January 31, 2011
In this week’s Podcast, Nima and Parsa review the winners of the men’s and women’s fields at the Australian Open. Was Rafael Nadal’s early exit all that surprising? Will champion Novak Djokovic win anymore slams in 2011? Should Kim Clijsters retire after next year’s Olympic games, considering the current form that she’s in?
Nima and Parsa combat these questions and many more on this week’s show.
As always, you can alternatively listen to the #1 tennis PodCast via iTunes and never miss another episode. It is very easy and completely free.
January 31, 2011
SA Tennis Open—Johannesburg, South Africa
R de Voest d S Gavani 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(6)
S Greul d. T Alves 6-2, 7-5
S Devvarman vs [Q] R Klaasen
PBZ Zagreb Indoors— Zagreb, Croatia
 F Mayer d F Skugor 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(6)
I Dodig d  M Granollers 6-3, 6-2
 M Berrer d N Mektic 7-5, 6-1
L Lacko d M Ilhan 4-6, 6-4, 7-5
Movistar Open—Santiago, Chile
 T Bellucci d F Volandri 6-2 6-2
 J Chela vs [Q] J Aguilar
P Capdeville vs  P Starace
 T Robredo vs F Gil
I Andreev d E Schwank 6-3, 7-6(4)
P Luczak vs P Andujar
A Ramos-Vinolas d L Mayer 6-4, 6-4
R Ramirez Hidalgo vs R Mello
January 31, 2011
Retiring from the sport in 2003, Ivanisevic will team-up with top seed and defending champ Marin Cilic in the doubles draw.
Suffering from a leg injury, Ivanisevic had this to say prior to the start of the 250 point event.
“There is still no improvement and my leg still hurts, but it does not matter. It will be either better by Tuesday or my leg will fall off, but I will be on court”, said Ivanisevic.
Quotes courtesy of ATP World Tour.
January 31, 2011
Another Grand Slam final and another straight sets defeat for Andy Murray. The fifth seed let down his country, himself and yours truly with a listless and fairly unexciting display. But hats off to Novak Djokovic, the Serb claiming his second Australian Open crown with some clever offense and breathtaking defensive play.
Day 14 Recap
Going into the men’s final, opinions were divided as to who was the favourite. Murray had beaten Djokovic in the last 3 meetings between the pair, all of them in straight sets on hard courts. But in the semi-finals Djokovic had dazzled the tennis world against Federer, whereas Murray was forced to soldier his way past a Spanish warrior in David Ferrer. In most markets the bookies had Djokovic as a slight favourite, but most punters were expecting a long and brutal encounter.
Early on, it seemed like the match would deliver the absorbing battle that tournament officials and tennis fans had requested. Murray was down a break point in a long second game, but rose to the occasion to level at 1-1, and games went with serve until the tenth game of the set. Serving down 4-5, there was no chance of Murray confusing the score as he had done during his semi-final. The pressure was on, and the Scot knew it. At 15-30, a thrilling 38 point rally saw the players traverse all sections of the court. But it was Djokovic who came out on top, and the Serb only need one of the break points to claim a first set of critical importance.
As the third seed acknowledged following the match, winning the first set allowed him to open his shoulders a little more. Safe in the knowledge that he had one set in the bag, Djokovic continued to be the aggressor in the match and controlled the tempo of the points. Murray seemed rattled and had trouble remaining focused. First it was the tension of his racquets that was causing him grief, then it was his entourage who he felt were over the top in their support of him, then Murray was distracted by the sounds of birds flying overhead. As the Scot imploded, Djokovic was a picture of controlled aggression, keeping his emotions together as he raced out to a 5-0 lead in the second set.
A break to Murray allowed him to get back to 5-2 in the second set, but just as he started to take the initiative in the rallies, Djokovic hit back, showing that the Serb’s defensive abilities now equal those of the previously peerless Nadal. Murray broke in the opening game of the third set, but immediately lost his own serve. A blistering backhand pass down the line gave Djokovic a 3-1 lead in the third set, and from there it was a formality, the Serb closing out the match, 6-4 6-2 6-3.
For Djokovic, it was a richly deserved victory. The third seed lost just one set for the entire tournament, and his back-to-back straight sets victories over Federer and Murray demonstrate that it may well be a case of the Big 3, rather than the Big 2, from now on. Nadal’s injury in the quarter-finals ended his chances at the Rafa Slam, but I suggest the Spaniard would have struggled to beat Djokovic even if the top seed had made it through to the final and had been at full health.
