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Rafael Nadal and ball girl
( Photo credit: Art Seitz ©2009 )

Rafael Nadal

June 28, 2007: "He hasn't got any competition.  In the days of McEnroe, there was Bjorn Borg.  I had Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.  Now, on grass, we have Federer, and do you see anyone who can beat him?  Because I don't."
—three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker, telling The Sunday Telegraph (UK) that he doesn't see anyone who can dethrone Roger Federer at Wimbledon.
June 28, 2007: "I think that there is way too much emphasis on the way we look in sport in general.  With the guys nobody bothers, except to say that Ronaldo has got a little bit heavy or something.  But with the women, there is too much.  Everyone has a different shape.  People should focus only on the game."
Daniela Hantuchova, a slender tennis beauty from Slovakia, in The Independent (UK).

June 11, 2007: "Life has been hard with me in the past, but, as I've often said, I have no regrets about anything. The only thing I'd love to change is to have my mum with me [she died when Henin was 12]. But, in another way, losing her gave me a lot of personality, a lot of character. I know that today I have to push the limits back again - tennis is a great school for life, I think."
- French Open champion Justine Henin, who also was estranged from her siblings and father for seven years until their recent reconciliation and separated from her husband six months ago.

June 11, 2007: "Rafael played an excellent match and deserved to win." The door's still open. though. The later it comes, the sweeter it will become. I know I can do it now, that's for sure. If anybody can beat Rafa, then it's me"
- Roger Federer, optimistic despite losing for the third straight year to Rafael Nadal at the French Open, the last two times in four-set finals.

May 31, 2007: "I'm not going to beat him every time now. You've got to be able to dominate him on the baseline. Will he allow me to do it again?"
- Roger Federer, with a candid assessment of his clay-court rivalry with Rafael Nadal after beating him for the first time (after five losses) in the Hamburg final to end Nadal's 81-match winning streak on clay.

May 13, 2007: "It has been more than fun, but the rackets are being hung up. To retire before the age of 24, it is very young - but it was so beautiful. I would have been able to continue for a few months and to take part in the four most lucrative tournaments [three Grand Slams and the Masters]. Money is important, but not the most important thing in my life. Health and private happiness are so much more important."

- Kim Clijsters, Belgium's injury-plagued tennis star, announcing her retirement.

April 17, 2007: "I think it's very hard to be an American and understand what it feels like to be a Russian who plays tennis wearing layers of clothes in the snow. Kids in America, let's face it, we have the most unbelievable life in this country, and that's why it's still the greatest country for opportunity. But once you get to fourth-, fifth-, sixth-generation Americans, I think we can say we're all a little softer."
- Tennis legend Billy Jean King, on why American tennis is in crisis, in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
April 3, 2007: "I don't necessarily like coaches coming on the court. That's the beauty of the game, to figure it out by yourself. You're down 6-0, down two match points, and you're able to come back. And I was able to do it on my own, not by calling my coach."
- Serena Williams, didn't want or need on-court coaching - which the WTA Tour is currently experimenting with - during her thrilling 0-6, 7-5, 6-3 comeback victory over world No. 1 Justine Henin in the Sony Ericsson Open final.

March 15, 2007: "It is very disappointing that something like this has to happen before you realize that the system is not going to work. Everybody knows I was against it in the first place, and I doubt it’s going to happen next year. All I hope is it doesn’t damage the integrity of the game."

- World's No. 1, Roger Federer, asked to comment on the round-robin fiasco at The Tennis Channel Open in Las Vegas when James Blake was eliminated, improperly reinstated (according to the rules) by ATP CEO Etienne de Villiers, and then eliminated again after protests from the media, fans and voices as powerful as former world No. 1s Marat Safin and Lleyton Hewitt.

March 1, 2007: "I think it was definitely hard for them to change because of the culture and the psyche behind it, but I'm relieved that they finally got there. But remember, it's not about the money, it's about the message it sends to women and girls around the world. Every time we can change a benchmark like this, it helps people ask in their daily life, 'Are we insisting on equality for our sons and daughters?' So that makes it a very important moment in history."
- Billie Jean King,a pioneer for equal rights in sports, on Wimbledon's long-overdue decision to award equal prize money for men and women at this year's championships.

February 15, 2007: "It's just I knew I had to win one set, and I won the first set and there was no motivation anymore. I just don't like the approach; you're approaching a match differently. It's different tennis; it's a different mentality. You win a set and what are you playing for, there's nothing to it anymore. There's no competitive edge."
- Belgian veteran Xavier Malisse, rightly critical of The ATP's experimental Hybrid Round-Robin format being tested at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships, after he lost to Rainer Schuettler 6-7, 7-6, 6-3 because, having done the calculations before the match, he knew that winning it was not necessary to reach the quarterfinals.

January 29, 2007: "All these Grand Slams since 2003, that's what, for me, is really scary, how many I've won. I was thinking about it this morning actually when I woke up. Like if somebody would have told me I'd win 10 Grand Slams from mid '03 till today, I never would have thought there was any chance of doing something like that. I would have signed up for just one, you know."
- Roger Federer, humbly assessing his brilliant career after winning the Australian Open without losing a set.

January 22, 2007: "I have it in me. I believe in my game and more than anything I believe in me. It doesn't matter what people say or people write. At the end of the day, I'm my biggest fan. Maybe my Dad. But other than that you have to always be your biggest fan. I'm just working on staying positive."
- Serena Williams seven-time Grand Slam champion but unseeded at the Australian Open, after she routed 11th-seeded Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals.

January 14, 2007: "You can think he's too good, but it's a bit of a cop-out to say it. Roger deserves admiration, but imagine if this were the era of Connors and Nastase - they'd be in his face, playing mental games. I'd like to see someone try and put a ball through his chest, not in a disrespectful way but just to send the message I have the resolve to take you out."
- Former world No. 1 Jim Courier critical of James Blake often applauding Roger Federer's winners, in Sports Illustrated.

January 1, 2007: "Today we are considered the world's strongest tennis power. We are killing tennis in America."
- Russian Davis Cup and Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpischev on his country’s winning two Davis Cup and two Fed Cup titles in the past six years and boasting four women players ranked in the top 8, talking to


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