Roddick Still Goes Out On Top

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – After his loss to Juan Martin Del Potro, Andy Roddick was asked to say a few words.

For the first time in a long time, his mouth was at a loss.

“I mean, I don’t know that I had a plan,” Roddick said.  “You know, I was just going to try to win.  It was perfect.  This whole week has been perfect, you know.

“Rain‑delayed match, come back the next day.  It’s like typical US Open.  Played with me in the end, so I guess it was right.”

It wasn’t the storybook ending for Roddick, but it was his ending, as the No. 7 seed took him out of the Open with a 6-7, 7-6, 6-2, 6-4 win today in a match that was restarted after postponed last night.

But it didn’t matter for Roddick. He didn’t think he would have lasted to the final with some younger and better players in front of him. Rather, he wanted to go out on his terms. And today, he did.

Even in his final press conference.

“I was walking out of the locker room, and I said, Man, I think I have more expectation of this press conference than I did the match today,” he said.

“So, you know, like you said, I think it’s at the point now where I look back on rough moments fondly, you know, in these rooms.  I hope you all do, too.  There has certainly been some good ones; there have been some fun I ones.

“There has been some horrible ones both ways, but it wasn’t boring.”

Maybe that’s Roddick’s legacy. He wasn’t boring. Much like John McEnroe and Andre Agassi before him, he knows tennis is entertainment and besides being an athlete, he is there to entertain the crowd. He is always witty and funny and of course never a snoozer.

His matches with Federer were epic at times, even though he could never break through, and he played to the crowd in exhibitions, such as last March when he imitated Rafa Nadal on his serve much to the laughter of those in attendance.

He was no clown prince, though. Tennis was a serious business to him and he never gave up, which is why the Arthur Ashe crowd was chanting, “Let’s Go Andy!” throughout the match.

“I know the thing that is certain is I didn’t take any of it for granted,” he said.  “ I think I went about things the right way.  The umpires might disagree with me.  (Laughter.)

“I was consistent, and I don’t feel like I left a lot on the table on a daily basis.  When I look back, that’s probably what I’m proud of.”

What’s next for him, well that’s anyone’s guess, but Roddick will be humbled when the accolades come down, especially if he gets the call from Newport.

“That’s not for me to say,” he said.  “That’s not my choice.  Obviously it’s the ultimate honor of any tennis player, and that’s something I’d be extremely humbled by. But I’m certainly not going to be presumptuous about anything.  If it happens, I’ll be thrilled and amazed.  If it doesn’t, I’ll probably still be thrilled and amazed with what I was able to see.”

Because deep down inside, Roddick is still that 12 year-old kid who dreamed about playing Ivan Lendl or Stefan Edberg and now that they are his contemporaries, he is definitely satisfied.

“Yeah, it’s funny, because if you tell a 12‑ or 13‑year‑old kid that he’s going to win 30‑some odd titles and become one of 20 for this and 20 for that and be No. 1 and have a slam, you’d take that in a heartbeat,” he said.  “Going back, I would have taken that in a heartbeat.

“There were a lot of tough moments but unbelievable moments.  I mean, who gets to play in Wimbledon finals and who gets to play in an Open and who gets to be part of a winning team?  Most people don’t get to experience that.”

Roddick did and today he closed that chapter in his life on his terms.

 

 

 

 

With Sugarpova, Maria Sharapova Looks to Sweeten the World of Candy

Throughout her tennis career, the 25-year old Maria Sharapova has not been sweet to her opponents, winning four Grand Slam titles, including the 2012 French Open. But Sharapova is looking to be a lot sweeter to many, as she launches Sugarpova, a premium candy line that reflects her fun, fashionable, sweet side.

I had a chance to ask Maria about Sugarpova and how it began. “I can’t take credit for coming up with the name. I was having a meeting with my manager who had met with Jeff Rubin, who is pretty influential in the candy business, and they had started talking about it. Originally, it was something I was going to be a part of, then I thought…I really want to own this”, Maria said. “I guess I can say it started because I have been part of so many little things in my career, been a part of collaborations and collections. It came to a point where I really wanted to invest my own money into something, make all final decisions” Sharapova continued.

Sugarpova offers a bit of luxury, and aims to interpret classic candies in her own signature style. She hopes to bring a new level of quality to the candy world through fun, unexpected types, shapes and names. Some of the names include Smitten Sour, Flirty, and Cheeky.

Sugarpova is already off to a good start, as Sharapova mentioned that the candies are sold out. What should people expect from the brand in the future? “I do hope it goes into chocolate and caramels and all that, but for my body I really hope not” she said with laughter. Sharapova has enjoyed the sweet taste of success on the court, and, with Sugarpova, off the court as well.

Wozniacki Ignores Love Advice And Advances

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – The Williams sisters are a great resource for any tennis player. After all, they have seen it all on the courts. Been there, done that.

