May 31, 2009
We have the full transcript but no we have the actual video interview via iTunes. Check it out. Don’t worry Rafa, it just means you can now win the US Open! Who knows, maybe we will have two players in the same year that win the complete Grand Slam.
May 31, 2009
We wrap up all the ups, downs, stories and crepe eating that has been going on in the first week of the podcast. As always, you can listen to it via the player below or you can download it via iTunes. Remember to tune in next week after the finals for a full wrap up of Roland Garros and a preview of the upcoming grass court season.
May 31, 2009
It seems like Mark Philippoussis is in a lot of trouble these days. It seems the high life without a high ranking is not a good combinations. The Sunday Herald Sun repors that the 32 year old is in massive financial trouble and Philippoussis’ home where he and his mother live. What is the total of his debt? Try $1.3 million (not a typo). “Money came in left, right and centre; you just thought that’s how it was for everyone and that’s how it will always be,” he said. “I’ve just got to take it on the chin and deal with it. It’s the toughest time of my life right now, but it’s also the best time because I’ve woken up to so many things in my life. When I get back up from this I’ll appreciate so many things so much more. I’ve fallen down and I’ll get back up. This is how it is. It’s life.”
Many of you might remember that Mark was quite the party man back in the day and even had a Ferrari or two. The party lifestyle caught up to him and his career fell apart soon after. He even dated one of the most beautiful and not to mention super loaded women of all time Alexis Barbara. The Mark moved on to reality t.v. in the show “Age Of Love” where he met his dream girl Amanda Salinas ……. but, that didn’t last either. Poor Mark, we hope he can get his act together because he is a super nice guy.
May 31, 2009
R. SODERLING/R. Nadal
6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.
Q. It was a great four?year winning period. All things had to end, and it happened today, your series of wins. Did you expect such power tennis fromSoderling before the game? Were yousurprised during the match of the way he hit his ball consistently so hard,especially on the forehand, but also in general?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. No, no. He didn’t surprise me,because I know how he play, how dangerous he can be. Yesterday I didn’t play my best tennis. No, I didn’t attack in no one moment. I play very short, and I make him very easyto play at this level.
So when one player bad,must lose. That’s what happenedtoday. I have to accept with the samecalm when I win than when I lose. Afterfour years I lose here, and the season continue.
Q. Were you surprised that he was able to sustain the level of play that hedid throughout the match? Did you expecthim, at some stage, to perhaps have a little dip, which he never really did?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, you know, when, for ?? I playedvery short, you know. I play veryshort. I didn’t play great. I didn’t play with calm at no one time duringall the match.
That makes him easy toplay at this level during all the match, no? So was my fault, and more than ?? well, sure, he did well. He did very well, but I didn’t ?? yeah,I think I didn’t play my best tennis. And I didn’t play not my best tennis, no? I didn’t play my tennis, and for that reasonI lose. That’s it.
I congratulate him and keep working hard forthe next tournament.
Q. AndyMurray said to us earlier that the wind was a lot trickier. The wind was a lot more difficult thanperhaps it seemed. Is that the reasonperhaps that you were playing a little too short today in the conditions?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, no, no. The wind is there for both players, so no,no? I not going to put any excuse rightnow. I think I played short because Iplayed short. I didn’t have my day.
Q. Do you think you maybe played too many tournaments lately? How are you going to prepare for Wimbledon?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, when you lose, always everybody startsto analyze if I play too much. If I’mtired. The true, I won four years in arow playing the same. That’s the true. This year I play the same and I lost. What happen? I lost. That’s it.
That whathappened. I lost another opportunity towin a big tournament here. Always is abig loss for me. But in the end is onemore match, yeah.
Q. What about the preparation for Wimbledon? Are you going to play Queen’s?
RAFAEL NADAL: Right now, my preparation is for the swimmingpool of my house. (laughter.) Yeah, give me three more days to think aboutpreparation for Wimbledon.
Q. You looked tired. Do you feelexhausted? Do you feel tired physicallyand mentally?
RAFAEL NADAL: No.
Q. You look a bit tired.
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, I feel okay.
Q. You’re handling this with humor, but how much really did this hurt, yourfirst loss at Roland Garros, honestly?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, is not my best day today, no? I am not very happy. That’s true, no? You know, is tough always losing in a GrandSlam, especially in one Grand Slam where you have the better chance to win thanthe rest than the others.
But I did. I did very well on Wimbledon and in Australia,and semifinals last year in US Open. Ihave to be confident on myself to keepgoing, keep working.
If I lost today, it ?? well, the preparationmentally, I don’t know, it wasn’t perfect, no?
So I have to work harder to be readyfor the next big events.
Q. Youhad to know this day would come. Are yousurprised it came so quickly?
RAFAEL NADAL: What? (Through translation.)
I don’t know. If you think it’s soon after four years? (laughter.) Why do you think, no? A lot of playerswon four years here in a row? Is onlyanother one, no?
Q. Youwere so enormously strong last year in Paris. If you compare yourself, your level today andthe last years, are you mentally not that strong as in the last years, orphysically? What’s the difference?
RAFAEL NADAL: You know, guys, I lost. That’s what I can say. I lost. I didn’t play my best tennis today. I have to analyze why I lost today, but I think that the things are moresimple than if I am less strong than before, if I am less prepared mentallythan before.
I think today I didn’tplay my tennis, and I wasn’t ready to come back over a good player likeSoderling. We have to analyze that andbe ready for the next confrontations in big, important tournaments, no?
No, I think I was ready for everything. If I wasn’t ready here, I don’t know when Igonna be ready after winning a lot of tournaments and being my best at start ofthe season, no?
Q. Nowthat you’ve been knocked out, would you say Andy Murray or Roger Federer is thefavorite to win the title?
RAFAEL NADAL: We will see. I don’t know. Davydenko orVerdasco is there. Del Potro I think isthere. We will see. Federer is the favorite, in my opinion.
Q. What is it like playing against Soderling, and do you think he willreach top 10 in the future?
RAFAEL NADAL: How old are him?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, he can do it. Why not?
THE MODERATOR: Spanish questions, please.
Q. Asfrom the second set, some of us thought that you would be able to win thematch. What made you lose your calm?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I never was calm; that’s thetruth. Instead of losing my calm, thematch started off very badly for me. Imean, the second set, I should have won it 6?4. Then there was wind, and that wasn’t good.
Then not being calmenough to face the important points, so I had to fight. But sometimes it’s not enough fighting. You have to play a good level of tennis.
And sometimes people think I win because I’mphysically fit, but, no. When I win,it’s because I play well, and that wasn’t the case today. I must say that at key moments I couldn’ttake the opportunity because I was losing my calm, and I didn’t play well.
Q. Youalready answered this question in English, but can you do that in Spanish? Now that Djokovic is out and now that you’reout, who would be your favorite for the final?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, all those in quarterfinal have anopportunity, but Federer is my favorite.
Q. This defeat makes your victories even greater?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. No, defeats never make you grow, but you also realize how difficult whatI achieved up until today was, and this is something you need sometimes. You need a defeat to give value to yourvictories.
I’m 22. Well, 23 in a couple of days. But unfortunately, it’s the first time I’mnot going to celebrate my birthday in Roland Garros. I hope I’ll be able to celebrate more hereand be back next year and try and win.
Q. Two questions: Apparently younever felt comfortable during that match. How did you accept to walk in this room immediately after the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, you don’t think about this, youknow. I’m not saying this because ofyour question, but with ?? I’ve stopped playing in altitude two weeks ago,so this is what ?? I need to face the fact I didn’t play well thisweek. When I practiced this morning Ifelt good, no? I felt very good, but itwasn’t the case during the match.
Well, that’s the end ofthe road, and I have to accept it. Ihave to accept my defeat as I accepted my victories: with calm. So I have to stay calm and stay cool?headed to try and analyze what Idid wrong.
I need to learn, and you learn more when youlose than when you win. I need to workon those points on which I wasn’t good, and from there try and do better for mynext tournament.
So as I said, this is not a tragedy,losing here in Paris. It had to happen one day, and this is anexcellent season for me.
Of course it’s a bit sad, but I haveto overcome this as quickly as possible.
Q. Wasit the wonderful game level of Soderling on this surface, or because you wereon a bad day or any other phenomenon, like you played in Barcelonathen in Madrid? Maybe you played too many tournaments.
RAFAEL NADAL: Stop it. Stop it. Had I played my bestlevel against Soderling, maybe the results would have been different. But he played a very good level of tennis andI didn’t play well, so the results are what they are.
I didn’t play at mybest level. I have days like this, andthis was one of those days. I hadsomeone playing very well in front of me.
I’m not going to modify the way I prepare,because I’ve always prepared in the same way for the last four years. So that wouldn’t make sense.
Q. 6?0,6?1 when you played Soderling in Rome. That was the last result. So is it because he was very aggressivetoday? Was it having an influence?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, not at all.
Q. Were you surprised by the level of his game?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, not at all. I’ve seen him playing quite a few times, andthat was not a surprise. It was my gamelevel that was a surprise to me today.
Q. A minute ago you were saying that, well, this day had to happen oneday. So were you prepared, or are yousurprised by this defeat?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, all of us athletes, we know that whenwe walk on the court we can either win or lose. I know it for a fact anything can happen, and I have to accept them bothin the same way.
You cannot collapseeither because you’ve won a match or because you’ve lost it. This is sport, and you can have victories ordefeats. No one remembers defeats on thelong run. People remember victories.
So I have to move forward. Well, I have little time left to prepare for Wimbledon, but I have to move forward and try and preparethe best I can.
Q. Whenthe crowd on the central court was supporting you in such a wonderful way, whatdid you feel?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I didn’t feel anything, because I’mused to hearing the names of players being shouted, whether the crowd supportsme or supports my opponent.
But it’s a shame. I mean, this tournament is so important, sucha beautiful tournament for me. Well,that’s the way it is. Maybe at one stagethey supported Soderling more than me, and that was a bit sad.
But I wish when I’m back they can support mea bit more in key moments.
Q. Isthis the worst defeat in your career?
RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, please. I never lost a final. I neverlost here so far. It’s my first ??it’s the first match I lose. It’s theround of 16. So once again, peopleremember about victories and not defeats. So it’s not the worst in my career. Not even close to that.
Q. You said that now that you’re out, your favorite player is Federer. Now, tell us, who would you like to seewinning the tournament, if you could pick one?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, no. Always one of my compatriots, a Spanish guy.
Q. If there were no one from Spain, would you like Federer towin?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, that would be great. He’s tried to win it for many years, and hewas very unfortunate losing three finals and one semifinal. If one guy deserves it, that’s him.
Q. Rafa, could you please describe the moment when you met at the changingroom and what you said?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, what we say in the locker room staysthere, and we said nothing. I mean, youwalk in there, you sit on your bench, and you’ve lost and that’s it.
May 31, 2009
R. SODERLING/R. Nadal
6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.
Q. When did you really feel that you could win this match? Already in the first set or in thethird? And also, Nadal just said herethat he made it easier for you. Do youthink you agree or think it’s the opposite, you maybe make things difficult forhim?
ROBIN SODERLING: I don’t know. You know, I try to keep telling myself before the match that, you know,I have to believe. Of course, I toldeverybody this is the biggest challenge you can have, I think, playing Nadal,the best clay?court player of all times on clay, best?of?five sets in RolandGarros.
But still, you know, Ihave to believe that I have a chance, otherwise there’s no meaning going on thecourt. I could just go homeinstead. I tried to keep telling myselfthat, you know, at least I have a small chance.
I can’t really ?? I mean, I played agreat match. I played a greatmatch. I think I played very good nowfor two weeks in a row, four good matches here. If he thinks he played bad, I mean, that’s his choice. I would never say something like that, but…
Q. Itlooked as if you were sent by a special mission from Sweden by Borg to protect hisrecord. You could clarify us on thatmaybe?
ROBIN SODERLING: I’m expecting at least an SMS from him.
Q. And the second thing is how did you manage to keep up this calmness andthis power tennis at the same level throughout the same match? Do you think that like when Djokovic lost toKohlschreiber, did it give you any hopes that anything is possible, that therecan be a new world order in the top…
ROBIN SODERLING: No, not really. But, you know, during the whole match, I kepttelling myself, this is just another match. I mean, I played many, many matches on the ATP tour. I’m getting old.
I’ve been around for awhile, and I kept telling myself, This is just another match. I don’t care if it’s the fourth round inFrench against Nadal. This is just likeany match. That helped me. That helped me.
Q. We saw you in the game. We sawyou walking off the court. What have youdone since? I mean, you were at the TV,I saw that. Did you do some celebratingin the locker room, or what have you done?
ROBIN SODERLING: Yeah, I had to take a few minutes just formyself, you know, to think about the match. I haven’t even put my cellphone on yet. You know, at the same time, I’m very, very happy.
