The top seeds for the 2012 U.S. Open, Switzerland's Roger Federer and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus are in New York and prepping for action at the final Grand Slam of 2012 beginning Monday. At their pre-tournament press conferences, both Federer and Azarenka discussed how they feel and their view from the top entering the Open. Federer will open his run at a 2012 U.S. Open title with a tough match against American Donald Young in the opening round Monday. Azarenka will open against Alexandra Panova of Russia Monday afternoon in Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Both John McEnroe and Andre Agassi said in the World TeamTennis match this July that tennis right now at the top, men's tennis is the toughest ever. Do you think you four guys are the toughest maybe in history in terms of competing against each other and winning events?
Federer: I'd say no, but I don't know. Just because you look back maybe 15 years, then you have Sampras, Edberg, Becker and Agassi, I don't know who else. Those guys weren't good or what? Do you know what I mean? You look back, further back, 20 years, and you have the Connors and the Lendls. Those weren't good either? I mean, I don't know. So for me I think that's respectful. It's just different times and definitely more athletic, there's no doubt about that. But then again we don't play doubles. We don't play mixed.
Maybe we play less matches today because it's more taxing, but we do play less best of five set tennis than they used to play. You can't compare really, but we have somewhat of a golden era right now. I feel that truly. It's nice to see Andy making his move at the Olympics, nice to see Novak having an absolutely ridiculous year last year, and then Rafa and myself still being around. It's definitely good times. Past that you still have great champions as well. It's very interesting at the top right now, and the depth I think has never been greater than right now. There's no doubt about that. But then best ever? The four of us? That's a really difficult call.
Do you miss Rafa's presence here in sort of that odd way that rivals miss each other?
Federer: I mean, it would be better if he would be here, but then again, it's good to see him maybe giving it a chance to heal and taking tough decisions like not coming here. It's been a brutal process for him, I'm sure, missing the Olympics, which I'm sure was also a big goal for him. Then the North American swing and now this? I mean, this is significant, but it's not been six months yet. So I think it's not the end of the world, but it's obviously much better if he were to be here. There's no doubt about that. But he's had a great run in Grand Slams as well and playing so many tournaments.
Can you talk about how different you feel coming to the Open this year as opposed to last year as world number one, if you feel different at all?
Federer: How did I feel last year? I think I felt good last year, but probably felt that maybe at times the matches were not always in my racquet, whereas maybe this time around I feel like if I'm playing well I can dictate who's going to win or lose.
It's going to take something special from my opponent to win. That's kind of how it feels right now; then again, I might walk away from Monday and lost the first round. You have to always be very careful how you say it and how you then play. I will take it one match at a time. There's no doubt about that. I will never ever underestimate an opponent ever again. I did that enough when I was a teenager. Those times are long gone. I'm just happy how I'm playing. I already reached my goal for the year becoming world number one and getting Wimbledon again and getting a medal for Switzerland. It's been incredible. But I do have this one left for me this year where I really, really want to do well, and I couldn't be more happy returning here as number one. It's super
You played a lot of tennis at the Olympics, singles and doubles. Is there any sort of physical kickback from it for you and from the other girls at the moment?
Azarenka: Well, it's definitely been, you know, to play in Montreal, which for me was really impossible to do. It was
too quick and I was absolutely drained, you know, physically, but emotionally because you went through so much in a few days, something that I have never been through before. So it took so much energy out. I'm glad I had an opportunity to have a little bit of break and to make sure that, you know, I can prepare to the U.S. Open as best as I can. For the other girls, I cannot speak. You know, I'm not in their shoes. But if there would be a choice if I could play a week before, maybe I would, but, you know, it came out this way and I have to adapt and, you know, I don't regret anything.
What does Kim Clijsters mean to you personally and to the tour?
Azarenka: To me personally she's been a great, you know, inspiration definitely. I never met Kim before she came back. You know, I was still playing in the juniors so I never had a chance to play against her. Once she came back, I drawed her right away in one of her first tournaments, which was kind of fun to play against. You know, what she
done after just a few tournaments, to come back and win such a major title was definitely very inspiring and amazing accomplishment. For the tour she's been a great role model; for the kids she's one of the people who you always like to be around, you know, to practice.
She's great in the lockers, you know, and great for the fans. They know obviously a lot of people love her. She's definitely going to be one everybody is going to miss. But, you know, I just wish her the best in her life. We'll definitely see the best of Kim here.