Pro Tennis Player
Quotes of the Week
( Photo credit: Art Seitz ©2012 )
December 18, 2015: “I think they are trying their most, but we can do more. Whenever you make the quarter-finals of a tournament, when the points are greater, the money is greater, you should know that you will be tested. I think that would be very clear and simple. And if they keep the tests for longer, I’m all for that, not just weeks and months, years I’m talking about. That’s the way to scare people.”
— Roger Federer, telling The Guardian (UK) that he believes tennis players should undergo more anti-doping tests to ensure the sport does not suffer the problems that have
plunged athletics into crisis.
December 18, 2015: “The British players in recent years who have been good—Tim Henman, Greg Rusedski, Andy—they don’t in my opinion put enough back. I mean putting your heart and soul into it, a passion that is bigger than the person and even bigger than the game. It’s about getting a kid who wants to play [football] for Manchester United to want to play tennis instead. Andy is in such an incredible position with power to do that but he doesn’t. I don’t think Andy does justice in presenting himself. I don’t think he goes out of his way to present the game.”
— Great Britain Davis Cup captain David Lloyd, who was part of the 1978 Davis Cup team that fell in the final to the United States in 1978, the last time the Brits were in a Davis Cup final, telling the Daily Mail that world No. 2 Andy Murray isn’t promoting the game enough, particularly for British tennis.
December 18, 2015: “I always say I wish that the media and the people in the press conferences afterwards could see the side of Serena that I see. I just think she’s so focused. It’s weird, because sometimes she’ll have an attitude in a press conference. And if it was Michael Jordan who did that after losing, you would say that’s fire, that’s determination; he just can’t get over it. There would be a different rhetoric about it. Serena gets viewed a little differently.”
— Andy Roddick, former world No. 1 and a good friend of Serena Williams, defending her lack of graciousness at press conferences because, like Michael Jordan, she’s such a terrific competitor who hates to lose, on SI.com.
November 27, 2015: “Yes, well, unbelievable. A few weeks ago I didn’t even know I’d have a chance to be here, and there you go. I didn’t really expect this at all, especially the beginning of the year it was not great. I think the good sentence is to do it here: Doesn’t matter how you start, matters how you end. It means everything. It couldn’t be any better. I think that was the biggest day in my life.”
— A surprised Agnieszka Radwanska, who slipped to No. 15 earlier in the year, on winning the WTA Finals and being an ‘underdog’ after the 26-year-old Pole, who lost her opening two round-robin matches but won the biggest title of her career with big wins over top-5 players Simona Halep, Garbiñe Muguruza, and Petra Kvitova 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, committing only five unforced errors, in the final.
November 27, 2015: “It’s been kind of relentless perfection. Since he lost in the first week of the year, he’s made the finals in every event he’s played. Four years ago, he was much more volatile and a little more susceptible to the emotional ebbs and flows. Now he does have the emotions still, but he flushes it out pretty quickly. He’s been able to make regrouping look easy, and it’s not. To me, it’s been kind of an emotionally led process. Novak is just comfortable out there, and when you are that good and you are comfortable and composed, it’s pretty tough to derail someone with those talents. He’s just in the zone right now. As a tennis fan, it’s quite a treat to watch, though it’s not much fun to play against.”
— Tennis Channel analyst Paul Annacone, former coach of Pete Sampras and Roger Federer, telling The New York Times at the start of the ATP Finals why Novak Djokovic has dominated men’s tennis this year, even more so than in 2011 when he also won three Grand Slam titles.
November 27, 2015: “It’s a great thing to be Top 10 now with the level of the game, but I’m still very hungry. I’m ready for more. I’ve had so many experiences in tennis that I still expect a lot from myself. So I’m very happy to be moving forward, but I also want to continue and not stop here.”
— Venus Williams, 35, and a 19-year veteran on the pro tour, after she climbed back into the Top Ten—ranking No. 7—for the first time in four years by winning her third tournament of the year, edging Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 7-6 (6) in the final of the Huajin Securities WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai.
October 26, 2015: “He’s had a temporary departure from the hall [of fame], he’s actually on detention in the director of sport’s office at the moment. We’re keeping him there until his behaviour improves—which we’re very confident will happen given that he was a Radford student. He was a lovely bloke at school. He only has to string together a few good tournaments and we’ll be happy to put him back up there. All good sportspeople are an influence and particularly being from Canberra, the kids all follow him quite closely and we want them to have good role models.”
