders hasn’t been increased far beyond those players who have won a slam in the past. When looking at the others within the top ten all have their flaws. Tomas Berdych struggles when playing any final. Richard Gasquet and David Ferrer don’t have the fire power to notch big back-to-back wins. Stan Wawrinka has the firepower and the arrogance but not the physical stamina. Comparatively Jo-Wilfred Tsonga has the arrogance and firepower but not the mental fortitude. That leaves Juan Martin Del Potro, the scariest opponent not named Novak, Rafa, Roger or Andy.

Andy-Murray

Australian Open, Return of the Muzzer

 

Yes, seriously. Andy Murray will be refreshed and hungry and will look for glory at a venue he has been a three time finalist. A fourth consecutive triumph for Novak Djokovic in Melbourne, even on current form, seems a bridge too far.

 

Look for Federer to regain some form and make the semi-finals once more.

 

Rafael Nadal

French Open, As predictable as a Vin Diesel movie

 

Novak Djokovic will have to wait one more year before he can unify the all four career majors belt.

 

Nadal on the ultra-slow clay of Roland Garros is too much for any mortal. It is impossible to argue with a 98.33 winning percentage over nine years. All we can say is shame on you Robin Soderling for ruining slam perfection.

 

Djokovic wins 89

Wimbledon, Novak Vengeance

 

By June Djokovic is going to be mighty mighty angry. Not only that, he is going to make both Andy Murray and the British crowd pay for the previous year. Look for Djokovic to sneak this one in 5 sets.

 

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U.S. Open, The Federer Redemption?

 

This is a really 50-50 call between old man Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro. Del Potro has a good case as he was the best player to not win a slam this past year. Federer has a case because, regardless of form, he is still Federer. On top of that history often likes to repeat itself in certain ways and it would be quite fitting for Federer to snatch a triumph in New York as Pete Sampras did in 2002.

 

James Crabtree is a journalist living in Melbourne. Follow him on twitter @JamesACrabtree

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Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part Two

 

JudyMurray

 

(September 18, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – During the US Open, Great Britain’s Fed Cup Captain Judy Murray, mother of ATP players Andy Murray and Jamie Murray, sat down to do an interview with Tennis Panorama News.

In part two of our Q & A, the former top Scottish women’s tennis player spoke about the current women’s tour and some of her proudest moments.

 

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News: What are your thoughts on the women’s tour? Do you think there is more depth or is it just Serena(Williams) and everyone else?

Judy Murray: When Serena is at the top of her game is very, very tough to beat because she’s just so strong and she’s just fabulous to watch when she’s playing well and I love watching her when she’s on top of her game. And just behind her is obviously (Victoria) Azarenka and (Maria) Sharapova. So the top three are very much power players – there’s not a huge amount of variety there. You don’t see too much, not too many drops shots or changes of pace, it’s really all about the power.

Then there’s sort of a pack of players behind that that are all very solid. The players that I miss are the (Amelie) Mauresmo’s and the (Justine) Henin’s. I like watching (Sara) Errani and (Flavia) Pennetta. I like watching the Italian’s creativity and variety.

I think you know, you need personalities. I think that’s the thing you kind of feel that tennis, is just to try and create more personalities out of the players so fans can start to identify with them as people. And I think that I think Serena is a huge personality and I think Sharapova probably is as well, but we need try and get that with more of them. I guess it’s up to the WTA tour to find a way to be able to do that so that fans can really identify them and want to come out and watch and support.

It’s tough on the women’s tour – this year I’ve noticed it’s more difficult getting into a lot of the tournaments. A lot a tournaments that have been lost and maybe the sponsors withdrawing, so they’re not so many options open to the girls on the calendar. I think that the last three weeks on the women’s tour (during the summer) from New Haven, Toronto and Cincinnati. I think cutoffs of the main draw were 40? It’s very, very tough. The girls are having to pay out a lot of money every week to travel.

KP: No secondary tournaments going on.

JM: That’s right. There used to be a lot more so. It’s not just at that time of the year, it’s just very noticeable just lately. There’s not so much choice now.

If the women’s tour calendar is losing tournaments because it’s harder to get sponsors, then you have to look at why is that. Why are sponsors not coming forward, are they not getting crowds? Why are they not getting crowds? Not getting TV showing it. Why are they not getting TV showing it? You need to ask those questions and find out what people want and the tour. The WTA has to find ways to help players to market themselves better so that people do want to come and watch women in the same way they want to watch the men. I think the events that are mixed, where they have both at the same time, have been fantastic. There is huge, huge buzz about those tournaments. May be they need to have more of those if that’s possible, but if it isn’t….

I have this theory that if it’s more women who come and watch women’s sports, so you need to create an army of tennis fans from women to come along and support women’s sport.  It’s like I went to watch the British Women’s Open golf a few weeks ago and I had the same feeling there. You know, that there were not a lot of young people, girls watching that. There were a lot of older people that and I was thinking, golf was one of those sports that women are more likely to take up when they’re older than when they’re younger. That’s a challenge to golf.

I do think that tennis needs to ask itself questions about why, and I’m sure they are, asking questions about why they’ve lost so many tournaments and how they can make the calendar more busy. But also it needs to be a bit smarter, I think in terms of where tournaments are placed so that you could have a run of three tournaments without having to travel from one side of the world to the other. I think that makes a lot of sense because the expenses for the players are getting bigger and bigger all the time and especially if you’ve got someone travelling with you and you probably need two rooms and two flights, food every week.

Or maybe finding ways where they can help the girls to supplement their income. I don’t necessarily mean the top ones ‘cause they don’t need it. The other girls you know, some more pro-ams or little exho matches before tournaments start and things where sponsor might need to have some of the girls play with their clients. You see things like that at Indian Wells. I always think, you know that’s one of few venues that do that sort of thing really well.

And for the doubles guys, because of Jamie, it’s a great help to go off and do a few of them. It helps to pay for your hotel bill for a week, but they probably need some help in trying to encourage people to put more of that on for the women’s side.

 

KP: What have been your proudest moments in tennis?

JM: There’s been absolutely loads.

I think when I first started coaching, I was just a volunteer coach at the club, I had been doing it for a few years. Our high school team at Dunblane High School won the Scottish schools championship, the boys team and that was my first success in coaching and I can remember being very emotional when they won that because it was just great. It’s your local town, just something that you helped out and these kids have managed to win this big thing.

But anytime when the boys (Andy and Jamie) have played together, on Davis Cup teams for Great Britain, watching them play together and that’s a huge thing, seeing both of your children, side by side. Any time they play together – I think the Olympics and Davis cup are very special. In 2008 here (US Open) Andy was in the singles final and Jamie was in the mixed doubles final, that was a great time. And obviously the two Wimbledon wins – Andy winning the singles and Jamie winning his mixed doubles. They were huge. The Olympics, US Open last year.

