confidence

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Ryan Harrison Talks Roger Federer, His Expectation to Win, and Why He Doesn’t Set Goals

Ryan Harrison in press after losing to Roger Federer at the Sony Ericsson Open


Ryan Harrison nearly forced a third set against Roger Federer today at the Sony Ericsson Open, but the Swiss prevailed 6-2, 7-6(3) in just under one-and-a-half hours on court. In his post-match press conference, Harrison talked about his expectation to win every match, why he doesn’t set ranking or tournament performance goals, and Federer’s renewed authority on court.

In the match, Federer easily broke Harrison during the second and eighth game of the first set, and after Federer was up 5-2 in the second, Harrison broke back and evened out the score to 5-5. Then things got interesting. Two quick errors by Federer, an error in line calling, and an interruption in play that caused Federer to stop playing all helped to escalate the energy on stadium court near the end of the final set.

With 28 winners, five aces and 3-of-8 break points won, Federer was clearly the better player but Harrison commented on Federer’s renewed authority on court:

“… from like a game standpoint, you can tell that [Federer is] hitting his shots with just like a complete conviction and confidence as opposed to … some times last year … he didn’t look like he had the same authority on a shot that he had.

…  I mean, coming off of his match, as many matches as he has this year, he’s got this like authority about his game right now where he’s hitting his shots knowing he’s gonna make ‘em.  It’s gonna make it difficult for anyone to beat him.”

Harrison continued with his revelations and talked about his expectation to win:

“As a player you’re always looking to win every match, and it starts one at a time. [You may] get stuck for a month or two or however long it is … [but] there’s nobody that’s ever been happy with being stuck unless you’re at No. 1.  (Smiling.)

That’s the only time you’ll ever be happy being stuck.  Every day you’re gonna look to improve.  You’re gonna approach every match ‑ at least I am ‑ with the expectation of winning.

Just if you’d ask me going into this week, What’s what’s your expectation for the tournament, I’d say, I’m gonna try to win every match and do as well as I can and try to win the tournament.

Didn’t win this week, so I’m gonna look for it to happen next week.  That’s the way I’m gonna approach things.”

Finally, Harrison addressed his ranking and tournament performance goals with an air of maturity far beyond his years. This is outright one of the best explanations for why not to set goals, and quite honestly, it makes sense:

“I don’t believe in setting a specific ranking goal or a specific round that you want to get to.

Because let’s say I would have chose, ‘Let’s get to the round of 16 here.  Okay?’  Then I get to the round of 16, well am I going to go into the match expecting to lose?  What happens then?

… So ultimately what I’m gonna look to do is every day at practice, every day in a match, I’m gonna try and work on the things and incorporate the things that need to improve, whether it be higher first serve percentage today or being a little more aggressive with my forehand, looking to come in a little more, just different things that I need to improve on.

Hopefully that gets me where I want to go, which is ultimately in contention for Grand Slams.  Obviously I’ve got a ways to go to get there, but that’s the ultimate goal.”

Almagro And Montanes Put Spain In Winner’s Circle

Spain continues to reap athletic rewards as the Spanish duo of Nicolas Almagro and Albert Montanes won the two clay-court titles on the ATP Tour this past week.

Montanes defeated Gael Monfils 6-2, 1-2 in Stuttgart before the Frenchman had to retire with a right ankle injury. It was the second title of the year for Montanes.

“I twisted my ankle on the court and it was impossible to finish the match,” said Monfils. ”The week was good. I played pretty good tennis, a lot of confidence came back. To reach a final again was pretty exciting. I had a bad experience (today) but hopefully it will be better soon and I can get back to my best level and try to reach some other finals.”

Meanwhile in Bastad, Sweden, Nicolas Almagro defeated defending champion Robin Soderling in three sets, 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 to capture the SkiStar Swedish Open. Almagro improves to an impressive 6-2 in ATP finals, although one wonders why we don’t see this more often from him on the red clay.

“I didn’t play very well in the 2007 final here, but today I fought very hard and I’m really happy with the physical and mental sides to my game,” said Almagro. “It was a big match, a big fight and we were both battling like gladiators. Robin is a great player and I’m sure he will have many more chances to win this tournament in the future.”

The victories are important for the ranking points that both Spaniards will add to their 2010 totals. With the North American hard-court swing about to start I wouldn’t expect we see any results like this from either player for some time. All of the 11 career titles between them have come on clay.

