(September 11, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Posting player interviews from day 14 of the US Open.
Note from the US Open Media Operations Guide as why Tennis Panorama News is allowed to post transcripts:
S. WAWRINKA/N. Djokovic
6-7, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You look like a happy man.
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, hopefully I’m happy after a win like that. Thank you.
Q. Congratulations. What does this victory mean, especially against an opponent like Novak who you attributed your success to?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, this is amazing, for sure, amazing two weeks. I spend so much time on the court. Today I knew it will be a really tough battle again playing the No. 1 player, Novak Djokovic, who always push you to play your best tennis if you want to beat him.
That’s why I start to do, and I try to do. Was not only in the tennis side but physically and mentally was really tough, again. Honestly after the match I was completely empty. I put everything on the court. Not only today, but the past two weeks.
Today I was trying to stay with him. I was trying to be tough with myself. Trying not to show anything. Not to show any pain. Not to show any cramp. Not to show anything. I was suffering on the court, but I’m happy and proud with what I have achieved today.
Q. He called you the more courageous player. How much did courage come into play?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, for sure. But there is no secret. If you want to beat the No. 1 player in the world, you have to give everything.
As I said the other day, you have to accept to suffer and you have almost to enjoy to suffer. Because I think this Grand Slam was the most painful, physically and mentally, Grand Slam that I ever played.
As I said, I was feeling tired already at the beginning of the match. I was feeling the cramp coming in the third set. In the fourth set I had some pain, but most important was what was clear with Magnus before was not to show anything. Not to show anything. Give everything and keep fighting and go try to win it.
Q. Every player has dreamed of winning a Grand Slam, but I think your dream is going a little bit further down. Maybe a career Grand Slam. Is it a coincidence in the last two years to collect these three Grand Slams or there is any, can I say a systemic plan with Magnus, focus on Grand Slam?
STAN WAWRINKA: So what? Are you saying next year I focus only on Wimbledon? (Smiling.) There is no plan. The only plan is trying to push myself the maximum to be the best player I can. I’m not good enough to start and say, Okay, I’m going to win a Grand Slam this year. No.
I’m trying every day, day by day, practicing hard, trying every match to win. And, again, I think the result will come because I’m doing that every day, because I’m fighting with myself to improve, to be a better tennis player, because I have a great team behind me pushing me every day to try to be a better tennis player.
I think this year I’m playing way better than last year. As you said, at the beginning, for me, I never dreamed to win a Grand Slam until I won the Australian Open. It was never a dream because for me it was way too far.
And, again here, I arrive here without putting goal to win it. Arrive here, take match after match. Every time I step on the court I know I can beat my opponent. Even today.
But when I start the tournament, I’m not seeing the draw and say, Okay, my goal is to win the tournament.
Q. You have had so much success now against No. 1 players in these finals at Grand Slams. What is it you’re able to do here and why hasn’t it so far translated — obviously these are the biggest matches, biggest wins. What is it that needs to happen to transcend to other matches?
STAN WAWRINKA: Well, I think I take confidence every time I win a match. In Grand Slam you play every two days five-set match. You have a little bit more time to make mistake. That’s what happen with me. I always try to be at my top in every Grand Slam.
As you can see, I don’t play my best tennis in the first round, but I’m trying to find a way to improve each match. Every match I won in a Grand Slam I take confidence of that, and when I arrive in the final I know that my game is there.
Today, before the final, I was really nervous like never before. I was shaking in the locker. When we start five minutes before the match talking, last few things with Magnus, I start to cry. I was completely shaking.
But the only thing I was convinced with myself that my game was there. Physically I was there. My game was there. Put the fight on the court and you will have a chance to win.
And that’s what happen after few games when I start to believe in myself, start to be in the match. I was only focus on the match, not what can happen if I win the match. Is it the final of the U.S.? No, I’m just focused what I’m doing in the court.
Q. You described the physical pain you endured and how you did not want to show it. What was going through your mind when your opponent called for an injury timeout in the fourth set?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, I saw he was struggling. I saw he was struggling physically. I knew also before the match that when I play against him I have to push the limit. When he took the timeout for injury I was just trying to stay calm, trying to stay warm. I didn’t want to get cold because I was also struggling a lot physically. I was cramping few times.
So I just wanted to make sure my body will be ready when we start again. Because sometimes we’re sweating. If you stop for five or seven minutes, then your body can react differently.
So I was really focused on my body.
Q. But what about the fairness of the timeout and the timing of the timeout? What were your thoughts about that?
STAN WAWRINKA: For me, I just ask the umpire because he asked the physio when he was serving and we played maybe seven more points and everything. I just wanted to know exactly what was the rule.
That’s it. If your opponent is struggling, if he has blood coming out, you have to stop. So when the umpire and the referee came to me saying, It’s like that. It’s just happening. We have to stop for him because there is blood coming out. We have to make sure he’s going to be okay.
For me I was fine. It was just have to focus on my body and make sure that I was going to be ready for the first point we play after that.
Q. Maybe you don’t remember eight years ago you were down two sets to love to somebody called Cipolla.
STAN WAWRINKA: I do remember. He never shake my hand. He’s Italian. He never shake my hand. I do remember on Court 11 or 14. Yeah, of course I remember. (Smiling.)
Q. Okay. I remember too. (Laughter.)
STAN WAWRINKA: Good.
Q. What were your goals at that time? What were you thinking that you could have become as a player? Were you thinking, Well, I’d be top 10, top 20 or whatever? That was one question. And the second one is very brief. Won three slams and only one Masters 1000. How?
STAN WAWRINKA: I don’t care. I’m happy. But I agree. I agree.
First question, my career was always the same. Always been step by step. First I wanted to be a professional tennis player. That’s mean living with your passion, with your sport. Then was to be top 100, then top 50. It’s always been like that.
That’s always how I deal with my goal. I never start anything I want to be No. 1. I want to win Grand Slam. For me, no. It’s always step by step. The only thing I want to do it’s to push the limit. That’s mean when I stop playing tennis I have no regrets. I cannot come back and say, Why you didn’t practice more? Why you didn’t did that or that?
No. I just want to push myself to the limit and see where I can go.
For the other question, there is no answer. I cannot tell you why do I have three Grand Slam and only one Masters 1000. I can only say I’m happy with that trophy tonight.
Q. Tomorrow in a few hours the people will wake up in Switzerland, home country, and they will be very proud and say, Stan is our man and very convinced about this. What I want to ask you, you’re very often struggling against players ranked 64 in this tournament. For example, Evans. Then when the tournament continues and you face the really tough opponent like Nishikori and of course today, Novak you getting better and better. So you have won out of the three Grand Slams two against Novak. What’s the secret that you can beat obviously the No. 1 player in the world easier than a player ranked No. so-and-so?
STAN WAWRINKA: Ah, as I say, before the tournament I tried to do everything to be ready. Before we started the tournament I was feeling good physically, mentally. My tennis was there. I was playing one of my best practice weeks so I was confident with myself.
But then when you start the tournament, you know you’re not gonna play your best tennis. You know you’re not gonna play your best game at the beginning. Also, you have to see that playing on Armstrong, on center, and now it’s completely different.
The day I play, the three match I play there was quite windy. I was struggling with my game. I was hesitating.
In general, the only pressure that I feel in a Grand Slam is the pressure I put on myself. When I play player like Evans, for example, I put too much pressure on myself. I don’t want to lose. I want to win. I want to keep advancing in the tournament.
So I’m not relaxed enough to play my best tennis, and that day was playing really well. I think you need to also understand that there is no easy match. Doesn’t matter the ranking. Evans was playing really well. He was making me play not my best game. I had to fight. I had to stay positive. I had to find solution. I did. I save match point.
For sure you get a little bit lucky when you save match point, but that’s tennis. The more I win in a Grand Slam, the better I feel. As I said yesterday, I practiced. I was feeling the ball. I could close my eyes. I was feeling the best tennis I ever played.
So I was sure that in the final I would be ready for that.
Q. You remember the last year Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in the final of this tournament. How did you face him today? Any chance to chat Roger about how to, you know —
STAN WAWRINKA: To lose?
Q. — to face Novak today?
STAN WAWRINKA: (Smiling.) No, I didn’t have a chance to chat with Roger. I think Roger is one of my closest friends on the tour. It’s not the first time I play Novak. It’s not the first time that I play Novak in the big final or important match.
In the past we talked many times with Roger. He ask me advice. I ask him advice. But, no, I didn’t ask him anything. I think I know exactly what I have to do when I play Novak, especially in final of Grand Slam. I need to be ready. I need to be focused and go for it.