I have proud moments that have nothing to do with the tennis – they’re good kids. They do good things. They’re good with people and they’re still very normal through everything that’s happened.

 

In the part three, the final part of the interview, Murray discusses tennis and twitter, and her sweet tooth.

Related articles:

Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part One

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Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part One

 

JudyMurray

(September 17, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – During the US Open, Great Britain’s Fed Cup Captain Judy Murray, mother of ATP players Andy Murray and Jamie Murray sat down to do an interview with Tennis Panorama News.

In part one of our Q & A, the former top Scottish women’s tennis player spoke about her introduction to tennis and coaching, Fed Cup, women coaches and those women coming up the ranks of British tennis.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News: How did you get involved in tennis?

Judy Murray: I started playing tennis when I was about 10. Back in those days, when racquets were wooden and balls were heavy, the courts were all just one size. It was actually quite tough to start tennis younger than that unless you were quite big because the equipment was heavy.

My Mom and Dad both played, they played for the county, played a lot down at the local club. When I was big enough, I started to join in. I just learned from playing with my parents.

 

KP: With your sons, did they naturally want to play because you played?

JM: Probably, we lived about 300 meters from the tennis courts and when they were very small, we didn’t have much money and I didn’t have a car. I went round to our local club and did some work just as a volunteer and started working with some of the older juniors because I was still playing at a good level. I was the Scottish No. 1 for quite a number of years.

I started working as a volunteer coach when they were very small and some of the kids that I started working with, they started to get quite good and that is when I realized that my initial coaching qualification that I had done when I was a student wasn’t really helping me to help them particularly, so I was just teaching them from a tactical base, which was based on my own playing experience. In my day you didn’t have coaches. You learned how to play the game by playing the game.

I upgraded my qualification when Jamie and Andy were six and seven and then a couple of years later I upgraded it again, because I realized  that a lot of the kids I was working with, were becoming pretty good at the Scottish level and I wanted to help them to be the best that they could be. And I realized that my knowledge of playing the game was all about playing the game, it wasn’t too much about teaching them from a technical base, so I wanted to learn about that. I haven’t up graded my qualification since then. That was the highest level of coaching qualification at the time in Britain. It was a year-long course that was a big thing for me to take on when the boys were quite young, the workshops were all down south.

Also what I remember about that course is that there was a lot of information but not enough about how to actually use the information. And what I have learned in my 20 years or so of coaching is that it doesn’t matter how much information you’ve got if you are not able to communicate it effectively and in the right way with the kids or the adults in front of you, you are not going to get the job done. I think a lot of it comes down to how well you communicate, how much you can enthuse the kids by the way you behave with them. I keep saying kids because I’m so used to working with juniors but now I’ve started working more on the women’s side, but it’s the same thing – you need to have a good rapport. You need to have some fun. You need to get your point across. The other thing is that the better you know your player as a person, the more chance you have at doing a good job with them because understand what makes them tick and what makes them react badly and you’ve started at the best way to get them to do things.

KP: Speaking of working with different players, how challenging is it to be the Fed Cup Captain?

JM: That’s quite a challenge. It’s certainly was a challenge the first year because I had never worked on the women’s side before. I’d worked with juniors and obviously on the men’s side. But working with girls is quite different than working with boys and working with women is quite different from working with girls. Had to learn a lot about that but like throughout my coaching career, I speak to people. I speak to people who have been there and done it before and have lots of experience and then you form your own opinion. You form you own view or philosophy. So I picked a lot of people’s brains. It’s mostly men on the women’s tour, mostly male coaches.

 

KP: Why do you think there are so few female coaches?

JM: I think there is not a great career pathway for female coaches. I think it doesn’t matter whether you work in clubs or whether you are working with better level players. I think it’s you know, that natural thing is for women to get married probably in their twenties and have their kids and then the life of a coach is actually very difficult because if you are coaching in a club for example or a domestic program, your busiest times are going to be after four o’clock and on weekends. So you’re working in the evenings and on weekends, if you’ve got family it’s very difficult. I think if you get to the stage where you want to work with a full-time player then you need to be prepared to be on the road for probably about 30 weeks of the year and that’s very tough as well.

But I think there are one or two things which come into play too. It’s tough to make a living in the game unless you are probably 70, ranked 70 and above. And really anyone ranked below that, it’s tough to have to pay for a coach and a coach’s expenses on the road with you and your own expenses too. Most girls, I think will try to pick a coach who can also work as a sparring partner, and that tends to lend itself more to males who play at a decent level and who can fill that kind of dual role. I think that has something to do with it as well.

Of course there is nothing wrong with having male coaches, but I think we could do with having more females because I do think that female coaches understand the needs and feelings of girls a lot better than guys do and I’ve been saying this for some time now. In our country we need to get more little girls playing tennis and taking up tennis. Tennis has become very attractive now since Wimbledon and since the success of Laura (Robson) and Heather (Watson), very young and exciting prospects and they’re great role models for young girls and for women’s tennis. But once we get little girls into tennis, we need to make sure they are having a lot of fun, doing what they are doing. We need to have a lot more female coaches working with little girls, for exactly the same reasons – to ensure we can retain them in the sport because little girls tend to generally be not as competitive, not as boisterous as boys and can be put off by being in a mixed group or being with a male coach who finds it easier to deal with the boys, because the boys kind of do all the competitive things because they enjoy doing that sort of thing. Building a stronger female coaching workforce in our country is important to us to retain more girls in the game.

KP: Beyond Heather and Laura, who are the women coming up behind then in Great Britain?

JM: Some of the girls have started to do quite well pushing themselves up the rankings. Johanna Konta was at a career-best ranking at 112 before the US Open, I think she’ll drop a little bit. She won a 25 and a 100K back-to-back during the summer which was very good progress for her. So she’s moving in the tight direction. She’s 22 now.

Tara Moore is the same age as Heather Watson and she is very, very talented and she has started to show some good signs of progress. She still needs to work at being able to put good performances in on a consistent basis, and so much of that being able to perform consistently well is down to how emotionally stable you can be for longer periods of time and that always doesn’t come quickly to every player. I think sometimes you have to let them grow into themselves a bit. But she has a huge amount of potential – a very, very skillful player. I think that if she can get herself together I think she can go places over the next couple of years.

And we have Sam(antha) Murray who was playing in the qualies here (US Open). She was at a US college on a scholarship and she has started to push herself up the rankings. Very hard worker, good all-court game, plays good doubles as well, big first serve.

Elena Baltacha had a surgery on her foot in the off season last year, so she’s just playing again full-time, but she has produced good performances as well. It won’t be long before she’s back at her best. Beyond that we are starting to look at the juniors.

