2014/12/20

An Upbeat Azarenka and a Grumpy Jankovic Fall in Eastbourne

Jankovic shocked

By Tumaini Carayol

(June 17, 2014) EASTBOURNE, ENGLAND – Whatever mood Jelena Jankovic was in, it was not a good mood. For one, she was standing on, in her view, the worst surface known to mankind. Her hatred for the grass is no secret and, as transparently pointed questions flew her way; essentially asking her exactly how much she detested tennis on grass and hated whoever first dreamed it up, it was showcased yet more as her diplomatic response was belied by the festival of pained facial expressions and rolled eyes that accompanied it.

 

Serving two games from defeat against the relatively harmless Madison Keys, she finally had enough. Her breaking point was broke. Out came a stream of her typically baritone and croaky-voiced yells to no one in particular, all in her native Serbian. One of the trillions of older people lined up around the court sensed a moment of humor, responded with a loudly-voiced mock agreement “Yeah, for sure!” As a smattering of laughter erupted from those within earshot of it all, Jankovic turned on her heel and, while leering in the vague direction of the offending fan she roared back with at full capacity of her lungs. “Yeah, for sure…what?”

 

The testiness was only beginning. As Jankovic departed from the court, stomping flat all that encountered the soles of her feet as she crossed Eastbourne’s blissfully vast grounds, fans and practising players alike turned as she yelled blue murder in more, furiously deep and croaky Serbian to her brother. Sensing their opportunity to bag one of those autographs, two girls would follow in a single-minded pursuit of her. The first, after chasing for a while and demandingly staring at the back of her head in hope that the star would pivot and sign, eventually had the sense to rapidly move away and duck for. The second, however, wasn’t so wise. After fighting for the Serb’s attention and failing misery, she turned and sobbed herself dry.

Azarenka

The grumpiest of all, though, wasn’t particularly grumpy this time. Victoria Azarenka was a tight 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 loser to the all-bamboozling power of Camila Giorgi. The paradox of Camila is that she is so softly-spoken, so quiet and so small yet on the court she explodes into the most aggressive being known to mankind. She doesn’t attack balls, she attempts to transfigure them into fluffy nothingness through screaming force. Her crazy father, with the now trademark gray and long locks that may or may not be uncombed and unwashed since leaving the womb, provides the final contrast.

 

But after the loss, Azarenka was fairly upbeat at her intensity and focus and the fact that she had pieced together some form of matchplay after so long off. Even in this unaffected state, however, she still managed to notch up some friction as a fairly standard and beige question was met with the rasping response of “that’s a very silly question”. The rest of her answer was matter-of-fact and regular, and it was almost as if she was oblivious to her typical friction-creating.

 

The men carry such low profiles in Eastbourne that it is sometimes easy to forget that they even exist there, but they had their moments too. Gilles Simon was so comically inept on a doubles court, crashing and burning before the public’s eyes – but not before bunting his partner, Cristopher Kas, with a return. There came also the amusingly sad sight of Andrey Kuznetsov, who lost early in the day then resurfaced later on the practice court with a crater-sized box of balls, four empty cans and abjectly alone. He placed down the four cans on the four corners of the boxes before proceeding to sorrowfully aim and fire serve after serve at them. Not a soul came to watch, coach or encourage him, and he eventually loaded the balls back into his box and walked off completely alone. It must have been a terrible serving day.

 

 

In the end, though, it was Madison Keys who stole the show after effortlessly punching out Jelena Jankovic. Her conferences stand as reaffirmation that the real value is in being there and the bare transcripts sometimes provided offer little in the way of underlining how and why something is uttered. For Madison’s part, it rarely projects in print but in press she’s serves endless charm even with the most standard of answers. Unlike other players, she doesn’t take herself seriously and allows the sarcasm and self-deprecating humor to show. There were good answers and there were great answers, but the best came as the subject turned to the, until recently, alien sport of soccer. Quickly, she summed up the thought process of the entirety of America in one, succinct answer.

 

“This week is the first time I have watched a full football game,” she said. “And I still am not a huge fan, but I’m getting more and more into it as the World Cup goes on. There is a couple of times where I just don’t understand what’s going on. I’m just like, Wait, why does he have a free kick? Why is the other guy rolling on the ground? No one touched him.”

 

Soon after, she could be seen marching out of the news conference with a newly minted spring in her step. A good day on and off the court.

