Archive for June, 2008

Andy Roddick says goodbye to Wimbledon for this year

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Andy Roddick lost his match to Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia today, becoming yet another victim of the second round (just joined by Daniela Hantuchova and Tommy Robredo).

I thought for sure this match was going to a 5th set, but Tipsarevic pulled it off in 4, with a tiebreak at the end: 6-7 7-5 6-4 7-6.

What a mess of a second round.

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James Blake upset at Wimbledon

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

It is getting tough to be a seeded player at Wimbledon!

Today James Blake lost his second round match against Rainer Schuettler of Germany, with the very close final score being 6-3 6-7 4-6 6-4 6-4. All of this was happening as Maria Sharapova also lost her second round match on Court 1. More to come…

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Maria Sharapova upset at Wimbledon

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

The second round match just finished, and 3rd seed Maria Sharapova just lost to 20-year-old Russian A. Kudryavtseva in just under 1.5 hours. The final score was 6-2 6-4, and Maria looked to be a bit shaky with 8 double faults and some really off shots. More to come when the interviews come in!

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Davenport withdraws from ‘08 Wimbledon; doesn’t plan to be back

Thursday, June 26th, 2008
Former champion Lindsay Davenport was forced to withdraw from this year’s Championships due to a knee injury, shortly before her scheduled second round match with Argentina’s Gisela Dulko.

The 1999 winner was making a comeback at Wimbledon, having missed the last two years since her loss to Venus Williams in 2005’s epic final. In 2006, she had a back injury and last year she was pregnant with her first child.

Davenport indicated that this marked the end of her Wimbledon career. When she was asked in a press conference if she would be back next year she replied: “I guess not.”

The 32-year-old needed a medical timeout during her first round victory over Renata Voracova and she told the media that she underwent an MRI scan after the match, and it showed some inflammation and fluid behind the knee.

The former world number one said she was relieved not to require surgery but she would be away from tennis for up to four weeks. Davenport, who had entered the tournament with a knee complaint, said she had rested completely yesterday before testing her fitness in practice this morning - but she assessed that her knee was only “20 to 30%” right.

“I toyed with the idea of going out because it didn’t hurt at all to serve,” she said. “But at a certain point, it’s the second round, and I feel like I want to be 100% and have a chance to win, not just hope to get by one more round or one more set. My knee just wasn’t going to allow that to happen today.

“If I learned anything over my career, this is the way it goes sometimes. I was almost in tears the other night. I was so relieved it was nothing major so that actually put me in probably a better mood than I should be.”

Davenport said she had two key ambitions which had inspired her return to tennis: to play at this year’s US Open and to compete at the Beijing Olympics in August, where she will try to add to the gold medal she won in Atlanta in 1996.

And she predicted she would be fit for both those challenges, saying: “The doctors are very confident that the inflammation will go away and the pain will subside with that.”

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Wimbledon 2008 Interview: Novak Djokovic, after loss to Marat Safin

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

M. SAFIN bt N. Djokovic 6-4, 7-6, 6-2

An interview with: NOVAK DJOKOVIC

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Novak.

Q. Was it a bad day at the office for you or a very good day for Safin, a bit of both? What surprised you most?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was certainly a very bad day for me. I didn’t do anything that I was supposed to do. He was very solid in all segments of the game. He was serving well, and like that, putting a lot of pressure on me.

I was serving a lot of double-faults, which is unusual. I was just not finding my momentum, that’s all. What can I do? I mean, it’s a straight-sets win. I didn’t expect it, honestly saying. I knew he’s a very tough player to play against - even today - on any surfaces. Especially playing him on Centre Court obviously motivates him more to do well. Nobody expect from him too much.

Q. You finally did find your serve a little bit midway through the second set and got into the tiebreak. You lost it again. After the frustration of finding your serve and losing the tiebreak, did you just not feel like you could give everything you had in the third set?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I was trying, you know. I kept on trying, even though after the second set I tried to come back. It’s not that I gave up. You know, I knew that I can turn around at any second.