We have three very good juniors born in 1998.  Maia Lumsden who won the 14s Orange Bowl in December, Gabby (Gabriella) Taylor who trains in Spain and Jazzy Plews who also trains in Spain. All have been ranked within the top ten at the end of last year in the 14s. So they are all in a good place as well.

But certainly, from my point of view we need to use this opportunity now where tennis is the kind of buzz word among sports in Britain just now. We need to use the opportunity to get more girls playing and to develop a stronger female coaching workforce to retain more of them in the early stages, and then to educate more coaches to be able to do a better job through all the development stages. There’s quite a big job to be done but there’s a huge opportunity at the moment. I will always argue that more better coaches, produce more better players. We need to, in my opinion, to invest in our coaching workforce.

 

In part two of our interview, Murray talks about the women’s tour and some of her proudest moments.

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Rafael Nadal Stars in New “This is SportsCenter” Commercial

(September 10, 2013) To celebrate Rafael Nadal’s US Open victory, ESPN debuted its latest addition to the award-winning “This is SportsCenter”  franchise with a spot that features the Spanish champion.  Filmed in both English and Spanish, it is now running on both ESPN and ESPN Deportes. following Nadal’s 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over Novak Djokovic to claim his 13th major title.

During the 30-second ad, named “Candy Dish,” SportsCenter anchors John Anderson and Bram Weinstein speculate about what makes the Spanish player so popular in the office.  Turns out Nadal’s exotic accent, great tan and dashing looks are not necessarily what is driving all the foot traffic to his cube. It might instead have something to do with what he keeps in the US Open Trophy on his desk.  ESPN Deportes’ SportsCenter anchors Alvaro Morales, Jorge Eduardo Sánchez and Carolina Padrón appear in the Spanish-language version.

 

This is the second spot in the campaign, following Robinson Cano’s “Handshakes,” to be released in English and in Spanish.

 

Wieden + Kennedy New York is the creative agency for the This is SportsCenter campaign. The overall initiative, a cornerstone of ESPN’s brand since 1995, gives fans an inside peek at the Bristol, Conn., campus, where athletes, mascots and anchors interact in the center of the sports universe.

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Rafael Nadal in His Own Words

RafaelNadalTasteofTennis(September 9, 2013) Rafael Nadal’s post-match news conference after his victory at the US Open over Novak Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

An interview with: RAFAEL NADAL

Monday, September 9, 2013
From USOpen.org
Q. Congratulations, Rafa. That was a beautifully fought match out there. Just talk about the emotions, you know, for this championship. After the match you threw yourself to the ground. Just talk about those emotions. RAFAEL NADAL: Thank you very much. Yeah, for a few things this season is probably the most emotional one in my career. I felt that I did everything right to have my chance here. So, you know, you play one match against one of the best players of the history like this, Novak, No. 1 in the world, probably on probably his favorite surface, so I have to be almost perfect to win I say the other day here. Means a lot for me have this trophy with me today, no? Is just amazing. Very, very happy, and just thank you very much everybody who helped me to make that possible. Is a really special moment for me. Many thanks to everybody, all the fans and all the team and all the family.

Q. What are your thoughts on how you were able to win the third set?

RAFAEL NADAL: It was a really important set and was a really special one, yeah. I started so slow the first game, but the end of the second, beginning of the third, Novak was playing just amazing. When Novak plays that level, I am not sure if nobody can stop him. I know that was really important stays only one break behind. If I lose the second break, then is over, the third set. So I tried to be there, keep fighting for every ball, and tried to be focused in every moment and tried to wait for my moment. So I know if I am only one break behind I will have my chance. The normal thing is I will have my chance. Then you can convert or not. I did, but even like this then I had that Love 40 that was really, really amazing. I played an ace. I played an unbelievable forehand down the line, so was one of the key moments of that match. And then for sure that break in the next game.

Q. You were away from the game for over six months. How hungry were you to feel this again?

RAFAEL NADAL: I was never hungry. I never thought something like this could happen, so excited to be back on tour trying to be competitive. But never thought about competing for all what I competed this year, no? All the Masters 1000s, two Grand Slams, or three. So is just more than a dream for me, and I’m very happy for everything. I feel very lucky about what happened since I came. It’s true that I worked, but even like this you need luck to be where I am today.

Q. Hungry or not, it’s still a good taste?

RAFAEL NADAL: Sorry?

Q. Hungry or not, it’s still a good taste?

RAFAEL NADAL: (Smiling). Sure.

Q. You know, you won this tournament before. Would you say your game has changed and evolved, and how has it evolved and changed since the last time you won this tournament?

RAFAEL NADAL: Is always the same. When somebody is winning you need to write, and the people thinks that something change. But the real thing is I am playing well. That’s all, no? Because I am playing well, I am able to keep being competitive and keep having chances to win against everybody. Is true that I am playing a little bit more aggressive than before, more inside the court, closer to the baseline, going more for the points. But all this is possible because I am playing well and I am confident, no? Talking about a big change, I don’t see it. I really cannot see a big change on my game. Just confident, you know, playing with big passion, fighting for every ball, emotionally good, so that makes that success. The only change that I can tell you is is true that I’m playing more inside and more aggressive and with the right determination. But for the rest, everything is as usual.

Q. So 13 slams. Today you had the entire arena of 23,000 rooting for you. Around the world, millions of people love you. What do you think makes you special as a man? Why do you think this is happening? Why do you think so many people are attracted to you?

RAFAEL NADAL: I am not the right one to answer that question probably (smiling). The only thing I can say is I try to be fair. I try to be correct with everybody. I try to be friendly with everybody. That’s all, no? I think on court I am a positive player. I am not a negative player. I try my best in every moment. Even the things are not going well or are going well, I am not never very sad or, you know, doing a negative attitude on court. Outside of the court I try to sign everybody. I try to make the photos. I act like a normal person (smiling).

Q. You feel pride that again and again you advance your game. Is that something that gives you great pride, Rafa?

RAFAEL NADAL: At the end is always the same. When you win, you know, that’s very important. That makes me happy, this trophy, yes. But what really makes me happy is what I did to have this trophy with me. So that’s what really produced me these emotional moments, working hard in tough moments, trying to be positive. A lot of people have been with me during this period of time, and was not easy moments. A lot of days I was able to keep working because of them. When you go to the gym every day and you don’t see a positive result, then you lose a little bit your energy. If I have those people around me during this period of time was decisive. Keep working hard, they give me that positive energy. Without them would be impossible have the chance to be here today. And all the fans, too, that really supported me a lot during this period of time was very important for me.

Q. With 13 of those major trophies, I think you only trail Pete and Roger now in the all time list. Can you give us a sense for what that means to you? Can you anticipate catching those guys? I mean, you are only 27.