Having proved himself more than a one-Slam wonder, and having delivered a Davis Cup to Serbia under immense pressure, the goals for Djokovic now are the world number one ranking and greater consistency on his less-preferred surfaces of clay and grass. Nadal will take some catching for the top spot, but Djokovic has the ability to challenge him. Performing well at Roland Garros and the All England Club will be critical for Djokovic in his pursuit of the world number one position, and the Serb will be aiming in each case to make his maiden appearance in the final.
For Murray, it was another subdued and underwhelming performance in a Grand Slam final. Win or lose, Murray needs to adopt a fiercer on-court attitude during such finals and make his opponent earn every point against him. Too many times against Djokovic Murray threw points away with unforced errors or low-percentage play. Perhaps a sports psychologist would assist Murray in staying in the moment in the big finals, in focusing on each point as it is played. For it seems as though Murray’s mind, so often one of his biggest assets on court, becomes scattered during big finals as various thoughts and feelings thrash about the place.
Still, the Scot can take solace in the fact that he played a magnificent tournament up until the final, destroying Garcia-Lopez and Melzer and showing true grit against the indefatigable Ferrer. He can also take comfort from the deeds of Andre Agassi, who overcame the loss of his first 3 Grand Slam finals to become a legend of the sport and an 8-time Grand Slam champion. Murray also handled this year’s presentation ceremony for the Australian Open final far better than last year’s corresponding event, where he was reduced to a sobbing mess.
So it’s congratulations to Serbia’s finest, Novak Djokovic, and commiserations to that great hope, Andy Murray. Djokovic looks set to challenge for domination of the sport, but Murray has the talent to be right up there as well. Let’s hope for his sake that Murray doesn’t spend the next few months moping about this loss – his results after the loss to Federer in last year’s Australian Open final were poor, and by his own admission it took him until Wimbledon to really get over that loss.
That’s it for this year’s Australian Open. I hope you have enjoyed the coverage from Melbourne Park. I’ll be back later in the year to cover all the action from Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows.
January 30, 2011
Highlights of the 2011 Australian Open final between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray can be found below.
January 30, 2011
What will we remember the most about this year’s Australian Open? Will it be Kim Clijsters breaking down into tears after capturing her first slam outside of New York? Will Rafael Nadal’s deservedly tired loss to David Ferrer take top honors, or, will Roger Federer’s tame baseline approach against Novak Djokovic resonate in our afterthoughts?
We certainly won’t forget Li Na’s post-match on-court interviews, and there’s no way to brush aside the way Djokovic threw his focus into every shot he hit over seven convincing victories.
Even though the first slam of the year was won by two familiar faces, there remained quite a few new players and results that will last us until next year’s fortnight.
With that in mind, let’s take a look back at the men’s and women’s draws and everything that fell in between the mayhem in Melbourne.
While defending champ Federer was ousted by a bullying Djokovic, Nadal’s less than enthusiastic approach to his fourth-straight slam can’t be overlooked. While the Spaniard was in top form to close out 2010, there was no question that the warning signs were loud and clear that his fourth-straight major would be difficult to achieve. Picking up a virus to start the season, Nadal’s usual commentary towards the drawn-out calender was once again echoing, and for one reason or another he appeared more negative than usual. The 24-year-old continues to be one of the most entertaining and athletic players of all-time, but I believe that he will have to adjust his scheduling moving forward in order to prevent physical injury and mental burnout.
Nadal’s game is based on full-out, 100 percent aggression, and if he’s just a little off, he’s not nearly as effective. For the betterment of the sport, and the longevity of Nadal’s career, I sure hope he cuts down on his clay-court warm-ups and post US Open events.
Moving onto a brighter memory in Melbourne, how about the efficient play of champ Djokovic? Surprising everyone (including myself), Djokvoic lost only set en-route to his second title Down Under, while becoming the most impressive player in the latter stages of the event. Hugging the baseline and playing with what seemed like an endless amount of energy, Djokovic’s back-together-serve and early-struck-backhand were spot on against the likes of Federer, Tomas Berdych and Andy Murray.
It would have been one thing if Djokovic huffed and puffed to the winners circle, but in truth, he appeared ready to play three extra rounds if required. Although the year still has many peaks and valleys to endure, Djokovic’s victory in Oz solidified his status as a continued threat to win any event he enters.
