AAMI Classic Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club
Tuesday, 9 January 2007 at 11.00 am
QUESTION: Andy Murray, can you tell us what heart you took
from your performance last week and how it set you up
for the Open, please?
ANDY MURRAY: Yes, it was obviously a good tournament,
I played well, last year I did pretty badly, so it was
good to be in my first final and I had a really
competitive match with Ivan in the final, and I hope to
have my revenge on Wednesday, so it will be good.
QUESTION: Roger, how are you finding the Rebound Ace court?
Is it the same as in the past?
ROGER FEDERER: I find it's pretty much the same. I didn't
feel any difference to last year. I was also expecting
a big difference, because everyone has been talking
about it. But I think the bounce is usual, you know,
it adapts to the heat and everything; when it's more
hot, it bounces more, it flies more. That's how it's
always been here in Australia, so I don't see a change
QUESTION: Did you notice a change in the court?
ANDY RODDICK: Not really, I was expecting the same as
Roger. I heard the last couple of weeks maybe it was
going to be a little bit quicker this year, but it kind
of feels similar to past years.
QUESTION: Are you both happy that it's the same?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes.
ANDY RODDICK: Of course he is! I'm going to go with "Yes"
on this one.
QUESTION: Marat, what sort of surface speed do you like the
Rebound Ace? The speed of the surface, do you like it
quicker or a little bit slower?
MARAT SAFIN: It doesn't matter, because the kick serves and
the fast ones, if you change it and mix up your serves,
it's working pretty well.[/b]
QUESTION: Roger, can we expect anything other than
domination from you again this summer?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. Look, it's the beginning of
the season, we don't really have off seasons because
it's always going on, the tennis tour. I feel like I'm
playing well, you know, but that's not always enough to
win. So I'm looking forward to this. This is the only
tournament I'm playing within basically two months, so
I hope it's going to be a good one for me.
QUESTION: Let's be honest, you're always playing well. In
terms of your preparation, anything different, what
kind of mentality, do you come into this Australian
summer with any different kind of mental approach.
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, it's a bit different because I haven't
played Doha this year, which I've won the last couple
of years, so I arrived already one week ago, getting
over jet lag, getting here, back to this tournament and
other players, because Dubai, not many people were
around any more. So I hope that preparation works as
well, you know.
The off season was good, I had enough vacation and
enough time for preparations. So the body feels good,
and that's also an important thing, heading into a new
QUESTION: Given that Doha has worked well for you before,
why did you change your preparation this year?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I played 97 matches last year so
I didn't want to do too much in the first place.
I thought that was the better thing to do this year.
QUESTION: Roger, Lleyton Hewitt has had an interrupted
preparation leading into the Open, he's got a calf
strain and he's also split with his coach. Do you
still see him as a major threat at the Open?
ROGER FEDERER: If he's healthy, obviously, that's my first
concern. I hope he's going to be ready in time for the
Open. I think if he walks on court, you know, that
first day for him, I think he's definitely going to be
tough to beat and a contender for the title, yes.
QUESTION: Does it surprise you guys that a coach would
leave a player so close to a Grand Slam?
ROGER FEDERER: Who is that for?
QUESTION: Referring to Lleyton.
ROGER FEDERER: Who do you want to answer?
ANDY RODDICK: Which one?
ANDY RODDICK: I think in order to answer that, you'd have
to be privy to a lot of information that we're not
privy to, to be honest. I don't -- I can't sit here
and pretend to know the ins and outs of another
QUESTION: Talking about coaches, your relationship with
Jimmy Connors, can we expect to see a big difference or
some difference in your game?
ANDY RODDICK: I hope so.
QUESTION: In what area?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. He kind of helped me turn my
year around last year, I was playing a little bit more
agressive, so hopefully I can have a more successful
run this year than last.
QUESTION: Has Connors made tennis more fun or harder?
ANDY RODDICK: He hasn't made it harder, he's made it
easier. I was making it harder on myself. It's a lot
of fun. It's nice to wake up in the morning and go
have a hit with one of your idols on a daily basis.
That's a cool feeling, and I don't know if the novelty
of that will wear off any time soon.
QUESTION: David Nalbandian, your knee injury from Chennai,
how is your knee problem from the Indian tournament?
DAVID NALBANDIAN: Well, I will see you tomorrow, but
I think I will be okay. It is tendonitis, but I think
I'm okay to play.