— Principal Fiona Godfrey, told Fairfax Media that tennis bad boy Nick Kyrgios will remain in “detention” at his former school until he begins to behave.
October 26, 2015: “When he beat Federer at Wimbledon [in 2008], I said, ‘Oh my God.’ This guy is actually developing a tennis game and isn’t just a one-trick pony running every ball down and fitnessing the other guy to death. This guy was taking backhands on the rise, hitting winners. He was standing inside the box and ripping winners like Agassi. That’s the thing: He can do that. I’ve seen him do that. He needs to go back to that. And he’ll have a lot more fun playing. But if he keeps trying to think he’s going to play like a 13-year-old and run around and play defense, it’s not going to work. He’s not going to win another major.”
— Coach Larry Stefanki, told CNN when asked about Rafael Nadal in August.
October 26, 2015: “True to an extent. Will we see a third Serena Slam? No, but she will pass Graf and come close to Margaret Court, unless Serena retires in the next two years. Serena has had a history of lapses, only to come back and win multiple majors in a row. It’ll get harder with her age, but there’s little to suggest she won’t win a few more Slams—maybe just not consecutively.”
— ESPN analyst and 1980s doubles superstar Pam Shriver, asked if the best of 34-year-old Serena Williams is behind her.
October 7, 2015: “I can’t say that’s what we’re going to do, but I can certainly say it’s something that’s got some favorable feedback and traction from some of the nations. It’s more likely they’d be in different cities because of the timing today, but if you look at it, the Davis Cup and Fed Cup Final Fours could be in the same city, with one held one week and the other the week after. That would make it easier for television, easier for fans to follow the format.”
— Dave Haggerty, former USTA president and the incoming ITF president succeeding Francesco Ricci Bitti, an Italian who served as ITF president for 16 years, telling The New York Times that he favored a Final Four format for both the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup that would preserve the Davis Cup’s traditional home-and-away format in the early rounds, with the four semifinalists then coming together in a host city chosen well in advance—a change, which would be one of the biggest in the Davis Cup’s 115-year history—and he would also push for an expansion of the Fed Cup’s top division from eight teams to 16.
October 7, 2015: “One difference is time on task. There are no shortcuts. We have longer school days—eight hours versus six. If you add that up, it’s 16 years of education versus 12 for district peers. There’s also an emphasis on accountability, which starts with the kids themselves. They know this is a privilege: There are 1,000 kids on the waiting list. So they take ownership. The teachers have annual contracts; there’s no business in the world that could succeed if employees who worked for three years got a job for life. The parents are accountable too. They need to acknowledge, accept, and embrace the objectives set for their children. They come in, they volunteer time, they sign off on homework assignments. You have to cover all the bases.”
— Andre Agassi, telling Harvard Business Review what sets his Las Vegas charter school apart from others.
October 7, 2015: “Will she contend for another clean sweep next year? I doubt it. Is the lure of an Olympic gold medal or two in Rio de Janeiro something that will keep her going? Well, it’s a possibility, but it will take some sacrifices, and I wonder whether Serena is sufficiently in love with the game.”
— Pat Cash, 1987 Wimbledon champion, wondering whether Serena Williams’s motivation will decrease next year after she came close but failed to win the Grand Slam in 2015, in The Times (UK).
September 18, 2015: “No; I told you guys I don’t feel pressure. I never felt pressure. I never felt that pressure to win here.”
— Serena Williams, with a terse denial that the pressure of going for a rare Grand Slam accounted for her poor play in her US Open loss to Roberta Vinci.
September 18, 2015: “Oh, yeah, everybody knows: Yeah. Of course—and then the pressure you put on yourself. Of course. She was tight: I’ll muscle it….She was just really tight, just couldn’t muster through it today.”
— Oracene Price, Serena’s mother and former co-coach, telling Sports Illustrated that all the outside pressure, talk of history, and “too many interviews by you guys” finally caught up with Serena.
September 18, 2015: “I won three out of four [majors this year]. It’s more than I could ask for, definitely. Sitting down here with this trophy and reflecting on what I have achieved, it’s quite incredible. . . . He [Roger Federer] was going to try to disrupt my rhythm. . . [and] put a lot of variety in his game: slice, chip and charge, come to the net, serve and volley, but I was ready for it. I was ready for the battle. . . we pushed each other to the limit, as we always do.”