The same can not be said for Murray. While reaching his third slam final was no shabby feat, the quick-foot Scot was once again placed in the position of dealing with a hard-hitting opponent in a big-time match. Resorting to a less-than-aggressive mindset, Murray was blitzed in the finals by Djokovic; winning a mere nine games in total.
Murray’s inability to blow through the court with a killer forehand will continue to hurt his chances at the slams, and while he remains one of the fittest players on the circuit, Sunday’s result in Australia confirmed that defense alone will not lead to slam success. Murray has vowed to work on his game, but I’m not sure at this point what exactly can be done about his forehand and court positioning.
Ending off our men’s recap, let’s look towards a powerful trio of newcomers that had breakthrough runs at the event.
Canadian Milos Raonic recorded three impressive wins before losing in the fourth-round to Ferrer, and while the youngster is beginning his trek to the top, he’s already grabbed the attention of the world’s best players. Cracking the top 100 with his finish in Oz, look for the thunderstick serve of the Canuck to take him into the top 50 by year’s end.
Alexandr Dolgopolov was another player that turned a few head by defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Robin Soderling in back-to-back rounds. Playing an unconventional brand of tennis, Dolgopolov used a plethora of nasty slice backhand and buggy whip forehands to reach the quarterfinals. I believe that Dolgopolov can become a top flight player by the end of the year, but he’ll need to sharpen his shot-selection and improve his fitness to challenge for grand slams.
Coming in as the youngest player in the draw at 18, Bernard Tomic made sure that his name would be one to remember after leading top seed Nadal 4-0 in the second set of their third-round match. Even though Tomic was clipped by Nadal in straight sets, the budding Aussie proved that his court IQ and versatile backhand could trouble the sport’s best player.
Aussie Kim can finally wear her name proud after locking down a title that she should have won many years ago. Not losing a set until the final round of the tournament, Clijsters continued to showcase her round-house baseline arsenal to the demise of her opponent’s. Playing with the ease and efficiency that only Serena Williams has displayed in recent years, Clijsters will undoubtedly enjoy her so-called last season prior to calling it quits.
While top seed Caroline Wozniacki and No. 2 seed Vera Zvonareva remained in the hunt for their first major title, it was Clijsters’ potent first-strike offense that reigned supreme.
One has to feel for the continued woes of Wozniacki, but similarly to Murray’s struggles on the men’s side, a major event will seldom be won without an array of knockout blows.
Wozniacki’s forehand is a work in progress, but I’m not sure the stroke can be fixed without taking some extended time off tour. After all, it does take at least two months to override the muscle memory of a swing or stroke.
Zvonareva did herself proud by reaching the semifinals or better for the third straight slam, but when push came to shove an overpowering opponent was waiting to boot her from the draw. Zvonareva will continue to be a force for the remainder of this year, but she will definitely have to work on developing more variety and height on her groundstrokes. The blue-eyed Russian does however possess great on-court presence, and the ability to keep a crowd glued to their seats.
The impact of Li Na’s performance in either draw was arguably the story of the event. Becoming the first Chinese player to reach the final of a major, Na’s charisma and detonating forehand had her within one set of capturing the title. Saving a match point against Wozniacki in the semifinals, Na’s post-match comments of her husband’s snoring simply stole the spotlight from her on-court performance. Remaining brutally honest about her intentions in the event throughout the tournament, let’s hope that Na reaches the latter stages of many more tournaments and gives the crowd a look at her pleasant personality.
The Oz Open did end with a former champ calling it quits, with seven-time grand slam winner Justine Henin retiring from the sport. Losing in the third round to Svetlana Kuznetsova, Henin announced days later that her injured elbow was too much to bear.
It was truly an abrupt ending to this great champions extensive resume, and her eclectic backhand and steel focus will surely be missed on the professional scene.
What would a grand slam be without another longest match in history? While John Isner and Nicolas Mahut stole the show at Wimbledon last year, Francesca Schiavone and Kuznetsova made sure that the ladies were front and center this time around with the longest match in women’s history.
With the third set lasting three hours alone, the French Open winners were adamant on matching each other shot-for-shot, while making sure a lasting memory would be achieved. Schiavone did become the benefactor of the slugfest, but her victory and historic accomplishment couldn’t have been achieved without Kuznetsova. Similarly to the Isner-Mahut epic, matches of that nature really don’t have a loser.