Q. In your career we have seen a lot of determination, a lot of perseverance, and we saw a lot of that tonight. You hung in there and came back after losing the first set. Talk about perseverance and determination. Is that an important part of your game and was it important tonight?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, it’s important in my career in general. For sure tonight was important, but if you look, I have to be always like that. That’s why I saved match point against Evans. I wasn’t playing my best tennis, but I keep trying, keep fighting. Do the right thing.
If I go on court and I do the right thing, the things that I think can help me to win and I lose, then I say congrats to my opponent. I push myself.
Tonight, for sure, when you play Novak he’s a beast mentally. He’s gonna stay there. He’s gonna push you. Normally he always find solution. He’s No. 1 player. He won so many title, so many trophy, and it’s always the biggest challenge to play against him.
Q. Congratulations, Stan. I want to ask you, after your match against Evans on Armstrong, underneath there was a great moment when you were walking off and applauded by the ball boys and girls. I want to ask you what that sort of love and affection you get from the people and the fans, how that impacts you?
STAN WAWRINKA: I love it. I love the fans, but especially also the person working the tournament every day. Every day you arrive you see them. I love the ball kids. They always there. It was great to see them being happy for me after the match on the Armstrong against Evans.
If I can sign or give picture or anything, I’m always happy. I think all the person, I see them every day. Every day I come here. Every day I’m leaving. They always take care of me, my team, of everybody.
So I really enjoy spend time with them.
Q. You had mentioned Roger just before. Have you heard from him at all across the tournament or even…
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, a few message, yeah. Congrats, good luck. Things like that. Yeah.
Q. Was it encouraging…
STAN WAWRINKA: What I just said. (Laughter.) Few message.
Q. You mentioned before that you wouldn’t focus on trying to win Wimbledon. What do you think your chances are of winning there eventually?
STAN WAWRINKA: It’s too far. Too far to think about Wimbledon. I think I can play my best tennis on grass also, but so far I didn’t pass the quarterfinals. There is way better tennis player than me on grass.
I’m trying. I’m trying every year to improve. I’m trying every year to find solution. This year I had someone in my team to help me to understand a little bit better the game, but I didn’t play my best tennis yet there. Hopefully it will come.
Q. You mentioned earlier being so nervous tonight that you shook and cried in the locker room. Is this the most nervous you have ever been before a match? If so, why more tonight than, say, the French or Australian?
STAN WAWRINKA: I think the most close to that was the French Open final. I was also — because I don’t want to lose the final in a Grand Slam. That simple. That’s the only reason.
The pressure, I was feeling amazing after the semifinal. I was feeling great yesterday. Really happy. But this morning it start to be there, the feeling of you don’t want to lose. I don’t want to come to the court and lose a final. So close, so far.
So maybe it’s the reason why I was feeling so nervous.
Q. What did you do to quell your nerves?
STAN WAWRINKA: I had to put my shit together. (Smiling.) Sorry. That’s how I say it.
Q. You have always declined to say that you felt you were one of the Big 4.
STAN WAWRINKA: But I’m not.
Q. In his press conference, Novak was asked about whether it should now be a big 5 and he said you deserve consideration. What is your feeling on that? Are you saying you’re not?
STAN WAWRINKA: Okay, let’s — Novak is always so nice with me. I love him. He’s a good friend. He always say a lot of nice thing about me.
The Big 4, I’m really far from them. Just look the tournament they won, how many years they been there. If you look, yes, I have three Grand Slams. How many Masters 1000 have Murray? They have been there since ten years.
They have not only been winning, but being in semifinal, final every time. That’s why I’m not there. I don’t want to be there. For me, there is no question about that. But I’m trying the best I can with my career.
I’m really, really happy with what I’m doing so far. I’m proud of myself by winning three Grand Slam. This is something I never expect and dream about it, but I have them and I’m happy to take the trophy back home.
Q. Is the No. 1 ranking a goal for you at all?
STAN WAWRINKA: No.
Q. What do you think you have to do to achieve it?
STAN WAWRINKA: That question come every time I won a Grand Slam. But my best ranking was No. 3 in the world. It’s simple. I’m way too far to even think about being No. 1. Look at Novak is No. 1. He’s winning two or three Grand Slam a year. He’s winning five Masters 1000 minimum. He’s winning everything or being in the final.
I’m winning four tournaments a year. I’m happy with that. I’m really happy with that. Four tournaments, one Grand Slam. It’s amazing. It’s huge. It’s big. But I’m way too far to be No. 1.
Q. You were saying that the only pressure what you put yourself. Do you think that pressure is gonna diminish or decrease? You like be expected to do better every time?
STAN WAWRINKA: I think my first Grand Slam final I was winning really well. I was not feeling nervous; I was feeling good. I was basically already happy with the final. I came on the court to win it, but I knew it will be okay to lose it, also.
But then… Then… Then I’m not that young anymore. Then you start. You’re in another final of a Grand Slam. You don’t want to lose it. You don’t want to lose the opportunity to win that trophy there, especially a Grand Slam.
So I think for sure the pressure in general during the year go down, but when I play final the pressure go up. Because the trophy of winner finalist is not the same.
S. WAWRINKA/N. Djokovic
6-7, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Does this match mean that tennis officially now has a big 5?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, he deserves to be in the mix, no doubt about it. Stan won three Grand Slams now and three different ones; Olympic medal. Been around for so many years, and he plays best in the big matches.
I mean, he definitely deserves to be mentioned in the mix of top players.
Q. You called him a big match player just now and said it the other day. You said today he was the more courageous player out there tonight. What did Stan bring to you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Simple as that, you know. I just didn’t capitalize at all on my opportunities. I had plenty of them, break points. It was a terrible conversion of the break points. Just terrible from my side.
You know, in the matches like this, if you don’t use the opportunities, the other guy comes and takes it. And that’s what he did. That’s why I said he was more courageous, because he stepped in and played aggressive where I was kind of more waiting for things to happen.
And that’s it.
Q. You sometimes had matches where you’re the one saving lots of break points, including the final here last year. Do you remember a match like this for you before where you weren’t able to capitalize?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: To be honest, I don’t know. I’m not sure. You know, obviously Grand Slam finals are different than any other match. I have lost a few Grand Slam finals, some close matches.
You know, this has been one of the worst stat on the break point conversion for me, that’s for sure.
Q. What exactly was your fourth-set injury? What effect was it having on you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Just the toenails were off and bleeding. Yeah, it was quite painful to move around.
You know, I tried.
Q. The past few years we have been used to you being focused and keeping your cool under pressure. After the first set it seemed like there was a lot of anger towards your box. Can you explain?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, you know, I lost my nerves in the important moments. He kept his cool. I think that’s what decided the match.
I guess sometimes it happens, even though you have the experience and know what to do. Just the heat of the moment and importance of the match, I guess, you know, was too strong for me at certain periods of the match. Just if you lose your cool, the match can go away.
Q. You mentioned on court that you considered not playing in the Open I guess after Rio. How seriously did you consider that, and was the toe injury something that bothered you at all before today? Was that more the wrist?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, no, it wasn’t the toe. The toe just happened today. Some other injury that was, you know, very serious at the time. I really didn’t know whether or not I’m going to come, to be honest. Decided like eight, nine days before the start of the Open just to try.
To play finals, it’s quite amazing.
Q. You lost two Grand Slam finals now against Stan. What makes it so difficult for you especially to beat him in strong moments like Grand Slam title?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, he just steps in. He loves to play in the big matches. He comes up with his best game. He’s so solid from both corners. He’s got a good slice and amazing one-handed backhand, all corners. Big serve. Moves well.
He’s a very complete player. Sometimes if he feels right he doesn’t miss much and makes a lot of winners and it’s hard to play him. That’s what happened today.
Q. Was there any cramping going on in the last set from you or just the toe?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No.
Q. And what was the effect of the toe having on your game?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t think it’s necessary for me to talk about that now, you know. He won the match. He deserved to win this trophy, and that’s it.
I don’t want to talk about this and you guys think I’m finding excuses. It’s just not necessary.
Q. Can you talk about the weight of his shot? Seems like he hits just a really heavy ball, heavier than others, compared to, say, a Rafa and Roger and Andy.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, he hits a very heavy ball, especially from the backhand corner. Forehand is very flat. You know, he goes for his shots from the forehand side. Backhand, you know, great chip, great slice. He uses that when he’s defending and then he comes up, you know, and can get you off the court with a backhand crosscourt.