Safin is a player who is known as a big talent, very powerful groundstroke player. But, again, he makes a lot of unforced errors. I had these opportunities, a couple of opportunities, on his service games when it was 30-All, 15-30, deuce. But then I just — I just — I made some unforced errors, which were really uncharacteristic, without any sense.

So he was just very consistent with all the strokes and he was mentally there. Every point he was going slowly, and opposite of me. I was having a lot of ups and downs. When I found my momentum, I couldn’t keep it.

Q. You talked about the double-faults and the unforced errors. John McEnroe said after the match he thought you looked tired and that maybe you had played too many matches. What do you think?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You know, tired mentally, probably I’d say yes. It’s been a long season, even though it’s only halfway through. But physically I wasn’t tired, and that was not the explanation why I lost today. He was just better than me on the court. I had very bad day, and that’s it.

Q. Have you seen him play that well in recent years?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I haven’t watched him, you know, a lot in last two years. You know, Safin still has his ups and downs. He’s known for his, you know, mental instability in some ways. But he’s still a great player. I mean, he’s still not too old. He’s playing well. He’s moving well. He wants to go back. You know, he wants to step it up again and try to get far in a major.

This is a good way to start.

Q. You said you were mentally tired. Is it the travelling, so much matches, dealing with the press every day, day after day?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, it’s a part of my life and I have to accept it. You know, obviously everything from all.

Q. There was a sort of warm embrace between the two of you at the end. Do you know each other particularly well, or do you just get on well?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, we know each other off the court as well pretty good. I mean, we’ve been practicing. When I was a junior I looked at him as one of the, you know, greatest players, one of the idols. So I admired the way he plays.

At the times when I was junior he was, you know, the top of the world. I used to practice with him, because we had then, and still we have, the same manager.

I have a lot of respect for him. Maybe that played a role today in the match.

Q. Considering instability, can we say you were waiting for him to make his usual mistakes, but they were just not coming today?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. This was one of the things that went wrong. I shouldn’t just wait for the mistakes. I was supposed to go for the shots and play aggressive style that I always play.

But it wasn’t my day.

Q. Which of these two matches against Marat hurts the most: getting completely crushed at the Australian Open or here where you’re the No. 3 seed and have established yourself as a top player, losing to a No. 65?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, I don’t compare it at all. I mean, this first match we played was three, four years ago. I was still very young and it was my first Grand Slam. It was understandable at the time. He won this tournament. He was playing extremely well.

I cannot compare it. Now, I’m much more matured, better experienced player in general. But, you know, I don’t — I try to look at it as positive as much as I can. It’s a loss, but it’s a part of the sport.

You know, life goes on. What can we do? There is still a long way through.

Q. Just an observation, but you didn’t appear to be wearing your normal brand of shoe today. Do you have an issue with the grass?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I have issue with the grass. I was wearing another brand of the shoe. This was agreement between adidas and myself. I had a lot of difficulties with the movement, especially in Queen’s this year, and even in the past years.

I just tried to make — we just tried to have agreement and the best possible solution. So I thank them for the support, because it was a big step for all of us. A bit risky, but it was the only way that I could imagine myself far in the tournament. This was the difference that I felt that we can improve on.

Q. Because you had the problem last year that forced you to withdraw?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, that was one of the reasons.

Q. Must be a little bit of a strange feeling. It’s been a while since you lost this early in a Grand Slam.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: What I’m going to do (smiling)?

Q. What are you going to do to regroup from here? Any lessons you’ve taken away from it at this point?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’m going to probably stay another week and watch matches. No (laughter).

I’m going to go home - home sweet home.

Q. How will you regroup? What will you do?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’ll rest a little bit. Without the racquet. I’ll leave the racquets at home and I’ll go somewhere many miles away.

Q. Safin has been No. 1 in the world. He played very well everywhere, but not that well normally on grass. He lost many matches in his life on grass. Do you think today he was playing extremely well or it was just you?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was mostly me. You know, I said on the start that he was very solid in all sides. He was playing with not much unforced errors from the back, good return. But I wasn’t doing anything to hurt him, you know. My serve, even when I had the high percentage of the first serve, it was going on his racquet. No angles, no precision whatsoever.