This is maybe ??it is my ?? the biggest moment of my career so far. You know, I also want to try to concentrateon the next matches. There’s one morematch to go against a great player, so I don’t want to feel too happy.
Q. You had a wrist injury a few years ago, which is one of the hardestinjuries to come back from. MatsWilander said that he thought in the end it actually made you a betterplayer. Can you talk about whether youwere ever concerned you could play on the elite level again, and do you agreewith Mats?
ROBIN SODERLING: Yes, you know, I was a little bit luckybecause it was my left wrist, so I could ?? I was off the tour for maybefive or six months, but I practiced a lot tennis. You know, I practiced my slice and my forehand. I couldn’t do anything except for my two?handedbackhand.
It would have beenworse for my right wrist. I used timevery well. Instead of just waiting forthe wrist to heal, I did everything I could. I was working out three, four hours in the gym every day. I played a lot of tennis, so, yeah, maybe.
Yeah, maybe it helped me. Maybe.
Q. Youhad a fairly aggressive match against him at Wimbledona couple years ago, as I remember. Doyou think it helped you, the fact that maybe you’re not sort of the bestfriends with him and that you played such an aggressive match today?
ROBIN SODERLING: I mean, I’ve been answering these questionsnow for two years. I mean, I’m feelingpretty tired of this. We had a good matchin Wimbledon. Of course, a tough match, which I lost.
But, you know, I beensaying this a lot of times on the tour: He’s just another player on the tour. Again, he’s the best clay?court player of all times, but he’s just likesomeone else to me.
Q. One month ago you lost against Nadal 6?1, 6?0. Today you win. How can you explain it? Is it the game of your life today?
ROBIN SODERLING: No, no, I think I played actually ?? Iplayed well today, but I think I played some even better matches in my career.
Yeah, I lost 1 and0. I don’t think I never lost that bigin my career before. You know, I had alot of chances in the first set. I hadso many break points, so it didn’t feel really fair, the score.
In the second, you know, I kind of played acouple of sloppy games. But it was amuch closer match than the score.
Q. Tennis?wise,coming back into that match, what was the key? What was the hardest for you maybe from the tactic you had to do then onthe court?
ROBIN SODERLING: Well, you know, I try to ?? I tried tobe the one that was, you know ?? I didn’t want him to make me run. I tried to be the one that make him run. I worked good with my forehand, and mybackhand worked well, as well. I workedmy backhand flat and tried to go around and hit my forehand.
I think I playedexactly the way I wanted to play before the match. I served well, extremely well, and thatreally, really helped me today.
Q. Has there been any reaction from the other players around so far? Do they look at you in a different way now?
ROBIN SODERLING: I don’t know. The locker room was pretty empty. There’s not that many matches on right now. I’m not sure. We’ll see tomorrow.
Q. Say 20, 25 years from now when your kids come up and say, Hey, it’s the25th anniversary of that great win, what do you think the one or two words thatwill come to mind on this great victory will be?
ROBIN SODERLING: Actually, I’m not sure yet. But this is for sure the biggest moment sofar of my career.
I couldn’t even dreamof this before the match, so I will remember this match for the rest of mylife, I think.
Q. Are you in a little bit of shock right now?
ROBIN SODERLING: No, I’m not really shocked, but, you know, itwill probably take a while before I can really think about it in a good way, ina right way, you know.
It feels verydifferent, though.
Q. Go through your thought process when he won the tiebreak, then you gotdown a break early in the fourth set. Imean, kept expecting him to seize control of the match, and you never let ithappen. Secondly, can you talk a littlebit about Magnus Norman and when you started working with him and what he’sbrought to your game?
ROBIN SODERLING: He definitely helped me a lot. You know, he’s been a great player. What I like is that I can really askhim ?? when I feel something, I always like to ask him, Did you feel thesame when you were playing? How did youfeel?
I think that is reallyhelping me a lot.
Q. And the first part?
ROBIN SODERLING: Again?
Q. Just with Nadal. I mean when hewon the tiebreak and you got down a break in the fourth and we kept expectinghim to take control of the match and you never let it happen, what was goingthrough your mind?
ROBIN SODERLING: I tried to think, don’t think, because, youknow, I just tried to play the next point after next point. You know, I won the first set, and I felt ifI can win one set, why not the second one and then the third one?
I’ll just keep ??I kept, you know, playing point for point.
