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Beyond the Baseline

French Open media day: Best quotes from Federer, Nadal, Serena and more

Roger Federer Roger Federer isn't worried about his lack of match play on clay courts. (Julian Finney/Getty Images)

PARIS -- Defending champions Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, along with Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Maria Sharapova, were among the players who met with reporters on Friday. Here's what the players had to say as they prepare for the second Grand Slam tournament of the year, which begins on Sunday:

Roger Federer isn't concerned that he's played only six clay-court matches this season. "I feel like I'm in good shape. I know where my game is at. I have actually played a lot already this season. Again, because I was home [after the birth of his twin boys], it gave me more time to train. I have become again a touch stronger in the last few weeks and months, which was important after the year I had last year."

Rafael Nadal, who practiced at Roland Garros on Thursday, hopes the court conditions improve by the time the tournament starts. "Center court was a little bit different. I think they make the court new, so it's like the clay [needs to] get a little bit more fixed. It was moving around a little bit too much. But there remain a few days and probably they can fix it. They are specialists, no?"

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Serena Williams, on drawing her friend Alize Lim in the first round: "We were talking about it before the draw was made. It's ironic, I guess. It is what it is. I guess it goes with that song, Isn't it ironic."

Novak Djokovic's five-set loss to Nadal in the semifinals last year was a heartbreaker. But he's getting closer to winning his first French Open title. "Knowing that I have gotten closer and closer each year to the title gives me enough reason to be confident for the start of this year. The Rome title and winning against Nadal on clay [in the Italian Open final] is something that doesn't happen every day. So it definitely helps my confidence. And I'm healthy and obviously very motivated and inspired to play my best tennis here."

Williams says her improvement on clay is more mental than tactical. "I think it was more, I don't want to lose," she said when asked what clicked for her recently on the surface. "I want to be in the tournament. Not that I didn't have that feeling before, but it's even deeper to a point of, I just want to be here. I want to play more. I want to do better."

Nadal, on the state of his confidence going into his 10th French Open: "The dynamic is positive, so that's always important for the confidence. "I felt that in Rome I was able to play without that anxiety that I played with in the first two tournaments [on clay this season] and some moments in Madrid, too. ... I'm happy to fight for the challenge to play well again here. And I'm going to try. That's it. That's the only thing that I can say. I'm going to try."

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Stan Wawrinka has put any concerns over a minor back injury behind him. "I'm 100 percent fit. I'm really happy I'm playing good."

• French No. 1 Alize Cornet, playing her 10th straight French Open, hopes to "charm" the home fans. "The French crowd is expecting a lot from us. Sometimes they are kind of judging us. So it's tough to handle the pressure because you know that if you do bad, they are going to be tough with you. But on the other hand, you need to charm them because they are pretty tough to charm. But when you have them in your pocket, they are behind you 100 percent and they can give you wings. That's my goal. Trying to have wings with them on the court and fly over my matches. That would be the best scenario possible."

Andy Murray had the most understated review of Paris. "I like walking around here. It's a nice city with a lot of stuff going on."

Maria Sharapova's third-round loss at the Italian Open gave her more time to regroup before the French Open. "It gave me a few extra days to rest instead of trying to hurry up and come here and trying to get on the courts as soon you can and get as many hours on the big courts as you might get before everybody else comes. So in a way it's been great to have that. Of course, I would have loved to have done well in Rome, as well. [But] I had great preparation [for the French Open]. I had two great tournaments [with titles in Stuttgart and Madrid]. A lot has been thrown at me in the last few weeks in all the matches I have played, and I think that's great for, you know, coming into a big tournament like this."

Murray, on the favorites: "Whether Rafa has been playing well or not, I would expect him to play great tennis here. I would expect Novak to play great tennis here. Roger I would also expect to play very well. That's what they have done.  So there is nothing there to suggest that they are all of a sudden going to stop performing well in the Slams and struggle. I would expect them to all have great tournaments. But who wins depends who plays the best at the end of the event really, and we don't know that because we can't predict the future."

Wawrinka shrugged off his early-round losses in Madrid and Rome after winning the Monte Carlo Masters. "I'm OK. I was playing good tennis. I'm happy the way I'm playing in practice, and I know for me that's the most important."

Cornet, on why players sometimes find it more difficult to perform well at their home tournaments: "It's so different from all the other tournaments where you only travel with your coach or someone from your family and you have the feeling that nobody cares so much about you. [At home] it seems you're on the big scene and everybody is watching what you're doing."

• In case you haven't noticed, Stan Wawrinka has dropped the "islas" from his first name. Here's a funny exchange about the change:

Q.  I like Stanislas. 

STAN WAWRINKA: Well, you can call me Stanislas.

Q.  Why did you ask ATP to change your first name? Why should we say Stan and not Stanislas?

STAN WAWRINKA:  Because everybody calls me Stan apart from you, and ‑‑ no, kidding.  It's just to simplify everything on the draw, my name during the press reference.  That's the only reason.

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