That’s probably one of his best shots in the game. Physically he’s very strong, so he can endure a lot.
Q. Were you surprised that you were allowed to take a timeout before Stan’s serve? Do you think that was fair?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I was allowed, so I took it.
Q. Were you surprised that you…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Why would I be surprised if I was allowed?
Q. Because the rules say it should be a key medical condition.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was.
Q. Of course in a match that lasted for almost four hours there are many moments which could be decisive. Do you think there is one more than the others or some more than the others? I remember, for instance, when you were up — when Wawrinka was 2-1 in the second set, long time ago, you made two double faults. I don’t know if you were nervous, but two doubles in the same set is not usual for you.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I made a lot of double faults throughout this tournament. I was struggling with that shot and with, you know, with the motion, with the movement and on the serve, with the technique because of what I carried into this tournament.
So, you know, I was working a lot on it and trying to find that rhythm, but my body has kind of compensated and, you know, made some different things to protect the problem I had with the arm.
You know, unfortunately it wasn’t — the serve wasn’t there. When it was needed it wasn’t there, and in the big matches like this you need the serve. I lost decisive games in second and third set. Just handed him over with some unforced errors and bad serves.
But, you know, I guess I was trying to protect the serve, I guess, with other shots, but it wasn’t to be today.
Q. I guess your schedule means that you next play or are due to play in Asia. Are you concerned these injuries you have been worried about before the tournament and the injuries you suffered during the tournament, they have an impact on you maybe not playing there?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I sincerely doubt that this is going to prevent me from playing there. I think I’m going to be ready.
Q. Obviously just stepped off the court after a tough loss, but it is the end of the Grand Slam year; there are still major tournaments. You had that great triumph in Paris. (Indiscernible) What’s your assessment?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, winning four Grand Slams in a row for me was an incredible achievement. I’m very proud of it, so this loss today cannot overshadow the great moments I have had in Australia and especially in Paris.
So winning two out of four Grand Slams is pretty good year, and playing another final. I have no complaints. Obviously I wish that I could win another title, but this is what it is. You have to shake hands and accept the loss from a better player and move on, you know.
It’s not the first time. It’s not the last time I’m going to lose a match, big match. Hopefully I can learn from it. Hopefully I can get better, because, you know, that’s the cycle of life, I guess, for us athletes.
Q. Not just tonight, but this whole tournament there has been a lot of debate about injury timeouts, toilet breaks, whatever. You’re obviously a big guy now on the player council. Do you think tennis needs to look again at the rules? Do you think the game needs to look at trying to clarify what’s allowed and what isn’t?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: We’ll talk about it, sure. If players bring that up to the table, you know. You know, I didn’t have any I guess major complaints about that against me or me against any other player.
If there are — if this is a debate and players think there should be something changed in the rules, of course we are there to discuss. Will bring this up to the council soon I guess if this is a big deal.
Q. When you’re talking about your mindset coming into the tournament on court, another thing you added is if anyone would say you’d play finals you’d take it. Now you have played the finals and obviously disappointed in…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: In this moment I don’t take it, but…(Smiling.)
Q. That’s my point.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, sure. Of course. Just coming off the court, it’s never easy to lose Grand Slam finals, big matches, playing four hours, of course.
Of course everybody wants to be victorious, but at the end of the day, sometimes you win, you lose, and you’ve got to accept it, gotta accept it and gotta let it go. From a larger perspective, why I said I’ll take it because it was really, you know, in doubt whether or not I’m going to come here and up to really last day.
So I came in here, you know, struggled first couple of days with practice and first match and so forth, and then to get the finals, I mean, it’s a big result. Of course I set up a high standard for myself with great results I have had in last couple of years. I’m really successful and I’m grateful for that.
But, you know, again, I have to try tomorrow to look from this different perspective and say, Wow, I played finals. I mean, that’s not too bad.
Q. You sound pleased to get to the final, but I’m just wondering if you feel like the lack of match play on the way through the tournament took its toll.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Not really. You know, I don’t feel like the lack of match play affected my performance today. I just felt all right. You know, I was hitting the ball well in quarters, fourth round, quarters, semis I was playing good. Today I started off well, but down the stretch he was the better player. As simple as that.
You know, sometimes in sport these things happen.
Q. Sorry to come to the question of medical timeouts, but I just wanted to clarify. You said if other players are concerned it’s something you would talk about on the player council. Can I clarify what your personal opinion is? Do you feel the present rules are okay?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I’ve gotta check the rules even better, I guess, after you guys brought it up. Obviously there is a bit of a concern from, I don’t know, media or players. You know, there is speculations whether the rules are accurate or not.
So I’ve got to first check all the rules, because I don’t know every single rule to, you know, perfection. First I have to inform myself before I make any kind of statements.
For now, I know we out the inability for a player to ask for a medical timeout of he has cramps, for example. That was a big debate couple years ago. That’s effective right now.
Other than that, I didn’t hear too many complaints, to be honest. But again, maybe I just haven’t heard. Now I have to speak with other players and get myself informed and see what it takes.
Q. In light of your doubts about coming to the tournament, thank you for your dedication to this hard-working city and those around the world who respect such courage as well as entertainment. Why and how do you give so much of yourself in defeat as well as in victory in the sport of no substitutes or penalty serves after 235 minutes? Is it the way you grew up or have you evolved into such a champion in all outcomes?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, thank you for your nice words and compliments. I have to speak on my own behalf because obviously everybody is different. But the way I see things in life, you know, my kind of mindset and ideology I guess is that whether or not you win or lose, you know, in the end of the day you have to be very respectful towards the opponent, towards the sport, towards the occasion, to those people who come to see you.
Of course in the heat of the moment your emotions are here or there. You’re tense. You’re trying your best to win. Of course everybody is playing the sport because you want to make some kind of success in life. You know, what defines success now, that’s different for each one of us.
For me, success is not just winning tennis matches and winning trophies, you know. It’s more than that. I guess my main source of playing tennis, main source of motivation for playing the sport, is because I really like it. It’s my choice to do it.
But, you know, once you get to the top and you have that privilege, status, and position, then I guess the importance of what you say, how you behave, what you do, is much larger. Just not comparable to any other position in the rankings or so forth.
So I guess that kind of privilege, status, taught me a lot of lessons in life, and I got experience. I learned a lot about myself, about who I should be, who I should become, and it’s an everyday evolution for me and for everybody else.
That’s the way I take it.
Q. You have had moments on this court, including today and in some of the big semifinals against Roger, where you kind of call for the crowd to get behind you. Do you feel like that could have helped you in the fourth set? I mean, you were injured, but also had your chances to have break points against him. Did you want that support from the crowd?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I heard crowd chanting my name many times, so I’m very thankful. I don’t feel that that lacked on my side.
Of course Stan was getting support. I was getting support. The crowd was really enjoying the match and was really into it. I saw a full stadium for four hours. It was amazing. Amazing atmosphere.
Q. A key stat was the break point stat. Why do you think you had such troubles specifically on break points today?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I was saying before, you know, I didn’t take my chances. I had many break points where I was in the rally, where I had a second shot, where I just missed some easy balls. That’s it.
Sometimes you get that kind of uncomfortable feeling and you’re not able to, you know, let everything flow as you want it. You know, you don’t have things working the way you want them. That’s it.
Q. Being a protagonist of this match, can you compare the quality of this match with the one in Paris? In Paris you were strong favorite before. This time a little bit probably less because of your condition, situation, and so on. At the end, what do you think you played better? What do you think he played better?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Similar matches. You know, I started well and won the first set in both finals, and then, you know, close second set.
Then he managed to kind of make this breakthrough, you know, in the second and third. Then just both matches I think in the fourth set he was just playing his best where he was just swinging from every shot and every corner, going through the ball and being aggressive, taking his chances.
That’s how I can, I guess, explain and maybe compare the same.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Quality, I mean, quality was there I think from both of us. We both tried. When you have top two players — I mean, two top players playing against each other in a Grand Slam final, you expect good quality, of course. We played four hours here and Roland Garros was almost the same, so I thought the tennis was good.
Q. Given the high standard you set for yourself and the great start that you had for this year, how are you going to look back on this summer from a physical and a psychological standpoint?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, there is a lot to learn. You know, life is a big lesson. It’s a big book. You know, we keep writing the stories. There is another story to be written.
