February 13, 2016

Kerber Surprises Azarenka to Reach Australian Open Semifinals; In Melbourne Debut Konta Makes Final Four

Kerber fistpump-001

(January 26, 2016) No. 7 seed Angelique Kerber rallied from 2-5 down in the second set to close out No. 14 seed and two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 7-5 to reach her first semifinal in Melbourne. It was the German’s first-ever victory against the Belarusian, to she had lost to in six previous attempts.

“I won against her for the first time. Does feel really good,” Kerber said. “Before I went on court also yesterday I was practicing in my practice to be more aggressive.

“I played very well. I mean, I was playing my game from the first point. Also when I was down 2-5, I was actually, yeah, playing more aggressive on this time. I think that was the key.

“I served very well and was moving good. I think the key from this match was that I was playing and I won the match. She doesn’t lose it; I actually won it.”

Kerber had jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set. Azarenka regained one of the breaks to get to 3-4 but failed to capitalize on break points to draw even in the eighth game.

“I did put myself in the situations to be able to turn the match around,” said Azarenka. “I just didn’t commit enough, and that’s on me.”

“When I was 4-0 up in the first set, my nerves came a little bit,” Kerber explained. “I was feeling it. It was close that it was 4-4. I was able to do the 5-3 in the first set, so that was a really important moment in the first set.

“Then I was just trying, you know, to focus on my game, to be aggressive, to be the player who makes the winners and who is going for it. I was not thinking too much about the score, I was just trying to focusing more to play a good match, to play my game like I played in the practice. That was the whole time until the last point in my mind.”

Azarenka hit 33 unforced errors in the match while Kerber broke Azarenka’s serve six times.

“I think I was a little bit too flat today,” said the former No. 1. “I obviously didn’t start great. For me personally, it was a little bit 10% not enough of everything.

“My footwork didn’t have enough. My shots didn’t have enough. I felt I did a little bit too many unforced errors in the key moments. I created a lot of opportunities, but then I was not enough on my opportunities. I didn’t take them. I had plenty.

“You know, that’s not going to win matches in quarterfinals. You have to bring it, and I didn’t.”

Kerber will play Great Britain’s Johanna Konta in the semifinals. She beat Shuai Zhang 6-4, 6-1 in the later quarterfinal match.

“It doesn’t matter against who I’m playing in the semis,” Kerber said. “I mean, who is in the semis played very good four matches actually, or five matches. I think I will just try to focusing on my game, as well. I mean, I will try to not thinking against who I’m playing. I will just try to focusing like today, to be aggressive, more focusing on my game, and then let’s see how far I can get here.”

“I’m in the right direction,” Azarenka said. “I just need to keep going that way and work harder, be as professional as I am. I don’t feel that I’ve done anything wrong in my preparation. It’s just today I didn’t push myself enough.”

Konta’s victory makes her the first British woman to reach the final four of a major since 1984. Konta, who is making her debut in the main draw in Melbourne will see her ranking move into the Top 30. She’ll be the first British woman in the Top 30 since Laura Robson in July 2013. A year ago the Sydney-born Brit was 144th in the world.

She upset No. 8 Venus Williams in the first round and knocked out former Australian Open semifinalist 21st seed Ekaterina Makarova in the round of 16.

Konta stopped a seven-match win streak of Zhang, going back to the beginning of the qualifying tournament. Zhang had not won a match at a major coming into the Australian Open, she’s now 4-14.

“It will be my first match against her,” Konta said of her semifinal match-up against Kerber. “She’s top 10. She’s an incredibly decorated and successful competitor and player. I’m just going to go out there and bring to the court what I can.”

“I mean, whether you’re the favorite or the underdog, I think that’s very much a circumstantial thing outside of the match that I’m playing. I don’t really think about that. It’s neither here nor there for me.

“For me it’s just about going into every match and being very clear on what I want to achieve out there and being very processor orientated and sticking to my beliefs and really the not judging myself on the results that come.

“Just really make sure that I give my best out there.”

The other semifinalists which were determined on Tuesday, are six-time champion Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska.

The women’s semifinals will be played on Thursday.

On the men’s side of the draw – in addition to Great Britain having a women’s semifinalist, it also has a men’s. No. 2 seed Andy Murray stopped No. 8 seed David Ferrer 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3 to reach his 6th final four in Melbourne in the last seven years.

Joining Murray in his semifinal will be Milos Raonic. Raonic became the first Canadian to get to this stage at the Australian Open. Raonic defeated No. 23 Gael Monfils 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Murray has a 3-3 record against Raonic.

 

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Azarenka Sails into Australian Open Quarterfinals; Will Face Kerber

Victoria Azarekna

(January 25, 2016) Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka has moved into the quarterfinals of the Australian Open with a a 6-2, 6-4 win over Barbora Strycova. This marks the third year in succession that the two women have played each other in Melbourne. They faced each other in the second round in 2014 and the third round in 2015.

“Maybe next year, we’ll play in the quarters!” Azarenka joked with on-court interviewer Rennae Stubbs after the match.

“She’s such a tough opponent, and I’m just so happy that I went through. I played smart, aggressively, took my opportunities and I really kept my composure.”

“I was more focused on staying focused because she’s a type of player that throws you a lot off your rhythm,” Azarenka said to media. I was just trying to focus more on execution and be aggressive and follow my game plan from the first point to the last.

“But I think I played pretty well there. There are things I could have done better I think always. That’s the perfectionist in me. But overall, pretty solid.”

The 14th seed Azarenka will match up against No. 7 Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals. Kerber beat German countrywoman Annika Beck 6-4, 6-0 in the first match in Rod Laver Arena on Monday.

“I’m looking forward to that,” Azarenka said. “We always have such amazing battles. She’s such a fighter and an amazing person off the court, as well. I just want to make sure we show some good tennis, enjoy myself and do my best. I’m sure she’s going to do the same.”

Azarenka recently defeated Kerber in the Brisbane International final earlier in the month.

“I had tough matches against her in the past,” Kerber said. “The last one was in Brisbane in the finals. I never won against her right now, but that will be a challenge, you know. I will looking forward when I play against her to really take my chances, take the next match.

“It’s a new one, it starts from zero, and I know what’s coming from her. I will try to be aggressive and try to go and win the match. She played very well from the first match here in Melbourne. Yeah, I will try to get another chance the next challenge against her, and we will see what’s happen then.”

Kerber talked about wheat she needs to do to win against the Belarusian:”I think I must serve for sure better, because she’s returning very well. Be more aggressive. Playing aggressive. Moving good and actually playing my game like I’m playing on practice and just focusing more on me and not on her game.”

Kerber survived a first round scare when she was down match point to Misaki Doi.

“It’s exciting,” Azarenka commented. “You know, I always look forward to play against her. She gives me always tough matches. I prepare myself for a very tough match because she’s very solid, very consistent, and an amazing fighter.

“I have to, you know, play my best game to beat her, for sure.”

Azarenka has a 6-0 record against the German.

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Third Seed Muguruza Ousted, Azarenka Advances at Australian Open

(January 23, 2016) Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza became the latest upset victim among the top women’s seeds at the Australian Open on Saturday. The third seed lost 6-3, 6-2 lost to world No. 48 Barbora Strycova.

“Clearly not my best, for sure,” said the Spaniard who made 32 unforced errors in the third round match. “I think today is a very bad day, you know, at the office.”

“I just couldn’t find the court, my shots. Yeah. Didn’t really find my game.”.

For the Czech Strycova, she’s reached the fourth round only once before in her career – when she earned a place in the 2014 Wimbledon quarterfinals.

“I will enjoy myself first because I beat No. 3 in the world,” she said.

“What went well? I think everything. No, I was serving very well, and the plan was like to play my game, mix it a little bit, but to play deep.

“And it’s not easy against Garbine, because she plays fast and also very deep. Today I think she didn’t have the best day and I felt good on court, and that’s why I think I won today. That I felt pretty well in hitting the ball so good.”

Next for the Czech will be two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, who defeated 18-year-old qualifier Naomi Osaka 6-1, 6-1.

“I will go to that match with confident,” Strycova said. “I don’t know. I have to play my best tennis and to mix it and try to somehow win and focus on every point.

“But Victoria is very, very good. I saw her hitting some balls yesterday and she’s hitting the ball very well. But we don’t know how it goes. She is 1-All in the first set.

“If I play her, I will just enjoy myself and try to do my best and like I did today.”

Azarenka hit 24 winners against Osaka who came into the main draw as a qualifier.

“It wasn’t easy for sure, especially when you don’t know who you play.”

“She’s a little unpredictable and she surprised me with her game.”
The bottom half of the women’s draw has been decimated with upsets leaving No. 7 Angelique Kerber as the highest-ranked player left.

No. 47 Johanna Konta, who upset No. 8 Venus Williams in the first round, continued her run in Melbourne. She became the first British woman to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open since1987, with her 6-2, 6-2 win over Denisa Allertova 6-2, 6-2.

The Sydney-born Konta became a British citizen in 2012. She’ll face No. 21-seeded Ekaterina Makarova who knocked out No. 9 seed Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-2 . Makarova reached the semifinals last year.

Konta defeated Makarova in their only meeting last year.

“I mean, again, like I always say, you know, new day, new match,” Konta said. “The only thing I can go into the match with is I know she’s left handed, and I have obviously seen her on the other end of the court.

“But in terms of circumstances and scenarios, we are at a completely different venue, different surface, different time of the year.

“So I’m really just going to focus on, again, things on my end and see where the match takes me.”

On the men’s side Milos Raonic continues to advance under the radar. The Canadian defeated Viktor Troicki 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the fourth round.

He dedicated his win to the victims of a shooting incident at La Loche Community School in Saskatchewan in which four people were killed.

“Unfortunately in Saskatchewan in a very small community there was a shooting at a high school, so I want to take a moment and give thoughts to that community. Today’s victory was for that community, and a quick recovery and all of Canada, and I’m sure the world is behind you.”

No. 10 seed John Isner pounded 44 aces past 18th seed Feliciano Lopez to avenge a loss to the Spaniard back in 2012, with a 6-7(8), 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-4 win.

“It’s a big win,” Isner said. “It’s a very tough opponent, especially for me, the way he plays. It certainly has given me trouble before in the past.

“Also been a little while since I’ve been in the Round of 16 at this tournament. It feels great. I’m very relieved to get through, want to keep on going.”

The victory puts the American in the round of 16 for just the second time in Melbourne. He also achieved that milestone in 2010.

“I’m proud of the fact that I was able to, especially in the third and fourth sets, play some very good tennis. Really I went out there and I had a game plan and executed it very well in the third and fourth sets.

“Not in the first two sets, which is why I was frustrated out there at times. A lot of things I focused on about this match. I did some of them very well. I’m proud of that. You know, I was very well-prepared, so it’s a good feeling to get through.”

He’ll play No. 8 seed David Ferrer for a chance to reach the quarterfinals.

“My last match in 2015 he beat me, as well, in Paris,” Isner said of Ferrer. I’ve got to play aggressive. I mean, he’s going to want to get on top of that baseline and move me around all day. He’s not going to get tired. We all know that.”

 

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Victoria Azarenka Victorious in Brisbane for 18th WTA Title

 

(January 9, 2016) Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka won her first tournament since Cincinnati in August of 2013 by capturing the Brisbane International. The woman from Belarus dominated the fourth seed, German Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-1. This is the 18th career WTA title for Azarenka and the second time she has won this event. She last captured the crown in 2009.

“Every time I play in front of this crowd I couldn’t be happier,” said the champion to the crowd after the match. “My dreams come true whenever I step on the court, and I want to thank you all for showing up, motivating us so much and inspiring us so much.”

 

The beginning of the tournament saw top seeds withdraw with injuries in Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova. The unseeded Azarenka who has dealt with injuries to her left leg and foot over the past two years, seeing ranking slip to No. 22, lost a mere 17 games en route to the tournament victory. That ties her with No. 1 Serena Williams in least games surrendered during the tournament.

Azarenka hit 23 winners to 9 unforced errors in her match against Kerber. She is now 6-0 against the German.

Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013 has now won 35 out of her last 39 matches down under dating back to 2012.

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Roger Federer Begins 2016 with Decisive Win in Brisbane

(January 7, 2016) Brisbane International defending champion Roger Federer began his season on Thursday with a 6-2, 6-1 win over qualifier Tobias Kamke. The top seed and world No. 3 asked tournament organizers to delay his match by a day as he along with his family are battling the flu.

Federer took advantage of five break point chances to defeat his opponent in 55 minutes in his first match of 2016.

Federer’s win puts him the quarterfinals against Grigor Dimitrov who rallied to beat Viktor Troicki 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-2. Federer is 3-0 against Dimitrov.

On the women’s side, injuries have knocked out the top seeds earlier in the week, but two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka demolished Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-3 to reach the semifinals. Azarenka has suffered foot and leg injuries over the past few years.