RAFAEL NADAL: Let me enjoy today (smiling). For me, is much more than what I ever thought, what I ever dreamed. I said that few slams, when I had few slams less, but is true. Means a lot, this one, for me. Only thing I can say is the same like I do every time. I gonna keep working hard. I gonna keep doing my things to have more chances in the future to be competitive and to give me produce more chances to win the tournaments like this one. So that’s what I gonna try. Then you never know when that start, when that finish, but 13 is an amazing number.

Q. You have won already Wimbledon, Australian Open, US Open, but everybody until last year had considered you mostly the greatest clay court specialist. For you, you were proud of course to have won eight Roland Garros or whatever. (Laughing.) But it’s something different now, because you’re proving everyone that you’re the greatest or one of the greatest also on hard court? Does it make a difference for you?

RAFAEL NADAL: No. No, I know I was a good player on hard before six hours before. That don’t make a big difference on my career being better player or worse player. Then is a match. You win, you lose, and then the people who well, I understand most of the people say I am, you know, clay court specialist, but is true because I won a lot of tournaments on clay. And because I won that much on clay seems like other things are less, but I was able to play five finals in Wimbledon, I think. Five? Yeah. I was able to play three finals in the US Open. I was able to play two finals in Australian Open to win. I don’t know, three Indian Wells, something like this, three Canadian Open.

Q. But you were never unbeaten on hard court like this year.

RAFAEL NADAL: Don’t worry. I will lose (laughter). Everybody lose.

Q. There was a 54 point rally in the second set. What was going through your head during that rally? And were you concerned when you were broken that it might mean something larger?

RAFAEL NADAL: Seriously, I felt really tired after that point, but I said, I have the wind on my favor now. I lose that game even I had the wind on my favor. So after this point the opponent will be tired, too, so it’s my moment to be strong and I gonna have the chance to break back. That’s what I think in that moment. I need to play with the higher concentration and give my best in that first few points of that game and I will have the chance to break back. And I did. I had the break back. Then I have 40 15 in the next game to equal the set 4 All, but Novak played amazing and he break me another time. So that’s all. But my thinking was positive. I had the break now, but I will have my chance in the next game.

Q. During the match you were down several break points, and I was just wondering what your strategy was, because Novak was making some great shots, and you were too, but what was your strategy to come back from break points and save your serve?

RAFAEL NADAL: Is not a strategy to play break points. It’s a feeling of that moment. It’s a little bit of intuition of that situation, and is play with right determination and choose the right option. Is not a strategy, my opinion. And against Novak you cannot have a big strategy with the serve, because I am not Isner and I will not win that free points. Novak is probably the best returner. He has the best return on tour, one of the best that I ever saw. It’s difficult to make the right decision when you have in front a players that is able to return very aggressive, very long. He was able to return winners from every place, so is difficult. I was lucky some moments. That’s it.

Q. With your problems with your knees before this season, you were talking about how the hard courts affected your knees more than other surfaces, but yet you had the best ever year of your career on hard courts this year after all those problems. I’m just wondering, did something change in your strategy on hard courts or your attitude on hard courts to make that possible? It just seems on paper very surprising.

RAFAEL NADAL: I think I answered that just a few questions before. It’s a really similar thing. I think nothing in particular changed. I am playing well. That’s the most important thing. And I am playing more aggressive than before. But I am able to play more aggressive than before because I am playing well, playing with confidence. If you are not with confidence and you are not playing well, it’s very difficult to play aggressive. Mentality was always positive for me. My mentality to play on hard, I never was negative to play on hard. If I had that success, my thinking is not different. Hard court is very aggressive for the body.

Q. When you won the third set and you were doing a celebration and the crowd is going crazy, can you try and put into words the emotion of that moment and that adrenaline?

RAFAEL NADAL: I really don’t know what’s going on in that moment. Just was a celebration. Very important point win the third set. After all what happened in that third set, was an amazing victory of that set. I make the celebration, but I really don’t have emotions in that moment. Then you finish the celebration. You are walking to the chair and say, Okay, I won the third. I need to be focused for the beginning of the fourth, because I am serving against the wind and the break is possible for him. I need to save that game.

Q. What do you remember of watching a year ago the US Open finals on television? Do you remember what you were thinking, what your emotions were?

RAFAEL NADAL: I was enjoying the match. It was a great match between two fantastic players. I am a good fan of sport, good fan of tennis, and I enjoyed watching the final in my house in the sofa. And that’s all. It was tough not compete, but watch the final on television was not tough. I competed in a lot of Grand Slams, and I watched a lot of finals on the TV (smiling) when I was competing, too.

Q. Do you think too much is made of your comeback? Meaning that before you came back, did you really believe that, I’m healthy, I’m still competing for major titles?

RAFAEL NADAL: Sorry.

Q. Did you think before you came back, If I’m healthy, I’m still going to be close to the top of the game competing for major titles?

RAFAEL NADAL: The doubt is if I am healthy or not. Then I said, I don’t know, to somebody at the beginning. When I came back to Chile for the first tournament I said, Well, most important thing is be healthy. With seven months, I am sure that I will not forget how to play tennis. But at the end, the most important thing and the most difficult thing is be healthy. If you are healthy, if you have been in the top positions for nine years already or eight years and you stop for seven months, why you will not have the chance to be back there? Is normal thing. If you are healthy, if you keep playing with illusion, with exciting and passion for the game, why you will not have the chance to be there? I felt confident that if I am healthy I will keep having chances to compete for the tournaments. Win two Grand Slams in that year is something that I never thought. But if I am healthy to compete well again? Yes. Not that early how I did, because in the third tournament I was able to compete well against very good players, and then win a Masters 1000 in the fourth tournament. So I never thought to have that. But after three or four, five months of competition, I felt confident that I will have the chance to be back playing at the good level.

Q. To an observer, this match was really defined a lot by surges of momentum. You were so dominant in the first set, and then in the second set it seemed almost as if Novak took the court away from you of points. And in a way also, you guys have played 37 matches now, which is a record in the Open era. You’re kind of entering into new territory as a rivalry. Within that rivalry, even within the rivalry, you have had moments where you had many wins in a row or streaks. I wondered if you could just talk about your sense of the rivalry and going through this experience with Novak and also the changes in momentum.

