TENNIS US OPEN – Our Giulio Gasparin has selected the best quotes from Day 5 at Flushing Meadows. Federer, Sharapova, Wozniacki, Venus Williams, Errani, Halep, Lucic-Baroni and Belinda Bencic
Roger Federer won in straight sets against the holder of the fastest serve in the men’s tour (263km/h!), Sam Groth.
The Australian was more than serve though, and volleying gave a great show on Arthur Ashe stadium.
“Whenever somebody is at the net or you’re at the net, there’s always something of the unknown that’s going to happen a little bit more,” said Federer. “Whereas at the baseline you’re so far away from your opponent that you see it happening.
You have time to react to it. That can become sometimes a bit boring, I must say, as well. Like the big serving can be boring, as well.
“I like the mix of playing these kind of opponents and then totally different in the next match. But got to appreciate, you know, those kind of matchups, because we don’t have them very often anymore, unfortunately.”
In regards of the big weapon of his opponent, he said: “The difference between 142mph and 147, there’s none really in the racquet. I think once you pass the 135mph range everything is just really fast. It’s true, though (smiling).”
He is on a mission in New York, going for the 18th slam, likewise in the women’s draw Serena Williams is doing the same, but for the Swiss champion there is little in common between them two: “Probably serve about the same speed. That’s about it.”
Maria Sharapova had a tough night match against the women’s holder of world’s fastest serve, Sabine Lisicki, but managed to close in straight sets, proving to be one of the few big names surviving the last couple of days, when Simona Halep, Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber all fell.
“Quite honestly, I have to follow my own path,” she said. “Of course, you know, I’m not someone that doesn’t look at the draw. I usually follow the draw. I enjoy watching matches occasionally when I have some time, some free time.
“I did see some of the results. Of course, that’s why we always play the matches. You always have favorites going into the tournament. The reason there’s so many players is because we have to go out and win those matches and compete.
“There’s a reason everybody puts the net up in the morning. It’s for us to go out and challenge ourselves. There have been a few upsets, and certainly happy that I got through today.”
The French Open champion will now play against Danish Caroline Wozniacki, who upset her in New York a couple of years ago.
“I’m happy I finished the match in two sets,” she admitted. “I had a very tough, physical, two and a half hour match a couple days ago, so I was glad I was able to finish this one a bit quicker and give myself more time to recover for the next one.”
A lot of tension, but also great quality were featured in the three sets match between Venus Williams and Sara Errani. The match finished with the bizarre score of 6-0 0-6 7-6 for the Italian, who found two of the best points of the tournament to finish the match.
“I think she played really well,” said Williams. “I think she just played one of the best matches of her life. You know, that’s pretty much what I can say.
“Everybody’s playing well these days. You have to be ready. I mean, the last two points in the tiebreaker she played really flawless tennis.”
Sara Errani was over the moon after this win, though in the tiebreak she was involved in a small incident as she pulled her finger to the lips silencing a very noisy crowd.
“In the 5-4 to go 5-All in the tiebreak I heard the crowd,” she said. “Never hear the crowd like that strong. I was shaking for the crowd. Was unbelievable good.
“I think I will remember forever that moment. Of course in the point after I was nervous. I was, ‘Now you don’t scream’, like if they didn’t scream. But of course the crowd was for her, totally for her. I don’t know why I did like that.”
It was not the day for Simona Halep, instead. The second seed got upset in straight set by Croatian veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who had to qualify to the main draw and now will compete in her first round 4 after 15 years.
“Everything was in for her,” said the Romanian. “It wasn’t my best day, but still I did everything I could on court. She was better than me today.
“I can say I’m happy for her, because she played and she deserves to win. I wish her good luck for the next rounds.
“She plays really well, and, you know, when you play well you deserve to win. So was her chance today, and she took it.”
The Croat showed up a while later in the press room being still shocked but what she had done, after all the injuries she suffered over and over in her career.
“I mean, it’s amazing. I finally been able to play the tennis that I love the way I love to play,” said the 32 year old. “You know, being really aggressive and consistent at the same time.
