Friday September 12th, 2014

NEW YORK -- Check out the best (and most shocking!) moments you missed through 15 days of play at the U.S. Open in New York. 

Serena Williams after winning her 18th major to tie Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for fourth on the all-time list: "I just could never have imagined that I would be mentioned with Chris Evert or with Martina Navratilova, because I was just a kid with a dream and a racquet. Living in Compton, you know, this never happened before. You know, I just never could have imagined that it could have ended -- not ended. I'm just beginning. Well, I'm not beginning, but I could have gotten this far, you know. So it was just -- I think it was -- and then it was eluding me for three tournaments, I guess. But, still that's a lot for me. I was like, you know, really excited to get it."

Tennis
Daily Bagel: Marin Cilic is hilarious on Late Night with David Letterman

Marin Cilic after winning his first major title: "I mean, seems completely unreal to be called Grand Slam champion. I was dreaming about this all my life, and suddenly last four, five days everything started to change. And with my tennis especially. I started to play absolutely unbelievable starting with the fifth set with Simon. After that I had unbelievable run of the matches against these top guys. And what it means to me, it means everything. It's just a huge accomplishment and huge moment for myself and for my team and for everybody around me who was with me all these years supporting me, believing in me and never giving up. So this is just the peak of the world."

Q. (Regarding Goran's sense of humor.) Did he ever tell you that no Croatian player lost a slam final on a Monday? (Laughter.)

Cilic: Yeah, we were mentioning that. They were saying 13 years past since he won his Wimbledon title and that happened on Monday, and now none of the Croatians can lose at the final on Monday.

Caroline Wozniacki couldn't shake the nerves in the final: "I was a little nervous going out there. When you walk into the stadium and people are screaming so loud you can't hear what you're thinking yourself, so it's kind of overwhelming. But it's such a cool experience. I just wanted to get a good start. I knew that against Serena, you have to have a good start, otherwise she starts going in and being even more aggressive. You know, you're kind of done. So I didn't get the start I wanted. Then all of a sudden see myself going behind and it's tough to get back."

Serena relied on some gallows humor to take the pressure off herself in New York. "Well, it's so easy now because it's almost a joke for me because I have done little to no winning in the majors. And now I thought, Take it as a joke. Oh, my God, I'm past the fourth round. Woo. Like, Yeah, I was joking. I better play doubles just in case I don't make it past the second round. At least I have a backup plan. I think that definitely has been able to help me to relax, as well. You know, and also realizing that I don't have to win anymore. Everything now is just extra. So then that also helps, as well."

Tennis
Serena Williams bought Caroline Wozniacki drinks after the final match

Bob Bryan on winning No. 100 at the U.S. Open: "I mean, it's amazing relief, you know, ecstasy. I was having flashbacks to my whole career towards the end of that match. It was wild. I was thinking juniors, college. It was an incredible moment. I was trying to stay in the moment, but it was impossible. I mean, this number right here, we have really been looking at for a couple of years.​"

Bob and Mike Bryan on their huge celebration after match point: 

MIKE BRYAN: Right when the match finished it was a relief. So much emotions. I don't think we have ever done this kind of Dirty Dancing swan dive. That was a first. 
BOB BRYAN: You felt light as a feather. (Laughter.)

The assault on the record books continues for Serena: "I am thinking about 19, which I'm kind of disappointed. Hasn't even been three hours and I have already mentioned 19. Oh, gosh. So, yeah, but not 22. I'm taking it one at a time. (Smiling.)"

Kei Nishikori is positive after making his first Slam final: "You know, play two five sets and another three hours, two hours, against Novak. And now I'm here with, you know -- my body is heavy still, but I can able to play. I don't think few years ago didn't happen like this. I think I showed, you know, my potential I can beat anybody now. So if I can keep train hard and, you know, also practice hard, I think I have more chance coming up."

Cilic on his four-month doping ban last year, after he tested positive for a banned substance that he says he accidentally ingested in over-the-counter glucose pills: "Well, I mean, it angered me how all the process went because it was not fair to me. It wouldn't be fair to any tennis player. So that was just very bad memories. But, you know, when you're against big organizations you are small hand. You can't do much. So I just accepted it. When I came back to tennis court I erased it from my memory. I just used the positive parts, which, you know, made me tougher. I felt that I was more, you know, directed to the goals I want and just with a great atmosphere in my team. I feel it helped me to gain much more in all different areas."