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I think against Novak it is very difficult. If both of us, we are playing well, it’s very difficult that somebody wins the match easy. Because physically, mentally, is very tough to play all the time and at that very, very high level, because we push each other to the limit all the time. When I won this first set 6-2 playing, in my opinion, amazing tennis, was very happy the way that I was playing. I go to the chair and said, Well, now we start again, because I am sure that I am not able to keep playing at that level for two more sets. Is impossible. The opponent will play better. You will have few mistakes, because it’s impossible maintain that level for all the match. And when somebody do a little bit like this, then the other one plays better because the level is very similar, in my opinion. We don’t play that different style. It’s a little bit different when we play against Roger. He has a different style. We are here (Showing arms widespread); with Novak, we are here (Showing arms close together). Talking about the styles. So that makes the matches more, you know, probably tougher physically, and at the same time, all the points are more similar. When we play against Roger, for example, you have different kind of points. You don’t have that long, long rallies like I have with Novak. So if somebody is playing very well, the chance against Federer to somebody win easier is higher than against Novak, because there is one clear way to win the points. Between Novak and me, every point is fighting, every point is long rally, every point is more strategy. This is very tough. So all the matches are very special, very tough. But at the same time, that makes special this game that matches are like this (showing same level), and the player who is able to maintain a little bit more the concentration, who is able to play with a little bit more determination in the important moments, will be the player that will win. Today I had that feeling. 2011 he beat me, I don’t know, seven, eight times in a row. So depends on the momentum and depends on which player is playing better and is more stable emotionally in that moment.

Q. When do you leave for Madrid? After such a long month, how do you feel about playing in a different surface in just three days?

RAFAEL NADAL: I will try. I don’t know. I will try my best to arrive I will arrive Wednesday morning, so I will practice a little bit Wednesday afternoon. Let’s see how my body feels. I have Thursday to practice a little bit more. And if I feel okay and the captain considers that I am the right one to play on Friday, I will. If not, I will play on Saturday.

Q. Novak’s coach said that the biggest challenge for tennis sport is beating Rafael Nadal in Paris. I think we have to modify the statement. Beating Rafael on any surface can be the biggest challenge in the tennis history, the tennis sport. What is the challenge for you next year? Probably making calendar Grand Slam can be a challenge for Rafael Nadal?

RAFAEL NADAL: No. My challenge is finish the season well, try to keep playing with good feeling, try to being competitive until the end of the season, and then prepare myself well for the next season. This season has been amazing, so just try to keep working well and have opportunities to be competitive. Win all four Grand Slams in one year I think today is impossible for anyone. That’s my feeling. We will see, but today the best players are there all the time, so to win a tournament like this you have to win against Roger, against David, against Andy, against Novak. These players are not losing in the early rounds, so that makes impossible be 100 percent in every tournament. So when your level is a little bit lower, you will lose against these players 100%. And that’s it. My goal is keep having chances to play, to enjoy, and to be healthy. That’s the most important thing.

Q. You had said after the semifinal when asked if you would look forward to playing, you know, the final against Novak, you said no. You were quite honest, and you said you’d rather have an easier path to win the championship.

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah.

Q. Listening to you now and hearing you describe how you match up, and he pushes you to have special, tough matches, in hindsight, looking back with the trophy and having won, is it a little more special now having won that having played Novak?

RAFAEL NADAL: At the end, the most important thing is have the trophy (laughing.) That’s the real thing. Because at the end, when you finish your career, will be the memory that you have. But the momentum, is true that winning against big opponents makes the victory more special. So that’s the real thing. If you ask me now, I will say yes. Is more special win against a big player like Novak than another one. But if you ask me what I want when I am in the final, I don’t want Novak in front. That’s the real thing. I am not like this stupid guy that you want to beat against the best. I don’t want to play against the best (smiling). I want to play against an easy opponent.

Q. Roger said earlier in the tournament that his love for this sport is more important when things are going badly than when they’re going well, when he’s winning everything. I was just wondering if you feel the same.

RAFAEL NADAL: Is no doubt that Roger loves the sport and Novak loves the sport, Andy loves the sport, me, for sure. We love the sport. Because if you don’t feel the sport, is impossible to be regular, to be there all the time for so many years fighting and keep fighting and keep working hard, keep having chances to win. If you don’t have these special feeling and this passion, this love for the game, that’s impossible. Top players today all have this big passion for the sport. That’s why they are able to be in the top all the time and fighting for the tournament until the last rounds.

Q. Two questions: One, I think he broke you three times in a row. Do you remember that ever happening? Second question: A lot of amazing points out there, but also Novak had 50 plus unforced errors. Were you surprised by that?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I don’t think well, first thing is normal that Novak break me a lot of times because he’s the best. He has the best return on tour. I don’t go on court thinking that I will have only one break against him. I know if I want to have chances to win the match I need to break him more than two or three times. And then in the fourth probably he make more unforced errors. Sorry, but before that, the unforced errors, in my opinion, we have to analyze the unforced errors, because is not the same when you are making unforced error after 20 shots and running to every place than when you are making an unforced error at the first or second shot. My feeling is Novak didn’t make a lot of unforced errors in the early shots before the fourth.

Q. Just 12 months ago, were there ever any moments that you thought that maybe you would not be able to play this sport again?

RAFAEL NADAL: To play this sport?

Q. When you were injured, were there ever any moments when you were concerned that your body would maybe not allow you to play tennis again?

RAFAEL NADAL: I am a positive guy, so I never thought about that.

Q. You said you watched the match last year on TV. You were a great sport. After the match you texted Andy congratulating him. Have you had a chance to check your texts yet?

RAFAEL NADAL: I didn’t read yet. Sorry.

Q. $3.6 million is a lot of money for working three tennis tournaments. What are your thoughts about that prize money? Are you going to give some to your Indian school, and is that school going well in India?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, we have more projects than that Indian school. We have more projects in Spain, and the foundation is getting bigger and bigger. So I am doing things very often for my foundation, and at the end of the season I will play a few things for my foundation, too. The prize money is great for the sport. The sport is bigger and bigger. Is a lot of money, is true. The only thing that we can say is thanks to the US Open, US Open Series, for that improvement on our sport. They are making a big effort on increase the prize money for the players. Just say thanks. At the end, it’s a lot of money anyway. But that’s not the real prize money. You have to pay the tax, and in Spain today it is 56, I think. Anyways, a lot of money, yeah. Is more than half. Is more than half less, and then is Euros (laughter).

Q. How many chances do you give to yourself to become also an indoor specialist and winning the Masters Cup? Why you haven’t won it yet?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, is something that is I feel that I am very unlucky, that all the Masters Cup that I played was in indoor hard. Is a tougher surface for me to play well. Is not the day to say, but is something that I feel that is not fair. Because at the end, you qualify for the last tournament of the season when the best eight players are playing on outdoor, playing in indoor, hard, outdoor hard, playing on grass, playing on clay, so why the last tournament of the season should be every, every year on indoor hard? Even if I understand that you play in a city that in that moment have to be indoor. Why we cannot play every year in a different surface? Not every year in the same surface that gives probably equal opportunities to all the players who gets qualified in all surfaces.

