Our media day diary starts with Britain’s Cameron Norrie who was two sets away from the Wimbledon final last year. The Brit reached the last four and was a set up on Novak Djokovic before the 23-time Grand Slam champion ran away with victory.
After a fairly rollercoaster year since that magical run, Norrie told the media about how excited he is to start the journey all over again and spoke about how he believes he can repeat last year’s success.
“For sure. That was so much fun. It all starts again. There’s no reason why I can’t do it again,” Norrie defiantly claimed in his press conference.
“I’m playing well, hitting the ball really well. Having that run last year gave me a lot of confidence going into this year. But it all starts again. You have to take it match by match. Still a long way to go. There’s so many good players on this surface. Yeah, the draw’s stacked. I’m going to have to keep improving match by match. But most of all I’m looking forward to getting going.
“I think there’s even more reason I think I can do it again. I would say, yeah, there’s more questions like that being asked. But I think, like I said, I’d rather have that than kind of opposite to that and be like, you’re going to bomb out first round again here.
“I’d rather people saying that than the other way. I think you have to embrace it, you have to enjoy that. I think last year I did a really good job of that, enjoying the matches, enjoying the media. I was loving every moment of it. I had all my friends and family watching. I think it’s another opportunity to go out and enjoy that. Every Wimbledon is a special one. It’s my favorite tournament. So I have to go out and prepare as well as I can, which I’ve done. I’m going to have to go out and execute and to take care of everything that I can, watch film of the guys I’m playing, execute my routines, play my best tennis. It’s a good opportunity and a good test for me. I love tests like that. I’m really looking forward to it.”
It will be important for the Brit to maintain that excitement and belief throughout the tournament if he wants to repeat last year’s success. First up for Norrie is aggressive Czech Republican Tomas Machac and although the Brit has never faced Machac, he had nothing but positive things to say about his opponent’s game.
“I never played him before. I’ve actually seen him. We played them in Davis Cup. He played Evo. He’s really a talented guy, Tomas,” Norrie recalled when Machac played Dan Evans.
“I’m watching some of his matches in the quallies. I think he’s a typical chip player, really good backhand. He’s young, up-and-coming. I think he’ll see it as a really good opportunity, playing a top player. I think he really likes playing in the spotlight. In the Davis Cup he played great with a lot of pressure on the line there.
“I think it’s going to be a tricky, tricky one. Yeah, I think it’s a good match. I know I’m going to get a lot of rhythm. I think it’s a good one for me. I’m looking forward to a good challenge. Just going to be a tough one and I have to play great.”
Kyrgios speaks about mental and physical struggles
As Norrie speaks confidently about his Wimbledon chances, the same can’t be said about last year’s finalist Nick Kyrgios. The Australian withdrew from the tournament on the morning of the first day.
Speaking about his physical problems, Kyrgios detailed his rehab in his time off and admits there are question marks heading into this year’s campaign.
“Yeah, I still think there’s some question marks, for sure. I mean, obviously five-set tennis is a completely different base altogether,” Kyrgios admitted in his press conference.
“I look at my preparations last year coming in, I probably had the most ideal preparation possible. It couldn’t be any different this year. Again, I’m not going to discredit the work I’ve put in for the last six months just trying to maintain my fitness, get back on court. I’ve been hitting with some really good players this week and my body is feeling okay. I’m going to take it one day at a time. I’m not going to look forward and put unfair expectations on myself. I’m just going to try to do everything I can, prepare, go out there and play some good tennis.
“Last year I felt like everything kind of came together for me. Finals of Wimbledon. Barely lost a match. Had the third best season on tour. Obviously my body was just crying out for some sort of rest. I needed to do what I had to do. Yeah, it’s been brutal. Yeah, it’s been hard.
“I guess it took me — I wasn’t allowed to pivot for a couple months after the surgery. I was not on a tennis court for ages. But the last 10 days, obviously I didn’t play Halle. I went to Mallorca. I was trying to play Mallorca. I would have loved to get another match under my belt before Wimbledon. My body wasn’t ready. I’ve been waking up, doing all the gym work required, rehab, treatment, been hitting.
