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What they said

By Drew Lilley   on   Friday 23 May 2014
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Media day saw the top seeds face up to the press about their chances at the 2014 French Open.

Roger Federer: “It's an important stretch now for me, and I don't want to come into this tournament uninspired or tired. That will be the worst thing. It's really about being fresh mentally more than anything at this point. We have seen some surprises this year already with Stan, for example, in Australia. But at the French you need to play a lot, you get worn out. Some matches are really a trap. You can't rely on your serve to get out of it. So I think maybe the best ones will be at the end of the tournament.”

Rafael Nadal: “During the clay court season I get a little bit better week by week. Last week in Rome, it was tough physically. I played a lot of time, but in the end sometimes you need these things. I was not that happy about what I did in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, but that's sport. The dynamic is positive, so that's always important for confidence. I felt that in Rome I was able to play without the nerves, the anxiety that I had in the first two tournaments and at some moments in Madrid, too. So that's always a positive thing.”

Stan Wawrinka: “[Monte Carlo] was really big. Not only for clay but in general. After winning a Grand Slam it was important for me to win a Masters 1000. It was something really difficult, but I did it in Monaco, the first tournament on clay against Roger [Federer], so it was even more special. But for sure confidence is something big for me, to know that I can beat the top guys even at Masters 1000, on clay courts. I'm one of the favourites here but I'm far behind Rafa and Novak. They are really above the other players.”

Novak Djokovic: “I have played some epic matches against [Rafael Nadal], especially the one last year in the semi-finals. We went the distance. I think it was 10 8 in the fifth. So even though it was a tough loss for me and I was putting a lot of emotional effort into winning this event last year, I still take the positives from that tournament. Knowing that I have got closer and closer each year to the title gives me enough reason to be confident for the start of this year. The Rome title and winning against Nadal on clay is something that doesn't happen every day. [Wawrinka] deserves to be considered as one of the favorites to win the title because of the fact that he had one of the best results of all the players this year.”

Andy Murray: “It was good progress in Rome [pushing Nadal to a 7-5 three-set loss] and obviously the goal here is to keep that going and remain at that level as often as I can for the rest of the year. [Regarding finding a new coach], it's not about rushing into something, it's about getting the right person. Until that's the case, I'll keep doing what I'm doing with the guys I'm working with… The target is the same - to win Grand Slams, that's what I want to do. I will pick the person I feel is best able to help me with that.”

Serena Williams: “I don't remember the last time I was defending champ, so it feels really good. I like being seeded No.1. The favourite part is definitely more pressure, but as Billie Jean King tells me, pressure is a privilege. For me, the French Open is extremely important because it's a Grand Slam I won only twice and I want to win more and more. I won five times Wimbledon, Australian, the US Open … I started learning French because I saw the children in Africa and I told my parents, ‘One day I want to go to Africa and I want to be able to talk to the crowd there’. I know French is a very important language in Africa, so I started studying French.”

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: “I expect a lot from myself, especially here. I know it's always a lot of pressure, but I think now I have enough experience. If we have to look at the results these last couple of weeks, of course we can say that [Nadal is looking more vulnerable]. But when we look in the past, there is no reason to say Rafa is different than the other years. He's still the same guy, the same champion, and I'm sure he wants to win again here in Roland Garros.”

Maria Sharapova: “I want to achieve more and I want to win more Grand Slams and I want to get back to No.1. I think when you have that feeling of being there before and holding those trophies, they are so memorable and you work, you spend so many hours training to feel that excitement, that energy, that adrenaline for those moments of match point victories. And that's why I play, because that's what I've known for my whole life. And my body still allows me to do that. I have done it since I was a very young girl. I love the thrill of it. I don't think there is anything else that would give me that much satisfaction in what I do.”

Na Li: “I think [my coach Carlos Rodriguez] is pretty smart. He always tries to change things [but he knows that] I cannot lose my main point, so I have to keep try to keep my game. Right now he is working a lot on making the drop shot, slice, so that I can come to the net. We are training a lot, but I'm not sure I can use in a match, because matches are always different from practice. It's a very good challenge for me, but on clay courts you have to ready for long rallies.  You never know if you can come in, but I will try.”

Next Article: How do you solve a problem like Serena?
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