ATP Montecarlo interview, Djokovic: "My wrist is ok" - UBITENNIS
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ATP Montecarlo interview, Djokovic: "My wrist is ok"

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TENNIS ATP Montecarlo – N. DJOKOVIC defeats A. Montanes 6‑1, 6‑0. An interview with: NOVAK DJOKOVIC

 

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  How did the match feel today?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, for the first match on clay, it was great.  I mean, I lost only one game, so there were not too many flaws in my game that I could recall.

On the other side, I’ve had an opponent that is a specialist for this surface, but he hasn’t played even close to his highest level.  He was making a lot of unforced errors.

Me on the other side, I was just trying to, you know, use the court well, not allowing him to get into the rhythm.  I was changing the angles.  I was coming to the net, being aggressive.

Just very good first match.

Q.  I know you’re a football fan.  Do you remember the last time you won a match in 45 minutes?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I don’t.  Do you?  I don’t remember.  I mean, I’ve had some short matches.  I would say I had some matches.  For example, the one I remember was against Hernych in Basel, I think 6‑Love, 6‑Love, 30 something minutes.  I mean, it’s great that you have a chance to finish your work on the court in such a short time.

On the other side, I would like to have a little bit more longer rallies, bigger challenge so I can test myself, see where I am, where my game is at at this moment on the clay because it’s the first match on the clay since Roland Garros last year.

But, again, I’ve practiced a lot.  This is the place where I live.  This court is very familiar to me.  During the season I spend a lot of time hitting the balls here.  So I look forward to the next match.

 

Q.  Can you tell us what happened to your right wrist?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I have a certain problem that I carry for the last week or so with the wrist.  The short match today helped definitely.  So I’m going to have some time to heal it.  Hopefully it’s going to be even better next one.

 

Q.  Do you enjoy your rivalry with Rafa as much as the fans do?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Of course.  Look, this is the biggest rivalry I have in my career, that’s for sure.  I mean, I’ve played him 40 times, different surfaces, different occasions.

I was mentioning a few days ago in the press conference that I think my first or second year on the professional circuit I already played him a couple matches in the big tournaments.

Every match brings something new, some new excitement, of course a lot of emotions, a lot of tension and expectations from both sides.

Hopefully it’s going to escalate and it’s going to, you know, become one of the biggest rivalries ever.

Q.  And it’s fun?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Of course.  It’s a huge challenge for me to be able to play Rafa and win against Rafa in the biggest stages, biggest tournaments.

Of course, it’s not easy.  But a rivalry with him definitely allowed me to grow as a person and as a tennis player, allowed me to understand the things I need to work on.

I take it from the positive side, of course.  I had my ups and downs throughout my career, but my rivalry with him and with Roger made me a better player, that’s for sure.

Q.  Can you talk a bit more about the wrist injury, how it started?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I prefer not talking about it.  It’s just something I carry for the last seven days.  Hopefully it’s going to go away.

Q.  Do you still have time also and the pleasure to enjoy off the court?  I saw you on TV in Italy.  Here normally you participate for the player party.  Do you still like to do that or is it more fatiguing and you’re trying to stay out of all the action outside the tennis court?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It’s the balance between the things.  I believe ‘balance’ is the right word.  It’s one of my mottos in life, trying to always moderate between the professional and private life.  In the end of the day, you know, you need to lead your life.

Of course, tennis is a big part of my life, but it’s not the only thing that I enjoy, that I have that makes me happy.  Luckily for me I have a lot of sources of happiness from outside of a tennis court.  That’s something that definitely brings a smile on my face because I wouldn’t be enjoying so much if the only source of the happiness in my life is winning tennis matches.

That’s it.

Q.  Will you sing or dance this week?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  You’re referring directly to the player party?  You have to ask the question like that then (laughter).  But thanks for being philosophical before that.

No, the player party is for me one of the highlights of the year, of the tennis season.  I love it.  Unfortunately last year I didn’t take part in it.  This year I’ll make sure I’m there and I’ll do something fun.

Q.  You said two days ago, and Rafa said, it is difficult to find out how to beat you on clay.  Where do you go?  Forehand?  No.  Backhand?  No.  Movement?  No.  At the same time how can you explain that you win seven times in a row, he wins three times in a row?  As you said, yes, you learn from something.  How and what do you learn?  Seven times in a row, why do you beat him?  Why are you beating him so many times?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  There is not one word that can really describe or that really tells you the secret of my tactics or my approach to the matches with Rafa or the way I win against him.  I’m sure he’s going to say the same.

