Novak Djokovic & Serena Williams: ‘It’s just really cat-and-mouse’

Serena Williams

Serena Williams is 39-years-old, and soon enough, she will retire, possibly at the end off 2021. She has a young child, and she wants to be with her daughter all the time. That is reality, and that is a good thing, but at the same time, she wants to win one more Grand Slam.

In Rome, she lost in the first round against Nadia Podoroska. So now, if she wants to go deep at Roland Garros, she has to compete a lot in the next two weeks. She has to be super hard.

“That’s always like a little struggle in the first two matches, and then I’m raring to go. I was struggling a little bit, and just final shots,” Serena said. “I had a lot of opportunities to win, final shots and just kind of missing those. Overall, it was good for me to play such a clay court player, but it’s a little frustrating. But it’s all right. It is what it is. I’m not playing as many matches. I’m just doing a lot of training. So it’s actually really good to get out and to play some matches.”

Williams has decided to play next week at the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma. It is all about getting in more matches.

Novak Djokovic has a won a huge amount on hardcourts and grass, and also, the clay, too, except when he has to face against Rafa Nadal, who is the best on the dirt ever.

But Djokovic is close, because maybe he doesn’t totally love clay, but he improved over the past 15 years. He is excellent, and he is thoughtful on court. He studie, and rethinks what he can do. He is very thoughtful.

“Well, we all know the clay is a slower surface in the sport. As much it requires more physical energy from a player, but also I think mental and emotional energy as well,” Djokovic explained. “You have to train on clay more than any other surface really to get yourself comfortable playing on it. It is also a very demanding surface in terms of tactics, in terms of just constructing the point. Sometimes it’s just really cat-and-mouse type of play where you have to fight for a better position on the court, sometimes use the shots that you would not normally use on other surface, like this looping forehand or backhand, trying to get back in play, build your position. It is the surface that probably requires from a player to defend better than on any other surface.”

Djokovic rarely gets tired. Even when during at the Slams, he can play for many hours. He is in great shape, but once in a while, he can be feel the effects of the demands of clay.
“I haven’t played a lot at all, so I don’t feel physically exhausted or worn out. I don’t think that’s going to be a case for me coming to Paris. I’m excited to come to [Roland Garros]. That’s obviously the biggest goal of my clay court season,” he said.
The 17-year-old Coco Gauff is getting better and better. She stunned Aryna Sabalenka, who was on a streak. Sabalenka was tired and she missed a lot of balls. But Gauff rose up and smashed the ball.

“I guess a 10 out of 10. I think I played pretty well the whole match. She’s not an easy opponent,” Gauff said. “Sometimes you’re always on defense, so sometimes you just have to scramble a little bit. I played smart.”

On the next day No. 1 Ash Barty retires, up 6-4, 2-1 against Gauff. She is hurt. There are so many injuries, with the women and the men…

There are a few people wo played the Australian Open, who after February, they have to travel all the way through November. That can be very hard, not to see with your parents, your terrific friends. Mentally, it can be upsetting.

John Millman said, “I don’t want it to come across as a bit of a sob story.

“For me really it’s impossible to come home midseason. I knew going away, and probably that’s a reflection of probably my poor form to start off the season was when I went away. I was probably a bit depressed because I knew that I was going away for like 10 or 11 months. I was a bit depressed. I can’t stress the mental side of it, but I’m in a much better place now and have come to terms with a 10-and-a-half month trip.”

It was another big win by American Reilly Opelka, who eliminated Federico Delbonis in the quarters 7-5, 7-6(2). His semifinal opponent was Nadal and predictably, the Spaniard knocked him out 6-4, 6-4. “Clay is not really my thing. [It is] not much of an American thing. Probably just a fluke, but I’ll run with it.”