Azarenka will take on surprise semifinalist U.S. qualifier Samantha Crawford, ranked No. 142 who beat Andrea Pektovic 6-3, 6-0. Crawford, who won the 2012 US Open Junior Girls’ title, became the first female qualifier in tournament history to reach the semifinals of the event

BRISBANE INTERNATIONAL

RESULTS – JANUARY 07, 2016
Women’s Singles – Quarterfinals
[4] A. Kerber (GER) d A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 64 64
[6] C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) d V. Lepchenko (USA) 46 64 75
V. Azarenka (BLR) d [8] R. Vinci (ITA) 61 62
[Q] S. Crawford (USA) d A. Petkovic (GER) 63 60

Women’s Doubles – Quarterfinals
A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) d [3] A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS) 26 76(8) 10-7
[WC] A. Kerber (GER) / A. Petkovic (GER) d R. Atawo (USA) / A. Cornet (FRA) 62 63

Men’s Singles – Second Round
[1] R. Federer (SUI) d [Q] T. Kamke (GER) 62 61
[4] M. Raonic (CAN) d [Q] I. Dodig (CRO) 67(2) 61 64
L. Pouille (FRA) d [6] D. Goffin (BEL) 76(5) 46 63
G. Dimitrov (BUL) d V. Troicki (SRB) 57 76(6) 62

Men’s Doubles – Quarterfinals
[4] D. Inglot (GBR) / R. Lindstedt (SWE) d [WC] M. Reid (AUS) / J. Smith (AUS) 76(0) 62

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, JANUARY 08, 2016
PAT RAFTER ARENA start 11:00 am
ATP – L. Pouille (FRA) vs [4] M. Raonic (CAN)

Not Before 1:00 pm
ATP – [7] B. Tomic (AUS) vs [2] K. Nishikori (JPN)

Not Before 3:00 pm
WTA – [4] A. Kerber (GER) vs [6] C. Suárez Navarro (ESP)

Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – [1] R. Federer (SUI) or [Q] T. Kamke (GER) vs G. Dimitrov (BUL)

Not Before 9:00 pm
WTA – V. Azarenka (BLR) vs [Q] S. Crawford (USA)

SHOW COURT 1 start 1:00 pm
WTA – [1] M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) vs [4] A. Klepac (SLO) / A. Kudryavtseva (RUS)

Not Before 4:30 pm
ATP – [3] M. Cilic (CRO) vs [8] D. Thiem (AUT)
WTA – A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) vs [WC] A. Kerber (GER) / A. Petkovic (GER)

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In Their Own Words – Federer, Wawrinka, Anderson, Halep, Azarenka, Pennetta and Kvitova

228 Federer hands up celebration-001

 

U.S. OPEN

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Roger Federer

Press Conference

R. FEDERER/R. Gasquet

6-3, 6-3, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. At 34, how do you explain continuing to peak? How are you able to maintain such a high level?
ROGER FEDERER: Ah, I don’t know. I mean, since a few years now or many years I have tried to look at the big picture to hopefully still be playing at a high level at this age. So in some ways I am not surprised I am playing as well as I am.

I think I have worked on my game moving forward, have been able to take the ball earlier, and, you know, I think I’m volleying better than I have the last 10 years. I think I was volleying well coming up on the tour when I was younger because I was spending more time at net.

I think that gave me confidence to keep working on that, moving forward. Now because my serving is working quite well, you put those two things together, and standing in on the return as well, I think has changed the dynamics a little bit. It’s all about keeping yourself in shape and staying injury-free. And motivated, I guess.

Q. You have Stan next. You know him well. What do you think it is about his game or his mentality that lets him play so well at times against the top guys? Like against you and Novak at the French.
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I think a lot comes through practice for Stan, because he’s worked very hard throughout his career. It took him a while to figure out exactly what his possibilities were. I don’t think he was a guy who always, you know, had enough confidence.

I always thought he was a better player than he actually was, but somehow something was holding him back maybe. I think only once when he really started to break through and he had some big wins — I recall a big win for him when he beat Hewitt in the fifth deciding match in Davis Cup in Sydney. Beat him on the grass two sets to one down. Came back and won it. Played unbelievable tennis at the end.

Then I think in practice he started working to hit the ball harder consistently, and today he can consistently bring the power on forehand, backhand, and serve almost anybody when he gets hot.

I’m happy he found that level of play. Two slams, got Davis Cup, Olympic gold. Has a complete career. Won a Masters 1000. Has everything he ever wanted. He has had a wonderful career.

Looking forward to playing him, because he definitely is a big test and a big challenge for me. He beat me in straight at the French, so I hope I can do better this time.

Q. During the tournament, how much time do you spend taking care of your body? How much of that maintenance is, shall we say, age-related?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I guess I’m more professional these days; whereas when I was coming up on tour I would bounce up and down for two minutes and then just walk out to the practice and do almost the same for the match.

These days I take more time, put in more of the core exercises, do more stretching. Sometimes I just can’t wait to get off the table again honestly. It’s nice not to be on there all the time.

Yeah, for me, also sleeping has become quite important. I make sure I sleep enough, as well. Like when I went to bed after the Isner match it got quite late and I couldn’t sleep quite as much as I wanted to.

Because I believe it’s really the sleep that gives you energy again down the road. That’s why the next two days are very important for me in terms of sleeping.

Q. How much is your target?
ROGER FEDERER: In terms of sleeping? Hopefully nine to ten.

Q. The other night you were asked about the Williams sisters and you said you were happy to not have a sibling in tennis. Just curious if Stan is as close to that tennis brother as you feel, and the relationship that you have guys have on court, is there any difference in approaching Stan, say, from any other opponent for you mentally or emotionally?
ROGER FEDERER: Honestly, emotionally it’s not so hard for me. I have always found it quite not easy, but it’s just another match. I’m able to see it that way somehow with him. But then of course subconsciously you know he knows what your preferences are, where you like to go, where you’re probably going to go.

Probably he feels the same way. That’s the weird part. I feel we meet each other somewhere in our minds before the point is being played out.

So that’s odd sometimes, but otherwise it’s pretty straightforward for me. I enjoy the matches, because always that means one of us moves on. For Swiss it’s huge that we have two guys in the semis of the US Open, a huge tournament, biggest arena in the world. It’s what it’s all about.

I think we are both very much pumped up that’s the case. Only better scenario would have been in the finals, but this is already very, very good. We are very proud of that.

Q. I know when you were younger you probably had more anger and these days seems like you have a wave of joy out there. How important is mood to you in terms of winning goes?
ROGER FEDERER: Mood in terms of?

Q. How important is your mood to how well you actually think you play.
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, well, I mean, I’m not the kind of guy who wakes up angry. (Laughter.) Even if I am, I don’t think it will have much of an impact of how I play.

I feel like I see the matches as an isolation. I don’t know if it’s when I arrive at the tennis, when I go warm up, whatever it is, but that’s a different world for me. You know, when I leave the grounds I feel like not I’m a different person, but like that’s my other life I have.

So I have two lives, and all the problems I might have, I feel like I drop them once I step on to the match court or when I enter the grounds. I don’t know if it makes sense, but that’s the why the mood doesn’t really matter that much to me.

Q. What does the US Open Championship trophy mean to you both in terms of the ones you have already won and the one that you’re two steps away from today?
ROGER FEDERER: I like the trophy, and I’m happy when you win it you get the same-sized one. I wish it also had engravements of all the previous winners, but I will speak at the tournament that one day I will get them all done, you know. Because I think — I love tennis history and I like to see who has won in the past, you know, here on the trophy so it feels like it’s an original one, not just a duplicate.

Yeah, it’s a good size. It’s different to the golden ones. It’s a silver one. Yeah, I like it. I would like to have another one. (Laughter.)

Q. What is the belief that you have now? How does that contribute to seeing that trophy, being so close? You’re two steps away.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, two steps, but they are not like from here to there. (Indicating few feet.) They are like… you know what I mean. Hours of work and sleeps and waits and nerves and all that. It’s still a long way.

I feel like I’m close, of course. You enter now a territory which is very interesting, and definitely Stan is going to present the big test for me. Don’t look further than that, to be quite honest.

Q. Given how well you’ve played thus far in the tournament, will it take an extraordinary performance by an opponent to beat you right now?
ROGER FEDERER: I hope so. I really do. I believe Stan can bring it, you know. That’s my No. 1 focus, that I make it as hard as possible for him to beat me. Personally I’m very happy with the where my game is at. It’s just a matter of keeping it up and adjusting to Stan now.

Q. You’re one of the few players who won this tournament when it was played on both green courts and blue courts. Wondering if you have a preference.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I have already — I hardly remember when we played on the green courts. I prefer watching it on the blue courts. Playing was nice, I guess, either one of them. But I like the blue courts. They are better on the eye, I think.

Q. Have you noticed how many courts in the world are blue now?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, many of them.

I think it’s important that you see the ball properly on the TV, otherwise why watch two players running and not seeing the ball? (Laughter.)

I mean, if you like that, sure, let’s keep it yellow courts, but…

Thankfully we have HDTV now too, so that helps.

Q. At any time when you were making these adjustments in the racquet and being more aggressive, was there any point where you thought, I don’t know if it’s going to work? Were you unsure or were you confident that I’m going to make these adjustments and eventually it’s going to pay off?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I was sensing that it was going to work, because I did feel in practice that I was hitting my backhand better, not shanking as much anymore.

What I wanted to — if I changed, I wanted to feel that I had more easier power on the serve. If I was not going to feel that I was not going to change. In these two main factors.

The only problem for me was that in the beginning I didn’t feel like my slice was as good and the forehand took a while. You know, when you go full swing, are you going to spray it a bit more? Naturally, yes, because it’s in your racquet, so that not scared me, but I was like respecting that fact.

But when I felt like my backhand was better my serve was better, I just said if the more hours and more months I can put on the racquet, the better I will start to feel. Hopefully down the stretch I will really be able to play good tennis again and who knows maybe even better.

So it was interesting, you know, because I did switch, go back and then switch again. I think that was the right thing to do, because first I had to figure out my back problems over trying to figure out my racquet and my racquet issues.

Q. They were talking about just how high your level was, saying maybe even the best ever. I won’t ask you to grade that. Are you amazed at all at yourself that you’re doing that at this level at this age?
ROGER FEDERER: A little bit. I mean, a little bit to the extent where it’s nice to play this way. And maybe at my age to run through, you know, five opponents the way I have done here at the US Open, I don’t consider that normal, to be quite honest, even though I expect it in some ways for myself to come out and play well.

I’ve played so well over the last one-and-a-half years. I don’t feel like I’m as old as I am. I still feel young. So it’s nice to get rewarded with the hard work and, you know, that actually I’m able to play sort of fun tennis, I maybe call it for myself. Aggressive, pick it up, you know, like half volley it, move in, serve and volley, cut the points short, and if I want to, if I want to, extend the rallies.

But it feels like on my terms. Then if you win this way, it’s a great feeling.

Q. We’re obviously getting towards the end of the tournament, but I did want to ask you about the very unfortunate incident that occurred with James Blake today and whether you had heard that or whether you had any thoughts about that.
ROGER FEDERER: I read a piece, but it’s hard for me to comment on it, to be quite honest. You know, you hope these things don’t happen. Like I think James said it the right way. I have nothing else to really add to that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

 

 

Wawrinka in press

U.S. OPEN

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Stan Wawrinka

Press Conference

S. WAWRINKA/K. Anderson

6-4, 6-4, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Great performance. You were able to step it up at the right moment?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, for sure the best match of the tournament for me. I was really happy the way I play. I was focused on doing what I wanted on the match. I was trying to be really aggressive on the return and make him play a mix or some slice, some aggressive play from the baseline.

Q. Seemed like the crowd loved you there. Was it a good switch to go to Armstrong?
STAN WAWRINKA: We wanted to play on Ashe, but I think it was the better thing to do if we wanted to play all matches today. It was tough with the rain this afternoon. Was some long match with the womans.

At the end of the day, for me I don’t really mind, you know, where I’m playing. I’m trying to be focused on the match, and I was ready for both.

Q. When you think about the US Open trophy, what is the importance to your success in this tournament of the belief that you could be holding that trophy at the end of the tournament?
STAN WAWRINKA: Don’t really think about the trophy yet. I’m too far again. When I arrive here I’m trying to focus beginning of the tournament, first match. I know it’s boring, but that’s the only way. You can see how I was playing at the beginning. I wasn’t playing the best, but I was trying to get through the first week.

And now I play my best tennis so far in quarterfinal. Beating Anderson was great match for me. I’m in semifinal. I know it’s only two match left but it’s some big challenge ahead of me. I’m far away from thinking about the trophy. I think you can think about the trophy, for myself, when you are in the final. Not before.

Q. But you have won majors before. What about the belief? How did that change the belief that at the end of a major you could be the one holding that trophy?
STAN WAWRINKA: I just know that I can do it, for sure. I did twice. That’s it.

I know I can finish by winning the tournament, but I’m really far from that yet. So far I’m going to enjoy first tonight and the quarterfinal, because was a great performance for me. I’m really happy the way I was playing, the way I dealt with the way I improve and start to perform tonight.

Then tomorrow I will start to be ready for the semifinal against Roger.

Q. You know him a little bit.
STAN WAWRINKA: A little bit only.

Q. All three of your wins against Roger have come on clay, including the French, but you played him really tough in the ATP finals, winning a set there. Do you think you’re getting closer to him on hard courts?
STAN WAWRINKA: I think the past three years, for sure, I get closer from him. My level improved a lot. I’m playing better tennis. So I was always really close from him, if we look Wimbledon last year.

I will for sure need to play my best tennis. He’s playing really well so far. He loves to play. He know how to play. He had some amazing match. It’s going to be a big challenge. I think I’m ready.

Q. Before the start of the tournament you said Roger would be the only one who could play that SABR shot, and tonight you did it.
STAN WAWRINKA: I have to see how close I was from the line, but I’m still not at his level, for sure.

But, you know, I think — I’m not trying to do what he’s doing. Just the reason why I improve so much the past few years it’s also because I’m looking a lot what the top guys doing, Novak, Roger, Rafa.

I always try to see why they are so good. I’m not trying to do what they are doing. I’m just trying to see how they improve, how they can play so well, how can they play so fast, how they can do the passing shot and everything.

For sure we all see what Roger is doing right now. It’s quite impressive. He’s doing it against everybody.

I saw him play also against Anderson in Cincinnati, and I was surprised how close he was returning. But it’s actually a good way against Anderson to be closer than behind, because you completely cut the time from him.

I was trying to be really close from the line to don’t give him so much time.

Q. How different is your mindset now going into matches with Roger than it was, say, four, five years ago?
STAN WAWRINKA: I think now we both nervous when we enter the court. Before it was only me. I was nervous because I knew I wasn’t at his level, for sure.

And now I think we can see that he was also nervous every time we play each other the past few years. That’s a big difference, because that show how much he knows that I can play at his level, how much he knows that I can try to play my game and not just try to react about what he’s doing.

Q. There was a small controversy about your personal life before the French Open and you went on and won the tournament. Obviously coming into here you had some weeks of controversy again away from the court. I’m wondering how you have been able to manage those distractions and manage to play really good tennis?
STAN WAWRINKA: Great question. Just trying to focus on my tennis. When I’m on the court, there is nothing else to think. Just trying to play my best tennis.

Q. How are you able to do that?
STAN WAWRINKA: That’s my job.

Q. You mentioned on the court, you know, that Roger has invented this new shot. Do you feel like Roger has kind of reinvented himself this summer, that he’s captured something that’s helping him play like he used to?
STAN WAWRINKA: I think he’s trying some new things, for sure. He’s feeling really good at the moment.