 

Tumaini Carayol is covering the Aegon International for Tennis Panorama News. He is a freelance tennis writer for various publications, and also writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault. Follow his tournament updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Victoria Azarenka, Back in Action but with Questions to be Answered

 

Victoria-Azarenka-600x399

By Tumaini Carayol

(June 16, 2014) EASTBOURNE, ENGLAND – The sun rose on a new day, but before long a familiar noise was relentlessly piercing the morning atmosphere. At last, Victoria Azarenka was back. But there was no homely welcome mat to usher the fallen warrior back into the routine of the tour. Her first practice came on the courts adjacent to the media centre, and mere seconds were needed for the first complaints to ring out ironically louder than the apparent irritant. One person, voice dripping with abject disgust, simply couldn’t deal with it. Another rolled their eyes and wordlessly slammed the window shut. So, welcome back then, Victoria. Normal service already seamlessly back into motion before she even stepped onto the match court.

 

Azarenka’s practice continued in earnest, and in it there was much to take in. Ocular positives were on show as there came the distinct sense that she really was hitting the ball well. As rallies with her nameless hitting partner raged on, she rapidly fell into a rhythm of punctuating every winner that seared past her opponent’s face with a typically over exaggerated exclamation of “yeah”! Such was the frequency of the shout, her throat was probably raw and dry by the end.

 

But for all the clean ballstriking, there too are palpable issues. Her fitness remains the clearest, most obvious obstacle. Throughout the session she remained largely in one spot, hopping but rarely braving anything close to the full limits of her movement. After she struggled to recover her prime shape of 2012 post-injury in early 2013, the Belarusian is further away than ever. This is only natural, however, and it is perhaps true that an increase in her program.

 

The endless serve problems stand high up the list too. In the fall of 2013, Azarenka decided to completely demolish her old rapid abbreviated stroke and build in its place a full-blooded, lengthy motion. The problem is that it is disjointed, hitchy and lacking any rhythm among many others. She struggled immensely with it towards the end of 2013 and the beginning of the new year, and even in the nerveless confines of practice lack of match or general fitness is also palpable, throughout this session and the ones held last week during the men’s Queen’s event.

 

Soon, she was finished and it was time to greet the press. Three months had passed but again little had changed with the exchanges still testy and awkward as ever.

 

“Why not? Like, why not,” she croaked to queries of her decision to descend upon Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park. “I mean, what’s more exciting than Wimbledon? I just felt that, you know, I started feeling really good on the court, you know, playing with no pain. I just want to play. I couldn’t wait to play.”

 

“Once I felt that I’m healthy, I started practicing and I just wanted to play. So I’m here in Eastbourne to try to test myself in competition, you know. I have been tested in practice, but competition is a completely different thing.”

 

She also discussed her activities that took up her time away from the tour. Unlike Jelena Jankovic, who croacked about her passion of beach volleyball.

 

“Rehabbing, you know, staying at home, just walking with my dog and just living a normal, everyday life, which is very unnormal actually, still (smiling).”

 

“But I had a great time. I obviously missed tennis, I missed being able to travel, to compete. I think compete is the most what I was missing.”

 

Soon enough, it was time to go but the message projected was clear. Victoria Azarenka is back and even if she initially fails, beware.

 

Tumaini Carayol is covering the Aegon International for Tennis Panorama News. He is a freelance tennis writer for various publications, and also writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault. Follow his tournament updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Victoria Azarenka to Miss French Open with Foot Injury

Azarenka

(May 18, 2014) Victoria Azarenka has withdrawn from the French Open with a left foot injury which has kept her off the tour since early March.

Azarenka made the announcement on twitter on Sunday:

Azarenka from Belarus is a two-time Australian Open champion and former world No. 2. The French Open begins on May 25 in Paris.

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Victoria Azarenka Pulls Out of Miami with Foot Injury

Azarenka

(March 12, 2014) Two- time Sony Open winner and current World No. 4, Victoria Azarenka, has withdrawn this year’s Sony Open due to a foot injury.

“I am very sad not to be able to compete at this year’s Sony Open in Miami,” said Azarenka. “I love playing in the US and my results in the past were also great. But it’s been now over a year that it seems that bad luck has been following me. I couldn’t play in Miami last year with a problem in my ankle and now this with my foot. It is time for me to think about my recovery and will work hard for that. I wish the tournament all the best for this 2014 edition. Miami is an amazing place and a great tournament. I hope to be there next year fully recovered and able to be competing for the title.”

The tournament begins on March 17, 2014.

