Sorry guys, not gonna take the time to fix the formatting
based on the draw as the guy says, Andy would play either Marat or Murray next.
AAMI CLASSIC PRESS CONFERENCE.
8 JANUARY 2008 - KOOYONG LAWN TENNIS CLUB
JASON DUNSTALL: Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of Colin Stubs
Enterprises I welcome one and all to Kooyong today to meet the
players for the 2008 AAMI Classic.
Once again, a world class field has been assembled for this
year's Classic and we welcome them to the stage now.
Nikolai Davydenko - eventually. It will happen. Andy Roddick,
Fernando Gonzales, Andy Murray, David Nalbandian, Ivan Ljubicic
and Marat Safin.
IVAN LJUBICIC: Coming.
JASON DUNSTALL: Of course, there's one chair empty, ladies and
gentlemen. Unfortunately, Roger Federer was a late withdrawal
due to a virus, but it is with great pleasure, now, we are able
to introduce a replacement gentleman who has just accepted to
take part in this year's Classic; a man who was only two years
ago a finalist at the Australian Open. Will you please welcome
Marcos Baghdatis. Welcome to the players. (Applause).
There are a few special mentions we need to make before we get
into the questions. We welcome the Executive General Manager of
AAMI, Mr Anthony Durakovic; also the Executive Manager of AAMI
Sponsorship, John Bennetts; and also from AAMI Sue Jellie and
Tricia Kelly. We welcome from Tennis Australia the CEO, Steve
Wood, and also the Director of Marketing, Digby Nancarrow.
It's with special pleasure we welcome two new sponsors:
Commander, and also to Rolex, the official timekeepers.
We welcome representatives from support sponsors, Mercedes,
Schweppes, Peter Rowland Catering, Diadora, Ferngrove Wilson,
Lanson, and also Vittoria. And, last but not least, our media
partners, the Seven Network, 3AW, The Age, and IEC in Sport.
At this point in time I would welcome to the microphone the
Executive General Manager of AAMI, Mr Anthony Durakovic.
ANTHONY DURAKOVIC: Thanks, Jason. Ian Hill, President of
Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, Colin Stubs, players, and members of
the media, AAMI is delighted to be able to sponsor the AAMI
Classic and I would like to extend a warm welcome to all of the
players here today who make this one of the most enjoyable and
relaxed - certainly from the spectators' perspective - events on
the Australian tennis calendar.
The quality of the players participating is testament to the
event that you, Ian and Colin present at this wonderful venue,
and may I take this opportunity to wish you, Ian, and your
committee, and Colin and your team, all the very best over the
coming four days.
I would like to also extend AAMI's congratulations on this the
20th anniversary of the event that has been held here at Kooyong
since its inception in 1988. All of those who have been involved
over the past 20 years should be very proud of what has been
achieved over that period of time, and in particular Kooyong's
Joe Devereux, who was the driving force to have such an event
held here at Kooyong, which to many is the traditional home of
To the players, once again, welcome back to Kooyong, and on
behalf of AAMI may I wish you all the very best, not only for
this week but, of course, in your endeavours over the coming
fortnight at the Australian Open. Thank you.
JASON DUNSTALL: Thank you, Anthony. Now, an opportunity to hear
from our host, Mr Colin Stubs, who will announce the draw for the
COLIN STUBS: Thanks, Jason. Good morning. I have to say it has
been a pretty interesting 24 hours - probably one of the most
interesting over my 20 or 30 years in the game.
Anyway, naturally we are disappointed that Roger and Tommy are
not with us. They have served this event very well over the last
number of years. We wish them speedy recovery. The fact that
they are not here actually gives us an opportunity to introduce
two new faces to the event: Nikolai and Marcos. Thank you very
much for taking up the commitment at very late notice.
It's my job, really, to talk about the draw, and the schedule for
The draw is as follows: Nikolai Davydenko is playing Marcos
Baghdatis; Dave Nalbandian is playing Fernando Gonzalez, Andy
Murray v. Marat Safin; Ivan Ljubicic v. Andy Roddick.
The schedule for tomorrow is Davydenko v. Baghdatis at 11 a.m.,
followed by Roddick v. Ljubicic, followed by Gonzales and
Nalbandian; and the last match of the day, Murray v. Safin.
JASON DUNSTALL: All right. Now we have an opportunity to hear
from the players. I think there are a couple of hand-helds
there, guys, so just grab them when the questions come your way.