I think probably what he did between Wimbledon and Cincinnati with his fitness trainer was something really good for him. You can feel he’s fresh and enjoy. He always enjoy. We love to watch him since more than ten years. More than that. He always do shot that no one can do. That’s why he’s the greatest.

Q. What do you admire most about him as a player? What has helped you beat him?
STAN WAWRINKA: As a player, I think it’s the way he’s playing. It’s just nice to see how he’s moving. You think he’s flying on the court.

Honestly, I watch him a lot in Cincinnati. Even here. He’s moving better than ever. Everything he’s doing, it seems so easy when we watch him. But as a tennis player, when you play against him, you know how difficult it is.

Q. How have you beaten him?
STAN WAWRINKA: By trying to play my game, to play really aggressive. Don’t give him so much time. Trying to push him, push him back. It’s going to be tough because I know he’s serving really well since the beginning of the tournament. I’m not going to have so many opportunities. He’s playing really aggressive.

That’s the way he’s going to try to play against me. That’s for sure. But I will have to play really, really fast, to be the aggressive player, if I want to have a chance to beat him.

Q. Friday’s match will be a different circumstance, but obviously Roger, wherever he plays, is a fan favorite, and he will have many, many people hoping he reaches the final. Contrast that to the experience of Paris where, you know, there was this assumption of a great moment for Novak and you were able to rise to the occasion of that remarkable moment. How are you thinking? Do you kind of like no expectation, or do you rise to it?
STAN WAWRINKA: No, I like to play when there is a big crowd. Doesn’t matter if they cheer for me or for the opponent. I’m used. We’re all used to, when we go on court with Roger, he’s the crowd favorite. That’s for sure.

Doesn’t matter. It’s normal. Everybody loves Roger. He’s the best player ever. He’s on court and off court a really good guy.

I just love when there is a lot of people watching us. Doesn’t matter if they are going to support him or support me. I think it’s always good to have a good atmosphere on the court.

Q. Roger said on the court that when you beat him in Roland Garros he was happy for you. He said it was not the first time feeling that. It would be the same for you?
STAN WAWRINKA: Beat me? Hopefully not. I’m always happy for him. You know, I’m the first fan since many years. Always watch his big match. Always happy with him, with all the titles he got.

So tomorrow it’s always the same. We are good friend. Really close friend. We always laugh together. Friday we’re gonna laugh together in the locker because we have locker next to each other before the match.

We are going to go into the match trying to win. Doesn’t matter how, but try to win. Then after the match it’s back to normal.

Q. I’m sure you’re tired of answering questions about Roger, but when you see him playing as well as he is at 34, does it make you think differently as a pro about the length of your career, what is possible in terms of if you pay the right attention to conditioning and fitness and you have luck with injuries and so on that you can play competitively later on through your career?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, for sure. He show that it’s possible. I’m lucky to have the same fitness trainer as him, so I’m doing right schedule. I’m doing some good work so far. And again, if I look at myself, I’m playing my best tennis. I start to play my best tennis at 29, so hopefully I can still play for few years.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Kevin+Anderson+2015+Open+Day+8+9zwAhRhs6mHl

 

U.S. OPEN

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Kevin Anderson

Press Conference

S. WAWRINKA/K. Anderson

6-4, 6-4, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What are your sentiments after that one?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, it was really tough out there. Was maybe a little bit nervous just with the occasion and a lot of waiting around, switching courts. Obviously something that you deal with, but just getting out there and everything seemed to be going pretty quickly.

I thought conditions were, you know, quite quick and quite live, especially compared to my last match out there. One poor serve game in the first set and I wasn’t really making too many inroads on his serve.

I thought I sort of got it back a little bit in the start of the second set. Another poor serve game, and then things sort of went downhill a little bit.

I mean, after taking the — changing my clothes and having that bathroom break, I was just trying to compose myself and reset myself. I didn’t feel, you know, that out of sorts, but going back it sort of snowballed a little bit.

He started free flying, swinging, and I was trying to find my way a little bit. Obviously it was not a good one to be in.

Q. Did you struggle to come up after the defeat of Andy? Any letdown factor there?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Not really.

Q. Physically?
KEVIN ANDERSON: No. I felt fine. Obviously it was a big moment for me, but I felt I did a good job of resetting myself and getting ready for this next match.

But just obviously wasn’t meant to be today. Stan didn’t make it easy. He was taking time, I felt, away from me. He was swinging out, and, you know, I was just a step slow. Wasn’t going to bode well. I needed to be on top of my game today.

Q. Did it feel like he was on some sort of a mission the way he was playing?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I mean, I think he stuck to his guns and what he needed to do. He did that very well.

You know, I can’t talk especially for how he felt, but obviously he did what he needed to do today. As I said earlier, he’s a very experienced player, especially at this level. He knows what it takes.

You know, it’s a very tough lesson for me today and, you know, it’s difficult not to think about it, but obviously I have got to take what I can. This week has been a great week for me, the last two weeks. There is a lot of positives.

I always try to look at that to obviously keep motivated and keep improving.

Q. That is the point, though. I mean, you have made that breakthrough. You finally got into the quarterfinals and knocking on the top 10 door. So those are the big positives for you to keep going with confidence?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, that’s what I’ve got to look at. It’s not that easy to do right now obviously just because of, you know, just the way I felt out there. It just really wasn’t my day.

But, you know, it’s the thinking that I’ve just got to take those feelings that I have had, the way I have played throughout the last few weeks, especially in my round of 16 to beat Andy there, and used it as extra motivation to give myself another chance.

I definitely know I can do better than I did today.

Q. Did you start the season with the goal of breaking the quarterfinal mark in mind and was there any other goals that you had going into…
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, it was definitely on my mind. I had been in the round of 16 a few times and put myself in that position a few times even this year.

My goal is always to give myself opportunities. I was able to capitalize on one of them, big one, getting to the quarters in this event. That’s definitely something I can take with me.

So, yes, it was a goal. It was a goal to put myself in this position through the quarters and then obviously take it from there, one step at a time. I was able to achieve that. I want to put myself in this position again, because as I was saying, I think just today I didn’t feel like I gave myself the best shot of maybe going a little bit further.

Q. Talk about the sportsmanship award. What does that mean to you?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, it was great. I mean, I didn’t expect it. Nobody had mentioned anything. I’m very, you know, honored to receive that and to be acknowledged with that. I always try my best to, you know, behave the best I can out there.

You know, especially for the many people coming to watch and always been very appreciative of their efforts, especially, you know, the younger boys and girls who come here with high aspirations. I remember when I was in that position.

So to be recognized, I have always tried to do that throughout my whole career. It’s the first time I have actually officially been recognized this way, so I guess that’s a nice little ending for me.

Q. Stan’s attempt at the SABR tactic on return of your serve, what are your thoughts about it? What might we see, do you think, between Stan and Roger?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah. I mean, definitely didn’t start out like that, but, I mean, towards the end I think when you’re in that position obviously gives you a bit more freedom in terms of what he was doing.

You know, I think it will be an interesting matchup in terms of those sort of tactics, taking pretty aggressive second serve cuts. Definitely probably expect to see a few. Seems to be pretty consistent. So, you know, we will just have to wait and see.

 

 

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

 

U.S. OPEN

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Simona Halep

Press Conference

S. HALEP/V. Azarenka

6-3, 4-6, 6-4

An interview with:

SIMONA HALEP

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Great match.
SIMONA HALEP: I know. (Smiling.)

Q. I guess I’m not the first one to tell you that.
SIMONA HALEP: Both of us, we played amazing, in my opinion.

Q. And obviously you come in here with a big smile on your face. Vika not so much. But, you know, somebody’s got to win and somebody’s got to lose. How happy are you to win that match?
SIMONA HALEP: I’m happy that I won this match. It was an amazing match. She played fantastic. But in the first set I played my best tennis, and I knew that I have, you know, I have the game to win the match. But I know also that she’s very strong and she doesn’t give up during the matches.

So after first set I did a step behind the baseline and wasn’t good. She was dominating me in the second set, and I was running well but no power to hit from very far from the court.

And then I came back a little bit, 3-2, and I had a chance to do 3-All. But I lost my serve. So then everything was negative in my head. The rain delay was perfect for me. (Smiling.) It was unbelievable that I had another chance.

So I said in the gym with my coach, I spoke and I said that I have another chance. So I have to go just to do everything I did in first set and to get this one, because it’s made for me.

Q. To reach your first semifinal here, how does that feel? Looking forward to that opportunity?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I’m looking forward for the next match to enjoy the semifinals. It’s first time when I play this.

I knew when I started the tournament that I have a good game. I feel great and I have good mentality coming in this Grand Slam. I had no expectations, no pressure. So that’s why I’m playing so good.

It’s a great feeling now that I can be in the semifinals, and of course tomorrow I want to fight to win it. But we will see. I expect a tough match.

Q. If you do win it tomorrow, then you have to look back at Cincinnati, and you told Serena at the end of that match that you’d be cheering for her to win the Grand Slam. What’s going to happen then?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I said I have one more match to get into the finals, first, and then to think about that.

But when I came here, someone asked me, You said this in Cincinnati. But I said, If I’m in the final, I want to win. (Smiling.) I want Serena winning if I’m not in the final.

Q. So you changed your mind?
SIMONA HALEP: No, no, I didn’t change. Before the tournament I said this.

So if I will be in the final, of course I will fight for my chance, but first I have to play tomorrow.

Q. You played Flavia on hard court and you beat her on hard court —
SIMONA HALEP: This year.

Q. — last time you met. What was that experience like, and what is it like playing her?
SIMONA HALEP: It’s tough. I know her. She’s very smart on court. She’s fighting. I know that she never gives up.

During the match today I saw a little bit, because I was warming up, and I know that she has a great backhand. I have just to play smarter than usual. I have to be aggressive like I did today in the end of the match. I have to keep my serve and just go in there and be focused.

Q. What are the biggest differences in your styles, yours versus Flavia’s?
SIMONA HALEP: The difference between us?

Q. Yeah, the way you play.
SIMONA HALEP: It’s tough to answer this question, because maybe we have similar game because she has a strong backhand, I have the strong backhand. It’s tough to answer, and I don’t want to make mistakes about that.

It’s just she’s aggressive, as well, and I have to make her run like I do with all the players. But first I have to think about my game and what I have to do on court.

Q. You had a difficult summer. First round at Wimbledon, early loss in France, and then turned around on the hard court season. What made the difference?
SIMONA HALEP: I had a long break home after losing in Wimbledon. That one helped me a lot to relax myself. I had a lot of pressure. I put pressure on myself for when I played French Open, because in my mind was that I have to repeat the result from last year. So it was a bad thing.

And then I relax myself, and I started to be aggressive again, to go without expectations at every tournament. Everything went in the right way in my game.

Q. Can you talk about having Nadia Comaneci in your player’s box and knowing her and what inspiration you might take from her?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, she’s a great champion. I mean, she had perfect 10, first 10. You know, to have a great champion in your box, it gives you power, that she appreciates what I’m doing. She was supporting me. I heard her sometimes when she said, Hi, Simona. So it was great, and I really want to thank her for coming. She told me that she’s coming tomorrow again. So it’s good.

Q. What did Darren tell you during the rain delay?
SIMONA HALEP: No, I’m not telling you. (Smiling.) I cannot say this.

Q. Fair enough. Second question: Vika said that she was surprised by the pace of your ball, that she didn’t think that you hit the ball as hard as you do, that you caught her a few times. I’m curious, because you hadn’t played her for three years, did anything surprise you in her game?
SIMONA HALEP: If I remember well in that match, she was hitting strong, like she does now. She has the same game. At that moment she won her Grand Slam, I think. Now she’s coming back. I think she was playing amazing today. I think she found her way back.

She’s, you know, more motivated, more focused for what she has to do. Today was really good match for her, and, you know, I think she’s stronger now. I am stronger, as well, since we played last time. I’m much stronger, and actually, mental, my mind is stronger than three years ago.

Q. Flavia was asked, before we knew the outcome of your match, she was asked to assess both you and Vika and she kind of laughed and said, Look, I’m not going to tell you. It’s strategy how she’s going to take you on. One thing she did say, because she was pressed on the topic, she talked about Azarenka’s power, she said she thought you actually had more power than Vika, and that a lot of people may not realize just how powerful a player you are. Talk about that part of your game and also, duly noted, that your next opponent is well aware of your power.
SIMONA HALEP: I think I have inside power more than during the game. I’m not very strong. Unless you see, I don’t have big muscles. I’m not tall. I have power inside. I fight. Always it’s like big challenge for me. Every point is a big challenge. So I do everything I can. I run for every ball, and that one makes me stronger, I think, in this moment.

Q. How does it make you feel to have that sort of inner strength?
SIMONA HALEP: To have…

Q. That strength that you just spoke about, the power inside. How does it make you feel to have it?
SIMONA HALEP: It’s natural. It’s natural. It’s coming from inside. I don’t work like this. Maybe my parents gave me this. Yeah, so I have it like natural.

Q. But what does that do for your confidence?
SIMONA HALEP: It’s like I feel strong when I go on court. I feel that, actually, when I started this tournament after coming with — I had two big results, and I thought that I have enough power to win matches here. I thought that I have my chance during this tournament, and I couldn’t accept to lose.

Like I did with Lisicki. It was an amazing match, as well. And second set where we were very close at 5-All, I said, I cannot lose.

So I was fighting, and this power came. You know, I just tried to stay calm and to think that I can win every ball.

Q. Based on your supernatural strength…
SIMONA HALEP: It’s not supernatural. It’s something normal.

Q. If you had your favorite surface, based on your strength, what would it be and why? Naturally, you know, hard court you’re mostly baseline.
SIMONA HALEP: Last year I said clay is my favorite because I had the biggest result there. This year I say hard court is my favorite.

Actually, I want to play on every surface good tennis. I know I’m able to do that. I have just to work on some things at my game and just believing in myself. Because I know if I believe, I can do many things.

Q. How much do you feel like those runs at the French Open and Wimbledon last year are helping you now? And why do you think it’s taken a full year for you to shuck away that pressure and feel like you’re just focused on what you need to do?
SIMONA HALEP: After Wimbledon I said that the year is finished for me. I cannot win a match.