— Novak Djokovic, after defeating Roger Federer 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in a high-caliber US Open final for his third major title this year and tenth overall.
September 18, 2015: “Before I started this tournament, one month ago, I made a big decision in my life. And this is why I would like to say goodbye to tennis. This was my last match in the US Open, and I couldn’t think of a better way. I’m really happy. It’s what all players want to do, go home with one of these big trophies.”
— Flavia Pennetta, a 150-1 longshot who became the surprise US Open champion, telling stunned US Open spectators that she was retiring after she defeated Robert Vinci 7-6, 6-2 in the final.
August 25, 2015: “It’s all up to me. If I decide to be Baby Rena, then . . . I saw someone write that on Instagram. I kind of liked that, though. They were calling me out, but I was like, ‘They’re right, so . . .’ Yeah, hopefully Baby Rena won’t come out.”
— Serena Williams, who hopes to complete the Grand Slam at the US Open, asked what she thought the last Grand Slam event of the season would be like, and referring to the self-destructive “Baby Rena” personality that exploded and imploded at the 2009 and 2011 US Opens.
August 25, 2015: “I think he’s playing well, he’s fit, he hits the ball great, he’s doing everything that he’s been doing for years. It is tougher as you get older and now Novak [Djokovic] and [Andy] Murray, they’re in their prime now. I think for Roger to win, things need to fall into place. I think if he has to play Murray, Djokovic, then Rafael Nadal in one week or back-to-back, it gets more difficult. Wimbledon, I think, is his best chance, but the US Open he’s won there five times, he knows what he’s doing. I think he’s got a good shot, but I think obviously Novak is the man to beat.”
— Former Superstar Pete Sampras, on “The Tennis Podcast,” saying he thinks 34-year-old Roger Federer has a real chance to win the US Open.
August 25, 2015: “I think it is a very important ingredient. I think what we saw in the late ’80s with [Jim] Courier, Sampras, Agassi, [Michael] Chang, and a lot of other guys that were very good — some not quite that good — was the result of those guys really beating up on each other, making each other better. So when you have one player in a peer group that has a really good result, then all of a sudden the other guys in the group think, ‘Well, hey, I can beat that guy. I’ve been playing him for three years. I can do that.’ And then somebody else pops up. And I think that is what we are going to get with this group of boys if we keep them on track.”
— Martin Blackman, newly appointed General Manager of USTA Player Development, believes what he calls “healthy peer pressure’’ and the “demonstration effect” within the pack will help drive highly promising American teenagers Reilly Opelka and Noah Rubin, the last two Wimbledon junior champions, French Open junior winner Taylor Fritz, Taylor Paul, Frances Tiafoe, Stefan Kozlov, and Michael Mmoe to success, in The Boston Globe.
August 5, 2015: “I am confident that I can play, I gonna have a much better second half of the season than what I did in the first six months. I have the motivation to do it, and I feel my mentality and my body ready for it. And then if I'm able to play the full season, I hope to finish in good position of the ranking and then have the chance to start 2016 stronger, no?... I am sure that I gonna keep trying my best.”
— Rafael Nadal, who has a poor 2-6 record against top 10 opponents and won only two minor tournaments this year going into the Hamburg event which he won by beating Fabio Gognini in the final.
August 5, 2015: “It’s been interesting for me to see how when I started doing well, how everyone jumped on the bandwagon or whatever—building me up so much. And then to see how they would break you down so much as well. I’m definitely hard on myself but there definitely are some harsher critics than others. . . . But I think it’s all part of the job, so.”
— Eugenie Bouchard, a 21-year-old Canadian, who reached No. 5 in the rankings last year after reaching the Wimbledon final, but plummeted to No. 26 and won only a handful of matches since the Australian Open, talking about her harsher critics.
August 5, 2015: “If the former players can be a small part of it or sounding board, I know James (Blake), I know Mardy (Fish) and I know myself. We’ve always been pretty open to that. Now it’s just about finding an organized infrastructure that is consistent as far as inclusion of former players.”
— Andy Roddick, the last American man to win a Grand Slam singles title at the 2003 US Open, telling
The Atlanta Constitution-Journal he wants to help young American players any way he can, but there needs to be a structured way to do it.