Of course, the end of this story for US Open. I wish that it was a bit different, but again, I think — and I will mention it again: we learn much more from the losses like this than from wins. Because when you’re winning, everything is fine and you maybe, I guess, shadow certain things that are relevant for you to face and to tackle and to work on.
But when you lose, then all of a sudden, you know, you just start questioning yourself whether, you know, you have done things right or not and what can you do to be better as a person, as a player.
So that’s where I’m at right now, and that’s what I will think about for the rest of this season and next year.
Felix Auger Aliassime
F. AUGER-ALIASSIME/M. Kecmanovic
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You’re out there, have two of the best players in the game right now playing on the stadium. Kind of a short dropshot away from you. Emotions there with you with them? What’s it feel like here and what’s going on there and you’re finishing up your match?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, it was kind of funny. It was not the same atmosphere as yesterday, I would say. Yesterday was pretty packed up and it was good atmosphere on the court.
Today was a bit dead because at the same time they had the men’s final. I really had to push myself. You know, sometimes you’ve got to play by yourself. I look around and find solutions outside. It can help, but I really try to focus and win my match, yeah.
Q. After what happened in Paris, how satisfying is this for you to win this?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, it’s obviously really great. Yeah, obviously I’m not gonna lie. I had some nightmares about this heartbreaking final. You don’t really want it to happen again.
So I was really focused on going into this match. I really wanted that win. Yeah, it’s obviously a great feeling. Yeah.
Q. Your opponent said you just played too good. How do you rank your performance today in all the performances you’ve had in your career?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, I think it was one of the best performance I have had. And also in the final you never know what can happen. You know, you don’t always play your best level because you’re a bit nervous and there is something big to go get.
But, yeah, I just stayed really steady. My serve, first-serve percentage, was really high today. I had a few aces, so of course it helps.
And in the second set I think I was really going through him and putting a lot of pressure on him, yeah.
Q. I think you were serving at 4-2 in the first set and you were down 15-40, I think. I think that might have been the only break points that he had.
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah.
Q. How important do you think it was for your confidence and for maybe his, you know, for you to get back in that there?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, I think there was a pretty good, pretty big game to go get. After, you never know what’s gonna happen. Maybe he gets back in the match and he gets more pumped.
Anyway, I would have been on the — on the next game would have been mentally prepared, so I didn’t put too much importance on that game. Because you didn’t want to get nervous at 4-2 in the first set because you’re down a break point.
Yeah, it was great to fight and get that game.
Q. And it was your serve that kind of bailed you out of that, would you say?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah. I had two good first serves, if I remember well.
Yeah, of course the serve was there today. I didn’t really hesitate. I didn’t look at the score that was down. I just went for my shots, and that’s what I do best, yeah.
Q. In theory, you’ve got another two years of junior career ahead of you.
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah.
Q. Is this win gonna change anything in your future plans?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, it might. It might, because I have already had some good wins at the pro level. I know I can compete with these guys.
And now being able to win a slam, make a final on two different surface, I think it might be time to go to the next level. But you never know what’s gonna happen next year. If I want to go back and play the junior Grand Slams, I will. Yeah, we’ll see how it goes, yeah.
Q. How exciting a time is it for Canadian tennis? Obviously Denis had a good win a couple months ago, and now you. What’s the general fight like at the moment?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, it’s pretty cool for the Canadian tennis. I’m happy for all of us. I’m happy for the people that work with us. They have put in so much work.
Obviously I was very proud of Denis’ win. I’m sure he probably texted me already to congratulate me because he’s one of my good friends.
But, yeah, it’s great to see us having success like this. I hope we can reach the highest stage.
Q. When you’re looking at turning pro, how much do you follow what other guys, other teenagers, have been able to do at the next level? Casper Ruud just won a challenger today. Do those sort of things influence you or you think differently about yourself, or is it all just about you?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I mean, I think everyone has his own path. Some guys, they win early in juniors but it doesn’t go as well in the pros.
A guy like Taylor won the US Open last year and was top 100 the year after. No, everyone is kind of different. We’ll see how my body feels after this year. We’ll make the adjustments that we need to do, yeah.
Q. Is being No. 1 junior, does that have any significance for you?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Not so much, I would say, honestly. I think the junior level is really great to play the Grand Slams. You know, you kind of get the feeling of the environment and you see the big guys next to you and you have the chance to see these unbelievable tournaments.
But after all, it’s really in the pro circuit that that is really important. Obviously I would want to be No. 1 in the world. It would be a big bonus, but that’s not what we are aiming for here.
Q. After the French Open you said you had to go back to school. Is that the same thing now?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, same thing. Not quite, because I’m leaving for junior Davis Cup in a few days in Hungary. Yeah, obviously school’s gotta keep going. Yeah.
Q. Can you explain to us what you have experienced during the week leading up till today, till your win?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, it wasn’t an easy week. I have had some tough matches in the first rounds. It’s never easy to come to a Grand Slam. You know, you’ve reach a final before, but every opponents are still going to be tough. You still have to go win and win every match. There is no free rounds.
Yeah, it was tough. Also with the heat and my health it was kind of difficult at some points, but that’s where you have to mentally stay calm, stay on your feet, and just take it one day at a time. Yeah.
Q. Can you tell us how tall you are?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: 1 meter 88, so 6’2″, 6’2.5″. Not 6’3″ yet.
Q. Have you been growing lately?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I haven’t looked at it so much, but yeah, obviously I have been growing. Yeah, I feel it in my game, I feel it in everything.
But, yeah, I have been growth a few inches in the last year, yeah.
Q. You have played a whole week with the serve clock. Do you have any impressions on that, whether that’s good for the game or whether it made any difference to you?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I don’t know. Maybe I’m not the right person to ask because I don’t really look at it. It’s kind of — I try really not to look at it, because it’s kind of in weird places. Sometimes you have to look up, so I’m not really comfortable with that.
It’s good. I think it helps everyone around and I think it helps the umpire to make the calls. Yeah, it’s not bad.
2-6, 7-6, 6-4
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You like that?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: We were just looking at the names.
LUCIE SAFAROVA: Pretty good company.
Q. Your names will join those names. How does that feel?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: That’s pretty cool.
LUCIE SAFAROVA: Amazing.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Some greats on there. I just noticed that Martina Hingis won it in ’98. That’s pretty impressive for her to be No. 1 right now, or 2.
Q. So talk about, first of all, you guys were down. What a turnaround in the second set; obviously carried it right into the third. Talk about the match.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Yeah, you know what? It was a little bit of a slow start, but I’ve gotta give credit to our opponents. They came out playing big, serving big, making all their rolls, ripping returns.
You know, I think one of the things that we do really well is we don’t get too down no matter what the score is. We’re really positive.
It was funny. I think Lucie had more energy than me. She was carrying me on her back and getting me pumped up.
LUCIE SAFAROVA: Any time.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: But that’s what good friends and partner do. It happens sometimes. You play a team that’s playing good or you might not be making all the shots, but any match can turn around in a couple of points.
That’s just a matter of sticking to it.
Q. You guys seem like you’re genuinely good friends.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Or we’re really good at faking it. I don’t think we’re that good of actors, otherwise I might have to consider a career switch.
Q. Talk about the chemistry between the two of you. How much does that contribute now, just your third Grand Slam title?
LUCIE SAFAROVA: It’s amazing. Third.
No, I think the chemistry is great. We complement each other so well. Our games just fit. We have done so well in all the tournaments, and now this year has been tough year for us because I have been out for half a year with my sickness and missed Australia.
Then Bethanie broke her finger just before French Open, so that kind of like…
But we both stick together and believed that once we are again strong, healthy —
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Feeling good.
LUCIE SAFAROVA: — and feeling that we can do this, and we did, so it’s amazing.
Q. Going forward, are you sniffing a career Grand Slam?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: We actually just got asked that on the court now. They were talking about Wimbledon. I was like, We have so many tournaments before Wimbledon. I don’t even know if we can start to think about it.
I mean, really, we’re enjoying the moment. I mean, this is a huge win. I mean, we both looked at each other and we said, We have a US Open trophy right now. I think especially being 9/11, it’s really a big thing to enjoy the people you’re with, enjoy the moment. I get a little emotional.
LUCIE SAFAROVA: No, our thoughts and prayers are with the families. I know it’s a tough day for everyone.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: So it was really special to win it today, I think.
Q. Can you talk about how you first got together?
LUCIE SAFAROVA: My coach Rob.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Yeah, it was a blind date, actually. We both didn’t have partners for Australia.