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Ailing Victoria Azarenka Falls at the BNP Paribas Open

 

 

Azarenka

(March 7, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California –

Nursing a left foot injury, third-seeded Victoria Azarenka fell out of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday night in her first match in more than a month. American Lauren Davis winning 6-0, 7-6 (2).

Azarenka had been off the tour since the Australian Open due to some never damage between her toes. She had to wear a boot on her foot for three weeks.

“Basically, all I had was my fighting spirit,” Azarenka said. “When I’m on the court I try to give as much as I can, even on one leg. I try to do my best in tough situations. That’s part of our job.”

Azarenka is uncertain if she’ll participate in the Sony Open in Miami in 10 days.

“I want to be pain-free because it’s not to the most fun to be out there like that,” Azarenka said.

“It means so much to me,” Davis said.  “My first top 10 win, and just being in the third round of Indian Wells really boosts my confidence.

“I just tried to focus on myself, and, I mean, at times blocked them (the crowd) out.  Because like when you’re up and you’re about to beat the No. 3 girl in the world is kind of a high and you kind of look towards the end of the match.

“So I just really just tried to focus on myself and just block them out.”

The only other seed to fall on Friday was former two-time champion Hantuchova, seeded 29th, losing to American Varvara Lepchenko, 6-3, 6-2.

Other seed to advance included second seed Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 6 Simona Halep, No. 7 Jelena Jankovic, No. 9 Sara Errani and No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki.

On a packed Stadium court 2, 2008 Olympic Doubles Gold medalists Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka paired up for a 6-2, 6-7 (4), (10-6) win over Rohan Bopanna of India and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan.

“I don’t know if it was sold out, but it felt like very, very full,” said Federer. “You’re not probably going to achieve that on center court (which holds 16,100) for a doubles. But that was a perfect setup, a feeling, and we can thank the tournament and (owner) Larry Ellison for building such a court so quickly.”

“It’s nice to see the game grow and seeing people coming out and enjoying it. It’s great. I really had a great time out there with Stan today.”

“It took me time to realize really what I did in Australian Open,” said current champion and No. 3 seed Wawrinka.

“Still when I’m saying that I won a Grand Slam it’s still strange for me, but that’s why it was good to be home during three weeks. It was good to be with the family, to take more time for myself.

 

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Ready, Set, WTA All-Access at the BNP Paribas Open

 

(March 5, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – The top eight women’s seeds held court on Wednesday taking questions from the media during roundtable interviews at the BNP Paribas Open. Here are a few notes and quotes from session:

Aga Radwanska

Agnieszka Radwanska and the Cheesecake Factory

Radwanska professed her love for the Cheesecake Factory. She has inked a multi-year agreement with her favorite restaurant. She’ll be sporting the logo on her visor when she plays.

Radwanska says that she can complain about her season so far – two semifinals including the Australian Open.

Last year Radwanska became a blonde and is back to being a brunette. When asked about the change back to her natural hair color, she said “I prefer the dark hair. It was good to change sometimes.”

LI Na media crush

Li Na is the No. 1 Seed

With Serena Williams absent from Indian Wells, Li Na holds the mantle as the No. 1 seed for the tournament. “Feel pretty good,” Li Na said about having the top spot. This is the first time that she’s been the top seed at WTA Premier Mandatory event.

So what’s life after winner her second major like? She says not much different. “I signed a lot of autographs. But not contracts, OK? So looking forward to signing a lot of contracts,” she said.

 

Kerber

Angelique Kerber – Germany’s Fed Cup team members get a Porsche

So what does she think makes her game special? She says she has the ability to read her opponent’s game, and her defense – how she runs and fights for every point. “That’s what I have inside,” she said. As to what she thinks she needs to improve, she says that she needs to play more “aggressive” tennis.

Kerber spot fondly of being a member of Germany’s Fed Cup. She says they are all friends so everyone wants to play and there is a nice incentive – each Fed Cup team member gets a Porsche. Porsche is the sponsor of the Fed Cup team in Germany.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova NBC Correspondent

“Carrying the torch was the biggest honor I could have received,” said  former Sochi native Sharapova in choosing between carrying the Olympic torch or Russia’s flag at the Olympic games.

In addition to her torch carrying duty, Sharapova was a correspondent for NBC during the Sochi games. “It was really fun,” said the Russian.

Asked if she would be interested in media in the future she said, ” I am not sure. I had a great time and I don’t know if that’s something I would do for long periods of time. I love that challenge of it.