Rafael Nadal Wins Lucky 13th Major with US Open Victory

Novak Djokovic in His Own Words

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Novak Djokovic in His Own Words

Novak Djokovic

(September 9, 2013) Novak Djokovic’s post-match news conference following his loss to Rafael Nadal in the US Open final.

An interview with: NOVAK DJOKOVIC

Monday, September 9, 2013
From USOpen.org
Q. I can’t remember seeing a player play as well as you did in the third set and yet not win the set. How hard was that to take? NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it was disappointing that I dropped the third set, even though I felt like especially in first four, five games I was the one who was, you know, dictating the play. But it’s all my fault, you know. I made some unforced errors in the crucial moments with forehands and dropped the serve twice when I should not have. You know, next thing you know, all of a sudden it’s two sets to one for him. Then he started playing much, much better after that, and, you know, I obviously could not recover after that loss.Q. How disappointing is that loss?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it is. It’s US Open final, and Grand Slam finals are I mean, in the end of the day I have to be satisfied with the final, even though I would have loved to win this match tonight. But it was obvious that in the important moments he played better tennis, and that’s why he deserved to win. I congratulate him, and I move on.

Q. The three break points you had at 4-all, was it just hard kind of mentally and emotionally to get past that?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, it’s like it was a momentum change out there from Love 40, 4 All third set, he started playing really good. He served well few points. I didn’t do anything I felt wrong in these few points. He didn’t make a mistake. He served well. He came to the net. As I said, you know, all the credit to him. I had my momentum from midway second set to end of the third where I was supposed to, you know, use and realize the opportunities that were presented to me, and I didn’t do it. I didn’t deserve to win in the end.

Q. Obviously you’re disappointed in losing. Just wonder if you could appreciate the high level of tennis that was played out there. Obviously the fans loved it. Just some great shots. Can you grasp that, or is the loss too much right now?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I just right now I just came from the court, so it’s of course I do appreciate the occasion playing against Nadal in the finals of one of the best tournaments and most important tournaments in the world. So I’m aware of that. But obviously I just feel disappointed for losing. It’s all sport. You know, tomorrow is a new day.

Q. Is it right to think you may be missing just a little bit of confidence?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t know. I mean, I was playing well throughout the whole two weeks, and I can be happy because it was different from the hard court tournaments prior to US Open. I felt more mentally present and was going for my shots, so at least that’s a positive that I can take from this tournament.

Q. You just came off the court, as you said. You won six slams yourself. When you think about 13 for Rafa, can you kind of give me an assessment of what you feel like that stands for in the history of the game and maybe appreciation as an opponent?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, 13 Grand Slams for a guy who is 27 years old is incredible. I mean, whatever he achieved so far in his career is something that everybody should respect, no question about it. I mean, I was saying before, he’s definitely one of the best tennis players ever to play the game, I mean, looking at his achievements and his age, at this moment, you know. He still has a lot of years to play, so that’s all I can say.

Q. We could all see how physically demanding this match was for both of you. But could you describe the mental challenge of staying focused and staying positive against a player like Nadal and in a match with so many swings of momentum?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Difficult conditions. Obviously there was one side where you had wind in the back and it was easier to play. But still, it was the same for both me and my opponent today. It’s a physical match, and we both knew coming into this final that we are gonna have to be fresh and ready to play long rallies. On the other hand, it’s finals of a Grand Slam, so I think just that fact tells you enough of how mental this match is in the end of the day, you know, because it’s a huge challenge but also motivation for both me and him.

Q. Did you feel focused from the first ball today?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I was trying to. I mean, I wasn’t playing at a top of the level that I know how to play throughout the whole match, because credit to my opponent, he was making me run. You know, I had my ups and downs, but this is all sport. It’s something that is expected, you know, because it’s a huge occasion. There is a lot of tension, a lot of expectations, and it’s normal to have ups and downs. But, you know, you use this as experience. You know, it’s another match, another tournament for me, and hopefully I can take the best out of it.

Q. Rafa was asked after the semifinal if he looked forward to the prospect of facing you in the final, and he said no. He elaborated, frankly, I wish I would play a player who would be easier. He said, let’s be honest. Do you feel the same way when you are presented with that opportunity to play him on that stage, or do you feel this is an opportunity to play one of the best players of all time at the height of his game and see where it takes you in your game?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It is a challenge you have to accept, like it or not. That’s my view. I mean, I try always to take one match at a time with that positive kind of mindset, you know, keep myself in the present moment, and, you know, of course I follow all the top players, how they do throughout the tournament. But, you know, my main focus is on my next opponent. That’s what I prepare for. It was likely that I’m going to play him in the finals because he was a favorite in the opposite side of the draw. But still you never know. It’s a Grand Slam. All the players, not just me and him, are very much motivated and inspired to play their best here. In the end of the day, we played against each other, and, you know, the better player won. That’s all it is.

Q. Could you tell me about just the experience, incredibly long rallies in the second set, and if you have memories of it in relation to other points in your career?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, I played especially against Rafa on different surfaces and different occasions points like this where you just feel that there is the last drop of energy that you need to use in order to win the point. Sometimes I was winning those points; sometimes him. It’s what we do when we play against each other, always pushing each other to the limit. That’s the beauty of our matches and our rivalry, I guess, in the end.

Q. If you look back at your Grand Slam season, what is the dominating feeling?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, I wish I won at least one title more, considering the fact I played two finals. All the matches I lost, even the French Open. I had that match. I lost it again in semis. Overall, it was again very successful Grand Slam year for me. That’s something that I always try to have in the back of my mind, you know, to set my own shape for the biggest ones, for major tournaments. That’s where I want to play my best in. As I said, I wish there was another title, but it is what it is.

Q. Three years ago you sit here and you lost last time against Nadal Grand Slam on a hard court. I will cite your words. This was so frustrating a little bit. He’s getting better each time you play him. He’s mentally so strong and dedicated to the sport. After you achieved one of the amazing year in the tennis history, you move to No. 1. How do you think this time you can turn around again this frustration to extra motivation for next year?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I have to (smiling). It’s part of my life. I mean, many times you fall as an athlete, and, you know, you have to learn the lesson and keep on going, keep on fighting, keep on improving. That’s what we are here for. I’m still 26, and I believe best time for my career is about to come. I feel that. I believe that. As long as I believe it, the fire of the love towards the game is inside of me. And as long as that’s present, as long as I feel it, I’m going to play this sport with all my heart, as I did in last 10 years.

Q. Could you say anything at all about the No. 1 ranking, which is going to be pretty difficult, number of points you’re defending and the number of points isn’t.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: What can I say? He won so much this year. I’m still No. 1 of the world in the rankings, but year to year he’s far, far ahead, and he has much more chances to end up as No. 1. Look, you know, there is still tournaments to go. So we’ll see. I just try to prepare myself for China.