July 16, 2015: “I couldn’t stop crying. So many people are clapping. I don’t know. I make all these people feel this in a tennis court? I was like, I don’t know. I felt special.”
— Garbine Muguruza, a power-hitting, 21-year-old Spaniard, explains the reason for her on-court tears following her 6-4, 6-4 defeat to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon ladies’ singles final.
July 16, 2015: “She recognizes she could be the greatest of all time. Not only that, she recognizes she should be the greatest of all time.”
— Mary Carillo, Tennis Channel analyst, on Wimbledon champion Serena Williams, who will try to complete a rare Grand Slam at the US Open.
July 16, 2015: “One year ago I won the trophy, and on this day, we got married in the church, started a new life together. . . . Ever since I got married and became a father, I haven’t lost many matches, I won many tournaments. I suggest that to every player, get married, have kids, let’s enjoy this.”
— Wimbledon gentelman's singles champion Novak Djokovic, offers his tips for the perfect work-life balance.
June 28, 2015: “It’s absolutely something that needed to happen. I think this change was a long time coming. I was one of the guys throwing a fit about it when I was playing. I think it’s a no-brainer, but I’m really glad that it’s here. It’s the way it should be.”
— Former world No. 1 and three-time Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick, on the new scheduling change that adds a third week (instead of two formerly) between the French Open and Wimbledon to increase the grass-court season and to give players more time to rest and recuperate after Roland Garros, in USA Today.
June 28, 2015: “I was such a young girl. Looking back at the tape, I had such a baby face, and the emotions were really showing on that baby face. And I was a skinny girl, too. I still wasn't as tall as I am today. I kept on growing for another two or three years after that victory. So it's been 11 years now, and I look back on that and I relive that memory inside of myself. Your first grand slam title is very special. What would I say to my 17-year-old self, to that young girl who won Wimbledon? I would say, ‘Keep on doing what you're doing.’ In fact, no, I don't think I would want to say anything. Life is such an experience and you have to go through it and you have to learn. I don't think, even if it were possible, that I would want to be giving my younger self advice because you have to go through those moments when you have to pick yourself up or you have to take another road, or back up.”
— Maria Sharapova, recalled her stunning and only Wimbledon title as a 17-year-old ingénue that culminated with a shocking 6-1, 6-4 victory over Serena Williams in the final, on ESPN.com, before the 2015 Wimbledon.
June 28, 2015: “The most important thing you want for people is to be their authentic self. Whatever that is, whoever you are, you want that. And I'm really happy for Caitlyn because it seems like she's finally going to be who she wants to be. There's probably somebody gay in every family. There's a lot of kids who are transgender. . . . People have to have compassion and understanding. This is life, and you have to understand that it's okay.”
— Billie Jean King, talking to the Boston Herald Radio’s "Fargo Street" program about former track superstar Bruce Jenner's transgender transition to Caitlyn Jenner after her highly publicized and widely viewed sit-down interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC.
June 13, 2015: “I’m not as good as the Big Four, though I’m good enough to win two Grand Slam tournaments. I can beat them in major tournaments, in a semi-final, in a final. But the Big Four will always be the Big Four. I don’t want to be compared with them.”
— Stan Wawrinka, who rose to No. 4 in the world rankings after defeating Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to win the French Open, modestly insisted that he was not on the same level as Djokovic, Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal.
June 13, 2015: “This is by far my most dramatic match [of the tournament]. I didn’t even train yesterday. I had the flu. It’s just been a living nightmare. I got so upset I was down 0-2 [in the third set]. I was like you’re up 4-1, 40-15 [in the second set], and now you’re gonna lose this. What are you gonna do it about it? Once I relaxed, I don’t think about it. I stopped thinking and started playing and next thing I know I won.”
— Serena Williams, explaining her roller-coaster 6-3, 6-7, 6-2 victory in the French Open final against heavy underdog Lucie Safarova to capture her 20th Grand Slam title.
June 13, 2015: “That to me is her greatest asset: her fight and her will. Everyone says she has the greatest serve of all time, but that’s not what separates her [from the competition]. This tournament, this is a perfect example of why she has won so much and why she’s such a fearless competitor. It seems not to occur to her that she’s going to lose a match, even when she’s not playing well. She can’t be budged.”
— Mary Carillo, a Tennis Channel and NBC analyst, on Serena Williams, who lost the first set in four French Open victories going into the final, in USA Today.