It just comes in swings.  I think it’s normal in life to have ups and downs.  In last few years we had periods where he was winning a couple matches in a row, then myself, then him again, then me again.  That shows, in my eyes, that both of us, we learn from the mistakes, then we make it count in the matches after that.

We all change.  I cannot compare myself to the player that I was a few years ago.  Every season is different.  It’s a new challenge, not just on the court but off the court.  I’m the same person at home and on the court.  There are things mentally that can affect you and your game.  Whatever happens in your private life can be an advantage or disadvantage on the court.  That is why there is always something new mentally you have to counter.

Physically we all can work and get ourselves in the perfect state.  But mentally and emotionally it’s up and down.  It’s life.  You know, you’re human, you make mistakes, then you learn something new.  You have to encounter something else because in the end of the day confidence is something that every single professional athlete in the world wants to have and doesn’t want to lose.

But losing confidence is much easier than gaining confidence.  It’s a long process of winning many matches, getting the self‑belief on the court, maintaining that high level of performance, getting that confidence, getting in that right zone and where you want to be.

You can lose it in a few days’ time.

People were asking me before about 2011, why can I not perform the same way I performed in 2011.  It’s different.  Every year brings something new.

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EXCLUSIVE: Felix Auger-Aliassime Previews Musetti Semi-Final, Aims For ATP Finals Spot

Felix Auger-Aliassime spoke to UbiTennis about his semi-final in Florence with Lorenzo Musetti.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (@AlemTenis - Twitter)

UbiTennis director Ubaldo Scanagatta spoke with Felix Auger-Aliassime after his 6-3 6-4 quarter-final victory over Brandon Nakashima in Florence.

 

The Canadian is into the last four at the ATP 250 event in Florence after defeating Brandon Nakashima in a routine straight sets victory in Italy.

Despite being broken in the opening game, Auger-Aliassime remained calm and collected as he secured victory in 90 minutes.

Next for Auger-Aliassime is Lorenzo Musetti who he has lost to twice with one of those meetings happening in Monte-Carlo this year.

In an exclusive interview with UbiTennis director Ubaldo Scanagatta, Auger-Aliassime spoke about why the match-up has been tough for him in the past and whether their meetings on clay will impact this match.

The world number 13 also spoke about aiming to reach the ATP Finals in Turin and how much it would mean to him be a part of the elite eight at the end of the year.

Scanagatta: Here we are with Felix Auger-Aliassime who won quite easily against Nakashima, Am I wrong if I say quite easily or easier?

Auger-Aliassime: Easier. It’s always relative to your level and the perspective you want to look at it because the score. I got broken first came and come back well, it’s always tough to come back from a break down but I did well to bounce back from the first game and then I played a great set of tennis in the first set, a really good level. Then again starting the second set very good, so then holding serve until the end. So it was a great match and a great performance but I had to play my best tennis in order to win like this.

Scanagatta: Listen, can I give you good news? Tonight you are eighth in the race, 20 points more than Fritz because Fritz 2,885 and you went to 2,905.

Auger-Aliassime: You know they have it on the internet?

Scanagatta: Yes but they had to take away 45, not everybody knows that you have already completed, you are only 20 points ahead, sometimes UbiTennis is better. Apart from that you have to play Musetti and against Musetti you are down 2-1, you won Barcelona, where he had to retire but was up one set and then the other two was always played on clay. Is this better for you? Because today Musetti said I like very much this surface and I have more time and so on.

Auger-Aliassime: Look, he’s been playing very well.

Scanagatta: Have you seen him today?

Auger-Aliassime: I watched a little bit of the match today. Seemed like he was playing very good. He was hitting the ball very well, aggressive and precise. He’s a good player and he’s one of the top young players. You know I lost twice to him so of course it proves the quality that he has not only against me but he beat a lot of good players so I have to be ready for a tough match. I think potentially it can be the toughest match that maybe I have to play this week. So I have to be ready for that.

Scanagatta: He is going to have his best ranking next Monday, he will be 24 and only 23 if he would win the tournament, 24 already for being in the semi-final. What do you remember of those matches when you played him? What you recall?

Auger-Aliassime: Well he has a great touch as we all know, especially on clay he was very precise and a great touch mixing it well, the backhand. We had a close match in Lyon, I don’t remember Lyon very well but I remember the first time and of course this year in Monte-Carlo where he played really good and I wasn’t serving well and being as aggressive as I am today. But he was playing really well, backhand cross and down the line, forehand was very aggressive so he is a good player and a complete player so that’s all I can say.

