MELBOURNE, Australia â€“ The day before the Australian Open 2012 begins was a day filled with practices and news conferences.
Rafael Nadal, Li Na, Petra Kvitova, Bernard Tomic and Lleyton Hewitt held pre-tournament media conferences.
Fresh off his exhibition tournament win at the AAMI Classic on Saturday, Australian Bernard Tomic told media that heâ€™s â€œready to go.â€ His first round opponent on Monday will be the No. 22 seed Fernando Verdasco.
â€œHave a good preparation, good confidence over the last few weeks,â€ said Tomic. â€œI think it’s going to be an exciting match tomorrow.
â€œThe key to beating the Spaniard? â€œJust got to be more attacking. I think I’ve done that well the last few weeks. Even in Kooyong and Brisbane, I’ve been a bit more attacking. To beat the top guys, you need to step up. You can’t play outside 50 tennis.
â€œI have a good chance, the way I’m playing, to beat him.
â€œHe beat me once in Brisbane I think when I was 16 up there. That was when he was on his run, playing well. I think, you know, the last six months he hasn’t really done much. I think it’s a good time to play him.â€
Li Na spoke about her intense training: â€I was training very hard in off the season.Â I was staying for one month, like every day five to six hours because I know after French Open I didn’t doing well.
â€œI need strong body to prepare for this year.â€
Li Â talked about the biggest change in her life is that more people know her now. â€œI mean, right now doesn’t matter where I been in tournament, so many fans know who I am.Â Not like before.
â€œYeah, of course, agent doing good job.Â More sponsor coming (laughter). Â Also more people focus on me.
â€œLike last second half year, I think I couldn’t win three matches in a row.Â I mean, always like easy to lose the match.Â Also I feel I losing all the confidence on the court.
â€œFor me, I’m not hungry anymore on the court like last half of year.Â But now I feeling hungry again.Â I still like tough and I’m back.â€
Following Li Na in the main interview room was her morning practice partner, Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.
â€œI think she’s (Li Na) playing very well.Â She’s very good on the legs, she’s moving, playing really fast.Â I mean, she can go really far in this tournament.â€Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â .
Her thoughts for the year ahead, â€œI mean, the last year was great for me.Â Of course, I had many results.Â It will be very tough to have similar results this year.
I know it will be very tough, but still I just want to be focused on my game and we will see.
I’m more famous in Czech.Â After Wimbledon was the first really big.Â Yeah, it’s really strange for me.
I’m already get used to.Â So, yeah, I mean, it’s the part of our life.Â We have to live with this.â€
On becoming No. 1 in the future, â€œI mean, it’s very close, but still it’s really far away because, you know, many players can be really top, higher one.Â I mean, it’s really open now, the women’s tennis.Â Everybody from top can play really well.
â€œI know it’s just some points, but still it’s really big step.â€
Wildcard and Australian Lleyton Hewitt talked about expectations: â€œYeah, it doesn’t really change a lot, though.Â You still go in, yeah, focus on your firstâ€‘round match.Â Just like anything else, try and prepare as well as possible.Â I think I’ve done that.
â€œThe last few days have been good.Â Had some good, tough hitâ€‘outs with quality players on Rod Laver Arena out there.Â I feel like I got a bit of confidence in the last couple of days.â€
â€œWhen I come to Grand Slams or big tournaments anyway, you’re sort of in your own bubble a little bit.Â You’re not worried about the outside talk or what it’s really about.Â You’re doing everything in your power just to be as ready as possible.
â€œYou know, this week has been no different.Â Rochey and I and my team behind me, we’ve done everything we can to obviously get my body and ballâ€‘striking and everything in as good a nick as possible, and it would have been the same 10 years ago.â€
Hewitt will open the Australian Open against German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe.
The final media conference of the day was with world No. 2 Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard was loaded with questions about Saturday nightâ€™s players meeting, possible player action and his role in it, citing parts of the official transcript:
Q.Â In London during the Masters, you were a bit exhausted, tired of the whole season.
RAFAEL NADAL:Â Yeah, I said.Â But I was going to take more care about what I going to say now in the press conference because after what I say in London, in every press conference the people ask about what I say there.Â What I say there is I played a few matches at the end of the season with less passion than usual.Â That’s nothing crazy.Â That happens when you are a little bit more tired than usual.Â Maybe you’re not doing your job all the time with the same passion because you’re tired.Â That’s part of the job.
I’m here in Australia 2012 with big motivation, with big passion, and trying to enjoy the previous weeks.Â I did.Â I’m happy.Â I am practicing well.Â I’m enjoying everything.Â I will try to be ready for tomorrow.
Q.Â Any comment on these reports of a possible players strike around the share of prize money given to players and Davis Cup commitments as well?
RAFAEL NADAL:Â I don’t have any thoughts about that.Â I am here to support what most of the players think.Â But I not going to be the one who going to talk about these things, especially because I am always the one and I am tired.
Q.Â Did you have to say at the meeting last night, Sorry, guys, I’m not going to be the one leading this?Â At the US Open you were identified as someone who took the initiative.
RAFAEL NADAL:Â Nothing of strikes.Â I never take any initiative.Â I never say anything about strike.Â I never did.
Q.Â Last night did you have to say to the guys, I’m not going to be the public face?
RAFAEL NADAL:Â No.Â I gived to the rest of the tennis player, like another guys did, my opinion, and that’s it.
Q.Â Were you happy with the way the discussion went and what people were saying?
RAFAEL NADAL: I say before, something that happens in the meetings.Â Everybody have, you know, different thoughts.Â This time believe a lot of players have similar thoughts.
But I say before, everything that I will say, you know, will write in your words, and I don’t want you to write nothing in your words.
I’m the one who in the past talk a lot about the calendar, talk a lot about the Davis Cup, talk a lot about the problem with the US Open.Â Now I not going to be the one who keep talking about a lot of things because finally if we have the right guys there to fight for us, maybe, but today we don’t have that.
Q.Â But are you saying that because after what happened in New York, you were criticized by people for that?
RAFAEL NADAL:Â No, no, no.Â You know, when you are talking about Davis Cup, when you are talking about Grand Slams, when you are talking about calendar, when you are talking about a lot of things that can be better for the tour, a lot thinks, most of the players thinks that’s the right way.Â That is not happening.Â That’s talk for talk.
I want to talk when we have real chances to make that happen.Â When we don’t have chances to make that happen, because with how the world of tennis is working today, we don’t have any chance on changes because we don’t have the support of the structure.
I repeat, is talk for you.Â I give information for you to write newspapers.Â But at the end of the day I look like I am the one who always talk about things that must change, and I don’t win nothing on that.Â I just lose time, energy, and the people can think that he’s always the one who says the bad things, the negative things.
If I win something on that, I will keep talking.Â If I don’t win something on that, when a lot of things happen, I will not tell you for sure in the past.Â We are not in that way to change situations even with the support of the super majority of the players.Â Even like that we didn’t win nothing.Â Sorry, I am tired of keep working on these things.
Rafael Nadal will face AmericanÂ Alex Kuznetsov in the first round of the Australian Open.
Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News. Transcript excerpts from ASAP Sports.