The U.S. Open is new underway at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. The threat of Hurricane Irene swept through the area and has left many without power and water damage, but the Open is scheduled to get underway with no delays in sight. While the winds and storms of the past two days may have put a damper on practice schedules for many, New York Tennis Magazine took the opportunity to catch up with the sport's top stars on the men's side as they tuned up for the final Grand Slam event of 2011.
How do you feel about this US Open regarding your form and your expectations?
Roger Federer: I feel good, you know. I have had plenty of practice and plenty of rest. I had a good hit, no nagging injuries, and everything is under control. I went right back on the practice courts after my last match in Cincinnati. Conditions have been somewhat okay here in New York. The surface seems a bit slower, actually. But I don't want to say it's a slight adjustment, because it's not a crazy difference to previous years, but it is slower. That maybe has an impact rather than who you are playing and how you play them. Other than
that, my preparation has been good, and I'm excited for the tournament to start. Clearly, it's always a great event to be a part of. I've had some success here, so it's nice to be back.
How does turning 30 affect your outlook and expectations?
Roger Federer: None, really ... it hasn't changed anything. I'm still as professional and as hungry, and everything's still completely normal. You know, it's just a number that's changed, so I'm ready to go.
Many have said that you have been stymied by Novak Djokovic this year. Do you like your chances should you meet him here at the U.S. Open?
Rafael Nadal: I know I have to win a lot in order to meet Djokovic, as does he. He's not in the finals yet.
I am focused on trying to play well and trying to have good practices this week. Any good chances I have against Djokovic, depend on how I am playing. I think I've played a fantastic year this year. I had a lot of victories so far this year, but I am not happy about how I played against him.
What's the biggest difference in you as a player now than all the other times you've been here at the Open?
Mardy Fish: I've got a real good grasp on my fitness right now. Last year I came in, I was extremely fit at the time, but I was almost too skinny at 170 lbs. My stamina maybe wasn't there quite as good, as I sort of ran out of gas at this tournament against Djokovic. Not that that really would have mattered the way he played that match.
I've got a great grasp on how to leave previous tournaments behind, you know, leaving Montreal in Montreal and trying to separate myself from that and going to Cincinnati and starting over again and hopefully leaving Cincinnati and start over here. Its just forgetting all of the matches I've played in, the mental side of it and the mental sort of fatigue you can get from playing quite a few matches and keeping as fresh as possible. I think I've done that and am trying to do more and more, and it's a good problem to have. In previous years, I would have had one good result and then I would have been pretty content with that result for a while, so I hope to not do that.
With this being the U.S. Open, it must be very different for you. What do you feel coming in as the top-ranked U.S. male and the top-ranked U.S. player?
Mardy Fish: I feel a slight bit more pressure ... certainly different pressure than I've ever felt before, but it's a great feeling. It's just one of those experiences that not everybody can go through. I can understand just a little bit of what Andy [Roddick] has gone through every single year for the past 12 years, and I respect the job that he's done with it, as well, and how, you know, how well he's handled the expectations with his play. You know, for most of his 10-12 years here, he's done extremely well, and so I can respect that a ton more and lean on him and James [Blake] a little bit to ask some questions.
How are you feeling? How do you feel your preparations have been going?
Andy Murray: It's been good. I mean, it's obviously been a quite difficult because the weather has not been great, so we had to make quite a few changes and a few adjustments. I have practiced indoors a couple of times, and again tomorrow I've got an indoor court, too. Everyone's kind of been in the same boat, but it's been good. I have been hitting the ball well and done some good training this week.
You cut down your schedule a bit coming into the US Open this year. Do you think that's helped prepare you physically?
Andy Murray: Last year, I decided last minute to play the tournament in Los Angeles, which maybe hurt me a little bit once I got here. But the years before that, I tried to take a decent break after Wimbledon. I felt like that was the best way to prepare for here. So I think it was the right decision to give myself sort of three or four weeks off and train in Miami. I feel pretty fresh just now, which is good. Maybe the last couple years, that wasn't the case.