Yes, he was playing well today. He didn’t play extremely well, but he was playing enough, you know, to win.

Q. How big of a chance do you give Safin at this Wimbledon? How big a chance do you give to the Russians at the Euro Cup, if you’re watching?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Safin, if he plays this well, can get far. This is a question of the time and the day, so every match is different. You can’t really predict what’s going to happen, but I wish him well.

And Euro Cup, I hope Russia wins.

Q. Given the fact that you reached the semifinals here last year and your excellent results since, can you just sort for us how disappointing it is to be going out this early?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s quite disappointing, of course. A lot of expectations from my side and all the people that are following my career, of course, and the tennis lovers here in UK and worldwide.

But what can I do? This is just part of the sport, a loss. I just have to take the best things out of it and use it for the future. You know, certainly I expected to go far, because I know I have enough quality to do so. Last year I’ve been performing pretty good tennis on grass.

Finals of Queen’s came up in the right moment, gave me a lot of confidence, boost up. But, you know, it can change.

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Davydenko gives an explanation for betting scandal

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

…but it sounds unlikely to me. Why would anyone risk that kind of money unless it were a sure thing?

Davydenko, seeded fourth, said he had done nothing wrong in Poland and was confident he would be cleared in the ATP investigation.

Betfair, an online bookmaker, voided all bets on a match between Davydenko and Argentina’s Martin Vassallo Arguello in Sopot on Aug. 2 after the Russian player retired, citing a foot injury in the third set.

The betting agency said it received about $7 million in wagers on the match, 10 times the usual amount for a similar-level match. Most of the money was on the 87th-ranked Arguello, even after he lost the first set.

Asked for a possible explanation yesterday, Davydenko said it was a small tournament, with lots of Russian spectators and that some of them might have overheard him talking to his entourage in the stands.

“Everything was going on. I spoke in the center court with my wife . . . (in) Russian,” he said. “Maybe it’s possible, if I can say something, ‘I don’t want to play or I can retire.’ . . . some people can understand.

“It may be my mistake because I need to be quiet, I need to be concentrating, I need to do only my job. Not to do something, talking with anyone or something like this in the stadium.” Boston Herald

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Safin upsets Djokovic

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
Djokovic, the Australian Open champion, seeded three here, never looked comfortable and Safin despatched him 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.

This match was keenly anticipated because it was one of those super-charismatic second round encounters that a Grand Slam draw can occasionally yield. These two had met only once before at Djokovic’s maiden Grand Slam appearance, in Australia 2005, when Safin granted his opponent a miserly three games in total.

Hence it was widely anticipated that Djokovic would be hungry for revenge, to boost his momentum on the road to a possible semi-final against Roger Federer. But 28-year-old Safin is a man who likes a challenge – he spent last September climbing the sixth highest mountain in the world, Cho Oyu in the Himalayas, and it seemed today he was in the same mood to conquer new peaks.

Djokovic played like someone the crowd had never seen before. He had a simply horrible day, and from the outset appeared unable to engage with the task in hand. The opening game alone saw last year’s semi-finalist deliver two double faults to bring up 0-40. He saved his blushes, but it was a sign of things to come.

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Wimbledon 2008 Interview: Nikolay Davydenko, after first round loss to Boris Becker

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Boris Becker def. Nikolay Davydenko 6‑4, 6‑4, 6‑4

Q. What do you feel went wrong today?

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: I just starting feeling I am too slow today. Just soft grass you need to be much faster and play faster. And so from beginning I feeling like hitting balls, and it’s pretty slow. Like on clay court, I hitting faster.

That’s was, I don’t know what’s happening. But really was tough to say something, because really different feeling between, you know, another surface and grass.

That’s was here you need to play fast how possible. Everything try to do good. If I say like my first‑serve percentage 65%, it’s not good enough for the grass. That’s was I need to be much better.