Q. As you have said, you have to think now about the next match. All the players say next match. But is there something in your mind that,well, perhaps I can reach the final? Wenever know?
ROBIN SODERLING: No, no. I don’t like to think like that. I just won a great match today, and it will be at least as tough. My next match will be at least as tough astoday. I have to play my best tennisagain to have a chance.
Q. You won against Nadal, so now you have to win the tournament.
ROBIN SODERLING: No. Iwouldn’t say that. As I said, everybodyin the courts, everybody in the tournament are great players. I mean, I think I can beat anyone. But I think, you know, in a bad day I canlose to a lot of players, as well. They’re all good, so I have to play well.
Q. Have you already talked to Bjørn Borg, or do you plan to talk to himjust to say, Well, I keep your record?
ROBIN SODERLING: Well, as I’m saying, I’m expecting anSMS. I’m not going to call him. Hopefully he will call me. That would be great.
Q. What was your match plan going into the match? What did you have to do to try to beat himtoday, the strategy?
ROBIN SODERLING: My strategy was to play aggressive. You can’t really try to beat him in runninghim down, because, you know, for sure I had to take some chances. I think I did, and, you know, I playedextremely well on the important points.
I returned well, and Ididn’t miss a lot. I tried to work mygame with my forehand, make him move, and, again, you know, it was ?? Ithink I played exactly the way I wanted to play for the match.
May 31, 2009
A. MURRAY/M. Cilic
7-5, 7-6, 6-1
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. What are your thoughts after that match?
ANDY MURRAY: I thought it was good. Played well. Played maybe two bad service games, but you’re always going to have acouple of moments like that in five?set matches.
I came through all thetough situations well. I played a solidtiebreak, and, you know, I was obviously very happy to win in straight sets,because he’s been playing very well.
Q. What did you feel was the key, especially at the end of that second set?
ANDY MURRAY: Oh, I kept a good length, you know. It was windy on the court. Watched a little bit of Nadal/Soderling. It’s tough to keep the ball deep, and I wasable to do that in the tiebreak. And hemade some mistakes, which, you know, happens sometimes.
You know, for him, thatset was more important than for me. Youknow, if he went down two sets it’s goingto be tough for him to come back. He maybe overpressed a little bit. But I kepta good length and served well.
Q. How do you feel about your game on clay, in general? Do you think that’s the best you’ve everplayed on clay?
ANDY MURRAY: I’m playing well, yeah. I mean, you don’t get to the quarters of theFrench not playing good clay court tennis. You know, this clay court season has been good. I made semis in Monte?Carlo and the quartersin Madrid,and now the quarters here at least.
So, you know, it’s beenmuch better than in previous years. Itry and keep improving.
Q. With Novak out and Rafa struggling and Roger dropping the odd set, doyou think this tournament is a bit more open than perhaps people thoughtoriginally?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, I mean, Novak is the only one that’slost. I think, you know, he obviouslydidn’t play the best yesterday, and that’s what happens in Slams.
Each time Fed’s beenstruggling a little bit, he’s come back well. Rafa, I’d be surprised if he didn’t come back and win that match.
You know, so, I don’t think it isnecessarily makes it more open. Youstill have the top two players in the world, or three, still in. You know, guys like Verdasco, Davydenko, arestill all tough players that are in the tournament.
Q. Whatdo you think about the antidrug system control? Rafa had the criticism about that. What do you think about? Youlike? Dislike? Disagree, too?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, I said at the time that, you know, Inever think about, you know, the drug testing every day. Not once since I’ve been here have I thoughtabout being drug tested, you know, in the morning before matches or, you know,where I need to be for an hour.
It’s just not somethingthat you ever think about. I guess moreso if you feel like you’re hiding something, then maybe every morning you wakeup hoping no one comes.
I guess it’s something we’ve got to dealwith, but I don’t think that it’s necessary with so many tournaments in theyear we play. You know, I’d rather gettested at every single tournament in the year and then, you know, three or fourtimes during the off?season. I mean,rather than have to make sure you’re in a certain place for one hour a day.
Because it’s very easy to notremember it. I don’t see why we shouldhave to think about that when we have, you know, rest weeks. I think, you know, we should be able to havea little bit more of a normal life, I guess.
Q. Whatdo you think about Fernando González, your next round?
ANDY MURRAY: Very tough. He’s won all of his matches very easy so far. He made semis in Rome. He’s got a huge forehand. Youknow, serves well. He loves playing onclay. He’s going to be a very difficultmatch. I have to play well.
