Stefanos Tsitsipas press conference
Stefanos Tsitsipas press conference (SF)
For so many reasons, Australian Open 2019 will stand out in the history books.
The drama, emotions, shot-making and athleticism were enthralling, but we’ve also been treated to some hilarious, insightful, very serious and occasionally downright weird interviews.
Here are some of the finest quotes from Melbourne Park over the past fortnight.
Women’s champion Naomi Osaka had regrets from her trophy presentation speech:
“I forgot to smile. I was told to smile and I didn't. I was panicking,” quipped Osaka. “I'm going to be thinking about that for the rest of today.”
A despondent Stefanos Tsitsipas struggled to understand the demolition delivered by Rafael Nadal in their semifinal:
“It felt like a different dimension of tennis completely. He gives you no rhythm. He plays just a different game style than the rest of the players. He has this talent that no other player has. I've never seen a player have this. He makes you play bad. I would call that a talent.”
Runner-up Petra Kvitova gave an inspiring and emotional insight following the women’s final, where she reflected on her road back after being stabbed in December 2016:
“I already won two years ago, so it's amazing. I think I still don't really realise that I played the final. I think I've been through many, many things, not really great ones. As I said on the court, I didn't know if I going to hold the racquet again. I'm holding it, so that's good.”
Top seed Simona Halep joked what it is like to face the force from the racquet of Serena Williams:
“I felt like I’ve been hit by the train in the first set, everything was too fast.”
The gregarious Dylan Alcott clinched a fifth successive Australian Open Quad wheelchair singles title, and was honoured to have his final broadcast in prime-time on TV:
“That meant the most. To broadcast it live to the world, never been done in a final, that's huge for the movement of parasports, everything that I believe in … it meant a lot."
Nadal was sent into raptures of laughter after an Italian journalist fell asleep during his press conference:
“It’s not very interesting today,” quipped the Spaniard. “I know you were closing your eyes to be more focused on what I am saying!”
23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams offered an unusual description for her all-in-one lira match outfit:
“It’s a Serena-tard”.
Andy Murray, a five-time finalist at Melbourne Park, was devastated to deliver the news that his rehabilitation from hip surgery has become too painful to take:
“I’ve been struggling for a long time. I have been in a lot of pain probably about 20 months now. I pretty much have done everything that I could to try to get my hip feeling better. The pain is too much really. I don't want to continue playing that way. I think I can get through this till Wimbledon. That is where I'd like to stop playing.”
Tsitsipas reflected on the shock triumph of prevailing past defending champion Roger Federer:
“That moment is definitely something that I will never, ever, ever forget. I just managed to close that match and stay strong, beat my idol. My idol today became pretty much my rival.”
American youngster Frances Tiafoe entertained us with several raw and explosive celebrations en route to a breakout quarterfinal:
“I don't even know what I would say to you, man. It's crazy. I didn't think any of this was going to happen. If you would have asked me during the off-season, ‘You're going to play Rafa in the quarterfinals on Rod Laver with Rod Laver watching,’ I probably would have laughed. It's unbelievable.”
Australian wildcard Alex Bolt was left embarrassed by compatriot Alcott during his match against Alexander Zverev:
Question: “Dylan Alcott was on commentary for your match. You told him that you shaved your legs before the match because you were going to be on TV.”
Alex Bolt: “Yes, I shaved my legs, not because I was playing on TV, but, yeah. Thanks, Dylan. Cheers. Just because I have my ankles taped, so I don't want to pull some hairs out ...”
Maria Sharapova had just beaten reigning champion Caroline Wozniacki, but the five-time Grand Slam champion was more interested in discussing her press-conference attire:
“It was a good win. I feel pretty happy about it. Even wearing a crop top. I'm really happy. I don't pull those out often, the high-waisted tights look.”
World No.1 Djokovic had fun with on-court interviewer Jim Courier, who asked why the Serb is so successful at the Australian Open:
“I don’t know, mate,” replied Djokovic with a dubious Aussie accent. “What else? ... Fair dinkum. That’s all!”
Players are frequently asked what they might do once the curtain falls on their tennis career, but Sloane Stephens was keeping her cards close to her chest:
“Mind your business, girl,” said the American in giggles. “You've got to wait. Oh, my goodness. I can't tell you now.”
Nadal, gracious in defeat, sees the positives after reaching the Australian Open final:
"I have been going through tough times over the past year. I only played in nine events and had to retire from two, and I was not able to play professional match since the US Open. I believe I played a good two weeks of tennis and it is a great energy and inspiration for what is coming. I will keep fighting and keep practicing to give myself better chances in the future."
Roger Federer’s coach Ivan Ljubicic was spotted mucking around with the Swiss maestro’s son Lenny, who was poking the towering Croatian in the face, in the player’s box during a victory over Taylor Fritz:
"There he goes. The coach is being very serious, I love that," said Federer watching the footage on the big screen. “It was funny, had to smile when I saw Lenny in the first row, did not even know they would come, but it’s great, they can eat lunch here and meet their friends.”
Australian prodigy Alex de Minaur addressed his reputation as a real fighter:
“I think it's just a given for me. That's something that I expect from myself every time I step out on court, to just leave it all out there, leave 150 per cent out there. That's the bare minimum. I think that's a very important message, especially that's something you want to be known for. You want the players in the locker room to know you as that kid that fights till the end, has that never-say-die attitude, will compete until the end.”
Osaka insists she still isn’t recognised on her journeys around Melbourne:
"I am a ghost. You don't see me … I don't think they care.”
Australian Sam Stosur triumphed on home soil in the women’s doubles, 13 years after losing in the final at Melbourne Park:
“I kind of welled up a little bit in the semi, then nothing today. Whatever that means, I don't know,” said the former US Open champion with a chuckle.
“I think today was more excitement than anything. I think the other night, it was such a close, intense match that whole way through. To now 13 years later be holding this one instead of the runner-up is a really good feeling.”
Djokovic reflecting on his recent journey clutching the trophy:
“I'm trying to contemplate on the journey in the past 12 months. I had surgery exactly 12 months ago. To be standing now here managing to win this title and three of the four Slams is truly amazing. I'm speechless.”