ELENA DEMENTIEVA INCIDENTALLY

I wish I knew then what I know now. That’s pretty much my opinion when it comes to Elena Dementieva. As I am writing this I am staring at her photos from the Medibank International in Sydney. Two photos in particular draw my attention. It’s the two dark shots.

In the meantime Dementieva has told the press that she found the Hopman Cup in Perth as an ideal preparation and a good way to get her going in the 2010 season.

“I had some good matches here, — singles and also mixed doubles — and it is good for your confidence to be playing real matches, but also to be able to relax and enjoy them,” she said.

“I think it was good preparation — we had done all the hard work already off the court.

“Now it is just about playing points and matches and feeling your game.”

I am seriously hoping that she can win a slam this year. I know her nervosity on critical moments is a problem but I am hoping she will get over it. In my view she should have won a slam many moons ago.

I am actually even going to insert a little poll here, just because I am curious about your opinions. Will Dementieva ever win a slam before she retires? Cast your votes after the photos!

[polldaddy poll=2502519]

Jelena Jankovic upends Dinara Safina to win Cincinnati title

Jelena Jankovic

Former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia knocked off current world No. 1 Dinara Safina of Russia, 6-4, 6-2, in one hour and 25 minutes to claim the championship on Sunday afternoon at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati.

Despite having played late into the evening last night during her semifinal victory over No. 4 Elena Dementieva, Jankovic looked very fresh from start to finish in the extremely hot temperatures.

“When I did the interview before the match, Pam Shriver asked me how I felt today after such a tough one last night. I said I wanted to believe I wasn’t tired, that I’m fresh and ready to play,” said Jankovic, who has now won two titles this season, winning the Marbella title on clay in April. “I was feeling sore this morning, but when I went on the court I felt fine. I’m really pleased I was able to play well and beat the No.1 player in the world. This is very good for my confidence going into Toronto and the US Open.”

Both players served very well, but it was Jankovic who was able to come up with crucial service breaks of Safina’s serve. Jankovic, who earned her first career win over a reigning No. 1, broke serve once in the third game of the opening set and followed it up by breaking serve three times in the second set. The 24-year-old Serbian won 30 of 39 first serve points and 50 percent of points on her second serve. Safina wasn’t as steady, winning just 22 of 37 first points and 36 percent of points on her second serve. Jankovic hit three aces and three double faults compared to five aces and seven double faults by Safina.

“I’m really pleased that I was able to play well today and beat the No. 1 player in the world, and yesterday beat Elena Dementieva,” said Jankovic, who earned her 11th career Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title. “I got quite a few good wins under my belt this week, which is very good for my confidence coming into Toronto, and especially US Open.”

The Russian had won both previous meetings all played last season on hard courts, but Jankovic was more consistent throughout. When Safina fired a shot long beyond the baseline to give the Serbian the title, Jankovic put her hands on face in excitement. Jankovic was immediately rushed off the court to the opposite side of the Lindner Family Tennis Center to have an interview at the ESPN desk with Cliff Drysdale, Mary Jo Fernandez and Pam Shriver.

In the post-match press conference, Jankovic praised her father for the victory after being asked if her coach contributed to the title run.

“My dad contributed a lot to this,” said Jankovic, a finalist at last year’s US Open.

Both Jankovic and Safina will play next week at the Rogers Cup in Toronto before taking a week off to prepare for the US Open in New York.

Robbie Koenig Blogs From Montreal

Andy Murray

Welcome to the U.S. hard court season! Things are spicing up very nicely as the top dogs continue to dominate here in Montreal. For the first time ever in a men’s tournament, the top eight-ranked players in the world have reached the quarterfinals. History was made in Montreal and it was good to be part of it!

Not much to report on thus far, Jason Goodall (co-commentator) and myself very much looking forward to the weekend ahead. I like Andy Murray this week for the win. He’s impressed me the most out of the top eight guys. I thought Rafa and Novak have been below par. JW’s match with Roger should be highly entertaining and beware of Davy! When the Russian is on, he can be devastating and he’s playing with renewed confidence of late!

Still no sign of the Federer twins on site this week. They are probably just chilling with Mirka back at the hotel

The tournament’s atmosphere has been ridiculously good, especially the evening sessions which have all been sold out! If you enjoy your tennis, this is a must visit event! The city is also fantastic so its a double whammy!

We’ll chat again tomorrow.
Robbie

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