Q. You’ve practiced against him a couple of times I think this week. Have you learned anything from that?
ANDY MURRAY: No, I mean, I’ve watched him play a lot, andI think in practice you don’t necessarily play against ?? it’s not thesame as playing against him in matches.
You know, he’s veryunpredictable, which makes it tough to play against him. I have to play a very consistent match andkeep the ball deep. You don’t want toleave the ball in the middle of the court against him.
Q. Is there a sense of pride about being the third British man to get tothe quarterfinals here? Does that have aspecial meaning for you?
ANDY MURRAY: Every time you sort of do something likethat, yeah, it’s nice. You know, Timobviously made the semis here, so it would be nice to try and match that.
But, you know, more Iguess for myself I always felt I couldplay well on clay. But, you know, I justneeded a bit of time to find my game on that.
Obviously the results have got betterbecause I’ve played more matches on it. You know, that’s nice, but I’ll try and go further.
May 31, 2009
F. GONZÁLEZ/V. Hanescu
6-2, 6-4, 6-2
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.
Q. Once again, you played very good tennis. Would you say you’re playing your best tennis ever right now in Paris?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Well, I think at the average I am. I may have more peaks sometimes playingmaybe huge match, and then play not really well at the next one.
I think this year I’vebeen playing in a really good level. So,I mean, I think I play good every match, almost every match. I’m enjoying every time I go on to the courtand every time I go into practice. Ithink that’s really important for me.
Q. Have you done something special preparing Roland Garros this year?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Not really. I play only two tournaments. Ihave an injury, went back home, get here not that early as I used to do it forthe Slams. Now I’ve been playing for toomany years, and I just need to adapt to the conditions where I’m going to play.
I got here on Wednesdayto play on Monday, and I have to adapt to the jet lag and everything.
Now I’m practicing less tennis, but, I mean,with more intensity. That’s reallyimportant.
Q. Couldyou tell us something about your injury, the circumstances? It was curious.
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: It was curious. Let’s call it curious. (laughter.)
I was signing autographafter one of the matches in Rome. They called me from the other side of thecourt, and I went like running after the match and twist my ankle.
I went back to the locker room because itwas really painful. That’s how ithappened.
Q. You’vehad four straight?set victories, playing very well. Is there a particular part of your game thatyou’re most pleased with so far, the one you’ve been playing here?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: I mean, I tried to win every point. That’s first point on everything.
And then I’m trying to,you know, not be risky if I don’t need it. Maybe I got a break, and then I can start to hit my huge shots. But now I try to play a little bitconservative sometimes.
When I have to use my shot, I use it,because I know I’m going to win the match with my forehand and my serve. I have to use it, anyway.
Q. Thatmore conservative approach…
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: If you can call it conservative.
Q. More patient, maybe?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, more patience and ?? I know I’mgetting old. I’m enjoying more if I run,you know. Normally few years ago Ididn’t like to run too much, and now I’m enjoying that part.
Q. Is any of that from your new coach?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: On tennis? Of course. Absolutely. He help me a lot. He knows me long time ago. We been practicing together. He was one of my best friends on the tour andin tennis.
But the way now that Ilike to run I think is by myself. I havea treadmill at home, and if I have nothing to do I just run a little bit.
But it’s really important, I mean, becausehe knows me a lot. Some days I practicehalf an hour, and the next day I practice two. Depends how the way ?? I have to find the way to enjoy my job.
But I never feel that it’s a job,because for me always tennis is a game.
Q. Ithink your nickname is Mano de Piedra. Can you explain to us where that comes from?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: I have many. I like more when they call me Fenya.
Q. Which means?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Fenya is like Fernando in Chile. It’s more close to the people. Mano de Piedra was a boxer from Panama.
When he hits with theright, it was a knockout, normally.
For me, maybe can be a knockout for thecrowd, because sometimes they both go far away.
Q. You’vereached already twice the quarterfinals at the French Open.
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Three, three times.
Q. Three times already at the French Open? What does that mean to be in the semifinals for the first time?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Means a lot, because I’m only one matchaway. It’s going to be tough forsure. But I’m really excited. I’ve been in the quarterfinals already a fewtimes. I’m looking forward, because Ihaven’t played too many hours and I played a good tennis.
