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( Photo credit: Art Seitz ©2010 )

Novak Djokovic

June - December, 2006

December 15, 2006: "The Laureus sports awards named Roger athlete of the year. Dwayne Wade, obviously is an excellent athlete and to have won a world championship at such a young age is incredible, but to name anyone better than Federer seems ridiculous to me. What he's done in terms of the last three or four years, his record, I don't know if it's ever going to be matched."

- James Blake, telling Tennis Week what he thought of Sports Illustrated magazine's naming Dwayne Wade as its Sportsman of the Year rather than tennis superstar Roger Federer who came within one match of winning the Grand Slam.
December 1, 2006: "Now is the time to realize that that we're here, this is our generation, and we can make a statement and we can fight different diseases and we can fight poverty and we beat this. I would never forget where I come from and I would always want to give back and let people know that it's OK to grow up one way and it's OK to be that way."
- Serena Williams, who went on a five-day humanitarian trip in November to Senegal where she staged tennis clinics and met President Abdoulaye Wade. Earlier she was invited to Senegal by the United Nations Office of Sport for Development and Peace in New York, where she attended the first U.N. Global Youth Leadership Summit.

November 15, 2006: "We are talking about only minor events now. But what if the promoters, broadcasters and players like it so much it becomes a feature at Masters Series events or even Grand Slams? Why should they risk losing headline acts such as Federer and Nadal in the first week when there is a way to hand them a lifeline? As it is, de Villiers is already on the lookout for the sceptics. 'You live or die by what your consumer does, not by what critics say or feel,' he says. In other words: 'Get back in your box, and we'll tell you whether the TV execs liked it at the end of the season.'"

- Sydney Morning Herald sports columnist Richard Hinds, critical of the round-robin format being implemented at 2007 tournaments, ATP CEO Etienne de Villiers, and the excessive power of television.

November 1, 2006: "I know people argue that the top women have easier matches in the same week, their matches don't last as long, and therefore they don't deserve to own as much. I would probably have said the same thing when I was playing, but that isn't the point. I went to see the movie, King Kong, it was too long, [so] being long didn't make it better. So I don't believe the argument about the matches being longer is relevant."
- John McEnroe, three-time Wimbledon champion, telling GQ magazine that he rejects the All England Club's argument that women do not deserve parity because they only play the best-of-three sets while the men play best-of-five.

October 14, 2006: "When I watch Roger freewheeling, so confident, it';s such a great feeling, but if I was playing him now, I would still try and take his time away, come to the net first and second serve, attack his second serve, same as with Andre. Nobody takes his time away. I'd just come at him and keep coming."
- Pete Sampras, the greatest serve-and-volleyer in tennis history, on how he would play current No. 1 Roger Federer, in The Sunday Times (UK).

October 14, 2006: "He was a class apart. Federer and Nadal are good, but not in his league."

- Carlos Moya, 1998 French Open champion and an 11-year tour veteran, contends that legendary Pete Sampras was much better than Roger Federer.

October 1, 2006: "I wasn't surprised by this 3-0 win. When I talk, I do it."

- David Nalbandian, after correctly predicting host Argentina would shut out Australia 5-0 in the Davis Cup semifinals to enhance his already impeccable clay-court record in Davis Cup to 10-0.

September 21, 2006: "The Agassi-Baghdatis [U.S. Open] match illustrated the one flaw in tennis' new instant-replay system. Baghdatis desperately wanted a replay deep into the fifth set, but he was out of 'challenges.' What's the point of innovative technology if you can't use it when it matters most? It's as dumb as the NFL's challenge system, and that's saying something."

- Award-winning San Francisco Chronicle tennis writer Bruce Jenkins on what's wrong with player challenges.

September 11, 2006: "I experienced it two years ago. I knew I wasn't done. I knew I had more in me. To win your second major is a cherry on the cake. But there are a lot more cherries that I'm going to put on that cake."

- Maria Sharapova, after backing up her first major title, the 2004 Wimbledon when she was 17, with her second at the U.S. Open with a convincing 6-4, 6-4 victory over Justine Henin-Hardenne.
September 11, 2006: "The way Roger moves, he's a ballet dancer out there. He floats above the court. His style is the most beautiful I've seen."
- John MacEnroe,1980s champion and now a TV analyst, with high praise for Roger Federer, in Time magazine.
September 1, 2006: "I feel like I've been living a dream for 21 years, and tonight was just another example."

- Andre Agassi, 36, after his sensational 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 7-5 victory over 8th-seeded Marcos Baghdatis, 21, in a crowd-thrilling 3-hour, 48-minute marathon at the U.S. Open.

August 18, 2006: "I can't imagine my mom running up and down the court like [Miami Heat coach] Pat Riley. What's going to be so exciting about it? If you have people that are going to speak Russian, no one's going to be able to understand that."

- Serena Williams, who is not in favor of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's experiment with on-court coaching at events in Montreal and New Haven, Conn.

August 6, 2006: "This is a show of faith and respect. And with it a sense of responsibility. I don't think I'll ever comprehend this. It's like, 'Oy vey, the responsibility.' I'm glad I'm still living. I'm not finished."

- Billy Jean King, tennis pioneer and all-time great, after learning the United States Tennis Association is adding her name to the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, in The New York Times..

July 27, 2006: "The sad fact remains: serve and volley is dead. How many times during this fortnight will see players attempt those glorious dives across the court that used to be Becker's trademark? Will we see spellbinding athleticism in the manner of Edberg or Rafter? The guile and touch of a John McEnroe? I played serve and volley at every opportunity when I won the title 19 years ago and wouldn't have had it any other way. But now I am a dinosaur. My sort of tennis is extinct, and there is no doubt in my mind that the game is poorer for its passing."

- Pat Cash, 987 Wimbledon champion, in The Sunday Times (UK).

July 9, 2006: "He is the best champion we could have, both on and off the court."

- Jonas Bjorkman, before he was crushed 6-2, 6-0, 6-2 by eventual champion Roger Federer in the Wimbledon semifinals.

July 9, 2006:"I feel that things are different now, that I'm doing things differently on the court and off the court, also. I think I'm much more relaxed, more open to people, not getting frustrated as I did before, in all kinds of ways. So yeah, I'm growing up."

Amelie Mauresmo, a 27-year-old late-bloomer who broke through by winning the 2005 season-ending WTA Championship, then captured the Australian Open, and now the Wimbledon title.


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