And five doubles faults, you know, it’s really ‑‑ that’s was I losing my serve in first, second and the third sets. You know, here doesn’t matter against who I play, I need to play good. I need to keep my serve good, and returning also how possible good.

But today was my return really bad.

Q. Do you feel it was more of a case of you playing badly than Benjamin playing well?

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: No, he play good, but I play really bad.

Q. Would it have helped to have prepared more on grass rather than going to Warsaw?

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: No, because last year I was the same doing. Like, okay, I play Halle in grass already one week before. But after I come here to the Wimbledon and I practice like one week before.

That’s was I’m not coming one day before my match from clay to grass. I was already here one week and I was practicing here every day. That’s was, you know, like, something ‑‑ I don’t know. We’ll see what’s happen next year, what I can do and what I can change for the futures, for the grass court.

Q. So no injury or physically not well?

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: You know, it’s like everybody injury. You know, if somebody ask, doesn’t matter against which player, you know, or some player, can say I have here problem, here, there pain, everywhere painful.

But if you in the match and you concentration, you need to win match. It’s doesn’t matter if I have some problem or not.

Q. It’s almost a year since your match in Poland that is still under investigation. What are your thoughts on how long it’s taken, and why do you think it’s taking so long?

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: I know from my lawyer it should be decide in July. Something prove ‑‑ he need to investigate, I don’t know, telephone records from my brother and my wife.

But I say my lawyer is not telephone records any more. It’s already done. It’s long ‑‑ we waiting already like one year. I call to the telephone companies. They say, We have no telephone records from July and August from my brother.

And also my telephone records, what I was, like in Poland, yeah? I give it already before. That’s was they have everything, all information from me, all what I did, everything. That’s was I don’t know what decide now. In July should be something new, but I don’t know how long is waiting more. But I think this year it should be finishing.

Q. Has the ATP received all that it’s asked you for, except the records you can’t get?


Q. And what is it exactly that you haven’t been able to turn over to the ATP?

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: Excuse me again. Exact what?

Q. What has the ATP asked for that you have not given?

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: Just for telephone records of my brother, and is not accept any more. I would like to give, but I can’t. That’s it.

Q. Regarding any match where there’s the possibility of tampering or a fix, and it’s proven, what do you think the penalty should be?

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: You know, it’s was interesting. Nobody can prove anything. Because if something find for me, is already tell me, or my lawyer. He’s already waiting mostly like one year and didn’t find anything, no proofness (sic).

That’s was ‑‑ I don’t know why, how long is waiting, for what reason. Maybe waiting for some reason if I do some mistake, but in other tournaments. Like, say, if I, I don’t know, by Grand Slam, broke records or I made some referee do something and I have more penalty, more penalty.

Because with ATP rules, you know, like if you did something already you have penalty, it’s waiting. You know, then you have again and again and more and more. That’s was I don’t know why ATP waiting. I don’t know why ATP won’t decide, and when is it should be finishing.

Q. What are your thoughts on what the penalty should be if anyone gets caught being involved in match fixing?

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: I think it should be disqualified, yeah, for I don’t know for how many, one years, two years, three years, for the penalty about fixed. Because I think is most biggest, you know, penalty what you can give ATP. And for this reason I think it’s good.

Q. What do you think about the length of time that it has taken to resolve this issue? Because it’s your reputation that’s been in question for the last year. Must be very upsetting for you.

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: I was upset, but what I can do? I cannot sue ATP, because is not ATP problem. Because ATP only can investigate. But sue Betfair, also no chance, because Betfair just say to the press what’s happening in fixing matches, yeah, like this.

And what I can do? How I can sue Betfair? Also I speak with my lawyer. It’s no possible. No chance.

Q. Your match aside, the one in Poland, do you believe match fixing goes on in tennis?

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: I think is no match fixing in tennis. I don’t know why tell me questions only in tennis. For me is interesting. Is no fixed matches in other sports? That’s was I don’t believe is it some matches fixed in tennis because we, I don’t know, like individual and top player, it’s no reason to be, you know, play for the fixed matches.