“We shot for so many hours for a three minute clip.” She emphasized how it takes a lot of time to put a short piece together in television between shooting and travel time.

Her Sochi experience was a great one, but she’s happy to get back to the court.

 

Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova

When asked about whether she feels that most of the time her matches are on her racquet, she responded, When I’m playing, I’m feeling it’s about me and I’m playing aggressive myself, that’s most(ly) about me.” Not all of the time is a happy end.” Kvitova admits that she’s OK with her game but she has some  more expectations of herself.

Playing aggressively comes natural to the 2011 Wimbledon champion.

 

Halep

Simona Halep is a first-timer at the WTA All-Access

Simona Halep’s ranking has been on the rise for the past few years. Last year only No. 1 Serena Williams claimed more titles than the Romanian during the year.

To what does Halep attribute that success to? “I was more aggressive starting  with last year in Rome, becasue I played really well there. Before I had (a) back injury and it was very hard and I couldn’t play at my level but after that I did really well.”

” I am very happy to be top ten . It’s amazing. Now I can see that I can play the highest level in tennis so I want to continue to be focused.”

She admits that she enjoys the perks of being in the top ten. “I have the bigger car,” she said. As a top ten player it entitles her to a bigger car at tournaments. She enjoys driving and one of the reasons she loves this tournament is that she can drive.

She recently purchased a Range Rover back home in Romania.

Halep’s biggest triumph came in Doha last month, where she beat three top ten players for the title. ” After Australia I thought I could be at highest level of tennis, now I am really happy that I can play in top ten.”

 

Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic models new French Open Fila dress

Jelena Jankovic walked into her roundtable session modeling her new Fila outfit for the French Open accompanied by the designer Ginny Hilfiger.

Jankovic reacted to her former coach Nick Bollettieri being named for induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. “Nick is an amazing person,” Jankovic said. “He’s the one who helped me quite a  lot, you know when it comes to my game brought me a lot at young age.”

“He helped me to believe in myself,” said the former No. 1.

 

 

azarenka-cincy-slider-1

Victoria Azarenka is coming back from a foot injury

By viewing her practices on Monday, one could tell that No. 4 Victoria Azarenka was in some type of pain. She told media that her foot injury had her in a walking boot for three weeks last month. She confessed that she’s only been able to practice for less than a week.

“When you hear for the first time from the doctor that you have to wear a boot for three weeks and the tournament is four-and-a-half weeks away you’re like ‘OK, let’s see how it goes,’” she said. “I just wanted to stay positive and do the best job as possible.”

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Dubai Draw Provides Competitive Opening Round Clashes

 

IMG_5879 dubai draw

(February 15, 2014) DUBAI, UAEFormer world No. 1, 2011 champion and No. 8 seed Caroline Wozniacki will face 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

 

That is just one of the opening round clashes that were revealed when the draw was made at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Saturday in the presence of Venus Williams, Samantha Stosur, Sorana Cirstea and Lucie Safarova.

 

Another first round match will pit former No. 1 and the 2008 French Open champion, Ana Ivanovic, against six seed Angelique Kerber, who ended last season by beating Ivanovic to win Linz and then last month warmed up for the Australian Open by reaching the Sydney final.

 

Former two-time champion Venus Williams needed a wild card to compete, and she will tackle Elena Vesnina in the first round for the right to meet either Kerber or Ivanovic.

 

Top seed Serena Williams has a bye into the second round, where she could face recent Pattaya winner Ekaterina Makarova, and second seed and 2012 champion Agnieszka Radwanska will face either a qualifier or 2009 Dubai semi-finalist Kaia Kanepi. Third seed and defending champion Petra Kvitova will face either former world number three Nadia Petrova or Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro.

 

Fourth seed Sara Errani, who finished as runner-up to Petra Kvitova in 2013, also receives a bye and then could face either Sorana Cirstea or her doubles partner and the player she beat in last year’s semi-finals, Roberta Vinci. Former world No. 1 and fifth seeded Jelena Jankovic will play a qualifier in the first round, and seventh seed and WTA Most Improved Player of 2013 Simona Halep faces Alize Cornet.

 

Main draw play begins on 17th February and continues until 22nd February, followed by the ATP tournament which takes place from February 24 to March 1.

