They Said It — And You Read It
Pro Tennis Player Quotes of the Month
March 20, 2023: “I used to be naive about tennis. When I started out, I kind of assumed that male and female pros were treated the same way. It just made sense, you know? I mean, why would it be any different? Then I met my girlfriend, Mirjam Bjorklund, and she really opened my eyes. Things are definitely going in the right direction. But overall, the gap is still huge. Maybe I’m being cynical, but I think some people might think of gender equality as mere political correctness. Deep down they don’t feel that women deserve as much, you know? And that’s terrible."
— World No. 30 Denis Shapovalov told the Players' Tribune.
March 20, 2023: "Regarding the Russian soccer team shirt, the WTA has formally warned the player that this was not acceptable nor an appropriate action. We do not expect to see any reoccurrence of this in the future."
— The Women's Tennis Association's formal warning to Anastasia Potapova, a 21-year-old Russian ranked No. 26, for wearing a T-shirt of Russian soccer team Spartak Moscow before her match against Jessica Pegula at Indian Wells this week. Potapova said she had supported Spartak since she was 13 and saw no provocation in it.
March 20, 2023: “Sorry I didn't make this final entertaining. I tried and I tried. I don't like to lose, but today was unfortunately pretty easy. I hope you still enjoyed it. I'm really disappointed because I had 20 one time. This would be cool to try to beat it and maybe try to prolong it as long as possible. Really disappointed that it ended, but a lot of confidence from this streak. Because last year, that's what I was missing, kind of these streaks. I was doing sometimes finals, semis in Cincinnati, kind of playing good but not playing well enough in the semis. I managed to win 19 matches in a row. I’m proud of it, and now it’s time to try to build a new streak. There is no other way in tennis.”
— Daniil Medvedev, joking to Indian Wells spectators after Carlos Alcaraz thrashed him 6-3, 6-2 in the 70-minute final to end the Russian’s 19-matching winning streak. The 27-year-old former No. 1 had won the three previous tournaments that he played — Rotterdam, Doha, and Dubai.
March 20, 2023: "What I improve a lot is to don't take the pressure, just to play relaxed. That's why I show a great level, because I feel like I have no pressure. I enjoy. I'm playing relaxed. I really trust in every shot that I hit. If I miss, I don't mind."
— Carlos Alcaraz, who became the first man to win the BNP Paribas Open without dropping a set since Roger Federer in 2017 and the youngest man to win the title in the desert.
March 20, 2023: "We just saw a level we rarely see in a tennis season. This kid can play an absolutely astonishing level of tennis."
— Tennis Channel analyst Paul Annacone, who formerly coached Roger Federer and Pete Sampras, on Carlos Alcaraz's sensational shotmaking when he routed Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-2 in the BNP Paribas Open to become only the second male teenager to win three or more Masters 1000 titles.
Feb. 16, 2023: “Novak is 35 years old, and he knows at 40 he won't manage this performance. I think it will be a hell of a ride after the Australian Open. It will be a completely different act and a completely different burden in Paris and Wimbledon. Success is his life’s dream, he wants to become the most successful player in history. Even as a child, he said: I'm going to be the best - and he was right. And now he is at the limit.”
— Boris Becker, speaking on Eurosport Germany’s tennis podcast ‘Das Gelbe vom Ball’, says that Novak Djokovic has always focused on becoming the greatest of all time, and his capturing his 22nd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open helped him come closer to achieving that ambition.
Feb. 16, 2023: “I made history here for my country and for my home. I’m very proud of myself and especially thanks to all the fans and my team who came here to support. I couldn’t do this without any of you guys.”
— Wu Yibing became the first man from China to win an ATP title when he held off home hero John Isner 6-7(4) 7-6(3) 7-6(12) in a thrilling final to claim the Dallas Open. Also, no Chinese man had ever before defeated a top-10 opponent, and Wu used his all-court game to upset No. 8 Taylor Fritz in the semi-finals.
Feb. 16, 2023: “I for sure feel more at peace now. It's interesting. I think I feel torn because I'm still able to play at a very, very, very high level. With that being said, I always wanted to leave the game playing at a very high level. I also wanted to walk away when I'm healthy and have a quality of life. But I'm inch by inch leaning away, inch by inch embracing it. I was playing earlier when I first retired because it was hard to do it cold turkey. But lately, I haven't played so much. And I miss it. I'm like, 'Oh my goodness. I gotta get out there'. But it's hard for me to get out there. I did play the other day, and it's just like, 'There's no way I shouldn't be playing professional tennis'. Like, there's literally no excuse. But I mean, I guess there is an excuse, right? It's hard because when I'm playing I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, I'm pretty good at this. I can continue to do this,' which not a lot of people can say."
— Serena Williams, the 23-time major champion played her last pro match at the 2022 US Open, talking to E! about her thoughts about retirement five months later.
Feb. 16, 2023: "Tennis matches, especially at this level with so much on the line, are about few points. Unfortunately, injustice happens daily to players when we have line & chair umpires calling & no electronic review. Just saying that at this level (WTA tour) umpires are not good enough (not to say BAD!) & that I am a big big big very fan of the electronic machine calling every single ball! I wish our sport would develop in this direction. Yes for those wondering.. It was match point down.. 5/6 in the third set 30:40. Great battle. Hard luck. What can we do? Unfortunately nothing. Up to the next one. Good night."
— French veteran Kristina Mladenovic, advocating for electronic line calling at all events because umpires are simply not good enough for this level. Mladenovic was left frustrated by her early loss in Lyon to Petra Martic, venting on social media.
Feb. 16, 2023: “They need to cut that out, allowing players to challenge line calls that cannot be changed."
— ESPN analyst and former No. 1 John McEnroe rightly stressed that the whole point of electronic line calling is to get line calls right, which should have meant the end of player challenges, but instead now merely indulge players and waste time.
Jan. 23, 2023: "Everyone is different. Some will stop eating and for me it was the opposite: I used to take refuge in food. You feel so empty, so sad, that you need to fill yourself. It came from the distress of not managing to do what I wanted to do on court, of not winning anymore, of suffering physically. Eating would appease me for a few minutes. We all know it does not last but it was an escape route. When you're alone, it's harder to control. In tennis, you spend a lot of time alone in your room. It's how it often happened.... You start understanding and realizing that if it happens, it's not the end of the world. Since I've been taking time for myself, it happens less. And when it happens, I accept it better and feel less guilty. Allowing myself some regular indulgences helps me avoid having too many of these cravings."
— World No. 4 Caroline Garcia, who reached the US Open semis and win the WTA Finals last year, told French sports daily L'Equipe about her struggles with bulimia.
Jan. 23, 2023: “I think it’s huge for Chinese men’s tennis. We have had really good players from the women’s side, but not really big names in the men’s. Hopefully, we can do something big in the future.”
— Teenage qualifier Shang Juncheng, a 17-year-old qualifier, became the first Chinese man to win a main-draw match at the Australian Open in the professional era, when he hit 34 winners to beat Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5.
Jan. 23, 2023: “A couple of years ago Andy, you played at the French Open and I was questioning you taking a wildcard. You went out and played against Stan Wawrinka on the Philippe-Chatrier, you didn’t look motivated and I thought maybe you shouldn’t have taken that wildcard. You then later told me that you were going to take every wildcard because ‘I am wanting to get back’. Today, you’ve proved me wrong in a way because to see you fight like that, to see your problem-solving skills and to get rewarded for all the hard work makes it all worthwhile to stay in this job."
— Eurosport tennis analyst and seven-time major champion Mats Wilander apologized to Andy Murray for doubting him after his impressive win over 13th seed Matteo Berrettini at the Australian Open.
Jan. 23, 2023: “I stayed calm when I needed to and made the serve when I needed to. Held when I needed to. I think that definitely comes with maturity. I feel like in the past, I would have freaked out in that moment. Fans are eager to see a new face of the game.”
— 18-year-old American Coco Gauff, who staved off two set points, noting that she steadied herself and went on to a 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory over the 20-year-old Emma Raducanu in Rod Laver Arena to reach the third round at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2020.
Jan. 23, 2023: “Sports and tennis can have a role in anything going on around the world. Tennis has players from every continent, tournaments in every continent and it’s seen worldwide on TV. Tennis players have a voice, and I think they’ve used it well over the past year, especially in terms of some political debates and the war in Ukraine. Tennis has stood its ground well.”
— Casper Ruud, a Norwegian who was the runner-up at the French Open and US Open in 2022 and is seeded second at the Australian Open.
Dec. 14, 2022: “In my mind, I always see myself as the best player in the world, of course.”
—Supremely confident Novak Djokovic, after winning his record-equaling sixth title at the ATP Finals with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over world No. 3 Casper Ruud in the final.
Dec. 14, 2022: “In the end, it’s been disappointing to end up losing these big finals. Overall, if you gave me an offer to end the year at No. 3, play the finals that I’ve played, on the 1st of January this year, I would sign the contract right away. No doubt about it.”
