TENNIS Mutua Madrid Open 2014 – An interview with Stanislas Wawrinka.
Q. You’ve had a very successful year so far. Are you coming into Madrid with a different feeling?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: No, I’m happy with the start of the year. For sure couldn’t be better for me playing like this, winning three tournaments already.
No, I’m coming here with a lot of confidence, but every tournament, it’s different. Here it’s flying, a little bit altitude, and it’s never easy to play, especially at the beginning of the tournament.
But I’m happy to be back, because I played the final last year. It’s a great event. I always enjoy to come back here, to play here. I’m looking forward for the first match.
Q. Because of the altitude is the reason why you were practicing that often? I saw you were practicing twice a day.
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: When you’re a tennis player, you have to practice to improve. That’s what I’m doing. I came here early to get ready for the tournament, to get ready here because I want to play well here.
No, I’m just practicing a lot because I still try to improve my game, still try to play better tennis. That’s the only way, to go back on the practice court and practice with your coach.
Q. You’re first in ATP rankings. What chances do you think you have to go to first in the world, or it’s even a goal?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: No, it’s not my goal so far. I’m still far away from Novak and Rafa. I’m not looking for that at all. I’m just trying to take tournament after tournament. That’s the only way to improve, to make more points.
That’s what I’m doing. I know that every match are difficult. I know that I’m playing my best game. I know that I can beat all the players. But have to do it on every matches. It’s really tough, so I’m just trying to play well and to be ready for every tournament.
Q. What are you doing better than other players to be competing for the grand titles with a one‑handed backhand when there are not as many, if you don’t count Federer obviously. What are you doing differently. Why can you take Nadal’s forehand for example, against your backhand?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Well, my backhand is really good since many years. I’m playing really hard for the backhand side. I can mix with the long line, with the cross, with the short cross. I can play hard even from far behind the line.
I don’t know, it’s just that I feel really good on that side. I think I have the power to play that one‑handed backhand.
Q. You just said that you felt that you were still a little way behind Rafa and Novak. What do you feel you need to improve in your game? We’ve seen this with Andy Murray. There was a lot of talk that he couldn’t, but then he did. What do you think you need to do to get up to that level?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Well, I have a lot of place for improvement in my game, and I’m trying every day to find solution to improve.
But so far what I need to do is to keep my level during every tournament. You know, since the beginning of the year I won three tournaments over five. I won a Grand Slam, Masters 1000, so that’s mean I’m doing the right thing.
But I need to do it all the year if I want to be in the better place in the ranking.
Q. Just like to ask about the Davis Cup. You’re the No. 1 in Switzerland. Does that give you more pressure, and do you think you can win to this year?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Well, Davis Cup this year is even more special because Roger is playing. We all know that when he’s in the team you have a strong team. That’s what happened this year. We are qualified for the semifinal, playing at home, against Italy. We’re favorite on the paper, but it’s always tough and different in Davis Cup.
For me to be No. 1 in the ranking doesn’t change, because I always feel that I’m No. 2 after Roger. It’s just that when you see that I am No. 1 and he is No. 2, it means we have a really strong team. But we’ll see.
Next tie is in September. We have time and a lot of tournament to play and focus on. We are going to be ready for September.
REPORT: Grigor Dimitrov Appoints New Coach
The former ATP Finals champion appears to have found a new mentor.
Former top 10 player Grigor Dimitrov has found a replacement following the departure of Radek Stepanek, according to one Bulgarian news source.
TennisKafe.com has reported that the world No.20 is now working alongside Christian Groh. A German-born coach who has worked with a number of top players on the men’s tour. Including Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz. It is his work with Haas that Groh is best known for. During their 24 months together, he guided him from outside the top 200 to 11th in the ATP rankings.
The development comes a month after the 28-year-old stated that he was in no hurry to find a new mentor on the tour. Back in May he ended his collaboration with Dani Vallverdu after almost three years working together. He made the decision shortly before he exited the world’s top 50 for the first time since 2012.
“I’m not in a panic right now to find a coach. I always think that when I don’t have someone beside me, it’s hard to train. However, in the past months, I have done things myself that I have not done.” Dimitrov told reporters in November.
“You need to have freedom, to find yourself, to become closer to yourself.” He added.
Despite Stepanek stepping away, Dimitrov is still in contact with eight-time grand slam champion Agassi. Agassi is not a coach to the Bulgarian, but has agreed to a sort of consultation role where the two talk with each other regularly.
Dimitrov has experienced a roller coaster run on the tour this season with a win-loss record of 22-21. At one stage he failed to win back-to-back matches at six consecutive tournaments over the summer. However, his form surged during the last quarter of 2019 where he reached the semi-finals at both the US Open and Paris Masters.
Neither Dimitrov or Groh has yet confirmed their new partnership on the tour. Groh has recently been working as a consultant for the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
Heading into the new season, the first test for the duo will be at the ATP Cup in Australia. As well as playing, Dimitrov is the captain of the Bulgarian team.
Groh’s coaching CV
- 2011: Michael Berrer
- 2012-2013: Tommy Haas
- 2014: Bradley Klahn and Taylor Fritz
- 2015: Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz
- ATP/WTA Players and United States Tennis Federation Player Development since 2015
Since the publication of this article, Ubitennis has received some additional details on Dimitrov’s work with Groh. The editor of TennisKafe.com, Borislav Orlinov, confirmed it was Dimitrov’s manager (Georgi Stoimenov) who revelled the two will be working together. They are currently training in Monte Carlo, but will head to Australia before the New Year.
Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award
Only two players have won the award since 2004.
For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.
Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.
“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.
Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.
“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”
Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.
“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.
The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.
Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award
Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2
Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open
Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.
World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.
Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.
“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.
The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.
During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.
“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.
Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.
Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.
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