TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN – 31st of January 2015. An interview with Andy Murray
Q. What did you make of last night’s semifinal?
ANDY MURRAY: I didn’t watch any of the match last night. I’ll watch some of it this evening and then chat to Amélie about it tomorrow. But I haven’t watched any of it yet.
Q. How are you feeling having had a lot of the extra things? Enough rest? Practice?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I feel good. I felt good after all of the matches and recovered fairly well from the two fairly long matches that I had against Dimitrov and with Berdych. So, yeah, I pulled up pretty well. But, yeah, it’s slightly different preparation obviously with the extra day. You get the extra day rest, but then also you’re in a rhythm of playing every day or so, so it changes the way you prepare a little bit. But, yeah, I feel good.
Q. Do you have any thoughts on the fairness of that? Do you believe semifinals should be played on the same day?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, I do, yeah. You want the players all to have the same opportunity. But, I mean, I was told that the player that’s played the second semifinal I think has won like five or six of the last seven years, so I don’t know exactly who it favors more. Obviously if you have an extremely long match you would think the person that had the extra day’s rest, it would favor them. But a couple years Novak recovered from — I don’t know how he did it, because I played against him in the semifinal and I could barely walk a couple days later. But he recovered from a five-hour match and then won the final in six hours. I don’t really know who it favors, to be honest.
Q. Is there a danger of having too long to think about it?
ANDY MURRAY: I think that comes down to each individual really and how you handle the situation. I’ve tried — like I said, didn’t watch the match yesterday, so I tried not to spend too long thinking about it and try and just do the same sort of routine as I’ve been doing in the other matches and use yesterday as more of a recovery day. Then I practiced slightly harder than I would have normally the day before a slam final today.
Q. Is this the best you’ve felt mentally and physically on the eve of a Grand Slam final?
ANDY MURRAY: I don’t know. To be honest, it’s always very difficult to answer those questions. I don’t know. I know that I played well so far this event. Each time I’ve been in difficult situations I’ve done a good job mentally of finding my way to get out of them. And, yeah, my tennis has been good, as well. So I hope that will be the case again tomorrow.
Q. You played Novak here three times and lost all three. How confident are you that can change tomorrow?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, I know it’s going to be extremely difficult to win the match tomorrow. I know if I want to win, it will probably be very, very tough and challenging physically. So I need to prepare myself mentally for that. But he has a fantastic record here. He obviously loves the court and the conditions. And, yeah, it would be a big upset if I manage to win tomorrow.
Q. You talk about a big upset if you were to win tomorrow night. Novak said there was no clear favorite. Do you disagree with that?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, I’ve never won against him here before. I’ve lost to him each time that we’ve played. I think I’ve lost to him the last four or five times we played against each other, as well. Maybe only won one set in those matches. Yeah, I mean, it would be a big turnaround. I played him a couple times very close the end of last year and lost pretty comfortably. For me it would be a big turnaround in a few months if I was able to win. I’m not saying it’s not a possibility, but it’s going to be very, very tough.
Q. Was there any sense of curiosity last night about what was going here last night?
ANDY MURRAY: Knew exactly what the score was. I was at dinner checking the result to see what was going on. I spoke to Leon, as well, who was commentating on the match. But I’m going to watch the parts of the match that I want to watch this evening, get all of the stats from the match that I think will be beneficial and go over it, just like I have done every other match since I have been here this event. But I didn’t really want to sit for three, three and a half hours last night worrying about the match. I’d rather save that for this evening and try and conserve a little bit of energy and mental energy, as well, you know, for the match.
Q. Guaranteed back in the world’s top four regardless; No. 3 with a win. Do you feel like you’re back where you belong?
ANDY MURRAY: I feel like I’m playing well again. I think this tournament’s been obviously important for me just because of some of the results I had at the end of last year. Yeah, it’s been an important week for me. Obviously anytime you’re moving up the rankings suggests you’re doing something well. Yeah, it shows as well that last year, although it was a tough year, it wasn’t that bad. With one good tournament here I could move back up the rankings again. Hopefully the beginning part of this year where I maybe didn’t play my best last year, if I can try and have some consistent, solid results, reestablish myself back at the top of the game, and hopefully have another good year.