— Casper Ruud, on his highly successful yet bittersweet year. The mild-mannered, 23-year-old seized three tour titles but lost four prestigious finals at the U.S. Open, Roland Garros, the Miami Open, and the ATP Finals.
Dec. 14, 2022: “Casper Ruud, I remember when he came to the [Nadal] academy, he had a bad backhand because in my opinion he made bad movement with his legs. Now his backhand is enough good. Every year, he has improved a little. I remember, when he came to the academy, never thought that he could be No. 2 in the world. Now, I have seen many of his matches and he is a very good tennis player. He can be No. 1. Casper has this capacity. Normally, he makes things very easy, very simple, and not complicated. Go, boom, and every time calm, he hits very well.”
— Toni Nadal, telling Eurosport that 23-year-old Norwegian Casper Ruud, the French, U.S., and ATP Finals runner-up, now ranked No. 3, can rise to No. 1.
Dec. 14, 2022: “Things out of his control are impacting Stefanos. His family is so invested in his success. They want to help him from the sidelines, but they’re just hurting him. And it’s hurting his chances to play good tennis. You saw how he threw his serve away with two double faults [in the third set]. He got lost in the match when his parents started jawing at each other. It seems like they need a therapy session to figure it all out. Because they want their kid to do well, but it’s just not working. The way it’s going right now, it’s hurting him more than it’s helping.”
— Former No. 1 Jim Courier, on Tennis Channel, summed up the Tsitsipas family dysfunction, which has a history of illegal coaching during matches, drawing repeated warnings from umpires and complaints from opponents. Stefanos has told his parents he doesn’t want their input, but that hasn’t stopped his garrulous dad from shouting from the player’s box. In the third set of his 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 loss to Rublev at the ATP Finals, a frustrated and angry Tsitsipas whacked a ball toward his father.
Dec. 14, 2022: “Obviously the doubles with Vasek in the quarter-finals against Germany was massive. Against an undefeated (Davis Cup) team, coming back from a set down, we just completely lit it up. It was crazy, crazy. We didn’t miss a ball for a while there. It was like an out-of-body experience. It was crazy.”
— Denis Shapovalov, calling his 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 doubles win with Vasek Pospisil over Germans Tim Puetz and Kevin Krawietz a highlight of Canada’s winning the Davis Cup for the first time.
Nov. 21, 2022: “Federer, 41, leaves with an airtight case as the GOAT of men’s tennis—20 Grand Slam titles, 310 weeks ranked world No. 1 and perhaps the purest, most varied shotmaking the game has ever seen.”
— Sports Illustrated magazine's dubious claim that Roger Federer is the GOAT, despite the fact that Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have significantly better career records.
Nov. 21, 2022: “What a talent Alcaraz is. This kid's rise has been meteoric. He so obviously passes the eye test for someone who is going to win majors, now to get to No. 1 that quickly, that's a different story. As we look forward to next year, I still think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't think Novak Djokovic is the best player in the world. But the No. 1 rank for Alcaraz is well-deserved, he was unbelievable to watch this year. I wish so badly he was in Turin mixing it up this week with this group of phenomenal players, but we want health and he has a long career ahead of himself. Hopefully, he comes back healthy and ready, and I can’t wait to see him match up with Rafa [Nadal], Novak, and the guys that are going to try to claim that territory for as long as they can. What a gift to the game Alcaraz has been.”
— Former world No. 1 Andy Roddick, praising world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz on Tennis Channel.
Nov. 21, 2022: “My main takeaway from this is a little bit of a feeling of empathy for Stef Tsitsipas. Things that are out of his control are impacting him. His family, they’re so invested in his success. They want so much for him, they want to help him from the sidelines, but they’re just hurting him. And it’s hurting his chances to play good tennis. You saw how he threw his serve away with two double faults [in the third set against Andrey Rublev]. He got lost in the match when his parents started jawing at each other. I just feel for the kid. Because Stef seems like a good guy to me, and he’s said time and time again he doesn’t want input from the bench. But they give it to him anyway. It seems like they need a therapy session to figure it all out. Because they all want the same. They want their kid to do well, of course, they do, but it’s just not working. The way it’s going about right now, it’s hurting him more than it’s helping."
— Former No. 1 Jim Courier, on the dysfunctional Tsitsipas family. During Stefanos’s 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 loss to Andrey Rublev, he whacked a ball at his talkative father during the third set in frustration.
Nov. 21, 2022: "It looks like the tournaments in a week suit me better than the Slams for now, so I need to make some adjustments. But it's a great experience and the week in Cincinnati really helped me get some confidence in my fitness, my level of tennis, my game style," [she told the WTA website].
— Caroline Garcia, after winning the WTA Finals for her biggest title. Garcia also ranked as high as No. 4 in 2018, but then fell to No. 19 in 2019 and was down to No.75 before starting her turnaround this season. This time, she wants to stay consistent.
Nov. 21, 2022: “I gave so much energy in Jil’s match, ’cause I was trying to push her so much. Storm [Sanders] was playing incredible, she was throwing everything at Jil. And she stayed so strong, every point she didn’t go away. And she, like, refused to lose and fought with everything she had, and I was so proud and so inspired in a way. And I kind of tried to do the same thing. I don’t think we got it yet, that we’re the first ones (from Switzerland) to win.”
— A jubilant Belinda Bencic, after she routed Australia’s Alja Tomljanovic 6-2, 6-1 in the final to clinch Switzerland’s first title at the Billie Jean King Cup.
Oct. 17, 2022: “Yeah, it’s a great story. Hopefully there will be a movie about it one day. But he has to win the Grand Slam first. You only get movies if you do well.”
— Wayne Ferreira, coach of France Tiafoe, known as “Big Foe” in the tennis community, about the surprise US Open semifinalist’s Cinderella story.
Oct. 17, 2022: “Growing up, I never thought that I was different because the No. 1 player in the world was somebody who looked like me.”
— Coco Gauff on Serena Williams, her girlhood idol.
Oct. 17, 2022: “Tennis is a psychological game, as well as it is physical. Sometimes, I guess, we are trying to act like we have good posture, but on the inside, we probably feel different. There is a bit of acting, as well, in sports.”
— Casper Ruud, who reached his second Grand Slam final of 2022, at the US Open.
Oct. 17, 2022: “I wouldn't be Serena if there wasn’t Venus, so thank you, Venus [Williams]. She's the only reason that Serena Williams ever existed.”
— Serena Williams, paying tribute to her older sister Venus.
Oct. 17, 2022: “If you look at Daniil Medvedev only on the tennis court, only as a tennis player, maybe it’s not that easy to like him as much because my technique is a little bit odd. My game style is probably not the flashiest, but that’s because I want to win…But I do feel like when I interact with my fans, if they know a little bit more about who I am in real life, they start to like me more. I would think my personality together with what I am on the tennis court, what I am straight afterward in interviews or my personal life, is what makes some people a fan of Daniil Medvedev.”
— Daniil Medvedev, making the case for sports fans to like him.
Oct. 17, 2022: "Roger, Where do we begin? It's been a privilege to witness your journey and see you become a champion in every sense of the word. We will so miss the sight of you gracing our courts, but all we can say for now is thank you, for the memories and joy you have given to so many."
— Wimbledon, where Roger Federer captured a men's record eight titles, issued an emotional statement after the Swiss superstar announced his retirement.
Sept. 15, 2022: “I’m a dynamic player. I can do anything on the court. The opponent can’t read my shots. In some moments, I can try (unique) shots. I can do a lot of shots.”
— Carlos Alcaraz, asked what he considers his best quality after the 19-year-old Spaniard won the US Open.
Sept. 15, 2022: "I have the goal to put him on the high level of tennis. Of course, I think it's going to be very, very difficult to achieve what [the Big 3] have done on tennis. We're talking about 22 Grand Slams. He has only one. Is a long way still to go. But who knows? I think he has all the tennis and potential to be one of the best. All we have to do is try it."
— Juan Carlos Ferrero, who has coached Carlos Alcaraz, the new world No. 1 since he was 15, has high hopes about the teen sensation’s future.
Sept. 15, 2022: “I have been playing tennis since before I have a memory because my father played with me for fun when I was young. Tennis has always been a big part of my life. When I saw Rafa [Nadal], Roger [Federer] on TV when I was young, I said that I want to be on TV someday myself. I think that just stuck with me all my life, that someday I would like to try to become world No. 1 and win Grand Slams.”
— Casper Ruud, who became the first Norwegian man in the Open Era to reach a Grand Slam final, losing in four entertaining sets to Carlos Alcaraz but rising to a career-high No. 2 in the rankings.
Sept. 15, 2022: “You know, everyone loves a Cinderella story. Just trying to make one.”
— No. 22 seed Frances Tiafoe, after becoming the first American man to reach the U.S. Open semifinals since Andy Roddick in 2006 by defeating Andrey Rublev in straight sets.
