|Posted on January 8, 2013 at 11:25 AM|
Berdych, Del Potro, Tipsarevic, Raonic, Nishikori, Baghdatis, PHM, Hewitt
Tomas Berdych looks on during the AAMI Classic press conference at Kooyong on January 8, 2013 in Melbourne
Tomas Berdych looks on during the AAMI Classic press conference at Kooyong on January 8, 2013 in Melbourne
2013 AAMI Classic Media Conference
AAMI Classic Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club
Players' Media Conference
MR FELGATE: Welcome. Welcome to the media conference for this year's AAMI Classic.
I'd like to firstly just thank all of our major sponsors, or the major sponsor in AAMI of course, who is represented here today by John Bennetts, great to have you John. He's the executive manager of sponsorship. For the Seven Network, thank you, IEC in Sports, Schweppes, Nepenthe Wines, Lanson, Connoisseur Gourmet Ice Cream, Wilson, Roland Major Events, Park Hyatt Melbourne, Ticketmaster, Cougar, Mercedes Benz Toorak and Melbourne, Coffee Supreme, 3AW, Fox FM and of course, Tennis Australia.
I would like to introduce this year's field please, in order of ranking and if the players can move forward please and take your place here at the front table. You're very welcome here in Melbourne.
Can we start please with, from the Czech Republic, Tomas Berdych. Welcome Tomas. Juan Martin del Potro from Argentina. Janko Tipsarevic, from Serbia. Milos RAONIC, a very exciting youngster from Canada. Kei Nishikoria, the Japan Open champion. An old favourite of all of us, Marcos Baghdatis from Cyprus. From France, first time here, Paul-Henri Mathieu. And last, but absolutely not least, our own Lleyton Hewitt. Go ahead Mark.
MR FELGATE: So ladies and gentlemen, would you please make welcome the president of this most famous of tennis clubs, the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, Mr Ian Hill.
MR HILL: Thanks John. Gentlemen, I've got the running sheet telling me I've got five minutes to welcome you all here to Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club. I think I'll be done in about 30 seconds, but I'll do my best to say something intelligent here this morning.
This is the spiritual home of Australian tennis. So feel free to have an epiphany while you're here. We have got, I think, one of the best tennis clubs in the world. In the next four days, please make this your home. Use the facilities, enjoy the atmosphere at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club and in the two weeks of the Australian Open, which all of you will of course be there for two weeks, please also make use of this great facility. On behalf of the club, have a great event here at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club. Thanks gentlemen.
MR FELGATE: All right, thank you Ian. And very important man now, guys. When you hear from John, you have to listen, is that OK? He is the - from AAMI, he is the executive manager of sponsorship, please make welcome Mr John Bennetts.
MR BENNETTS: Thanks Fitzy. It's lovely to be here today and AAMI again is delighted to be involved with the AAMI Classic here at, as Ian said, the spiritual home of Australian tennis at Kooyong.
Look, it's a fabulous event and it's interesting, I see Marie Kelley over there and it's some nine years ago that Marie approached us and wanted to talk to us about this event and we took on the sponsorship and we're now part of the Suncorp Group. And it's very interesting that we now look at our group and the group's involvement in tennis and we are a sponsor of the Brisbane International with Suncorp. We're a sponsor of the APIA International, of course, in Sydney at the moment and of course we've got our association - our longstanding association here with the AAMI Classic. So this was the trailblazer for Suncorp to get involved in tennis and I think it's a been a fantastic event.
The quality of the players is testament to Colin and his team and the respect he has. We talk throughout the year and Colin updates me on how he's going with his negotiations with the players and I think the line up this year is no exception to the quality that we've seen in past years. It's great to see the guys here and we wish you all the very best for the week.
I think one element of today which you have all noticed is the fan day, and congratulations to Kooyong and Colin and his team again for developing this day. We have got an involvement with the AAMI fan precinct and this won't mean anything to the international players, maybe Lleyton. But we've got Ketut from the famous Rhonda and Ketut AAMI ads at the moment. He's over there, and you can see there is a queue of people wanting to get a photo with Ketut. So it's a fabulous initiative. And also the kids on Friday, the kids' day on Friday will be great. It's great to see the kids from Challenge here today and all the best guys with the, over the coming period. And I hope you have a great day.
Look, we wish everyone a great event. To the media, thanks for your support. To the players, all the very best, as I say, for this week, and in particular as you lead into the Australian Open all the very, very best, and we wish you great success. Thank you.
MR FELGATE: Thank you, John. OK, now it's time for my old friend, Colin Stubbs, who will announce the draw, and of course the Wednesday schedule. Welcome, Colin.