Cilic on the ATP's "second line" -- love that term -- breaking through: "Well, it's a bit of a change-up year considering all the past years that these top four guys were making to the final. Wawrinka opened the doors for us from the "second" line, and I think most of the guys have now bigger belief that they can do it on the Grand Slams. Just over here as well, Kei beat Wawrinka, beat Novak, and Milos, so played amazing, amazing tournament. I think it's gonna be extremely interesting for the next several, for sure, Grand Slams....  I mean, the competition is getting bigger. The guys there are from second line are moving closer and they are more often at the later stage of the tournament. They are going to get only better; they're not going to get worse. So the competition is going to get very difficult. But still, I mean, I feel that it's more opportunities for everybody. I mean, all these top guys for sure, and the guys from second line."

Tennis
Get to know surprise U.S. Open finalist Kei Nishikori

Nishikori almost wasn't going to play in the U.S. Open after having minor foot surgery just weeks before the tournament: "I just started playing points few days ago before the tournament. I didn't even know if I should come to New York, you know, so I wasn't expecting nothing actually. But after playing first match and second match, you know, I get more confidence on my foot and it was no pain at the moments. I was start sliding little more. But my tennis was there already. I was really, try to play one match at a time and now I'm here. But I don't know. I may have to rest three weeks before the Grand Slam."

Roger Federer reflects on the surprise finalists: "I'm more surprised with Cilic, to be honest, because he's older. I think he is, anyway. He's been around for longer but he's really been able to make a nice transition in the last few years in his game. There is a significant difference in how he plays. Whereas with Kei I always thought unbelievable talent way back when I played with him for the first time when he was 17. Just wasn't quite sure that in a best-of-five-set tournament if he could get all the way to the back end of the tournament. But he's beaten myself twice already, other top guys before. He was destroying Rafa in the finals of Madrid. He's shown what he can do, and that's why with Kei I'm not surprised, really."

Federer breaks down what was going on in his head when he found himself down match point to Gael Monfils: "That is a very frustrating moment to be in. Being down match point, it's just not fun, because you're so close to leaving the court and, head hanging down and going to take a shower and going to have to do press and all that stuff, which is so annoying after you've lost. I don't want to say I see all that, but it's like I played so well. And then you're like you came so far and here you are facing match point. All this stuff just like goes through your mind. It's hard to block it out, because you snap right back in because you don't have that much time. You're like, Okay, let me try and hit a good serve. Let's hope it works, because I don't want to hit a second serve. All that kind of stuff. The same things that you probably think go through my mind just I can't escape it. I have to face it and embrace it. Sometimes it works, but very often clearly it doesn't."

Tennis
Gael Monfils' latest U.S. Open setback just another reason to watch him

Monfils on being up two sets to love on Federer with match points and losing: "You know, at the beginning I feel good, because when you have a tactic or plan, a game plan, stick with. That's why he's Roger Federer, because he change so many times. He start with chipping very low. I think I handled it good. So then he stick with longer points. It was 50-50, and then he try to come to the net like very often. It was a bit better for him. Then suddenly he start to mix everything. You know, that's why he's the greatest player, because he can do everything."

Victoria Azarenka is done with talking about her recent injury woes. "You're making it sound like I went through, I don't know, that I almost died and there was 10 sharks and I got attacked and I survived. And I saved a dolphin, as well. It's not that complicated, really. You know, what I enjoy is to play tennis. To be talking about what happened with my injuries, I mean, it's useless already. Really what I want to do is to focus on the moment and, just leave this moment, enjoy this moment because I really do, and try to make the best out of this particular moment. What happened in the past, I ain't got no genie in the bottle to wish what could I do in the past."

Azarenka on her trademark shorts: "I think my shorts are in a happy place, you know. They are on a happy place. You know, it's on my butt, so it's in a happy place."

Great thoughts from Aleksandra Krunic after her three-set loss to Azarenka:

Q. What did you learn new about yourself tonight especially?

Krunic: Some people tell me, You're so mature for your age. But then when I have to use it for me it's like I'm 10 years old. Yeah, now I think I started really using what I know also for myself and started maybe loving myself a little bit more. Yeah, I'm more mature in some situations on the court and I support myself much more, because, you know, I get the support from the crowd. But if I'm all the time giving negativity to myself, it's not going to help. I think that's the main thing that I improved and I learned about myself, that, yeah, I am much more positive and I'm much more tolerant to myself.​

Tennis
Watch: Aleksandra Krunic wows the crowd with her defense

Krunic: "It's not like I'm, I don't know, 60 or 70 in the world and now I did a great result and I have a little bit more attention. It's first time in my life I have any attention, you know, with the media. So I felt so exhausted after my match with Petra. After the press conference and autograph session and everything, I was like, 'Oh, my god. If this is what happens to me I can't imagine to Petra or Serena. I don't know how they handle all this.'"

Eugenie Bouchard after losing to Makarova: "I didn't have the highest expectations from myself for this tournament. Since Wimbledon it's been a little bit of a struggle with nagging injuries. Even at the beginning of this tournament I said, I know I haven't had the proper preparation. I have really cut down on practice time. That affects you in a match, especially after a few tough ones late at night. I'm not concerned at all, but with all that and with not feeling great in my tennis, I still battled to the second week of a slam. So there's positives."

Makarova, on what she was thinking when Bouchard took a medical timeout: "Well, actually, I thought, thanks (smiling), because I also was tired. It was really help for me also because I had some time to recover and also to use some ice bags. It was actually kind of good medical timeout."

After losing to Djokovic, Andy Murray needs more matches against the best to find his best level: "Maybe I haven't played enough matches at that level this year. I mean, it's obviously different playing at that level -- well, playing against the No. 1 in the world and the way that we play against each other it's just an extremely physical match. Whereas maybe when I play against Roger, for example, it's quicker points. You know, so physically that's not as demanding, but when me and Novak play against each other -- you obviously see a very tight, long rallies. Both of us do a lot of running. Yeah, maybe I'll gain a lot from playing a match like today. Because it doesn't matter how much training you do, when you get on the match court it's different. I can't practice with the best player in the world, so it's tough to practice at that intensity."

Peng Shuai doesn't remember much about her semifinal retirement due to heat illness. 

Q. Did you tell the chair umpire or did you tell the doctor? How did that work? Did you tell them that you couldn't go on and that you had to default

Shuai: Well, I think with the moment I could not like thinking for the match, because I want to stop the cramping, like to breathe. But I think when I come back on the court maybe the doctor, she knows. So with the situation, you know, like they're not going to lay me dead on the court, so they have to decide. Yeah.

Q. But did you say, I default or did they tell you you had to default?

Shuai: I couldn't not remember, actually. I don't know in the moment, because already for me was tough for me to breathe. Was cramping. I don't know. Maybe they talk to me or they telling me or asking me. Already I could not heard it. So in the moment everything, maybe yes or no, yes or no, I don't know.
 

Serena on an overhead shank -- actually, she completely whiffed on it -- during her fourth round match: " I didn't want to hit it. I was like, These are the shots Venus usually takes in doubles. Where is Venus when you need her? You could tell I didn't want to hit it. I was like, Should I let it bounce? I was like, Let it bounce, let it bounce. Pride got the best of me. I was like, Take it out of the air. I don't think I even hit it, so..."

Wozniacki: "I have proven people wrong so many times. I was told when I was younger there is no chance I will make the top 100, top 50, top 30. Every time I have proven them wrong. It's kind of nice."

As it turned out, Federer and Monfils did play a match that's worth telling their kids about:

Q. He says he considers you the greatest player of all time and he tells us this is an opportunity he will tell his children about.

Federer: Okay, great (laughter). Is that a good thing? I don't know. I mean, I like the guy, you know. We always joke around and we always have a good talk. I think it's very fair once out on the court. It's tough but it's fair. I think our games match up nicely against each other. So, yeah, we played a good, tough match against each other just last week. Yeah, let's hope it's going to be memorable for everybody involved, especially the unborn children so far. (Laughter.)