I would start with Marat, and also Fernando, who I believe have
had the opportunity to have a hit down at Melbourne Park on the
new blue Plexicushion surface. I guess we would love to get your
thoughts on the surface, how you found it, and what you think the
player feedback is going to be - either Marat or Fernando?
MARAT SAFIN: I thinks it's a little bit different because we
used to play on green, so it's kind of - the first impression
was, was a little bit not normal. But you can get used to it. A
couple of days you can get used to it. But it's still a little
bit - it's better, I think, with the green, in my opinion.
JASON DUNSTALL: Fernando, what about you?
FERNANDO GONZALEZ: It's a different colour, but it's just a
colour. The court is much slower than last year,
but I think it's
better for my game and for the South Americans.
JASON DUNSTALL: David, you showed some sensational late season
form with back-to-back Masters titles in Madrid in Paris, wins
over the world's top three players. Are you confident of
carrying that form over to the Australian Open?
DAVID NALBANDIAN: Yes. I finish last year very good, playing
great tennis, great level, so I'm trying to play the game at the
top players. I feel fit again, healthy again, so I think it will
be a very good Australian Open this year.
JASON DUNSTALL: I think we should also wish you a happy birthday
back for the 1st of January. Did you have any time to celebrate?
DAVID NALBANDIAN: No.
JASON DUNSTALL: To Andy Murray, a winner at Doha, you lost a
five-setter to Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of last year's
Australian Open. You have got a new support team with you now:
how do you feel 12 months down the track?
ANDY MURRAY: Yes, I feel good. Obviously, I played well in Doha
last week. I started well last year, as well making the final
there, so it has been nice with my new team around me. I've got
a couple of fitness trainers here, a coach and a physio, so I'm
looking forward to it.
JASON DUNSTALL: You had a couple of mates there from Doha as
well - I'll start with you Ivan: you won Doha last year and you
made the semi-finals this year - a similar type of preparation:
how do you feel heading into the Australian Open?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I feel well. I had a few good matches. I'm
happy with the way I'm playing, I have no physical problems, and
that's very positive these days. So I'm feeling good and I hope
I can play well already this; and, of course, for Melbourne the
Flinders Park is going to be - I hope I'm going to reach the peak
of my form, but we'll see. Again, I'm feeling really good, so
we'll see what's going to happen.
JASON DUNSTALL: Great to hear. Nikolai, I believe you've got a
new manager - I believe it's Ronny Lietgeb, who used to look
after Thomas Muster, former world No. 1. What changes will that
bring to your game, if any?
NIKOLAI DAVYDENKO: You know, just starting season 2008, I don't
know. If you ask me at the end of the season, you know, I can
give some answer. But I try my best, you know, to make some
great result this year.
JASON DUNSTALL: Okay. We look forward to seeing you in action.
Andy Roddick, a part of the United States record 32nd Davis Cup
title, how do you compare the Davis Cup to Grand Slam titles?
ANDY RODDICK: Title; I'd love to be plural on that one, but I'm
not. It was great. I mean, it has been a seven-year process for
us to try to win, and the fact that my team mates are some of my
best friends as well made the celebration a lot of fun. But it
was great, and it was a dream of mine, and I'm happy to have
ended the year on a good note.
JASON DUNSTALL: Twelve months further into the relationship with
Jimmy Connors; has that been everything you expected it to be?
ANDY RODDICK: For sure. It's nice. There's only so many people
in the world who understand what it's like to go deep in a Grand
Slam, and he would definitely be one of those people. So it's
nice to have someone who can relate a little bit and who
obviously has done a lot more.
JASON DUNSTALL: Marcos, welcome to you. Great to you see. You
obviously have fond memories of the Australian Open a couple of
years ago where you made your first Grand Slam final.
It's your first time at Kooyong. Do you feel your preparation
this around has made you ready to produce that sort of form?
MARCOS BAGHDATIS: I prepared the season very well physically.
I don't play so well in Chennai last week, but I played good in
doubles so I had some matches on me. But I'm very happy here to
play some matches with the guys and have some fun here and just
get ready for the Open.
JASON DUNSTALL: We are looking forward a great week at this
point in time. We invite questions from the floor.
(Question in Spanish)
FERNANDO GONZALEZ: Do you mind if I - - -
JASON DUNSTALL: Absolutely not. We are all enjoying it.
(Answer in Spanish).
QUESTION: In English: Marat, tell us little bit about your
plans, your adventurous plans with climbing The Himalayas?
