TENNIS WTA MONTREAL – 8th of August 2014. V. Williams d. C. Suarez Navarro 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. An interview with Venus Williams
Q. What are you doing well out there? What do you like about your game that you’ve made it to the semis?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think more than anything what’s happening well for me is just competing. I think my movement has been very helpful to me, as well, covering a lot of court.
Yeah, mostly the competing. I’ve been playing some stellar opponents, so it hasn’t been easy.
Q. Long matches, too.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Long matches. Long days. But that’s, I guess, par for the course.
Q. Do you feel the long matches you had to play this week will be a disadvantage against Serena that had shorter games?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don’t think so. I hope it won’t be a disadvantage. I never look at it that way because after you win a long match, it’s really satisfying. I do look at it that way and just try to take positives from it.
Q. I was wondering if you remember the first time you played Serena on the circuit, it was ’99, and what you remember about that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I totally remember. We had a tough match back then. That’s the trend that started and it hasn’t changed. I suspect tomorrow will be another tough match.
Q. How have you guys changed since then?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not much (smiling).
Q. I think she won the last five matches. What do you have to do to beat Serena?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have to play well. That’s pretty much it. There’s no secret or science to it. I think that’s anyone who has gotten any wins against her, they’ve pretty much played the match of their life.
Granted, I’d like to imagine that I hopefully won’t have to play the match of my life. That’s tough to do. But I know I need to play well.
Q. She said she didn’t like facing you. What are your thoughts on facing her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it’s, you know, more exciting when we get to face each other for us in the final. Semifinals is better than first or second round, yeah, but the finals is a lot more exciting I think for both of us. It’s more climatic. It’s more of a climax.
Q. Could you talk about today’s match, how you felt on the court. You must be pleased with your game overall.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, in the first set we had a couple breaks, but our intensity I think was high. She just seemed really determined. She was playing so well, not missing a lot of balls, really throughout the whole match.
After the first set I tried to do my best to maybe control the point a little more because she had me on a string running side to side. It’s very difficult to win matches like that when you’re not in control.
So as much as I could, which wasn’t always possible, I tried to stay in control of the point.
Q. You and Serena have had so much impact on women’s tennis for so many years. When you reflect on that, what are you most proud of?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think what I’m most proud of is that so far I’ve come this far without falling on my face, doing something stupid (smiling). I want to try to keep that up. So once I’m done I can look back and say, I didn’t make a fool of myself.
That’s actually, you know, true. I think at the end of the day life is about what you can give, not really about what you can get. I think in a lot of ways the work that we’ve put in on the court has been able to give so much to so many different people in so many different ways. That was a result that we, as sisters or as a family, never saw coming.
I think for me, and I think I can probably speak for her, I don’t know, that’s to me the most satisfying, is how much you find out you can give.
Q. In what ways? Inspiration?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Just so many young women who start playing tennis, or young men, older people who are inspired. People who inspire you because of what they’re doing because you inspired them. The opportunities that get created just by being out there playing, like people you never even get to meet. Those are the impacts I never could have foreseen, which really makes me the most proud.
Q. At what age did you think you would retire, 30?
VENUS WILLIAMS: At 30 you don’t think about the end so much. I still don’t. At this point I’m still playing well, so why should I think about the end?
When it happens, it happens. I’d like to think I’d go gracefully into the shadows.
Q. When we talked to Serena before, she told us she wanted to spend the night with you anyway. What are your thoughts on that? Is that what you’re doing tonight, going to hang out and talk about the match for tomorrow?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I’m actually going to dance a little bit. I actually am.
Q. You are?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. It’s very relaxing for me. I love to dance.
Q. By yourself?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No.
Q. Would you care to elaborate?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not at a club. No, I just do a little jazz and a little ballet. I’m not great, but I love to dance. I’ll just dance a little and see what happens.
Q. Even after these two days of really tough matches, long matches, it’s actually good for you to do that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I just love it. It makes me happy. It’s a hobby. Not for long. Maybe like half an hour. Trust me, it’s not like running back and forth on a tennis court. I know it can be very intense, but that’s hard.
Just a little bit and try and relax. Definitely rest, so…
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.”
French Player Tests Positive For COVID-19 Hours After Australian Open Defeat
The world No.40 was preparing to leave the country.
Ugo Humbert is in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 following his first round loss at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Humbert, who was the 29th seed in the men’s draw, is understood to have produced a positive result during a routine procedure players have to conduct before they leave the country. It is unclear as to if he is currently suffering from any symptoms.
Humbert crashed out of the tournament to compatriot Richard Gasquet, who won their match 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-6 (3), 6-3, in three hours and 18 minutes. Gasquet also tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Australia earlier this month but was given the all clear to play at Melbourne Park following a negative test. There was a 15-day period between the 35-year-old announcing on Twitter he had the virus and his first match against Humbert.
“I was tested positive on my exit test yesterday and I’ll stay one more week in isolation in Australia,” Humbert wrote on Instagram.
“Thanks for your support and see you soon.”
The 23-year-old has started his season by winning one out of four matches played. Prior to the Australian Open, he scored one of the biggest wins of his career by defeating Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Cup in the group stages. However, following that victory he suffered losses to Alex de Minaur and Matteo Berrettini.
Tennis Australia is yet to comment on Humbert’s positive test.
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