I’ll be helping to wrap up our Wimbledon coverage this week with a few posts, the first of which will cherry-pick quotes from day one of Wimbledon right through the finals. I selected these particular quotes for different reasons, as you’ll no doubt see. So let’s get right going:
“I knew coming in he was going to come (to net). I knew sometimes also I was going to go after him just to try to win the point, not to hurt him. This is not the juniors here. . .”
—Roger Federer, on targeting Sergiy Stakhovsky with passing-shot bullets in the course of the defending champion’s second-round loss to the Ukrainian serve-and-volleyer. What did the reporter think Federer was going to say, that he was so frustrated and mad that he wanted to decapitate Stakhovsky? The Mighy Fed is right. It’s not juniors—or McEnroe vs. Lendl—any more.
“But it’s very tough for me here. I’m afraid to fell on the floor and make me injury. So it’s fighting by yourself running and running. I cannot move, so that is my problem. Maybe one day I will not be afraid anymore, but it’s difficult.”
—No. 5 women’s seed Sara Errani, after she was upset in the first round by Monica Puig of Puerto Rico. That “floor” she’s talking about is grass, and yeah—I guess if you “cannot move” it’s tough to win a tennis match.
“I don’t have anything on the schedule now except for (Indian restaurant) Rajdoot. Just that for now. Normally I get the chicken tikka masala, but the last two nights I’ve got the chicken korma. It’s like spicy. It’s been really good. You guys got to go. It’s tasty. I go there every night.”
—Sloane Stephens, after her first-round win. It’s not exactly the same as a proper invitation, but how often does a star player invite the press at large to join her for dinner?
“I think you are joking. I answered this question three times or four times already. I don’t gonna talk about my knee this afternoon. Only thing that can say today is congratulate Steve Darcis. He played a fantastic match. Everything that I will say today about my knee is an excuse, and I don’t like to put any excuse when I’m losing a match like I lost today.”
—No. 5 seed Rafael Nadal, after he was knocked out in the first round by Belgium’s Steve Darcis. Nadal must want to weep and gnash his teeth whenever someone mentions his bum knees, which is only four or five times during any presser.
“One problem is he gets everything back; another problem is that he returns every serve. You have to hit the lines almost to get the serve by him, no matter how fast it is.”
—Benjamin Becker on the “problems” Andy Murray posed in the Scot’s one-sided win. I don’t think we need to delve much deeper into this litany of problems, do we?
“I don’t think I need to look for the drama when there is no drama for me. I don’t really like drama. I like to be, you know, respectful and, you know, just in competition, you know, to be good with everybody. So for me it’s important, the tournament. The drama, I mean, everybody who wants the drama will take that.”
—No. 2 seed Victoria Azarenka on flying under the radar while No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 3 Maria Sharapova engaged in a whopper of a cat fight. It’s actually the only fight with Williams that Sharapova might be favored to win.
“You really want me to answer that?”
—Wayne Odesnik, in response to a reporter who asked him if he knew why he was asked into the main interview room even though all the world No. 107 did was lose a first-round match to Jimmy Wang of Taiwan. Odesnik remains a person of interest following his busts for being in possession of HGH (Human Growth Hormone, a performance-enhancing drug) and apparently cutting some sort of deal with doping authorities to have his punishment reduced.
“Well, Wimbledon have their decision. They’ll stand by the decision. But, like I said, the ATP’s my main concern of what they did. . . it all came through the ATP. Now, there’s a lot of players that are very disappointed with the ATP, that’s for sure. I’m not going to lie and come here on a press conference and you know, before post-match we always get ATP people telling us what to say. I’m not going to hide and I’m not going to say false things. I’m going to say the truth of how I feel. It’s disappointing.”
—Aussie Bernard Tomic, who reached the fourth round before falling to No. 7 Tomas Berdych, on Wimbledon’s decision to join the ATP in banning Tomic’s father/coach John from attending, following an alleged assault by the elder Tomic on one of Bernard’s hitting partners. Somehow, I find it hard to imagine that the ATP would try to coach Tomic on the subject of his father and the ban he’s under. Call me crazy.
“That’s your work, not mine. I don’t know. Two-all?”