So I took the pressure off of myself. I was going home, relaxing. I didn’t touch racquet for almost four weeks.

So it was just — I wanted just to forget about tennis, about official matches. I just wanted to come back with the pleasure on court and taking just, you know, the fun.

Because that’s why I played mixed here, to have fun and to refine the pleasure during the official matches. And after I lost in Wimbledon, I said that that’s the worst thing. Cannot be like worse than losing in first round in a Grand Slam. I went there with expectations in my mind. So that’s why I change my mind now, and I feel much relaxed.

Q. Is it fun to be in the semifinals of the US Open?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, a lot of fun. (Smiling.) Really happy. And I just want to enjoy tomorrow. No pressure, no expectations.

Q. How much between now and when you play about 24 hours from now will the thought enter your mind at all about the other semifinal possibility of, if you win, perhaps playing Serena Williams in the match that would have a lot of significance personally for you but also for her and what she’s trying to accomplish?
SIMONA HALEP: If I will play the final here against Serena, again, would be like a record to play two times against her in one month. I have nothing to lose. Even tomorrow it’s like big challenge and will be a big bonus for me to get into the finals here.

I didn’t expect this when I came here, but I knew that I have a chance. So I was working hard every day, and I was believing in myself that I can do it.

We will see tomorrow. It will be a tough match. I just want to be focused for that, and then we will see what is happening.

Q. You hit a serve today at 112 miles an hour.
SIMONA HALEP: Wow.

Q. Yeah, wow.
SIMONA HALEP: Was it an ace?

Q. Yeah, it was.
SIMONA HALEP: Okay. I had only one, no?

Q. You had a few.
SIMONA HALEP: Okay.

Q. But can you talk a little bit about your serve? Because it’s getting bigger and it seems like you’re going for it a little bit more.
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah. It’s getting bigger, and I’m working a lot on my serve. I changed some things on it. I’m much happier now that I can feel it, and in important moments it’s helping me. Like today at 2-1 I hit an ace. So it was a great moment.

I feel the serve now. I feel stronger when I serve, so I’m not afraid anymore to serve. But actually, I feel the return better. It’s there.

Q. European players always talk about the French Open, Wimbledon, watching them growing up. How much did you watch of the US Open when you were little? Do you have memories of this tournament?
SIMONA HALEP: I didn’t watch tennis too much when I was younger. Actually, this week I was watching a lot at the TV every day.

I didn’t like to watch tennis since last year, I can say. Yeah, last year I started just to watch some players just to learn many things from them.

I’m more relaxed, to be honest, and I enjoy a lot this period of my life, of my career. So I have to get just the fun and the pleasure of everything.

Azarenka 10 5 2012

U.S. OPEN

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Victoria Azarenka

Press Conference

S. HALEP/V. Azarenka

6-3, 4-6, 6-4

An interview with:

VICTORIA AZARENKA

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You played so well. You fought so, so hard out there tonight. What are your emotions? Disappointment? What are your thoughts?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think I played well. I believe I could have played better. I did really fight really hard, and I was trying to find solutions. She played really well today. I was a little bit surprised by the pace of her ball, to be honest.

I think that, you know, a couple of free points that I gave away today cost me the match a little bit.

Q. Seeing how Petra was out in the morning, a big opportunity, you played Serena well here in a couple of finals, two three-setters with her. Is there a sense that maybe you could get to her in this tournament? Does that put you under any more pressure in this match? Did you feel it was a great opportunity for you going into this?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, I didn’t really look into that because I knew I had a tough match today. So I was just trying to play today and win today. That didn’t happen. That’s out of the question.

Q. You fought hard to come back into this match. You were up in the third set. Do you think maybe what you could have done to go up 3-Love before the rain, or…
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Maybe. You know, I don’t know. It’s tough to say what could have happened. I just tried to accept what happened and learn from it, just improve, because thinking of what could have happened is pointless to me.

Q. She struggled this year. She lost first round at Wimbledon. French Open didn’t play that well. Were you surprised she played so tough at the end?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don’t usually get them when they are in the bad form. Usually they play really well against me. (Smiling.)

You know, she had a great summer. Obviously she played two finals in the two big events. Coming in she was in good form and playing well at the Open. So I didn’t expect an easy match or that she was going to give me something away.

Obviously she didn’t. She played well. She stayed strong. As I said, I believe that the couple points that, you know, I could have maybe be a little bit more aggressive or sometimes more consistent did cost the match today.

Q. You talked the other day about the dream and the passion to be back at No. 1. Obviously when you have had your share of injuries and been hampered by injury, are there things you could take from this tournament that make you feel that, you know, that the positives, if you can take out of it, that you’re on track to maybe get back to your old form?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Definitely. I have no doubt in my abilities. This tournament is just another step forward. I believe I played pretty well throughout the whole tournament. There are, I think, quite a bit of improvements in my game compared to Wimbledon or other tournaments, so, you know, I’m on the right track. You know, today I didn’t have much luck on my side today, I think.

But luck has nothing to do with it. You’ve got to create your own. I will keep working hard.

Q. Congratulations on a victorious season, at least. What do you plan to do in terms of relaxing and kind of reflecting? Do you take some time off after?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: We’ll see. It’s too close to think what I’m going to do. I’m definitely going to go home and spend some time with my family, pick my nephew up from kindergarten. So I’m looking forward to that. That’s, you know, life experiences that has nothing to do with tennis that makes me happy.

And reflecting, I’m going to reflect after I’m done with tennis. I have no time for that.

Q. Simona said some nice things about Serena after the Cincinnati final. She said she might cheer for her to get the Grand Slam. This is kind of ironic. If she ends up playing her here it will be kind of a weird situation, wouldn’t it? Do you think it was a mistake for her to say anything?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I’m not here to judge what she said. You know, she said what she wanted to say. If she ends up playing against her, you know, we will see what happens.

Q. Could be a lousy final, right?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don’t know. There is still semifinals that both have to win. So we’ll see.

Q. You said you were surprised by Simona’s pace today. Can you explain what was tricky?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah. I thought that she has more speed on the ball, and she does play with fast pace, taking the ball early. But the majority of her shots actually sits up pretty nicely. I should have adjusted a little bit better, take a little bit more advantage of that.

But she changed it up, her pace, and there were a few things that I was just a little bit surprised you don’t see that well on TV when you face that, and since we haven’t played against each other for a long time, that was a little bit of a surprise.

Q. Obviously the prime storyline here is about Serena and the slams and so forth. So if I could, could I ask you how you think Simona would line up against her, what her choices are? Just talk about…
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, if she’s going to cheer for her during the match, then she probably has less chances, as she said after Cincinnati. (Smiling.)

I don’t know. It depends on so many factors: how she’s gonna play, how Serena is going to feel, what the conditions will be.

It’s difficult to predict, you know. I just hope it’s going to be a great final or semifinal. We still have semifinals. It’s going to be great matches for women’s tennis. That’s what I’m hoping for.

Q. Do you think it feels all right to play Zhuhai instead of Singapore based on rankings at the end of the season, or do you feel very disappointed to not qualify for the Championships?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Do I not have any chance to qualify or what?

Q. You will actually have to try to qualify for Singapore?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: That’s the goal.

Q. After two close matches with Serena in majors this year, were you particularly motivated here, maybe get one more crack? You had some very good chances in those matches.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I mean, of course I was looking forward to that, but what’s the point talking about it right now? I’m out of the tournament, so I just gotta go back, back to work, and hopefully create another opportunity for the Wuhan, Beijing, next year, whenever it’s gonna happen. Right now it’s — what do you want me to say? (Smiling.)

Q. You were mentioning the concept of luck and luck not being entirely on your side today. Tough losses at the slams. Do you think there was a little bit of luck just not on your side at the majors this year? Draws? Opponents?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I mean, I’m not gonna sit and find excuses or feel sorry that I was unlucky with the draw or whatever it is. You know, maybe it’s just not my time right now. But that doesn’t discourage me to work hard. And, you know, there’s nobody in this world that’s gonna put a limit on what I want to do.

To me, it’s quite a good motivation.

Q. Does your nephew know that his aunt is a tennis star or an athlete?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I hope he just is proud that I’m his Aunt Vika, you know, regardless the rest of the stuff. You know, I hope he’s just happy to see my face and he’ll be excited. That’s what I love about kids. They don’t care about anything else but who you are as a person.

Q. And there’s more tennis to play, but this is the end of the Grand Slam season. You put so much effort, worked so hard. Just talk about your Grand Slam season this year.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think it’s not bad for the ranking that I had. I don’t think that anybody has done better than me where I am in the rankings. It could have been better. It is what it is. You know, it’s that simple.

I just want to take it and accept as it happened. I made, what, two quarterfinals? Next one I want to try to make it further.

You know, I have won Grand Slams before. I believe I can do it again. I need to put more work in, and I’ll get it.

 

Flavia Pennetta

Flavia Pennetta

U.S. OPEN

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Flavia Pennetta

Press Conference

F. PENNETTA/P. Kvitova

4-6, 6-4, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Petra was in earlier and said she wasn’t all that disappointed because she played very, very well and you simply outplayed her. Is that how you would describe it?
FLAVIA PENNETTA: I think we both play very well. It was a good fight. In the end I play a little bit better.

Physically I was better than her in the last set, so that was the difference, for sure.

Q. How do you feel about being back in the semifinals where you were a couple years ago? Who knows who you’re going to play; they are slugging it out right now. How do you feel about being back in the semis?
FLAVIA PENNETTA: Of course I’m really, really happy. It’s something incredible. Before the tournament I never think to be so far in the tournament, so it’s something special. It’s something amazing for me in this moment.

Q. Why did you not think that, because you have been there before?
FLAVIA PENNETTA: No, because I didn’t play really well in the last week and the feeling was not that good. I just come here and try to practice, try to find the good feeling with the ball, with the atmosphere here, and everything it seems working. (Smiling.)

Q. Yesterday your countrywoman, Roberta Vinci, said how proud Italy was to have her in the semis, but they may be even more proud to have two women in the semis. How proud are you, and how proud is your country at the moment?
FLAVIA PENNETTA: Of course I’m very proud. Of course yesterday when I saw Roberta in the locker, I mean, I hug her and I say — I mean, she was amazing yesterday also.

I think this is really important for our country. We did a lot of good things in the last 10 years. We have me, Roberta, Francesca, Sara, now Camila is coming also.

So I think it’s really good for Italian tennis to have such a good player.

Q. They say to never talk to women about their age, but Schiavone…
FLAVIA PENNETTA: We are old. I know.

Q. Thank you.
FLAVIA PENNETTA: I mean, old for tennis. For the life we are younger. (Smiling.)

Q. But just talk about that. There must be just some reason for that.
FLAVIA PENNETTA: No, there is no reason. I mean, also Serena, she is not that young. I mean, of course we are a little bit old for the age of tennis right now. A lot of young players coming in the last — since the Olympic game, I think, was a little bit of change of generation.

But we are here. We still fight. We still enjoy what we did. I think this is important.

Q. Talk about the role of Fed Cup just over the past many years. You have had success after success. Has that helped you guys? Has it pushed each of you?
FLAVIA PENNETTA: I mean, I think was really important for all of us because sometimes I mean, I starting the year in 2009 with the top 10 and then Francesca won Roland Garros and then Sara come. Everyone was pushing the other one.

I think it was really important for us to have someone before us just to try to catch it all the time.

Q. People aren’t really giving Roberta much of a chance against Serena tomorrow, but from your perspective, what about Roberta’s game is so difficult on court?
FLAVIA PENNETTA: I mean, Roberta, she’s completely like a different player. I mean, she’s one of the — maybe the only one. And there is another one, Niculescu. They play different in that way.

But of course — I think she have chance tomorrow. I mean, she has to go in the court and try her best. She don’t have nothing to lose. She has in front of her Serena Williams. I mean, you just have to go on court and try everything.

I mean, she make a really good tournament. She has to believe that she can make it, because if you go on the court you are not that sure or you are thinking, Okay, it’s done; I’m okay, like this, it’s going to be bad.

Q. We don’t know of course who your next opponent will be. Can we take each player separately? Would you please speak about them as individuals and what you feel about the challenge with each?
FLAVIA PENNETTA: I mean, they are really good both. Amazing players. Powerful. They have everything. I mean, they are now in court and fighting and running and try everything to get through this round.

Doesn’t matter who I gonna play tomorrow, because I think they are both really good and it’s going to be a big fight with both of them.

Q. So in terms of style of play, let’s start with Vika. When you watch her play, what do you consider her…
FLAVIA PENNETTA: I cannot tell you right now. Because I cannot tell you what I want to do against her or against the other one. Maybe after the match we gonna talk about that. (Smiling.)

Q. How about just to describe Vika. When you look at her and you see her play, what are the things she does that most impress you?
FLAVIA PENNETTA: I mean, she play really aggressive all the time, good backhand, good forehand; first serve really good; second one you can attack a little bit better.

You have to push her all the time, because if you give her a time to push you, you gonna die on the court.

Q. And how about Halep?
FLAVIA PENNETTA: Halep, it’s look like she’s not that powerful like Vika but she is. She is more powerful, I think. To make a winner to her you have to finish the point seven times. She always there, always in — the ball is always come back.

It’s gonna be like marathon, I think.

Q. Her getting to No. 2 in the world, what do you consider her greatest attributes that have brought her to that place?
FLAVIA PENNETTA: She’s really consistent. I mean, from the beginning of the year until now she’s really like — she didn’t play really well Roland Garros and Wimbledon, but I think for different things, not about tennis.

Maybe she had too much pressure outside the court. I mean, everyone expecting so much. She has two months where she was a little bit like scaring, not of everything. But now she’s back in the same way she start the beginning of the year, focus and with a lot of the determination.

Q. You mentioned Niculescu, who of course at Indian Wells played Serena and gave Serena a big, big headache. Just talk about how that might be a matchup problem in terms of Roberta going in.
FLAVIA PENNETTA: Well, Roberta has two things much better than Niculescu. She serve much better and with the forehand she can make a lot of winners. You cannot compare one with the other one because they do like different thing comparing to the other player.

But Roberta and Niculescu, they are different player. I mean, Niculescu is more physically maybe, stronger. She is running much more. But Roberta has winner, has a good serve. I mean, it’s different in this way.