Sept. 15, 2022: “You are fearless. I love it. And you hate to lose. It’s great. You’ve touched our hearts and minds to be our authentic self, to use our voices, to dream big. Thank you for your leadership and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, especially for women and women of color. Most of all, thank you for sharing your journey with every single one of us. We love you.”
— Billie Jean King, paying tribute to superstar Serena Williams, who lost in the third round of her last Grand Slam event at the US Open.
Sept. 15, 2022: “It's like a confirmation for me that the sky is the limit.”
— Iga Swiatek, a 21-year-old Pole, who won her first two Grand Slam titles on clay at the French Open, was thrilled and encouraged that her third major crown came on hard courts at the US Open.
July 18, 2022: “Default or not? If that is me you are defaulting me. He has hit a ball in the f****** crowd. Are you dumb? It’s a default brother. It’s a default bro! What classifies as that then? What classifies it? So you can hit a ball into the crowd, hit someone and not get defaulted? Are you dumb?”
— Nick Kyrgios, who earlier clashed with umpire Damien Dumusois over an errant line call, was outraged that Stefanos Tsitsipas wasn't defaulted when he whacked the ball in frustration, and it barely missed spectator and hit the Wimbledon Centre Court stadium wall during Kyrgios's four-set victory.
July 18, 2022: “I’m now in the quarterfinal of Wimbledon, so it’s really amazing for me. This means also that you always have to keep going. Doesn’t matter how old you are, doesn’t matter how many kids you have, you just have to keep going and to believe in yourself.”
— Tatjana Maria, a mother of two daughters at 34 years, 10 months, and the oldest player left in the Wimbledon women singles draw.
July 18, 2022: “I have lost words for what this tournament, what this trophy means to me, to my team and family. It always has been and will be the most special tournament in my heart, the one that motivated me, inspired me to start playing tennis in a small little mountain resort in Serbia where my parents used to run a restaurant. I was four or five years old, I saw Pete Sampras win his first Wimbledon in 1992 [actually 1993]. I asked my dad and mum to buy me a racket, my first image of tennis was grass and Wimbledon. I always dreamt of coming here, playing in this court, and of course realising the childhood dream of winning this trophy. Every single time, it gets more and more meaningful and special. I am very blessed and very thankful to be standing here with the trophy.”
— Novak Djokovic, after defeating unseeded Nick Kyrgios 4–6, 6–3, 6–4, 7–6 (3) for his fourth straight Wimbledon title and seventh overall and 21st Grand Slam title, putting him one behind Rafael Nadal and one ahead of Roger Federer.
July 18, 2022: “Maybe I proved that [you don’t always] have to have a great team from a young age, because I didn’t till the age of 17, 18. So I think this is the most important thing, that everybody, no matter their financial situation, no matter who they are, they can play and achieve many great results.”
— Elena Rybakina, a pre-Wimbledon 100-1 longshot from Kazakhstan, after overpowering favorite Ons Jabeur, of Tunisia, also in her first Grand Slam final, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 to capture her first Grand Slam title.
Oct. 25, 2021: “I have to be honest. It was a bit rough for me to watch both of their runs. I’m trying to be the best I can be, so I obviously want to be where they are, and I’m sure it’s going to happen soon. It just didn’t feel very nice to watch them playing a final. It was very inspirational because it gave me strength and helped me realize that I can do the same thing. This is a thing they gave me, and I’m very thankful for that. Leading something is never easy: when you are the first, there’s always extra pressure and more expectations.”
— Marta Kostyuk, a highly touted 18-year-old from Ukraine, confiding she found herself crestfallen to see Emma Raducanu and runner-up Leylah Fernandez suddenly surpass her and play the century’s first all-teen final in Flushing Meadows, after she reached her third WTA semifinal of the season, by routing Raducanu 6-1, 6-2 at the Transsylvania Open in Romania.
Oct. 25, 2021: “Less than a year after tennis officials engaged in painstaking wrangling with players to accept quarantine conditions just to get the  Australian Open off the ground, the sport faces another battle: convincing unvaccinated players to get the jab. After confirmation that Australia is mandating double vaccination as a condition of entry, the nation’s annual tennis-fest at Melbourne Park in January represents a sudden reality for professional tennis players: get vaccinated for COVID-19, or don’t come. Suddenly, it’s suck it up or skip a slam.”
— Scott Spits, sports columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald, in his Oct. 24 column titled “Get the jab or skip a slam: does professional tennis have a vaccination problem?”
Oct. 25, 2021: “I think we are watching a future No.1—he’s got it all. Mentality, the athleticism, there are very few places to go [higher in the rankings], you’d only imagine with the attitude he’s shown, with the great coach that he’s teamed up with, that he’s going to continue to improve. He’s a quiet character but there’s some real drive there.”
— Miles Maclagan, Andy Murray’s former coach, impressed by 20-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner’s potential while commentating during Sinner’s overpowering 6-2 6-2 victory over Diego Schwartzman in the Antwerp final.
Oct. 25, 2021: “You only get to play the Olympics once every four years, not four times a year. And a gold medal every bit as valuable as a major title these days.”
— Jim Courier, a four-time major champion in the 1990s, on the great value of an Olympics gold medal.
Oct. 25, 2021: “The young guys are better than us, if I’m being honest. Korda is a hell of a player…Brooksby is brutal…He’s going to be a big second-week guy. [Brandon] Nakashima is as pure of a ball-striker as there is. The young guys are going to be the guys to beat, from the American standpoint…Korda’s dad was a great player – no offense to Seb but it’s hard not to be great. He grew up with a great tennis mind and he’s a nice kid. He’s got a nice build, a nice modern-day tennis frame…[But] I’d invest in Brooksby. He’s special, and could be No. 1. His mind works so differently. He’s got this game plan, he sees things so well and is so tricky. Behind the baseline he reminds me of Djokovic. He’s got great depth, is a great ball striker, a great mover, good size and intangibles. He’s got this X-factor, his mindset, that could make him a future Grand Slam champion.”
— Reilly Opelka, telling Inside Tennis why Sebastian Korda and Jenson Brooksby are future champions.
Sept. 18, 2021: “Can’t get any worse. You’ve lost to her every time. Try something different.”
— Shelby Rogers, a heavy underdog, asked about her mindset when she trailed world No. 1 Ash Barty 5-2 in the third set before Barty blew a big lead in the final set and lost to 43rd-ranked Rogers, a veteran American, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (5). Rogers was a quarterfinalist at the US Open a year ago, while Barty owns titles from the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon this July but never has been past the fourth round at Flushing Meadows. Coming into this match, Barty was 5-0 against Rogers.
Sept. 18, 2021: “I don’t feel absolutely any pressure. I’m still only 18 years old. I’m just having a free swing at anything that comes my way. That’s how I faced every match here in the States. It got me this trophy, so I don’t think I should change anything.”
— Emma Raducanu, an 18-year-old Englishwoman who didn't lose a set and defeated Leylah Fernandez, another longshot, 6-1, 6-4 in the final to become the first qualifier in history to win a Grand Slam singles title.
Sept. 18, 2021: “Tennis is such a brutal sport where there is no room for error when you’re playing top guys. I am a top guy; he is a top guy. ... It’s always about the small details. He definitely was not at his best; we saw him playing better. The question is, if he would be [at his best], would I be able to [keep] up with him? We can never know now.”
— Daniil Medvedev, after he decisively upset Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the US Open final to win his first major singles title and thwart Djokovic's bid to capture the first Grand Slam since Rod Laver's in 1969.
Sept. 18, 2021: "I am going for a fourth US Open, that's all I am thinking about. It is only one match left. I'm all in. I have to put my heart, soul, body... I am going to play this match like it's the last match of my career."
— Novak Djokovic said this with a laugh after he edged Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in the US Open semifinals.
Sept. 18, 2021: “From a very young age I was just a happy-go-lucky girl. I never really take things too seriously. During the past year with all the difficulties around the world, I was lucky enough to have my family and my sisters…Every time I was feeling down, they were always there to bring me back up. My younger sister makes me laugh all the time…[She’s] the person [responsible for who] I am today, being so happy, so carefree. “[My parents taught me] you can’t take things too seriously, you’ve got to be mature but at the same time just be a kid, let loose, have fun, eat chocolate when you want, just have fun, watch movies, go past your bedtime…My family have definitely kept the joy for me.”
— Leylah Fernandez, a 200-1 pre-tournament longshot who reached the US Open final, explaining to Inside Tennis her joie de vivre.
July 30, 2021: “I am a better player in all areas. The journey that I've been through has been very rewarding for every segment of my game and also my mental strength, the experience, understanding of how to cope with the pressure in the big moments, how to be a clutch player when it matters the most. Just the ability to cope with pressure. The more you play the big matches, the more experience you have. The more experience you have, the more you believe in yourself. The more you win, the more confident you are. It's all connected. Obviously, it's all coming together. In the last couple of years, for me, age is just a number. I don't feel that I'm old or anything like that. Obviously, things are a bit different, and you have to adjust and adapt to your, so to say, phases you go through in your career. But I feel like I'm probably the most complete that I've been as a player right now in my entire career.”
— Novak Djokovic, who turned 34 on May 22nd, believes he’s playing the best tennis of his career after he defeated 25-year-old Italian Matteo Berrettini 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 in the Wimbledon final to move three-quarters of the way to becoming the first man since Australia's Rod Laver in 1969 to capture the Grand Slam.
July 30, 2021: “I have a very large team. I know not everyone is here with me this week. I've got obviously my family at home, I mean, trainers, physios back in Australia. I also have my trainer and physio this week as well as Tyz and Garry. It's nice to be able to share some of these awesome moments with those that put so much time and energy into my career and allow me, encourage me, help me kind of work and figure out a plan and a way that they try and achieve our dreams. I think being able to share that with them is really special.”
— Ashleigh Barty, on the team effort that enabled her to perform at her best to defeat Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 to win her first Wimbledon and second Grand Slam title.
July 30, 2021: “I know that he was chasing history, but in this kind of moments, me and Novak are very close. I feel sorry for Novak, but he’s won 20 Grand Slams, 550 Masters series or whatever. You can’t have everything. Of course, I am happy that I’ve won, but in the end of the day I also know how he feels. I told Novak he is the greatest player of all time. I am 99 percent sure that he will win the most Grand Slams, the most Masters 1000. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that you’re going to bring a medal back home. It seemed it was impossible to beat him at this event, so I’m very happy right now, but yet there’s still one match to go.”
— No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev, who stunned Djokovic 1-6 6-3 6-1 to secure the gold medal decider against Karen Khachanov at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
July 30, 2021: “I really don’t know how it worked out for me. I really had a lot of belief in myself. I gave it my best, I gave it my all and I’m really proud now. It’s a magnificent moment.”
— Belinda Bencic, who wept tears of joy after she outlasted Marketa Vondrousova 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 to win the singles gold medal at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
June 19, 2021: “Definitely the best match that I was part of ever in Roland-Garros for me, and top three matches that I ever played in my entire career, considering the quality of tennis, playing my biggest rival on the court where he has had so much success and has been the dominant force in the last 15- plus years, and the atmosphere which was completely electric. For both players, a lot of support. Just amazing.”
— Novak Djokovic, a fter his epic 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2 semifinal victory over Rafael Nadal. The Serb became the first man in history to own two victories over the Mallorcan at Roland-Garros.
June 19, 2021: “Everything is possible. I mean, definitely in my case I can say that what I've been through in my career, in my life, this journey has been terrific so far. I've achieved some things that a lot of people thought it would be not possible for me to achieve. Everything is possible, and I did put myself in a good position to go for the Golden Slam. But I was in this position in 2016 as well. It ended up in a third-round loss in Wimbledon. This year we have only two weeks between the first round of Wimbledon and the finals here, which is not ideal.”
— Novak Djokovic, after overcoming Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7 (6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in the French Open final, for the second time in his career would turn to Wimbledon with the season’s opening two majors in his bag, halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam. And as had been the case five years ago, the prospect of a Golden Slam was also alive.
June 19, 2021: “Despite my loss today, I have faith in my game. I very much believe I can get to that point very soon. I was close today. Every opponent is difficult. There’s a small difference between the player I played today and the ones from before. But I think with the same attitude and if I don’t downgrade myself, I see no reason for me not to be holding that trophy one day.”
— A confident Stefanos Tsitsipas, after losing the French Open final.
June 19, 2021: "It's something I have always dreamed about. Winning here, my first doubles title, then winning the mixed ones. Now I was just telling myself, It would be really nice if I can get the Grand Slam in all three categories. Now it's happening. I cannot believe it. Wow."
— Barbora Krejcikova, who had won two women’s doubles and three mixed doubles titles before winning her first Grand Slam title in singles at the French Open.
June 19, 2021: “This was a crazy, random kind of French Open, wasn’t it? You can’t get overpowered on a clay court as much as you can on a grass court or a hard court. ... So that brings in another style, with consistency and defensive tennis and running balls down. Players have more time to set up for the ball and meet their targets or to just retrieve balls and still be in the point. Serena is like the only player in the last, really, 15 to 20 years who has been able to blast opponents off the clay courts. She was a great clay-court player because she had the offense and defense in her prime.”
— Chris Evert, who won seven of her 18 major singles title at Roland Garros in the 1970s and 1980s, told the Associated Press, after four players reached their first major semifinal at Roland Garros, a first in the Open Era, only one top-15 player made the quarterfinals, and unseeded Barbora Krejcikova won the women's title.
Feb. 25, 2021: "I'm speechless. I have no words to describe what just happened. It's an unbelievable feeling to be able to fight at such a level and just be able to give it my all on the court. I started very nervous, I won't lie, but I don't know what happened after the third set. I just flied like a little bird, everything was working for me. The emotions at the end are indescribable."
Stefanos Tsitsipas pulled off an astonishing comeback at the Australian Open, knocking off Rafael Nadal to reach the semifinals. The Greek star appeared well on his way out after tamely losing the first two sets, but then rallied for a gritty 3-6, 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, 7-5 victory.
Feb. 25, 2021: "I think the thing that I'm most proud of is now mentally strong I've become. I used to be really up and down. For me, I had a lot of doubts in myself. But I think the quarantine process and seeing everything that's going on in the world, for me it put a lot into perspective. I used to weigh my entire existence on if I won or lost a tennis match. That's just not how I feel any more. I honestly think that it's just opening myself up more to my team, having longer talks with Wim [Fissette] before I go out, expressing the nerves that I feel instead of bottling it all up and trying to deal with it by myself. I feel like just being secure in myself as a person and knowing that the people that I love will still love me, like my family won't hate me because I lose a tennis match and stuff like that."
Naomi Osaka, after winning her second Australian Open and fourth Grand Slam title.
Feb. 25, 2021: "I belong at this level. I think winning a Grand Slam is totally achievable. It's within reach. Playing out there, obviously, I was nervous. Didn't go my way. But at the same time, coming off court, I was, like, 'OK, that feels a little bit normal.' It felt different than what I was expecting it to feel like. If you were to ask me maybe a year ago, I wouldn't think it's possible - or it would feel like it's like going to Mars."
Jennifer Brady, who will rise from No. 24 to No. 13 in the WTA rankings after losing 6-4, 6-3 to Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open final. Still, Brady leaves with a self-belief she never used to have.
Feb. 25, 2021: "We had quarantine and a lot of things happening in the media, then the letter that I wrote as ideas and recommendations that I got for players was misinterpreted as a list of demands. Then the next thing I was persona non grata here in this country. So it was tough dealing with all of this. I got injured in the third round. It was a rollercoaster ride if I can define it in one word. I think it makes it even sweeter for me."
Novak Djokovic, after clinching his ninth Australian Open and 18th Grand Slam title, leaving him only two majors behind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Feb. 25, 2021: "He was super nice to me. I thought, 'OK, he's not going to speak to me' or something, because the guy was a god for me. Because I was shy, I didn't speak. He was asking the questions, talking to me like a friend. I was really surprised."
Daniil Medvedev, who was trounced 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 by Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final, recalling a practice session with a friendly Djokovic a dozen years ago at Monte Carlo when he was a teenager and Djokovic was a Grand Slam champion.
Jan. 19, 2021: “This announcement for the top threes is a bit out of the blue and it’s weird, to put it mildly. They will even be able to benefit from a gym at the hotel and will be able to do their [gym] exercises which will not count towards the five-hour quota. Everyone can go out. They will almost be able to live normally. Already they have a lot of privileges. If they can do everything more than you, it will not be the same preparation. And that’s weird for a sport where we’re all supposed to be on the same footing.”
World No. 72 Jeremy Chardy, telling L’Equipe that he was left scratching his head over the "privileges" being handed to the world’s best players. Tennis Australia CEO and Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley confirmed last week that an eight-player exhibition event is to be staged in Adelaide in the build-up to the hard-court Grand Slam. Tiley added that the players would be allowed to quarantine in South Australia adding, &ldquoWe chose the top three men and top three women.”
Jan. 19, 2021: “Conditions are much better in Adelaide. First, players were allowed to take a lot more staff with them. [Daniil] Medvedev and [Alexander] Zverev, for example, were only allowed to take two people with them, while Thiem, Nadal and Djokovic each came with more. They also have a gym in their hotel, so, they don’t have to do their fitness exercises during the five-hour period. You only have the five hours to play tennis.”
Doubles specialist Phillip Oswald, telling Tennisnet that Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, and Novak Djokovic have been given a huge advantage by the Adelaide bubble. Oswald is one of the players currently forced to self-isolate in their hotel rooms due to a positive coronavirus result on their flight to Australia. There are more than 50 players in the same boat in Melbourne, but the top three players in the ATP are in a separate bubble in Adelaide as they prepare for a pre-Australian Open exhibition event.
Jan. 19, 2021: “I think I am more sensitive to the fact that Martina has won nine Wimbledons, but nobody really talks about it. Rafael Nadal has won 13 Roland Garros and all to underline the greatness of this record. I mean, Martina's Wimbledon record is incredible, and I think it needs to be celebrated from time to time, so why don’t they? And what about Steffi Graf’s 1988 Golden Slam? I mean, Olympics and Four Slams. If a man had done this he would have been mentioned for a very long time but no one ever mentions Steffi.”
All-time great Chris Evert, telling TennisMajors.com that the record of nine titles won at Wimbledon by her former rival Martina Navratilova was not celebrated as the 13 Roland Garros titles won by the 20-times Slam winner Rafael Nadal.
Jan. 19, 2021: “My first reaction to this nomination was to accept it with the intention that, if elected, I would do my best to protect players’ interests within the ATP. However, a few days after my nomination, the ATP passed a new rule which has put me in a difficult position. Unfortunately, given these latest developments, I feel it is now necessary to remove myself from the list of candidates. I do not wish to create conflict or uncertainty around the player elections or create any issues that may arise. The PTPA has made it clear it does not intend to be combative, it is unclear how the ATP will view the association in the future.”
World No. 1 and 17-time major winner Novak Djokovic, tweeting why he has withdrawn from the December ATP Player Council elections, citing the governing body’s new rule that would make it a “conflict of interest” because of his role in the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA). The Serb set up the new breakaway independent players’ union on the eve of the US Open in September and resigned as head of the ATP Player Council. While he confirmed last month he had been nominated by his fellow professionals for the current elections, which he accepted, the new ATP rule means he has had to withdraw. Djokovic served two terms as president of the player council, from 2016 to 2020
Jan. 19, 2021: "I have to say that if Serena had never been there, I probably wouldn't be here now. I also believe that many other players can say the same thing."
Naomi Osaka, talking to EssentiallySports. The Japanese tennis player has repeatedly stressed the importance of an inspirational figure like Serena Williams for her tennis career. Her father Leonard Francois decided to teach his two girls to play tennis after seeing the Williams sisters compete on television at the 1999 French Open.
- Aryna Sabalenka, who won both the singles and doubles titles at the Ostrava Open 2020, explained the meaning of the tattoo of the roaring tiger on her left forearm.”
December 17, 2020: “Obviously I’m not supporting any kind of violence, so we will have to wait and see. Whether the ATP should develop this kind of a policy, yeah, why not? It probably should be there in place. I guess it wasn’t developed and it wasn’t there because we just did not have cases like this previously in the history of the sport. Maybe that kind of case will, in a way, inspire the ATP to do something like that.”
- Novak Djokovic, in the wake of allegation of domestic violence against Alexander Zverev, suggested that the ATP should develop a specific domestic violence policy to handle such allegations, in line with procedures that the NBA and NFL have initiated.
December 17, 2020: “You just can’t do a two-week hard lockdown to get ready for an Australian Open. I don’t think any of the international players would do that. Your body is what pays the bills. You are an injury risk, you can’t go from zero to 100 right away, that’s the biggest risk. I’m not pessimistic and I understand the complexities of it all. You get to really understand how quarantine works when you are inside it… it’s very strict, and I know if I had to pick up a racquet right now and go and play tennis, I’d be absolute rubbish. I’d probably injure myself.”
- Australia’s John Millman, telling Tennis Majors he’s very concerned about a two-week hard lockdown before the Australian Open, which starts three weeks later in 2021 on Feb. 8. Tennis Australia, forced to delay the Australian Open and cancel the ATP Cup, wants to add more tournaments in Australia after the Open finishes.
December 17, 2020: “It’s hard to imagine that hospitality will open up quickly, at least not immediately, to its former levels. Perhaps tournaments that are allowed spectators will find they will have to lower ticket prices to entice fans into stadiums. It goes without saying, though, that fans will be a welcome bonus for players in 2021. It’s just not clear who might be in a position, given the international nature of the sport and the voracity of the virus, to have a full stadium yet. It certainly won’t happen in Australia, even if the government has done a remarkable job to seemingly reduce numbers to zero — the last case in Victoria dating back to October 29. Their idea of having 75 percent of their usual crowds always seemed fanciful; if they get anywhere near 50 percent it would be a surprise.”
- Simon Cambers, writing for Tennis Majors.
December 17, 2020: "The way I see it…Novak will win more Majors from today than the other two players, I believe. Nadal, I think, will be second in that competition. Federer, maybe he has another one in him. He was ‘oh, so close’ at Wimbledon last year. Let’s not forget that Novak stole one there. It could easily be Federer 21 and Djokovic 16. I think Nadal has probably got 2-3 more in him…I think that Djokovic is somewhere in that 5-6 range, all assuming health."
- Tennis Channel analyst Jim Courier, predicting Novak Djokovic will finish with the most Grand Slam singles titles. Federer held two match points at 8-7 in the fifth set in the 2019 Wimbledon final, but couldn’t bring home the bacon.
- Surprise French Open champion Iga Swiatek told Reuters she remains grounded—even if her dream of winning all four majors is now a real possibility. Although the focus has been quite intense since her triumph at Roland Garros, Swiatek said the COVID-19 restrictions in place in Poland have helped.
November 16, 2020: “Now that automated line calling has succeeded at a Grand Slam, is there any reason why the sport shouldn’t adopt it everywhere?”
- TennisMagazine’s rhetorical question in its article titled “Tennis Goes Electronic.” In truth, the sport should have adopted automated line calling in 2006 when Hawk-Eye arrived.
November 16, 2020: “Does the ATP want to meet these accusations with silence? The situation should be a wake-up call for the tour that it needs to put in place a set of policies covering abuse cases. It would be in the interests of everyone in this dual-gender sport, including its male players, not to continue to lag behind other leagues when it comes to reacting to abuse allegations; they may happen less frequently in tennis, but we’ve seen two cases among players in the Top 30 in 2020. If Zverev is innocent, as he says, an investigation might help him clear his name, or at the very least give his side of the story.”
- Tennis Magazine’s Steve Tignor, on accusations by ex-girlfriend Olga Sharypova that 2020 US Open runner-up Alexander Zverev physically and emotionally abused her during their 13-month relationship in 2018 and 2019.
November 16, 2020: “Nothing’s wrong with asking for more diversity. For him to say that is definitely inspiring, especially with him being a man and white. For someone like him to call for diversity, it shows how great an ally he is. I love what Andy is doing on and off the court. He’s one of my favourite players to watch. It’s important we do have diversity because there are people from all over the world from different backgrounds and areas. I think representation is important. At least for me, as a girl – seeing yourself being represented means a lot.”
- Coco Gauff saluted Andy Murray for his role in speaking out on key issues in the sport, as she spoke at the Ostrava Open event.
November 16, 2020: "For sure it's the best victory of my life. Novak is the best in the world. Today I played so, so good. It's unbelievable. It's amazing. I played the best match in my life. I'm so happy for this."
- Lorenzo Sonego, a fast-improving Italian, ecstatic after shocking No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-2, 6-1 in the Erste Bank Open quarterfinals.
October 20, 2020: "It's crazy. Two years ago, I won a junior Grand Slam [at Wimbledon], and right now I'm here. It feels like such a short time. I'm just overwhelmed."
- Iga Swiatek, talking to the sparse crowd after defeating No. 4-seeded Sofia Kenin 6-4, 6-1 in the French Open final for her first Grand Slam title. The 54th-ranked Swiatek shocked the field by winning every match in straight sets, including a stunning 6-1, 6-2 thrashing of No. 1 seeded Simona Halep, and dropped a total of 28 games in seven matches.
October 20, 2020: “The spinny forehand, it obviously doesn't look like it’s so difficult, but it has so much spin, it bounces up. It’s obviously going to my backhand. I missed a few backhands cross when I had the chances. It’s not an easy shot. She has a really good backhand down the line. She went a few times behind me. Dropshot was also well for her. She served big on some points.”
- Sofia Kenin, praising the versatility of Iga Swiatek’s game, after she was upset by the unseeded, 19-year-old Pole 6-4, 6-1 in the French Open final.
October 20, 2020: “I played at my highest level when I needed to play at my highest level, so [that is] something I am very proud of,” he said. “The personal satisfaction is big because under the circumstances that we played this Roland-Garros, even if I played an amazing match this afternoon, the conditions are a little bit not the conditions that I will choose to play an event like this.”
- Rafael Nadal, who had played just three matches since coming out of quarantine and had grumbled about the chilly weather and slower new Wilson balls, after trouncing No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 for his record-extending 13th French Open and 20th Grand Slam title, which tied Roger Federer's all-time record.
October 20, 2020: “He keeps going. No holding him back it seems like. It's amazing. I admire all his achievements, especially the one here. It's stunning score and results and records that he's got on this court. He lost two times in his entire career (Soderling 2009, Djokovic 2015). Winning 13 times, there's not much you can say. All the superlatives you can use, he deserves them.”
- Novak Djokovic, lavishing praise on the Rafael Nadal after the incomparable King of Clay overwhelmed him 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in the French Open final.
October 20, 2020: "The technology is so advanced right now, there is absolutely no reason why you should keep line umpires on the court. That's my opinion. Of course, I understand technology is expensive, so it's an economic issue and a question mark. But I feel like we are all moving towards that, and sooner or later there is no reason to keep line umpires. Yes, ball kids, of course, ball person, yes, but line umpires, I don't see why anymore, to be honest. I would also probably then have less chances to do what I did in New York."
- Novak Djokovic, contending that technology should replace fallible line judges and umpires. The ATP's Next Gen tournament has successfully experimented with Hawk-Eye technology calling the lines using an automated voice rather than having officials on court.
September 20, 2020: “We know that here we made one commitment to everyone: that this would be a safe US Open. On this championship Sunday, we’re closing down this very historic moment for our sport here in New York City with a very healthy and safe US Open. Everyone now is leaving and carrying on in our sport. That I think is the other big takeaway for us. We're back. New York rallied. The US Open rallied.”
- Stacey Allaster, US Open tournament director and former head of the WTA.
September 20, 2020: “I achieved a life goal, a dream of mine, which I’ve had for many, many years, as a kid, when I started to play tennis. But back then it was so far away. Then I got closer and closer to the top. At one point, I realized that, ‘Wow, maybe one day I can really win one of the four biggest titles in tennis.’ I put a lot of work in. I dedicated basically my whole life until this point to win one of the four majors. Now I did it.”
- Dominic Thiem, who overcame a horrendous start to outlast Alexander Zverev 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 in the US Open final to earn his first Grand Slam title after losing in three previous major finals.
September 20, 2020: “I thought it would be embarrassing to lose in an hour, so I had to change my attitude. In the first set I just was so nervous. I was too much in my own head. I just didn’t want to lose 6-1, 6-0. … I didn’t really enjoy it. It was a really tough match for me."
- Naomi Osaka, who trailed 6-1, 2-0, and was down a break point, before reviving to prevail 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 against a game, talented, and resurgent Victoria Azarenka in the 2020 US Open women’s final for her third Grand Slam crown.
September 20, 2020: “I was playing Challenger events, lower Challenger events, losing in the first round of qualifying, and I was thinking, ‘Do I have a chance to make it? Will I make it? How can I really succeed doing this? Am I meant to play this sport?’ There were a lot of doubts, a lot of questions. I think I’m pretty lucky to have just stuck to it and continue to just play and practice and compete and get better. Here I am today."
- Late-blooming American Jennifer Brady, who made her first Grand Slam semifinal at age 25 at the US Open.
September 20, 2020: "He played like a real champion. He’s playing really some great tennis—backhand, forehand, slice.... Everything is there."
- Daniil Medvedev lavishing well-deserved praise on Dominic Thiem, after the 27-year-old Austrian beat him 6-2, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (5) in the US Open semifinals.
September 20, 2020: “Identifying myself or other players just as mothers, I think that's not the only thing that we are. We are also tennis players. We are also women who have dreams and goals and passions. To see that rise of women being able to fulfill their dreams, as well as balancing the motherhood, I think they all are heroes."
- Victoria Azarenka, mother of three-year-old Leo, who staged a terrific career comeback by defeating No. 5 seeded Aryna Sabalenka, rapidly improving No. 20 Karolina Muchova, No. 16 Elise Mertens, and six-time champion Serena Williams to reach her first Grand Slam final in seven years at the US Open.
August 25, 2020: “I met Holger three years ago. He came here to the academy and we trained together. I remember saying to my coach, Kerei Abakar, that here was something special. I do not say that often about players, but he caught my attention and I think we will see a lot from him in the near future. There's nothing holding him back. He has everything it takes to become a top player and I will not be surprised if we see him in the top 10 in the future. Now he has the chance to play against the big boys, which will be difficult in the beginning, but I am sure he will adapt and find his pattern and his rhythm. It is a very difficult leap between junior and senior. It takes adjustment to be ready for it..”
- No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, who also trains at Mouratoglou's academy and has practiced with Holger Rune, says, on the DR website, the teenage Dane is something special. Rune has begun transitioning to the professional circuit earlier this year prior to the tennis shutdown, which he has found tough, but Tsitsipas says that it is an adjustment that all players need to make it.
August 25, 2020: “Life in lockdown during coronavirus has been challenging in many ways but personally it’s been one of the most exciting and happy times of my life. On the 16th of June, my partner Liz gave birth to our beautiful little girl, Genevieve. It has been a whirlwind time, but we could not imagine life without her now. Mum and Evie are doing well and it’s so amazing to be home with them both. We are absolutely in love with this little bundle and rolling with the happy chaos. We can’t wait for what’s to come and to watch little Evie grow up....Although not too quickly we hope! #babygirl #homecourt #wta #tennisaustrali" #family”
- Sam Stosur, posting on Instagram about her partner Liz giving birth to a girl.
August 25, 2020: “Roger still loves life on the circuit, I’ve never heard him say that he should stop because he wants a change of lifestyle or that he's tired of travelling. Nothing can be 100% ruled out but given that he still loves tennis and the time he spends with the friends that he has everywhere, I don't think he's thinking of retiring in 2021. It's true, there are parallels with 2016. Perhaps he could use that to his advantage. The truth is that this injury arrived at the best possible moment. The day after the operation he was looking forward to a new phase in which he would spend him with his family. He has a unique capacity to be very ambitious without getting frustrated with the unexpected.”
- Severin Luthi, Roger Federer’s longtime coach, told Swiss magazine Smash that Federer is not planning his retirement from professional tennis any time soon.
August 25, 2020: “People have talked a lot about my campaign in Paris. A lot of people have said that what I achieved was a fluke. Honestly, I don't like them to say that sort of thing. I worked hard to do a good job in Paris and before this tournament I had already won an ATP tournament and after that I won two more. I don't think my good results on the circuit are due to luck."
- Italian tennis player Marco Cecchinato told La Republicca that he admits it hurts a bit when someone says his semifinal run at the 2018 French Open was a fluke as the Italian believes him making such a deep run at Roland Garros wasn't a coincidence. Cecchinato stunned 17-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic in the French Open quarterfinal to make his maiden semifinal at a Major.
July 25, 2020: “Everyone has a vote and a say. I think it’s really weird that athletes get told to just stick to sports. You would never go up to a barber and say just stick to cutting hair. It’s a weird stigma that gets attached, and I don’t even know where it comes from.”
- Naomi Osaka, who has Japanese and Haitian heritage, explained why this phrase—“Stick to sports”—is worn out in an interview with TIME magazine.”
July 25, 2020: “Big thanks to the @usopen for reversing their decision—now allowing wheelchair players to compete at the 2020 Open. And most importantly thanks to you reading this for supporting us and sharing the message—you made this happen. The decision of not allowing us to compete, without communication or consideration was bigger than tennis. In yrs (sic) gone by decisions would have been made for us and no one would have cared. You cannot be treated differently because of your gender, race, religion or disability. This is a massive sign of progress for our community, and I appreciate all your help. I know there is a lot going on in the world at the moment, and the tournament might not even go ahead, but at least now we have the same rights as our able bodied counterparts - like we deserve."
- Dylan Alcott, reacting on Twitter after he learned that wheelchair tennis will be played at the 2020 US Open due to his impassioned plea to the tournament organisers. Last week, Alcott labelled the decision not to include wheelchair tennis at the tournament as “disgusting discrimination.”
July 25, 2020: “In psychology I didn’t do any sports, quite the contrary. I found out a lot about putting yourself in the situation of others. You often focus on yourself and sometimes you have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It was not one of my favorite courses, but it was interesting how to help someone in a moment of great suffering or shock. It was not my forte. Now it makes me really sad when I beat a rival (laughs).”
- Two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza, who complete four university courses during the quarantine, telling El Hormiguero de Antena 3 what she learned in the Johns Hopkins University psychology course.
July 25, 2020: “What Roger and Rafa are doing is epic. Both of these guys are legends. They do inspire me and I have said this millions of times and I will say it again. They made me the player I am today. They still continue to inspire me and motivate me to be even better. I think these rivalries that we have are great promotion for our sport. They are really good for tennis in general and also for the upcoming generations. Hopefully we give a positive example and inspire younger guys to be the best they can possibly be."
- Novak Djokovic, telling Tennis Channel that he hopes his historic rivalry with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal can inspire future generations to be great and reiterated the impact it has had on his career. Djokovic, Federer and Nadal share 56 Grand Slam titles between them, countless records and have been great ambassadors for the sport. And, despite the intense rivalry, healthy respect has been built between them as they try to outdo one another.
June 20, 2020: “Tennis is my first love, and even though it's been years since I've competed, it's still heartbreaking to officially say goodbye. This has been a long time coming, guys. I'm sure those of you who have followed my tennis career know that I've undergone numerous surgeries in the past few years. Unfortunately, they weren't successful enough for me to return to tennis.”
- Former world No. 24 Jamie Hampton, who notched big wins over Caroline Wozniacki and Kiki Bertens seven years ago when she had a highly promising career, announced her retirement at age 30 in May. A series of injuries repeatedly sidelined her and prevented her from reaching her considerable potential.
June 20, 2020: “I think that I still have things to do in this sport. I believe that I can win the most Slams and break the record for most weeks at No.1. Those are definitely my clear goals. I don't believe in limits. I definitely want to go for a long time. But I'm aware that the amount of tournaments I'm playing is going to decrease very soon. I will not be able to play at this intensity, with this many tournaments and this much travelling, for a long time. I might be playing at 40, but then there will probably be a focus on the biggest tournaments and the tournaments that mean the most to me.”
- Novak Djokovic talking on the "In Depth with Graham Bensinger" TV show. Djokovic, who celebrated his 33rd birthday on May 22, sees himself still playing at 40.
June 20, 2020: “I am in tears watching this video. Everyday innocent people are dying because of our skin color. No one deserves to die like that. I just can’t believe this. This needs to stop. I promise to always use my platform to help make the world a better place.”
- What 16-year-old rising star Coco Gauff wrote on Twitter to protest the death of George Floyd, after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin crushed Floyd’s neck on a street after he and three officers apprehended him for a suspected crime.
June 20, 2020: “I learned a lot from the two-month isolation. I realized that in the last six years I’ve been actually on a total lockdown. It occurred to me that I have to change something in my life, in order to also develop on the emotional and personal side. The fact that I’ve been on lockdown for six years has helped me become world No. 1, but now, for me to have a happy life without tennis, I am slowly trying to experience new feelings, see something else. My mindset is such that it tells me I have to be home at 10 p.m. in the evening because I have to train the next morning. I can't let go completely, but I’ve progressed a bit. And I’m proud."
- Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, telling Agerpres that although she is undoubtedly disturbed by the fact that she can’t compete for trophies and titles now, she took advantage of this no-tennis window and explored the other facets of her soul. Now that she’s done it, Halep feels grateful for the time spent in lockdown.
June 20, 2020: “I’m talking as a player now – but I’m also a tournament director and I am able to see the reality, to see how tough it is to survive in this crisis. It is hitting everyone. It’s tough to break even. This is what the players need to understand. It is really urgent that everybody plays. But, if we don’t have tournaments, it’s possible the ATP is not going to survive either. We need to stay together. It is the only way to survive.”
- Feliciano López, telling The Guardian (UK), that players, rich and struggling, will have to accept “significant” cuts in prize money to save their sport. López has also warned that the ATP may not survive the coronavirus crisis. While the west London host of the ATP 500 tournament idles along with the rest of tennis, López paints a grim picture as the industry wrestles with the impact of Covid-19. López, eager to resume playing at 38, is also the Madrid Open’s director and offers a unique perspective on what might happen next.
May 18, 2020: “I completely agree with that [one can’t compare different generations in the GOAT debate] but, in reality, all three of the best players are playing in the same generation. Nobody competes with Rafa on clay, Roger’s record at Wimbledon is the best, your [Novak Djokovic’s] record on hard court is the best. When people ask me what my toughest match is, who are the hardest guys to play against, I feel like I’m competing against the best hard court player ever, the best clay court player, and the best grass court player.”
- Andy Murray, telling the BBC about his view of the men’s GOAT.
May 18, 2020: “Obviously players like above all to play in front of full stands... but it's better than having the season cancelled. It would be hugely good for fans. By the start of the US Open, people would be so impatient for tennis they would look forward to matches with no spectators. This is why I favor 'in camera' until normal conditions can be restored. The only problem is travel for the players.”
- Alexander Zverev told Bild that he prefers playing in front of empty stands to having no events. Zverev says he is in favor of playing events with no fans if required, and is also willing to compete in a rescheduled French Open. While tournaments and players have generally been reluctant to consider playing in front of empty stands, it now appears preferable to an extended hiatus due to coronavirus.
May 18, 2020: “When it comes to mental strength there is no one better than Rafa. Over the years, we have seen him bounce back from injury so many times. He probably has had more injuries than anyone on the ATP tour. He has managed to comeback from every single one of them. When you walk onto the court with him and you see him jumping, you know you are facing a gladiator. You know you are facing a mental giant. He is mentally stronger than even Roger Federer.”
- Novak Djokovic, saying that when it came to mental strength, the first name was Rafael Nadal. Djokovic and Nadal faced each other 55 times with Djokovic leading 29–26. Djokovic leads 15–11 in finals. Of these matches, 15 have been in Grand Slams with Nadal leading 9–6”
May 18, 2020: “I know the Futures Tour and played there for two years. There are a lot of people who don’t give everything to sport. I don’t see why I should give money to such people. I would prefer to donate to people or institutions that really need it. I’m not guaranteed in any profession to make a lot of money at some point. No tennis players are fighting for survival, not even the ones down below. Nobody has to starve. None of us top people got it as a gift. We had to fight our way up."
- Dominic Thiem, telling the Kronen Zeitung newspaper that he does not like the idea of giving up his own money. Thiem, 26, has career on-court earnings approaching $24 million.
May 18, 2020: “I like the history of tennis. I like the way it’s played. Obviously, I feel the need to bring interesting things [to the court], but I’m not quite sure of the way, because I like the duel… I like the tension of the two players competing. You have to respect the history of the sport and the duel and the fight like two gladiators going on court. I think that’s essentially the essence of tennis, so for my part I am a big fan of that.”
- Although Canada's rising star Felix Auger-Aliassime is a teenager, he spoke on Eurosport about how much he appreciates the history of the sport.
April 15, 2020: “Devastated.”
- Eight-time champion Roger Federer’s one-word tweet after learning that Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War II because of the coronavirus. Wimbledon chiefs pulled the plug on the oldest Grand Slam tournament on April 1 in response to the continued chaos caused by the pandemic.
April 15, 2020: “Because of the uncertainty, it makes it hard to see how the three can dominate when they come back because of the age of Roger and Rafa. It also puts more pressure on Rafa, and it changes all of those storylines that were on the table for 2020. For Novak, it may come at a good time in his career to actually rejuvenate him again, give him another big burst. So if anything, this period helps him the most.”
- Todd Woodbridge, a nine-time Wimbledon doubles champion and a singles semi-finalist, telling AAP on April 2 that he can’t see The Big Three of Federer, 33-year-old Rafael Nadal (19 slams), and 32-year-old Novak Djokovic (17) continuing to rule as they have for the past decade-and-a-half after the coronavirus shutdown of the pro tour ends.
April 15, 2020:“I decided to run for this position because I saw an amazing opportunity for the game, which is not fulfilling its own potential. Tennis is in a healthy state, very solid from a business standpoint, but if you compare its TV space to others, it takes up less than 1.2% of the available room, despite having over a billion fans! We are a Top 5 sport both in the men’s and in the women’s game, while other sports revolve almost exclusively around men. We can spend the next few years fighting over leftovers, while there is a world of opportunity out there. Our competitors aren’t just other sports, but also entertainment platforms. Nowadays, you are competing against people’s time, attention, and income disposal. If a young man is sitting on his sofa, he’ll have the chance to watch Netflix, listen to some music, watch a football match, or a tennis one. So far, we’ve been doing well, but we need to stay focused, because the world is changing from a linear broadcaster state to a digital one in which there are enormous opportunities, especially for our sport.”
- Andrea Gaudenzi, the new ATP Tour Chairman, in an April 8 interview, when asked, “What would you change about the current situation, if you could?”
April 15, 2020:“I think a player should be in charge of his own thoughts, find solutions on his own. It’s obvious coaches do help you and can have a better vision [of matches] from the outside and might be able to give you something useful, but tennis from the beginning has been a very introverted sport. You have to think on your own, do everything yourself, so I don’t support it 100 percent. It’s great the way it is, that’s my opinion.”"
- Stefanos Tsitsipas with compelling reasons why on-court coaching should not be used on the ATP Tour.
April 15, 2020: “Yeah, I first met Naomi, I think I hit with her at the Miami Open maybe three years ago. Our dads always knew each other. When I talked to her, we do have similarities. I remember I was complimenting her headphones because I saw she designed it. Like, these are pretty cool. I think she’s doing amazing, obviously. Hopefully, I can get to her level. I mean, she’s amazing. She’s a nice person. I mean, I can’t even, like, say anything bad about her, her family, because they’ve always been super nice, even since I was 12.”
- Coco Gauff, on the beautiful relationship between Naomi Osaka and her that stretches across years.
April 15, 2020: “We are working on the possibility of a four-week clay swing after the US Open. The best-case scenario would be to have the North American swing during the summer, then the clay, then Asia, and then the ATP Finals. If that were to happen, it would mean that we saved 80% of the season after cancelling the grass tournaments. With seven Masters 1000 and three Slams taking place, there wouldn’t be much room for complaints. If the US Open gets cancelled, the complexity of the situation would grow exponentially, because we should consider playing in November and December too, but at the moment we are focusing on a re-start after the Wimbledon slot.”
- Andrea Gaudenzi, the new ATP Tour Chairman, in an April 8 interview, stating the best-case scenario for the remainder of the 2020 pro tour.
March 14, 2020: “I think it's normal. It's part of the job, of the success of any sportsman in any sport. But especially, of course, in New York [after the 2019 US Open final] like the next day, I had to wear a hoodie, sunglasses, still people recognized me. I would look at myself in the mirror, ‘How can you recognize me? I cannot recognize me’.”
- Daniil Medvedev, the 2019 US Open finalist, needs to work on his disguise if he plans on making more Grand Slam finals.
March 14, 2020: “I’ve been coming here for years watching Andy Murray and hearing ‘C’mon, Andy’ on this court. And for that to be me today, that will live with me forever. If there’s one disabled person watching this around the world, we are proof that you should go for your dreams. Just go for it. I was sitting up there the other night cheering on Nick Kyrgios and now I’m down here on court.”
- Wheelchair singles runner-up Andy Lapthorne, with some inspiring words after the final during the Australian Open trophy ceremony.
March 14, 2020: “I always dream about him. I think he can see what I play today. He will proud of me. I really hope he can be here watch I play. Yes, I miss him.”
- China's Wang Qiang, paying tribute to her late coach Peter McNamara after her stunning upset of Serena Williams at the Australian Open.
March 14, 2020: “My heroes have changed after having a child. My heroes are moms because women are superheroes. To have a baby and then have to go to work two or three weeks later or work a 9 to 5 … I’m fortunate to not have to do that. I’m at a loss for words when I think of women who work day in and day out, providing for their families, when I know how hard it is for me to leave my daughter. I never felt that way until I became a mom. I think women need to be recognized."
- Serena Williams, telling TIME magazine that she wants women to be “recognized” for their hard work, especially those who work full time while also raising young children.
March 14, 2020: “A couple of times I was watching the rallies and rubbing my eyes and saying, ‘This is like 12 years ago.’ It’s such a different conversation than it could have been with what happened in the second set. And so this continues in my mind to be one of the most intriguing times in women’s tennis in the 40-some-odd years I’ve been involved. It’s the mix of people, ages, geography, everything. There are so many great stories.”
- Pam Shriver, intrigued by Kim Clijsters’ comeback at age 36, in The New York Times.
February 14, 2020: “Tonight it was a toe-to-toe battle. I was on the brink of losing that match. I didn’t feel great. I had a couple of points, I think a break point in the fourth set, where I played serve and volley. It was kind of a courageous move, throwing it all in there, get things going. Unfortunately one of us had to lose, but all respect to Dominic. I didn’t have any injuries, but my energy just completely collapsed. Every time I would toss a ball, I would feel dizzy. I was lucky. From 2-2 in the fourth, I started to feel better. The doctor said maybe I had a couple of issues, I tried to get as many energy gels as I could. She told me I was dehydrated, so I tried to drink as much as I could.”
- Novak Djokovic told Australia’s Channel 9 about how he regained enough energy to pull out the Australian Open final against Dominic Thiem 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 for his eighth Australian and 17th Grand Slam title.
February 14, 2020: “I think I’ve rarely felt physically that tired, especially now after all the tension’s gone. I played an unbelievable intense match against Rafa, such an intense match against Sascha [Zverev] in the semis. Today again I think almost over four hours. I think that was very demanding. Of course, I just feel a lot of emptiness right now. But, yeah, that’s it. I know the feeling. I did after the last two in Paris. But, also already now I feel little bit of motivation to come back for the next grand slam. Well, if I have a little break, it’s going to be bigger.”
- Two-time French Open runner-up Dominic Thiem was exhausted and sad after losing the five-set Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic, but said he would return hungry to win a first Grand Slam title.
February 14, 2020: “It hasn’t sunk in yet. Everything is just still a blur for me. I just can’t believe what happened. It’s just great. I feel like I’m doing some great things for American tennis. It’s such an honor. I’ve watched Serena, I’ve been following her, all the Slams she's been winning. It’s a special feeling just to be ahead of her. I’m just super excited.”
- Sofia Kenin, a pre-Australian Open 35-1 long shot, after defeating Garbine Muguruza 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the final to become the top-ranked American for the first time on Feb. 3 when she took over the No. 7 spot—two places ahead of Williams. Kenin pocketed a prize money check of $2.76 million, which almost doubled her career earnings overnight.
February 14, 2020: “She proved to us that she can play very well. And play very well in the important moments, which is a different story. I think it’s even more special."
- A gracious Garbine Muguruza, talking to the Australian Open crowd after being upset by 21-year-old Sofia Kenin in the final.
February 14, 2020: “We saw it in her semi-final against Ash Barty, the same thing. When she was in trouble, when her back was against the wall, she came up with these shots. Champions do that and she has it. It is innate and I think a lot of it is just the hunger to win. It wasn’t about the power. It was how she hit the corners and her choice of shots. And her variety of shot, her drop shots. She served really well. She can still improve. She can still volley [better]. She can still improve that serve. A little bit of fitness. She is going to keep going up in the rankings.”
- Chris Evert, analyzing surprise Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, on ESPN.
January 18, 2020: “The one person I would love to play in the year to come would be Roger Federer. Just because I haven’t had the chance to play him yet. He’s an icon, a legend of the sport and we don’t know how much time he has left on the tour, how many years, but if I could have a chance to compete on the big stage against him would be an amazing memory.”
- Felix Auger-Aliassime, the 19-year-old Canadian ranked No. 21, telling Tennis Channel Roger Federer is the player he wants to meet the most during the 2020 ATP season is none other than Roger Federer
January 18, 2020: “You definitely recognise it and notice it. It feels like a little bit of a second-hand event. It’s definitely a bit of a strange strategic move [favouring the men]. I’m not sure (but) I heard that because the way that the court is constructed, that it’s not regulation for us to be playing on centre court with the benches on the side. I don’t know what else it might be that’s preventing (us playing there), because I think there’s a lot of girls that are deserving of that centre court spot in this draw. Everyone should have a conversation about it, that’s just my outside view.”
- Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova said the Brisbane International felt like “a second-hand event” with women relegated to outside courts to make way for men playing the inaugural ATP Cup.
January 18, 2020: “Because you make the extra effort. It means that you have the chance to compete again the next day. And the next day, you’re going to be playing better. Sometimes when I’m in the first round or second round, and I’m not playing well, I say, okay, just accept it. Don’t get frustrated. Just accept and focus.”
- Rafael Nadal, telling “60 Minutes” that if he comes from behind to win, he finds the victory even more satisfying than trouncing a competitor.
January 18, 2020: “I take the impacts and threat of climate change very seriously, particularly as my family and I arrive in Australia amidst devastation from the bushfires. As the father of four young children and a fervent supporter of universal education, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the youth climate movement, and I am grateful to young climate activists for pushing us all to examine our behaviours and act on innovative solutions. We owe it to them and ourselves to listen. I appreciate reminders of responsibility as a private individual, as an athlete and as an entrepreneur, and I’m committed to using this privileged position to dialogue on important issues with my sponsors."
- Roger Federer issued this statement on Jan. 11, addressing his partnership with Credit Suisse, which was criticized for its heavy investments in fossil fuels. Climate change activist Greta Thunberg then retweeted a post from 350.org Europe claiming Credit Suisse had given $US57 billion to companies looking for new fossil fuel deposits. “Roger Federer do you endorse this?” the tweet read.
January 18, 2020: “The more I think about the conditions we played in a few days ago the more it boils my blood. We can't let this slide. The email we received yesterday from the ATP and AO was a slap in the face, conditions were 'playable'. Were they healthy? Citizens of Melbourne were warned to keep their animals indoors the day I played qualifying, and yet we were expected to go outside for high intensity physical competition? What do we have to do to create a players union? Where is the protection for players, both male and female? When multiple players need asthma spray on court and they don't even have asthma? When a player collapses and has to retire due to respiratory issues? On tour we let so many things go that aren't right, but at some point we have to make a stand. ALL players need protection, not just a select few.”
- British tennis player, No. 234-ranked Liam Broady, in a tweet, accused Australian Open officials of treating qualifiers worse than animals as calls grow among players to form a union. Broady, who lost in the first round of qualifying, played his match in a blanket of smoke at Melbourne Park on Jan. 14, and said he struggled to breathe in the conditions. Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic had to quit her qualifying match that day after a coughing fit, while Australia's Bernard Tomic also sought medical treatment.
Author: Paul Fein
Length: 511 pages