TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN – 24th of January 2015. N.Djokovic d. F.Verdasco 7-6, 6-3, 6-4. An interview with Novak Djokovic
Q. How important was it to win that first set?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was turning point probably winning the tiebreaker as close as it was. I thought I served very well, allowed myself to have a lot of free points in the first serve. What I could have done better I thought was just capitalizing on the opportunities, breakpoint opportunities, especially in the first set. But again, credit to him for playing well, serving very well, especially down the T. It’s hard when somebody serves 215 down the T, on the line, you can’t do much about it. I thought it was a good match. It was a big challenge for both of us. He was a former top-10 player. Somebody that loves playing on the big stage, a powerful game. I’m glad to go through in straight sets.
Q. He said he was particularly impressed with your serving, you were varying it a lot. Are you pleased with how you served?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, I’m pleased. I didn’t give him too many of the similar serves. I changed the pace, the angles. I tried to go for accuracy, vary with the serve, not give him rhythm. He had a couple of opportunities. I think the closest he was was Love-40 in the second set. And then couple of the last serve, my service games in the third set where he get 15- 30, Love-30. But because I served well, I think that’s what helped me to get out of the trouble in these big moments.
Q. Gilles Muller next. Somewhat surprising given what’s gone on before. What do you know about Gilles?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, he’s been on the tour for many years. Best junior in the world. He’s got a great serve, lefty. So I think the match tonight will help me in the next one, as well. He has a similar game, except he serves on volleys and he comes to the net. He has a nice slice serve. That’s his favorite. But he struggled a little bit with injuries last couple years, but I think last six months has been playing some of his best tennis. Finals in Sydney. Now fourth round winning against some top players. Winning against Isner in straight sets is never easy. He has done that. So he deserves respect. I need to be obviously very alert and hopefully I can return well, which is going to be one of the keys of the match.
Q. Sounds like you know him quite well. Is that the case?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s my job to know my colleagues, tennis players, especially if I get to play them. So I do my homework.
Q. But you’ve never played him before?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I never played him.
Q. Is it strange that someone from that generation, you’re still finding people you haven’t played before?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, that’s something that is obviously a challenge for me, to come to the court and play the way I want to play against somebody I never played against before. But that can be also dangerous because of the uncertainty of what he’s going to do in some moments. That’s why I said I’ve got to do my homework, sit down with the team, prepare myself well with the video analysis.
Q. What did you make of the marriage proposal in the crowd tonight?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Great. Beautiful, very important moment for him and for her. I’m sure he was very happy when she said yes. He didn’t take no for an answer, I’m sure about that. Yeah, it was great. It was great. I think it happened maybe once prior to this match in my whole career that somebody proposed. It’s nice to see this moment. It’s one of these moments you remember forever. Not just for them, but for everybody who was there. They’re going to spend their life together, so I wish them all the best.
Q. Talk about music. What is your favorite music? Will you offer a song if you win here this year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Some singing for my mom’s birthday. Obviously a special day. I dedicate this win to her. I’m grateful to the crowd for joining in wishing the happy birthday with the Happy Birthday song. It was nice. These are some nice moments. You mentioned Monte-Carlo. Monte-Carlo show is actually one of my favorite parts of the year on the tour. It’s too bad that we don’t have the similar shows in the other tournaments. For those who don’t know, it’s a show that goes on for I think over 20 years now. It’s a tradition. It’s called the Players Show. It’s a show where the players impersonate other players, male and female, personalities. It’s a little theater show. I’ve been taking part in it for the last seven, eight years. Funny moments going on there. I think that the ATP should be able to use that material more even for charity, but to allow people, especially nowadays with digital media, social networks, to see what’s going on there. I mean, some players wouldn’t like to show to the world what they’re doing. I have those moments as well when I was impersonating Jessica Simpson, “These Boots are Made for Walking” in front of my parents, washing the car, you know, having only underwear. You can imagine how that looked like. Had some other times where it was Michael Jackson on the stage, Steven Spielberg. It’s really cool, because you think about anything that comes to your mind. You come up with the idea. There’s music involved, acting, something that players really do enjoy doing that. I know Rafa has been part of it for a while now. It’s fun. It’s all for good laughs.
Cincinnati Daily Preview: Brits Andy Murray and Cam Norrie Meet in the Second Round
On Monday, Andy Murray overcame another three-time Major singles champion, Stan Wawrinka, in a three-hour thriller. In the second round, he meets the new British No.1 Cam Norrie, who reached his first Slam semifinal last month at Wimbledon.
WTA action is headlined by three matches between Slam singles champs, which includes world No.1 Iga Swiatek. Also on Wednesday, Rafael Nadal will play his first match since withdrawing from the Wimbledon semifinals.
Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule. Wednesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.
Andy Murray vs. Cameron Norrie – 11:00am on Center Court
Murray will be happy he had a day of rest after his emotionally and physically taxing match against Wawrinka. He has compiled a solid record of 23-14 this season, with 2022 being his most active year since 2017, when his hip issues began. But Norrie has taken his place as the top British male, and has really come into his own over the past 18 months. Cam is now 38-18 this season, and has reached 10 finals since the start of last year. Their only prior meeting occurred three years ago in Beijing, with Murray prevailing in a long, tight three-setter that lasted nearly three hours. But three years later, Norrie is a much-improved competitor. While playing your fellow countryman is often tricky, especially when they’ve been knighted, Cam should be favored to even their head-to-head.
Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Sloane Stephens (WC) – Not Before 3:00pm on Grand Stand
Swiatek is vying for her 50th win of the season on Wednesday, with 37 of those victories coming consecutively between February and July. But since those 37 wins in a row, Iga is only 3-3, and suffered a frustrating loss last week in Toronto to Beatriz Haddad Maia 7-5 in the third after three hours of play. Stephens continues to be a streaky player, as the 2017 US Open champion has gone on multiple winning and losing streaks of four matches or more throughout the year. On Monday night, she crushed Alize Cornet 6-1, 6-0. Sloane often plays her best tennis in American hard courts, and advanced to the third round or better of this tournament in seven straight appearances between 2012 and 2019. These two Major champs have never played before. Stephens could be primed for another win streak, and it would be understandable if Swiatek experienced a dip in her level after all the tennis she’s played this year. Yet after dominating the tour for most of the year, Iga should still be favored.
Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:
Victoria Azarenka vs. Emma Raducanu (10) – It’s a two-time Australian Open champ against the reigning US Open champ. Azarenka defeated Kaia Kanepi in three sets on Tuesday, while Raducanu easily prevailed over Serena Williams 6-4, 6-0.
Elena Rybakina vs. Garbine Muguruza (8) – It’s another two-time Major champ against the reigning Wimbledon champ. Rybakina is 2-2 since her surprising run at The All-England Club, while Muguruza is a subpar 9-13 on the year. They split two meetings last year, with Elena victorious in the more notable encounter, in the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympics.
Taylor Fritz (11) vs. Nick Kyrgios – Fritz started the summer by winning the title in Eastbourne, while Kyrgios was the champion in Washington. This will be their first career meeting.
Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Borna Coric (PR) – Despite his injury issues, Nadal is a staggering 35-3 in 2022, and 20-1 on hard courts. Coric missed a full year of action due to shoulder surgery, and is just 12-12 at all levels since returning. Borna has won two of their four previous meetings, including six years ago at this event.
Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.
Cincinnati Daily Preview: Serena Williams Plays Emma Raducanu, Venus Faces Karolina Pliskova
In what is expected to be the next-to-last event of her storied career, Serena Williams will play her opening round match on Tuesday. And in a blockbuster matchup, she faces reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu. Can the 19-year-old defeat the GOAT, or can Serena pull off one more high-profile victory before her career comes to an end?
Tuesday’s schedule in Cincinnati features many other top names as well. Center Court alone also includes Naomi Osaka, Daniil Medvedev, Nick Kyrgios, and Venus Williams, who takes on Karolina Pliskova in a battle between two of the WTA’s all-time best servers.
Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule. Tuesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.
Karolina Pliskova (14) vs. Venus Williams (WC) – Second on Center Court
This will only be Venus’ third singles match of the season, as multiple injuries have hampered the 42-year-old in recent years. Williams has only earned one singles win in the last 18 months. Pliskova has struggled this season since a hand injury caused her to miss the first two months of 2022. But Karolina had her best run of the season last week in Toronto, where she reached the semifinals, which included a three-set win over fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari. Venus and Karolina played three times between 2015 and 2017, with Pliskova taking two of those three encounters. Their most notable match was in the fourth round of the 2016 US Open, which Karolina won in a third-set tiebreak. In 2022, Pliskova is a considerable favorite to prevail.
Serena Williams (DA) vs. Emma Raducanu (10) – Not Before 7:00pm on Center Court
This will only be Serena’s fourth singles match of the season, and she’s 1-2 since returning at Wimbledon. Last week in Toronto, she made a tearful exit from the court after her straight-set loss to Belinda Bencic, as the Canadian crowd gave the 23-time Major singles champion a standing ovation. With this mini-retirement tour being new territory for Serena, how will she react to what will be a boisterous American crowd on Tuesday? She’ll surely feel nervous, but Raducanu will as well, as she likely assumed she would never get to play Serena. Emma has understandably struggled since her shocking, life-changing run a year ago at the US Open, as she’s just 11-14 on the year. But she’s still played a lot more tennis of late than Serena. This match was originally scheduled for Monday evening, and reports indicated it was postponed until Tuesday due to an injury concern regarding Serena. That’s advantage, Emma. But as we’ve learned over the course of the last several decades, Serena is fully capable of willing her way to victory even when she’s far from her best.
Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:
Naomi Osaka vs. Shuai Zhang – Osaka is just 1-2 this summer, and was forced to retire last week in Toronto due to a back issue. She is 3-2 against Shuai, though they haven’t played in nearly four years.
Nick Kyrgios vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina – Kyrgios has won 14 of his last 16 singles matches, and is on an eight-match win streak in doubles. Davidovich Fokina is only 4-9 this season on hard courts.
Coco Gauff (11) vs. Marie Bouzkova (Q) – Gauff is now the new world No.1 in doubles, and is on the brink of making her top 10 debut in singles. Bouzkova has claimed 18 of her last 22 matches at all levels.
Mackenzie McDonald (WC) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – McDonald was a finalist last year in Washington, but arrived in Cincinnati on a three-match losing streak. Alcaraz was upset last week in an extended affair with another American, Tommy Paul. Earlier this year at Indian Wells, Carlitos beat Mackie 6-3, 6-3.
Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Botic van de Zandschulp – Medvedev needs to win at least two matches this week to ensure he maintains his No.1 ranking. He’s 2-0 against van de Zandschulp, taking seven of their eight sets contested, all on hard courts.
Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.
Cincinnati Daily Preview: Major Champions Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka Square Off
For the second consecutive week, a combined ATP Masters/WTA 1000 event is being staged in North America. This week, it’s the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio. The singles draws in American’s heartland are loaded: the ATP draw features 14 of the world’s top 16, while the WTA draw features all 16 top-ranked players.
Most notably, Serena Williams will play what is assumedly the next-to-last event of her career, and will face reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the first round. And Rafael Nadal will play his first match since withdrawing from the Wimbledon semifinals due to his ongoing left foot issues.
Monday’s action is headlined by Major champions Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, who will play each other for the 22nd time.
Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule. Monday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.
Stan Wawrinka (PR) vs. Andy Murray – Third on Center Court
Their rivalry dates all the way back to 2005, when Wawrinka defeated Murray in Davis Cup. Their most prominent encounter took place in the 2017 Roland Garros semifinals, when Stan outlasted Andy in a five-setter that lasted over four-and-a-half hours. And neither man has been the same since that grueling battle. Just weeks later, Murray’s hip problems derailed his career, while Wawrinka would undergo knee surgery. Both men have now battled multiple serious injuries over the last five years. Overall Andy is 12-9 against Stan, and 8-4 on hard courts. Murray has gritted his way to 22 victories this year, while Stan is only 3-7 since returning from foot surgery this spring. Based on current form, as well as Murray’s history at this event, where he is a two-time champion, the Brit is the favorite on Monday.
Matteo Berrettini (12) vs. Frances Tiafoe – Not Before 7:00pm on Center Court
Berrettini returned from surgery on his right hand in June, and promptly went on a 12-match win streak. However, he unfortunately missed Wimbledon due to testing positive for COVID-19. And last week in Montreal, Matteo lost in the opening round, though that one-sided loss to Pablo Carreno Busta doesn’t look quite as bad after Pablo’s fantastic run to his first Masters 1000 title concluded on Sunday. Meanwhile, it’s been a disappointing year for Tiafoe, who is only 20-17 and has suffered some painful losses. At Wimbledon, he lost a four-and-a-half hour fourth round match to David Goffin despite having a two-sets-to-one lead. And just last week in Montreal, Frances was up 4-0 in the third over Taylor Fritz before losing the last six games of the match. Their only previous meeting occurred four years ago on clay in Rome, where Matteo was victorious in his home country in straight sets. Can Tiafoe avenge that loss in his own home country? Frances often excels during night matches in the United States, with his five-set win over Andrey Rublev at last year’s US Open serving as a prime example. But Matteo has been the much stronger performer for a few years now, and his potent serve/forehand combo makes him the favorite.
Other Notable Matches on Monday:
Amanda Anisimova vs. Daria Kasatkina (9) – Anisimova has reached the second week of every Major this season, while Kasatkina has won 18 of her last 24 matches, which includes a title run this month in San Jose. Amanda leads their head-to-head 2-0, and dominated Daria 6-2, 6-0 at the beginning of this year.
Jil Teichmann vs. Petra Kvitova – Teichmann was a surprise finalist here a year ago. Kvitova is only 17-15 this season, though she did win a title on grass in June. They’ve played three times since last year, with Jil claiming two of those three matches.
Denis Shapovalov vs. Grigor Dimitrov (16) – Shapovalov has now lost nine of his last 10 matches dating back to May. Meanwhile it’s been over four months since Dimitrov has won more than two matches in a row. Grigor is 2-1 against Denis, and 2-0 on hard courts.
Sloane Stephens (WC) vs. Alize Cornet – It’s been a streaky season for Stephens, with nine of her 11 victories coming at just two events. Cornet has achieved two noteworthy results this season: reaching her first Major quarterfinal in Melbourne, and ending Iga Swiatek’s 37-match winning streak at Wimbledon. This is their first career meeting.
Monday’s full Order of Play is here.
Gael Monfils Withdraws From US Open Due To Foot Injury
Daniil Medvedev Hopes ‘To Raise His Level’ After Opening Win In Cincinnati
‘It Feels Amazing’ – Emma Raducanu Crushes Soon-To-Be Retired Williams In Cincinnati
Cincinnati Daily Preview: Brits Andy Murray and Cam Norrie Meet in the Second Round
Frances Tiafoe Translates Performance Into Results In Cincinnati Opener
Greatest Of All Time Honor Between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, Says Robredo
Inspired By Andy Murray, Citi Open Chief Pledges To Donate Funds To Ukrainian Appeal
Andy Murray Targets US Open Seeding After Early Exit From Washington
Daria Kasatkina Opens Up About Her Sexuality As Native Russia Eye Tightening Anti-LGBT Laws
Daniil Medvedev Aims To Get Back On Track After Kyrgios Defeat
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Elena Rybakina’s Wimbledon Win Was Good But The Level Wasn’t Great
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE): Novak Djokovic Battles Past Norrie, Faces Kyrgios In The Final
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Brad Gilbert Makes A Bold prediction on Sinner, Backs Kyrgios To Trouble Nadal
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Rafael Nadal Doesn’t Care How Much Pain He’s In, He Gets The Job Done
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) The Wimbledon Clash Between Djokovic And Sinner Could Have Been Better
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