It all comes down to memories, and this year’s Australian Open provided its worthy share of lasting one.
January 30, 2011
Australian Open—Melbourne, Australia
World No. 3 Novak Djokovic poured in a stellar performance to capture his second Australian Open title on Sunday in Melbourne, defeating No. 5 seed Andy Murray 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.
Dominating the two hour and 39 minute match with his penetrating forehand and down-the-line backhand, Djokovic broke Murray on seven of 18 occasions, while adding 26 winners to his victory. Owning the baseline for much of the affair, Djokovic struck first blood in the seventh game of the first set to lead 4-3. After wrapping up a tidy first set, the Serb continued his onslaught from the back-of-the-court by breaking the Scot on three further occasions.
Wearing down the mental strength of his opponent, Djokovic’s stellar footwork from the close-to-the-baseline continued right through the final set of the match. Chasing down an approach shot by Murray, Djokovic slashed a backhand up-the-line to lead 3-1 in the third set.
Closing out the match after Murray committed his 47th unforced error, Djokovic raised his hands in triumph, before racing over to celebrate with his team.
Proceeding to throw his racket, shoes, and shirt into the full house in Rod Laver Arena, a delighted Djokovic later sat down with the assembled media to review his second grand slam title.
“This was a great match, said Djokovic. From the start to the last point, I did what I intended of doing tactically, what I talked with my coach, what I prepared for. Physically I was very fit. I had two days between the semifinals and finals match, which was important at this stage of the tournament.
“Because I was aware of the fact that I am going to yeah, bring it to me. (Laughter.) That will have long rallies and I will have a player who doesn’t miss a lot, a very talented player who is one of the best returners in the game.
“And, yeah, you know, I had to step in. That was the key. When I had the chance to step in and try to move him around the court, that’s what I did. Probably the turning point was the last game of the first set where we had some incredible exchange from the baseline, long rallies, and some passing shots that turned the match around.”
Capturing the title in Melbourne in 2008 over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Djokovic has enjoyed great form since reaching the finals of the US Open. Reaching the World Tour Final in London for the fourth-straight year, Djokovic also captured Serbia’s maiden Davis Cup title in December. The 23-year-old is next scheduled on court during the Dubai Open in three week’s time.
For Murray, the quest to capture his elusive grand slam was not meant to be. Buckling under the pressure once again, the Scot admitted after his defeat that he had a lot to improve on in order to win a major title.
“I want to keep working hard, try and improve,” said Murray. You know, but I said before the final, it’s not something that, you know, I don’t lose sleep over at night. You know, it’s going to be tough for sure for a few days.
“But, you know, I want to try and win one, of course. But if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. You know, I’m just working as hard as I can. I train very hard. You know, I take tennis very seriously.
“But, you know, I love my life away from tennis, as well. You know, that’s why maybe this year, compared with last, I’m very, very happy off the court. I’m enjoying myself. There’s other things to look forward to, too.”
Murray will also play his next event at the Dubai Open.
Mike and Bob Bryan captured the doubles title on Saturday over Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi 6-3, 6-4. The American duo took home their fifth title in Melbourne, and 10th major title in total.
Quotes courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
January 30, 2011
Q. Do you think you could play any better than this? Is it a perfect match that you expected, that you dream of, or not?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: This was a great match. From the start to the last point, I did what I intended of doing tactically, what I talked with my coach, what I prepared for. Physically I was very fit. I had two days between the semifinals and finals match, which was important at this stage of the tournament.
Because I was aware of the fact that I am going to yeah, bring it to me. (Laughter.) That will have long rallies and I will have a player who doesn’t miss a lot, a very talented player who is one of the best returners in the game.
And, yeah, you know, I had to step in. That was the key. When I had the chance to step in and try to move him around the court, that’s what I did. Probably the turning point was the last game of the first set where we had some incredible exchange from the baseline, long rallies, and some passing shots that turned the match around.
You know, when you have a set advantage, it’s much different, you know, instead of getting into the match.
Q. Is there a sense sometimes when you do feel a bit indestructible? Whatever he can do, you have an answer for it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t think of myself in that way. I just try in those moments to maintain the good feeling on the court and feeling comfortable. Yes, in some ways I felt today that I could get any ball and I could make a fast transition from being defensive to being offensive.
I used the serve in crucial moments quite good. I was opening the court, serving wide, so I can have the other part of the court open for a winner. I was patient when I needed to be. You know, I was changing a lot of rhythm, changing pace, because I know that he likes more pace. He likes to be the one who is going to control the match. I didn’t want to allow that.