 

DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Dubai, UAE
February 17-February 22, 2014
$2,000,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Order Of Play – Monday, February 17, 2014
Centre Court (from 14.00hrs)
1. Sloane Stephens vs. Lucie Safarova
2. Carla Suárez Navarro vs. Nadia Petrova
3. Venus Williams vs. Elena Vesnina (NB 19.00hrs)
4. Sorana Cirstea vs. Roberta Vinci

Court 1 (from 14.00hrs)
1. Alisa Kleybanova vs. Ekaterina Makarova
2. Chan/Huber vs. Kops-Jones/Spears
3. Raymond/Zhang vs. Pliskova/Pliskova
4. Dushevina/Parra Santonja vs. Groenefeld/Rosolska

Court 2 (from 12.30hrs)
1. Camila Giorgi vs. Karolina Pliskova (Singles Q Final)
2. Maryna Zanevska vs. Mona Barthel (Singles Q Final)

Court 3 (from 12.30hrs)
1. Eugenie Bouchard vs. Annika Beck (Singles Q Final)
2. Flavia Pennetta vs. Yvonne Meusburger (Singles Q Final)

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Radwanska Ends Defending Champ Azarenka’s run at Australian Open

Agnieszka-Radwanska-021-405x450

(January 22, 2014) Agnieszka Radwanska ended Victoria Azarenka‘s run at a third straight Australian Open title on Wednesday when the fifth seed knocked out the defending champ 6-1, 5-7, 6-0. The victory for Radwanska moves her into her first Australian Open semifinal.

With defending champion Novak Djokovic knocked out of the tournament by Stanislas Wawrinka with both he and Victoria Azarenka losing in the quarterfinals it is the first time both the defending champions have lost in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in the Open Era.

The last time the two defending champions lost in the quarterfinals at any Grand Slam in the Open Era was at 1997 Roland Garros when 1996 champions Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Steffi Graf lost in the last eight.

The win snapped Azarenka’s 18-match win streak in Melbourne. It also ended Radwanska’s 7 match losing streak to the Belarusian dating back to 2011 and her three consecutive quarterfinal losses at the Australian Open. It was just the Polish women’s fourth win against Azarenka in 16 attempts.

“I think it’s hard to play someone I lost so many times before,” Radwanska said.  “I knew she’s great player.  Especially here, she’s playing amazing tennis.

“On the other hand, I really have nothing to lose.  She was defending the title, not me.  I was really trying to play my best tennis, go for every shot I could.

“You know, I’m just very happy because I really was playing great tennis.”

Radwanska used an all-court game – at times scrambling for every shot to playing finesse tennis to confuse and dismantle a usually hard-hitting Azarenka.

“I think it’s hard to talk about the game plan against someone that can do everything on court,” said the Pole.  “Pretty much everything is going back.  Not really much mistakes.  So I think I was just trying to play aggressive, not in the middle.  I think focus on the serves as well.

“I think you really have to do everything to beat those kind of players like Vika.”

“A lot of good rallies definitely,” she continued, “amazing points, and running forward, backwards, side to side for so many times.

“Well, I was really feeling good on court today.  I think, you know, I was feeling I could really do everything, trying and fighting for every point, every ball.”

“The first set and the third set, I think there was just too many mistakes and too many easy mistakes on important moments,” said Azarenka.  “Like from the dropshot to the dropshot, or just I had the full court.  Of course, she was passing amazing today and getting to every ball.

“But I just didn’t have the focus on finishing the point so accurate.  That definitely changed the momentum.  She really took advantage of that.  It was hard to come back.

“But, I don’t know, my game wasn’t there today as I wanted it to.  But she definitely played really well.”

“She was aggressive,” the world No. 2 said.  “She was making everything.  She was guessing right.  I was just playing a little bit too predictive, you know.

“In the second set I managed to fight back.  Third set, you know, the first game was important.  I let it go, like easily let it go.  From there just couldn’t get back to it.  It was tough.”

In an upset-ridden Australian Open in which the top three women’s seeds – Serena Williams, Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, have all been ousted by the quarterfinals, there will be a first-time winner in Melbourne among the remaining women. The semifinal line-up: Radwanska against No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova and No. 4 Li Na against Canadian Eugenie Bouchard.

“I’m so happy and pleased, especially that I beat one of the best players in the world, Radwanska said.  “Was not easy draw, not easy quarterfinal.

“I’m very happy that I made my first semifinal here.

I think every semifinal, every final is a huge experience with tennis.  Those experience I just had from Wimbledon.  Of course, I’m just very happy, you know, to reach the semifinal at other Grand Slam.

