War declared at Kooyong + Interview to Roddick and Nalbandian
"WAR" DECLARED AT KOOYONG
The gauntlet was thrown down at Kooyong today after DAVID NALBANDIAN played his way into the Commonwealth Bank International final at Kooyong tomorrow. NALBANDIAN defeated ANDY RODDICK, 3/6, 7/6(7-2), 7/6 (7-4) in a match decided by two tie-break sets, and immediately announced his intentions for tomorrow. "It's going to be very tough. I have just played against Andre one time in the Masters Cup and it was very close, very exciting match. I think Andrea is playing really good and tomorrow is going to be a war". Asked how he would cope with another two hour match tomorrow, "I'm working to play ten hours, so two hours and a half is nothing!"
ANDY RODDICK was serious about his experience at Kooyong this week, "You don't want to go into the Australian Open with a bunch of hit and giggles under your belt, it's good to get in the trenches, even win or lose this week, you just want to get in there and get in the trenches and maybe get the feeling back of competitive tennis again, so it's definitely a good thing to have tough matches like that, just playing in a competitive atmosphere".
In near perfect summer conditions, the second match on centre court saw TAYLOR DENT defeat THOMAS JOHANSSON in another tight three-set match, 6/7(1-7), 6/2, 6/4. Thomas was extremely happy with the progress he has made this week in his comeback from knee surgery in 2003, "I got three good matches in my body now. I played two Top 10 guys and then Taylor today, so cannot be better. Actually, I'm very happy that I got the opportunity to play at Kooyong".
In the final match, ROBBY GINEPRI had his second win at Kooyong this week in defeating last year's Commonwealth Bank International finalist, SEBASTIEN GROSJEAN, 7/6(7-3), 6/2.
Play on centre court tomorrow kicks off at 11.00 am with "favourite son" PAT RAFTER teaming up with JOSH EAGLE for a doubles match against young Australian pair, NATHAN HEALEY and RYAN HENRY.
The stage will then be set for a huge afternoon of tennis, featuring four of the world's Top 10 players. The final of the 2004 Commonwealth Bank International between ANDRE AGASSI and DAVID NALBANDIAN will commence at 2.00 pm, followed by the play off for third and fourth place between ANDY RODDICK and ROGER FEDERER.
ANDY RODDICK 16/1/04:
Q: Andy, why is it always tough between you and David, any specific reason for that?
A: Yeah, for sure, especially I got the better of him pretty easily the first two times we played. I don't know, it's a good contrast because he definitely handles my power well and he exploits by weaknesses some and I think it makes for a good match-up.
Q: Is he a deceptive player?
A: Yes, absolutely; he does a lot of things that while they're not spectacular they're just in text book - he executes well and he competes well, he plays big points well so he's extremely deceptive. He's not eight in the world for no reason.
Q: It wasn't really an exhibition match the way you were both getting right into it and there were a few close calls that were questioned. Is that the perfect preparation going into the Australian Open, a really competitive match like that?
A: For sure, you don't want to go into the Australian Open with a bunch of hitting gills under your belt, it's good to get in the trenches, even win or lose this week you just want to get in there and get in the trenches and maybe get the feeling back of competitive tennis again so it's definitely a good thing to have tough matches like that, just playing in a competitive atmosphere.
Q: You lost your serve twice in the third set, it's pretty unusual for you.
A: Yeah, absolutely; it doesn't happen every day. It was tough on the one side, I couldn't really see, we were tossing it up right in the sun and he handled it a lot better than I did. It definitely screwed with me and I let it annoy me, which I probably shouldn't have, and he definitely utilised it and handled it a lot better than I did.
Q: Any thoughts on your draw for the Open, have you heard?
A: I haven't even seen it.
Q: Do you want to know?
A: Yeah, give me the first round.
Q: Fernando Gonzalez.