Novak Djokovic Survives Krajinovic Battle To Seal Last Eight Berth In Rome
Novak Djokovic reached an 85th Masters 1000 Quarter-Final in Rome.
Novak Djokovic survived a tough battle in Rome to beat Filip Krajinovic 7-6(7) 6-3 to reach the last eight.
Although the World Number one got the victory, it was a tough battle as he fought his compatriot for a place in the Quarter-Finals.
Breaks were shared to start the match as Krajinovic brought his fearless game to the top seed.
Djokovic created a total of ten break points, with only one executed as Krajinovic saved two set points in the tenth game to hold for 5-5.
After two comfortable holds, a tiebreak settled the winner of the first set as Djokovic was having a hard time to contain Krajinovic’s power.
The world number one battled from 3-0 down to edge the tiebreak 9-7 and win the opening set in 88 minutes.
Once Djokovic had survived the Krajinovic stormed, he took control and went into another gear as a break of serve in the third game was all that was needed to seal his place in the quarter-finals.
Winning 47% of his 2nd return points was key as Djokovic reaches his 85th Masters 1000 Quarter-Final of his career.
Next for Djokovic will be either talented teen sensation Lorenzo Musetti or Dominik Koepfer.
In other results today, Denis Shapovalov and Grigor Dimitrov set a last eight showdown after tight three set wins.
Shapovalov edged out Ugo Humbert 6-7(5) 6-1 6-4 while Dimitrov defeated Jannik Sinner 4-6 6-4 6-4 in a tough match.
There were also third round wins for Casper Ruud and Matteo Berrettini.
Rafael Nadal Missing Fan Support Despite Emphatic Win At Italian Open
The 19-time Grand Slam winner reacts to his latest win 200 days after his last.
The absence of a crowd at this year’s Italian Masters has been branded as ‘not beautiful’ by Rafael Nadal following his opening match on Wednesday.
The world No.2 raced to a 6-1, 6-1, triumph over US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta in what was his first competitive match of any sort since March 1st. Despite his lengthy break from the Tour, Nadal showed little rust as he dropped only eight points behind his serve and broke the world No.18 five times overall. The latest victory is Nadal’s 62nd in Rome and he has only won more matches at four other tournaments.
“Of course I have to improve things. The things that I have to improve, the only way to improve is to keep practising with the right attitude, the right intensity and to spend hours in competition matches,” he said afterwards.
“Today has been a positive start for me,” Nadal later added.
Choosing to skip the New York bubble due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nadal is still getting used to the concept of playing without the crowds. Something many of his rivals has already had experience of. The Italian Open had originally hoped to allow fans to enter its grounds before the local authorities ruled against it over concerns it could trigger an outbreak of the Coronavirus.
“It’s Not beautiful the feeling of playing without the spectators because the energy of the fans is impossible to describe. But for me, at least, today has been a very positive comeback,” Nadal assessed.
It is a case of wait and see as to how the Spaniard will fare in the coming days given his recent lack of match play compared to his rivals such as Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic. Fortunately for Nadal, he is playing on the clay which is a surface which he has won more ATP titles on than any other player in the Open Era. As for the upcoming French Open, will a lack of play in recent weeks be problematic for him?
“I don’t think so, no. If Roland Garros was this week, maybe yes. Roland Garros is two weeks away.” He concluded.
Nadal will next play either Milos Raonic or Dusan Lajovic who will play their second round match on Thursday.
Dominic Thiem And Thomas Muster: A Comparison
They are the only Austrian Slam champions in men’s tennis, but how do they stack up against each other?
The original version of this article was published on loslalom.it.