Q. So all that activity, all that betting on your match in Poland, was that an accident? How do you explain that incredible level of betting?

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: It’s can be, you know, like maybe because I’m Russian first, and we play in Sopot. It’s very small tournament. Many things is happening. Because, you know, like it’s center court. Many Russian there also watch match.

You know, I spoke, you know, in the center court with my wife and everything, you know, like of Russian. Maybe possible, if I can say something, you know, I don’t want to play or I can retire. You know, some people can understand.

You know, it may be my mistake because I need to be quiet, I need to be concentration, I need to do, you know, only my job. Not to do something, talking with anyone or something like this, you know, in the stadium already in the match.

But what’s happening is happening. You know, I try to defend me how possible, but I defend already one year. I don’t know how long I can defend me more. Maybe to end my career.

Q. Has this been a bad dream for you?

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: Bad dream. But not one day, few months. But I was still play good. That’s was I’m happy.

Q. Are you confident about what the findings of the ATP will be when it announces the results of its investigation? If so, what do you think will be announced?

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: I think should be ‑‑ I don’t know what can decide ATP if they have no proofness. That’s was my lawyer try to make everything, you know. When is try to finish investigation now in this year, July or August. That’s was, I am still confidence. It’s like I already play one year. If investigate one more, I still playing. That doesn’t know when is decide, but I happy play good. And why not?

Q. If you were a betting man, who will you say will win the men’s tournament here at Wimbledon?


Q. Yes.

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: Oh, it’s was interesting. Like Nadal won, you know, Queen’s, and Federer won Halle. It’s was two guys still, you know, good of grass. And, you know, you never know what’s happening.

But I don’t want to say about Andy Murray because you’re Britain.

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Wimbledon 2008 Interview: Venus Williams, after first round win

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Video interview with Venus is here, in Windows Media Player format.

Venus Williams def. Naomi Cavaday 7-6, 6-1.

Q. You said you didn’t know much about Naomi. How surprised were you with her level in the first set?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I thought she played excellent. She took her chances, really took advantage of her opportunities, and played with poise on this occasion, which is Centre Court in front of a home crowd.

So I thought she did really well with that. She served well and really returned the ball with force and ran a lot of balls down, so I was impressed with her game.

Q. How much of what happened in the first set was down to her level of play and you not playing your best?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I would say a lot was to her good playing. I had some opportunities and made a couple of errors in a row. But all in all, I mean, I think she just played well.

Q. When you played well here, you had you to work out some cobwebs early in the tournament. Did you feel like that at all in this match today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, that wasn’t on my mind in the match at all. It was really about the moment pretty much, so I didn’t think about cobwebs or what had happened a Wimbledon or two ago. Mostly just what was happening in the moment.

Q. How did you feel your level was today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I felt that my level was good. I think it’s nice to have a really challenging opponent early on, especially, you know, having not played since the French, which is what I always do anyway. So it was good to have that challenge early on.

Q. This is the fifth time you’ve walked out on that court as defending champ. Can you describe your feelings when you walk out, whether it’s special, different, more special?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It’s definitely an honor. But by the time I’m walking out there I’m just really so focused that I don’t enjoy it as much as I could. But obviously coming off with a win, I always enjoy that.

Q. Do you think it’s fair that the men get to play on a perfectly brand new court when Roger defends every year and you get the worn over court the next day? Would you like to see them switch every year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don’t really have any complaints about that. So, no, you’re not hearing anything from me.

Q. You don’t think there’s something special to be the first one to play on the court every year like he is?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I would have to ask him what it’s like because I don’t know. I don’t have any complaints about that.

Q. How much of a distraction was the bee early on? You were swishing around.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I was about to serve. I felt something on my leg. I looked down. It was a bee, a big old bumblebee. I was trying to get it to go off. I don’t know if they sting or not. Do they? The big bumblebees, do they?