Q. Regardless of who you play tomorrow you have beaten them before. What would it mean to you to make a final?
FLAVIA PENNETTA: I don’t know. I gonna tell you if I have a chance to beat her. (Smiling.)

Q. How does being in the semifinal here before help you? You have been in the semifinal before. How does that help you?
FLAVIA PENNETTA: Nothing today. I mean, you just go on court and play. I mean, doesn’t matter if you make final, semifinal, quarterfinal years before. You just try to play the match the best you can and nothing more.

Q. Are you happy it’s being played at night rather than the weird sunny/shade like today?
FLAVIA PENNETTA: If I could choose I prefer night session, of course, because I like the light. It’s not the big problem for me with playing with light.

And play with this, I mean, the shade on the court was a disaster today. I was not able to see. I mean, was the same for her, for sure. I mean, it’s not easy.

But it was the same for both of us.

Q. New York obviously has a big Italian-American population. Do you have any contacts here? Family here? Have you gone to Little Italy?
FLAVIA PENNETTA: No, no, I didn’t have any family here, but I like a lot to go to Italian restaurant when I can. I have some friends, they have restaurant here. I try to be home just to with the good food. (Smiling.)

Q. Playing doubles last year with Martina, what kind of tips did she give you for singles and playing well in majors?
FLAVIA PENNETTA: I mean, she’s a good player and you can — she’s a champion, no? So it’s always nice to have someone like her with you.

But she didn’t say, told me nothing like different that I already know, but was a really nice to play with her. I really enjoyed the time we spent together.

Kvitova bh-001

U.S. OPEN

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Petra Kvitova

Press Conference

F. PENNETTA/P. Kvitova

4-6, 6-4, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Did you have some injury that we saw?
PETRA KVITOVA: No.

Q. Not at all? No, honestly.
.PETRA KVITOVA: No, no injury.

Q. But you had something wrapped up.
PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah.

Q. Your leg. At the end of the second set you seemed to be a little tired.
PETRA KVITOVA: I am tired. (Smiling.)

What you saw on my leg, it’s from the first match already. It was just protection. It wasn’t really nothing serious.

I think just from the beginning of the match I didn’t really feel 100% ready today. I’m just glad that I left everything what I could today. I suffered a lot, but I’m still here. That’s good.

Q. Did you suffer because of the heat or something else?
PETRA KVITOVA: Probably. Yeah, I was kind of hot out there today. But my energy-wise wasn’t probably the best today, as well.

Yeah.

Q. Do you have explanation for the fact that on the first set nine games out of ten were won when you were playing on the shadow, and one the sun — only one and you won the first set because you won one game against the sun. In the second set this completely changed. I mean, five games won in the sun, five in the shade. Did you change the situation completely or you just get adjusted to the situation?
PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah, I think that both of us, we just need some time to get used to the shades over there. It’s not very nice when you’re playing out there. Of course you’re feeling much more better if you are in the shades. You’re just feeling a little bit like cooler.

But when you see the ball it’s kind of a little bit tricky because you really don’t see as well as you normally do. That’s why probably we were kind of suffering from the first set. But then probably we just get used to when it was — just doesn’t matter if it’s the shades there or no.

Q. Do you feel like you played the best game that you could play today? I think I heard you sort of say that before that you played well, but she was just the better player today. Is that how you feel?
PETRA KVITOVA: I think I should a little bit serve better, but on the other side, I think that she returned very well. I made a lot of double faults today, and it was just presents to give her.

On the other side, I mean, if I am not really counting the serves sometimes, I left everything what I could today, s I said already, and she didn’t miss at all. She was very consistent player. She moves very well, and it was tough to have any winners and everything.

So, yeah.

Q. Quarterfinals is your best final here, but certainly to the level you have achieved at the other Grand Slams. Is it a bit frustrating you haven’t been able to get beyond this point and maybe get to the semis or the finals?
PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah, of course. I’m disappointing that I lost today for sure, but on the other side, I think I have a lot of positive things to take from the tournament.

You know, it wasn’t really easy situation. I’m just very — I’m kind of proud of myself how I played here, anyway. I didn’t really practice that much before. Everything was just like puzzles to take it together somehow and just take it together somehow and everything.

Of course, I wish to play tomorrow semifinal, but on the other side is good.

Q. The third set, do you think it’s normal fatigue or do you think it is from your asthma?
PETRA KVITOVA: I think I never have the explanation for that. I mean, you never know what is it. I just know that from the first point I don’t really feel like energy level great.

Really tough to say. I think it was kind of combination of everything.

Q. There was a heat policy today or not? You stopped at eight minutes…
PETRA KVITOVA: I don’t know. They didn’t tell us.

Q. They didn’t tell you anything about that?
PETRA KVITOVA: No, so probably not.

Q. I saw at the end you were nice to Flavia and you embrace each other. Do you know each other well? Are you friends in a way or not? She’s eight years older than you, so, I mean, I don’t know.
PETRA KVITOVA: I think the age doesn’t matter. I know her long time, of course, on the tour. We meet each other very often. She’s very nice person and I like her.

I mean, she’s a good, I don’t know to say good friend, but for sure nice person, as I said. I just wished her best of luck. She really deserved to win today. I just felt it like that. So that’s why.

Q. Nice of you. Of course you probably don’t care very much who is going to win next match, but do you see Flavia has more chances in your opinion versus Halep eventually or versus Azarenka in terms of technical abilities or situation?
PETRA KVITOVA: Tough to say. I think either if she gonna play Azarenka or Halep, I think both of them playing very consistently. I think very similar game as Flavia has.

Difficult to say. I mean, for sure it’s going to be a lot about the physical side kind of and who gonna serve probably better.

Q. Was it more difficult to wake up this morning than it was other days?
PETRA KVITOVA: A little bit. (Smiling.) Actually, I couldn’t fall asleep last night, so it was kind of difficult anyway.

Yeah, when I heard my alarm I didn’t want to wake up. Yeah, I’m kind of sleepy right now, as well. I’m okay. It’s fine.

Q. And you mentioned before that there were positives to take out of this tournament. Can you be a little more specific? What positives do you take out of it?
PETRA KVITOVA: I think the positive things, for sure, it’s kind of in the mind that even I wasn’t 100% ready, my body wasn’t really ready, I was still able to play really good tennis.

Which I know in the past, as well, that if I feel kind of suffering with some injuries or something I was still able to play good, so that’s nice to have it back, for sure.

Another positive is that a played a lot of matches, as well. It’s great to have it, because last couple of months I didn’t really have that many. I mean, I played French Open and Wimbledon, so it was kind of difficult time.

And I’m looking forward for the next matches again.

Q. Just wondering how is your body holding up right now after this long, exhausting, really hot summer in North America? Do you think you will be fully recovered to play in Wuhan and Beijing?
PETRA KVITOVA: I wish so, for sure. I mean, I really don’t know. I’m coming back to make some blood test how is it everything looking right now. Now I’m feeling really exhausted, so I’m really glad I can sit now.

But I have really no idea. I gonna talk with the doctors again and see how everything is working, but if I’m okay I will come there, for sure.

Q. How much attention do you think you’ll pay to the rest of the tournament here?
PETRA KVITOVA: I think it’s not that much because it’s only two matches, so I think it’s fine.

I have no idea. Normally when I lost I really don’t care about the others, how the tournament is going to continue. I will see. I have no idea.

Q. Would you be surprised at this point if Serena Williams did not win the title?
PETRA KVITOVA: Yes. (Smiling.)

Q. Is there anything in your mind that could prevent that from happening, either because the players who are left or any other reason?
PETRA KVITOVA: Of course it’s still great players playing, two of them right now. But I think I saw the match Serena played yesterday with Venus, and I just felt that she’s more focusing than she did before, the matches before, and I think that she’s kind of the player who with the tournament she’s playing better and better every match.

So I think that if she gonna be in the final, I think she gonna put everything what she has inside and she gonna win it.

 

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

Transcripts of player interviews cannot be posted until one (1) hour after the interview has ended. Player transcripts can only be posted on the website of the publication that was accredited.
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Simona Halep and Flavia Pennetta Reach US Open Semifinals

Halep fist pump-001

(September 9, 2015) World No. 2 Simona Halep defeated No. 20 Victoria Azarenka, while No. 26 Flavia Pennetta rallied to defeat No. 5 Petra Kvitova on Wednesday to reach the US Open semifinals, where they will face each other on Thursday night.

The 23-year-old Halep won 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in a match which was delayed 1 hour, 25 minutes by rain in the third set. Pennetta, 33, defeated Kvitova 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in two-hours and 23-minutes to reach her third US Open semifinal within three years.

Halep had 40 winners to 19 unforced errors, while Azarenka had 38 winners to 42 unforced errors. Halep was 6 for 19 on break point chances while the two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka was a perfect 5 for 5. This will be Halep’s first US Open semifinal.

“I think I played well,” said Azarenka. “I believe I could have played better. I did really fight really hard, and I was trying to find solutions. She played really well today. I was a little bit surprised by the pace of her ball, to be honest.

“I think that, you know, a couple of free points that I gave away today cost me the match a little bit.”

“I’m happy that I won this match,” Halep said. “It was an amazing match. She played fantastic. But in the first set I played my best tennis, and I knew that I have, you know, I have the game to win the match. But I know also that she’s very strong and she doesn’t give up during the matches.

“So after first set I did a step behind the baseline and wasn’t good. She was dominating me in the second set, and I was running well but no power to hit from very far from the court.

“And then I came back a little bit, 3-2, and I had a chance to do 3-All. But I lost my serve. So then everything was negative in my head. The rain delay was perfect for me.She said with a smile. “It was unbelievable that I had another chance.

“So I said in the gym with my coach, I spoke and I said that I have another chance. So I have to go just to do everything I did in first set and to get this one, because it’s made for me.”

Kvitova bh-001

“Just from the beginning of the match I didn’t really feel 100 percent ready today,” Kvitova said of her match against the Italian. “It wasn’t really easy situation. I’m just very — I’m kind of proud of myself how I played here, anyway. Kvitova had been suffering from mononucleosis earlier in the year.

Kvitova made 60 unforced errors to 41 winners while, Pennetta had 21 winners to 16 unforced errors. Pennetta was 6 for 16 in break point chances to Kvitova’s 4 for 9.

“I think we both play very well,” Pennetta said. “It was a good fight. In the end I play a little bit better.”

“Of course I’m really, really happy. It’s something incredible. Before the tournament I never think to be so far in the tournament, so it’s something special. It’s something amazing for me in this moment.”

Flavia Pennetta

Flavia Pennetta

With Pennetta reaching the semifinal, it means that three of the four final four women are 30-somethings. Pennetta and Serena Williams are 33 and Roberta Vinci is 32. It means for the first time two Italian women are in the semifinals of a major in the Open Era.

“Of course I’m very proud,” Pennetta said. “Of course yesterday when I saw Roberta (Vinci) in the locker, I mean, I hug her and I say — I mean, she was amazing yesterday also.

“I think this is really important for our country. We did a lot of good things in the last 10 years. We have me, Roberta, Francesca (Schiavone), Sara (Errani), now Camila (Giorgi) is coming also.

“So I think it’s really good for Italian tennis to have such a good player.

On playing 20-something Halep in the semifinal, Pennetta said: “Halep, it’s look like she’s not that powerful like Vika but she is. She is more powerful, I think. To make a winner to her you have to finish the point seven times. She always there, always in — the ball is always come back.

“It’s gonna be like marathon, I think.”

“It’s tough,” Halep said about paying Pennetta in the semifinals. “I know her. She’s very smart on court. She’s fighting. I know that she never gives up.

“During the match today I saw a little bit, because I was warming up, and I know that she has a great backhand. I have just to play smarter than usual. I have to be aggressive like I did today in the end of the match. I have to keep my serve and just go in there and be focused.”

 

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In Their Own Words – Donald Young, Roger Federer, Philipp Kohlscheiber, Victoria Azarenka and Andy Murray

 

Donald Young

Donald Young

 

U.S. OPEN

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Donald Young

Press Conference

D. YOUNG/V. Troicki

4-6, 0-6, 7-6, 6-2, 6-4

An interview with:

DONALD YOUNG

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You mentioned on court you’ve been working more and more on your conditioning, which has shown in the last three matches. When you say you’re working more, is it more hours, better quality?
DONALD YOUNG: I think it’s a combination of both. But it’s just actually going a little harder. I mean, doing it consistently, not just for a period of time and then stopping for a while. I can kind of tail off and go away.

It’s just keeping it up and kind of topping off every once in a while when I’m home. It’s just doing it on a more consistent basis, I would say.

Q. How do you feel physically after what you went through? How much gas do you have left in the tank?
DONALD YOUNG: Yeah, no, right now obviously I’m slightly tired. But I have a day off, just mixed doubles tomorrow. Hopped in the ice bath. The legs are feeling pretty good already. I’m looking forward to going out there and battling again. I’m sure it’s going to be a battle. Every match is going to be one. I’m happy to be able to push forward. This is what you put the hours in the gym for.

Q. Emotionally? Some unbelievable tennis you’re playing out there.
DONALD YOUNG: No, I’m feeling great. Honestly I’m choosing not to look at the phone much. It’s vibrating in my pocket as we talk. I’m trying to keep focused, stay with the people that are around, that have been here the whole time, not get too caught up in everything else.

At the end we can all talk about it, talk to my friends. Right now it’s business, work to do. I’m looking forward to it.

Q. Giving the Grandstand a final send-off before they rip it down.
DONALD YOUNG: That’s what it turned out to be. I was kind of disappointed I was out there at first. I was pretty upset the first two sets.

Things turned around. The crowd was awesome. They made the court feel like home, like 17 to me. Those fans honestly are the reason I was able to win. If that match would have probably been somewhere else, we probably wouldn’t be sitting here talking.

Q. You’re not afraid to express your emotions out there. Do you feel like that helps you get better?
DONALD YOUNG: I don’t know. I’m trying to work on being a little more even-keeled. But me not showing any emotion is not the best for me. I’ve tried that. It kind of bottles up, and then at some point explodes. So to let it out every once in a while and not in too-harsh or crazy ways, it’s been something that I’ve been working on. I’ve been working on the mental part as well. It’s definitely improving. It’s not where I want it to be, but it’s on the way, on the track I want it to be on.