June 1, 2015: “I can remember sitting there in Abu Dhabi, puzzled and asking myself just why he was talking the way he did. Yet now it all seems to be falling in place and I’m asking myself: what has happened to him? Age gets to every player, no matter how great they might be. Rafa is not old — he will celebrate his 29th birthday on the day of the quarter-finals, where he could well be going into that much anticipated battle with the top seed, Novak Djokovic. Nevertheless, he’s been out there, contesting the ATP World Tour since making his debut as a 15-year-old and he has put more physical effort into not just his matches, but also every single daily practice session than any player since Jimmy Connors. Still I don’t believe that he is tired of the challenge. It’s more that his game has somehow got knocked slightly out of kilter and for somebody such as Nadal, where there are so many components that make up his brutally struck and spun ground shots, that is crucial.”
— Pat Cash, the 1987 Wimbledon champion, recalling a New York Eve’s conversation in which Rafael Nadal was shockingly pessimistic and analysing it in view of his prolong slump since then, in The Times (UK).
June 1, 2015: “You’ve got to love to compete, and for me I have to love to run every ball down and I have to want to be there and just really be, like, ‘This is everything right now.’ I think for me in this moment I feel really good about my tennis, and I feel really good about the place that I’m in. I’m happy, you know? I’m just happy to be here.”
— Sloane Stephens, a 22-year-old American with great potential who was sometimes withdrawn and a bit sullen in the past, talking about her new and improved on-court attitude early in the French Open.
June 1, 2015: “I don’t know how she does it. When she plays against me and Maria [Sharapova], her level is not at all the same as when she plays against some of the others....She’s the toughest competitor. I don’t think there is any doubt about that.”
— Two-time winner Victoria Azarenka, who led 6-3, 4-2 and won the first two game of the deciding set before Serena Williams stepped up her power game and accuracy to rally for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory in the French Open third round.
May 17, 2015: “Djokovic is the machine. It’s the way he's hitting the ball from the baseline, how aggressively he plays and how he does it with so few unforced errors. His ability to turn defense into attack is second to none. He will be considered in the same class as [Roger] Federer and [Rafael] Nadal. Djokovic has won eight Slams, but in the future that number is going to climb to 11, 12, 13 and maybe more. When he does that he will go down as one of the greats.”
— Tim Henman, a former four-time Wimbledon semifinalist, telling the
Belfast Telegraph that No. 1 Novak Djokovic will end up as one of the greatest players ever.
May 17, 2015: “He basically walked straight into me for no reason. He walked into me and then ran down the other end of the court. He did it intentionally. I shouldn’t have said what I said [“Everyone hates you!”], but if someone does that to you and you don’t respond, you’re letting him dictate how the match goes. I was always taught by my Dad if someone pushes you or threatens you, that you stick up for yourself.”
— Andy Murray, talking about being bumped by Lukas Rosol during a changeover, after which reconciled their differences after talking it out in the locker room after the match.
May 17, 2015: “We thought about it. We could not not ask the question for a champion like him, who has embodied the tournament for 10 years and only once not won a match. But the circumstances are different. In 2013, he came in injured. Today, it is his sporting level, it seems, which has fallen. He is not hampered. So, we will not adjust the seedings in his favor.”
— Gilbert Ysern, director of the French Open, stating slump-ridden Rafael Nadal will not get a boost in the seedings—above his current No. 7 ranking—despite winning Roland Garros the last five years and nine times in his career.
May 1, 2015: “Mike Agassi attacks all those who have helped him in the past. It’s a sad thing. I encourage him to listen to what Andre said last year: ‘Without Bollettieri, who took care of me I would not be who I am. That is number one in the world, a happy father, a multi-millionaire who helps young [people].’ Andre would have never become the No. 1, playing serve and volley. So what does Mike Agassi want?”
— Nick Bollettieri, responding to
Andre Agassi’s father Mike, who in Andre’s autobiography had attacked Bollettieri and had said that he didn’t teach to his son how to play at the net, in the Italian newspaper, La Stampa.
May 1, 2015: “His instability and desire to regain his freedom—at all levels—are the cause of our separation. Also I have to admit that even the lies and betrayals contributed a lot, destroying any confidence I had in him. I asked him not to make any statement regarding our separation, but unfortunately it wasn’t allowed. I hate to read that his recent sports results can have depended on the end of our love. I think it’s just an excuse.”