Q. Just once.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn’t want it to sting me. I was trying to get it off without getting stung. You know how they usually fly back at you. Then I ended up losing that service game, so I guess the bumblebee got me off to a bad start.

Q. Talking about an early challenge and a wake up call like this in the first set being a good thing, right through the tournament or just for the match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I always look at the positive in everything, and she played really well. I mean, there were some serves that I couldn’t touch. Also her being left handed I think helped her a little bit, because the ball’s coming at a different angle.

So, I mean, throughout the whole tournament? At this point I’m just focused on the second round and going for that.

Q. Last year you were a very outspoken advocate for the equal prize money. Could you speak about the level of satisfaction you feel about how that’s turned out. Also, if Billie Jean King played a role in your views of that issue and your potential role in advocating for that issue.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I have a ton of respect for Billie. I played Fed Cup under her for, you know, a few years. We would sit and have conversations, and I learned a lot from her on and off the court. So I have a tremendous amount of respect for her. I just think she’s wonderful.

As for equal prize money, it took a long time. It took a lot of changing of minds. But I think everybody we’re on an even playing ground at this point. Everybody is of the like mind, and I feel good about that.

At this point I think there’s other things I can do as far as UNESCO and working on tennis in general, getting it to a higher level.

Q. What is your work with UNESCO?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Gender equality is what we work on with UNESCO and the WTA. Obviously raising money, doing more programs. We just announced a program in India that we’re funding.

Also with EleVen, we did a charity shirt, too, for UNESCO. Different ideas and just getting more involved in things outside of tennis.

Q. Serena was saying yesterday when asked about Obama, she said, I admire him, but we’re Jehovah’s Witness. We can’t vote. You’re out there doing political issues all the time.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Political issues? Which ones.

Q. You’re talking about UNESCO, equal prize money. If you’re out there advocating for an issue you’re taking some kind of political stance. How do you feel about that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel that what I do in tennis isn’t really political. I mean, I think equal prize money is more I mean, obviously we have equal prize money, which is great.

I don’t see it as political, that or the other thing you brought up, which I can’t remember right now.


VENUS WILLIAMS: UNESCO. I mean, helping other people is what we’re all here to do, if you ask me.

Q. But you don’t vote either?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don’t vote.

Q. You have another British player in the next round, Anne Keothavong. Are you aware of her?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I’ve seen her play also. I’m sure she’ll come out swinging, because that’s what you have to do at Wimbledon. I know a little bit more about her than my opponent today. Obviously I will focus on my game.

Q. The atmosphere in the crowd out there today was fantastic, mainly because it was a British player. Do you enjoy that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely the atmosphere was great. But I don’t hear too much of it because I’m really focused on what I’m doing.

But I did appreciate the atmosphere, because when it’s all so quiet, I mean, it’ nothing like an atmosphere in tennis, I think.

Q. Were you ever actually concerned today? Were you ever really worried?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not really. Obviously, I wanted that break back early. When I got it at 3 All I was pretty excited, because 4 2 isn’t as much fun as 3 1 (smiling). I was definitely excited about getting that back, because she was playing well, not giving up a lot. It was important to get that break back.

But obviously I felt pretty comfortable. I felt like I had a few chances to break, but didn’t quite happen. So I just had to leave it behind me and go for that tiebreaker.

Q. To what extent do you think physical fitness was a factor today? It appeared in the second set your superior mobility was a telling factor.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think my mobility is a huge strength for me and a huge weapon throughout my career. I thought she moved pretty well. She got a lot more balls back than what I was expecting. But I’m really blessed to be my height and to be able to move. I’m really excited about that.

Q. The governing bodies of tennis are taking a stronger look at issues pertaining to gambling and match fixing. If someone is caught involved in fixing a match, what do you think the penalty should be?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I haven’t even thought about it, to be honest. I don’t think it’s rampant in our sport. I suppose there have been some cases, but I see that tennis is taking a stronger stance on that. It’s important because our sport is growing and needs to grow, so we have to make sure it doesn’t happen.