A: That's a tough first round. He's a very good player, he plays big. I don't know what he's ranked but I thought he would have been seeded. It's good, means I'm going to have to play from the start.
Q: How happy are you with your form going into the Open; you seemed a bit frustrated today?
A: Yeah, I wasn't bearing down when I needed to, I felt like I had some chances, I just wasn't bearing down, but as far as hitting the ball it's okay, I'm not really worried. You come here to play competitive tennis and that's basically the goal of this week.
Q: In that respect, Andy, how tough is he to play? Your matches against him have been very, very close, he's a really tough competitor, isn't he?
A: Yeah, absolutely, and he doesn't have a whole lot of weaknesses, he's sawn off both wings, he moves really well and he has a great feel for the game, he hits angles really well, tough shots really well and he handles pace pretty well so it makes him tough.
Q: How happy are you with your own game at the moment, how much improvement do you think you need before facing Gonzalez next week?
A: There's definitely room for improvement but I'm not in a crisis, I'm not uber worried, I have one more match here and then try to prepare on the off-day and see how it goes.
Q: What about heat acclimatisation?
A: No, heat doesn't bother me. I grew up in Florida and Texas so it's pretty toasty there on a regular basis so I actually enjoy the heat.
Q: What sort of history do you have with Gonzalez, off the top of your head?
A: One and one, I think. I beat him on clay and he beat me on hard courts. Go figure. But he's dangerous, definitely, he hits a huge ball, and goes for broke so we will see how it goes. We usually have pretty fun matches.
Q: Do you feel that as the Number 1 seed you might be entitled to a slightly easier first match?
A: I'm getting used to it with Tim first round of the Open last year and Fernando here. It happens, it's the luck of the draw, you know. As a seed you're entitled to not play one of the top 32 players and Fernando is just outside that so it's just the luck of the draw, that's what makes it intriguing when the draw does come out.
Q: But do you think the first seed, for instance, should get a qualifier?
A: No, absolutely not; there has got to be some fun. They already added 16 more seeds to the mix. Four years ago you could have played the number 17 guy in the world first round so I think that's part of the fun of looking at a draw for the first time is seeing intriguing match-ups.
Q: Just one last one on David. Last year he finished eight in the world and did so without winning a tournament, what does that say about where his game is at and just where he sits with things?
A: Yeah, but that's very deceiving. He made semis or quarters of the Aussie Open, semis of US Open - he put up very consistent results - fourth round Wimbledon, made the finals of a Masters Series, made the semis of another Masters Series so he's putting up solid results. I take a lot more, that weighs a lot heavier in my mind than someone who is winning in Winchesterton Fieldville, wherever, you know, he's putting up big results at big tournaments so I think that stat is a little bit deceiving.
COMMONWEALTH BANK INTERNATIONAL
January 14-17, 2004
DAVID NALBANDIAN 16/1/04:
Q: You must be pretty happy with that win?
A: Yeah, of course. Andy is the Number 1 and not every day you can beat the Number 1. I think it was a very tough match, very close, I was 5-1 in the third set and then he do a really good comeback and then was very close.
Q: What about the wrist, is that fine?
A: It's perfect. I'm coming from Europe to see the doctor and the doctor told me it's perfect. Ready.
Q: So you got no treatment, nothing?
A: No. Just I have the wristband but just for play long match and for play Australia five sets, the first tournament, but, no, it's perfect.
Q: Roddick said that you had no weakness, do you agree with that?
A: Yeah, I think I played really good today. Last time I played with Taylor Dent was terrible so today I feel much, much better. I change the racquet so that's made a little difference but I feel almost perfect.
Q: But do you agree that you have a complete game?
A: Yeah, I played very good, I think. I didn't do many mistakes and, I don't know, I didn't see the statistics but I think I do a lot of winners and not much mistake.
Q: So what do you expect for the Open?
A: Well, I have to play tomorrow first and then we will think a little bit of the Open. But, it's a Grand Slam, I do quarter final last year and I like to play here in Melbourne, I like the people and everything, so I've enjoyed every time I go on the courts and I'm feeling very good, I'm practicing too much all this summer at home, and I think that's make me fit now and I feel great.
Q:"All the summer" means the Argentinian summer in December?
A: Yeah. Very hot.
Q: Everything is okay with the wrist now, David?
A: Yeah, I just said. I'm coming from Europe, I see the doctor and is perfect. I just use the wristband for nothing but I have to use just for Australian Open five sets, or matches that are very long, or something like that. The doctor told me is perfect.
Q: Do you feel as though you are in the best physical shape you have been in; perhaps if you are in that good shape this could be a very good year for you?
A: I think I'm going to be better every day. I'm very good now, I'm working and we do a very good job in December and I think I can feel better every time and that's what I'm looking for.
Q: David, do you feel as though you've been building towards winning a Slam?
A: Yes, of course. I do a Wimbledon final in 2002 so I think I'm ready and every day I'm feeling better inside the court and outside the court, I think it's very important. We don't play only tennis, we have a life out of the court and I think I'm trying to find my way and I feel great and I think I'm working on everything and I feel ready to win a Grand Slam.
Q: Do you like being playing on all surfaces or do you have a favourite surface?
A: I like playing everywhere. I like more Rebound Ace or carpet, indoors or grass. No, I like everything. I don't like too much clay, for me is the worst one, but when I have to play I do it.
Q: What do you think tomorrow's match will tell you?
A: It's going to be very tough. I just play against Andre one time in the Masters Cup and was very close, very exciting match. I think Andre he is playing really good and tomorrow is going to be a war.
Q: Is it the perfect preparation for a Grand Slam, to play Andre Agassi just a couple of days beforehand?
A: I think it's great. I play in two matches six sets so I'm kind of playing too much but Andy he's a very good player, Taylor is another kind of player - serve and volley - but I think you never know about playing with Andy today and Agassi tomorrow, it's very good for the Grand Slam, for practicing, for getting better and feel how good are you at the moment.
Q: David, you said it was going to be a war tomorrow against Agassi, do you like it to be a war pretty much time every time you walk onto the court against anyone?
A: Yeah, of course. I think every time I take the racquet is for win, not for nothing else, so every time I'm going to the court I want to beat the opponent so I don't care who is behind the net, I just play my game and try to do my best and my game is a little bit on the baseline so I had to run and looks like a war.
Q: You look across the net to a guy like Roddick - massive serve, huge forehand, great weapons, what is it that you have that you can have confidence that you are going to beat this guy?
A: I think I have everything: serve, forehand, backhand, return, volley. Of course I have to work in everything but I don't have like very bad backhand or very bad forehand or very bad feet or whatever. I think I'm really complete at the moment on my game and I feel that's a very good - - -
Q: Your smash was a little bit weak today.
A: Yeah, I have to work on it.
Q: You mentioned Wimbledon two years ago, but were you ready for that then? I guess what we are trying to get at is whether you feel more ready, if you were to get into another Grand Slam final what would be the difference this time if David Nalbandian was to play in a Grand Slam final?
A: Two years difference, that's too much. When I play Wimbledon I was 20 and right now I play more tournaments, more finals, US Open semi finals, you get more experience in two years so that's one thing, very important to be ready to win a Grand Slam.
Q: If tomorrow's match was another two hours, consecutive two hour matches so close to a Grand Slam, would that be a concern for you?
A: I'm working to play 10 hours so two hours and a half is nothing.
I miss: Ivan Lendl, Korda, Novak, Bruguera, Rios, Kucera, Courier, Mantilla, Costa, Santoro and Ferreira.
Good luck to:
Gaudio, Murray, Florian Mayer, Chela, Nalbandian, Radek Stepanek, Volandri, Youzhny and Verdasco.
NICOLAS ALMAGRO IS AN EXOTIC BEAUTY