MR STUBBS: Thanks, John, and thank you, John, for your kind words. It is my job to announce the draw and the schedule for tomorrow. But by way of explanation, I had a phone call from Juan Monaco's management this morning which indicated to me that he had a hand injury. They are not so sure how serious it is, but he has been advised by his doctor not to play in the next few days, with the hope that he can take his place in the Australian Open. So that allowed us to elevate
Paul-Henri into the exclusive eight, and Paul-Henri, I hope you enjoy your first stint down here at Kooyong. I know you have played here before many years ago, but welcome again anyway.
OK, Marie, would you like to unveil the draw please? OK, it's there for all to see. The seeded players are Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin del Potro, Janko Tipsarevic and Milos RAONIC. And the schedule of play for tomorrow, Juan Martin del Porto v. Paul-Henri Mathieu at 11 a.m., followed by Lleyton Hewitt v. Milos RAONIC, followed by Janko Tipsarevic v. Marcos Baghdatis, followed by Tomas Berdych v. Kei Nishikori. OK, I wish you all he best, not only this week but in the next two weeks which I know is of paramount importance. Thanks for coming along again. Thank you to the media for your attendance today and your faith in us over the years, and enjoy the week.
MR FELGATE: Thank you, Stubbsy. So if I could just kick this media conference off, I'm sure there will be plenty of questions from the floor. At least we hope there will be. Jump in at any time. If I could just kick it off though, I just want to congratulate Tomas Berdych actually. Winning a Davis Cup final is very dear to our hearts here in Australia, so it must have been a great experience just a few weeks ago, Tomas.
TOMAS BERDYCH: Yes, thank you, and definitely it was. It was so fine, the last, you know, memories and experience that I had, you know. It was – it was really good for us when we were turning it around, winning that – that (indistinct). It was really huge, and I was really enjoying that moment.
MR FELGATE: OK, fantastic. And Janko, I want to just refer to you. You've just won another tournament on the ATP tour. You were telling me out on centre court it hasn't improved your ranking all that much because you were a finalist there last year, but well done last week in Chennai.
JANKO TIPSAREVIC: Thank you very much. Yeah, that was my first ATP title. I lost a very tight final to Milos here last year and I couldn't be more happy to win the tournament this year. It's great. I have confidence before this event and before the Australian Open and I hope I can do my best there this year.
MR FELGATE: OK, well done, mate.
JANKO TIPSAREVIC: Yes.
MR FELGATE: Juan Martin, it's been a couple of years now since you became the Grand Slam champion. You have a big stature in the game, I know especially in South America, but also here and around the world. You've been injured, mate. Your body is back in shape now. It's good to see you back at full speed, as we say.
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Thank you. Yeah, I am feeling – I am feeling really good too at the moment. It's a big challenge playing – playing the Australian Open after winning the Grand Slam a couple of years ago. But I may just have to repeat, but I will try my best.
MR FELGATE: Yes, fantastic. Well, welcome here, Juan Martin. Milos, welcome. First time here, a youngster. You are only a young man but you have done great things already in the sport. I noticed in your bio you were hoping to be a consistent Top 50 player in the world. I think you are underselling yourself, if that's true. But tell us a little bit about your past year and where you are at right now.
MILOS RAONIC: No, it's, every year is a process step and the goal is just development. And I'm happy last year I got my full year, first full year on tour. I'm happy with how I dealt with it, and I'm happy to sort of have more experience, more knowledge going into my second full year.
MR FELGATE: OK, and as a little boy, you came across with your parents to Canada. It was a big adventure for them. And I know you speak Serbian, right?
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah.
MR FELGATE: Yeah, OK. How has your family adapted to Canadian life? I mean, are they all still there, or do you have family still back?
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, my parents still live there. It's actually a funny story. We had friends here when my parents were looking at where to move to, and the immigration papers here were much longer than Canada's one page so - - -
MR FELGATE: You mean you could have been playing Davis Cup for us?
MILOS RAONIC: This was, so it was only one page and my parents didn't speak any English, so that helped Canada's case a lot at that moment.
MR FELGATE: Lleyton, you reckon he would have been handy. OK. Kei, well done. In the last 12 months you have really come a long way. A quarter finalist at the Australian Open, I know it was huge news.
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah.
MR FELGATE: Well, we think we know how big the news was in Japan, but I think in reality it's a lot bigger than we can imagine. And then you went on a one, the Japan Open later in the year. It must have been an exciting time for you.
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, I played well last year at the Australian Open. I think I had the best result last year at winning my home country Japan Open and there was the amazing feeling and, yeah, quarter final at the Australian Open. So I hope, you know, I can do it better this year and hopefully good this year.
