(August 29, 2015) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY) The top seeds at the 2015 US Open met the media on Saturday ahead of Monday’s start of the last major of the year.
Third seed Andy Murray and second seed Simona Halep spoke to the media in the relaxed setting of Media Garden located behind Arthur Ashe stadium.
Murray was asked about playing the controversial Nick Kyrgios in the first round, which is projected to be a very competitive match for the Scotsman.
“For me it’s just a tennis match,” Murray said. “I go about the match in the best way possible by getting all the things, getting all the tactics, and everything sorted and you know, tailor my practices the next few days around his game style and that’s what I’ll be doing. You don’t obviously pay attention to the other stuff.”
Murray talked about past match-ups with the Australian. Murray holds a 3-0 record against his challenger.
“Every match is a new match. You can learn, obviously, from those previous matches, see what things worked and what things didn’t, but he might come in and do something completely different against me next time, so I need to be prepared for that. He’s quite an unpredictable player so you need to expect that when you go on the court.
Yeah I’ve played well against him, I played good matches, but he’s obviously a top player, you know, just missed out in a seeding here and I’m sure he’ll be one of the top players here in the next few years.
On playing Kyrgios at the US Open: “To be honest, I think he likes playing on big stages. That’s where he’s played his best tennis throughout his career. Last year he’d only won one or two matches outside of Slams in the whole year. This year, his results have been inconsistent but at the Slams he made quarters. In Australia, I played him in the third round at the French and at Wimbledon he was close to reaching the quarters again there. I would expect him to be ready for the match. He gets himself fired up for the big events.”
For Romania’s Simona Halep, despite a recent left knee problem, she’s really to go.
“Now, I’m feeling great; I’ve recovered and I’m ready to start.”
“I think in the past I didn’t believe that I had the chance to do great here. Now, I’m feeling better and I’m feeling more confident. I had two great weeks before here and I think it’s going to help me. I’m just going to enjoy it and I’m not going to think about the pressure.
“Actually, I play well when there’s pressure, but not too much.”
Asked she wanted Serena Williams to win the Grand She said:
“If I will not be in the finals, then I want her to win. If I’m in the finals with her, then I want to win.
“I said that because she has a big chance to win all four Grand Slams this year. I think she has enough power to do that, but of course I want to win. I just want to take it match-by-match.
The Media Day interviews moved over to Media Interview Room One as last year’s US Open finalist Kei Nishikori took on the press.
“I think from last year this time I kind of stepped one up and I raised my level after this tournament, so I’m very happy with everything this year. Especially this summer I’ve been playing really well, from Washington and Montreal. I unfortunately got hurt and couldn’t play Cincinnati but still I feel very good physically and also tennis-wise, so very exciting, and it’s going to be a big challenge for me to play this year, again, but I’m very confident.”
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic entered his news conference with a stuffed animal Mickey Mouse, which he sat on the desk.
Roger Federer is coming off a title in Cincinnati where he played a more aggressively, beating Djokovic in the final, and in some matches returning serves from just behind the service line. The Swiss was asked about this aggressive style game.
“It all starts with the serve, to be quite honest,” Federer said.
If you’re able to hold your serve, I don’t want to say you can do pretty much anything on the return, but chances are it’s in your favor. You don’t know if you’re going to hold most of the serves, but I did that very well last week, so I’m sure that’s where the service helped me, but … after that, as the tournament went on, I decided to keep up aggressive play because it didn’t just start against Murray and Djokovic, I had already been doing it against Bautista and also Kevin Anderson, so from that standpoint I was very happy that I was able to keep it up.”
“If I’m going to do it here, as well, at practice so far conditions definitely allow you to do. I think the ball flies faster here. The surface is slightly different than last week, so a slight adjustment to be done there. I’m just really focused on my first round. It’s really tough to be playing Leonardo Mayer, so I have to come back to reality after the good week I had last week and go from there.”
Federer, a five-time winner at the US Open, last made a final in 2009. He has not come close since and was asked about it.
“On the run I was on, to ‘08 and even ‘09, in the finals, clearly I was hoping for it to be endless, but you know that’s not realistic, and ’10 and ’11 were tough matches in the semis against Novak, “Federer said. “So I came very close.”
“Clearly my focus needs to be not trying to win the tournament right away, that’d be thinking too far ahead. I haven’t been in a finals in this tournament as of late. I came close, but close is not good enough. I’ve tried to build up as we move forward.”
Rafael Nadal comes into Flushing Meadows ranked the lowest he’s been in many years at No. 8. The Spaniard will face a rising star on the ATP tour in Borna Coric in his first round.
“He’s a tough player,” Nadal said. “He’s a young player with a lot of energy and he’s a big competitor. He’s one of the players that is the future of our sport, so it’s a tough one, but I’m playing well. I feel like I’m ready. He’s a complete player with a great serve and a very good backhand. He’s a big competitor. I don’t remember playing him before. It was a tough week for me; I had the surgery the week after. I don’t remember it very well, but I think I played very bad. If he played well then he deserved to win, but hopefully Monday will be a different story.
Nadal says that he’s coming into the tournament with not as much stress.
‘My stress is much less than it was at the beginning of the season,” said the two-time US Open champion. I’m feeling better
myself. As a tennis player, I’m feeling better today than I was a couple of months ago. I’ve worked a lot these last couple of months.
“I know the process; It’s a challenge for me. to find the level of play that I’ve been at a lot of times in my career. I’m practicing great, now it’s time to play that great against the competition. The level of tennis is very close to being back there.”
On getting his confidence back, Nadal said: “To have the confidence back you need to win. If you’re not winning, then you won’t have high confidence. To win you need to play well. To win a lot you need to play very well and have a lot of confidence, and I’m playing well today.”
Nadal also clarified to press that he did not refuse to play with or against Nick Kyrgios in a charity exhibition for John McEnroe’s foundation.
Maria Sharapova is coming back from a muscle strain in her leg which kept her out of Cincinnati and Toronto.
“It’s always just the adjustment of being a professional athlete in a sport that requires many weeks out of the year to compete ata high level,” said the 2006 US Open champion. “Don’t always know where some things come from but sometimes you have to make adjustments to be healthy and ready for the big ones. I’ve had to make adjustments throughout the year and it only gets tougher as you get older, of course”
Asked about her preparation for the US Open, the Russian said: I’ve done everything I could to be ready. There’s nothing more that I could have done, so yeah, I hope to be ready.”
Sharapova faces a test in her first round match-up against countrywoman Daria Gavrilova who beat her in Miami.
“Well, obviously she’s a really great player and a tough first round we’ve gone back and forth with our results this year,” Sharapova said. “She beat me in Miami and I had a good win against her in Rome so yeah, she’s a really good opponent.”
Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama at the US Open