Monfils on not having a coach for the last year and a half. It's not intentional. "For sure it's better to have a coach. I won't lie to you. It's better to have someone to help you. I need it, you know. But as I say all the time, it's not easy to feel someone. That person has to be -- has to be, for me, like good, first of all, but has to be hard and also understand my personality. Because I don't think I'm easy, but I think I'm quite a good worker. So, you know, most of people that I know is good, so I sent like some message to maybe somebody here. I want to work with people, but they are not ready to travel that much. That's always trouble, you know. I think is few good coaches that I really want to work with, but they're able to travel and just part time, and I don't think I need that."

Q. Do you actually know how to do the Makarena?

Makarova: Yes.

Cilic on his improved game: "I'm serving much better. That sort of allows me to have more opportunities in the match on the return service, return of serve, as I can be more aggressive. I can play more risky, as I can, you know, rely on my serve that I'm going to win those service games comfortably. Definitely, you know, that puts a lot of pressure on the guys so I can, in the return games, play very differently from one to the other and change up my game."

Serena hung out with Usain Bolt after her semifinal win: "I actually asked him, Do you think I can sprint? He said, No. I thought, I think I have a good sprinter's body. He's like, No."

Monfils on why his focus can waver during matches: "For me tennis is a sport, you know. It's not a job, it's a sport. Sometime if I'm fed up with that, you know, just leave it. For me, I don't know if it's bad to say it and for sure I will use like bad words in English, but it's like, [I] don't give a s***. You know, it's like okay, next one."

Q. Having been a part of the last two finals, how disappointing is it not to be back there again?

Azarenka: Very disappointing. How many times -- like how do you feel? How do you think somebody will answer a question like that? Of course it is disappointing. It's not about that you have been two times in the final before that's going to make it better. It just is what it is today. It's not the end of the world. It's something I can take positive from this tournament, you know. Two months ago I didn't even think that I was going to be able to play today. But, you know, trying to ask and put some kind of pressure like that with those questions I think is no point.

After losing to Monfils in the fourth round, Grigor Dimitrov evaluates his Slam season, which was the best of his career by far: "I'm 23, but I don't want to think that I'm young or something like that. I want to win majors. That's my main goal. I'm not satisfied with my results so far, even though I have done probably -- I have come into my best year of my tennis year. I'm not even close to being satisfied. I think that's one of the nicest things that I feel about it, is that I have that hunger to actually become better every tournament I play, even though I have lost quite a few tough matches this year. I'm pissed. I'm just not happy with that. I know I can do better.

Murray isn't obsessed with qualifying for the World Tour Finals in London: "To be honest, it was not a massive goal of mine. I mean, it's obviously nice to qualify for it. It's a good tournament. I played a number of years, you know, and enjoyed it. But, yeah, I don't want to overplay. I'll play the right schedule."

Tennis
Watch: Roger Federer hits a ridiculous sliding lob for a winner

Federer was asked whether he was bothered losing to Cilic, a player who served a four-month ban for a doping violation last year:  "I'm fine with it. I truly believed he didn't do anything wrong in the sense that he did it on purpose. Was he stupid maybe? Maybe. You know, yeah. But I feel like I know him well enough, and I don't think he would ever do it. I don't quite remember what the circumstances were, but I feel more bad for him than anything else. So for me, when I see him it doesn't cross my mind in any way. And, no, I think he was becoming the player he is already way before that, so from that standpoint no problem for me."

Wozniacki is back on track. "I have had a great two weeks here. I have played really well this summer. I have won so many matches. And Serena has stopped me three times. They say three times lucky. I was hoping for that today. I'm going to try four times lucky the next time. (Smiling.) But, I feel like I'm on the right path. I have been playing really well, so hopefully I can finish off the year strong and have a good start to next year."

Cilic on his post-win celebration plans: "Tomorrow in the evening we are leaving, so today is going to be the celebration... All over Manhattan. (Laughter.) I hope it's not going to be Hangover No. 4."

Q. What does the number 18 mean to you?

Williams: It means a lot. It means legal to do some things. (Laughter.) It also means legendary. Legal and legendary. Nice age.

Q. Are you both?

Williams: Oh, yeah, I'm definitely legal. Legendary? I don't know. I'm just Serena.

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