By Romi Cvitkovic
Tennis players are vocal by nature due to always being interviewed and probed by media, commentators and fans. So they make a lot of funny, quirky, quizzical and sometimes insightful comments. Here’s the roundup of the best player quotes from Day One of the U.S. Open.
MARIA SHARAPOVA, on her stomach bug that kept her out of Montreal and Cincinnati:
“I had some tests done, some blood-work, some ultrasound stuff… It was really weird. They told me I was fine, not pregnant. I’m like, ‘Can I get my money back?’”
JOHN ISNER, on his open draw:
“I believe I can beat anyone, but I also know anybody can beat anybody out here. I’m not looking past anyone. I’m not good enough to do that.”
JOHN ISNER, on the margins in tennis:
“[The margin] is so thin. Just a couple days ago [in Winston-Salem] I was down a match point and my opponent had a volley that he probably makes nine times out of ten and he didn’t make it. So I realize how lucky I was or how fortunate I was to win that event. I’m coming up here riding a five‑match winning streak instead of a one‑match losing streak. I know that Djokovic, that forehand he hit last year against Roger sort of went for broke and he made it. The margins are so thin. ”
JOHN ISNER, on his appreciation of Roger Federer and his 17 Slams:
“That’s unbelievable. The closest I’ve come to winning a Grand Slam is one quarterfinal, and he’s won 17 of them. It’s hard to even put into context how great he is. His consistency is ‑‑ we might not ever see it again. In my opinion, he’s the greatest of all time, and he’s still doing it now. I don’t see him slowing down any time soon, either. He’s very gifted, that’s for sure.”
ANDY MURRAY, on the challenge of adjusting his strokes based on windy weather conditions:
“The breeze is a lot stronger than it has been. From one of the ends you had to do a lot of defending, a fair amount of running. That was probably the hardest thing rather than the heat. It’s just quite challenging … when you’re playing down at the far end you’re trying to hit the ball flatter to get it through the wind. And then when you have the wind with you, you’re trying to play with more spin and therefore you’re changing your strokes a little bit. It can be tough to stay in a rhythm.”
ANDY MURRAY, on how he felt after winning the Olympic gold medal:
“I knew after that match that everything you’ve kind of gone through as a player was worth it because it was the biggest win of my career by far. I’ve had many tough losses. … I’ve had a lot of doubts after losing. Even after the Wimbledon final a few weeks previously, you have a lot of doubts about yourself. But after winning a match like that you kind of forget about all of those things.”
JACK SOCK, on how good his serve was on a scale of 1 to 10:
“I think my second serve was a 9.63.”
SAM STOSUR, on realizing how close she was to a golden set against Petra Martic:
“I knew at 4‑Love, 40‑Love that I hadn’t missed a point and the match had been going pretty quick and obviously in my favor. It did pop into my head for a split second. Then I hit the double fault and it was erased and I was quickly on with the next point.”
JAMES BLAKE, on being one of the older American players and getting the “grandpa” jokes dished at him:
“I knew I was going to get [the old guy jokes], because when I was a kid starting out around here I dished them out. So I knew they would come back to haunt me. I remember I used to make fun of Todd Martin… for taking so long to warm up, for his gray hair, for all that kind of stuff, for just in general being old. He said, ‘Just wait, just wait. You will be, too.’ Now I’m getting it from everyone. I deserve it, because if I dish it out, I’ve got to be able to take it. I’m getting the old jokes, the grandpa jokes, and I’m okay with that.”
JAMES BLAKE, on Federer:
“The guy’s a freak. He’s so good. It’s really incredible. I could spend another hour talking about the things I’m impressed with by him… It’s so easy to go out and roll your ankle or tear up your knee or for your back to be sore. For him not to do that is amazing. I think it shows how much work he probably puts in stretching, getting his body strong enough and physically ready to play all these slams.”