Yeah, to be able to win in straight sets against a player like Andy Murray in the finals of Grand Slam, it makes my success even bigger.
Q. When you got the match point, your celebration, you didn’t do a lot. Was that sort of out of respect for the friendship you’ve got with him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, in a way, as well. You know, it wasn’t easy, of course. I understand how he feels. It’s his third final and he didn’t get the title. It’s a tough one.
But as I said on the court I’ll repeat it again I really have big respect for him and his game, because I think he has everything what it takes to become a Grand Slam champion. You know, I’m sure that very soon he will be.
Q. You said he’s the best returner.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: One of the best, yeah.
Q. In the first two sets he made only six points on your serve. How do you explain? You were serving very well or he wasn’t returning that well?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t think I was extremely well serving. I was just trying to place my serves well. And the first shot after the serve in the rally was important. It was important for me to start off the point and having the aggressive role in that points. That’s what I did.
As I said, you know, that was kind of a tactic, you know, to try to open up the court more, spread him out, and then get to the net.
Q. It’s been three years between getting one of those. Do you feel like now that you’re older and more experienced, it won’t be as long the next time?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, I feel like more experienced player. I feel a better player now than I was three years ago, because I think that physically I’m stronger, I’m faster, mentally I’m more motivated on the court. I know how to react in certain moments, and I know how to play on a big stage.
It’s the best way that I could ask for to start a season.
Q. Especially beating Roger and Andy, two good players?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As I said, both of those guys play their best tennis on the hard courts, as well as I do. But to be able to win against those players in straight sets is incredible.
Q. How did you fix your serve?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, hitting thousands and thousands of balls on the practice. It’s all about hard work and patience, I guess, dedication to the hard work which in the end pays off. That’s the situation. There is no secrets.
Of course, I was aware of what I do wrong. But once it gets into your head, it’s really hard to get it out of your habit. Everybody was, you know, criticizing me, Why did I change my serve? I didn’t change it intentionally. It just came like that.
I worked hard the last 10 months, and now it’s back.
Q. You took a tough loss here last year, Roland Garros obviously, and then even Wimbledon. Did something happen in between Wimbledon and the hard courts where you regained confidence?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Something switched in my head, because I am very emotional on and off the court. I show my emotions. This is the way I am. Everybody’s different.
The things off court were not working for me, you know. It reflected on my game, on my professional tennis career. But then, you know, I settled some things in my head. It was all on me. You know, I had to try to find the best possible solution and try to get back on the right track. That’s what I did.
Q. Can you talk about some of those secrets that you discovered about yourself that helped you get back on track?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As I said, you know, something switched in my head. It’s been a big mental struggle, because I was trying to separate my, of course, professional life from my more private life.
But, you know, if somebody’s emotional we’re all humans. It’s not possible. If something isn’t working off court, then it’s going to reflect on the court. I managed to solve that problems.
This is all part of life. Of course, everybody’s facing difficult situations in their lives. To overcome the crisis and to stand up and try to still dedicate yourself to the sport was a big success for me as a person.
Q. But professionally for a time you were using two separate coaches.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah.
Q. From outsiders looking in, you seemed to be confused. You were getting two different messages.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it’s not working, you know. I’ve tried. But with all due respect to Todd Martin, which I think he was a great player, he’s a great coach, but it just didn’t work. You know, it’s really hard to compensate and have two coaches traveling with you. I tried.
Of course, I tried a lot of things. And if you don’t try, you don’t know. Now I know that it’s not working.
Of course, Marian Vajda will always be a part of my team. He’s just more than a coach. My physio, Miljan Amanovic, my fitness coach, all of these guys, put incredible effort into my development, into my improvement on the court, off the court. I owe them a lot definitely. It’s them who deserve a lot of credit, as well.
Q. You said you were sure Andy would win one one day. What makes you sure?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I just said. He’s, first of all, a very talented player and he’s a hard worker. He’s been in finals three times, and he just needs to make that final step.
Of course, it’s not easy. You could see his struggle and frustrations tonight, because he felt his chances to win a first Grand Slam trophy tonight.