LUCIE SAFAROVA: You were coming back after injury.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I hadn’t actually played a lot of doubles. I actually didn’t have a ranking. Lucie took a chance on me. (Smiling.)
It was like, all right, come on.
LUCIE SAFAROVA: Knew here before but not so well and never played obviously together. Then I asked her if we should do like Sydney before the Australian Open. She’s like, No, I’m playing with Sania already.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I was like, We’ll be good. We’ll just roll with it in Australia. All good.
LUCIE SAFAROVA: And then we won the Grand Slam.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: That’s pretty good.
Q. It’s an Olympic year and so any teams that are like different countries, I’m sure you maybe would have thought, maybe I should play, like, Bethanie, full time with Coco theoretically or Lucie practiced with Barbora, and even with injuries and everything, you stuck together as a tour team. Can you talk through that decision? Was it ever tenuous at all?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I don’t think so. I mean, I played with Coco at Indian Wells. I think just kind of with my track record, I feel, you know, either I mesh with a partner or I don’t.
I don’t feel like I need, you know, 50 tournaments to get used to. I was really confident going into the Olympics with Coco. And if something happened to Lucie where she couldn’t play, you know, playing with Coco was fun.
Me and Lucie talked about our schedule and we really stuck to that, because that’s what we had talked about. It wasn’t — I didn’t feel like I needed to kind of play a guessing game, you know, whether it was with Coco or with Lucie.
I felt confident with both of them by me. Me and Lucie, had a lot of fun here. (Giving dap.)
Q. As an American, 9/11 has touched people from all nationalities around the world. As an American, to be playing on this very heavy, significant day, winning a Grand Slam in your home country, I mean, I can only imagine the emotions that you must have felt.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Yeah, and actually when we got to the locker room the news was on when they were reading all the names. You know, it kind of put things in perspective. As much fun as we’re having and as much joy as we get out of competing and all of the glitz and glamour of, you know, playing the finals of the US Open, it’s humbling to know that you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.
You know, it’s something where I just — I really appreciate the moment, my family, and my friends, because you don’t know what’s going to happen.
You know, I really — it is an emotional day. And it was funny. I was going to retire my American flag socks after the gold medal match. I said, You know what? For the final of the US Open, 9/11, have to bring them out. Had a great crowd and great support. It was really special for me to win it here today in New York.
K. DAY/V. Kuzmova
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. It was tough for you after last night to come back. Got off to a really good start. How did you do that? How were you able to recover after that late night last night?
KAYLA DAY: I think I was really able to mentally set aside what had happened last night and just move on, because I knew I had a really important match today.
I knew I had to forget about it, and that’s what I did.
Q. Is that something you have had success with to this stage in your career, or is this like something that you really summoned the focus to do it?
KAYLA DAY: No, I think I’m pretty good about, you know, leaving the past behind me and just focusing on being in the moment. And, yeah.
Q. Congratulations. You played in the main draw in the women’s event and the juniors. What’s the transition like going back and forth mentally? Or is it the same?
KAYLA DAY: Well, I think mentally it was a little bit hard just because it’s such a long time being here. I have been here for I think over three weeks.
But my coach told me I needed to separate the two tournaments, like to really make sure when I come back to play juniors like I’m coming to play a new tournament.
Q. You missed a chance to go up 5-1, I think it was in the first set, and then you got down Love-40 on your serve. Holding on in that game must have been a huge confidence boost for you.
KAYLA DAY: Yeah, that was a huge game. I got down Love-40 and then I served some really good serves. I was a little bit — getting a little bit nervous at that point, but after that game I felt really confident.
Q. You had a tough semifinal against Bianca and you kind of turned that around. What enabled you to turn that around? And then after the break for the heat, I know this is a few days ago, after the break for the heat you came out storming. Why do you think that was?
KAYLA DAY: I think I was definitely nervous in the first set and I didn’t fully believe in myself. Then at the beginning of the second and after like the heat break, I really believed in myself that I could do it.
I was really confident and going for my shots more and being more aggressive.
Q. You had a tough match against Madison earlier in the main draw. Have you spoke to her or any of the American women on tour since then? Any words of wisdom?
KAYLA DAY: No, I haven’t talked to any of them since.
Q. What does the rest of the year look like for you?
KAYLA DAY: I think I’m going to play a lot of pro circuit tournaments in the U.S. I haven’t decided if I’m going to play the junior tournaments at the end of the year, but definitely a lot of pro circuits to build up my ranking to be able to make the Grand Slam quallies next year.
Q. Where does school fit in?
KAYLA DAY: Um, I find a way to fit it in. I haven’t started school yet this year, so that’s nice. I start a little bit later than normally like other people do, I guess.
But whenever I have like a free day or like a weekend when I don’t have anything I do it then and try and get — either catch up before — get ahead before a trip or, you know, catch up after. (Smiling.)
It’s hard, but I manage to do it.
Q. What does it mean to you to sort of add your name to the illustrious list of Grand Slam junior champions?
KAYLA DAY: It means so much. It’s really great. I knew that coming into the match like an American or like somebody from outside of Europe hadn’t won — a girl hadn’t won a junior slam in like four years, so it means so much to me to be able to play for America and win.
Q. The ITF tells me you’re the No. 1 junior player in the world now after winning today. Did you know that?
KAYLA DAY: No, I didn’t know that.
Q. How important would that be, you know, to finish the year? Will that change your schedule to make sure that you finish No. 1?
KAYLA DAY: No. I haven’t really thought about that. I know that there is some type of rule that if you finish a certain ranking or if you get to the finals of a slam you get more tournaments.
I think that would be the most beneficial thing for me since I’m still quite young and I can’t play a full pro schedule.
Q. Where does this win rank obviously in your young career? And when you look back on all the different things that have happened these past few weeks, how do you see these two weeks how they unfolded?
KAYLA DAY: These were like the best two weeks of my life. Every day was great.
I had so much fun every single day, and it was just a great experience overall.
Q. How will you celebrate? Do you have any plans for that?
KAYLA DAY: No, not yet. (Smiling.) I’m sure I’ll think of something.
(September 10, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Current UCLA freshmen Jada Hart and Ena Shibahara survived two match points, capturing the US Open Girls title in dramatic fashion Saturday night at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
Given a wild card into the tournament by the USTA, Southern Californian’s Hart, from Colton, and Shibahara, from Rancho Palos Verdes, came back to defeat the American team of Kayla Day (Santa Barbara) and Caroline Dolehide (Hinsdale, Ill.) on the Grandstand Court, 4-6, 6-2, 13-11. It was the first time since 1992 that there was an all-American girls’ doubles final.
Just last month, Hart-Shibahara defeated Day and Dolehide in the quarterfinals of the USTA National 18s Hardcourts in San Diego and went on to win the tournament. By virtue of that win, Hart and Shibahara were also given a wild card into the women’s main draw. The pair lost to the No. 7-seeded team in the world, Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova, at the US Open two weeks ago.
Hart and Shibahra, who have been playing together off and on since age 11, dropped just two sets in the tournament and upset the No. 1 seeds in the first round of the US Open Juniors.
“That was definitely a huge confidence booster for us,” Hart said. “And just having the experience of playing in the main draw, and then beating then beating the top seeds. We knew we could beat anyone after that.”
Added Shibahara of playing in a third-set tiebreaker: “The tiebreaker was extremely close, and we were all so nervous. But I think we were able to handle our emotions and stay loose. Anything can happen in a 10-point tiebreaker.”
With Day-Dolehide lead 9-8 and Day serving, Day hit the one and only double fault for their team in the match. With Day-Dolehide leading 10-9 on Shibahara’s serve, Shibahara came up big with a down-the-line shot that Day wasn’t able to return at the net.
(September 9, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Tennis Panorama News sat down with the General Manager of Player Development at the United States Tennis Association, Martin Blackman, to ask a few questions about his goals for Player Development.
Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News (TPN): I’d like to know how became involved in tennis in the first place?
Martin Blackman (MB): I was born in New York, while my dad was going to Columbia University. When I was two-years-old, we moved to Barbados, that’s where my father’s from and I had two older twin brothers who played tennis. They were very good players. So they basically coached me, when I was a kid in Barbados from 2-13.
When I was eleven, we started coming over to New York for the summers and I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to the Port Washington Tennis Academy. So I trained at Port in the summers, when I was 11 and 12, I was still living in Barbados.