MARAT SAFIN: I already answered so many questions. Go on the
internet and check yourself. I just wish that everybody would
experience the same thing, and I think it was a great experience.
I took some time off and it was great. You should go.
QUESTION: Andy Roddick, can I ask you a question? With Roger's
withdrawal, how much of a setback do you think that will be for
his chances to win the Australia Open?
ANDY RODDICK: I can safely say none of us up here are worried
about Roger's preparations for the Australian Open. I don't
think we are worried for him. I think I'll sleep okay tonight.
QUESTION: Do you think it will hinder his preparation? How much
of a dent will it make in his preparation?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I don't know how he feels. It's
impossible for me to say, and obviously I think having won it,
this is a good preparation for it. It seems to be a good formula
for him to come here and play and go beat up on the rest of us
next week. But it's certainly not going to help, but if there's
anybody who can probably take care of himself and play his way
into form, it's probably Roger. Thank you.
JASON DUNSTALL: Are there any other questions?
QUESTION: Andy Roddick, can I just ask you please, there have
been the changes to the surface here, but for the Open how do you
feel about that perhaps being tilted towards - to the local
players? Do you think that's fair, or what are your feelings on
ANDY RODDICK: Is it tilted towards the local players?
QUESTION: Well, that's what we believe the case to be.
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know if that's the case at all. Lleyton
has probably had some of his best results on faster surfaces. I
think that's probably what you are getting at. But, you know,
it's what it is. Everybody is going to play on the same surface
and, as far as having your tournament favour your players, I
think that's probably the way it should be. You know, I'm sure
if any player up here, if they are playing a Slam in their
country - you know, for my sake I would be upset if the US Open
was really, really slow. You know, it has always favoured the
Americans, and kind of that's what it is. Lleyton is always
going to be a great story line here if he does well, so I think
QUESTION: Marat, can I ask a question? Before, you started
playing here a couple of times Australian Open cold, without
playing any tennis in the lead-up. What was it like then and
what were the sort of challenges of not playing any tennis before
you go into an Australian?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, when was that? I don't remember?
QUESTION: A few years ago, I mean a couple of years a Hopman
Cup, I think it was, a couple of years, when you just came down
here and practised and played without any tournaments.
MARAT SAFIN: No, I always played something before - Hopman Cup
or Sydney or Kooyong, so I don't think that's right.
QUESTION: Would any of you ever contemplate going in cold into a
Slam, or is it - - -
MARAT SAFIN: Well, I think that, I think everyone needs a couple
of matches before a Grand Slam, so I don't think it's a great
idea to come straight away to a Gram Slam and try to perform
well, because I have been in a couple a few weeks even without
any matches. It's tough. So I think everybody needs a couple of
JASON DUNSTALL: Any other questions, ladies and gentlemen?
QUESTION: Yes. Andy Murray, can you just reiterate on how you
are feeling this year as against where you felt you were at this
time last year going into the Open, please?
ANDY MURRAY: Physically, I feel much stronger. I worked - you
know, I only had like three weeks off in the off-season last year
and I had pretty much five weeks of training, so I feel
physically much stronger. Tennis-wise, I don't feel a whole lot
different, but I think obviously being physically stronger helps
you mentally as well, so the tennis isn't that much different.
But physically much better.
QUESTION: Nikolai, how much has the (inaudible) and do you think
that's going to affect your play at all?
NIKOLAI DAVYDENKO: Like starting a new season, I try to forget
everything that's happening last year, okay, and it didn't finish
yet. But it's not, you know, my problem, because working, my
manager, lawyers, and that's it. I just try and answer their
consideration in tennis and, you know, try in preparation for
QUESTION: Spanish again?
JASON DUNSTALL: If you like. We are enjoying it.
(Question in Spanish to David Nalbandian)
JASON DUNSTALL: Any other questions, ladies and gentlemen,
before we all duck out and take a course in Spanish? Last
opportunity to throw some questions?
QUESTION: Andy Murray, maybe the other guys too: It's supposed
to be 41 on Thursday, and possibly the same on Friday. What do
you think of the temperature?
ANDY MURRAY: Pretty hot.
ANDY RODDICK: I won't wear a jacket.
ANDY MURRAY: We always expect it to be hot over here. I trained
for four weeks in Florida before going back home for Christmas so
tried to get some training in the heat. But I've been doing that
Bikram Yoga, which is in a 42 degree room, so hopefully I'll be
used to it.
QUESTION: Can I ask, Colin, is there any heat policy here? When
it hits 41 you just play?