“I keep playing better and better each round. Today was against one of the best players in the world.”
She hardly kept the tears from coming when she finally let her emotions out.
“Well, I mean, I’m a little bit emotional now. Sorry. (Crying.)
“It’s been really hard. Sorry. After so many years to be here again, it’s incredible. I wanted this so bad.
“I feel goofy right now. I feel like I’m 15 now. I feel so excited. It’s crazy. I’m 32, but I don’t feel like that. My body is really great. That’s really important. I feel fit. I feel strong in my mind. I feel very excited, even after so many years on tour.”
From a former junior promise, to the current teenage-sensation. Belinda Bencic caused the second biggest upset of the day by beating German Angelique Kerber in straight sets.
The win felt nowhere as good as for the Croat for the young Swiss, who saw this as one more step in her promising career.
“Yeah, it motivates me even more to work harder,” she admitted. “And now not just to be satisfied with it, but I want more. I will do my best that I can reach in all the Grand Slams a good result.”
Garbine Muguruza Reaches New Milestone As Swiatek Finds Her Groove At Australian Open
The two title contenders were in impressive form during their opening matches.
Third seed Garbine Muguruza extended her perfect run of first round wins at the Australian Open to 10 with a straightforward victory over France’s Clara Burel.
The former world No.1, who is yet to lose an opening match played at Melbourne Park in her career, required just under 90 minutes to see off Burel 6-3, 6-4. Muguruza broke her rival three consecutive times during the first set to win the opener in just over half an hour. Then in the second she eased to a 5-3 lead but failed to convert three match points. Muguruza was then broken in the following game before breaking back again to seal victory.
“It felt very good. I didn’t know really who I was facing. We’ve never played before,” Muguruza told reporters afterwards. “Very tricky. You’re always nervous going out there on Rod Laver, which I love, and starting a Grand Slam campaign.’
“I’m very happy the way I played and, of course, controlling the nerves.”
On what is the ninth anniversary of her Melbourne Park debut. Muguruza is hoping to go one step further than she did back in 2020 and win the title. She has now won 27 matches at the Australian Open which makes it her second most successful Grand Slam in terms of wins. Her best is the French Open where she has recorded 29 victories.
Muguruza will next take on another French player in the shape of Alize Cornet. During her on-court interview on Tuesday she was asked about her net play which the Spaniard said is a reflection of her on-court personality.
“It’s just a journey of adapting to your character,” she said. “I’m an aggressive player on the court and I like to dominate. I train like that. I’m not like that outside but inside the court I’m aggressive.”
Swiatek and her new coach
Another winner on day two was former French Open champion Iga Swiatek who swept aside Britain’s Harriet Dart 6-3, 6-0. At the start of the match she was trailing 1-3 before fighting back by winning 11 games in a row. The Pole is playing in her 12th Grand Slam main draw and is hoping to go beyond the fourth round in Australia for the first time in her career.
“You could see that first few games were pretty tricky for me. With the sun, I know I got broken in my second service game,” said Swiatek.
“I’m pretty happy that I was patient, I found the rhythm throughout the match. That’s pretty positive.”
Swiatek is in Melbourne with her new coach Tomasz Wiktorowski who is known for his previous work with Agnieszka Radwanska. She admits the new collaboration is very much a work in progress but believes she is heading in the right direction with her new mentor.
“He didn’t change a lot at the beginning because he was good to continue the process that I’ve had. Too many changes would be really confusing,” she said of Wiktorowski.
“We’re focusing on different stuff. We’re working on my strengths, which is great, because it’s going to give me confidence. I’m going to be able to be more, like, proactive on court. We were working on some attack formations and offensive game.’
“But we also didn’t have time to work on everything that we wanted to because there is a lot to improve in terms of my volleys and maybe slice.”
Swiatek will play Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson in the second round.
Petra Kvitova Links Lack Of Match Play, Health Issues To Australian Open Loss
The Czech reacts to her shock exit from Melbourne Park.
