Here are some of our favorite quotes from the Australian Open …
• Before the tournament, Stanislas Wawrinka wasn’t exactly backing his chances of winning. “I’m not thinking I’m winning a Grand Slam. I’m too far away. I’m trying to improve my game. I’m trying to control what I can. That means the practice. That means my schedule, always to try to improve, to be a better player. The rest — we’ll see. I know I can win more matches. I know that I can play and beat the best players in the world. But it doesn’t mean that I will do it.”
• But he did. And Wawrinka was at a loss to explain it. “I still think that I’m dreaming. It’s strange feeling. … I never expect to play a final. I never expect to win a Grand Slam. And right now I just did it.”
• What was Wawrinka‘s celebration plan? “There’s a big chance I get drunk tonight.”
• Li Na felt vindicated after finally winning her second Slam title. “When last year I said I wanted to be top three, nobody [believed in me]. At the beginning of this year, I say, I want to win another Grand Slam title. Nobody believed [in me]. More important is I believe, [coach Carlos Rodriguez] believes, my team believes. That’s all.”
• Li, wise at the ripe old age of 31. “I’m not old. Yeah, at the start of the tournament, everybody was talking about the age. I would like to say age is nothing. Still can win the Grand Slam. So pretty happy about my age. I got more experience on the court.”
• Li, dropping some truth bombs. “The tennis match doesn’t care how tall you are, how short you are. This is the game.”
• Li was asked whether her husband, the butt of most of her jokes, ever tells her to cool it. “If he said, ‘Enough,’ I think we will divorce. I will keep my way.”
• Li Na, just a small-town girl living in a lonely world. “Of course I love my country. You can see after I win the French Open how many people stay behind me. I know when so many people ask where I’m from, I say Wuhan. They say small town. Not so many people. Just like 10 million.”
• There was much talk of luck and destiny during Li‘s run. Before the final, her third in four years, she was asked whether luck was on her side this year:
Q. Do you believe in third time luck?
LI NA: In China 6 and 8 is lucky.
Q. So no thoughts of retiring, win or lose tomorrow?
LI NA: No. If I lose, I just continue until 6 or 8.
• Roger Federer is the president of the Wawrinka fan club. “I’m not sitting there all quiet, no,” Federer said, when asked before the semifinals what he does during Wawrinka’s matches. “At the end I was standing up, hands in the air like him. When he wins big points, yeah, I guess you do fist-pump. I high-five with Mirka.”
• How hot was it during the first week? Let Caroline Wozniacki explain: “I put the bottle down on the court and it started melting a little bit underneath, the plastic, so you knew it was warm.”
• Australian Open chief medial officer Tim Wood said the tournament did not need to send out additional warnings for the players to deal with extreme temperatures. “The players, they are professional athletes. It’s like you go to Wimbledon; you expect it to rain. You come to Melbourne and you expect it to be hot. If you don’t prepare for that, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, obviously.”
• Maria Sharapova wasn’t happy about the lack of communication between the players and the tournament with respect to the Extreme Heat Policy. “We have never received any e‑mails or warnings about the weather or what to do. Actually, I did receive one, I think, while I was in the ice bath a few minutes ago, and I was like, ‘That’s a little too late.’ It was probably when they were stopping the matches, like, ‘Oh, maybe it’s about time we sent out a warning.’”
• Wood ruffled a few feathers when he said tennis players were low risk in extreme heat. “They sit down every five to 10 minutes for every 90 seconds at change of ends, so there is a chance to lose some heat at that time. Tennis, by and large, is a low-risk sport, and that’s why, by and large, like cricket, we can play in these conditions and not be too concerned.”
I don’t think equating tennis to cricket is going to go down well.
• One more gem from Wood, defending the implementation of the Extreme Heat Policy. “We evolved on the high plains of Africa chasing antelope for eight hours under these conditions,” he said. ”There will be some players who complain and no one is saying it is terribly comfortable to play out there, but, from a medical perspective, we know that man is well adapted to exercising in the heat. Whether it is humane or not is a whole other issue.”
• Want to debate a draw? Leave Federer out of it. “Yeah, a draw is a draw,” he said before the tournament. “You guys debate it; I play in it. That’s basically it.”
• A reporter tried to cheer up Marinko Matosevic after he dropped to 0-12 in Grand Slam matches with a first-round loss to Kei Nishikori.
Q. I know it’s a bit raw right now, but tough conditions and draw. You fought so hard. You must feel you’re getting closer to that Grand Slam first win.
MARINKO MATOSEVIC: I don’t give a s***, man. What do you want me to say to that?
• Sign of the times: Matosevic got angry at the crowd when it started calling him Mad Dog. “Because it’s not my nickname. Some idiot put it on Wikipedia.”
• Federer is a nine-time winner of the ATP’s Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, which can make things with his new coach a little awkward. “Yeah, a bit weird, and I think I won it more than he did. That’s my favorite thing about the award.”
• Don’t expect to see Federer looking to his box for help, no matter who is in there. “I stopped doing that way back when because just I said you just can’t be dependent on these entire looks all the time. Being coached from the sidelines, that’s not how I grew up. I feel like it’s like in school — you do your work. At home, you get ready for the test, and then at the test you don’t cheat and you try to do your best score.”
• Grigor Dimitrov wants to put an end to all the “Baby Fed” references. “I mean, what can I say? We have debated that for quite some time and we have said it loud and clear that my name is Grigor.”
• Petra Kvitova was at a loss to explain her first round defeat to No. 88 Luksika Kumkhum. “It was a great offseason. I was really excited to be here, feeling good. But I think that probably I wanted too much, and then everything just fell down.”