I enjoy the way I’mplaying and really realize how to play in a big stadium. So hopefully I can win the next match.
Q. Was it from a very young age that you would hit such a big forehand, orwhen did you…
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Normally, always. Always I like to play that way. When I turned pro, I saw that I didn’t hitthe ball hard enough, so I try to hit it harder and harder.
And after a couple ofyears, I realize that I was one of the bigger hitters on the tour. So that’s why I hit the ball really hard.
THE MODERATOR: Spanish questions.
Q. You were solid on the court, and your backhand was good. You won many points. You were aggressive with your backhand. Now, of course your forehand isexcellent. Your serve is very solid. In general, you played well. Today we thought that you would use all theseshots. Did you expect more resistance?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Well, you know, it was a great match. I didn’t serve as well as the day before,unfortunately. I was losing some type ofpace. Apart from that, yes, all theother shots were really good shots for me.
When I’m on the courts,you see, I’m ready for all sorts of things. Of course, you want to win each point. But when I was there on the court, I felt I had the upper hand. I would control everything.
I was up 4?0, and I saw I was about to winthe first set. Then I saw the matchwould continue a little, and I had to find another break.
Q. Itseemed in the past you didn’t feel that good, but today was better.
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Yes, I could do what I wanted with myforehand and backhand. I have theimpression that perhaps you didn’t get my point. I was very happy in the past 20 or 30matches. My tennis style is good.
Sometimes in the past Ihad peaks and troughs and peaks and troughs; whereas now I’m more regular and Ipractice a lot.
Q. What about your feelings today? Do you feel the same, or do you think you have to change something?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: No, these are different feelings this year,because you see, this year I have not played long matches. Last year these were five?set matches duringthe third round and it was very tiring.
But I always thinkabout the future, what’s going to happen next. What’s important is for me to feel that I’m fit, in great shape for thenext match.
Q. How can we compare your shape today with what you felt in 2007physically, and what about your tactics and technical shots?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Well, you see, the peak I reached was in Melbourne in 2007, andthat’s when really I felt I was floating. My level was extremely high, but I felt too good almost; whereas today Idon’t feel that good, even though my tennis is at a very high level.
So I’m quite ready tofinish the end of the year and the season of my career.
Q. Do you think that here during the French Open you can play a really nicetournament? Djokovic is out and you canprogress?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Well, you see, I want to progress. That’s true. But what really counts is perhaps not the past. The past is over. I want to focus more on the presenttime. I shouldn’t think too much aboutthe longer run.
All matches aredifficult, you see. And when you startthinking too much, that’s when it becomes tougher and tougher.
Q. (Off microphone.)
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Well, youknow, I always dream to do more. I haveobjectives in my mind. That’s true. I have dreams. I have objectives.
Q. Who would you like to play against? Is it Murray or Cilic?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Well, these two are really good players. They’ve played well already. I can tell you they’re going up. They’re climbing the mountain. As I say, we’ll see.
Well, this week I wasalways the favorite.
Q. Which one would you prefer?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Well, I’ve not played against Murray for a whilenow. As far as Cilic is concerned ??well, anyway, I don’t like choosing.
Q. What do you feel as you’re going to reach the semifinals? Do you feel fit? You’ve said you’ve already played against Murray.
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Well, you know, I didn’t play for long hours,so it all depends on the opponent, if he’s played long matches or not.
With Murray, it’s going to be really tough. You know, he’s doing well, and hereeverybody’s going to try and win all matches. I think Murrayis No. 3, and he deserves it, I can tell you, so it’s going to be a difficultmatch.
Q. What do you think about the antidoping rule? Rafa criticized the system. And even his coach and his uncle, they askedthe players to think about boycotting the Olympic Games, not to turn up duringthe Olympic Games.
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Well, it’s always difficult to changerules. You know, we keep on travelingall the time, so it’s very difficult to tell people where you’re going to beand when, where you’re going to be in the upcoming four months. Nobody really knows.
It’s maybe the case forus, the players, we keep on traveling. We have antidoping checks. Wehave nothing to fear. In other sports,maybe they have to be stricter. But asfar as tennis is concerned, you know, we’re all very clean as far as dope isconcerned, so we have nothing to fear.
You know, if you have to tell people whereyou are at every single minute, to me, that’s not something verypractical. I know for the other playersit’s not going to be easy, either.
Q. Hanescusaid he thought you were really in good shape. Before that, you would make more unforced errors; whereas today you’remore self?assured. You trust yourself.