— Ilham Vuilloud, accusing 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka of lies and betrayals, which, she said, caused their separation.
May 1, 2015: “When you start off as a child playing tennis, you dream of being No.1 in the world. It’s a dream for every person; very few get there. I feel extremely honored to be No.1, it’s something that I’ve worked for all my life. I hope this makes girls in India believe that anything is possible; we can achieve anything we want if we put our mind and body to it.”
— Sania Mirza, who won the Family Circle in Charleston with Martina Hingis, saying that achieving the WTA World No.1 doubles ranking was a dream come true.
April 10, 2015: “It’s all so different. I mean, I’m glad I came up in the ‘70s. So glad. In the beginning, it was more fun. Look at all the people we had: we had Billie Jean [King] and Martina [Navratilova] and myself and Arthur Ashe and Jimmy [Connors] and John [McEnroe]. We started it, we started the tennis craze, and there wasn’t as much pressure and there wasn’t as much focus on us and we could have private lives. Nowadays players can’t have any privacy, with social media and everything. The women in my time were closer; we used to practise with each other and have dinner with each other that night. It’s just so different now. It’s big business.”
— Tennis Legend Chris Evert, telling Telegraph Sport (UK) how dramatically pro tennis has changed since her debut.
April 10, 2015: “It’s not the question of tennis, it’s the question of being relaxed enough to play well on court. I was anxious on court. I wanted to be there. I tried in every point, but I was not able to relax myself, to calm myself, to say I’m going to play my best tennis now. I’m playing with too many nerves for a lot of moments, important moments. . . . You have to know that you have a problem and know that you have to improve, but nobody is going to improve the situation for you.”
— Rafael Nadal, in the throes of a prolonged slump, after the 28-year-old superstar suffered a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 Miami Open third-round defeat to Fernando Verdasco, a player he once defeated 13 straight times.
April 10, 2015: “I love watching her play. I’m actually a fan of hers. I like her attitude. I like how she gets pumped up. I like how she fights. I like how she plays. I think it’s fun to watch and different. It’s a refreshing type of game.”
— Serena Williams, praising Simona Halep after edging the 23-year-old Romanian 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in the Miami Open semifinals to give her a 10-0 record in semifinal matches at that tournament.
March 24, 2015: “I put myself in the position to win the match, to serve it out. I got a little bit nervous, a little bit tentative, and that was my big mistake. The nerves—I got the nerves. My arm was super heavy. I could not even lift it. I mean, I don’t know if you guys know, if you play sports and if you sometimes get nervous, but this is what happens. I don’t know. The arm wouldn’t go up. It’s just I couldn’t hit through the shot. That’s what happened. I’m saying it honestly. I’m not going to lie. I’m not going to say excuses. It’s just the way it is, and that’s it.”
— Jelena Jankovic, who was ahead by a set and a service break twice and served at 5-4 for the Indian Wells title, confiding that nerves did her in as she succumbed 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 to Simona Halep.
March 24, 2015: “Rafa has been the Mount Everest of Roland Garros and climbing him is like climbing Mount Everest without the sherpas and the oxygen. Djokovic has nearly reached the summit of that mountain a couple of times and is no doubt playing at a level above everybody else right now. He believes he should win. I think he can and deserves to but he doesn’t deserve it if Rafa gets himself right and shows up again like he has. I will be as excited as anybody to see if Rafa really is going to be vulnerable. It seems that way now but it’s seemed like that before.”
— Andre Agassi, telling Reuters TV, at the launch of his BILT by Agassi & Reyes range of fitness machines at a sports club just north of London, that world No. 1 Novak Djokovic may never have a better chance to complete his career Grand Slam than at the French Open in June, but the challenge of dethroning nine-time champion Rafa Nadal remains daunting.
March 24, 2015: “Given that
institutional empathy, one would think there would be a tacit understanding from
the tennis media that Serena not only did the right thing by returning to Indian
Wells this week, but that she also—along with Venus—did the right thing by
boycotting the tournament in the first place. Instead, questions and criticisms
about whether the racial abuse even occurred, like from
LA Times columnist Bill
Dwyre, or the sentiment that the Willliamses were
holding an unnecessary and mean “grudge” over the tournament, like from
Inside Tennis Magazine’s
Bill Simons, were breathtakingly inappropriate.”