JAMES BLAKE, on Serena Williams’ dominance on the WTA Tour:
“You know what’s impressed me most about her is her mind… her will to win. You don’t want to be playing against her. She’s mentally the toughest person I know out there on the WTA Tour by far. She wants to win every single match. Doesn’t just want to win, she wants to beat you badly… She’s a superstar that moves the needle when it comes to selling product and getting tennis on TV, to selling ads. She’s unbelievable. If I ever get a chance to play mixed doubles, she’s the one I want as my partner.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Citi Open tournament this week is full of opinionated and versatile players with the press conferences producing some memorable moments.
Check out some of the intriguing, honest and fun quotes from players Mardy Fish, James Blake, Sloane Stephens, Coco Vandeweghe, Tommy Haas and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova as they talk about the Olympics, Twitter, trends in men’s tennis, heat exhaustion, and even “revenge matches” for one of the players.
“I think it speaks to the physicality of the game nowadays. It takes guys longer to develop. [The ATP Tour] is much more physical, much more mental. You just have to be mature in both areas to succeed at a high level. You just can’t come out of the blue anymore. You just don’t anymore see guys 21-years-old roll through and make the quarterfinals [of Grand Slams]. I think it just speaks to the physicality of the game now. And there are a lot of 30-years-old and older guys that are playing well. I don’t think it’s a coincidence, I think it’s the physical side of it.”
- Mardy Fish on the trend of older players doing well on the ATP Tour
“I feel 100 percent physically and structurally. The most important thing is getting my confidence back. Everyone knows the mind can play tricks on you. You can convince yourself of things. When you’re out there playing, you can convince yourself that you’re not feeling well. When I don’t feel 100 percent, because my confidence isn’t all the way back, my mind can go to bad places. But everything is fine [with my heart]. It’s all behind me. The [doctors] say it won’t happen again. I stay away from everything that can cause it.”
- Mardy Fish on his health after troubles with his heart earlier in the year
“As my knee is starting to feel better, my shoulder is feeling better, everything is feeling better … I don’t feel like I am a player that someone in the top 20 is looking at as an easy draw just because I am ranked outside of the top 100. I know I have been top 10 in the world before. So I am not scared of any of the top guys, I’m not feeling like I walk onto the court and I have already lost.”
- James Blake on his confidence against the top players even though he is outside of the top 100
“The WTA tournament is a lower tier tournament than the men. It’s the women coming into the men’s territory. This has been their tournament for a really long time. We’re kind of bombarding them. I think it’s fine that we play on the outside court. All in all, it’s all the same, and I don’t think any of the girls are disappointed about not being on the stadium.”
- Sloane Stephens on whether it was a diss to the women to not get to play on stadium court until the quarterfinals
“I don’t tweet sometimes for a while, but I love Twitter. I love reading what people have to say. That’s where I find all my gossip!”
- Sloane Stephens on how she has taken to being active on Twitter
“I boycotted the Olympics! I don’t like to watch it anymore because I see the results all on Twitter and Facebook. You already know what happens way before it happens. Now, I can’t go home and watch it and be excited because I know who won… You want to see Michael Phelps win live!”
- Sloane Stephens on whether she has been watching the Olympics
“We get along quite well off the court. I’m sure we’ll spend some time after our careers together, and it’s important for me to say to him at least that I’ve gotten him in the later years, which is huge.
- Tommy Haas on beating Roger Federer to win the Halle title this year
“When I was watching the Olympics, I am surprised I do not see myself playing. The German Olympics committee did not nominate me this year, which I think was a big mistake in my eyes. I am happy to be able to play tennis while the Olympic are going on and not sitting at home.”
- Tommy Haas on not playing in the Olympics
“I’m disappointed that I’m not competing in the Olympics. That’s a dream of mine to compete and win a medal. It’s almost more of a goal for me than to win a Grand Slam just because my mom was in the Olympics. The Olympics were on TV before tennis was on TV in my home.”
- Coco Vandeweghe on not playing in the Olympics
“I took that first match in Stanford against [Melinda] Czink, and it was a little bit of a ‘revenge’ match for me because she beat me in Charleston earlier in the year. I actually had a couple of ‘revenge’ matches in that tournament where I wanted to beat each girl because they have beaten me before.”