Rafael Nadal in His Own Words

Rafael Nadal Wins Lucky 13th Major with US Open Victory

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Rafael Nadal Wins Lucky 13th Major with US Open Victory

Nadal wins 89

(September 9, 2013) World No. 2 Rafael Nadal continued a perfect season on the hard courts when he defeated No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the final of the US Open on Monday night in Flushing Meadows 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Nadal is 22-0 on hard courts in 2013. The victory gives the Spaniard his 13th major, one behind Pete Sampras and four behind all-time leader Roger Federer at 17.

This is Nadal’s second major of the year. He defeated David Ferrer to win the French Open in June.

Nadal was dominant in the first set, breaking his Serbian opponent twice to take the set 6-2 Nadal won 80% of first serve points to Djokovic’s 50%.  Nadal committed only 4 unforced errors to Djokovic’s 14.

Djokovic turned the tables in the second set when his broke Nadal in the sixth game, a game which included an incredible 54-shot rally to take a 4-2 lead.  He held the rest of the way for 6-3.

The third set proved to be the undoing of Djokovic. He opened the set with a break of serve and ran up a 3-1 lead. Nadal won the next three straight games to get back on serve up 4-3.

While serving at 4-all in the third set, Nadal fell behind 0-40, slipping and falling.  Nadal recovered to hold on a forehand winner to end a 22-point rally and then sealed the game with his first ace.

Leading at 5-4, Nadal broke Djokovic to win the third set 6-4. Nadal displayed his famous lawnmower fist pumps in celebration.

“I had my momentum from midway second set to end of the third where I was supposed to, you know, use and realize the opportunities that were presented to me, and I didn’t do it,” Djokovic said.

“I didn’t deserve to win in the end.”

“It was a really important set and was a really special one, ” Nadal said.  “I started so slow the first game, but the end of the second, beginning of the third, Novak was playing just amazing.

“When Novak plays that level, I am not sure if nobody can stop him.  I know that was really important stays only one break behind.  If I lose the second break, then is over, the third set.

“So I tried to be there, keep fighting for every ball, and tried to be focused in every moment and tried to wait for my moment.

“So I know if I am only one break behind I will have my chance.”

Nadal closed the three-hour and 21-minute match match by taking the fourth set easily, 6-1.

“Very, very emotional, no?” Nadal said after the match. “Probably only my team knows how much (this) means for me.

“Playing against Novak always is a very special feeling. Probably nobody brings my game to that limit like Novak did.”

“It was disappointing that I dropped the third set, even though I felt like especially in first four, five games I was the one who was, you know, dictating the play,” Djokovic explained.

“But it’s all my fault, you know.  I made some unforced errors in the crucial moments with forehands and dropped the serve twice when I should not have.  You know, next thing you know, all of a sudden it’s two sets to one for him.

“Then he started playing much, much better after that, and, you know, I obviously could not recover after that loss.”

Nadal pockets 3.6 million dollars – 2.6 million from winning the tournament and a one million dollar bonus from the Emirates US Open Series after having the best results over the summer.

Nadal has won 10 titles in 2013, compiling a 60-3 record overall.

“This is probably the most emotional season of my career, ” Nadal said.

“I mean, many times you fall as an athlete, and, you know, you have to learn the lesson and keep on going, keep on fighting, keep on improving,” Djokovic said of the loss.

“That’s what we are here for.  I’m still 26, and I believe best time for my career is about to come.  I feel that.  I believe that.  As long as I believe it, the fire of the love towards the game is inside of me.  And as long as that’s present, as long as I feel it, I’m going to play this sport with all my heart, as I did in last 10 years.”

“He won so much this year,” Djokovic said of Nadal.  “I’m still No. 1 of the world in the rankings, but year to year he’s far, far ahead, and he has much more chances to end up as No. 1.

“Look, you know, there is still tournaments to go.  So we’ll see.  I just try to prepare myself for China.”

Nadal’s record against Djokovic is now 22-15.

“When we play against each other, always pushing each other to the limit,” Djokovic said.  That’s the beauty of our matches and our rivalry, I guess, in the end.

Nadal was asked about winning his 13th major: “For me, is much more than what I ever thought, what I ever dreamed.  I said that few slams, when I had few slams less, but is true.

“Means a lot, this one, for me.  Only thing I can say is the same like I do every time.  I gonna keep working hard.  I gonna keep doing my things to have more chances in the future to be competitive and to give me ‑‑ produce more chances to win the tournaments like this one.

“So that’s what I gonna try.  Then you never know when that start, when that finish, but 13 is an amazing number.”

“He definitely deserved to win this match today and this trophy,” said Djokovic. “13 Grand Slams for a guy who is 27-years-old is incredible. I mean, whatever he achieved so far in his career is something that everybody should respect, no question about it.”

Rafael Nadal in His Own Words

Novak Djokovic in His Own Words

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Serena Williams Wins US Open for 17th Major Title

2012 US Open

(September 8, 2013) No. 1 Serena Williams won her 17th career major by defeating windy conditions and No. 2 Victoria Azarenka in the finals of the US Open 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-1  on Sunday evening.  It’s her fifth US Open title. Her 17th major title ties her with current ATP player and men’s all-time grand slam leader Roger Federer and puts her one behind Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova tied at 18 in fourth place, behind Margaret Court (24), Steffi Graf (22) and Helen Wills Moody (19) among the women. At 31, Williams became the oldest woman to win the US Open.

“It’s an honor to be even with Roger,” Williams said.  “He’s been such a great champion throughout the years, and he’s just an unbelievable competitor and he’s still playing still, and he can probably still win more.

“So it feels really good to be, you know, in that same league as him.  He’s just been so incredibly consistent, so we have had really different careers.

“Then to be compared with Crissy and Martina, not yet, because I’m still not quite there yet.  I can’t necessarily compare myself to them, because, you know, numbers‑wise they’re still greater.”

“It’s always awesome and such a great honor, because I don’t know if I’ll ever win another Grand Slam,” the 17-time major winner said.  “Obviously I hope so.  I say that every time I win one.”

The win gives her a second straight US Open title. She also won US Open crowns in 1999, 2002, and 2008. She also beat Azarenka last year in the final. It’s Williams’ second major title of the year, she also won the French Open in June.

“I felt almost disappointed with my year, to be honest,” Williams said..  “I felt like, yeah, I won the French Open, but I wasn’t happy with my performances in the other two slams, and, you know, not even making it to the quarterfinals of one.

“So I definitely feel a lot better with at least a second Grand Slam under my belt this year.”