MR FELGATE: OK, well done. Welcome, Kei. Marcos, look, you need no introduction. I should just throw the floor open to you. I mean, you have been here so many times now. You were a finalist here. You're very popular in Australia, as you are around the world. Is it good to be at the AAMI Classic?
MARCOS BAGHDATIS: For sure, yeah. I mean, it's a great tournament before, before the Open, and I'm happy to be here. It's a pleasure being here, and looking forward to play some matches here and have fun and getting ready for – for the Open.
MR FELGATE: Will the fan club be here?
MARCOS BAGHDATIS: I don't know. We will see.
MR FELGATE: You don't have a direct line to all of those guys?
MARCOS BAGHDATIS: No.
MR FELGATE: OK. All right. Well, next to you is a man who is also a new father, and Paul-Henri, it's really good. It's a great thing for us to have you here. You've been a terrific player for a lot of years and you were a French Open junior champion a decade ago.
PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: No, a very long time ago.
MR FELGATE: All right, but welcome here.
PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: Thank you. I am very happy to be here, to play here for the first time, and hopefully, yeah, will be ready for the Open.
MR FELGATE: OK, congratulations. All right, Lleyton, a man who knows a lot about fatherhood, do you want to give these guys any coaching or - - -
LLEYTON HEWITT: On tennis or?
MR FELGATE: On fatherhood.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, yeah, three is a lot more than two, that's for sure. No, it's obviously fantastic to be back here at Kooyong. Yeah, it means an awful lot for any Australian to play at this great centre. You know, I was fortunate enough to play Davis Cup here. I've spoken many times about my idol growing up, Pat Cash, and the wins that he had here at Kooyong and, you know, the home of Australian tennis. So for me to have played the Kooyong Classic two years ago on my first time and actually hold up the trophy was very special for me, and you know, it's fantastic. Colin puts on a fantastic event and it's great to be back. Obviously he's put together an amazing field again this year so, no, just looking forward to it.
MR FELGATE: Yes, well welcome Lleyton, it's great to have you here again. I'd like to throw it open to the floor, to the media contingent here to ask any questions they would like. Please feel free to - this is your chance to talk to these world class athletes. Over to you. Murray, you had the mic? Linda?
Q 1. Lleyton, I just wondered after a win and a loss in Brisbane, how you're feeling about your preparation so far?
A No, feeling pretty good. My movement has been - been great. The foot's not giving me any problems whatsoever, which is a nice thing to say, for a long time. So yes, obviously my movement is such a key part of my game and always has been. So you know, to have confidence back in my movement and my foot is - you know, gives a lot more self belief and you know, my practice sessions so far at Melbourne Park have been as good as I could have hoped for.
Q 2. You obviously had a good run to the fourth round at Melbourne Park last year, there's a few points there on the line. I know you're an old hand at defending points, but does that give any - a different sort of approach to your Australian Open this year?
A No, well I think I've - it's the only points I've got until Newport. So you know, in terms of points, it's not what I play for, you know, and especially at this stage of my career and after so many surgeries. I play to compete in, obviously, the majors and Davis Cup is very special. So you know, for me it's like any other Grand Slam and getting out there and competing. Obviously when you're not high - highly ranked, then you know, it opens up to playing anyone early on and we'll see what happens with the draw.
Q 3. Tomas, you were a late - I suppose, a late approach to the tournament, not enough matches last week or do you feel, you know, a late season finish in Davis Cup, has that hurt you at all or - your preparation?
A No, I don't think so. Yes, it was really a decision in the last moment and (indistinct) everything is really well at the moment - really the matches before - before to be in the Open and - I was just asking for the opportunity to play and thanks for calling to get me here for the last moment and yes, it's a good - a good felling to have those matches before we start next - next week.
Q 4. Just with - sorry, with Rafael being out next week, do you think that opens up the draw a bit for some of the guys - yourself and some of the guys next to you?
A It's really hard to say if it's open or not. I mean, he's a great player. We are missing him for a couple of months and - our sport is missing him and there is so many other, other great players in which - which you can meet in the first rounds, but you know, it's really hard to say just - but of course, yes, he's a great player and possibly yes, you can say that.
Q 5. Lleyton. Lleyton, you had to deal with some pretty significant injuries in the last few years. Have you learnt a little bit more about preparing your body at this stage of your career and if so, how has it changed?
