Thursday, 20 January 2011

Australian Open - post match interview - Ryan Sweeting

Q. What was it like being on the court with him?

RYAN SWEETING: Uhm, it was fast. You know, I didn't have much time to, you know, get into the match and get myself going. You know, if you leave anything hanging out there, he's gonna take advantage of it and run you from side to side.

I had to start off on my game, which I didn't. I tried to play aggressive, but he stepped in and hit some unbelievable shots.

Q. Been in a situation like that before, 15,000 people?

RYAN SWEETING: No, that's probably the biggest I ever played in front of, yeah. It was definitely a great experience. Definitely a little nerves at the beginning, for sure.

But, you know, I thought I competed well. I played as best as I could have today. I think I could have served a little bit better. But, you know, I felt like in order to win a point, I had to execute perfectly. And he didn't give me anything for free, which is tough. I'm used to that, playing these matches.

Q. Have you seen him play before?

RYAN SWEETING: Yeah, yeah.

Q. But never on the same court?

RYAN SWEETING: Never on the same court.

Q. Were you looking forward to it?

RYAN SWEETING: I definitely was. I was very excited. It's not every day you get to go head to head against the No. 1 player in the world, possibly one of the best to ever play the game.

So to be able to have that experience and go out there and, you know, show people what I could do was great.

Q. Tell us something about your background. Did you go to college?

RYAN SWEETING: Florida. I went to Florida for about eight months, University of Florida, then turned pro in 2007.

Q. Were you an All American?

RYAN SWEETING: No, I left too early.

Q. Will you tell the key difference between Rafael's game and the usual game?

RYAN SWEETING: The games of other players?

Q. Yes.

RYAN SWEETING: I think the difference is his ability to neutralize the ball. Against most players I'm used to playing, you know, if you get them outside the court and you hit a good shot, you know, they're either going to miss the next ball or they're going to give you a short ball and you can attack.

But with Rafa, you know, he's so fast and so strong that he gets there and he gets the ball back deep and you have to start all over again. You know, you have to win the point two or three times just in order to get a 15 Love.

That's the main difference. He's not going to give you anything for free. He's going to make you work from the first point to the last.

Q. It's possible a young Australian with a similar record to yourself will play him the next round. How do you approach it mentally?

RYAN SWEETING: Well, I don't know if my advice would be any good for anyone else going into the match. I mean, all I could say is how I went into it mentally. I mean, I went into it with nothing to lose. You know, I had no pressure on me. I told myself that all I could do was be aggressive. I can't leave anything hanging or he's going to take advantage of it. He's too good to just give unforced errors. You're not going to win the match by his mistakes; you're going to have to execute.

So the only advice I could give, you know, a younger player going out to play him on that big stage is to, you know, go for your shots. That's all you can do. You have to go for it. Even top 10 players, they have to go for it or they're not going to beat him.

Q. You talked about having to win three points to feel like you're 15 Love. How exhausting or stressful is it mentally?

RYAN SWEETING: Mentally it wears you down. I'm not used to it. I was struggling to win points on my serve. You know, every time he made an unforced error, which wasn't very often, I was very relieved and happy.

Mentally it was draining. It wore me physically. I'm breathing hard back there. I'm running, running, and running just to get a point in the game. It's something I'm not used to. That's why he's No. 1 in the world. He's really good at wearing out his opponents. Three out of five sets he's borderline unbeatable.

Q. Is there an aura that you get caught up in when you're playing an opponent like that? Do you find it more intimidating?

RYAN SWEETING: Rafa's got that edge I think. He's very intense on the court. He's gonna be focused every point. He's going to be bouncing up and down every point. He's going to try to beat you 6 Love, 6 Love, 6 Love. He's not going to give you anything for free.

Yeah, you know, I grew up watching him win slams, watching him go deep and win tournaments, playing unbelievable tennis, hitting unbelievable shots.

So to be on the other side of the net from him and having him hit those shots against me, it's intimidating for sure.

Q. Under these circumstances in Melbourne, who do you pick as the number one favorite for the tournament, him or Roger?

RYAN SWEETING: I mean, I think it's a little too early to tell. I think in every slam, you know, Roger and Rafa are the top two contenders. But, you know, it's a good field. I think there's a lot of people playing good tennis early in the season.

You know, I can speak firsthand that Rafa's hitting the ball big right now. He's hitting his forehand big. He's serving big. Roger was cruising last night against Simon and it ended up going five sets. You know, maybe that will work out for a positive for Roger. I don't know.

I mean, I always like to think that Roger and Rafa are going to be in the final. You never really know.

Q. Have you ever been on the court with anybody like that, that power and spin?

RYAN SWEETING: The closest was Verdasco probably. But, you know, Verdasco will give you, you know, the free points. He'll make some unforced errors. He'll throw in some doubles. His backhand isn't as good.

Yeah, I haven't played anyone nearly as good as Rafa ever.

Q. Where did you grow up?

RYAN SWEETING: I grew up in the Bahamas; moved to Florida when I was 12 years old.

Q. Where is your home now?

RYAN SWEETING: I'm training in Tampa, at Saddlebrook.

Q. You've been playing tennis pretty much all your life?

RYAN SWEETING: Seven years old, yep.

Q. How old are you?


Q. Are you making a living?

RYAN SWEETING: I am. I am (smiling).

Q. Pretty good to qualify here.

RYAN SWEETING: Yeah, it was good. Good start to the year definitely. I'm happy.

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