TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN – 29th of January 2015. A.Murray d. T.Berdych 6-7, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5. An interview with Tomas Berdych
Q. A really tight first set. What was the difference out there today?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, I mean, firstly, you know, I’m really not happy and not really in a, yeah, good mood. I’m very disappointed to lose this match. I mean, it was a big match. But anyway, I just need to come back stronger and get myself better for it, and that’s it. I mean, what was the difference? I had one bad set for the second set, and that’s it. I mean, I was just trying to get my chances, trying to fight for it, but as I said, it was not enough and I’m very disappointed with it.
Q. What do you think changed between the first set and second set for you?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, I mean, we going to be looking for just small details. It’s probably, you know, probably for you guys that you might do something about it. There is no any excuses. He’s been playing well through all the match, and that’s it. You know, I handled better the first set. He just took advantage of me not having a great second set, and that’s it.
Q. There seemed to be an extra needle or tension in the match. Did you feel that?
TOMAS BERDYCH: No. I mean, it was a big match generally. That’s how it is, I mean, when you’re playing Andy Murray for a semifinal of a slam. What else you need to get more attention? So I think it’s a big match anyway, and that’s what I felt on court.
Q. You exchanged words after the first set. Do you remember what happened there?
TOMAS BERDYCH: I really remember that, even though you can see that, that I just won a set. I say to myself, Well done, Tomas. That’s it. That’s what I said. I think I’m allowed to do that when I win a set. That was it.
Q. Were you surprised he was upset by that? Andy started complaining about that to the chair umpire.
TOMAS BERDYCH: No, I mean, I was not really looking at it at all. What, I have to be worried about every word that I’m going to say? I mean, I just pumped myself up for winning a first set and that’s it, then sit on the chair. I’m not really looking left or right what’s going on. I just keep focusing myself and that’s it. Maybe next time I should stay even more calm and that’s it. But, no, I mean, I was just doing my stuff and that’s it.
Q. Did you notice him change his tactics at all during the first set?
TOMAS BERDYCH: No, I think he keep the same tactics all the way. He was able to execute it quite well. I think it was a battle about the baseline today, and whoever holds that better, then make it for the win. So that’s what he did. As I said, I need to just come back and be stronger next time.
Q. Were you unhappy at his reaction after he broke back in the first set? You seemed to stare at him as you walked towards the chair during the changeover.
TOMAS BERDYCH: No. Again, I mean, where should I look? Really, guys, don’t try to make any big deal about it. That was a match as any other else, and that’s it. I lost my serve, which I’m not definitely happy about, but lives go on. Then I was able to win it in the tiebreak, and that’s it. There is no really big deal about anything what was happening today on the court. I mean, it was a great battle. It was a good match. Unfortunately with a bad end for me. That’s how it is. That’s the sport.
Q. What were you looking to do going into the match, and what do you feel you did well today and not as well?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, as I said, I had a plan which I want to keep. I mean, I was able to do that for the first set, and that’s it. I mean, it was mainly battle of really who’s going to hold the baseline better, who’s going to stay closer and dictate the time, and that’s it. So I was successful first set. I still need two more, which I didn’t made. So, you know, just really need to go back, get stronger and be ready for the next one to win.
Q. He didn’t sound very happy about everyone talking about the Dani connection before the match. Was that something that bothered you?
TOMAS BERDYCH: No. I probably didn’t get that many questions. As I said, you know, there is not any big deal about it. I mean, that’s how it is. I think all the things end up how it should be. If you start to work with someone new, I mean, probably there would be talks around it. But really it’s not important at all. I mean, it’s how it is now. I mean, that’s it.
Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?
Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?
In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.
In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.
Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.
“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.
These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.
In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.
“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.
Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.
This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.
Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career
Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.
Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.
Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.
Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.
“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.
Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.
“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.
David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati
David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.
Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.
The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.
Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open 2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.
Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.
“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”
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