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: More self?confidence? Yes, I have gained trust. That’s true.
I’m more conservativeand more prudent. I try to enjoy therallies when I run on the court. In thepast I didn’t really enjoy this, and now I enjoy it very much when I can runmore.
Physically I feel really fit. He’s a good player, Hanescu. I played against him a long time ago. Nothing to do with the tennis he played today.
Q. Mentally,would you think about reaching the finals?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Well, I’ve always dreamt about this. But reaching the finals, you know, is a longtime down the line. I’ll try and takeeach match as it comes. These are toughmatches. It’s always difficult toanticipate too much.
Q. What about your serves today? Ihave the impression it was really okay for you. You felt good when you were hitting the ball. Is it because you’re faster now? You have good footwork? Hanescu was fast on the court. Was that difficult for you?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Well, I’ve played many matches here in RolandGarros. The conditions sometimes weretough today, but I felt good. I was atease.
He really hits thelines, and these are flat shots that he plays. When the ball bounces a lot, he was not really at ease. That gave me more confidence.
Q. What about your coach, Martin Rodriguez? What about the assets he gave you?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Well, I feel calmer, more serene. I free up my game, if you will. I have a better backhand, and I enjoy the wayI played better than before. So I’veworked on all these aspects, and I’ve changed a number of things as far as mybackhand is concerned.
That’s when I realizedthat I’ve improved considerably. Thiscoach has been really excellent to me.
Q. Well, your coach said that the first thing is to dream about the semis,and then the draw was good for you, mainly for the third and fourth round. Would you share the same views with yourcoach? That is, the draw was good foryou. It was favorable. Is it something you decided to make the mostof?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Well, I always feel fit, you see. I’m always ready for the next match. And this thing about the draw, good draw,poor draw, well, you see, sometimes it’s the other way around.
I had to play againstHanescu. Sometimes I played againstother players, as well, whom I defeated, as well. So, now, okay, I’m going to reachquarterfinals, and I think I can win the next match.
May 30, 2009
May 30, 2009
|Court Philippe Chatrier
|Court Suzanne Lenglen
May 30, 2009
Rafa has been writing daily blogs from Roland Garros this week for the Times Online and now he has gone one step further by answering fan questions.
Questions from The Times
Were you surprised at how comfortably you beat Lleyton Hewitt today?
RN: I think I played a very solid match and played very comfortable. I am really finding my best tennis.
Do you feel you are beginning to get back to your best after today’s win?
RN: I have been practicing really well since I got here but when it got to the matches I have been not that consistent playing well. I think today, specially in the third set, I really found my best tennis back. I hope it stays and continues.
Robin Soderling, the No 23 seed, is next up, what do you know about him?
RN: He is a dangerous player and in Rome we played a very good match,. The result was not as easy as it looks.
Who of your rivals has impressed you most this week so far?
RN: I think that it is too early to pay attention to this. The tournament is long and there are still days to go that could change many things.
Questions from the fans
What was your most disappointing moment on the tennis court? Javidan Karkaria
RN: When you lose something that you feel you could have won.
Since you are on the road all the time, how many suitcases of clothes do you have to lug around? Amy, Houston, Texas
RN: I travel with a lot of stuff to be honest with you. Sometimes too much and I have to pay many times overweight… It is not only clothes but also other things such as computer, DVDs, play station, etc.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to youngsters who want to take up tennis as a professional? Shani, Cheshire
RN: To have fun, and to have fun. This is the most important thing. Then to practice hard and believe on what they are doing.
You like playing tennis on clay, but do you also like making things with clay (i.e., pottery?). Have you ever used a potter’s wheel? Paul, London
RN: No, not really. Never tried.
Is there any difference in the way you approach a five-set match from the way you approach a three-set match? Do you eat differently, or pace yourself differently? Patricia, New York
RN: Absolutely. There is a big difference since both physically and mentally the match is very different.
What is your favourite sandwich filling? Julie Westbrook-Finch
RN: Tuna, but I am not a big sandwich eater.
You looked pretty shocked when a cat ran across the court in Doha this year. Do you have any pets? Judith Bell
RN: No, I don’t.
Have you ever been on a scary airplane ride? Amanda, United States
RN: Yeah, sure , sometimes. Lot of bounces but I have been told that there is no real danger on that. It is very safe to travel by plane.