QUESTION: Marat, if I could ask you a similar question as
I asked Roger before about Lleyton Hewitt: despite his
calf injury and his troubles leading into the Open, do
you still see him as a major danger?
MARAT SAFIN: Yes, of course. He has a lot of experience,
he won two Grand Slams, and he's been in the final with
all of us a couple of times, each one of us. So he's
definitely one of the dangers, if he can get over the
QUESTION: Ivan, winning so early in the year, how do you
feel about your form, going into the Australian Open?
Last year was a big year for you in the Grand Slams,
how do you feel?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I think it can't be any better. Of course,
winning a title early in the year, it's great for
confidence. I do feel well, I'm not tired at all, it's
fantastic. I don't know how I'm going to play this
week or next week, because it's a fantastic start.
When you play a tournament, then you win it, so it's
great, it can't get any better.
QUESTION: What do you think you need to do to get to that
Grand Slam final?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I have to win six matches, I guess.
QUESTION: In the style of your play, your game.
IVAN LJUBICIC: I don't think I have to change it. I just
have to win the matches. I don't think you should play
any different from one tournament to another, it's just
a matter of getting things together.
QUESTION: Where do you think you're placed in terms of your
preparations for this Australian summer?
ANDY MURRAY: Where do I think I'm placed?
QUESTION: How you're travelling?
ANDY MURRAY: How I'm travelling? I feel okay. I think
I played well last week. This is the first time I'm
going to play here. I think it's part of the
preparation. As you can see by the quality of the
field this year, I got told that 10 of the last 12
winners of the Australian Open have all played here.
So it can't get any better than that. So I feel like
I've prepared pretty well.
QUESTION: Could you describe your preparation to regain the
MARAT SAFIN: Pardon?
QUESTION: Marat, could you describe your preparation and
your hunger to regain the title from Roger?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, it's going to be tough, after last year,
it's going to be really tough. And hopefully I can get
through the first two rounds, and then we'll see.
QUESTION: Marat, I want to ask you a question about Boris
Yeltsin. (Laughter) Do you notice him when you're in
a Davis Cup final, when he flaps his arms around? He
does a lot of pretty unusual things.
MARAT SAFIN: Probably we don't see him, but we're aware
that he's there.
QUESTION: Does he have any effect on the way you approach
MARAT SAFIN: Well, we try to keep him as less nervous as we
QUESTION: Marat, how did you feel last January, when you
obviously would have liked to be here defending the
MARAT SAFIN: Well, I was trying to recover from my injury,
I had a very bad injury and I've been running with the
machine and watching all of these guys playing here,
and was missing really the feeling to be here and being
part of this game. So pretty tough.
QUESTION: This summer, or rather your winter, because you
had a late start, were you able to do different work
over this Christmas break than what you usually do?
MARAT SAFIN: Yes, yes, but we finished the year pretty
late, me and (inaudible), so we didn't have really a
vacation. And straight away, straight after we went to
practise, making three weeks of preparations. So it's
a pretty different approach to the Australian Open, but
I hope it will work.
QUESTION: Roger, for a long time, you guys have had Andre
Agassi as very much the spokesman for the tour. Are
you starting to formulate amongst yourselves who is
going to be the next one to take that mantle and do
some of the statesman-like things that Andre did for
such a long period of time? He enjoyed it here and
obviously enjoyed it at the Australian Open as well?
ROGER FEDERER: I think that comes with age a lot, you know.
He played for such a long time and of course he was
such a leader of the group, he was so much older than
us and had so much more experience, and he had such a
great name. So it's obviously hard to see him kind of
go, but I think we're all happy enough that he played
for so long, so we could play against him. And now
obviously, Pete and Andre are not around any more, so
we obviously know that this is our time and hope that
we can live up to some great former players -- not only
him, but many other greats as well. I think we're all
kind of ready for that.
QUESTION: Who is the next leader of the group? Are you
having to beat these guys off with a stick?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. Maybe later on we'll have to
sort it out.
QUESTION: It is a vacuum that's not there. You have to
keep the ball rolling that he certainly started.
ROGER FEDERER: I don't understand you.
QUESTION: With him not being here, obviously you guys have
to come more to the fore, obviously.
ROGER FEDERER: I think that happens automatically. There's
not much more you have to do, because the focus shifts;
if somebody is not around any more, they are not going
to talk to him any more, so they have to talk to other
people. So I don't think it's going to be a problem.
