Google Down the Line!: HE SAID/HE SAID: US Open Day Thirteen


Sunday, September 12, 2010

HE SAID/HE SAID: US Open Day Thirteen

Q. As somebody who's made plenty of history yourself, what are your thoughts on the opportunity that Rafa has to make history with a few straight slams and creating the career Slam?

ROGER FEDERER: Fantastic. It's great for tennis, and it's great for him at the young age, you know, he is to have that opportunity already.

I don't know when I had my first opportunity in Paris, how old I was, but my guess would be that he's younger, you know. It doesn't really matter if he's younger or not. It's a matter of can he make it, and chances are good now, especially that Novak is so tired and Rafa has been playing so well.

But it's exciting for tennis that we're doing something very special in tennis at the same time. Yeah, I won't watch, but I hope he wins. (Laughter.)

Q. […] on Novak, you've handled him well here before. Was he a different player in some ways today? Everybody in the crowd wanted him to go down because of the prospect of you and Rafa, and yet he held up under great pressure.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I was the favorite, so there was not that much pressure on him. But he played well under the circumstances, playing the semifinals of a slam.

Honestly, I think he played already well against me the last three times we played here in New York. So it was not like the guy can't play under pressure. He's proven his point, and time and time again. I knew he was gonna be a really tough opponent. The guys who overlooked him don't know anything about tennis, unfortunately.

Look, he played a good match. I kind of felt like the racquet was in my control, and I just let those couple of sets slip away too quickly instead of maybe making him work extra hard.
But, again, I did have match point, and I was, you know, a couple of points away, like I was a couple of points away from victory last year at the Open. So it's two tough losses in two years.
But anyhow, I feel like I played good tennis. That's positive, at least.

Q. How much of a shot do you think he has given...

ROGER FEDERER: I'm sorry? I didn't hear.

Q. You said Novak had a shot tomorrow. How much of a shot do you think he has given the Super Saturday, since you've been through this a lot, and the fatigue factor?

ROGER FEDERER: Ask him how he feels. Yeah, I mean, it's tough. We played second, so that's not an advantage.

I'm not gonna start saying bad things, but it's a tough setup, Saturday and Sunday finals, you know.
Yeah, we will see how he feels coming out tomorrow. It's a big question mark.

Q. Can you just walk us through what you think you'll do for the next few hours? I mean, do you have massage, ice bath, food?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. Popcorn, watching TV, relaxing. (Laughter.)

Yeah, I will do anything that comes up to your mind legally recovery wise. (Laughter.) I will do it. You know, I cannot go to the details too much.

Emotional recovery with my girlfriend, and a couple of things that I cannot talk about. (Laughter.)

It's not what you think. I know what you're thinking.

Q. When you were asked earlier about Rafa possibly becoming the greatest ever, and spoke quite reverently about his accomplishments and so forth. It's occurring to me that at 23 years of age, you yourself are somebody that there's a lot of great championships to be played. With a victory tomorrow, your name belongs in there, you know, in this conversation about Roger and Rafa. Roger himself said in the press conference that people that overlook you just don't know that much about tennis. Your thoughts on sort of all these questions.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, well, it's normal. There are two best players in the world at this moment. They are the two most dominant players in last five, six years, so it's logical that people talk about them mostly and they want to see them playing in the finals and everybody talks about their rivalry, their, you know, matchups, the greatness of each player.

It's normal. For me, I don't think I've done bad last three or four years. I don't think I've done bad with my achievements. But I am not, you know, kind of disappointed that people are not talking about me more. It's just waiting for my moment to come.

You know, I mean, I'm competing in an era of two, you know, great greats, two players winning most of the majors. It's not easy, if you know what I mean.

Q. It's true. But you're not 28, 29, you know, in the twilight of your career. You're 23. There's still so much tennis to be played.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Definitely, yeah, many, many more years to come. I look forward to it. I'm working hard on my game. I'm getting some things together, and hopefully on the court it's gonna pay off.

Q. When athletes win consistently and they reach the level you have, No. 1, they're very stubborn. They don't want to change anything. Why are you able to adapt and change things in your game even at the level you've reached?

RAFAEL NADAL: I think I changed the strings in the end of the season. So, yeah, you are in the top, but the things works very well, but can works better always and worse. But always you have a risk, and you have to -- I don't know. In English is not -- I am not inspired today. Only inspiration was on court. (Laughter.) Forget. (Laughter.)

Q. You've always been extremely hungry. You could have been the king of clay only, and you worked and worked to win Wimbledon. You could have done just that, and you worked and worked to do what you're doing on hard court. Does that hunger come from, I want to win everywhere, or is it just, I want to be the best I can be? Why is it you're always not satisfied?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, because I always thought I always can keep improving. That's why I am playing, to keep improving and to feel myself better player than before. I go to practice every day not to practice; I go to practice every day to try to learn something and to keep improving my level. I already won on hard, so that's not nothing new for me to win on this surface. But the conditions in every tournament are different, and I need to have more options to do to try to win against difficult players like today.

Like in the past, I had a lot of problems against Youzhny in the past, because I was playing before two meters behind the baseline or three meters behind the baseline, all the balls higher with topspin, and he had always the chance to come inside. Now I can change the rhythm. I can play a slice backhand. I can serve, win a little bit more free points with the serve, and I can play more close to the baseline.
So the position on court improved, the slice backhand improved, and it was important shot for me to stop the rhythm of that player. For sure the forehand always was good. The true, I think I am more close to the baseline now.

Q. Overall were you pretty happy with the last couple of weeks?

MIKHAIL YOUZHNY: Yeah, but right now, you lose the match you cannot be really happy. But actually it was good tournament for me.

Q. First of all, if you can elaborate on that a bit. I mean, you know, I guess it takes a little time to look back and reflect and say, Hey, I got to the semifinals of a Grand Slam. But is it almost that much more difficult? Because you were playing such good tennis coming in, and, you know, you start to think about maybe I can be a finalist here? Or can you look back and say, This was a great two weeks for me; I've played some great tennis?

MIKHAIL YOUZHNY: No, have to be realistic. Okay, how Rafa play today I don't have lot of chances to beat him, actually. So that's why if thinking like this one, I can start to think about, Oh, I can win Australia; but I pull out third round; I can win Wimbledon, but I lost second round. So anyway I try to be optimistic, and anyway it was a good two weeks for me.

Q. Do you feel in a way today you might have beaten yourself as opposed to Rafa beating you? Is there a bit of that?

MIKHAIL YOUZHNY: I feel I play really good one game at 4 3, first set, like was lot of emotions. But if I can play like this on every game against Rafa, maybe it's not for sure maybe I can get chance to win. But I don't have so much emotion like I have this game, so I can like sometimes wake up for some points or some games, but I cannot be consistent for all match.

Q. I think you said in your last press conference that you're hoping to be the bad guy.

MIKHAIL YOUZHNY: What?

Q. You were hoping to be the bad guy or the bad person. That didn't happen.

MIKHAIL YOUZHNY: Anyway you have to be nice.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]
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