But, you know, it’s a learning process, I guess. It wasn’t easy for me, as well. I know how he feels. I’m sure that he knows how he feels the best. He’s still young. I’m sure he’s gonna have more chances to win it, so…
Q. Three sets to Federer and three sets to Murray. How different were you feeling against Federer and Murray? When you were more worried?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You’re always worried, the semifinals and finals of Grand Slam. You have your own worries and little pressure and expectations and things that you feel during the match.
But, you know, you work hard to be mentally prepared for these moments and physically fit to overcome the long five setters. You know, both of those matches were different, because I played against two different types of players.
You know, I take always one match at a time. I try not to look who I’m going to play, you know, in the later stages of the tournament, even though maybe as a top player I’m expected to.
But, you know, it’s always been like that. I always try to take one match at a time.
Q. You know him very well obviously. You talked about the way he plays the game. When playing against him, what’s your number one imperative to impose your style of play onto his?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, first of all, we haven’t played for a long time because we were 3 and 4 in the world. Most of the times we were in different parts of the draws. It’s strange that we haven’t played for a long time, because we were making it to the later stages of all the tournaments, most of the times.
But, you know, of course, we had Roger and Rafa who were very dominant in men’s tennis. You know, last two, three times he won on the hard courts. But since then we both improved a lot. Of course, I was analyzing his game, trying to implement some things what I intended to with my coach tactically, and I did it really well.
I get into the match aware of the fact that he is going to give me a lot of balls back in the court and we going to have a lot of long rallies, so I need to be patient in some ways. Yet again, if I get a short ball, I need to attack. That’s more or less it.
Q. You have so much in common. What’s the difference between having two Grand Slams and not having one? What’s the difference between you, do you feel?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s hard to say. What do you mean?
Q. Do you feel for him it’s a mental issue in the big matches? You looked very confident and strong out there tonight.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it is in some ways a mental issue when you are facing a situation, playing the finals of a Grand Slam, being so close to winning a title. Every time you get it there, you know, you want to win it badly, but some things go wrong. You’re thinking too much. You’re worrying too much in your head. It’s a mental battle, definitely. Bottom line is that this is a very mental sport in the end. Everybody is very fit.
I think tennis has improved so much in the last couple of years. It’s incredible. To compare the tennis from 2007, ‘8, to the tennis of 2010, ‘11, I have the feeling the ball is traveling much faster, they’re big hitters, big servers.
So in order to keep up, you have to be always dedicated professional and consistent with your success.
Q. You got your game to this level against the best players. Do you have the sense you need to make the most of it and win the big tournaments now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s the best possible start of the season, very short off season, but I was building up my confidence, and taking the Davis Cup title, taking that confidence into the preparation for Australian Open.
And, of course, during this tournament I was feeling great on the court. The Davis Cup win may have a big role in my great performance here in this tournament. After we won Davis Cup title I was feeling great on the court, just eager to compete.
Q. There are a few people saying now that because Rafa and Roger went out before the final, the tide is turning, a changing of the guards, so to speak. Do you feel that’s the case?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Still Rafa and Roger are the two best players in the world. No question about that. You can’t compare my success and Murray’s success to their success. They’re the two most dominant players in the game for a while. All the credit to them.
It’s nice to see that there are some new players in the later stages of Grand Slams fighting for a title. That’s all I can say.
Q. Some of your footwork was outstanding. At the end when you took your shoes off to throw them into the crowd, you took out the insoles. Do you have to have special insoles?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. That’s the secret to my footwork. You got me there (smiling).
Q. The Davis Cup win and now this, the last two months, has this been the best period in your life so far?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: On the tennis court, yes. Yeah, Davis Cup title and another Grand Slam title. I’m living the dream of a tennis player, definitely.
Q. Are you more focused than ever on your game?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I’m very focused. Yes, I have been more focused and dedicated to the sport than I have ever been before.
Q. How will you celebrate tonight? Is it going to be a big night, do you think?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, after winning a Grand Slam title, what do you think? Of course celebrations are part of the success.
Q. There are only two players but Nadal and Federer that have won two slams, you and Hewitt. Hewitt when he did it, he stopped. What do you expect from yourself, to win many?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t want to stop here. Definitely I want to keep my body healthy, fit, and ready for some more challenges to come. I feel that I have a good game for all the surfaces. I have proven that in the past.
Q. Which ones?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Hard court. Hard court is my favorite surface. Two finals in US Open and two finals here. It’s obvious; results are showing everything.
But, still, I feel I can do well at French Open and Wimbledon.
