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March 8 - 21, 2021

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BNP Paribas Open Quotebook: On Sushi, In-N-Out and the Occasional Back Tattoo

by Richard Osborn

Tennis players say the darnedest things. Fortunately, we’re here to capture those he said/she said moments for posterity’s sake. looks back on a fortnight full of quips, quotes and quirks.

“Jeremy Chardy is my favorite player. I have a Jeremy Chardy back tattoo.” — Will Ferrell

“The one thing that nobody can take from you is your own belief.” — Grigor Dimitrov

“I feel like there is a new generation, and we’re trying to push through.” — Naomi Osaka

“I’ve been defending points for the last 20 years.” — Roger Federer

“My room for improvement is incredible.” — Serena Williams

“It’s been a catastrophe.” — Milos Raonic on his injury-plagued run over the past year

Venus Williams

“Anyone who gets used to losses should give up on life.” — Venus Williams

“My head was not ready to play.” — World No. 1 Simona Halep on her 6-3, 6-0 semifinal loss to Naomi Osaka

“We play old-school tennis.” — Barbora Strycova on her championship doubles partnership with Su-Wei Hsieh

“It felt like first match I ever played on the tour.” — Novak Djokovic after falling to Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel in the second round

“We are always unhappy. We are strong mentally.” — Daria Kasatkina on the Russian mindset

“I like it when it’s the unknown, even though it can be a bit scary.” — Roger Federer

“The game is always progressing, just like any other sport. It’s either keep up or get out, and I have decided to keep up and hopefully still be one of the people who’re changing the game.” — Venus Williams

“This whole process, honestly, amazes me that I still have my s— together, to be honest.” — Victoria Azarenka, who is embroiled in a custody battle with the father of her son, Leo

“This is the most amazing night of my life.” — Sachia Vickery after her second-round upset of Garbiñe Muguruza

Karolina Pliskova

“I’m not scared of those young girls, because I know my game. I know I can be solid. There is nothing that can surprise me.” — Karolina Pliskova

“To have the crowd supporting me — it’s like a dream.” — Taylor Fritz

“He’s a lot further along than where I was when I was his age by light years.” — Milos Raonic on 17-year-old countryman Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada

“It feels crazy. I mean, I’m still in shock. She’s the best player I have ever played, and it was the biggest court I have ever played on.” — Amanda Anisimova, 16, on her upset of Petra Kvitova

“I wouldn’t want you to write ‘Borna Coric is back.’ I’m not back yet.” — Semifinalist Borna Coric

“A lot of princesses, not a lot of queens.” — Mary Carillo on the rotating No. 1s atop the WTA rankings

“I never felt like the family was poor. I felt like we had everything. Money doesn’t matter for me. If we have one dollar or a million, I’m still going to have a smile on my face.” — Ernesto Escobedo

Roger Federer

“Don’t jinx it.” — Roger Federer on his spotless start in 2018

“I cannot believe what I’m doing in my ‘new career.’” — Juan Martin Del Potro on his post-surgery self

“When you decide on a shot, hit it. Don’t half commit to anything. Don’t think too much. Just play.” — Milos Raonic

“I have been coming here since I was eight years old, a young kid with so many dreams, you know, with curly hair, with a visor, walking the grounds. I mean, you just dream to play here. I have always dreamed about playing here, a match on center court.” — Ernesto Escobedo

“Novak has maybe the best footwork on hard courts we have ever seen.” — Roger Federer on Novak Djokovic

Daria Kasatkina

“I’m playing my best matches against the best players. But as I say, if you want to be on the top, you have to beat the top players. So quite a simple rule.” — Daria Kasatkina, who has defeated the last four reigning Grand Slam champions since September

“It’s always nice to watch them. I love the way that they are motivated and they are still playing at this age, Serena with the kid. So it’s a great thing what they do for sport, and it’s great that tennis has them.” — Simona Halep on Venus and Serena Williams

“I can change myself, but I cannot fire myself.” — Borna Coric, who replaced his entire team at the start of 2018

“I’ve got to adapt. Since I’m not the biggest guy and the strongest guy, I’ve got to use other assets of my game to compete. So that’s what I try to bring to the court, that versatility, that competitive spirit.” — Alex de Minaur

Simona Halep

“I’m the world No. 1 in this moment, but I just watched the best player in the world.” — Simona Halep after watching Venus and Serena Williams face off in the third round

“This wasn’t the real Novak we saw here.” — Roger Federer on five-time titlist Novak Djokovic, who dropped his second-round match to 109th-ranked Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel

“I have no idea when I see them.” — Simona Halep on whether she can tell twin sisters Karolina and Kristyna Pliskova apart

“He’s really an electric guy. You always know when he’s in the room, because he’s just laughing and talking, cracking jokes with everybody. That’s what makes him so unique.” — Taylor Fritz on Frances Tiafoe