When I was 12-years-old, I lost in the finals of the Orange Bowl and Nick Bollettieri offered me a scholarship to his academy. So I went to high school at the Bollettieri Tennis Academy from 13-17. And then I played at Stanford for two years – two NCAA championship teams. Had the pleasure of playing doubles with Patrick (McEnroe) my freshman year so we became great friends and then I played on the (ATP World) tour for six years.
Coming off the tour I finished my degree at GW (George Washington University). I thought I wanted to get out of tennis, but a head coaching position opened at American University, and was able to get tuition remission. I was doing graduate work so I took that job as head coach and I fell in love with coaching.
I’ve had three jobs – American University for five years – loved it. Had success there, really learned what it meant to be a coach and be a mentor of young men.
Then I ran the program at the Junior Tennis Champions Center at College Park (Maryland), a program that produced Frances Tiafoe and Denis Kudla.
Then I went to work for Patrick in Player Development as the Director of Player ID and Development. Then I left for three years to run my own tennis academy and then I’ve been back in Player Development as a GM for 16 months.
TPN: You played with Patrick McEnroe and you succeeded him in Player Development. That’s a big name to follow. When you came in, what were you looking at, at first and what challenges coming in did you see or do you still see and how are you tackling them?
MB: Well I think the benefit of having worked in Player Development before, was that I really understood how our division worked. I really understood how our coaches and performance staff and admin staff were doing on a day-to-day basis, so I understood the operations and I wanted to make sure that I provided continuity in the areas that were working already.
The two biggest most impactful things that Patrick did were one – to bring in Jose Higueras as our Director of Coaching and to really create a comprehensive teaching and coaching philosophy in collaboration with the private sector. I think that has really unified the country, not in a cookie cutter prescriptive approach to training players, but in a framework that kind of unifies us in terms of how we see the game, how we train players and how we talk about the game.
And the second is the Team USA initiative that started under Patrick about four years ago where we made a concerted effort to reach out to the private sector, be more collaborative, be more inclusive. Making sure that all of the information was going through private coaches and really build and strengthen that trust with private sector coaches who are the ones doing the work in the trenches with those young players.
So, when I came in, I definitely saw those two things as working, but I also saw some opportunities to invest more in areas where there is a need. So a few of the things that we did, one is we had a need to support our best players between 100 and 300. Those young pros just coming out, they’re doing well, can’t afford to travel with a full team and we know from doing studies that the faster a player breaks into the Top 100, the more likely they are to go farther to become a Top 50 or Top 20 player. So we created Team USA Pro Department, that provides supplemental support for all of our American pros between 100-300 and that’s been really successful.
Tom Gullickson on the men’s side, and Kathy Rinaldi on the women’s side, supported by Jeff Russell, have done a great job of helping those players to move a little bit faster, giving them support on the road.
The other thing that we’ve done is that we’ve really increased our investment financially and from a human resources perspective in college tennis. That was an area, obviously, you look at our rankings, you look at John Isner and Steve Johnson. They’re our top two Americans, both went to college for four years. We’ve got Nicole Gibbs, Irina Falconi, Jennifer Brady doing well. So that was an area where we really weren’t investing a lot. I think we were a little too focused on the players who could turn pro coming out of high school and I saw that as an opportunity that we needed to capitalize on.
So those are two moves that I made to capitalize on opportunities to help more players and to help them progress a little bit faster and make sure those college players are getting the emotional support as they go into college, and making sure that we are totally engaged with college coaches to help with the developmental process.
TPN: In years past really good juniors would go straight into the pro ranks. You see a lot of them now thinking about going to college, because you see with both the men and the women, they’re older when they make an impact in majors it seems.
MB: Absolutely. I think there are two factors – one, the physical demands of the game have increased so much. The game is so much more physical, so it’s hard for a girl or a boy to compete with women and men. The other piece of it is that players are taking such good care of their bodies. Their nutrition, they are traveling with a physio. They’re stretching more than they ever have been.
The average age of the Top 100 player has gone up, I think it’s about 28 and 1/2 on the men’s side and almost 25 on the women’s side. If we had said that 20 years ago, people would have thought that you were crazy, but those two factors, the physical demands of the game and the fact that players are taking really good care of their bodies are contributing to that. So that’s why I think you don’t see as many junior players bursting on to the tour the way we did in the 80’s and early 90’s.
TPN: Speaking of groups of “kids” as it were, its seems that on the men’s side, like the Tiafoes and the Taylor Fritzes are coming up together. I guess we haven’t seen that since, I don’t know Agassi, Sampras and Courier? Some of them are down in Florida. There must be a lot of camaraderie down there with them all coming up together.
MB: The great thing about this group of boys is that, there is a lot of camaraderie, there is a lot of positive peer pressure. You know, Reilly (Opelka) will have a good week and Taylor will have a good week, Frances will have a good week and that’s really the type of dynamic we want to see. We want to see a group of boys, a group of women, coming up together, pushing themselves.
And the other great thing is when the younger players play our established older players that really creates a lot of positive pressure as well. So when one of that group you mentioned plays Stevie (Johnson) or Sam (Querrey) or Donald (Young), they really, really want to win. The older guys want to win. They don’t want to lose to one of these young guys and the younger guys really want to make a breakthrough and beat one of those established guys and that’s a very healthy dynamic.
We’re seeing that on the women’s side as well. The women were a little bit ahead demographically. After this tournament we’ll have 15 women in the Top 100. We’ve got Madison (Keys) playing really well. We’ve got Christina McHale playing well. Sloane (Stephens) when she is healthy, will be back doing well. CoCo Vandeweghe has such a big game. Shelby Rogers breaking through at the French. Louisa Chirico. So all of these women, I think are really poised to get to the next level. And luckily we have two amazing champions in Serena and Venus (Williams) to really set the bar where it needs to be, right at the top.
TPN: The announcement from the other day about the Adidas partnership, how long was that in the making? Was it something that you prioritized? Reaching into the private sector as you mentioned before, was this a big goal for you, or was it something that you thought about before coming in?
MB: Coming in my first month, our Sponsorship department on the pro side told me that this was a partnership they had been looking to form, if they could find the right partner and design a deal with the right parameters. So I gave my input as it related to what would be beneficial to player development. I didn’t give my input specifically, it needs to be Adidas or it needs to be Nike, but just in terms of what would really help Player Development and then Lew Sherr (USTA Chief Revenue Officer) kind of reached out in the market place. Spoke to a lot of big companies and at the end of the day it was Adidas that wanted to make the direct investment, not just in Player Development, which is going to be very beneficial to us, but also in our junior competitive national tournaments, in the national campus, in leagues.
Again, as I said during the press conference, it’s really encouraging to see a global leader in our industry making a direct investment back into the game.
TPN: A lot has been done, what more do you want to do? What’s on your wish list for Player Development?
MB: If I kind of take a step back, I think what are the two big things that Player Development does or should do. I think on the one side, it’s to create really strong relationships with our players, parents and coaches across the board, from juniors all the way through to the pros.
On the other side it’s to make sure that the expertise and the performance support that we give to those players as a result of those strong relationships, is the best in the world. So there is a performance excellence component and there’s a relationship component and if you don’t have both of them, you are not going to be effective. Because it doesn’t matter how much you know or how good you are at what you do, if you don’t have relationships and trust with the players.
So we have to invest in both of those things and if we get it right, we have an unbelievable opportunity at the national campus in Orlando. And if we get both of those things right, you are going to see the resurgence of American tennis.
(September 8, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Serena Williams had to hold off a game Simona Halep to reach another major semifinal on Wednesday night, while No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka ended the run of 2009 US Open Juan Martin Del Potro.
No. 1 Serena Williams beat fifth seed Halep 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in her quarterfinal, and will play Karolina Pliskova next for a place in the final.
“I feel great,” said Williams. “I’m glad I got tested. The best part of it is I feel like — I mean, I think her level really picked up in the second, but I had some opportunities that I didn’t take.
“So what I gather from that is I really could have played better in that second set and maybe had an opportunity to win in straights.
“I think if anything, that’s the biggest silver lining I take.”
Williams had 18 aces and 50 winners and made a big effort to come to net to end points.
“I have been working on getting to the net,” she said. “Particularly today I couldn’t do too much off the groundstrokes. I felt maybe I should get in more. It worked for me.
“I don’t really like coming to the net, to be honest, but I’m good at the net, I guess. I guess I’ve got to do what I’m good at.”
“I think it was a good match, Halep said. “I played well. I could play better in those moments when I had chances. But I think the level was pretty high.