- Coco Vandeweghe on her mentality during her Stanford finals run
“I was suffering from the first game versus Vania. It was ridiculously hot out there. I don’t know, seriously, how people live here! I think they should consider changing the date of the tournament or just do night sessions. I’ve played in Australia for six years, and I know what is hot and that it’s the same for everyone. But the heat just hit me today.”
- Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on calling the doctor due to heat exhaustion during her semifinal match versus Vania King (as a note, it reached 95°F today with very high humidity)
Andy Murray, The “Coach”
First up on Stadium Court was Andy Murray who advanced over Alejandro Falla in straight sets with little resistance from the Colombian, 6-2, 6-3. In Murray’s press conference, he acknowledged Falla’s presence in tennis as a “tough player” since he “pushed Federer in Wimbledon” and beat Mardy Fish at the Australian Open.
The other day I commented on how Ivan Lendl didn’t seem to be “coaching” during Murray’s practice session, rather being a bit passive. It seems that Lendl posing questions to Murray has worked better for their relationship than Lendl simply directing Murray as to what needs to be done on court. Murray, the always independent thinker, commented thoroughly and honestly on the way his relationship with his coach has developed.
“A lot of ex‑players view things like ‘This is how I would have done it in that situation,’ or ‘That’s how I would have played,’ or whatever. Whereas Ivan has been actually very, very good with that.
He asks a lot of questions, as well, to understand why you maybe chose to hit a certain shot or what your favorite shots in certain moments are. He’s been very, very good with that — which is not the case with all coaches. He also understands that there are a lot of things that coaches can do that maybe annoy players. (Murray then cited Tony Roche feeding balls from the side of the court as one of these annoyances.)
He just asks the questions and I give him the answers. We have had no problems so far (smiling).”
Ana Ivanovic, The Wine Taster
Serbian Ana Ivanovic had a tougher time against her opponent Vania King, but finally prevailed after being broken in the second set, 6-4, 7-5. The American moved well and executed her backhand down-the-line especially well, making her a tough riddle for Ivanovic to solve. Ivanovic mentioned the heat as not being a factor and the minimal wind to be the difference between here and Indian Wells. The Serb also wasn’t shy talking about how she will celebrate reaching one of her goals this year.
“I’m just really happy with where my game is at the moment. Also, I was real excited to be ranked 10 in the race, which was kind of my goal for the year. So that kind of was exciting. I was like, ‘Oh, we have to have a glass of wine tonight.’”
When asked about what kind of wine, she answered: “I like Australian shiraz. Red wine. I don’t drink white. That’s actually the only thing I can drink.”
Novak Djokovic, The Ambassador
Although Novak Djokovic had no match today, he conducted a special media press conference answering questions on a variety of topics. He was quick to remind the media that the Sony Ericsson Open was the first ATP-level tournament he won in his career back in 2007. What a path this current world #1 has paved in the last five years!
Usually the entertainer, Djokovic took a more serious yet still cheerful tone to his interview as he talked about enjoying the island life at Key Biscayne, “walking” and “biking” around. He also commented on Serbia’s influence in tennis, but in a slightly different wording than the tennis world is used to:
“[The Serbian tennis players] are always seeking to improve and get better. I believe that our past that we had in our country, which was very turbulent, I have to say, helped us to discover that great desire for success and to become one of the world’s best tennis players. This mentality — very, very strong mentality — is actually something that separates, I think, people from that region from any other.”
John Isner, The Wannabe Singleton
Newly-crowned world number 10 John Isner found himself in a jam when he soundly lost the first set to Nikolay Davydenko, 6-2. He was able to recover and win in three, and even finished off with four of his fastest serves of the night — 137, 135, 136 and 129 mph. In his post-match presser he elaborated what the new ranking meant, or rather didn’t mean, to him.
“I didn’t look at the rankings and stare at it or anything like that. It’s something I thought I could accomplish. Now that I have, I’m happy, but I’m definitely not satisfied.
But for sure, it has sunk in. It sunk in, I guess, as soon as I got into the top 10. But, you know, I’m number 10. As my coach says, I want to become a singleton. I want to … have a single digit by my name instead of two.”
Does ‘9’ count, John?