“So I think this is the level everybody playing great tennis.  Well, it’s a bit more pressure.  This is the semifinal of a Grand Slam.  Especially here, first time for me.

“Hopefully I will play the same tennis as today.”

Radwanska said that her match-up against Cibulkova next,  will be a challenging one, since she been playing against since she was 9 or ten:

“I think it’s always tricky to play someone that you know for so long, play so many times, as well.  Like I’m saying, every match is a different story, especially when it’s a semifinal of a Grand Slam, the first semis for me and for her as well.  Well, we’ll see.”

 

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Victoria Azarenka Moves Past Sloane Stephens into Australian Open Quarterfinals

Azarenka

By Alana Mitchelson

(January 20, 2014) MELBOURNE – Victoria Azarenka has raised her record in Melbourne to an 18-match win streak after disposing of Sloane Stephens in straight sets, 6-3 6-2 on Monday afternoon.

 

The all too familiar Australian Open match-up of Azarenka and Stephens may not have featured a controversial medical timeout this year, but it did not go without a couple of cringe worthy ‘pegs’.

 

Both ladies took to the stage in hot pink tennis gear. An aggressive Azarenka, who had no fear in going for the big shots, gifted herself the early break and, in turn, the psychological edge on young Stephens.

 

At 4-2 in the first set, Stephens propelled a body shot directly at her screeching opponent when, arguably, she had other options as to where she may have directed the ball.

 

No matter, the Belarusian maintained composure and served out the set, however not without receiving a time violation in between serves.

 

“I’m happy with the way I played. I think we were very competitive today,” Azarenka reflected.

 

“I know that Sloane is a great player, a very tough fighter. She was holding her serve really well. I felt like I had a few chances, but she managed to come back strong. So it was important just to stay in that zone and try to create another opportunity.”

 

The second set passed by more quickly than the first and as Azarenka rapidly gained momentum, dictating play, she kept the rally points to a minimum. All the while, Stephens’ unforced errors accumulated and a few poorly timed mishits contributed to the world No. 2 establishing a double break to clinch the match in straight.

 

“I just felt that I managed to pick it up on the important moments and really control the game. Even though sometimes I missed a few shots, I felt like I was doing the right thing. I just wanted to apply that and keep working on that.”

 

While the women’s draw has experienced major upsets over the last few days and the road ahead might appear as though to have opened up greater opportunities for the Belarusian world No. 2, since Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have been extinguished, Azarenka is not overly confident.

 

​”You have to stay alert. It doesn’t matter the level, that you’re No. 2 or whatever. Everybody has proven that anybody can beat anybody. The way I approach the matches, I have to be ready 100 per cent for every player.

 

​”It doesn’t matter. We still have high competition out there. The players who beat those players deserve all the credit because they’ve been better, so they are dangerous and they are competitive. For me it’s important to just keep focusing on my game and to play it one at a time. Quarterfinals of a Grand Slam are never easy, no matter who you play.”

 

Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website.

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Players React to the Heat at the Australian Open

 

(January 14, 2014) Temperatures topped 42C (108F) at the Australian Open on Tuesday while similar temperatures are expected to continue until Friday. Officials still did not invoke the “Extreme Heat Policy.” Here is the official statement from the Australian Open:

AUSTRALIAN OPEN STATEMENT

The top temperature at Melbourne Park today was 42.2 degrees Celsius, at 5.45pm.

Statement from Wayne McKewen, Referee:

While conditions were hot and uncomfortable, the relatively low level of humidity ensured that conditions never deteriorated to a point where it was necessary to invoke the extreme heat policy. Stages one and two of the heat policy were implemented.

Dr Tim Wood, Chief Medical Officer:

The majority of matches today were completed without any court calls from the medical team. Of course there were a few players who experienced heat related illness or discomfort, but none required significant medical intervention after they had completed their match.

 

Most of the matches today didn’t go for much longer than a couple of hours and generally the playing group coped extremely well.

 

Players reacted to the scorching temperatures in their news conferences. Here is a compilation of what the some of players said to press in response the heat:

Wozniacki frustrated

Q.  Could you give us a sense of the conditions and how you felt you coped with that today.
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI:  It was a little warm out there today.  But the first set I thought I managed to keep my head cool.  Every time in the changeovers, ice bags, ice towels, everything; and then in the second set I could feel they were starting to heat up even more.

I put the bottle down on the court and it started melting a little bit underneath, the plastic, so you knew it was warm.

But it was warm for both of us, and it was great that I managed to finish it off in two sets and it wasn’t too long.