“I’m okay with the way that I was fighting till the end. It’s something normal now for me, so it’s a good thing. She played really well. She is the best player, so her serve was huge today.
“It was tough. Is tough. I’m a little bit sad, but I have just to take the positives, because I have a lot going ahead.”
Wawrinka beat Del Potro 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. He will face sixth-seeded Kei Nishikori on Friday for a chance at the final. Wawrinka saved a match point against Dan Evans in the third round.
Del Potro, coming into the US Open ranked 142, due to being sideline with wrist injuries, is coming off winning the silver medal the Rio Olympics. Del Potro beat both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal on the way to the gold medal round.
“I think my tennis is starting to respond as I want, but physically I’m still down,” said the Argentina. “You know, I’m not in the same level that these guys. I need to just to stay healthy and wait for the preseason to get 100% for next year.
“I’m already top 100, so that’s good. Never will ask for wildcard anymore,” he said smiling.
“And everything here is positive for me. I’m so glad for that.”
“Well, I’m starting to play tennis again after a long, long time,” he continued. “Like two months ago I was losing first round, second round, 80 players or different rankings.
“And now I’m fighting at the same level as the top guys, and I already beat Djokovic, Rafa. I played against Murray in a great match. Wawrinka is the No. 3 player in the world and I’m there. That’s means something good to me.
“But I need to keep working. I need to get my physical back as soon I can, and then I will have a chance to play in the same conditions.”
More to follow….
(September 7, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Kei Nishikori upset No. 2 Andy Murray in five sets while 10 seed Karolina Pliskova dominated final eight newcomer Ana Konjuh to reach the semifinals of the US Open during Wednesday’s day session.
Sixth seeded Nishikori rallied to beat three-time major winner Andy Murray 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 to reach the final four of the US Open for just his second time. The man from Japan was a losing finalist in the 2014 US Open final.
Pliskova and her serve dominated her opponent 6-2, 6-2. For the Czech, it will be her first major semifinal. She’ll play the winner of the Serena Williams – Simona Halep match, which takes place on Wednesday evening.
The turning point in the Murray – Nishikori match seemed to have come when a loud gong-like sound echoed in the middle of a point during the fourth set. Murray lost seven straight games after a let was called on that point.
Murray argued with the umpire Marija Cicak’s decision to stop the point and replay it.
Murry then spoke to a tournament supervisor.
“Wayne McKewen told me that it happened four times during the match that the speakers had gone off like that,” Murray said. “I had only heard it one time before, which was on set point in the second set. That was it.”
A similar event took place on Monday night between Ana Konjuh and Agnieszka Radwanska. The point was not stopped.
The USTA said that the digital audio processor was at fault. Here is the official statement:
USTA STATEMENT REGARDING SOUND ISSUE IN ARTHUR ASHE STADIUM
One of the three digital audio sound processors in Arthur Ashe Stadium malfunctioned early in the fourth set of the Kei Nishikori – Andy Murray match. The malfunctioning unit is located at the court level. The three processors are linked, and work as a single unit. The malfunctioning unit could not be taken off-line without interrupting play. The malfunctioning unit will be replaced between the day and evening sessions. The replacement of the unit, which requires the shutting down and then re-booting of the system, can take up to thirty minutes.
The men’s match had been halted for rain in the second set and the roof was soon closed.
In the fifth set, Nishikori initially taking the break advantage until serving at 4-3, when after going up 40-0, he made several errors to give back the break. Both men held for 5-5 and Nishikori grabbed back the advantage breaking the Brit in the 11th game and holding for the victory.
Murray came into the US Open as the hottest player on the men’s tour, winning Wimbledon and the Olympic gold medal, going 26-1.
“I have not let anyone down,” he said. “I tried my best. I fought as hard as I could with what I had today. I didn’t let anyone down. Certainly not myself. I pushed myself as hard as I could over the last few months, and I’m very proud of how I have done.
“You know, if someone had offered me the summer that I have had before Wimbledon, I probably would have signed for that. You know, asking me right now is pointless. I’m not going to have the best perspective on things right this minute, but, you know, after a few days, you know, away and stuff, I would imagine I’d be very happy with how I have done and, you know, learn from this match today and the summer as a whole, because, you know, it’s been tough. It’s been a hard summer.
“And, yeah, I’m happy with how it’s gone. There’s just a few things I could do differently next time.”
“I’m not disappointed in a way,” Murray said. “Obviously I would have loved to have won, but I have had a good run every match. I would have loved to have gone further, but it wasn’t to be today.”
“Yeah, it was really difficult match.,” Nishikori said. “I didn’t quite start well and lost 6-1. I felt it was really quick and I was rushing a little bit and missing too much unforced errors.
“But after rain delay I think I improve little bit with my coach, and I tried to change a little bit my tennis and start working a little bit better. I started get my rhythm back. Yeah, many breaks today.
“Especially fifth set it was really tough. I was up 4-3, 40- love and lost the game. So there was many up and downs, but I tried to calm. I think that’s the most important thing I did today. Even though there was many up and downs I tried to stay tough.
“Yeah, last couple games I took little chance, and, yeah, win the whole thing. So it was really tight game, but happy to win today.”
Pliskova came into the US Open as the only Top 20 player never to have been past the third round of a major.
“I don’t care at what time it came,” she said. “I’m just happy that it’s now and that it came. There are people saying that I could be there earlier, but right now I feel great and I feel it’s the right time for having the results like this.
“Obviously the title from Cincinnati helped me a lot. I was waiting for the bigger title for a few years, let’s say two, so that was next step.
“I think just everything is on time. I was practicing hard this year, and even the results in the beginning of this year were not that good as the last year. I’m happy that I could, you know, play my game on the biggest tournaments, which I didn’t play last year.”
Pliskova talked about the possibility of playing Serena Williams next:
“I played her once only, actually. I was in Stanford I think two or three years ago.
“I was completely different player at that time, so I am I improve a lot and obviously she probably as well. She’s a big hitter and she can, you know, have 50 winners and you cannot do much about it.
“But I still gonna hope that there is gonna be some chance in the match where I can get my chance and be the one who is playing aggressive. Obviously I played Venus this week, which is not probably that good as she is, but it’s very similar game.
“So I’ll just have to be ready for it, I think.”
If it’s Halep: “I have played her a few times. That would be probably — I don’t want to say easier for me. They are both really good. It’s going to be probably very close match tonight.
“But she’s not hitting that big and she’s not that dangerous as Serena is, so I would have more chances probably in the match to play my game and attack her serve and to going for the shots.
“But as I saw some statistics, she won last — from 24 matches, I think she won 22 or something like this, so she’s playing very good tennis right now. Probably she feels confidence. Will be tough to play her, as well.”
(September 3, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Serena Williams moved into sole possession of most match wins at majors at 307 over Martina Navratilova when she defeated Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-1 in a third round match at the US Open on Saturday.
Williams is seeking her 23rd major title and seven US Open title. She came into the tournament with questions about the health of her shoulder. Those questions have seemed to have been answered by her dominant play.
“Definitely feels solid,” Williams said of her shoulder. “I’m doing a lot of work on it so I can keep it in this position. Definitely not going to stop doing all the rehab and therapy, so I don’t want to go down. It’s pretty good.”
The world’s top player will play No. 52 Yaroslava Shvedova, who beat Zhang Shuai 6-2, 7-5.
Venus Williams opened up the evening session with a display of dominance over No. 26 Laura Siegemund 6-1, 6-2.
“I’m happy with putting wins under my belt,” Venus said. “I’m always in search for perfection. If it’s not perfect, I’m back to the drawing board, so…
“Today was a more straightforward win, but not perfect. So I’ll be working on perfection.”
Venus will play her fourth round match on Monday against big server No. 10 Karolina Pliskova.
“Each match is different,” Venus said. “I approach them differently. We play kind of a similar game. So it’s about one of us playing that game better.
“I haven’t played her that often. So go out there and put the ball in the court, try to win.”
“I’ve had the experience of playing her. There’s people, like today I never played Laura. You never know what to expect. You have to see what happens. You never quite know what to expect.”
Match ups for the other women playing the fourth round on Monday include: No. 5 Simona Halep against No. 11 Carla Suarez Navarro and No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska versus Ana Konjuh.
On the men’s side of the draw No. 2 Andy Murray had to battle in the first two sets against Paolo Lorenzi 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 to move into the round of 16.
“He’s ranked 40 in the world,” Murray said. “He’s pretty good. So I expected a tough match. I expected long rallies. I’m just disappointed with the amount of errors I made. I was quite impatient at times. That cost me in the first and second sets.