QUESTION: Roger, is winning all four Grand Slams this year
achievable or is the competition just getting tougher?
ROGER FEDERER: It's the same for the last couple of years
now, my focus is on the Australian Open, playing here.
If I win here, it gets very interesting. I know in a
few weeks time if that's a goal that I can give myself
or not. But it's usually not what I aim for in a
season. I'm happy if I win maybe one slam, two slams
is great. I can't win all the time, so I just could
hope that I can keep it up for another couple of years.
QUESTION: You mentioned the 97 matches last year. Are you
planning to play less matches or less tournaments this
ROGER FEDERER: No, I just think I have to pace myself a bit
more in the beginning, that I get over the tough season
and then I'm going to be playing a lot again from
February on. But up until then I'm just going to play
basically this event here, and then the Australian
Open, and then that's it. I just think I have to look
after my body. I haven't been injured last year, that
was a good thing, and that's because I had a very good
schedule, I think, so I really want to keep it that
JASON DUNSTALL: Radek, you had your best year in 2006,
breaking into the top 20 for the first time, despite
missing the last part of the season with a back injury.
Do you have any residual effects from that? I know you
played in Adelaide last week; how are you feeling?
RADEK STEPANEK: I was feeling okay. I didn't play since
Wimbledon, because of my neck injury. I didn't feel my
right hand for two and a half months, so to get back to
feel the power took some time. And I'm feeling okay,
I survived the tournament healthy, so I'm looking
JASON DUNSTALL: Tommy, in years gone by, you had a few
injury problems. You had a fantastic 2006 as well;
could have been better if you didn't run into Roger too
TOMMY HAAS: Yes, I ran into him a couple of times at the
beginning of last year. Every time you see him in your
way in the draw, you first of all hope to get there,
then see what happens. We had a good battle last year
at the Australian Open. Preparations went well and
we're all pretty much healthy to get going and get
started, get a couple of matches this week, and see
what happens at the big first Grand Slam of the year.
QUESTION: Andy Murray, what has Brad Gilbert done for your
game in what he's trying to achieve?
ANDY MURRAY: Yes, he's been great. He's definitely one of
the most experienced coaches in the world, he's worked
with two great players in Andre and Andy. He was a
very good player himself, and definitely helped me a
lot, you know, in knowing how to match my strengths up
against my opponents' weaknesses. By the way my
ranking has been going, you can see that he's been
good, and I'm definitely not tired of him yet. And
it's been a really good kind of six or seven months,
I hope it will continue.
QUESTION: Andy, he talks a lot and you don't say much.
ANDY MURRAY: Yes.
QUESTION: How does that work?
ANDY MURRAY: It's a good combination. I listen to him most
of the time; some of the time I switch off. It's quite
difficult. But yes, it's good. I'd rather have
someone talking a little bit too much, than -- he's
normally pretty positive, he's not being negative all
the time, so I guess that's a good thing. And it's
not -- the talking thing hasn't really gotten to me
yet, so it's all going well.
JASON DUNSTALL: Marat, you have got Alexander Volkov
working with you; how he has influenced your game?
MARAT SAFIN: I found myself in a pretty bad situation last
year, I didn't win any matches, and I have been pretty
down. My coach has been with me for a long time and
I have been playing for 10 years, so I needed actually
a change, a big change, and I asked him to travel a
little bit with me to help me for a couple of months,
because he had nothing to do in Moscow, so I offered
him a few trips, a little bit of cash. And it worked,
you know -- full hospitality. And it worked, and also
for this year. Of course, he won't be able to travel
full time, which is pretty good, because otherwise we
can get tired from each other and I don't want to have
this kind of problem with the coach. And he's going to
come definitely to the most important tournaments, the
Masters Series and Grand Slams and a few others, and
hopefully it will work because it worked for that few
months of the season.
So basically I came back from 104 to 26 in the world.
80 spots in three months is pretty good actually. So
I'm going to work with him.
JASON DUNSTALL: Any final questions, ladies and gentlemen?
QUESTION: Andy Roddick, have you ever sat down and worked
out like a job description for a coach, like what you
really want them to do? What's the best you could
offer, in terms of your ideal for a coach, what a coach
has to do for you, what are the main things?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, coach tennis. I mean, I think a lot of
it's just training and making sure that the training
schedules are aligned, and obviously share their
knowledge with you, trade ideas on how to successfully
win tennis matches. You know, beyond that I think you
have to be professional enough to take care of some
other stuff. You know, I think we're all at a point in
our careers where we know how to win tennis matches,
it's just a matter of a coach provides that extra
motivation and knowledge and support.