Q. What message do you think is being sent by this increased scrutiny?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don’t know. I didn’t think about it. I was really, really focusing on Wimbledon, so I didn’t think about it. But I did see there was a 15 point 15 points. I’m sorry, I’m the wrong person to ask about the details.

Q. You brought out a new clothes line here, but you have Petrova wearing your clothes, right?


Q. Is that the first time you’ve had another player wearing your clothes? Talk about how you worked that out with her.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she’s just in transition between was in transition, so she I think wanted she was doing me a favor. So I’m hoping to see her in the clothes. I saw her in some warmups yesterday, but I haven’t seen her in the match clothes. I’m hoping to see her.

She’s a great girl. I have a lot of respect for her on and off the court. She’s a good person.

Q. Is it the same outfit you’re wearing, or is it different?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, it’s different. It’s different.

Q. Know EleVen trench coat?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Trench coats, no. Maybe next fall.

Q. Did you have a hand in designing the dress you wore today? If so, is there an element in the dress you particularly liked?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it’s kind of like a Norma Kamali inspired. I don’t know if you know her. She does chic and classic swimwear. Obviously Wimbledon white is a requirement. It’s nice to do something a little different. It has a little keyhole. It’s definitely fun.

Q. If Naomi was to ask you, What do I need to get to your level, what would you tell her?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I would say she would need to train with Mr. Williams. That would definitely help, because he’s a great coach. That would be my recommendation.

Q. What’s the greatest strength of your father as a coach?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think at this point he’s really positive, because I feel like I understand the game. A lot of times you really just need someone to help you through those moments when you’re too hard on yourself or, you know, to get you to that next level of positivity and confidence and good thoughts. I think he’s really good at that.

Q. What do you feel his greatest strength is in terms of his knowledge of tennis?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think he’s a real innovator on the court. Serena and I, we came out and we were able to play the game that he taught us. I think in essence it was really him who changed women’s tennis, because we were just the students.

Q. Have you been able to see Maria Sharapova’s tuxedo outfit? If so, what do you make of it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I haven’t seen it, no. So I don’t know.

Q. What would you say was the difference between your first set performance and your second set performance?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think my returns were a little better in that second set, but like my returns weren’t as good in the first. I was hitting them short. She had some opportunities. I think that definitely made a difference, amongst other things. I made a few more shots.

It all makes a difference. But, of course, I always feel like I play better as the match progresses.

Q. As a champion so many times, how comfortable do you feel here? We always say it’s like your second home and all that. When you come here, does it very comfortable for you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I feel really good here, obviously especially this year. I like being here in general. I love having my family here. Obviously, I love the grass. My game seems to just get better when I’m here.

I just love this tournament, so I’m definitely starting to feel like a lot of the other great players who were playing before me, I’m hoping to follow in their footsteps, because they loved this tournament more than anything. I’m definitely starting to feel that way, too.

Q. Do you feel like a different player here at this tournament?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think my whole attitude changes (laughter). So it’s great, definitely.

Q. Why especially this year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think because of my success in the past, winning here a handful of times, you know, I’ve dreamed of that. But then to actually achieve those things and make it happen is something completely different, so that gives me a good feeling coming here.

Q. Do you remember the first time you ever played on grass, whether you liked it right away, or was it an acquired taste?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I liked it right away, of course. When you’re little, to play on grass is exciting, something different, something new. I wanted to try to dive. I’ve never been brave enough to dive. I could still try it, I guess.

Q. Was that in Florida that you played on grass the first time?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think in Florida.

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Wimbledon 2008 Interview: Rafael Nadal, after first round win

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Video version of this interview is here, in .wmv format.

Rafael Nadal def. Andreas Beck 6‑4, 6‑4, 7‑6

Q. A great serving performance today. No breakpoints to face. Can we talk a little bit about how you’ve gone about improving your serve over the last three years. For example, did you use electronic equipment to look at your service motion, freeze frame, where your feet or arm was in a particular situation, or was it just a matter of hitting more and more balls?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, yeah, today I served well. Second record aces. I had 18 two years ago against Agassi here, and today 17. So happy with my serve.
I improve because I am young and I must improve. I practice for improve always. Every day, every month. My goal always is be better player, so for that reason I improved a little bit my serve.