Yeah, just had an ice bath now.  Yeah, I could go out and play another two sets now (smiling).

Victoria Azarenka

Q.  Any tricks of the trade to the heat?  Do you get an ice bath after that kind of heat?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  I’m going to go probably after.  Just using ice, you know, hydrate.  It’s simple things, but you just have to be very disciplined about it.  Ball kids make a great job just bringing the ice towels right there.

 

Q.  Did you have a cold shower before you went out to hit the ball again, or is it a process that you go through to try and sort of bring your body temperature back down?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  No, I just went out straight to go hit.  Actually put on a long sleeved shirt.  It wasn’t probably the smartest thing to do, but I’m fine.

 

Q.  Should the roof have been closed for your match?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  I don’t know.  I would love it, but, you know, I think my opponent would also enjoy that.  But it’s fine, you know.

I think, you know, we’re all in the same conditions.  It’s much hotter out there right now than when I was playing.

 

Q.  Caroline said she put a plastic water bottle down on the court and she thought that it started melting a bit.  Is it that hot out there?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  I don’t know.  It’s pretty hot.  I don’t know, when I went out on the court I was just curious what was the temperature.  Because even though it was windy, the wind was like hot wind.  Like I said, Just don’t blow it, because it’s like even hotter.  Just stop.

But you normally expect a little bit of, I don’t know, some freshness, I don’t know what, but it just didn’t come.  From anywhere (smiling).

 

Q.  The soles of your shoes weren’t burning, were they?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  It felt pretty hot, like you’re dancing in a frying pan or something like that.

 

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

Q.  Not a bad first start.  What was it like playing in that sort of heat in the middle of the night?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I knew I had a tough opponent ahead of me.  You know, the conditions were tough for everyone.  I think we got the least today, considering how late we played.  But it was still pretty warm out there.  Warm enough to have to use some ice vests.

But, you know, looking at her results in the last, you know, couple of weeks and last year and the matches that I’ve played against her, I knew that it was going to be a tough match.

No matter what I had to do, I wanted to get through it, and I think that’s what it was about today.

Q.  How did you like the vest?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It’s cool.  Feels good.  Makes you a little wet, but that’s okay.

Q.  Did you feel sorry in any way for some of the players in the heat?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I noticed their facial expressions.  I’m sure it was very difficult for everyone.  I think everyone, except the meteorologists and the doctors, seemed to have the same opinion about the whether, so…

 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Q.  Everyone’s talking about the heat.  How hot did it feel out there on court?  Some of the hottest conditions you played in?
JO WILFRIED TSONGA:  Yeah, I think it’s maybe the hottest condition I played in.  I remember a match I played against Nishikori a few years ago which was also tough.  We knew before it’s gonna be difficult today, and it was, so it’s good to finish that and look for the next round.

Q.  You seem to be having trouble with your shoes, with getting grip out there.  Was that just the heat?
JO WILFRIED TSONGA:  Yeah, because of the heat, you know, the material of the shoes, you know, it’s really becomes, you know, not really hard.  Like, I don’t know how to say it in English.

But anyway, it’s not good for our shoes when it’s hot like this.

 

Federer 1

Q.  Much obviously today has been made of the conditions.  How would you describe them and how it affected your play, if any, today?
ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, I thought it was very dry, just hot, you know, stinging sort of sun.

I guess also it depends on who you play, if you’re playing a big server, clearly faster conditions.  If you’re getting into rallies, I guess you’ll feel the heat a bit more.

Depending on where you come from it has a bigger effect on you, this type of heat, than maybe humid heat.  So it’s very personal, and it can become just a very mental thing, you know, and you just can’t accept that it’s hot.

Just deal with it, because it’s the same for both.  That’s basically it.

 

Q.  You spoke before the tournament about how hard you trained in the offseason.  Does that help you if the weather stays like this to cope well?
ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, I didn’t practice in 40 degree heat because that’s hard to find, you know, around the world.  I did that after the US Open.  In Dubai we had 42, 43, so that was warm then.

But like I said, it’s just a mental thing.  If you’ve trained hard enough your entire life or the last few weeks and you believe you can do it and come through it, there’s no reason.

If you can’t deal with it, you throw in the towel.  But that’s for me.

Q.  From your perspective, should the roof be closed on Rod Laver when the heat gets this bad?
ROGER FEDERER:  No.  I think it should always stay open, honestly.  That’s my opinion.

