TENNIS WTA MONTREAL – 8th of August 2014. S. Williams d. C. Wozniacki 4-6, 7-5, 7-5. An interview with Serena Williams
Q. You said yesterday that Caroline would be your biggest test of the tournament so far. Obviously she was. What did she do that gave you trouble?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, she just does everything well. She’s really fast, gets a lot of balls back, she makes you hit that extra shot. She kept her unforced errors down super low today. That was a good job, I think.
Q. Yesterday you said this match would give you a good idea of where your game is at right now. After a win like that, a comeback win like that, where do you see your game is at now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I’m definitely fit. I feel like I’m really ready to go the long haul. That’s good for me. I definitely needed to feel that and get some three-set wins under my belt.
Q. You were a little inconsistent in the first set, talking to yourself. How do you get back into the groove? What do you say to yourself to become mentally stronger?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, yeah, I think I was making a lot of unforced errors in general. But for me, I just thought, Just keep fighting. Hopefully I can just hold on and hold on, try to break, keep going for each shot. I just never wanted to stop and try to do the best that I could.
Q. Looking ahead, the possibility of playing your sister. Are you looking forward to that if it happens?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, if it happens, it will be great. She’s been playing really well. She’s in really good form. It would be a really good match for me. She is playing really well.
Q. You and your sister have made a big impact on women’s tennis. Stacey Allaster was speaking about that the other day. You had your own schedule. Looking back, what are you most proud of?
SERENA WILLIAMS: We’ve had such a great impact. I think having been, you know, pretty much one of the first African Americans to do well, then to see all the African Americans, even some Canadians here playing really well, it makes me feel really good. I’m really excited to see that, to be honest. It’s just really, really great. Yeah, we just had an opportunity to do something really special. Sometimes I get chill bumps when I think about it because we’re just so normal and so down-to-earth. We just feel like we want to help everyone to do the best that they can. We’re really excited.
Q. Is it exciting to have to play her or are you seeing this more as, I don’t really want to play her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely don’t like playing her. I think I’ve lost to her more than anyone on the tour, so… Definitely not a fun match. But she’s tough. She has a great serve. She runs every ball down. She has a great backhand. She hits winners off the forehand. She does everything well, so it’s not an ideal matchup for anyone, to be honest.
Q. Early in your career your father said that you and Venus would probably play for a few years and then move on to other things. Obviously, you have done other things outside the court. Are you surprised you’re still playing now, playing at this level?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I definitely didn’t see myself playing tennis at my age. I just thought I would have been gone doing other things. But it just so happens that I love to play, I love to compete. I’m having fun. I enjoy it. I just can’t give it up. I just really can’t let it go.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the state of American tennis. Once yourself and Venus move into the next phase, do you believe the women who are succeeding you have the ability to reach your level? What can America do to bring tennis back to the ’70s and ’80s?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, ’70s and ’80s sounds like a great theme party (laughter). But I don’t know. I think women’s tennis is doing really well on the American side. Yeah, suggestions? It’s kind of hard. You have to pour a lot of money into players. It’s very difficult on the men because there’s so many other American sports that men want to do, that you can be so successful in. Then you have tennis, which is definitely more an international sport. I don’t know. It’s really interesting. But I think the state of women’s tennis right now for the U.S. is really excellent and I’m really excited about it. So many great players.
Q. Why do you think Europe is doing so well, the eastern countries, when you look at the top 50 with women? When you say ‘pour more money into it,’ there’s more money in the U.S. than those other countries.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, tennis I think is a premiere sport for women in general. I’m actually not from those countries so I can’t comment on that. But I just think when you see players, you see opportunities that you can have by playing tennis, oh, my gosh, I would totally put my kids in tennis. It’s such a great opportunity. So maybe that’s why.
Denis Shapovalov Handles Opelka To Reach Australian Open Fourth Round
The Canadian managed to get past his 6ft 11 American opponent in a match that lasted over three hours.
Denis Shapovalov is into the fourth round of the Australian Open after beating 23rd seed Reilly Opelka 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and two minutes on Margeret Court Arena.
The Canadian hit 39 winners and served 10 aces while limiting Opelka to just 17 aces. In contrast the American finished the match with a costly 46 unforced errors as Shapovalov booked his spot in the second week of the tournament.
” I think I did a really good job against Reilly (Opelka) today and I took a lot of my chances and managed to get a read on his serve,” said the world No.14.
Both players were doing a good job early on when it came to holding serve and at 3-3 it was the Toronto native who had three chances to break. On his third opportunity broke serve with his trademark backhand winner.
However, that break didn’t last long for Shapovalov as he struggled to consolidate the break and ultimately gave the break right back with a poor service game and it was back on serve at 4-4.
The first was decided by a tiebreaker and Shapovalov got the crucial break to take a 3-1 lead in the breaker which was enough for him to take the first set.
The second frame was much like the first with both players holding serve until 3-3 when Opelka broke serve. He was able to consolidate and serve out the set to level the match.