Q. Do you have to do anything going forward with your back?
DONALD YOUNG: No. Every once in a while it needs a little adjusting. It kind of like shifts a little bit. But nothing that can’t be fixed and nothing I haven’t been on top of before.

Yeah, I think I’ll be fine.

Q. You weren’t just down two sets. You were coming off of a second set where you got bageled and you had 13 points in the whole six games. What are you telling yourself before the third set starts?
DONALD YOUNG: Honestly, those two sets were over. I just kind of had to keep feeling. I felt like I was in the first set. Even though I lost 6-0, I had game points in the games. I felt like I still had more to give. The body allowing me to go ahead, a lot more to give. I was going to give it. If that was enough, I would win. If it wasn’t, I would be satisfied with going out there and competing my butt off.

Q. For people that haven’t heard your name in a couple years, what do you feel you’ve shown about Donald Young in this tournament so far?
DONALD YOUNG: Improvement. Resilience. I’ve kind of been beat up. I’ve beat up myself. I’ve kind of been down. I’ve had good times, bad times. Just some resilience and fighting. Hopefully it’s not over and there’s more to come.

Q. Earlier in the season before you got the Davis Cup call, you talked about how you were feeling like you were peaking. Do you still feel like that?
DONALD YOUNG: Yeah, I still have a while to go. Look at the guys that are doing well. They’re like 33. I’m 26. I feel kind of good, even though I’ve been playing quite a while.

Definitely feeling good about myself. I’m finally feeling like really good overall about everything. I’m still not where I want to be, like I said. But it’s definitely an improvement. I’m feeling quite good.

Q. As a black man, how did it feel to be out there during the match, after the match, to hear the USA chant?
DONALD YOUNG: First of all, as an American, it felt good, not just as a black guy.

To your question, it’s awesome to see the fans, multicultural, all different walks of life out there cheering for you, chanting the U.S. and the wave. You feel great to be an American. I love playing here. I love hearing my name called.

Again, to be a black guy is great. I appreciate everything and all the fans that come out to support me. But it definitely was a group effort out there today of everyone. I appreciate it and I hope they all come back the next rounds.

Q. The book on you for a long time was that you had a lot of skill and talent but you were a little bit short in power on the weapons side. You’ve been talking about working in the gym. You’ve bulked up a little bit. Tell us a little bit about how that’s impacted your game, your shots, what you think that might have done for your game, what we can expect from you in the future.
DONALD YOUNG: The basis of my game has been outmaneuvering the guy, putting him in awkward positions. When I was younger, even in juniors, I was 10 years old playing the 14s, or 12 playing the 16s. I was always smaller than the guys so I had to find a way to defuse the power, do something different.

I’m never going to be one of the guys like Isner or some of the guys who are a lot taller than me. I’m not going to be hitting a ton of aces, I’m not going to be slapping you off the court. I’m going to have to find other ways.

Fitness was a way that could actually give me an edge or something that would let me compete with the guys. I’ve definitely been working on that. That’s something you can definitely control 100% yourself. You can’t control what the other guy does, but you can control how your body is, how much work you put in, how strong you can be, and that’s what I’m trying to do.

Q. Do you feel like you’re hitting a heavier ball?
DONALD YOUNG: Definitely. For a longer period of time. I’m able to do it not just for an hour or two but three hours, and four if I have to go that long. That’s what I have to do. I’m not going to hit a guy off the court. I’m going to have to use some guile and come in and use some different shots.

Q. You love self-help books. Talk about some of the ones you picked up.
DONALD YOUNG: It’s kind of a secret. Can’t really give those away.

But I did get a Christmas present. It was Tony Dungy’s book. It was great. I’ve been reading that. I’ve had it two years. I’m kind of in the middle now. I’ve been saving it. But it’s an awesome book about being a great human being, respectful, competing. He talks about his life, family. I’m enjoying that quite a bit. The other ones, they helped me out quite a bit, but I don’t want to give them away.

Q. Talk about your practice sessions with Sampras years ago. Did that change things for you?
DONALD YOUNG: That was great. Anytime you can get on the court with one of the best players ever is awesome. For him to hit with me — I was actually late, and apparently he never stays for anyone when they’re more than five minutes late. He kind of waited for me. I got there, and as soon as he got out of the car he called me a princess. We were playing points. I beat him in a couple of baseline games. The serve hasn’t gone away.

He said he expected to see some really big things from me. That was big to hear from a guy like that. Those things haven’t come yet. Hopefully they will arrive. I’m going to give it all I have. At the end of the day I can look myself in the mirror and say I’ve given it all I have.

Q. I’ve seen the hashtag before. What does it mean?
DONALD YOUNG: It just means Young in Motion. Something me and my friends came up with. I want it to move to the point where it helps kids stay active. Right now it’s a hashtag, us talking. It’s almost like young people traveling the world doing things that most people aren’t privileged to do. I’ve been extremely blessed. My friends have as well. I really appreciate it. It’s kind of something that has caught on.

Q. The organization is forever trying to find the next, the next, the next always. Are they going about it the right way? If you were the emperor of tennis, how would you go about finding the next one, going into the city?
DONALD YOUNG: I thought they moved on from me (laughter).

I don’t know. Honestly I think it’s doing a good job. We have a great young crop of kids coming up. You have the Frances Tiafoes, you have the Taylor Fritz, the Reilly Opelkas, Stefan Kozlov, they’re doing well. Then you have guys a little older than that.

As many kids that can get a racquet in their hand, it seems like a cool sport, it gets on TV more, you see people that are cool playing it, it doesn’t seem so much as a country club sport, it will be pretty cool.

When guys see someone they can relate to, whatever demographic they come from, that brings kids to come to play.

Me growing up, my parents were around. I wanted to hit and play. I was in a good environment. A lot of kids don’t even get introduced to it. I think it’s about introducing the kid to it, playing a bunch of sports when you’re young. Whatever one you enjoy the most you keep playing.

Q. You’re doing a great job of fighting hard. Where is the fighting coming from?
DONALD YOUNG: I don’t want to go home actually. I mean, more matches, more money, it’s a lot of things to fight for. I’ve kind of had a lot of times when I didn’t fight. I’ve done that. Why keep doing that? Do something else.

I’m working hard to keep fighting. I’m actually enjoying it. I’m enjoying it.

The battle here, the crowd, it’s awesome. It’s actually quite fun. Not going down two sets to love, but showing you can fight and come back is a great feeling at the end of the day.

Q. You and Isner going into the second week of the slam, first time two American men are in the second week for a long time. A lot of women on the other side. Is that cool? Does that matter? Is it helping the crowd?
DONALD YOUNG: I mean, that’s great. We’re in the U.S. Americans want to see Americans on TV. That’s the thing. I know growing up, I wanted to see Americans on TV, which were Agassi, Sampras, Courier, McEnroe, those guys.

It’s awesome for John and I. He’s been doing it longer than me and more consistently. For me to get in there every once in a while and hopefully become consistent, it’s awesome.

The women are holding it down pretty well. You have Serena, Venus, Madison, Sloane. You have a ton of really good girls.

For the guys to get in there, it’s definitely great.

Q. When you’re down, what do you draw upon to bring yourself back within a match? What are the qualities that you think are most important for that?
DONALD YOUNG: My box, my team, the crowd. I mean, here it’s really the crowd, everyone. They really don’t let you like go away. They kind of keep you pumped up. Grandstand and 17, such an intimate environment. Once the crowd gets going, you start playing better. It’s almost like the other guys playing two versus one. They jump on him, boo him if he’s taking an extra five seconds, lifting you up, getting a rub on the back. It’s an awesome feeling.

It’s really the fans honestly. They’re amazing. They really are tennis savvy, know what they’re watching and what they’re doing.

Q. When you see Serena Williams continually come back, what are your observations of what she does to bring herself back?
DONALD YOUNG: She’s just a beast. I think she turns it on whenever she wants to. It’s tough. It’s a lot of pressure. I don’t know exactly what that feels like. I know what pressure feels like. The way she’s handling it is like a true champion. I have nothing but admiration for her and respect the heck out of her. She’s just an awesome player. She can come back. She’s done it so many times in her career. She’s been there. Once you’ve been in a place, you know what it feels like. Once you know what it feels like, you can repeat it.

Q. Roger Federer has decided to go to some new equipment. Have you made any changes in equipment or things like that?
DONALD YOUNG: I switched my racquet at the end of last year. I love the racquet, Tecnifibre 315 TFlight. Honestly, I switched and it’s more of a player’s racquet. I’m enjoying it. Gotten used to it. They’ve been great, giving me whatever I need.

As far as other equipment, clothes are clothes. Racquet is very important. It’s your wand, your weapon, what you go on the court with. I switched that.

Other than that, I’ve just changed me quite a bit. That’s the biggest equipment change.

Q. You mentioned so many players now are peaking in their early 30s. 26 these days is young in the men’s game. It does feel like you’ve been around a long time. Was there a moment when you had that realization that you were still young?
DONALD YOUNG: Yeah, I mean, I never really forgot the fact that when I was 19, I wasn’t going to be good ever. When I was 15, I was supposed to win Wimbledon the next year.

Yeah, it’s always felt like that. I tried to keep it in perspective. The results at a younger age kind of change the perspective a little bit. That’s fine. That’s what happens when you kind of do things at an accelerated pace.

I’m here now, I’m 26. I’m right in the thick of things. That’s when a lot of people start to play well. I’m playing better. I want to continue it. Not just focus on that, focus on myself, constant improvement, little things. I feel like if I can improve things a little bit, it can be more consistent and I can keep moving up.

Q. In all sports, confidence is vital. What do you think it will take for you to win this tournament?
DONALD YOUNG: I’m looking at the next round. I’ll trying to play Stan again (smiling).

But for me ever to win this tournament, it would take, you know, a heck of a lot more than I did today. To do it consistently, not get down two sets to love. Constant improvement.

I’m not there yet to the point where I would even be thinking about sitting here saying that right now I should be winning the tournament. But I’m working on it. Constant improvement. This is improvement for me. If I can keep doing that, hopefully I can put myself in positions in any tournament to get to the final weekend.

Q. As you do your clinics and work with people, you mentioned the country club before, do you think the sport is seen far less as a country club sport than when you were 15 or 16?
DONALD YOUNG: I mean, it’s definitely coming around. The USTA is doing a good job getting it out there to a lot of different communities. I think they have like a real initiative with Hispanics and Latinos. It still could be better. I know people where I’m from, from Atlanta, never held a tennis racquet. The first thing put in their hands is a basketball or a football. It’s just easier. You can go out there and do that anywhere. Soccer ball, you can just go out in a field.

Tennis, you need instruction and some coaching which isn’t free. Tennis is very expensive sport. That holds back a lot of people, the cost. I was lucky enough to have two parents that played. I didn’t really have the cost that it takes for lessons and join the club and pay the membership fee, which is tough. But they’re definitely doing a good job and it’s starting to be a lot better.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

 

 

228 Federer with trophy 2-001

U.S. OPEN

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Roger Federer

Press Conference

R. FEDERER/P. Kohlschreiber

6-3, 6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. In your post-match interview, you spoke a little bit about facing John Isner’s serve. How would you describe that serve and the biggest challenges about it?
ROGER FEDERER: For some reason I feel like I don’t know it as well. I don’t know how many times we have played against each other. Played Karlovic more and Roddick and Raonic it seems like almost.

But John it’s been once every two years maybe, so I don’t know it that well. He’s got the power. It needs to be, and then clearly because he’s so tall clearly he finds the impossible angles for us, really.

And he’s got a great second serve, as well. Obviously best-of-three-set match he’s even more dangerous. Best-of-five you feel like you have a bit more time, but clearly he can also run three, four, five sets serving great. It’s going to be a tough match.

Q. And how does that power affect your newfound strategy, and to what degree you might employ it?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, the idea is not to use it very much against a player like that. I have done pretty well over the years against big servers, so, I mean, clearly I will think about it, but I don’t think that’s going to be the turning point of the match, to be quite honest. I need to make sure I protect my own serve first.

Q. On the court Pam Shriver addressed this. If I may address it again, you’re keeping a balance with family, social, sightseeing, and playing these great matches. How relaxed do you feel right now?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I feel good. I have had a nice schedule. Played, what was it, early the first day. It was a fast match. So also afternoon and nice evening there.

Then the other day when I played at night I played the first slot. Also fast match. Didn’t get to bed too late. I’m still in a normal schedule, which is good to be. Because if you finish a match like Fognini and Rafa like last night, it’s hard to go to sleep right away. Plus you need treatment and press and everything.

It can be 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning until you fall asleep. Thankfully I haven’t had that. And then today again we are running early, which is great. Plus, still in the tournament, so clearly I am very happy.

Q. Your own serve has been wonderful, and it’s a great contrast to John’s serve. How do you think it can help you in a matchup against him?
ROGER FEDERER: My own serve you mean?

Q. Yes. The way you have been serving, what can it do for you playing him in terms of being able to take care of your serve?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, it’s focusing, you know, point by point serve. It’s in a way that simple. And then clearly taking the right decisions and understanding as you move along in the match. Same for him or for any good server, is to sort of understand the percentages, what has and hasn’t worked so well throughout the match.

You know, in the beginning you try to find the rhythm. Then once you found it, how much do you mix up speeds and slices and big serves, you know, to keep him off balance.

Yeah, I mean, I tend to like the body serve as well. Sometimes against John maybe that’s not a bad play just because he’s very long, and if he picks the right side he has long arms so with easy contact he generates a lot of power.

But like I said, I haven’t played John in a while. I have to look back a little bit at what I have done against him, what he likes to do, and then I can go from there. I still need to talk about it with Stefan and Severin.

Q. The way you serve, can you put pressure on him with your ability to hold, do you think?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think that’s always the goal. Obviously John can hold easy, that we know. That I can hold my serve a lot and stay very focused, that I know as well. That’s part of trying to beat him, as well, is just to stay with him. He also wants to break, and he gets frustrated. Like any other big server, as well, if they can’t get a break, because they also dont want to play breaker after breaker.

We will see how it goes.