Former world No.2 Petra Kvitova has insisted that she still has the game to compete with the best players in the world after crashing out in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Kvitova, who reached the final in Melbourne Park back in 2019, only managed to win four games during her 6-2, 6-2, loss to Sorana Cirstea. The Czech looked out of sorts on court as she hit a staggering 39 unforced errors compared to only seven winners. She also only managed to win 41% of her second service points and was broken four times in the match. It is the third time in Kvitova’s career she has lost in the first round at the Australian Open after 2014 and 2018.
“I don’t have much to say. It wasn’t really going my way the whole month. That’s how it is, I think. It’s a sport, and I just have to fight through and be better at it,” said Kvitova.
“I think that she (Cirstea) likes my game, she just is going to it and she has to risk, and everything (she hit) was in. I think for her I think it’s a little bit tougher when she has to create the game, and this time it was just there and putting fast balls back.”
Kvitova’s loss comes during what has been a lacklustre start to the season. Earlier this month at the Adelaide International she suffered a shock loss to world No.221 Priscilla Hon. A week later in Sydney she managed to reach the second round before losing to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur who had to pull out of the Australian Open due to injury.
Despite her disappointing results on the Tour, the two-time Grand Slam champion is confident she will be able to turn her season around as she outlines two reasons behind her recent performances.
“I think it’s (my game) still there. It’s just I think I didn’t play a lot of matches at the beginning of this year,” she explained. “I did have some health issues the whole month, as well, so it was tough to practice during home month.’
“It wasn’t really as easy this beginning of the season, but the season is long, so I hope that it will turn around.”
Kvitova has won 28 WTA titles in her career with the last of those occurring in March 2021 at the Qatar Open. She is now on the verge of dropping out of the world’s top 20 for a second time this season.
“I think I need the matches on the other side,” she admits. “It’s really tough to see the future right now after this loss. I know I have to, first of all, calm down and see clearly more after some days.’
“I have to have a few days off to make my rest better, so that definitely will be one of the main goals, and then for sure some preparation before the next tournaments.”
As for Cirstea, she will play Kristína Kučová in the second round.
Coco Gauff Reacts To Shock Australian Open Exit
The American produced an error-stricken performance at Melbourne Park on Monday.
Coco Gauff says ‘everything’ about her latest performance disappointed her after she suffered a surprise first round loss at the Australian Open.
The world No.16 struggled to find her footing on court throughout her 6-4, 6-2, loss to China’s Wang Qiang. A player who didn’t play a single match after the Olympic Games last year and started this season with two consecutive first round defeats. It is the first time the 17-year-old has failed to go beyond the first round of a Grand Slam since the 2020 US Open.
“I think today I came into the match and the first couple of games, even though they were close, I was making more errors than I was used to,” Gauff said afterwards.
Gauff’s latest experience at Melbourne Park saw her hit a staggering 38 unforced errors compared to only 15 winners. She also struggled behind her second serve where she won just 45% of the points.
The defeat is a stark contrast to earlier this month when the rising star looked to be on track to generating momentum on the Tour. In Adelaide she led world No.1 Ash Barty by a set and a break before losing. A week on from that she reached the semi-finals of another event before losing to eventual champion Madison Keys.
“I think just everything disappointed me about today,” she said. “I feel like in the preseason, like I worked really hard, and I felt like I was ready to have a good run here. Today I just didn’t perform well.
“And I think learning-wise, I think there’s a lot to learn from. I think I didn’t play as free as I normally do today. I think I was playing a little bit tighter than normal. So I think next time coming into the first round of a slam, especially after a tough week before, I think I need to just play more free and focus on the moment.”
As Gauff is left to reflect on her performance, Wang is relishing her return to the winner’s circle. The 30-year-old has been ranked as high as 12th in the world and has won two WTA titles. In 2019 she reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.
“I lost two times against her last year so I just tried my best and focus on the court,” said Wang, who is coached by Pat Cash.
Wang will play Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck in the second round.
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