Novak Djokovic Meets The Press

WASHINGTON, August 23, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

When World No. 1 Novak Djokovic meets the press, you can always expect an illuminating experience. No matter what he may say – or not say – it always gets the attention of the worldwide media.

Take for instance this weekend, where Djokovic is the top seed in the ATP Masters 1000 Western & Southern Open, relocated from the Cincinnati suburb of Mason, Ohio, to New York City, in order to get the players into a quarantine “bubble” and to cut down on travel before the US Open, which begins August 31.

During Djokovic’s well-attended Zoom video conference, he was asked:

“You said you only decided about a week before coming. And I was just wondering as you were weighing positives, negatives, how much of a motivating factor was it to get to No. 18 in Grand Slams and get closer to the two guys ahead of you?”

His lengthy response spoke volumes:

“Well, I mean, obviously, look, you know, I did not make my decision because Rafa pulled out. I mean, if that’s what people want to hear or … I made my decision already months ago to come to US Open and play here because I really wanted to restart on a hard court where I feel the most comfortable. That’s the surface that I have most success on. I love playing in the US Open. 

“So I did make my call to come, but I wasn’t 100 percent sure whether that’s going to happen or not until certain points were defined and clarified before coming here, which was, as I mentioned before, the special exemption, coming with quarantine back to Europe and so forth, few other details. 

“Once that was checked and I flew over, that’s it. Every Grand Slam I play is an opportunity to get a title. I know that. But I’m not the only one. Every other player who is playing here has a chance to win it.

“Whether I have a bigger chance to win it because Roger and Rafa are not here, I really don’t know. I think it’s unfair for me to talk about. That in a way is kind of disrespectful towards other players who are here. I mean, Dominic Thiem, Zverev, Tsitsipas, Medvedev, these guys, they are as good as the top three guys, myself, Roger, Rafa. Anybody can take it, to be honest.

“And especially now after six months of absence from the tour, we don’t really know how we are going to feel on the court. We are going to have Cincinnati, which is great, have the tournament before Us Open. But it’s still six months without competition, best of five. You can’t get your towel from the ball kid. That’s going to extend the time between the point. That’s going to extend the time of the matches. 

“Yeah, I don’t know. It’s just one of these things that you have to experience in order to really know how it’s going to feel.”

Madison Keys misses doing press

Defending Western & Open champion Madison Keys was asked Friday during Media Day how she spent the past five months. She said:

“What did I do? I worked out. I played tennis, which is kind of the usual for me. I did a tone of cooking. I pretty much had my hands in soil at all times playing with plants. That was kind it. It felt a lot like it was a long time, but it also kind of went by really quick. Tried to stay as busy as I could.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas loves doing press

Stefanos Tsitsipas was asked Friday during Media Day at the Western & Southern Open what life is like in the “bubble” and how this trip to New York will be different from others. He answered:

“It is difficult at first. You’re not able to go anywhere except your hotel room. You keep going back and forth from your hotel room and on the site. I think it’s difficult not to be able to mix it up a little bit, go somewhere else, go to a nice restaurant with your team, go explore the city a little bit. That daily routine, that daily repetition makes it difficult.

“At the same time, it’s for the safety of everyone. I don’t feel like it’s unfair to me because everyone has to undergo all of this. So that gives me in a way a different approach towards my tennis, that gives me an opportunity to focus more on my tennis and less of what’s happening outside of it, which is great.

I practice a lot. Gives me an opportunity to practice a lot, discover myself more being out on the court, love my sport even more, appreciate my sport more.”

Serena loves her new tennis racquet

“A tennis racquet is such a sensitive thing,” says Serena Williams. “I talked with Wilson about wanting more control and what that could look like, and importantly, feel like. So we got to work. I am really into technology and trying new thing s out. And while the process was long, we ultimately designed exactly what I needed for my game. I’ve had this new racquet in my hands for most of this year, and it just feels right.”

Thoughts of Roland Garros 

Tennis – The new normal? 

What they’re saying

Reilly Opelka“I’m super excited we actually have, like, a really schedule finally. We’re playing these two tournaments in New York, then onto the clay and Europe, then some indoor tournaments.”

• David Law, The Tennis Podcast co-host, commenting on watching the Andy Murray-Frances Tiafoe match Saturday: “Finding the silence of the non-existent crowd both exhilaratingly intense, and excruciatingly lonely.”

What they’re sharing on social media

Naomi Osaka / I’m not coming for your job.

ATP Tour / Ready? PLAY. 👊

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