When it comes to relationship advice…well take it with a grain of salt.

No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki learned that today before her second round win over Danish native Arantxa Rus, 6-2 6-1.

“Well, we were all in the locker room,” she said.  “I was going to get some treatment.  She was sitting there with Venus and talking.  And then, I don’t know, it just came out that we were talking a bit and we had a laugh.  We were just kidding around a little bit.

“I think I should not listen to her or Venus (laughter).  She was not better.”

The Great Dane has very open about her relationship with Irish golfer Rory McIlvoy. It’s been in all the papers and the US Golf Open Champion has been attending Wozniacki’s matches last week in New Haven. With her own US Open at hand can her love life become a distraction?

Not so, said the 21 year-old.

“Well, tennis is my first priority and I’m focused on the tennis when I’m on court, that’s for sure,” she said.   “You know, what I do off the court, I know that I’m a public person, so a lot of things will be seen by the public.

“But, you know, I don’t really think about it.  You know, I think we have our limits and we know where they are.  So as long as we both keep the feet on the ground and, you know, we both have our careers, which are important to us, I think it’s working well.”

With that out of the way, Wozniacki is focused on her third round match against American Vania King.

“She’s definitely getting a lot of balls back,” Wozniacki said if King. “It’s important to stay aggressive, but not too aggressive.  You know, I just need to dictate, but have control over the points.

“She’s definitely a player that is not easy to beat.  So I’m looking forward to the match, and hopefully it can be a good one.”

And you can be sure Rory will be watching.

Maria Sharapova Transcript

Q.  How do you feel going into this tournament winning in Cincinnati?  Must have given you a lot of confidence.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I came into Cincinnati, you know, asking to play a lot of matches for myself, as many as I could at that tournament.

It was great to win the tournament.  I beat some really good opponents, played some good matches.  You know, the final was a little whacky, but I just managed to win that one.

Yeah, it’s great.  Obviously coming into the Open it’s great to have a title under your belt.

 

Q.  How different are you this year compared to last year at the same time for the US Open?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I’m seeded higher.  I’ve won two titles this year.  You know, I feel like my tennis is at a much better level than it was last year.  Yeah, I’m a better player, definitely.

 

Q.  How do you expect to deal with the expected hurricane in the next 24 hours?  What are your plans and what are your thoughts about being here for this?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I’m a Florida girl so I’m used to this stuff.  (Laughter.)

I think everyone’s a bit overreacting about everything, but of course you have to take precaution and all that.  But, I mean, where are we gonna go?  All hundreds of us?

So I just hope that our hotel is nice and tough and sturdy, you know.  That’s all we can do, right?

 

Q.  What do you know about Heather Watson?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Not too much.  I’ve never played her before.  I saw a little bit of her matches in the past I think at Wimbledon her first rounds.  Yeah, she’s someone that’s up and coming, and those are sometimes dangerous because they’re quite fearless when they go on the court, don’t have much to lose.

It’s not too often that you play an opponent you haven’t played against before, so, yeah, it’s not an easy first round.

 

Q.  You had experience of that obviously at Wimbledon against another British youngster in Laura Robson.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Uh‑huh.

 

Q.  Sort of a similar situation?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I guess, but they’re two different players.

 

Q.  In the (Head) advertising you were on the court with Djokovic or it’s…

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah.  I was there watching it happen.

 

Q.  You always say you enjoy the process, but now that the process is paying off, where is your level of enjoyment in competing right now?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, it’s a lot more enjoyable when you’re winning more matches, that’s for sure.

Actually it’s a lot easier to go out on the practice court.  I mean, even when you take a few losses it’s a little bit easier to shrug them off because you know you have that level.  You just need maybe sometimes a little time or just a few things to click to get it back.

Whereas when you haven’t had it for a while, you kind of are trying to find it, trying to find it.  You play one good match, and then, Do I have it now?  Do I feel it?  It’s definitely different.

 

Q.  Coming to a tournament now, fourth seed, obviously people think you’re one of the favorites here.  Do you feed off that?  Does it give you confidence coming into a tournament like this?  Do you feel a bit more pressure now that you’ve got more of an X on your back?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I mean, to be honest, I have been seeded a lot lower and I’ve still been one of the favorites, so it’s not anything new for me that people expect me to do well.

 

Q.  How do you look back now on your run to the final at Wimbledon?  What do you come out of that tournament with?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I mean, my opponent played a really unbelievable match.  You know, I had my chances, and it’s quite important in tennis to take them.  She was able to find an answer, you know, in things that I kind of challenged her with.

It was a really great match for her at a big stage.  That’s the only way you can really look at it.

 

Q.  She hasn’t had a great summer since then.  Is that pretty normal when you come off a great breakthrough win like that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, it’s not easy, that’s for sure, especially after your first one, definitely.

Yeah, I think she’s a good enough player to find her form back here.