Q. How important is that at Wimbledon? How important is it to have a better serve at Wimbledon?
RAFAEL NADAL: It’s important in every surface. Probably in clay a little bit less important. But every surface it’s very important have a good serve, no? In grass is very, very important, too.
So, yeah, right now I happy about how I serve today and the way I was serving today. But, you know, is only the first match. I have to continuing.

Q. How much of a better player do you feel you are on grass compared to last year?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I really don’t know, no? Everybody ask me the same. Last two years I played the final in Wimbledon, so is very, very difficult say I am better player. I don’t know if I am better player, especially because I didn’t play on grass ‑ only one tournament.
In my opinion, I am more complete player because I have more options to do, no? But I don’t know if I am better player or not on grass. I think in general, yes.

Q. The new rule about having only one person with you in the locker room here, how are you adjusting to that? Is it your uncle who comes with you in the locker room or the trainer?
RAFAEL NADAL: The coach. Toni is coming to the locker room. Sometimes I have problems. Is a little bit a strange rule, no? The tournament have to change, in my opinion. In my humble opinion, the tournament have to change that, no?
Because if we travel with one physio, the physio has to be before the match on the locker room to do the tapes for everything, no? And, well, here the people who manage the locker room, the persons inside the locker room, they are very nice.
When I have a problem they go and bring my physio, my trainer, inside. So today was perfect because they did that for me. So only can say thank you very much.

Q. I noticed you’re wearing tapes around the bottom of your knees. Do you have a problem with your knees, or is it to prevent a problem?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. If you saw me play, I played always like this, no?

Q. With the tapes around?

Q. The Spanish football team, they went through after a penalty. How nerve‑wracking was that?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think the same like everybody, no? A lot of nervous. So we finish the match jumping, everybody. So was very, very important for us be in the semifinal.
But right now I think we have to continuing.

Q. We know you’re a very good player on grass. How do you explain the rest of the Spaniards right now, their play on grass?
RAFAEL NADAL: They play good, but not only right now. They play good in the past. Ferrero made quarterfinal here last year. Ferrer fourth round, not last year, two years ago. Verdasco the same. Good chances for being in quarterfinals. I think is nothing new, no?

Q. Do you think some of the former players that were top ranked that didn’t play Wimbledon, was that a mistake?
RAFAEL NADAL: In the past?

Q. Like Corretja, Bruguera, these players that often skipped Wimbledon.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it was different moment. I am not one for say is mistake because they know ‑‑ well, everybody knows more than others how (speaking in Spanish).
THE INTERPRETER: They know themselves better than everybody else.
RAFAEL NADAL: I think in the past, I don’t know if the ranking was zero if you didn’t come here. I didn’t know exactly how working. I never going to do something like this. I love play here.

Q. Would you like an early game on Thursday so you can get to the watch the football?
RAFAEL NADAL: I hope so (smiling).

Q. Do you feel confident for first round to go through next round and so on? Was it good for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: I have a difficult draw. I gonna play against very tough opponent, one of the worst opponent who I can play in the second round, being the No. 2 seeded.
Well, Gulbis is a good player. Very aggressive player. Very good serve. He play very aggressive with amazing forehand. He’s very young, too.

Q. When you’re serving this well, does it put you in a different mentality, the same mentality that Andy Roddick had or Pete Sampras had, that all you have to do is take care of your serve and you win?
RAFAEL NADAL: Not yet. Not yet, no.

Q. Did you hear the person shout 911 when there was an emergency and somebody fell? Did it affect you at all?
RAFAEL NADAL: I didn’t know, but I listen, Code 911. I didn’t know.

Q. I was wondering if it changed your focus at all.
RAFAEL NADAL: No. I saw everybody looks someplace, but I don’t know. The true, I didn’t.

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