Q. I haven’t had a chance to ask you about this new rushing forward on returns.
ROGER FEDERER: Right.

Q. Can you explain about the derivation of how you came up with it, whose idea it was? I have also seen some people worried about what you all called it, if you could explain that a little.
ROGER FEDERER: So when I arrived in Cincinnati, I arrived, I don’t know what time it was, maybe after lunchtime, and then I went for a hit. It was Benoit Paire. He had like an ear problem. I was tired from jet lag. We were tired and practicing on center court, which was great.

Last year I couldn’t practice on center court before my first match. This time I had plenty of time. I think it was Friday and Saturday, I guess. So I put in a lot of hours on center court.

But that time I was very tired and he was tired, and at the end we said, Well, let’s still play some games just because it feels like it’s the right thing to do.

I was going to stop already, but Severin said, Play a few games get used to the conditions. I said, Whatever. Let’s play some games.

And, yeah, at the end we were just kidding around almost, and that’s when I said, Okay, I’m going to chip and charge and just keep the points short. I’m tired. I want to get off the court soon anyway. That’s when I started to run in and hit returns. I hit a couple for a winner. They were like ridiculous. He laughed, I laughed, Severin laughed.

Then I did it again in the next practice just to see if it actually would still work again. Then I tried it the next practice and it still worked. That’s what Severin said, Well, what about using it in a match? I was like, Really? (Laughter.)

So he pushed me to keep using it and not shy away from using it on big moments, and not just because you don’t know how you look with a full stadium. He was actually the one who pushed, you know, pushed me to it.

And because we were always talking about that tactic, as well, we sort of came up with that name, you, know, sneak attack by Roger, ^ saber. I don’t know. Call it Fed attack, call it whatever you want, but I thought it was kind of funny.

And, yeah, today again it worked a couple of times. I didn’t get that many second serves when I thought I could use it, but moving forward it’s an option. Clearly I’m very happy it worked so well in Cincy.

Q. We have not talked about today’s match that much. You had some difficulty with him the last time you played against him. Tell us what you did right or better today against him on court.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, last time was grass. First match on grass for me, and I think he had played Stuttgart earlier. He was more in a grass rhythm already, which made it difficult.

Of course it was the first round for him, as well, in Halle, but he had some matches on grass. Yeah, it was just a close match there. Today I got off with a good start and held my serve throughout the first set.

Then, I don’t know, I lost a little bit on my serve. There was hardly any rallies anymore. I couldn’t play as many rallies as I was hoping to, especially on the return games, because I thought he was doing a good job doing the 1-2 punch. Then that’s not much rhythm, to be quite honest.

I think because of my serve and no rhythm, I might have gotten broken as well a couple of times in sets two and three. It’s exactly those kind of matches I need to win. Especially if I drop serve, I still find a way and I don’t want to say comfortably, but I get maybe a little bit lucky at times, but also push luck on my side.

When I had the opportunities I was effective again. I think I won the big points better than he did today. He’s a quality player, so at the end of the day it’s a really, really good win for me.

Q. You’re always such a big fan favorite here in Flushing, but considering the terrible state of American men’s tennis, do you think it will be even…
ROGER FEDERER: Possibly. I don’t know. I’m looking forward to find out. Played John here in the past. Also I think it was Labor Day weekend. Third round maybe? The crowds were really pumped up to see how massive he was clocking the serves. It was a joke in the first set. I remember that.

Yeah, I expect the crowd to be on his side. If they are on my side, clearly very happy and appreciate that.

That goes also into my preparation, to be quite honest. But I love playing here. People know that. We will see how it’s going to be.

Q. I’d like to know if you had the chance last night to watch a little bit of Fognini and Nadal, if you know that Fognini played 70 winners, and what is your reaction about it? Are you five years younger or five years older than Nadal?
ROGER FEDERER: So the longer the match the more chances to hit winners. That’s No. 1. I’m sure he did a great job, you know. I mean, we know he can hit forehands and backhands huge, you know, Fabio. Same crosscourt, especially when he steps into the court. I’m sure he did that a lot.

I saw, like I said I said on court, I went to see Hamilton. I came back and saw some of the third and then the break in the fourth. So I came I think when Nadal had just broken to go up 3-1 in the third maybe. I didn’t see that much.

When I went to bed clearly thought Rafa was going to bring it home and that was it. Then I heard the news when I woke up. I wish I did see the match because I didn’t expect it to be this thrilling, but that would have been bad preparation for my match today.

So sometimes you have to take those decisions, you know. (Laughter.) Last night I decided to get an hour more sleep or one and a half. I’m happy I did.

Yeah, from what I heard it was very exciting. Yeah, tough for Rafa, but what a great win for Fabio, you know. He’s a great shot maker.

Q. I will ask the same thing. You had said once that Hewitt-Baghdatis taught you never to go to bed during a match.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I missed the end there, too, because at 3:30 I bailed, I think. We do travel far away from home to come here. I love watching tennis, but sometimes you just have to decide, you know, to be professional.

It hurts, but just gotta do it. You don’t want to lose the next day and have regrets. I have done mistakes when I was younger, you know. Play, I don’t know, video games until too late and feel tired the next day, whatever it was.

So I don’t really want to do that anymore. (Smiling.)

Q. When you beat Darcis in the second round he said afterward he felt a bit ridiculous on the court because you reached such a high level. What do you do to challenge yourself to keep improving to reach that level?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, for me it’s about then varying my game, enjoying myself out there. I mean, you know, honestly that’s very important to me, as well, see how aggressive or not can I play, and then really just also work on the concentration. Just make sure you get through the match, no surprises anymore.

Because of the unique scoring system we have in tennis, there is always a reset after each set. You always feel like something could happen and you’re only safe once you get over the finish line.

Everything before that you have to be careful, and that’s kind of how I see it, even sometimes the scoreline is in your favor. It helps to play more freely, but not more than that, really.

Q. Is it also in practice that you really focus and say you don’t get…
ROGER FEDERER: Well, in practice you can do a lot of things. You can actually train harder than what the matches are in terms of — you know, you can decide on the exercises you can do, but you can never quite recreate the intensity.

That’s why you see sometimes guys cramping after two sets or after one set in Davis Cup or in a Grand Slam or in their home tournament, just because they are so excited and they are so tense that it’s not about fatigue or anything. That’s mental stress, you know.

That you cannot recreate in practice, and that’s why it’s important for players to play matches. Even if it’s an exhibition match, sometimes that can just help have people in the stadium, linesman, umpires, ball boys, the whole thing. It creates this unique environment really we like so much.

Philipp Kohlschreiber-001

U.S. OPEN

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Philipp Kohlscheiber

Press Conference

R. FEDERER/P. Kohlschreiber

6-3, 6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You have obviously played Roger for many years on many different surfaces. Is he playing as well right now as you have ever seen him play?
PHILIPP KOHLSCHREIBER: Well, I thought today the match wasn’t that great. Obviously we had many quick points, also some great rallies, but in general, I didn’t feel that he was unbelievable today.

I felt more that I wasn’t on my best and he was solid and using his knowledge to play the big points well.

Q. So he didn’t seem any different to you in his play style as when you have played in the past?
PHILIPP KOHLSCHREIBER: Oh, he always is very aggressive player, of course. Yeah, more solid. He’s attacking, of course, but I didn’t see so many special things today.

Q. He seems to be rushing the net on the returns, though.
PHILIPP KOHLSCHREIBER: He tried, but I didn’t felt he did it too much today. I thought it was twice maybe. One was with a let, went over, and one whatever.

But, yeah, he’s aggressive player, aggressive style. Like I mentioned, I thought it was not the best match. That’s how I felt on the court.

Q. Next up Davis Cup. Dominican Republic has never even been in the World Group.
PHILIPP KOHLSCHREIBER: So we hope it’s not gonna happen against us. We try to win, of course. Obviously we are the stronger team. We are the favorite in this tie.

It’s tough conditions away from home, but, yeah, we have the chance to stay in the World Group. We have to fight for it, and it’s gonna be not that easy, I would say.

Q. Is it tough when you go in and the expectations are for your team obviously far more experienced and having been in a World Group plenty of times and all that?
PHILIPP KOHLSCHREIBER: Well, I’m not thinking about — I mean, on the paper, everything is always very easy, but we all know that, like I mentioned, I mean, we play with the crowd behind them, we play in a different stadium and I have never been there. I hear it’s very high humidity and very hot, so we have to see how we handle the situation, you know.

So advantage for them. We have maybe more the knowledge about the World Group and Davis Cup ties, but, yeah, never should underestimate your opponent. We are aware of that and it’s going to be a tough one.

Q. If I could just add, do you know much about any of their players? Maybe Estrella.
PHILIPP KOHLSCHREIBER: Yeah, he’s the only one. Pretty late start in tennis. Very good forehand. He’s playing quite tricky. He’s playing a lot of slice and the powerful forehand. Obviously he’s big No. 1 player. We have to beat him and we have to make the point in doubles against the other opponents.

 

Azarenka 10 5 2012

U.S. OPEN

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Victoria Azarenka

Press Conference

V. AZARENKA/A. Kerber

7-5, 2-6, 6-4

An interview with:

VICTORIA AZARENKA

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. When you were out injured, how much did you miss some of the feelings that you experienced on the court today?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: A lot. Probably the most you can miss when you’re an athlete, not just a tennis player. That intensity, that feeling of the battle, you know, heat of the moment. I don’t know, personally that’s what I live for.

Q. So how did it feel out there experiencing it today?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It was great. You know, every moment was really intense and tough. I just tried to stay focused and tried to give my best at every point.

You know, she was playing incredible. She was pushing me. I was pushing her. So, you know, from both sides it was just head-to-head. It was amazing, I think.

Q. At what point out there, or did it ever cross your mind, you were a part of something special there?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You know, every moment to me is special. Just being able to go out there and fight hard and compete, it’s exciting.

I don’t ever want to take it for granted that I go on Arthur Ashe Stadium and I play no matter which round it is. It’s just that feeling of competition, making yourself better, to improve, you know, really hustle, battle. Whatever it takes, it’s my home. I don’t know, I feel at home when I’m in that moment.

Q. Have you thought about your next match yet against Varvara?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I haven’t thought too much about it, honestly, because I’m just trying to a little bit enjoy this moment.

But, you know, she’s a really tough competitor. She’s obviously playing great tennis, you know, reaching the second week here. Another lefty for me. At least I had some practice today (smiling).

I’m just looking forward to play that match. Every match from this point is just getting tougher and tougher. I want to stay focused. I want to take it one match at a time, actually one day at a time. Today recover, tomorrow practice, then let’s go.

Q. I notice over the changeovers you were looking at some papers. I don’t know if that’s something you have done in the past.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I have done it. Started doing it not too long ago. It’s just something that I feel will keep me a little bit entertained during changeovers. Sometimes it gets a little quiet, so I just want to make sure I’m focused on what I have to do.

I write different things for me, you know, sometimes something to make sure I stay focused. I wrote this thing which was hilarious to me yesterday. It was so stupid, but it made me laugh so hard. I just wrote it, you know, to keep me relaxed sometimes.

Q. What does a win like that mean to you? High-quality match, three sets, tough fight, opponent not giving you anything.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It means that I’m strong and I can go through whatever is happening on the court. To me, you know, I’m going to stay there as long as it takes for me to win that match. That’s what I did today.

What it means is that I’ve just been consistent and I know what I want. It happens that today it was on my side. That’s what I want to just take it as a positive and give myself, I guess, confidence going into the next match, that this is what I have to do to win tough matches.

Q. When you were trying to come back, was the mental part of it just as challenging as the physical part?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think on a tennis court when it’s such a tough battle, most of it is about mental toughness, the will to win, however you want to call it. Because everybody know how to play forehand, how to play backhand. But being sometimes courageous and go for your shots, be courageous to adapt to a situation, that’s something that is most challenging part, I would say.

In those tight moments, it’s all up to you to make a difference.

Q. It was such a high-quality match. You won. Even when you lose a match like that, does it make it easier because of the fact it was so entertaining?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, for me, I’m all about winning. I don’t know. I’m not on that side today. But I think it’s great for our sport to be able to produce this kind of high-quality match.

I applaud Angelique because she really pushed me to give my best, really to dig deep and find resources to make it happen.

Q. Back to the mental toughness. After a match like that, is that sort of mental effort something that takes a toll? Is it something that going into the next match actually builds?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I mean, it’s up to you really. I think it’s something you have to go out again and do it again. It’s not going to be there magically appearing all of a sudden. It’s something that you just have to go and work hard to do.

So my point is definitely to keep this ability steady and then see what happens.

Q. When you say it’s good for the sport, is there still a lot of convincing that women’s tennis has to do to sort of prove that you are high quality like that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think it goes beyond tennis. It’s just in general in life, woman have to always prove a little bit more. In business, in other sports.

But, you know, I just want to show it on the court and not talk about it. I think today everybody saw what’s been happening out there. I hope they can appreciate that.

Q. It’s been a pretty incredible 24 hours on the court you played on, as far as the quality of matches. What was the atmosphere like out there?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Amazing. Absolutely amazing. It’s a little bit difficult to describe with words because it’s a mixed feeling of adrenaline and then I want to just stay out there as long as possible, but also you want to win and get out of there. It’s bunch of mixed emotions.

But just to be out there and battling hard, people were amazing. The crowd get into the match. You know, they scream. They clap. Even during the points sometimes they go, Whoa, when somebody hits an amazing shot.

To see support for both players, really pushing us, motivating us to get even better at the matches is absolutely fantastic.

Q. When Lepchenko was here before you, she said her approach to facing you would be, Well, she’s the higher-ranked player, I have nothing to lose. When you hear things like that, the whole mentality going into a match, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, first of all, everybody has something to lose. You have points to lose. You have money to lose. You have opportunity to lose.

I guess it’s the way to take a pressure off yourself. And for me, I love pressure. It makes me better. I don’t wish to have pressure, but it’s something that, I don’t know, I think I love to rise to the occasion. It’s challenging and motivating for me.

But also when I go out on the court, I focus on my effort and what I can do to improve or what I can do to give my opponent the worst possible time, and the rest takes care of itself.

Q. How much do you work on psyching yourself up? When you’re on the court, you have more gestures than many players, you speak a lot, you do things a lot. How much of that is to convince yourself of things?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I’m just being me, you know. You watch my practice, I do a lot more probably gestures. They’re awkward gestures, clumsy gestures, fist pumps. I just do whatever I feel like is right in the moment. If I need to be hyped, I’m hyped. If I need to talk to myself, I talk to myself. Whatever it takes to win, I’m going to do it.