QUESTION: How much would be personality based and how
much would be more technical stuff or technical knowledge?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, it's a combination. I don't know if
I can give you percentages per se, but you can respect
someone's tennis knowledge. But you have to spend -- a
lot of us spend more time with our coaches than we do
our families, so you have to be able to get along with
the person as well, I think that's important.
QUESTION: Roger, having played so many matches last year
and presumably each tournament had its own
idiosyncrasies, how do you approach playing in
Melbourne? What are the challenges you face when you
come down to Victoria?
ROGER FEDERER: Obviously it's a Grand Slam, so obviously
you prepare a bit different, you know -- I mean,
I would never arrive that early, you know, to a Grand
Slam if it wasn't in Australia at the beginning of the
season, you know. But it starts so early that you
really have to give yourself the best chance. You
know, in this day and age, everybody at the top comes
to Australia and plays and wants to win this title, so
it's really become also a very important major for all
of us. And with the exhibition beforehand, that's what
I need, I need a couple of matches going into a big
And then it's all mental from a few days before the
tournament, because it's a long road, you know, it's
two long weeks of best-of-five matches, and we don't
play those matches so often, because usually it's best
of three. So it's just a bit of a shift in your mental
approach, and I think that's the interesting part,
doing that early on in the season. And that's why
there's a lot in the air, nobody really knows who is
going to be playing well, and also it's the same for
QUESTION: David, could you explain what you hope to get out
of this week, please, and how you're standing up to
looking towards the Open?
DAVID NALBANDIAN: Well, as I said before, I think I'm ready
with the knee, but you never know. Five-set matches is
always tough, a very long two weeks, tough matches, so
I will see. But I think I'm okay. I was practising in
December at home, so I feel that I can make it this
QUESTION: Andy Murray, as one of the young guns being
invited here, how do you rate yourself among the young
guys, such as (inaudible) and Tomas Berdych? Who do
you think is your main challenger this year?
ANDY MURRAY: I don't think I could really rate who is best
or who has the most potential. I think it's good for
tennis that a lot of guys, maybe five guys in the top
20 are still under 21 may be, so that's good.
Obviously I think Novak Djokovic, I saw him here, so
I'm guessing he's probably playing a match or two. He
obviously won last week, you know.
So there's a lot of good young guys, and I think all of
us are all trying to become like these guys, you know,
they are all the experienced ones, the best players in
the world, and have been at the top for a long time,
and we're hoping to come along and try and challenge
QUESTION: Tommy, do you feel the gap has closed between
you guys and yourself and Roger in recent times or has it
perhaps got larger, having pushed him last year?
TOMMY HAAS: I think it gets harder each year, to be honest.
I think the game keeps getting stronger and better.
There's always new young guns coming up, as Andy was
just mentioning, and you've got to try to keep at your
game. Thinking about it, you know, I'm turning 29
pretty soon, time goes by pretty quickly, so I'm kind
of like becoming the veteran here. You know, you just
have to really keep up the hard work, keep seeing where
you're at when you're playing the best and work hard
and believe in yourself.
QUESTION: Roger, what's the thing you most enjoy about
working with Tony Roche, now that you you've been doing
it for a couple of years?
ROGER FEDERER: Just kind of the old school approach to
practice, just go through thousands of backhands and
forehands and volleys, you know, do it over and over
again and hardly take any breaks -- kind of enjoying
it, it's a bit different to how you used to work. Just
being around him, you know -- I think similar to Andy,
having, you know, a coach who is such a great player as
well, always helps, and he's a nice guy off the court
too, we get along very well. But it's really on-court
stuff I enjoy most, because it's enjoyable to be on
court with him because we both work really hard.
QUESTION: Does he see things in your game that weren't
ROGER FEDERER: Now it's just reminding me not to forget
things. You know, I'm not 19 or 20 any more where
I feel that I can change my game much. It's the little
details that make the difference, so that's what I'm
QUESTION: Were you unlucky enough again to spend your
Christmas on the plane this year?
ROGER FEDERER: This year was okay. Last year, new year's
eve I was on a plane, two years ago I was on a plane on
Christmas and Christmas Eve. This year I was in Dubai
with friends, which was nice.
Sorry I know it's veeeery long, I try to emphasize the David's speak