 

Q.  In all the time since your shoulder problems, how would you compare how you feel now with the process which was discussed earlier?  Getting over that, the surgery, everything till now, what is your feeling now compared to all the times since then?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, it’s just great to still be a tennis player.  I’ve said this many times.  I’m very fortunate to do what I do, obviously, to do it at a high level and to win tournaments and to win big matches obviously.

It gives you tremendous amount of confidence and delight that the work you’ve put in, you know, is paying off.  It’s the time that you spend away from the courts, the time that people don’t see what you put into the sport of trying to get back there.  Just to play a match, and then do it over and over again, not many people experience that feeling, see it.

So to be able to prove to yourself that you’ve put in that work and there you are at that stage again, giving yourself these opportunities to win Grand Slams again, it’s a good feeling.

 

Q.  But your level of play now and your level of confidence, how would you compare it with all the time since your shoulder problem?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I just feel like this year I’ve improved.  Last year I felt like I would play a couple good matches and then I’d play a bad match.  I didn’t have that sense of consistency, and that’s something I felt like something that has changed this year.

 

Q.  Do you have any memories of working out with Freddy Adu at IMG?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  No.

 

Q.  Somebody was doing something on him and said you guys might have crossed paths for a couple weeks.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think we worked out at the same facility in Florida, but I don’t think I’ve ever ‑‑ I mean, I sure hope I wasn’t doing a soccer workout.

 

Q.  Just one of those questions we needed to ask.  Were you in the city at all this morning?  Could you characterize the mood here?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  This morning?

 

Q.  Yeah.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I left pretty early.  I left at 8:00 a.m., so I’m not really sure if everyone was sleeping in New York on a Saturday morning or if it’s the hurricane effect.  But it was pretty quiet.

 

Q.  You were talking about your chances and things like that.  When you see the news that somebody like a Kim Clijsters is not playing, what goes through your mind?  Do you feel like it opens up another alley?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I can’t really think like that.  I don’t think that’s a mindset of a winner, to be honest.  You’ve got to be ready to face anyone at any given moment.  It’s obviously unfortunate that she can’t come back as a defending champion.

But on the other hand, you know, she is the one that has the memory of holding up that trophy last year.  It’s I have been in that position before.  It’s definitely tough, there is no doubt about it, to not be able to defend such a big title.  It’s sometimes the adversity that we’re faced with.

Mentor Maria Hopes To Avoid Upstart Buzzsaw

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Maria Sharapova knows a thing or two about facing the up and comer. Last year she ran into a buzz-saw named Melanie Oudin in the third round and was forced to go home.

Now after her 6-1 6-2 win over Iveta Benesova, the Russian beauty will be facing another up and coming American in Beatrice Capra.

“I know that she’s American and she’s 18, I believe (laughter), and she’s in the third round of the Open.  So that says a lot,” Sharapova said.

The funny thing is, Sharapova is one of Capra’s idols and someone she used as inspiration as a young girl. It’s surprising to Sharapova, since she’s only 23.

“Yeah, it’s pretty crazy because I still somewhat consider myself pretty young, as well; I’d like to think so, at least,” she said.  “You know, to see someone coming up that’s 18, that’s a lot younger than I am, in the third round of the Open is great.  I think it shows a lot about the younger generation that’s coming up.  To see someone especially that’s an American and doing well at the Open is really great.”

Sharapova says she’s pretty uncomfortable with all the attention. She thinks she’s far from perfect and at such a young age, it’s hard to be a mentor.

“It’s really strange because I’ve always had a difficult time accepting, you know, when little kids, whether I’m doing a clinic, talking to them, when they tell me they want to be just like me not only is a bit overwhelming and a bit of a shock, it’s kind of strange,” Sharapova said. “I mean, I’m certainly far from perfect.  I have many things I’m not good at.  I always say to them, You should want to be better than me or anyone else.”

“I think maybe that’s one of the reasons growing up, you know, I idolized a certain part of someone’s game but I never thought that someone was so good that I wanted to be like them.  I think that’s a good point is, you know, she probably said one of my strengths.  Obviously, that’s something that’s gotten me through so many matches in my career.  In tennis, being strong and steady mentally sometimes more than physically is more important on certain days.”

Mentoring aside Sharapova is used to the royal treatment by the fans at Arthur Ashe, but doesn’t expect it on Saturday when she plays Capra. Much like last year, the American crowd will go with their favorite daughter rather than a Russian national who happens to live in the United States.

“I think it’s absolutely understandable,” Sharapova said.  “We’re playing in New York.  When you have someone that’s coming up, having a great Open, I mean, there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be any support behind her.”

So we will see on Saturday when the young Capra steps on the court for to take on her idol. Maybe this year, Sharapova will have some memories to come from the match, unlike the Oudin match.

“Why do we need to remember that one?” she said.

Totally understandable.