Saturday, July 8, 2017

What the Gentlemen Seeds at Wimbledon Have to Say

Dear George, 
Katja and I are busy with the first week of Wimbledon.  Sometimes I think we’ve watched Grand Slam tennis forever.  We were zealous fans of Rod Laver and Billie Jean King in the 1970’s, then Borg and McEnroe, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.  For the last fifteen years or so we’ve cheered the most for Roger Federer.   To get more sense of the current top-ranked players, here are selected quotes from the top men’s seeds at Wimbledon (see sources listed at the end).  Where available, I’ve tried to include players’ comments about their own game, their more general attitudes toward tennis, and one or two items about their personal lives.  Here are what the men’s seeds at Wimbledon have had to say.  

#1.  Andy Murray (Great Britain, age 30, 45 career titles)

  • My speed is something that has made a difference to my whole career. When I've felt quick and I'm moving well, it makes a huge difference to my entire game. When I feel a bit slower, I end up doing a lot more defending. When I'm a bit quicker to the ball, I feel I can attack a lot more.
  • In tennis, it is not the opponent you fear, it is the failure itself, knowing how near you were but just out of reach. 
  • Contrary to my image, I do have a sense of humour.
  • When I'm at home, I enjoy going go-karting. 

#2.  Novak Djokovic (Serbia, age 30, 68 career titles)

  • I like my groundstrokes, I can say. I like it. That's my game - I'm a groundstroke player and I play pretty aggressive.
  • Tennis is my life, obviously; I need to focus, I need to win. But it's not the only thing. I'm not going to play forever.
  • I want to help children in Serbia and around the world so they can realize their dreams.
  • I am very skinny.

#3.  Roger Federer (Switzerland, age 35, 92 career titles) 

  • My favorite shot is always gonna be the forehand. It used to always be my favorite shot when I was young, so it's the one I've won all the points with.
  • When you do something best in life, you don't really want to give that up - and for me it's tennis.
  • I'm as patient a father as I am on the tennis court. It takes a lot for me to get really upset, but sometimes kids can get you really cross if they really keep bugging you.
  • When I was 12 years old, I was just horrible. My parents were ashamed to watch my matches. I would play on a court at the local club and they would watch from the balcony. They would scream, 'Be quiet' to me and I would scream back, 'Go and have a drink. Leave me alone.' Then we would drive home in a very quiet car. No one speaking to each other.

#4.  Rafael Nadal (Spain, age 31, 73 career titles) 

  • I play each point like my life depends on it.
  • If you don't lose, you cannot enjoy the victories. So I have to accept both things.
  • I am not the most courageous guy in the world outside of the court. Being alone in the dark is something I don't like.
  • I learned during all my career to enjoy suffering.

#5.  Stan Wawrinka (Switzerland, age 32, 16 career titles) 

  • I was a little bit lost in my head after winning a Grand Slam. You're like: 'So what's the next goal? What do you want now? Where do you want to be? It's not a problem if you lose.'
  • As a tennis player you have to get used to losing every week. Unless you win the tournament, you always go home as a loser. But you have to take the positive out of a defeat and go back to work. Improve to fail better.  (azq) 
  • I like my easy life at home. I like to live in Switzerland. I like to be with my wife, with my daughter, to take my daughter to school, to lead a normal life. I try everything possible to keep that.

#6.  Milos Raonic (Canada, age 26, 8 career titles) 

  • When I'm playing well because of my serve and trying to keep points shorter, I don't need to worry about my opponent. All I need to do is focus on myself and have them adjust to me rather than me adjust to them. That's when I play my best tennis.
  • I have an inability after matches are over to sort of switch off and relax completely.
  • The responsibility I have is a great thing, from helping tennis grow in Canada, but also in the future, being able to do stuff through my foundation, helping kids, and helping everyone I can, and really trying to make a difference. It would be a shame to be in the spotlight, have a voice and not do much with it.

#7.  Marin Cilic (Croatia, age 28, 17 career titles) 

  • For me, the most important part is the feeling on the court. Games on clay are a bit different than all the other surfaces. If I’m feeling really well on the court then on all surfaces and at all tournaments I’m very sure in myself and confident that I can beat the best guys. 
  • The most special Slam is Wimbledon, of course. But where I feel the best is Melbourne. And you're happy that you're playing. When you get to the middle of the season, everything is week after week, and it's all routine. But when it's Melbourne in January, you are fresh and you want to play. It's nice.
  • We (Croatians )don’t have good tennis schools. We don’t have too long of a tradition, as you said. We don’t have tennis centers like in bigger countries, France, Spain, that year after year the young ones are going through. Just every several years some youngster just comes up out of nowhere and he’s playing great tennis, and I feel that that’s the most important part that is in every one of us.

#8.  Dominic Thiem (Austria, age 23, 8 career titles) 

  • I was feeling not comfortable all the last two years on grass. I think the biggest difference this year is of course I got a lot of self‑confidence, but the biggest difference I think is my movement. I am much more down and much more stable. You have to stay low. The balls, they stay low. I think I'm moving much better over grass than the last two years.
  • I am very calm, maybe even more quiet than I look on the court. I think that is pretty simple to me to have great relationship with almost all other players. On the court I’m a bit more irascible, but you will never see that I go mad. 
  • A penguin is my favorite animal. They are very funny and they always have a kind smile on their faces. They just always look happy. Seems like they never have any problems. 

#9.  Kei Nishikori (Japan, age 27, 11 career titles)

  • I'm not the loudest guy on the tour, for sure. I'm more calm, I think private, too. I try to show my guts and everything, good energy on the court.
  • I love shopping. Especially I love shopping in London. I like shopping for clothes but I think I have to stay focused on my game.

#10.  Alexander Zverev (Germany, age 20, 4 career titles) 

  • I love playing tennis because it’s one on one sport. You don’t get that in any other sport really. The closest you get is probably boxing. You still have your coaches and your team in your corner telling you what to do and stuff. I think tennis all depends on yourself. And that’s something fantastic about tennis.
  • There are a lot of stories about me being potential number one, about Kyrgios being a potential number one, about Borna Coric, but what I think that shows is there is a very strong group of teenagers or young guys coming up, I think we can all do great.

#11.  Tomas Berdych (Czechoslavakia, age 31, 13 career titles) 

  • I think I can win a slam. That's my main goal, and if I could choose one, then yes, it would have to be Wimbledon. But, honestly, I would take any one of them.
  • Every time I am off the tennis tour, I go back home.

#12.  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France, age 32, 15 career titles) 

  • The serve is the only thing you know about yourself when you play tennis. If you make it right, you make it right. Nobody can touch you when you serve. Nobody can disturb you. You have the ball in the hand.
  • I wish I could’ve played 30 years ago. It was the best time to be a tennis player. Older players like Henri Leconte or Yannick Noah always tell me this. They had a lot of fun. Now it’s not possible because it is so professional and there is so much money.

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