Q. Some people gave you the second-best odds of winning this tournament. Do you hear stuff like that? How do you feel?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I hear it, I just don’t care about it. Not that I don’t appreciate that people speak highly about me. It’s irrelevant to me. I have to go out there and win matches. Odds are just odds.

Murray in press-001

U.S. OPEN

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Andy Murray

Press Conference

A. MURRAY/T. Bellucci

6-3, 6-2, 7-5

An interview with:

ANDY MURRAY

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Probably happy to have that be shorter after a few extra sets in the first two rounds?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I think, I mean, conditions were so much nicer to play in today, as well. Like after long rallies and stuff, you weren’t really struggling for breath as much. I also think, conditioning-wise, the first couple rounds, it really doesn’t get much harder than that. Maybe it will get bad again, but they’re some of the toughest conditions you’ll play in during the year. To get through those matches, especially the second one, was important. Yeah, much easier tonight.

Q. Is it correct that you asked for as late of a match as possible, bearing in mind the aftermath of playing with that cold in the last round?
ANDY MURRAY: I asked to play later. I didn’t ask to play as late as possible. I just asked if I could play slightly later rather than first or second.

But, yeah, I didn’t ask to play last on.

Q. How are you feeling both in terms of getting over the cold and in terms of whether there are any aftereffects from the second-round match?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, today I felt much better. When I woke up this morning — I slept like during the day yesterday two or three times. Today I got up, and I slept again before coming out to the courts. Today I felt much, much better.

My voice feels like normal again. Still dull obviously, but it feels more normal today and not blocked up or anything anymore, which is good.

Yeah, that’s very positive.

Q. What did you feel today about the quality of your tennis?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I felt like I played well. I mean, in these conditions, it’s a bit easier to control the ball. The ball was not bouncing as high. It was a bit sort of flatter. You know, like in the conditions the other days, when you tried to flatten the ball out, it was quite easy for it to sail on you. The ball was flying a lot more. Whereas today when you flattened the ball out, it was a bit easier to control. Harder to serve. It was much slower conditions to serve in. So less aces. The speed of the serve was a bit lower.

But then obviously returning’s a little bit easier, as well. So I felt like I played well. But the conditions helped that, too.

Q. In theory would it be easier to play Kevin at night in similar conditions than daytime conditions?
ANDY MURRAY: I don’t know really. More depends like the humidity. I feel like in most places, when it’s humid, it kind of slows the ball down a little bit. Obviously it’s been hot, which speeds the ball up. But the humidity felt like it made the balls bouncier, more bouncy than usual. Obviously against a tall guy who serves well, it will be a little bit harder to return the serve when it’s like that.

But we’ll see what happens.

Q. Can I throw a kilt on a question for Scotland. The football team lost the crucial game the other night. Hopefully you can deliver in the days ahead for them.
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I hope so. You know, I obviously don’t think about kind of that stuff when I’m in the middle of the tournament. I try to give my best effort in all of the events I’m at during the year.

I do feel like I represent the UK and Scotland when I’m playing in any event, you know, regardless of how well the football team’s doing. I still try my best to represent the country well.

Q. You’ve obviously been asked and talked a lot in the last year about having a female coach. Have any of the WTA players approached you to talk to you or appreciate what you’ve been saying about women’s sports over the last year?
ANDY MURRAY: No, not really, to be honest. I mean, I’ve spoken to a couple of people about it but not players on the tour. I mean, I’ve seen little bits and pieces that they’ve said over the last few months, last year, but I haven’t spoken to any of the players directly about it.

Q. Your mindset approaching the second week? Is your game where you want it to be?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, tonight, like I said, the conditions were extremely different. It was a bit easier to control the ball. I felt like I played better. Obviously I finished the match the other day pretty well. In the first match I felt like I played some good stuff, as well.

But I was also playing against two extremely good players in the first couple rounds. Both just missed out on seedings. You know, it was a tough, tough start to the tournament for me.

So, you know, was very testing couple of rounds. Obviously managed to just get through them.

And today played a little bit better. I feel better, as well. You know, I wasn’t feeling great the first few days. You know, now that that’s cleared up, I felt much better on the court tonight.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
ANDY MURRAY: I played some good matches against him in the past. I only lost to him once in Montréal. It was a very quick, easy match. I lost to him there. But apart from that, I’ve normally played quite well against him.

You know, he’s obviously playing some good stuff. He won the tournament last week. He’s had a couple of good wins here. Thiem is going to be one of the top players in the future. That was a pretty good win tonight. It will be a tough one, for sure.

Q. Six wins in a row against left-handers, other than Nadal. You grew up playing with Jamie. Is that still a streak you’re quite impressed by?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I don’t think about it, like, that much. I don’t mind playing against left-handers. I quite like it. It’s almost more natural for me to play against a lefty because the first sort of six, seven years of my tennis life was playing with my brother really and predominantly with him. In those years, you obviously do a lot of learning. That’s what I learnt to play tennis against. I don’t mind. Like, maybe some players when they see a lefty, they think, Oh, it’s going to be much harder. But I don’t mind it as much as some players.

Q. You have a good record against Anderson but also against big servers in general. What do you put that down to? Do you take particular satisfaction sort of picking these big servers off?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, they’re always tricky matches. But getting a lot of returns in play is something that throughout most of my career I’ve been good at. Often the big servers, they come into matches used to getting a lot of free points. It changes their mindset a little bit in the way they play the match and play the points.

That’s why I think I’ve had good success against them in the past. But they’re always tough matches because you don’t get loads of opportunities normally.

Q. You’re not the only British players to the Round of 16. What are your thoughts on Konta’s efforts here?
ANDY MURRAY: It’s great. I didn’t see much of her last match against Muguruza. I watched most of the match today in the hotel. She played very well. She played very good. She played a very good tiebreak, obviously the second set played some good stuff until she got into the winning position. That’s always tricky. I believe that’s the first time she’s made the fourth round of a slam.

But, yeah, even with the sort of struggles closing it out, she managed to get there. That’s a good sign. She’s obviously been on an excellent run lately. Very close to being the No. 1 in Britain. Kind of shows how high she could get, which is exciting, beating two players like Petkovic and Muguruza. It suggests she has the potential to go very high if she continues on the right path.

I think that’s very, very exciting.

 

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

Transcripts of player interviews cannot be posted until one (1) hour after the interview has ended. Player transcripts can only be posted on the website of the publication that was accredited.
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Donald Young Overcomes Two-Set Deficit to Win, Federer, Murray, Wawrinka and Azarenka Advance at US Open

(September 5, 2015) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Day six of US Open featured a second come from behind victory from two sets down by Donald Young over 22nd seed Victor Troicki 4-6, 0-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2, 6-4 to reach the round of 16 on Saturday. The American ranked 68th in the world pulled off a similar come from behind stunner against No. 11 seed Gilles Simon on Tuesday in the first round.

“It was 90 percent you guys,” Young told the fans on the Grandstand court, “10 percent me.”

“I was pretty upset the first two sets,” the 26-year-old told media. “Things turned around. The crowd was awesome. They made the court feel like home, like 17 to me. Those fans honestly are the reason I was able to win. If that match would have probably been somewhere else, we probably wouldn’t be sitting here talking.”

“Those two sets were over. I just kind of had to keep feeling. I felt like I was in the first set. Even though I lost 6-0, I had game points in the games. I felt like I still had more to give. The body allowing me to go ahead, a lot more to give. I was going to give it. If that was enough, I would win. If it wasn’t, I would be satisfied with going out there and competing my butt off.”

Young will face fifth seed and two-time major champion Stan Wawrinka for a place in the quarterfinals. The No. 2 Swiss behind Roger Federer defeated the Belgian Ruben Bemelmans 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-4.

Wawrinka discussed his upcoming match with Young at his news conference: “It’s going to be exciting match for sure. I watch a little bit his match today. He came back again. After the first round he came back two sets to zero down.

“He’s a tough player. He improved a lot. Especially his attitude on the court, he’s fighting way more. He’s always trying. He has a nice game to watch. He try to get the crowd with him. So it’s going to be, for sure, a great match to play against him.

“I lost a few years ago against him in five sets. I was playing well. I’m waiting for a tough one.”

No comebacks were needed for the high seeds as No. 2 Roger Federer, No. 3 Andy Murray, No. 2 Simona Halep or Petra Kvitova.

Federer defeated the 29th-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. The Swiss will take on a very tall order next, in the form of 6-foot-10 American John Isner in the round of 16.

“I have done pretty well over the years against big servers, so, I mean, clearly I will think about it. But I don’t think that’s going to be the turning point of the match, to be quite honest. I need to make sure I protect my own serve first.”

Isner reached the fourth round when his opponent Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic retired after the second set due to a neck injury. He is the 16th player to retire from a match at the US Open this year, a record for a major.

As to the thought of playing Federer, Isner said: “I haven’t thought about that too much, actually. So I have probably … I don’t know, 48 hours to think about that.”

“It’s going to be fun. It’s what I work so hard for, to get an opportunity like this. On Monday I’m going to have fun with it.

“At the same time, I’m going to go out there and believe that I can win the match.”

No. 3 Andy Murray defeated No. 30 Thomaz Bellucci 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 in the last night match.

No. 20 Victoria Azarenka and No. 22 Sam Stosur also reached the women’s round of 16. No. 2 Hallep beat qualifier Shelby Rogers of the U.S. 6-2, 6-3 and Azarenka, two-time major champion took three hours to stop 11th-seeded Angelique Kerber 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.

“I just tried to stay focused and tried to give my best at every point,” Azarenka said.

“You know, she was playing incredible. She was pushing me. I was pushing her. So, you know, from both sides it was just head-to-head. It was amazing, I think.
“You know, every moment to me is special. Just being able to go out there and fight hard and compete, it’s exciting.

“I don’t ever want to take it for granted that I go on Arthur Ashe Stadium and I play no matter which round it is. It’s just that feeling of competition, making yourself better, to improve, you know, really hustle, battle. Whatever it takes, it’s my home. I don’t know, I feel at home when I’m in that moment.”

Azarenka will face-off against British woman Johanna Konta who surprised 18 seed Andrea Petkovic 7-6, 6-3.

“Today was not an easy task,” Kpnta said, “even if she wasn’t feeling her best, she’s still one of the best competitors out there. Yeah, she definitely didn’t give it to me in the end. I’m just happy I was able to come through that.

 

Women’s Singles – Third Round

[2] Simona Halep (ROU) def. Shelby Rogers (USA) 6-2, 6-3

[5] Petra Kvitova (CZE) def. [32] Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-2, 6-1
[20] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) def. [11] Angelique Kerber 7-5, 2-6, 6-4
[22] Samantha Stosur (AUS) def. [16] Sara Errani 7-5, 2-6, 6-1
Johanna Konta (GBR) def. [18] Andrea Petkovic (GER) 7-6(2), 6-3

[24] Sabine Lisicki (GER) def. Barbora Strycova (CZE) 6-4, 4-6, 7-5

[26] Flavia Pennetta (ITA) def. Petra Cetkovska (CZE) 1-6, 6-1, 6-4
Varvara Lepchenko (USA) def. Mona Barthel (GER) 1-6, 6-3, 6-4

Men’s Singles – Third Round

[2] Roger Federer (SUI) d. [29] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4

[3] Andy Murray (GBR) d. [30] Tomaz Bellucci (BRA) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4

[5] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) d.  Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-4.
[6] Tomas Berdych (CZE) d. [31] Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) 6-7(2), 7-6(7), 6-3, 6-3
[12] Richard Gasquet (FRA) d. [24] Bernard Tomic (AUS) 64 63 61
[13] John Isner (USA) d. Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-3, 6-4 ret.

[15] Kevin Anderson (RSA) d. Dominic Thiem (AUT) 6-3, 7-6(3), 7-6(3)

Donald Young (USA) d. [22] Viktor Troicki (SRB) 4-6, 0-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2, 6-4

 

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“Getting Myself on Track,” Victoria Azarenka Advances in Toronto

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By Brodie Widdifield

(August 11, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – Life as a touring tennis professional is a lonely one, but the long recovery from a serious injury can be even tougher. Victoria Azarenka struggled with a foot injury in 2014 which caused a serious dip in results, and eventually forced her to cut her year short in September.

 

With so much time away from the sport, Azarenka was afforded some time to think about herself in a way she might not be able to during the regularly busy tour. “Just getting myself on track, taking responsibilities for your actions, learning from your mistakes, getting organized, which I hate, and now I’m really good at it.” She stressed the importance of improving her relationships with others, even including the media. “Having probably the best relationship with my parents that I ever had. So that was something that I worked really hard on, and it’s amazing to me.” “I feel like I improved a lot with you guys (the media) since wherever I started. So that’s definitely a good job,” quipped the Belurussian, laughing.

 

While Azarenka admitted to being a perfectionist, she has also admitted to herself that she needs to give herself a break sometimes. “That’s why I need to like sometimes give myself a little bit of a, I don’t know, pat on the back and say good job, because I don’t like to be too satisfied because then I get myself too comfortable and then I’m not motivated.”

 

The combination of poor results in 2014 and the time off due to injury left Azarenka with a much lower ranking than she is used to. She has welcomed the challenge of boosting her ranking back up, and is not looking back to times when things were a bit easier. “I grew as a player. I have a lot more variety, a lot more power, a lot more consistency and better game overall. So for me, I don’t look in getting back there, because that was something I wanted to build from.”

 

“I have to slowly and steadily be coming my way up and I’ve been playing really good. I just lost a few times to a number one player, and I think a top ten player. I’m not developing my game. I’m just improving details. For me it’s just going after it and working really hard and giving myself the best opportunity to take out the best quality.”

 

When asked whether or not the tour felt new again after such an extended break, Azarenka could not help but poke fun at herself. “I just turned 26, and I can’t believe that, actually. Everybody says, hey, you are still a baby, and to me it feels like it’s been forever I’ve been playing on tour.”

 

Azarenka defeated Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-4 and will face Petra Kvitova Wednesday in the second round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

 

Brodie Widdifield is the author of the tennis web site mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News, follow @TennisNewsTPN for updates.

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