— Andrew Jerell Jones, sports columnist for
The Guardian (UK), lambasting the predominantly white tennis media for their position on Serena Williams’ 14-year boycott of Indian Well, despite conceding, “In the years since, both Venus and Richard have alleged they received racial abuse throughout the match, although there have been no corroborating accounts from any of the 15,940 fans in attendance.
March 12, 2015: “He is an extraordinary and complex man. I have spent a lifetime trying to understand him. His mum was a Russian Armenian who moved to Tehran after the Armenian genocide in 1915. Dad grew up in Tehran as a Christian and he had some pretty horrible experiences. They were very poor. I think that taught him to fight. He took up boxing, won two golden gloves and competed in two Olympic Games for Iran. When he came to America, he had one ambition: ‘I will spend my life trying to create an environment where my kids can have the one thing I never had, money’. He conditioned us to leave our heritage behind. His attitude was: ‘We are Americans. We are going to live the American dream.’ He didn’t want us to learn [Persian]. We changed our name from Aghassian to Agassi. He didn’t want anyone to think we were Muslim.”
— Andre Agassi, telling The Times (UK) about his well-intentioned but hard-driving immigrant father who was intent on creating a tennis champion.
March 12, 2015: “No, emphatically not. Who needs a fifth Grand Slam [event]? It would take three weeks to get through it all. Davis Cup answers the local and national tennis leagues of up to 200 countries; whereas tournament tennis cannot succeed unless they have Federer, Djokovic, Nadal, et cetera, and those guys can play only 20 a year. Davis Cup should be saluted, and it should never be in one place. That would be idiot talk.”
— Owen Williams, former No. 1 player in South Africa, US Open tournament director, and CEO of Lamar Hunt’s World Championship Tennis, asked by Florida Tennis magazine if the Davis Cup should be staged at one site at one time like golf’s Ryder Cup.
March 12, 2015: “This one is on me. My loss on Friday put us in a huge hole, so it’s hugely disappointing for me. This is going to stick with me for a long while. I just didn’t perform this week and I feel like I let the team down, it’s a terrible feeling.”
— World No. 20 John Isner, inconsolable after losing his singles rubbers, 6-7, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6, 15-13 to James Ward and then 7-6, 6-3,7-6 against Andy Murray during Great Britain’s 3-2 Davis Cup first-round victory over the United States in Glasgow, Scotland.
March 12, 2015: “It’s wonderful to see the way that these same-gender events have been embraced by our sport. I’ve always felt that tennis is equally fun and beneficial to everyone, so I’m thrilled to see our sport recognize that it ought to be equally-accessible to everyone. After all, the makeup of families in our world is changing, so it’s exciting to see that tennis is recognizing that change and offering same-gender couples a chance to compete and have fun together. In the long run, that’s going to be great for these couples—and great for our sport.”
— Hall of Famer Billie Jean King, enthused about the USTA’s sanctioning five same-gender couples’ doubles tournaments—for same-gender spouses, those in civil unions, domestic partners, and spousal equivalents— for the first time in 2015 at five venues: Palm Springs, Calif., Kansas City, Minneapolis, New York City, and West Hollywood, Calif.
Feb 26, 2015: “Look, I actually believe that we attract what we’re ready for. Yes, I haven’t won against her many times, but if I’m getting to the stage of competing against someone like Serena, I’m doing something well. I’m setting up a chance to try to beat her and it hasn’t happened. But I’m not just going to go home without giving it another chance. That’s just not who I am and not who I was raised to be. I’m a competitor. I love the competition. I love playing against the best. And, at the moment, she is.”
— Maria Sharapova, vowing to stalk Serena Williams until she beats her after losing to the No. 1 Williams for the 16th straight time at the Australian Open.
Feb 26, 2015: “Of course. I’ve had it and ended up losing the match. I don’t think I lost because I was nervous necessarily, but because of the circumstances. During a match, you have a very elevate pulse and you get the shakes sometimes, and you don’t know why that is. Sometimes your legs freeze, so you try to stay in the moment. That’s what I like about sports or tennis. When we get nervous, at least we’re moving and doing something, so we can distract our mind [with] physical effort.”
— Roger Federer, asked by Inside Tennis magazine if he has suffered from his hands shaking or other forms of high anxiety at match point.