On October 24, 2011, Dominic Thiem had just turned 18 and was in the very early stages of his professional career, so the organisers of the ATP tournament in Vienna rewarded him with a wild card. On October 24, 2011, Thomas Muster had been 44 for about three weeks and at the sunset of his career, so he was also given the wild card for Vienna tournament. What no one could predict, neither the players nor the tournament organizers, was that the draw would pit them against each other in the first round, for what would be their first encounter, and ultimately the only one – after conceding with a 6-2 6-3 score in an hour and four minutes, Muster retired forever. He was the only Austrian to have won a Grand Slam tournament, in 1995 at Roland Garros, at least until Sunday night, when the then teenager who ended his career equalled him.
In the first decade of his career, Thiem has earned almost twice as much as Munster did in 18 (22 million dollars against 12). Thiem is right-handed, Muster a southpaw. Both sport one-handed backhands. It took 10 years for Muster to win a Major, and by the eleventh he was the world N.1, albeit not for long. He was a bona fide drop-shot chaser. It took nine years as a professional for Thiem to win at Flushing Meadows, but he has not yet risen higher than third in the ATP Ranking. Thiem is two inches taller (6’1’’ versus 5’11’’), he has an edge for the number of aces (5.8 per game on average against 3) and for the effectiveness of his first serve (74.2% vs 69.1%). The two are essentially tied with their second serve (53.2% vs 53.7) and in the break-points-saved department (62.9% vs 63%), but Muster is more dominant in the return games (31.6% break vs 23.5%) and, despite earning a street rep as a marathon runner, his matches were 11 minutes shorter than Thiem’s (an hour and 30 minutes against an hour and 41). His winning points ended on average in 35 seconds, Thiem’s in 37,8 seconds.
In his career Thiem has met stronger opponents, ranked on average at 35 in the world, while Muster’s foes usually hovered around number 52. Despite this, the latter managed to beat opponents better placed than him in the standings in only 9.8% of cases, while Thiem’s percentage is 12.3 %. On the contrary, Thiem was beaten in 21.4% of cases by tennis players ranked worse in the rankings, whereas this happened to Muster in 19% of cases, a percentage that drops to 13% when it comes to clay only. For a couple of weeks at the beginning of 2020, Muster coached Thiem.
The following chart summarises the numbers:
Gianni Clerici, the Italian Hall-of-Famer journalist and writer, gave Thomas Muster the moniker of “Mr Muscolo” (Mr Muscle). This is the portrait he made of him: “He’s not very nice, seven out of ten people say about Muster. A couple of them find him downright unpleasant. The remaining, meagre ten percent all but worships him. It is probably the attitude that does not appeal. His face appears incredibly rapacious, reminding of a bird of prey, or, if not strictly of an eagle or a hawk, at the very least of a possessed personality, those wide-open eyes animated by a blue and sinister light. But, even more than the face, what repels many people is his technique, his relentlessness devoid of human breathing which is fully on display as he gets back bopping on his side of the court a ripe thirty seconds before the established one minute and 25, while the unfortunate opponent is still splayed on his chair, trying to recover some breath and peace in the aftermath of the gruelling races that Muster locked him into. If the style is the man, well, the Austrian’s style does not capture the imagination. His serve is average at best, and he cautiously avoids volleying, but he has some great weapons, like that terrible loopy forehand and, in the last couple years, that no less terrible backhand slap. Come to think of it, even Muster’s ancestors, Borg and Vilas, were no less engulfing, less repetitive. But Borg had more athletic talent, his runs were very fluid, his sense of playing so high that he even managed to adapt to the Wimbledon lawns where he won five times and where Muster instead looks like a wretch. Muster has the athletic pedigree of champions but certainly not the charisma”.
Clerici also had the opportunity to write on Thiem for “la Repubblica” (an Italian daily newspaper), stating that “he was born with tennis in his blood, […] he has a refined hand, as can be seen with his drop shots and with his cross-court volleys,” then adding: “I have seen many times the Austrian go all-out on his backhand, as if he were holding an umbrella wide open, while his forehand is more akin to a machete.” Yesterday morning, he added that Thiem reminds him of “the tennis players of my time during the Fifties, when tennis was different from today, perhaps more beautiful to watch, a spectacles that intellectuals like Giorgio Bassani enjoyed, and that could have taken place in the genteel backyards sketched out in his novels.”
Translation and graphics by Andrea Canella
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