Both women exchanged breaks to begin the match, both adjusting to the extremely windy conditions. Both women gained control of the their serve and held until the eleventh game when Williams broke the 24-year-old Azarenka coming back from 40-15 down to take a 6-5 lead. Williams held at love to capture the first set 7-5. Azarenka was within 2 points of taking the first set on four separate occasions.

Williams opened the second set with a break, and went up a double break to 4-1. The Belarusian Azarenka broke Williams and held to get to 3-4. Serena sealed her 5-3 service game with a 119 mph serve.

Williams served for the match a 7-5, 5-4, only to be broken by Azarenka to even the set at 5-5.  Williams broke right back to take a 6-5 lead  to serve for the match a second timeand was broken again by Azarenka which sent the second set to a tiebreak.

In the tiebreak, Williams led 3-1, only to see her lead vanish and Azarenka take a 6-4 advantage. Williams saved two set points against her but Azarenka fought back and won the nest two points to win the set. 7-6(6).

Williams rebounded from a love-30 start to hold her opening game in the final set. In the third game Azarenka double-faulted to give Williams the break and a 3-1 lead. Williams gained an addition break in the fifth to move to a 5-1 lead.

“I wish I could do something better today,” Azarenka said.  “I felt like I had opportunities in the first set, as well.  But, I mean, it’s okay.  It goes that way.  I did everything I could.

“The game overall, there are things could have been better.  But, you know, I gave my heart.  I fought as hard as I could.

“So that’s what, you know, is important for me, that, you know, I lost to a great champion, but I still gonna have my head up.”

Williams held  and closed the match to win it 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-1.

At 2 hours and 45 minutes, it was the longest women’s US Open final match since 1980.

“I think the third set, even though the score was 6‑1, was much closer,” Azarenka noted.  “I had a lot of opportunities that I didn’t convert.  She took those opportunities really well.

“So that’s more of the story that I feel happened.  Not that, you know, that big gap of the 6‑1.  Even in the last game, you know, last couple of games I had break points and stuff.

“Yeah, just, you know, looking back, I’ll just really taking good notes.  There is no other way than going out there and working hard again, you know, to practice and keep going again.”

Azarenka was asked about playing in such windy conditions: “It’s not the wind.  It’s not the sun.  It’s about the match.  You know, it’s about the ball.  You try to do whatever it takes to win the point with whatever circumstances you’ve got to go through.

“But, yeah, it wasn’t pleasant.  It wasn’t nice.  Skirts were always, you know, lifting up.  You had to pull it down all the time.”

“The wind was unbelievable today,” Williams agreed. “It just got worse and worse.  It just never let up.

“But at this point you have to be able to play under any circumstances.  It wasn’t very easy.  I think I made a lot of errors because of that.”

Coming into the match Azarenka had a 31-1 record on hard courts, the best record on that surface for the year.

The win pushes up the American’s prize money for the season to over 9 million dollars, the first woman in tennis ever to do it.  Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had done it previously. Her career earnings will now pass 50 million dollars.

Williams earned a $3.6 million prize for her victory, including a $1 million bonus for winning the Emirates US Open Series after having the best results over the summer.

“I don’t play tennis for the money,” Williams explained.  “I honestly love to play.  I love Grand Slams.

“When I grew up playing tennis in Compton, I just never thought about any of this.  I didn’t think about the press.  I didn’t think about ‑‑ I didn’t even know all this came with everything.

“I think my dad got me into tennis because of the money, but me being naive and silly, I never thought about it.

“I just thought, I want to win.  I wanted to do what Venus does.  I want to win and I want to do more and I want to do more.

“To this day I have never ever picked up a check in my life.”

Williams praised Azarenka on court after the match:”What a great match and what a great person. Vika’s such a great opponent; she’s such a fighter. It was never over until match point.”

“We showed our hearts,”  said the runner up Azarenka.

Williams hit nine aces during the match, one at 126 mph. She lead in winners against Azarenka 36-17. Williams leads the WTA in titles in 2013 with nine, a career best for her. She now has a 2013 match record 67-4 on the year.

“I did everything I could. I fought as hard as I could. But I lost to a great champion,” said Azarenka in her post match news conference.

“I’m just gonna take the best out of what happened today, because there are a lot of positive things,” Azarenka continued.  “What’s negative is the result.

“But to take overall, you know, to see how much you rise to the occasion compared to the other matches, I think it’s pretty remarkable.  And the challenge that is in front of me is only gonna make me more motivated.

“I think, you know, we showed today that, you know, woman’s game is really, really competitive.”

“I have been to finals the last three years here, and that’s been really kind of cool,” Williams said. “You know, I never thought I would win Australia five times. That’s been really cool. Wimbledon is a little different. But, you know, this one I never seem to have won a lot before. Now I’m like, yes, I can finally say I have won this one a few times, too. Overall, it feels really good to have those multiple titles in each of those three, actually.”

Williams’ win mark her 55th career tournament title. She ties Virginia Wade and Lindsay Davenport for seventh place on the Open Era list.

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Rafael Nadal Defeats Richard Gasquet to Reach US Open Final

Nadal

(September 7, 2013) No. 2 Rafael Nadal has moved into the finals of the US Open with a 6-4, 7-6(1), 6-2 victory over eighth seed Richard Gasquet on Saturday. Nadal will face Novak Djokovic in the Sunday final, his 18th Grand Slam final. This ties Nadal with Pete Sampras for the third most in history behind Roger Federer and Ivan Lendl.

The victory was Nadal’s 21st straight win on a hard court, extending his perfect record on the surface this year.

For Gasquet, he became the Frenchman to reach the semis of the US Open since Cedric Pioline in 1999.

“I made the semifinals, so for sure for me it’s a big step,” Gasquet said.  “Last time I did it was six years ago, very long for me.

“But of course it’s very nice to finish a tournament and to be in semifinal.  Of course I’m a little bit disappointed.  I think I was close to win the second set.  I could do the break in the second, you never know what could happen in the third.

“But I think he was little bit better than me.  No problem with that.  Of course it’s a very good tournament for me.”
Nadal will meet No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the US open Final, it will be the 37th time the two rivals have played each other.

“I gonna try my best to win on Monday,” Nadal said.  “But be the second will not make the difference.  What makes the difference is win the US Open.  That’s most important and win one or second, no?  Either one for me means the same.  That match means the same if I already had one or doesn’t matter.  At the end, for me the only important thing is the US Open.  That’s the most important thing.”

Nadal has now reached the final in 12 of 13 tournaments, winning 9 of them. Nadal was off the tour for seven months with a knee injury, returning to the tour back in February.

“Novak is a great opponent,” Nadal said.

“And when you have the chance to win against the most difficult players, is true that the victory is more special.  But not in a final of the US Open. The final of the US Open, what really is important is win the tournament, not the opponent. final of the US Open, what really is important is win the tournament, not the opponent.”

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