COLIN STUBS: That's it. You just play.
ANDY RODDICK: When are you putting in a roof?
COLIN STUBS: You had better ask Ian Hill. He is President of
QUESTION: Question for Marcos: Do you have any goals you have
set yourself for the year?
MARCOS BAGHDATIS: To get in the top 10 and stay there. That's
one of my goals.
QUESTION: Any other goals?
MARCOS BAGHDATIS: Just try to win a medal for Cyprus in the
Olympics, because that's very important for me, and just try to
help my country stay in Group 2, or maybe go to Group 1, in Davis
QUESTION: Can I ask then, Marat, how you feel going into this
year and, you have had a hit-up on the new surface? How is it
MARAT SAFIN: Well, I have been working really hard for one month
and a half in Spain, came here pretty early, got used to the
colour. Still difficult to see Australian Open with this colour.
But it's okay, we have to deal with that. I think it's going to
be a good year. I've been fit. My knee doesn't hurt. Hopefully
I can stay this way for the whole season, and I be a little bit
lucky; and the guys will lose to me a couple of times during the
year, I think it will make a huge difference in my ranking.
QUESTION: Ivan, I'm not sure if you are still President of the
Players Council, but do you think the suspension and fines that
applied to the Italian players will drive home the point?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I don't think they are supposed to be suspended.
I think they could get a fine, you know, because what they did
was really stupid. That's it. And to be suspended nine months
because you put a few Euros on a match on the other side of the
world was maybe a little bit too aggressive. But those are the
rules and every player has to follow the rules, and they didn't,
so they were fined. And maybe this is more to show to the young
players that they have to follow the rules and show all other
players that there are rules that they need to follow, and I do
feel that they paid too much of a price for that. I think it was
a little bit too heavy on them. But again, those are the rules
and they didn't follow them, so that's what they got.
(Question in Spanish)
JASON DUNSTALL: Final call for questions, ladies and gentlemen,
before we wrap things up. Are there any final questions?
QUESTION: I would just like to ask Fernando: Last year you made
the Australian Open final, which surprised many people. How big
a role has playing in that final, in reaching that final, played
in your preparation?
FERNANDO GONZALEZ: I have a really good memory from last year.
It was my first and only Grand Slam final, and I remember that I
play really good matches, and I came here and I think it was a
really good experience, and I hope to repeat it this year and
have a really good tournament.
QUESTION: Question for Ivan: Just on that first game against
Andy Roddick, what do you think about that?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I think we played last year too. Is that right,
ANDY RODDICK: Two years ago.
IVAN LJUBICIC: I think there's going to be a lot of long
rallies, kick serves and staying back 5 metres. No, of course
it's going to be a powerful game, there's no question about that.
But, you know, we play a few times so we know each other pretty
ANDY RODDICK: You're wrong. I've changed it up for this year.
IVAN LJUBICIC: We will see.
ANDY RODDICK: You are going to be so surprised.
IVAN LJUBICIC: One-handed backhand?
ANDY RODDICK: Two-handed forehand.
IVAN LJUBICIC: Two-handed forehand. We will see. I mean, as I
said, I'm ready, and I have more energy than I had last year
coming from Doha, playing five hard matches. This year I played
only three, so I have a lot more energy this year and I can give
a little bit more so we will see how it's going to go.
QUESTION: Andy, would you mind saying what your approach is?
ANDY RODDICK: Yes, it's pretty much the same. It's going to be
big serving, and I think the biggest thing is here you want to
get matches against this type of field. That's great preparation
for next week. I think that's what my main concern is.
QUESTION: Andy, how do you feel about everybody talking, first
top three players Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, taking Grand Slams,
and your name is going a little bit in the shadow? How does it
ANDY RODDICK: That's okay. It's what it is. Obviously, I think
Federer and Nadal have established themselves over the last
couple of years as the best two for the last couple of years. It
will be interesting this year to see how Novak goes. He had a
good year last year, now he is No. 3 in the world, and people
will be coming after him. It's going to be a new position for
him, but that's fine. I don't need to be talked about all the
time. It's not something I'm that concerned with, you know. I
just try to go out and win matches and, you know, if people are
talking, great; if not, it's not that big of a deal to me.
JASON DUNSTALL: All right, ladies and gentlemen. I think that
brings the press conference to a close. We thank the players for
making themselves available. Obviously, some of them have
travelled long distances to be here, so we look forward to four
great days of tennis over the Kooyong Classic, and we thank you
all for your attendance
- - -