“I hit with Jordan Thompson. Played a set, felt okay. Played another set with Cressy the day before. I’ve been trying to emulate a little bit of the match kind of load that I’m going to be having. Obviously you can’t do that with a Grand Slam. Last year first round I played Paul Jubb, and it went for four hours. I don’t know. Yeah, I’ve been doing as much as you possibly can a couple days before Wimbledon. You don’t want to over-push it either.”
Kyrios’ withdrawal hands last year’s quarter-finalist David Goffin a walkover in to the second round. However it’s also Kyrgios’ mental struggles that has made news as he admitted to self-harming during ‘Break Point’ the Netflix documentary.
Kyrgios admitted to self-harming during Wimbledon 2019 and revealed that he almost committed suicide. The Australian was asked about it during his press conference and Kyrgios admitted that the situation is a bit better now.
“Yeah, I mean, it took me seven, eight years to be able to just open up about that. I kept it very close to the chest for a long time. But I think it’s important. I think a lot of athletes kind of go through that. But just general people that go through the mental struggles, I feel like it’s a bit better now.
“Especially males felt like it was kind of hard to open up, admit they were struggling. Yeah, I feel very different to how I was feeling obviously. throughout that period in 2019. Yeah, look, I guess I feel great now. Obviously, yeah, it’s hard because I’m putting so much expectation on myself. Compared to that time, I’m feeling a lot better.”
Elena Rybakina and Carlos Alcaraz deny feeling pressure
On Tuesday, all eyes will be on defending women’s singles champion Elena Rybakina and ATP world number one Carlos Alcaraz. Rybakina will begin her campaign against Shelby Rogers as she looks to defend the title she won last year.
However preparations could have been better with the Kazakh suffering from illness at Roland Garros. Speaking to the media Rybakina admits she could have had more preparation ahead of the tournament but is excited to revisit her title win last year.
“Of course, the preparation we did, I would say it was good, but still not the amount of hours and work we wanted to put in,” Rybakina admitted in her press conference.
“But overall I think we did maximum what we could. It wasn’t easy after French Open because it took me — I mean, one week I didn’t do anything, then slowly start. It’s been tough. I think that still it was a good preparation.
“Yeah, it’s going to be exciting for me. Yeah, to play now like first matches on big courts, it’s different for me. Also to come to the tournament as a defending champion, it’s something new, like new chapter. Hopefully I continue like this coming to the tournaments. But, well, the goal is the same. I would say that the atmosphere is always really nice on Centre Court, on big court. Yeah, I try to enjoy. Yeah, hopefully I’m going to win.
“The best memory I think is just the final, for sure, getting the trophy, the ceremony. Then we managed to stay maybe just one hour with the whole team to kind of celebrate. Yeah, I think overall is just these two weeks which I played. I’ve been here last year. It was amazing.”
As for Alcaraz he will begin against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy as he enters Wimbledon as world number one after winning Queen’s Club. Speaking ahead of his opening round clash Alcaraz said that he feels no pressure but is confident he can have a good tournament at Wimbledon.
“Well, honestly, I don’t feel too much pressure about being No. 1. I know what I have to do,” Alcaraz said.
“For me it’s to play, play my best, try to win tournaments. If I would not do that, for me it doesn’t matter. But I don’t think about being No. 1 too much. I’m trying to put out all that pressure.
“Well, yeah, I start Queen’s with no expectation to win Queen’s, and I won it. For me, I feel great playing such a great level. The confidence grew up a lot. Yeah, coming here to Wimbledon with a lot of confidence, thinking that I’m able to do a good results here. But obviously for me the main favorite is Djokovic. But my expectations are high. I think I will be able to put the pressure on the other players, even Djokovic as well. But all I can say is I feel with a lot of confidence and I feel ready to do good things here.”
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