The third set stayed on serve until 3-2 and the momentum swung back in the Canadians favor. He got the break of serve this time using his forehand to great effect and served out the third to take a two sets to one lead.
Just like the third set the fourth set had no breaks until 3-2 when again the number 14 seed broke Opelka serve again and that break of serve was enough for him to serve out the match and the win.
After the match in his post-match interview, he was asked how he was able to limit his opponent to just 17 aces in the match.
” It’s never easy against Reilly (Opelka) but I am happy I was able to pull through and make it to the next round”. He said.
Shapovalov will face the number three seed Alexander Zverev in the round of 16.
Felix Auger-Aliassime Survives Australian Open Marathon
For a second time this week the Canadian was pushed but managed to win a tough four-set match against his Spanish opponent.
Felix Auger-Aliassime booked his spot in the third round of the Australian Open after beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in a match that lasted four hours and 20 minutes.
The Montreal native hit 58 winners and served 28 aces while Davidovich Fokina hit 51 unforced errors. It is the second time the 21-year-old has reached the last 32 in Melbourne Park in what is his third appearence.
The first game of the match was a nervy one for the world number nine as it lasted six minutes and it involved him saving two breakpoints before being able to hold serve. The opener stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Fokina came up with an impressive passing shot to set up two more chances for the first break of serve of the match and this time managed to convert. Three games later the Canadian fought back and broke right back to go back on serve.
It was a tiebreak which decided the first set. The Montreal native jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Spaniard came back again to win the next four points but the Canadian responded again winning three straight points to take the breaker 7-4 and the first set.
The second set was another impressive performance on serve by both players and once again was decided by a back and forth breaker that this time was won by Davidovich Fokina to level the match.
The third frame was much the same as both players kept their level up and not much differentiated the two. This tiebreaker was much more straightforward as the Canadian jumped out to a 5-1 lead before closing out the third set 7-5 and taking two sets to one lead.
The fourth set stayed on serve until 2-1 when the world number 50 had a chance to break and was able to get it for a 3-1 lead before the Canadian was able to break back the following game to go back on serve.
For the fourth time, the set was decided by a tiebreaker and this one was super tight with the Canadian getting the crucial break to take a 4-3 lead and that one break was enough for him to serve it out.
Auger Aliassime will now face Dan Evans in the third round after the Brit was handed a walkover against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech who pulled out of the match due to injury.
‘Best Feeling I’ve Ever Had’ – Underdog Christopher O’Connell Stuns Schwartzman At Australian Open
Prior to this week the 27-year-old had never won a main draw match at Melbourne Park or beaten a top 20 player.
World No.175 Christopher O’Connell has pulled off a major upset at the Australian Open by knocking out 13th seed Diego Schwartzman.
The 27-year-old wild card had only ever won one match in the main draw of a Grand Slam prior to this year but illustrated the talent that he has with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-4, win over Schwartzman. A player who is currently ranked 162 places above him in the rankings. Against the Argentine he fired a total of 44 winners and won 75% of his first service points on route to claiming his first win over a top 20 player.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had on a tennis court. I’ve been playing tennis since I was four. To have moments like this it’s a dream come true.” O’Connell said during his press conference.
Despite the straightforward score, the match itself was a marathon. The opener alone lasted for almost 90 minutes with the underdog saving three set points whilst down 4-5 before prevailing in the tiebreaker. Then in the following two sets he broke Schwartzman three times in total.
“I knew how crucial that first set was. It was really warming up out there. It was really a battle back and forth. It was crucial to get that first set, especially in the heat,” he said.
A late bloomer on the men’s Tour, the Australian started to make a breakthrough last year by reaching his first quarter-final at the Atlanta Open where he defeated Jannik Sinner. During that year he also reached the final of a French Challenger event before withdrawing due to injury and reached the second round of the US Open.
O’Connell, who has been ranked as high as 111th in the world, credits his coach for helping him reach new milestones in the sport. He is mentored by former player Marinko Matosevic who reached a ranking high of 39th back in 2013 and made more than $2M in prize money during his playing career.
“The process didn’t start yesterday. It’s been happening all of last year,” he stated.
“I’ve been working with Marinko. He’s just really confident with how I want to play tennis now. It’s the first time I’ve really had a one-on-one coach literally every day with me.’
“Marinko was such a great player. All his knowledge of the game, he’s just putting it onto me.”
Next up for O’Connell will be the in-form Maxime Cressy who lost to Rafael Nadal in the final of the Melbourne Summer Set just over a week ago. The American defeated Czech qualifier Tomáš Macháč 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5), in his second round match.
“I knew I had good results in me. It’s just being consistent. I felt today was a consistent match from me,” he reflected.
“But the biggest thing for me is just staying healthy, not having these injuries where I miss two months of tournaments. I nearly missed five or six months last year. I can’t be doing that.’
“The belief is always there, but I just got to make sure my body’s healthy this year. I want to play a full year.”
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