“When I did sort of play like I was planning on when I went out there, to be more patient, wait for the right balls to go for, you know, played much, much better, dictated more of the points. I wasn’t going for too much.
“The unforced errors came down significantly and the winners went up. The third and fourth sets were comfortable. Obviously the first two were extremely, extremely tough.”
Murray will play No. 22 Grigor Dimitrov for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Juan Martin del Potro came back from 2-5 down in the first set to beat No. 11 seed David Ferrer 7-6 (3), 6-2, 6-3. The 2009 US Open champion, a wild card entry in the tournament, ranked 142nd, last played the US Open in 2013 due to wrist surgeries.
“Well, I got stronger mentally after the first set,” said Del Potro. “Against David you never know when is going to finish the match. He never give up. He’s a really fighter. Also it’s a pleasure to play against him because he puts me all the time in pressure. I should play my best tennis today. I think I did really well in the second and the third one.
“I’m so glad to be in the second week on the Grand Slam after three or four years. That’s means a lot of good things to myself. Of course, I’m looking forward to keep winning. But my next opponent will be really difficult.”
Del Potro will take on No. 8 Dominic Thiem, who beat Pablo Carreno Busta 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.
Stan Wawrinka won the most dramatic match of the day, coming back from two set to one and saving a match point in the fourth set tie break to beat Dan Evans 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(6), 7-6(8), 6-2.
“I was frustrated, for sure, to be down two sets to one because I wasn’t playing my best tennis,” Wawrinka said. “But still had a chance. So I was trying to find the right way, how to keep fighting, how to stay in the match, and how to make it break.”
“In general, I think the second tiebreak was a little bit better from both sides. He was coming a lot to the net to try to finish the point. I had to play better, be a little bit more aggressive, more tough with myself. And I took it. I was, for sure, happy to took it.
“But I had the feeling in the fourth set that I was starting to play a little bit better. He was starting to be down a little bit, but still playing really well in those important points, still being there, still being tough.
“It wasn’t easy to stay calm with myself. But in general I think that was the key for the match. Was tough condition, windy against a talented player who is playing really well, who was pushing me a lot. He was coming with the right shot in the right moment.
“Yeah, the court was a little bit faster than normally, than the other big court. So I’m happy to get through. It’s an important win for me.”
Wawrinka will play next face llya Marchenko who was leading 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 when Nick Kyrgios retired with a hip injury.
From the USTA – FLUSHING, N.Y., September 2, 2016 – The USTA today announced that it will utilize a serve clock for the first time at the 2016 US Open, timing how long servers take between points during the US Open Junior Championships and the American Collegiate Invitational.
The serve clocks will be used to objectively assess time violations, and any subsequent discipline, which are currently assessed at the discretion of the chair umpire for any given match. Twenty seconds between points is currently allowed for Grand Slam matches.
Two serve clocks will be utilized on the scoreboards for each junior and collegiate match. The chair umpire will control the shot clock and start it after the score of the previous point has been registered.
“We’re going to try out the serve clock. We are not changing the rules, but we are testing the technology and getting the umpires and players used to it,” said Stacey Allaster, Chief Executive, Professional Tennis, USTA. “We can use the events as incubators for innovation.”
(September 1, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Former ATP Council President and doubles specialist Eric Butorac is calling it a career after the US Open. The 35-year-old Butorac won 18 doubles titles on the ATP World Tour reaching a career high ranking of 17 in 2011.
The man born in Rochester, Minnesota, currently living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will go to work for the USTA beginning in October. He will become the Director of Professional Tennis Operations and Player Relations.
Tennis Panorama News asked Butorac a few questions about retirement and his future endeavors.
TPN: What are your feelings about your career? Retirement?
EB: Hard to sum it up in very few words. I never expected to have a career like this. Moved to France to play money tournaments and stumbled into Challengers and eventually got into Grand Slams. It was a surprise to be even out there doing it. To look back and say I did it for 13 years it’s… strange feeling but also reward I guess is the word. I don’t know how to sum it all up.
I’m proud about what I accomplished, worked really hard and got to live a great life, see the world, make great friends. It was an awesome experience.
TPN: What are some of the highlights of your career?
EB: On the court, making the finals of the (2014) Australian Open one year, it was not so much making the finals, just more having one of those runs where we beat the Bryans. We beat Hewitt and Rafter. We beat Murray/Peers. We beat Nestor and Zimonjic. We beat like all of these great teams playing on Center Court. Having to feel that you did one of those all the way down to the final day when everyone else is gone and you’re the only one in the lunch room with two other tables and you’re one of the last ones standing. It’s a really, really weird feeling. I didn’t have that often so. So that was great.
Off the court, being a part of the Player Council was something really special for me. It was something I stumbled into and someone nominated me for it. I took it very seriously, spending eight years on the council and doing two as president. That was something I’m very proud of. As much as anything I achieved on the court, for the good of the sport I was able to do a lot more off it.
That was something that was really great.
To end here and finish my playing career here at a place where I’ll now come and have an office. It’s kind of fitting in that way too.
TPN: Can you talk about your transition from player to working for the USTA? How did it come about?
EB: Gordon Smith approached me a couple of years ago and said when I was looking to wind things down to let him know. They were interested in finding a place for me and about a year ago, when my wife got pregnant with our second child, we knew that it was time we were going to be looking to get out of the game to be home more regularly.
One kid you can travel a little bit, but with two, way more logistically challenging.
I went back to him and said I’m very interested and we talked about what we’d like to do. He was able over quite a few months to create a job description that I felt was fitting to my current skill set as well as what I aspire to do. What better to do than to join an organization that has so much scope they cover from coaching and training players to running one of the biggest sporting events in the world. I’m really into American tennis, how we can grow the sport in our country and what better way than to be our biggest showcase
TPN: What are some of the challenges that you anticipate in your new position?
EB: The US Open, I want to make the best tournament in the world, especially in the players’ eyes. I think that people here really want it to be that way. They want what’s best for players. Unfortunately, over the years for whatever many number of reasons, players are not seeing this as their favorite event to attend, so I really want to change that. In some it can be a mindset, in some financial additions here or there changing how players are treated or how they view this event but I think it can be done. I look forward to that challenge.
TPN: Doubles – what have been some of the changes that have taken place during your career? What would you do to improve the state of doubles.
The sport could be very powerful. When I first started there were a lot of smaller guys on the tour who were very “handsy”, very crafty, old school if you will, doubles players. Names you may know like Jeff Coetzee, guys who were really crafty and quick around the net. Todd Perry who is a friend of mine and nowadays it’s that bang, bang tennis. You’re seeing a lot of Horia Tecau, Bopanna who just bang serves, crush returns which is just an evolution of the game. There is still a Marc Lopez out there, there are still people. It’s become pretty physical, they’re big and strong and they bang the ball, which maybe isn’t great necessarily for the fans as much, but that’s okay, The game will always be changing and you never know what’s next.
What could be better? Guys need to know where doubles is at and they need to do a good job of making sure it’s a fan-friendly product. The Bryans do an unbelievable job. They do pro-ams, they do clinics, they high-five every fan. They do autographs. They rest of the guys need to make sure that they copy that same style, especially as the Bryans move on the next few years. They’re not going to play forever. But we have a few guys who don’t go the extra mile I think to be fan friendly and as a doubles player we need to make sure that we have that, because if we don’t our sport could be quickly wiped off the map.
TPN: You have two young sons who may someday ask you, Daddy why did you play tennis?
EB: I don’t even remember how I started. My father was a tennis coach. He never really pushed me to play, but I sort of enjoyed it.
Why did I play tennis? I think as I have gotten older, I realized that some of the things that tennis has the components of it, it’s an incredibly self-reliant sport and in doubles you have a partner but for the most part, you have to hold yourself accountable for how you perform. I’m a pretty self-motivated guy. I don’t need a huge team, or a coach to rah-rah me to work hard.
I’m pretty motivated, but at the end of the day I think I really enjoyed that I’m accountable for my own actions. I don’t rely on a team of 10 guys, or four guys or what they are doing. I pretty much have to rely on myself and I think that tennis really allows you to do that.
People sometimes focus on the negative side of an individual sport. You don’t have a team, that is missing. There’s times when that’s really fun. There’s something really great about the complete self-reliance that tennis allows you. So when you win, the satisfaction can be really high, when you lose it can be really low because there are not a lot of places to turn, except on yourself. But that’s what makes it so powerful and for me it was really special.