A It hasn't changed - you know, it hasn't changed that much. Really, you know, the hardest thing obviously is going through all the rehab. and you know, after the last surgery I guess the self doubt in the back of your mind, whether it's going to get back to even close to 100 per cent and not having to go out and play in pain every match. And you know, that's a good thing for me for now, I can actually go out there with a clear mind in terms of just worrying about hitting the ball and competing against these guys. It's hard enough playing them when you are 100 per cent, let alone when you're in pain and you've got an injury. So you know, in terms of training wise, it was you know, so pleasing for me in November-December to be able to do all the exercises that I haven't been able to do the last couple of years.
Q 6. And given that fact, where you expect to be in the Australian Open? You've had a pretty injury-free run to this point, what are your expectations?
A Like all these guys, you just take it one match at a time. You know, the first week in any major you can lose and you certainly can't win it, so it's a matter of putting yourself in a position to be there in the second week. And you know, every match is tough and you've got to be prepared to play, you know, five set matches every second day. And you know, obviously a lot is going to depend on the draw but you know, I'll be out there giving 100 per cent, as usual.
Q 7. A question for Kei, if - Kei? Your confidence after being into the quarter finals last year, how was that - how important was that feeling in 2012? Talk us through the boost that it was for you?
A Yes, like I said, yes I played one of the best year, last year, so hopefully I can do better and yes, all the Grand Slam medals for me and I had a good week last week, so playing well and decent results. So you know, I tried to be ready for next week and yes, hopefully this will be a - play some good matches and ready for Australian Open.
Q 8. I think Fitzy, you said it was big news certainly in Japan. How big was it that you'd done so well in the Grand Slam of Asia Pacific, pretty much your home Grand Slam?
A Yes, a lot of those things changed after Australian Open last year. You know, they see me different and my ranking goes up and you know, everything changed in my country. Yes, you know, it's good to - good to feel that way and you know, not many people can feel like that. I'm having fun and you know, hopefully my ranking goes up more.
Q 9. Milos? Milos, this is a bit of an inside thing but - and I know you're a basketball guy, but how do you react to the end of the National Hockey League lockout?
A It will be tough to watch too much hockey with the time change, but it's good - for a lot of friends and a lot of people, it's a good thing.
Q 10. Tomas, how big inspiration was the presence of Ivan Lendl at home for the Davis Cup and support in Prague and - we have seen what he has done with Andy Murray last year, how important for the world tennis is to have him back?
A Well it is really different situation for us because I know he is on the other side sitting with Lendl and you have your six million on the other side that was hoping within the first Thursday is (indistinct) Czechoslovakia at that time so, I don’t know it is, it is (indistinct) for him and you know, it was really big, you know, all the people around and especially with the - with the fire in his eyes, it was - it was a really incredible week.
Q 11. Kei, I just wanted to follow up on your knee injury from Brisbane. You obviously didn't finish the semi final and you weren't sure how it would be. How has it pulled up since then?
A Actually I haven't hit after that. Trying to hit today and let's see how it goes and hopefully I can play here.
Q 12. So you're not - you don't sound too confident? What chance would you give yourself?
A I don't know, it's - it's not bad actually, so - I don't know, let's cross the finger and hopefully it's OK.
Q 13. Juan, you develop in Argentina to have a new champion, maybe a No.1 very soon, and you have all the possibilities. What have you done definitely this year to prepare yourself for this year at this tournament, and now that you don't have the lure of the Davis Cup?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO:
A Well, I mean, being No.1 is – is so, so tough. Not many players can win No.1 in the world. But I've been working so hard during this week before getting here. It always is like a, like a dream winning – winning a Grand Slam, and that's helped to go up in the ranking. But I know it's a long road. It's really difficult. But I – I will try to – to do my best every day in every tournament and I think the issue is to don't play Davis Cup. I need to work closer to my goals.
Q 14. Lleyton, we have seen Sam Stosur really struggle under the pressure and expectation of playing in front of a home crowd in Sydney and Brisbane in first round exits. But for you on the flip side, it seems you really thrive under that pressure. Are you encouraging all Australians to sort of create a bit of a Davis Cup like atmosphere both here at Kooyong and at Melbourne Park in two and a half weeks?
A Yeah, it's – it's always fun for me obviously playing in Australia and getting the opportunity of playing big tournaments in front of my home fans, and you know, the support I've always got wherever it is in Australia is amazing. You know, obviously it's hard to beat, you know, playing a night match at the Australian Open in front of 15,000 people barracking for you. So, you know, it's something that I've really enjoyed and I guess, you know, even towards the end of your career it's, you know, moments like that that you're going to miss when you do retire. So you know, I guess I try and take it in my stride as much as possible and enjoy it out there. And you know, it's something that I've had to do since I was 15 or 16 so I've sort of got used to it.