“It’s great when you open the first page and you’re there. That’s a great thing. But with each spot you want to do more and more and more. That helps me to keep going with the same tempo that I’m in right now. I just go through my process every day — practice three to four hours, go to the gym. That’s my confidence right there. It’s not so much if I win matches or anything like that. It comes down to the process.” — Grigor Dimitrov on his No. 4 ranking

CoCo Vandeweghe

“It was really sick to have them there, and they were definitely celebrating what they have achieved, and to be an Olympian is something special. I can definitely relate to that. They’re icons. Any gold medalist is an icon. It’s something I want to be and I can look up to.” — CoCo Vandeweghe on meeting the gold-medal U.S. women’s Olympic hockey team in New York

“I don’t want people to think that I’m somebody really special, because I’m just a normal human who loves football, who loves good food. I’m just somebody who also plays tennis.” — Daria Kasatkina

“There are so many players that can be dangerous, that can be motivated and have a great day and face an opponent where maybe they don’t have a lot of pressure and play good. Maybe the top player exits early. And we have seen this so many times, and maybe today was a little bit like that.” — Garbiñe Muguruza after her upset loss to American Sachia Vickery

“It’s probably the stat that I’m most proud about in my tennis career is my third-set tiebreak records. It shows that I’m clutch.” — Taylor Fritz, who is now 11-1 in decisive set tiebreaks

“There has been a lot of new things in my life in the last few months on the tennis court, but also outside of the tennis courts. As a kid, it’s some things you’ve got to get used to, all the contracts and even the media and everything. It’s quite a learning process.” — 17-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada on his meteoric rise

“This is what I have been doing since I’m seven years old. This is my livelihood. It’s not just a fun game that you go out there and play. This is how I earn my living. This is how I live. So to be kind of taken away that for a reason that is out of your control is a little bit difficult to grasp.” — Victoria Azarenka

“I’m really embracing this environment, playing in front of a lot of people, being on a big stage. This is what we work so hard for.” — Danielle Collins, who reached the Round of 16

Juan Martin del Potro

“All my injuries are in the past, completely in the past, and I’m not thinking anymore about my old problems. That’s the way I look at life. Now I’m here just thinking in the present, looking forward to the future. I’m not thinking anymore about the bad moments in my tennis life.” — Juan Martin Del Potro

“Completely against it. I think it’s a way to ruin a competition with an amazing amount of history.” — Alex de Minaur on the ITF’s proposed changes to the Davis Cup format

“Longevity and dominance. They showed that. They had a massive arrival on the scene, a lot of buzz around them, and they lived up to the hype. Came out and crushed it…Being older than Serena, myself, it’s wonderful to see and I’m very happy for them, especially now watching Serena’s comeback since the baby. I think that’s going to be a huge story, maybe the story of the year.” — Roger Federer on Venus and Serena Williams

“God always challenges you when you expect it least. He always throws everything possible at you. I have experienced many times similar situations, so I know that there is always something good in it. You just need to try to set your mind at that frequency. There is a reason everything happens in life.” — Novak Djokovic

“The Djokovic I know is like the Djokovic I have seen on TV, and he never misses a ball. He puts the ball wherever he wants.” — Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel, who shocked five-time champ Novak Djokovic in the second round

“Now I’m 34 and I have to fight against players with 21, 22, 23 that are much younger. They have much less miles, kilometers in their legs. I just have to work really hard and keep that motivation high to be able to win matches.” — Fernando Verdasco


“When it comes to energy, it was one of the most powerful places that I have ever physically been in my life. The serenity of the place and connection with nature is quite outstanding. It was a wonderful experience.” — Novak Djokovic on visiting the Grand Canyon

“I think it’s only a matter of time to get where he deserves to be. If his body feels good, the tennis will come along and the confidence will come along too. But is not easy to deal with these kinds of frustrations after injuries or when you’re always the favorite to win a tournament, you come here and you lose in the first round. It’s not easy. But he’s strong enough to deal with that, and I love him and I want to see him in the top positions very soon.” — Juan Martin Del Potro on Novak Djokovic

“I’m just looking forward to putting my feet up and getting, like, a cheeseburger or something…Probably just go to In-N-Out, get, like, a double-double with, like, cheese fries or something. If you’re going to go bad, you might as well do it real bad. And probably a milkshake.” — Sloane Stephens after her loss to Daria Kasatkina

“It feels a little bit lonely, because there’s, like, nobody here. As it goes on, there is less players and stuff. It’s kind of cool, but also a little bit sad because then you’re not around the people that you talk to. But other than that, it’s cool. Because then, like, all the sushi — there is still a lot of sushi left.” — Naomi Osaka on what it was like to reach the final

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