Feb 26, 2015: “I think [we need] to have more relation with other people. Not to live in a bubble. We don’t talk with anyone. To be more open. But we can’t do this together so . . . It’s not like that on the men’s tour. I don’t understand why. I think girls are more like [imitates a cat’s claw-like gesture]. The men, they just sit there, they eat, they have dinner together and I’m like ‘what? are you crazy?’ With the Spanish players I kind of have more relation, but with the rest, no. It’s sad.”
— Garbine Muguruza, a 21-year-old rising Spanish star, when asked by Sport360 what she would change about her time on the circuit.
Feb 04, 2015: “There were a lot of turning points in
the match. Regardless of the record I have here, we both knew we had equal
chances to win. It was a cat-and-mouse fight, it always is with us. I think both
went out with the full repertoire of the shots we have. From my side it was
definitely very exhausting. Saved some break points at 3-all in the third set
and managed to make that break and win the third. After that I felt huge relief.
I felt I could swing through the ball. I felt the momentum was on my side and
wanted to use that.”
— Novak Djokovic, after he beat Andy Murray 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-0 for his fifth Australian Open title in five finals and dealt Murray his fourth loss in four finals in Melbourne.
Feb 04, 2015: “No, it’s not legitimate and it definitely distracted me. I have no idea what the issue was. He obviously looked like he was in quite a bad way at the beginning of the third set and came back unbelievably. I’m frustrated at myself for letting that bother me. I got a bit distracted when he, like, fell on the ground after a couple of shots. I have no idea [if it was a deliberate ploy]. I would hope that that wouldn’t be the case. If it was cramp, that’s a tough thing to recover from and play as well as he did at the end. I’ve been through situations like that before where I haven’t let it affect me. That was what was disappointing.”
— Andy Murray, wrongly insinuating Novak Djokovic was feigning injury or exhaustion during the
Australian Open final, but conceding that, in any event, he should not have let it distract or anger him.
Feb 04, 2015: “There was a long time when I didn’t think too much about what I have done and achieved. I still don’t really, because I’m afraid if I do I will become very happy with the results, impressed even. And I don’t want to do that. I want to play next week, play next month, next year. Wanting to finish my career as the greatest player that has ever been is definitely something that motivates me, although I never thought I would be sitting here having this discussion. Yet a part of me thinks I really have a chance to make history and another part thinks I have really done so much already. I try to look on both sides.”
— Serena Williams, after winning the Australian Open for her 19th Grand Slam singles title to get closer to Steffi Graf’s Open Era record of 22 and Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24.
Jan 14, 2015: “Culturally, maybe Asians don’t tend to have as much confidence as Americans do. I’m Japanese, of course, but spending so long in America has made me into a different kind of person.”
— Kei Nishikori, who, as a teenager, left ordered, collectivist Japan to discover his individual talent in the U.S., in
TIME magazine of Asia.
Jan 14, 2015: “The beauty of our game sometimes is not knowing if you’re going to be on court for 45 minutes or three hours. I know sometimes that’s hard for TV because in soccer and other sports you know exactly how long you are going to be playing. You beat the clock and you’re fine, but in tennis you have to run over the finish line by hitting a winner. Clearly it's an idea to cut it down because you can go into the match knowing the maximum length is going to be an hour and 45 minutes, it seems like. That mentally is just good to know. You don't have to pack seven shirts, you only have to string a certain amount of racquets ... it's a more controlled environment. That could possibly keep guys in the game a little bit longer. I still believe in the future we'll see plenty of five-set matches because at the end of the day, you have to be able to back that up time and time again to play at the top level.”
— Roger Federer, telling The Sydney Morning Herald, that Australia’s FAST4 Tennis—a concept and scoring format that has no advantages, no let, the first to four games takes the set, and a tiebreaker at 3-3—is “about getting more kids to play the game” but should not be used on the pro tours.
Jan 14, 2015: “When I’m at my best, I am more like Djokovic game-wise, when I'm not, I'm more like Murray. I think my game is quite similar to Djokovic's. I move well, I don't miss many balls, I'm a fighter and my backhand is my best shot. Currently, I'm the best of my generation. Making the top 50 within the next few months seems a realistic goal for me now.”
— Borna Coric, a highly talented, 18-year-old Croat, oozing with confidence in a conversation with
The Times of India.
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