Scanagatta: How important is it for you to make the Finals, the ATP Finals in Turin? Which would give you another chance to come back to Italy and eat some pasta…

Auger-Aliassime: Yeah that’s why I want to do it. That’s why it’s important because it’s in Turin and it would be great of course. You know like I said earlier this week, I love to play in Italy and not only it’s in Italy but it’s one of the best tournaments in the year. It would be a privilege to be in that group of eight players. Of course my position now, like everybody on your sheet, we’re fighting hard to make it but the competition is tough so I mean it starts at the start of the year so at the end of the day it’s not like, all the results I had throughout the year some wins, some losses it has an impact now. Of course now I’m still in a good position, so I will try to push through the last tournaments of the year and to qualify will be great.

Scanagatta: OK last question, Why you always wear black, these days I always see you wear black. Does Adidas asking is it because you like to play at night because it’s more elegant or you choose one or the other?

Auger-Aliassime: No I have a collection from New York and I change the collection there. I have black and I have purple and I thought I like the black with colourful shoes so I’m interested in my style, so it needs to work. The collection that I have I have for the rest of the year, I like it that way with colourful shoes and very neutral colours.

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EXCLUSIVE: Felix Auger-Aliassime Eyes Improvement In Florence, Opens Up About Friendship With Berrettini

Canada’s top player sheds some light on his current game during an exclusive interview with Ubaldo Scanagatta.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime - (Ben Solomon/Kosmos)

Top seed Felix Auger-Aliassime kicked off his bid for a second Tour title at the UniCredit Firenze Open on Thursday with a roller-coaster win. 

 

The Canadian world No.12 outlasted Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-2, in a match that lasted two-and-a-half hours. Auger-Aliassime’s triumph moves him into his 13th Tour-level quarter-final of 2022 and improves his win-loss record to 41-24. 

This season has seen Auger-Aliassime achieve new milestones in his career, including winning his first Tour title at the Rotterdam Open, reaching a ranking-high of No.8 in August and defeating a top three player for the first time (No.3 Alexander Zverev at the ATP Cup). 

Following his latest win in Florence, the 22-year-old spoke exclusively to Ubitennis. Giving a frank assessment of his current form and his chances of winning a second Tour trophy this week in Italy. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: You won what was a very difficult match in three sets. I expected you to win in two, what about you?

Auger-Aliassime: You never know before the match. When the match was underway I won the first set 6-4 and then I was playing great in the second, I had an early break. I was serving good. 

So I didn’t play so bad but he played some good points. I got a bit tight. Then the tiebreak was terrible for me. That was very difficult to accept but after it was good to come back and finish the match in a good way. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: It was quite strange to see you lose two serves in a row (in the second set) and then you were serving a lot towards his backhand sometimes which was a surprise because he plays much better with his backhand than the forehand. Was that a tactical approach?

Auger-Aliassime: It depends. I was serving more to the forehand with my first serve and then I tried to mix it up with my second serve. Sometimes when you’re on the court you have to make a decision and you don’t know how your opponent is going to react. 

I think in the third set, in the games I was directing more towards his forehand side, making him move there and getting some short balls. After that, I was playing better tactically. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: You will next play Nakashima who is a player making great progress on the Tour. This year he has made a lot of improvements. Have you ever played him before?

Auger-Aliassime: I’ve never played him. We have only practiced together but he is a great player who has improved a lot. He’s consistent and very precise. He has a good serve and a good return. He has a complete game for a young player who I think will improve more and become a top player to play against. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Your best ranking was No.8 and you have won one tournament in Rotterdam. Also, you have lost quite a few finals but how do you find this surface in Florence? How do you rate your chances of winning? 

Auger-Aliassime: It’s always a good challenge. Today (Thursday) I played three sets but I know I have to play better in order to win the tournament. I have to take it match-by-match. 

It’s a good challenge because it is where I want to be as a player. I want to be at the top, fighting for this spot (the title). To be at the top of the draw and try to win. It starts at these tournaments, I have to be able to step up to the challenge. 

It’s also a good opportunity for me to try and prove myself, and become a better player. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Matteo Berrettini said that you are his best friend on the Tour. Do you still see him as much as before as he was dating somebody that you may know….? (tennis player Ajla Tomljanovic who is also cousins with Aliassime’s girlfriend Nina Ghaibi). 

Auger-Aliassime: He’s a good guy and I get along well with him. We have played a few doubles in the past years but now it is a bit less as he plays more with his brother. 