— Tommy Robredo, to a reporter who asked what his record was against Andy Murray before their third-round clash. You’d be surprised how often players get asked questions like this—and how rarely they’re called out so bluntly for failing to perform due diligence.
“I would like to say, welcome to the crazy women’s tennis tour.”
—Li Na, when asked how she would describe her 6-2, 1-6, 6-0 second-round win over Simona Halep. You think that was crazy? You should have seen No. 6 seeded Li’s next round—a 4-6, 6-0, 8-6 head-scratcher of a win over Klara Zakopalova.
“I don’t know that I can be. But I’m saying, besides the tennis, the other best job is the rockstar. You’re singing in front of 100,000 people. That’s probably the best thing, no?”
—Tomas Berdych, when asked occupation he might choose if he weren’t gifted in tennis. What did you think he was going to say, shoemaker?
“I don’t get 15-Love or 30-Love every game because I’m 35. You have to win games, sets, and matches. I don’t get a handout just because I’ve had five surgeries in my career. It’s not like that. You have to earn everything, you know. You can’t buy ATP points to buy your ranking. It’s not possible; otherwise Gulbis would be No. 1 in the world.”
—Tommy Haas, before his fourth-round loss to top-seeded Novak Djokovic. That line about Gulbis? Could be the best one of the tournament.
“I can’t talk much about that. I guess it’s private, in a way. But I just can say that it’s a very calm and very beautiful environment where I like to spend time.”
—Novak Djokovic on a Buddhist temple he occasionally visits in Wimbledon, presumably to meditate. The fact that he couldn’t talk about it sure didn’t mean that they couldn’t keep asking about it—almost as much as Djokovic was pumped for heart-wrenching human-interest material about his relationship with the recently deceased coach who discovered him, Jelena Gencic. No dice on either front, Djokovic politely put up the wall.
“No, I like a bit of cheesy music. And then yesterday I tweeted—it was like hilarious—just, you know, PS, Hi to the One Direction fans. They corrected me, We’re not fans; we’re Directioners. It’s like a whole other world.”
—Laura Robson salted away thousands of Directioners—and new followers—with that simple tweet. This girl didn’t just fall off the turnip truck!
“It’s definitely not a shock. I just need to do better.”
—Serena Williams, following her loss to Sabine Lisicki. After oh so many years, Williams has become a realist. It will only help.
“Everyone is doing whatever. If he likes to do a can-can, he can do it. If it’s celebration, he can do whatever he wants.”
—Jerzy Janowicz on the hilarious can-can dance with which his Polish countryman Lukasz Kubot celebrated his last win before facing Janowicz in an all-Polish quarterfinal. Kubot isn’t going through a patch of gender confusion; the high-kicking can-can he does is actually one of his daily drills.
“Hermann Maier. You know, I read his book while I was injured. You know, almost losing his leg and then to come back and be the world champion in his sport, I think was an unbelievable story. Also Drew Brees, an American football player, quarterback. Nobody believed he could come back after he has torn everything there was in the shoulder, and he still came back and was one of the best, so . . .”
—Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki, on returning to play the tour—and beat both of last year’s Wimbledon finalists—after a serious ankle injury. Although she had trouble handling her emotions in the final, her can-do attitude and obvious love of the event suggest she might be in the same position again before her career ends.
“A lot of tennis. A lot of three-set matches. A lot of running.”
—Agnieszka Radwanska, after her semifinal loss to Lisicki, when asked what she would remember about Wimbledon. Come on, Aga, there must be something else that caught your eye?
“Why are you not wearing my kit (clothing)?”
—Andy Murray on what Fred Perry, the last British man to win Wimbledon (77 long years ago), might “say to you.” Perry’s tennis clothing line was once the gold standard in tennis, and still remains a popular sportswear line despite Murray’s obvious preference for Adidas. That dry comment from the 2013 Wimbledon men’s champion is just brilliant, given how much drama and attention this entire “first Brit” thing created.
“That was the perfect day. It was sunny. It was beautiful. Centre Court Wimbledon, it was packed. I won in two sets. I didn’t drop a set for the whole championship. Even in my perfect dream I couldn’t have dreamed a perfect moment like that. That is beyond perfection.”
—2013 women’s champion Marion Bartoli. Yes, indeed. Sometimes you do eat the bear.