Q. You’ve driven yourself to the point of exhaustion, overplaying, in previous seasons. How do you avoid doing that again this year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think you’re getting wiser by the time of being a part of this sport. You are more aware of the things that you should do and not do. I was spending too much energy on the things I shouldn’t spend on.
I mean, it’s school, a learning process. That’s why I have a big team around me of people who are organizing my time and making me feel a bit released and making me perform the best that I can on the court.
Q. Are you going to play doubles with Andy on the court?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: We talked about it, yeah. I don’t want to ask him anything now, obviously. But when the time passes, I will ask him. So we will see.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
January 30, 2011
Q. How hard is it for you at the moment?
ANDY MURRAY: It’s better than it was last year. You know, it was obviously tough, disappointing. You know, I thought Novak played unbelievably well. And, yeah, it’s tough, but got to deal with it.
Q. Why do you say you feel better this year than last year?
ANDY MURRAY: I just do. That’s it. I was in a much worse state last year than I was this year. I don’t know why. That’s it.
Q. Did you have a feeling at any time you were going to get back into it?
ANDY MURRAY: You always have to try and find a way to get back in. You always have to try and believe. I mean, you know, he defended, I mean, unbelievably well tonight.
So when I got ahead in some games, you know, and even just in points, uhm, you know, he was sticking up lobs that were landing on the baseline, passing shots that were very close to the lines.
So it was quite difficult to find parts of the court where I was getting free points from. You know, I think I broke his serve maybe twice in the third set and still lost it 6 3.
So, you know, I was trying to find a way; I just wasn’t able to put enough good points together.
Q. The first two sets, on his serve you only made six points in the first set and again six points in the second set. How do you explain that?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I don’t know. I just finished, so I don’t know exactly why that would have been.
But, you know, he played a great match. He hardly missed any balls. You know, it wasn’t like I was missing loads of returns or making a lot of mistakes off returns. You know, we were getting into a lot of rallies.
I saw the stats up on the thing at the end of the match. Not like he hit way more winners than he. I made way more mistakes than him and he defended very well.
Q. You didn’t seem to move as well as you had done in this tournament. Were your energy levels down? Was there an injury problem at all?
ANDY MURRAY: No, I would say the semifinal match was a tough one, a long one. But I felt okay. You know, when it’s a Grand Slam final as well, the adrenaline helps. You feel a lot better with that. That definitely helps.
No, that definitely wasn’t the reason why I lost.
Q. Can you put your finger on why it just didn’t click for you? Wasn’t the real Andy Murray out there, was it?
ANDY MURRAY: It was. But he played great. I mean, I would have liked to have played better. But, you know, I think he would have beaten every other player on the tour if he played like that tonight.
He served well. He didn’t make many mistakes from the back of the court. He moved really, really well. He hit the ball very clean. That was it.
Q. Agassi lost three finals before he went on to win a career slam. Do you still have belief you can win?
ANDY MURRAY: You know, I want to keep working hard, try and improve. You know, but I said before the final, it’s not something that, you know, I don’t lose sleep over at night. You know, it’s going to be tough for sure for a few days.
But, you know, I want to try and win one, of course. But if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. You know, I’m just working as hard as I can. I train very hard. You know, I take tennis very seriously.
But, you know, I love my life away from tennis, as well. You know, that’s why maybe this year, compared with last, I’m very, very happy off the court. I’m enjoying myself. There’s other things to look forward to, too.
Q. Did you get the sense that the first set was always going to be the crucial one today, that that one getting away from you gave him that extra incentive to go for his shots?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I think he definitely loosened up after the first set and started playing better. You know, it was a long first set. The match was even quite long for the scoreline. There was quite a lot of long rallies and stuff.
But, yeah, the first set of all matches in majors are important. But just because you lose the first one, you still have a lot of time to get back into it. You know, I wasn’t able to get back into it.
Q. Can you describe how different it is physically and mentally playing in a Grand Slam final as to a regular tour final?
ANDY MURRAY: Physically there’s no difference to playing any of the other matches. I mean, mentally, you know, there’s a bit more pressure and stuff. But that gets less, you know, after you start the match. It’s more the buildup in the beginning of the match.
You know, the pressure is different obviously to playing the first round of a Grand Slam because you’re playing to win it. But physically it’s the same as all the other matches.
Q. You said off the court you’re very happy. Is there a sense of frustration having been there three times and not getting one yet?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, yeah, anyone who played in three finals would have loved to have won one. But I haven’t. And, yeah, I mean, I just need to keep working hard and, you know, try and do it.
But, yeah, I would have preferred to have won one than lost three.
Q. Were there any improvements in Novak’s game that surprised you?
ANDY MURRAY: He’s a very good player. I haven’t played him for a very long time, you know, but I’ve played him when he’s played well and when he hasn’t played so well.
He served well tonight in comparison to how he had been the last year or so. That’s definitely helped him.
Q. Do you think you can still get close to his level when you’re at your best? Is there a gap there now that you need to bridge?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, I think I could have played better this evening. Yeah, I mean, I’m going to need to improve. You know, obviously I lost in straight sets, so I’m going to need to get better.
Q. Is it tougher for you to have lost in straight sets like the other two finals, or it doesn’t change that much because what is important is to win?
ANDY MURRAY: I don’t think it changes that much. Uhm, you know, obviously, you know, if it’s sort of a five set match, you feel like you’re very, very close to winning, I’m sure that’s very difficult, you know, when you get so close.
You know, I wasn’t particularly close tonight. I mean, it’s disappointing I’m sure every time you lose, whether it’s three sets or five sets.
Q. Rafa when he came in said he didn’t want to talk about injury. He did eventually say he did have a problem. Are you saying you were a hundred percent?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah. I mean, I thought I moved decent. I think I could have moved better. But, no, like I said, yeah, I wasn’t injured.
But, you know, I had a tough match in the semi. I moved very well the whole tournament. I felt like I could have moved a bit better tonight.
And against someone like Novak, you know, you need to be firing on all cylinders, and I didn’t move as well as I would have liked.
Q. I know it is what it is, but this idea of playing, you’ve got 24 hours less…
ANDY MURRAY: I think they do a great job at this tournament. Last year I had some extra time. The US Open you have both players don’t have any time really. You play Saturday, Sunday. I mean, I think it’s fine the way they do it here.
Q. What were you talking about to the umpire in the first set? You seemed to get into a discussion with the umpire.
ANDY MURRAY: No, I hit a backhand cross court, and I think it was quite clear in the end they called it out and he overruled. I just said to him, like, you know, I thought that was like almost inside the line. You know, he sort of like bit back at me even though he’d overruled it and we were agreeing.
I just said to him, like, to get defensive toward me, I was just saying I thought it was a quite clear mistake. That was it. It wasn’t anything more than that.
Q. You’ve played him a lot. Has he ever been better at retrieving and playing defense?
ANDY MURRAY: No, he always moves great. But, you know, tonight there was probably five, six times when, you know, I got into good position. He stuck up a lob that landed right on the baseline. You know, so it’s difficult to smash because you don’t know whether it’s going in or not.
Then a couple of times, you know, we played I think at 5 4 in the first set we had another unbelievable point at 15 30. You know, he did some unbelievable retrieving in that point. You know, he came up I think to break me in the third set. You know, I had him going side to side. He hit one backhand passing shot down the line from way back in the court.
When he was on the run tonight, he hit the ball very, very well.
Q. You changed to Plan B against David Ferrer. Did you have any tactical changes that you would have liked to have made tonight?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I started trying to go for my shots more as the match went on. You know, at the beginning of the match, both of us, you’re sort of trying to feel each other out a little bit. As you work your way into the match, you start to find patterns and go for your shots more.
Started taking more chances. You know, managed to break serve a few times, but wasn’t able to keep it up for long enough.
Q. It took you a little over three months to recover last year, yet you seem to be saying you can handle it better now, not have the same effect.
ANDY MURRAY: I don’t know. Might do. But right now I feel better than I did last year. I’ll see what I do from here, you know. I don’t know, I might not play for a few months. I might feel like playing in a week’s time. It depends. See how I feel.
Q. Is the other way to switch it around to say, first major tournament of the season, another final?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I look at the tournament as a whole, it was excellent. I don’t think anyone would say that reaching a slam final is a bad achievement. It’s a very, very good achievement.
Obviously right now there’s disappointment because you just lost the match. But, you know, when you look back over the tournament, you know, there’s not many people that can say they’ve made slam finals.
So, you know, I’ll be very happy with the way the tournament went. But I would have obviously liked to have gone one step further.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
January 29, 2011
The ATP World Tour singles draws for the events in Johannesburg, Zagreb and Santiago can be found below.
Don’t let the post-Australian Open blues get you down, there’s still plenty of tennis to be played.