 

Kei Nishikori

Q.  How was it today?

KEI NISHIKORI:  I’m happy to win, I mean, first of all.  You know, it was not easy condition with the heat and with the wind.

Yeah, it’s always tough to play, you know, first round.  You get tight and, you know, anything can happen.

But I’m happy to win in fifth set.

Q.  Was there any point in the match where you had some problems with the heat?  Because you played five sets, three and a half hours, I think, 3:40.

KEI NISHIKORI:  Actually, not really.  Brisbane was much tougher.  It was no wind and humidity was high.  Here it’s, you know, with the wind and it’s dry, so it wasn’t too bad, actually.

 

Q.  I think it’s still 41 degrees outside.  How do you deal with the heat?
NICK KYRGIOS:  I think it suits my game pretty well.  It will suit my serving a lot.  The more aggressive you are, I think it helps a lot.

Obviously it’s affecting everyone out there.  It’s pretty tough.  You got to stay hydrated.  You got to be smart with nutrition, as well.

Yeah, tough conditions out there, for sure.

Juan Martin Del Potro

Q.  How did you find the conditions today in the heat?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO:  Was terrible for play.  I mean, it was for both player, but is tough to play long rallies, to manage the weather conditions.  And it’s tough to play in these kind of conditions.

I mean, you are thinking about a lot more things than the tennis match.  You are trying to drink a lot and always thinking about your body, your physic, and not about the game.

I know tomorrow and after tomorrow it’s going to be worst, so I will try to be ready for the weather conditions, too.

Andy Murray 8202013

Q.  Do you think the conditions were safe out there?  A couple players collapsed.  A ball boy collapsed.
ANDY MURRAY:  Yeah, it’s definitely something that you maybe have to look at a little bit.  As much as it’s easy to say the conditions are safe   you know, a few people said there’s doctors and stuff saying it’s fine   it only takes one bad thing to happen.  And it looks terrible for the whole sport when people are collapsing, ball kids are collapsing, people in the stands are collapsing.  That’s obviously not great.

And I know when I went out to hit before the match, the conditions like at 2:30, 3:00 were very, very, very tough conditions.  Anyone’s going to struggle in that heat.

Whether it’s safe or not, I don’t know.  You just got to be very careful these days.  There’s been some issues in other sports with, you know, players having heart attacks.  I don’t know exactly why that is.  Or collapsing.

In this heat, that’s when you’re really pushing it to your limits.  You don’t want to see anything bad happen to anyone.

 

Q.  Were you surprised the heat rule wasn’t implemented today?
ANDY MURRAY:  I don’t know what the heat rule is, so…

Q.  Nobody does.
ANDY MURRAY:  Exactly.

Q.  Bearing in mind how hot it was this afternoon, you could have had a roof and air conditioning.
ANDY MURRAY:  Apparently it wasn’t that humid today.  That’s why it wasn’t implemented.  There’s different rules for the men and women.  I don’t know why.  I don’t understand what the difference is in the two rules.

If I’m told to play, I play; if not, then we don’t.

 

Q.  What’s the talk in the locker room?  Are people unhappy about it?
ANDY MURRAY:  I don’t know.  I mean, I didn’t sit down and discuss whether the guys are happy with the rules or not.

But every single person that I saw coming in from practice or going out to play a match or coming back from a match, everyone just said like, It’s really hot today.  That was what they said (smiling).

SloaneStephens

Q.  Has there been much chatter in the locker room today about the heat and wind, especially out on Court 6, the outer courts?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, no, I saw it this morning at breakfast.  I was like, Can’t be windy outside.  I just expected it would be hot.

But, I mean, I kept looking at my phone.  Mine is in Fahrenheit.  I’m like 108 Fahrenheit, why is that happening?  Then I kind of like Googled 45 Centigrade like just to see what’s happening.

I think the heat was more in my mind than anything.  When I got there it wasn’t that bad for me.  Obviously I played later, so it was okay.

 

Q.  We don’t have to ask Siri about the Celsius conversion?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, just ask me, because I’ve been looking at it all day (smiling).

GillesSimonTasteofTennis-600x450

Q.  So the conditions helped you?
GILLES SIMON:  Yeah.  If I feel ready and I want to fight from the baseline, then he a tough opponent because I will just look for rhythm in the match and finally the condition will be helpful for this.  He will serve fast, with the wind, with the heat; you don’t control anything.

But today it was the other way.  I just wanted it to be as short as possible with no reason.  I wanted him to feel bad, to get tight, and I managed to do that.

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