TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – 30th of June. G. Dimitrov d. L. Mayer 6-4, 7-6, 6-2. An interview with Grigor Dimitrov
Q. Andy Murray next in a Wimbledon quarterfinal. How does that sound?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: Sounds great. Sounds good. You know, first of all I’m happy that I’m in the quarterfinal match, you know. Just going to give credit to myself for that. But my job isn’t over yet.
So I’m excited to get on the court tomorrow. Just go through my regular routines, through all the gears, you know, come on Wednesday.
Q. Obviously you’re coming in here fresh from your victory at Queen’s. How have you felt on the grass so far in this campaign and what sort of levels of confidence do you take into the match?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: I take all the confidence from Queen’s out on the court on the grass here. I think it’s been a great first week for me. The grass has been changing also a little bit around the baseline. It’s getting a little tricky, which is a nice thing.
You know, just looking for every match that I got to play. At the moment I don’t think of anything else except what’s ahead of me and the opponent. So there’s nothing else that’s on my mind right now.
Q. You said your job is not done yet. What targets did you set yourself when you arrived to start Wimbledon?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: Well, every tournament I enter is to win the whole event. I think that’s the whole point of competing and having those tournaments.
Of course, it’s not an easy task. I mean, it’s a lot to ask. You’re going to be asked a lot of questions from your opponent, so you’ve got to have the answers. So far I think I’ve been performing on a good level for me. I’m expecting to raise up my level in the next match.
It’s not a new opponent for me. I know him. There’s nothing major for me that I need to be aware of.
Q. You’ve beaten Murray once. Was it in Mexico you beat him? What can you remember about that match?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: It was a hard court, night match. What can I say? I think we played a great match. I think it was one of the best matches for me this year so far.
I mean, I know him. I’ve practiced against him many times. We kind of know our game pretty well. That match in Acapulco, you know, was really long and exhausting match. Another thing is to play best of three, another thing is to play best of five.
I think we’re both load up and ready to come out on that court.
Q. From a tactical standpoint, what are the keys on grass for you to challenge Andy Murray here?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: Yeah, that’s a good question.
Well, we know, first of all, it’s his home basically here. So, you know, he’s been playing a lot of matches on the Centre Court. He knows his way around the grass pretty good. He’s a great mover.
I’m just going to play my game. I’m not going to step back. I just want to come out with my big game and play my aggressive tennis.
I mean, I don’t want to adjust to my opponent, so to speak. I’m focusing on my game and what I can bring to the court. The rest is, you know, going to come.
Q. Andy said that maybe it was a big burden for you to have, an unfair burden, to be compared to Federer at such an early age. Can you put in perspective what that has done to the way you’ve handled things psychologically as you’ve developed?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: Well, I think, as I said at the beginning, it was kind of easy to hear that. It was kind of funny. We were all laughing about it.
But, you know, at some point when I started to establish myself as a player on the tour, this thing was starting to get a bit out of hand. Of course, at the time it put a little bit of pressure on my shoulders.
But I think now all that thing is starting to fade away. I’ve proved myself not once, not twice, that I’m a different person, a different player. So that’s something to add up.
Q. How tough will it be, the fact of him being defending champion? Also, what about the influence of Amélie might have on his approach?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: As I said, he’s obviously feeling comfortable playing out here, especially on that court. All the crowd is behind him. Basically everyone is with him. That gives you, of course, an extra edge to whoever you play on the other side.
But I think at the same time that adds a little bit of pressure. But I don’t think that’s going to be an issue during the match.
On the other hand, there’s no point for me or there’s no value of me to give any comment about his coaching situations. Obviously it works out and that’s the most important thing.
Q. Andy hasn’t dropped a set yet in this tournament. If you can be the first person to take a set off him, do you think that will put him under the kind of pressure he hasn’t experienced for a while?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: Well, Andy, he’s a great defender and a great returner. It’s not the easiest thing to do, especially when you play against him.
I’ve seen a couple of his matches, the previous matches, so I kind of know how he’s dealing with some of the serves.
You know, I just got to go out on the court and perform and play my game. Just go through that, you know.
Q. Today you have achieved what no other Bulgarian male tennis player has achieved so far. How does this make you feel?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: It feels good. It obviously feels good. You know, I don’t want to stop here. Again, I hope there’s going to be a lot more first times for me. I’m just aiming to be better and better every time.
Q. In terms of fitness, do you think you can go five sets with Andy?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: Oh, yeah. I mean, I’ve been working for all those moments. And I think it’s a great feeling to get into that kind of a match.
I mean, of course, best-case scenario is straight sets. In the end of the day I’m not playing against a mediocre player, so I just need to be on my best behavior and in the same time just go out there and try to put every ball back.
Q. Can you talk a moment about your own coach, Roger Rasheed, what he’s brought to your game. I know he has an Aussie Rules background. Is there anything from that sport that…
GRIGOR DIMITROV: I haven’t played that yet. It’s not the best thing to run into him, that’s for sure (smiling).
What can I say? Discipline. Better shot selections. You know, there’s just bunch of things that are top of my head. But, as I said, we never focus on one thing in particular. We always try to work on things.
I think the most important thing is to really give 100% from each other every day because I think this is what we both deserve and what we owe to the game.
Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?
Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?
In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.
In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.
Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.
“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.
These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.
In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.
“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.
Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.
This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.
Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career
Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.
Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.
Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.
Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.
“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.
Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.
“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.
David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati
David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.
Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.
The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.
Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open 2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.
Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.
“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”
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