• Jelena Jankovic was irritable and her poor brother Marko, who coaches her, got the brunt of it. “I didn’t get the right amount of sleep and was really cranky. It’s my fault. I was yelling at my brother Marko; he can put up with it. He does this face and I just want to slap it. I love him, but on court he is the one who gets it all the time.”
• Jankovic beat Japanese players in the first three rounds. “I’m playing the Japanese Open. It’s not the Aussie Open for me. Of course, I’m not going to get a visa for Japan the next time I have to play there. I beat three Japanese in three rounds. I’m sorry, Japan.”
• Li discussed her ambitious decision to alter her game under coach Carlos Rodriguez. “You’re on the tour so many years, everybody knows exactly how you play,” she said. “Of course, if I didn’t change, I can keep in the top 10, top 20, but I cannot be the best in the world. So I really want to push myself to change a little bit, to see. It’s very tough to [think about it at] first because if you change maybe you lose the old thing. I still trust myself, trust Carlos. I believe after the change is a help for me.”
• What was Li‘s initial reaction when Rodriguez told her he wanted to see her at the net more? I was like, ‘What this guy talking about?. … I will stay on the baseline for maybe 100 years, never try to come to the net.’”
• A reporter asked Caroline Wozniacki about her prospects of winning a Grand Slam title:
Q. You have been on the top of the game, you know, world No. 1 and you have that champion mentality. You know, things, you know, shift and, you know, you seem to be you’re probably very confident that you can achieve that again or get the Grand Slam because you’re very talented. You’re not married yet.
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Are you trying to say when I get married it’s impossible? (Smiling)
• What was Victoria Azarenka’s take on the heat during the first week? “It felt pretty hot, like you’re dancing in a frying pan.”
• Ross Hutchins is happy to be back on court a year after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but he just wants to be one of the guys. “I don’t want people to feel sorry for me, as well. Like after [Hutchins and doubles partner Colin Fleming] lost in the first week [of the year at the Brisbane International], [Jeremy] Chardy was saying to his coach he felt bad for beating me. I’m like, No, don’t. I’m a player and I want to be treated as a player. … I want to be treated as another player who has just as much chance to win or lose and to be ruthless out there with these other guys and just to become a better competitor and to win matches on our own, not for people taking pity on us, which hopefully they don’t. We can beat them on our own merits.”
• Sharapova said her mind was all over the place during her second-round match against Karin Knapp, which was played in 110-degree heat. “I went through all the different [emotions], like, How could you miss those second‑serve returns? Why are you going for so much? The other side of my brain is like, Well, it’s 110 degrees. Of course you’re going for too much.”
• Serena Williams on her match strategy: “I just always try to win the first set, and then I try to win the second.” Solid strategy.
• Don’t expect to see Sharapova commentating on curling when she goes to Sochi for her Olympics gig with NBC. ”Everyone seems to think I will be commentating on winter sports. I’m not a bobsledding expert.”
• What’s the secret to Sloane Stephens‘ ability to reach the second week of Slams consistently? “I have no idea. You guys ask me that every time. I don’t know. I just play, and then I end up in the second week.”
• Breaking: Sharapova loves her grandparents.
Q. Azarenka went on quite a bit talking about how wonderful her grandmother is and Casey Dellacqua did the same thing yesterday.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Who doesn’t like their grandmothers? I mean, they cook, they clean, they tell you you’re the best. What’s not to like?
Q. Azarenka’s grandma came to LA. I think they went to Disneyland. How about sometime arranging a double date.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think my grandmother would refuse to go to Disneyland (smiling).
• Andy Murray compared hiring a former Slam champion as coach to courting a girlfriend. “It’s kind of like any relationship that you have. If it’s with a woman, I would try to impress my girlfriend a lot more the first few months I was with her than I do now. I guess that’s natural.”
• Stephens, who recently hired Paul Annacone as her coach, was asked about Murray’s comparison. “I feel like you just said I was dating Paul, and that’s soooo gross.”
• Federer dug deep into the technique on his one-handed backhand. “I’m just staying aggressive with the footwork, not sort of leaning back too much, not getting too passive on it. You can have tendency to do that with a one‑handed backhand because you can bail out and go to the slice. I know everybody can, but a double-hander usually doesn’t. The one-hander, it’s so natural for us to play the slice that you almost have to tell yourself to always stay on the front foot and play aggressive.”
• Stephane Robert explained how he found out he earned a lucky-loser spot in the main draw, where he eventually made a run to the fourth round. “I [was opening] a bank account in U.S. dollars and I was filling a paper for the ATP. So when they call me, I put this straight in my bag and then I went to see the referee. He told me, OK, you’re ready to play? Court 7. Go.”
• Just so we get this clear and there are no stories about BFFs and mentoring relationships, here’s how Stephens described her relationship with Victoria Azaarenka: “Nonexistent.”
• Flavia Pennetta was asked why Italian players get stereotypical questions about pasta and pizza. “I think because in Italy there is good food.” Did the stereotyping bother her? “No. Why?”
• After losing to Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round, Williams was surprised that reporters knew about her back injury. When it came out that her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, had revealed the details in an interview, she didn’t seem too happy about it. “So he’s the one that’s snitching?”
• Simona Halep confessed she couldn’t overcome her nerves in her quarterfinal loss to Dominika Cibulkova. “Today I couldn’t enjoy, and it was a big s*** for me, this match.”
• And, of course, the entirety of Li‘s raucous victory speech: