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Beyond the Baseline

Best quotes from the U.S. Open, Part III

Serena Williams Serena Williams on on-court coaching: "I don't want anyone out there on the court with me. It's my moment." (Timothy Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

Here are our favorite quotes from the final three days of the U.S. Open (click here for Part I and Part II):

Serena Williams scoffed at the idea of having on-court coaching at Grand Slam tournaments, like there is at WTA events. "I don't want anyone out there on the court with me. It's my moment. I grew up when tennis was just about you. I'm going to leave the sport with it just being about me."

Williams made nearly $3.6 million at the U.S. Open. But she says she's never actually picked up a prize money check. "I don't play tennis for the money. I honestly love to play. I love Grand Slams. When I grew up playing tennis in Compton, I just never thought about any of this. I didn't think about the press. I didn't even know all this came with everything. I think my dad got me into tennis because of the money, but me being naive and silly, I never thought about it. I just thought, I want to win. I wanted to do what Venus does. I want to win and I want to do more and I want to do more."

Williams makes the media rounds after U.S. Open title

• Well, you can't say Williams is skipping out on her taxes: "Someone told me today I passed $50 million [in career earnings], but half of that goes to my Uncle Sam [laughter]. I love him. I'm always giving him half my money."

Rafael Nadal was asked about facing Novak Djokovic, a rivalry that has covered 37 matches. "We don't play that different of a style. It's a little bit different when we play against Roger [Federer]. He has a different style. We are here [showing arms widespread]; with Novak, we are here [showing arms close together]. Talking about the styles. So that makes the matches probably tougher physically, and at the same time, all the points are more similar.

"When we play against Roger, for example, you have different kind of points. You don't have those long, long rallies like I have with Novak. So if somebody is playing very well, the chance against Federer for somebody to win easier is higher than against Novak, because there is one clear way to win the points. Between Novak and me, every point is fighting, every point is a long rally, every point is more strategy. This is very tough.

"But at the same time, that makes special this game that matches are like this [showing same level], and the player who is able to maintain a little bit more concentration, who is able to play with a little bit more determination in the important moments, will be the player that will win."

PRICE: U.S. Open the pinnacle of Nadal's remarkable comeback year

Djokovic was gutted to lose the final. "I do appreciate the occasion, playing against Nadal in the finals of one of the best tournaments and most important tournaments in the world. So I'm aware of that. But obviously I just feel disappointed for losing."

Williams tried to explain her nerves. "When you're always trying to write history, or join history in my case, maybe you just get a little more nervous than you should. I also think it's kind of cool because it means that it means a lot to you. It means a lot to me, this trophy, and every single trophy that I have. It makes me feel that I'm still fighting just to be a part of this fabulous sport."

• Age ain't nothin' but a number, but Williams still embraces being on the older side at 31. "God willing, I will be 32 soon. I embrace it. I think it's awesome. There is a whole new level of sport. Technology and things are different. You can continue to play for so many years and be successful for so many years. I have won this tournament over three decades, '90s, the 2000s and this one. You can only do that when you're younger and older, so I'm happy that I have had this opportunity."

PRICE: Serena's commitment pays off with 17th major title

Li Na was overcome with nerves in her 6-0, 6-3 loss to Williams in the semifinals. It was the first time she'd made it that far in New York. ""When I walk to the court, I was feeling the court was so big. "I mean, even my side, I was feeling like it was a football [field]. ... I cannot focus."

Victoria Azarenka's explanation for why she thinks confidence is overrated never ceases to confuse me. "For me, confidence is a word that what it is, really, it's the feeling or it's the way you feel the ball or it's your mental strength. I don't know what that word really means, because it's not ‑‑ it's just a word that's been made up, confidence. It's not the actual feeling or something. So that's why I think it's overrated."

• President Clinton, who attended the women's final, came down to congratulate Williams after her win. "I have met him several times. We reminisced about when I was a teenager and how he first saw me then coming to the White House and several times at the U.S. Open. So it was interesting, because we actually have a history. That's kind of unique to have a history with a former president of the United States of America."

Nadal rejects the narrative that something has changed in his game to help him produce these results. "It's always the same. When somebody is winning, you need to write [about why], and the people think that something has changed. But the real thing is I am playing well. That's all, no? Because I am playing well, I am able to keep being competitive and keep having chances to win against everybody. It's true that I am playing a little bit more aggressive than before, more inside the court, closer to the baseline, going more for the points. But all this is possible because I am playing well and I am confident, no? Talking about a big change, I don't see it."

WERTHEIM: 50 parting thoughts from the U.S. Open

Nadal says the Slams are not the only measure of a successful season. "Let's say if Richard [Gasquet] is having a great season, but if Richard beat me [in the semifinals] and won the final and this year I won five Masters 1000s, three more tournaments and I don't win one Grand Slam, you will say that he had a better season than me? I don't think so [smiling]. So that's what I mean when I say Grand Slams are important, yes, but they are not everything."

Azarenka and Williams played through a stiff breeze in Sunday's final. "The wind is something that is absolutely out of your control. It wasn't pleasant. It sometimes maybe played some factor on some points. But overall, you just have to forget about that. It's not the wind. It's not the sun. It's about the match. It's about the ball. You try to do whatever it takes to win the point with whatever circumstances you've got to go through."

Azarenka tried to stay positive after the loss in the final, which left her in tears. "What's negative is the result. But overall, to see how much you rise to the occasion compared to the other matches, I think it's pretty remarkable.  And the challenge that is in front of me is only going to make me more motivated."

• How did Nadal persuade Azarenka to root for him in the men's final? "He was practicing with his shirt off."

Nadal is 22-0 on hard courts this year. "Don't worry. I will lose. Everybody lose."

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