Thursday May 30th, 2013

Novak Djokovic Novak Djokovic delivered on his "small chance" to make it as a pro tennis player. (Julien Crosnier/DPPI/Icon SMI)

From the philosophical to the funny, here are some the best quotes from the early rounds of the French Open so far.

• Novak Djokovic: Philosopher. "I believe that luck follows people who believe strongly in something and a goal -- people who have courage to achieve something that they strongly believe in. Luck is something that you cannot affect, but you can always believe that there is a better tomorrow for you and that there will be a particular turn of events that is going to go in your favor. And even if it doesn't, it's a cycle of life. It goes always up and down and you can't expect always to be at your best. It's normal.

"So, yeah, maybe if I go all the way back to my childhood when I started to play tennis -- actually, I was too young to know if I'm going to succeed economically with my family or not, if I'm going to meet the right people. It was a very small chance, looking at the history of tennis in our country. ... I guess that's the biggest luck I had, to play the sport."

• Roger Federer agrees with Marc Rosset's comment that having 32 seeds at a Grand Slam tournament creates too many easy matches in the early rounds. "In the Slams I came through both systems, where we had 16 seeds back in the day. It's true, you do have much tougher draws early on, but I guess separating the best a little bit is good for spectators, fans, media maybe as well to a degree. Also the players, because hard work throughout the season gets compensated and gets paid off in a small way. Now, does it make a huge difference? I'm not sure. But I understand what he's saying. He's not wrong about it, that's for sure."

• Times have changed, says Caroline Wozniacki. In today's game, it's experience, not youth, that matters. "You see older and older players now doing very well. But like 15 years ago you would see 15-year-old girls basically, or women -- I don't know what to call them -- winning Grand Slams. And now it's just not happening anymore. It's mid 20s, it's late 20s, early 30s now. You see a broad variety of players. So I think the experience definitely helps.

"When you're older, you get to know your game, you get to know yourself as a person. You know what to work on. But when you're younger, you have no respect for anybody. You just go out there and you just play and you enjoy it. You know what you can do and what you can't, and you just take advantage of the things you do. So I think there is not really a limit for anybody. I think it's more in the head."

• Rafael Nadal is tired of answering questions about doping in tennis and believes if the sport's authorities allowed more transparency in the system, the questions would stop. "[I]f you make the controls [drug tests] public and everybody can know how many controls everybody has, you are not going to have to ask this question. So why we cannot make everything clean, why we cannot make everything public, and then we don't have to come here and ask if we are overtested or not tested enough."

• After roaring back from one set and nearly two down against Daniel Brands in the first round, Nadal told Spanish reporters that he's used to these types of matches. "You have to fight and you have to suffer, and that's exactly what I went through. I think throughout my entire career, in fact, I have experienced many matches of this type. These are things that you just have to take on your chin in a career and accept once again. You have to have sufficient humility just to recognize that your opponent at that particular point in time is playing better than you and you have to wait for the situation to change and find a solution that you can hammer home and then be totally focused. I think that's the only way that you can get through a match such as this one."

Agnieszka Radwanska Agnieszka Radwanska's blonde hair could be short-lived. (Julian Finney/Getty Images)

• Agnieszka Radwanska won't be sticking with her new blonde hairdo for long. "I think I will go back to dark hair because everybody is telling me to come back to the dark. So I will do it soon, probably."

• Jo-Wilfried Tsonga says fans are the only ones concerned about whether he faces one of the Big Four in the quarterfinals or semifinals. "To win a tournament, I'm going to have to confront those people. If it's in the quarterfinal or semifinals, well, that's not what really matters. What matters at the end of the day is just to beat them all, to put it simply. And I suppose the real question is not to know whether you're going to be playing in the quarterfinals or the semifinals or even the finals, whether you're doing Federer, [Novak] Djokovic or Nadal, one after the other, or Federer, [David] Ferrer, Nadal, or whether it's one or the other.

"That doesn't change very much at the end of the day. It doesn't really change anything, because in any case you have to beat them all."

• How does Sam Stosur kill time during a rain delay? "Just sat in front of the coffee bar. And we managed to get a good table, and people came in and out the whole time. Just waited around, waited for the next update, had something else to eat." If she ever wants to leave Tampa, Fla., she would make a great Seattleite.

• Benard Tomic says his compartmentalization skills have come in handy the last few weeks. "I'm the type of guy where I can sort of let these things [the off-court drama surrounding his father's assault charges] go. I was feeling fine. I mean, the last two weeks, I was training well, playing well, didn't think a lot about it, was not worried."

• While some might question the number of wild cards 20-year-old Jack Sock has received over the years, he says they have given him the experience necessary to pull off wins like his first-round victory over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. "Always playing main-draw matches helps and playing in front of crowds and playing in big matches definitely helps, getting them all under your belt. But I like playing in front of people, I like the big stages. I mean, the more the merrier. And, yeah, it's fun."

• For the first time in his career, Richard Gasquet comes into the French Open ranked inside the top 10. "I don't want to have too much pressure on myself. I want to do my best. I want to have a nice tournament. But I have gained maturity and it's something I enjoy to be here. I know the crowd is supporting me. I want to give my best tennis and we will see how far I can go."

• Marion Bartoli has hired John Tomic's alleged assault victim and Bernard's former hitting partner, Thomas Drouet, as a third voice in her camp. She's already enjoying his positive influence. "I'd like to have Thomas as long as possible, at least now until the rest of the year. We're tying to spend the longest time together and to produce the best possible results. But it's more -- it's not just sparring, if you like. He's part of the team. We lose together; we win together. It's a team, you see. Not just somebody sends the ball across the net so I can strike it. He's a fully fledged member of our team. He'll share the victories as much as the defeats. He's fully committed."

• Ivan Ljubicic is working with Milos Raonic, but don't expect to see any major changes to the Canadian's game in Paris. "I think we have both agreed that my game shouldn't really change too much from hard to clay, probably maybe 10 percent. So it's about playing more aggressive and it's about when you get that look just like you would on a hard court, just go for it. Don't hesitate. ... But we have worked on standing a little bit closer to baseline. Because when I get myself too far back, all my balls end up landing short. I have to exert a lot of force to get it deep."

• Ernests Guilbis refuses to blame his draw for his early exit. He lost to former semifinalist Gael Monfils in the second round. "I want to be the player who can go deep no matter who he plays. I don't care about draw. I want to win. I'm not interested past two, three, four rounds. And then what?"

• Andy Murray has been tweeting his support for Monfils all tournament and the Frenchman is thankful for it. "He's a good friend of mine. I know him since, well, I will say 10 and he was 9, I think, when I first played him. So it was very nice because at the beginning honestly I couldn't speak in English. His French is not very good. And then we just chat sometime, we try to hit together. [He's a] very nice guy." • Grigor Dimitrov doesn't seem to have any ill will toward the paparazzi, who are surely hounding him as they try to snap the next great picture of him and girlfriend Maria Sharapova cuddling. "Well, they've got to live, right?" he told reporters with a laugh. "It will happen, so I have to be ready. Next time I'll wave, maybe."

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