We also practice together and train in Monaco.

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Were you surprised that Matteo lost in Florence? He was complaining a bit about the slow surface. 

Auger-Aliassime: We practiced together (in Florence earlier this week), and it was a good set – 7-6 like every time we play. He won it, I had a set point but I lost. Of course, I was surprised, I think he had opportunities in the second set. So it’s tough. I saw him at breakfast, it is tough to lose when you’re at home. Everybody has come to see you. 

I know how he feels. I played in Montreal this year, had a tough loss and it is never easy to go out like this. But there are still a few tournaments this year and hopefully, he can bounce back. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Finally, what is your general impression about playing in Italy?

Auger-Aliassime: I used to come here when I was under 12. I remember going to Trieste, they had this tournament in Porto San Giorgio. I also played here many times in Challengers. It’s a country that loves tennis. As a player, you come here and on the first day of practice, everybody is there (to watch you). In the city, people say hello and wish you good luck, so it’s really lovely when you’re playing in Rome. Hopefully, if I play in Turn (at the ATP Finals) it will be the same or maybe even better. 

It is really nice that they (the ATP) were able to organize a tournament here (in Florence) and I love everything about it. I felt good from the moment I came, the city is great and the people have given me amazing support. 

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EXCLUSIVE: Mackenzie McDonald Reveals Minor Italian Connection After Reaching Florence Quarter-Finals

In an exclusive interview with UbiTennis, Mackenzie McDonald reveals his love for Italian culture.

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Mackenzie McDonald (@thenet_m - Twitter)

Mackenzie McDonald revealed his love for Italian culture in an exclusive interview after beating Francesca Passaro 6-4 7-5 to reach the Florence quarter-finals.

 

The American beat the Italian wildcard in straight sets to seal his place in the Florence quarter-finals where he will face another Italian in the form of third seed Lorenzo Musetti.

McDonald has suffered a number of injuries but has returned to the tour in fine fashion and is now a consistent top 100 player.

In an exclusive interview with UbiTennis director Ubaldo Scanagatta, McDonald revealed what it’s like to face an Italian player in Italy and why he loves the European country so much.

Scanagatta: First of all Congratulations, secondly tell us something about this match and you had to play an Italian and do you remember other matches played against Italians in Italy where you had all the crowd against you?

McDonald: I haven’t played in Italy a lot. Besides Challengers, I think this is my first ATP, well besides Rome, playing an Italian in Italy is definitely a tough feat and the crowd’s all for him, it was pretty difficult to deal with that but I think the next match too against maybe Musetti? It will be even crazier so we’ll see what happens.

Scanagatta: But the linesman and everything was fine, you didn’t have any problem with the umpiring and nothing else? Because 20-30 years ago, it was much more difficult to beat an Italian in Italy and what happened in Rome? Who did you play with? Do you remember?

McDonald: I think I lost to Sousa, the Portuguese player.

Scanagatta: How do you find this court and can you tell me if you saw anything of Florence, I mean is it the first time for you in your life? Do you have any impression about the city?

McDonald: Yeah, I mean I went out the other night, the first night I got in, which was nice went to downtown and walked along the river, across the bridge to the church and the cathedral in the middle. So I got to see the main basic things in Florence, there’s definitely more things I want to see. My sister actually spent a lot of time in Italy, it’s one of her favourite countries, she actually named her son Rome. So there’s definitely more I want to see and I’m going to Naples next week too so I’m enjoying the food and I’m going to be in Italy for at least another week so it will be fun.

Scanagatta: What about the next round? Say something about the two players you may have to play?

McDonald: I haven’t played either one. So not too sure what to expect I mean their both very good players, both in form. I mean everyone wants to do well here in the quarters, so it will be a tough match for sure. I think I’m just going to enjoy this one today and then I’ll focus on that one maybe later tonight or tomorrow but definitely will be a challenge tomorrow.

Scanagatta: There were five Americans here in this tournament, you were one of the five, quite a lot for a tournament in Italy. What do you expect about United States playing Italy in Davis Cup even if maybe you will not be in the team but Fritz and Tiafoe are playing very very well, how do you explain the comeback of the American Tennis after few years which were so-so?

McDonald: I think we got a lot of depth right now. We have a lot of guys in the top 200, just like you guys, and a lot of guys in the top 100. All different types of players too, we’re all competing and pushing each other at the top too. We’ve got Fritz who is top ten now, one of my best friends. We have a lot of talent so I think we have a good chance against Italy, it will be an exciting match for sure.

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