Wimbledon 2017: The last 16 men, in their own words
No other Major enjoys a recuperative Middle Sunday to allow players, queuers and those battered grass courts time to rest
A still-baking Wimbledon Championship gears up for its busiest and most thrilling day, Manic Monday.
No other Major enjoys a recuperative Middle Sunday to allow players, queuers and those battered grass courts time to rest. But no other Major packs every fourth-round match, men and women, into a single show-stopping day.
No better time, then, to review who is left standing, with a few choice words from each of them.
Andy Murray, No1 seed and three-time defending champion, plays Benoit Paire, No46
Murray on being defending champion:
“Obviously a little bit more experience, a bit older now. Hopefully I’m able to deal with things better this time round. But, I mean, really once you get out there, I don’t feel like I’m coming in trying to defend something. I’m going out there trying to win Wimbledon again. I want to try to win the competition, you know… But I feel OK. You know, I’ve felt fairly calm the last few days.”
Paire on playing Murray:
“Maybe this year will be the same [that he does not play on No1 court]. So I hope so, because to play Murray on Centre Court will be a good experience. I think I can do something good against him.
I played against Murray in Monte-Carlo two years before, and it was one set and two breaks for me, and I lost the match in three sets. I think my game is good. I can do something good against him. If I play Murray, I’m going to be happy.”
Sam Querrey, No24 seed and last year’s quarter-finalist, plays Kevin Anderson, No42
Querrey on playing on grass:
“You know, grass is probably my favourite surface. Wimbledon is my favourite tournament. And for the first time in my career to kind of have back-to-back years where I have made the second week is exciting.”
Anderson, unseeded due to injury problems:
“2016 had its fair share of struggles, mainly from a body standpoint—I had to take a good four to six weeks off… I really felt as my career’s gone on, I’ve felt more and more comfortable on the grass. I think a lot of the parts of my game come up really nicely on the grass. I’ve played some good matches so far, my body feels healthy, feel like I’m playing good tennis.”
Rafael Nadal, No4 seed and two-time champion, plays Gilles Muller, No16 seed
Nadal on playing on grass:
“For me, at the end of the day, the only thing is the motivation that you have to do it. I always had the passion to try to be better player. Wimbledon is an event that is one of the most important events of the season. Is a very special event. My dream always was to play well here. I worked hard. I really respect a lot this event. I really wanted to play well here.
“But I tell you one thing, because the people sometimes forget, when I was 16 years old, I played the junior tournament here. I didn’t lose in the first round. I played the semi-finals, so I was not that bad on grass (smiling).”
Marin Cilic, No7 seed and three-time quarter-finalist, plays Roberto Bautista Agut No18 seed
Cilic on being a dark horse:
“I’m quite happy with position I’m in. Also with my own form… Obviously players like Roger, Rafa, they had great success this year. And Novak and Andy, you cannot ever rule them out of Grand Slams. They are always having that little bit extra pressure or spotlight on them.
“I know that even under pressure I was still performing really well and playing quite good in those critical moments and situations.”
Milos Raonic, No6 seed and runner-up last year, plays Alexander Zverev, No10 seed
Raonic on the big four:
“I think it’s the pursuit of excellence each and every day. I think that’s what those four guys have done better than everybody, ever in tennis. Despite how it could have been very discouraging for Novak being behind Roger and Rafa for so many years, then Andy the same thing, they just pursued excellence each and every day.
“That’s what I try to do. Hopefully my level keeps improving, and I keep playing important matches, learning from those important matches. These guys have an unmatched amount of experience in difficult moments… I’m not here waiting for anybody to play badly or not be who they once were. I’m just trying to be the best I can.”
Zverev, the youngest remaining man
“I think playing the second week is something very special. I think being in the fourth round is something very special. But I have got to look forward to the next match, try to prepare the best I can. I’m playing against Milos who I played in Rome already.
“His serve is something to start with (smiling). One of the best servers on tour right now.
Obviously big forehand, big game. I think the serve is going to be the shot that will give most players the most trouble.”
Roger Federer, No3 seed and seven-time champion, plays Grigor Dimitov, No13 seed and former semi-finalist
Dimitrov on middle Sunday:
“It’s amazing [to reach the second week]. I mean, I always like that feeling. Especially [Sunday] I think is going to be the best day, that Sunday just when everything is so calm. Yeah, it’s just us, the players. All you can hear is the hitting of the ball. You can just hear how the ball sits on the strings. You just hear that. Honestly, it’s a pretty special feeling. It puts a huge smile on my face. [To be in the second week], I really appreciate it. I cherish it. But my job is far from over.”
Federer on the over-30 vs the young pretenders:
“I mean, honestly, it’s been like this for a while now… Not just [Andy and Novak], but my generation of players, there’s still a ton, like Lopez who won in Queen’s, and Youzhny who gave Milos a run for the money. I came through the juniors with all these guys. It’s nice to see them still hanging on, still enjoying the tour, still being tough out there, making it difficult for the youngsters to break through.
“There is a bit of that clash right now, the young ones trying to push out, especially the 35-plus guys. But then there’s a strong, strong team as well around the generation of Rafa and Murray and Djokovic as well.”
Dominic Thiem, No8 seed, plays former finalist Tomas Berdych, No11 seed
Thiem on working to improve on grass:
“It’s still not my natural surface. But, of course, these victories give me a lot of confidence, also on this surface. For the first time in the [fourth] round of Wimbledon is also pretty special.
“Footwork, of course, is important. Then, of course, I cannot change my swings and everything, but I try to play with less spin, to come in a little bit more. I worked on my volleys. I didn’t work specifically on my grass court game. I think if I improve my game in general, it’s also going to improve on grass.”
Berdych on Middle Monday
“It’s the best day of tennis that you can see. I think if anybody ask me for a day that they want to go for the tennis, I’m saying it’s the second Monday of the Wimbledon, because exactly, you see men’s, women’s, you see last 16. So you see a lot of matches [even] on ground courts, you’re still going to see a great matchup. I think it’s the best day in tennis.”
Novak Djokovic, No2 seed and former champion, plays Adrian Mannarino, ranked 51
Djokovic on finding balance between on-court and off-court priorities:
“It’s a great opportunity, every single time you step on the court, to grow, to learn something more about yourself. I felt like in the last couple of years, I’ve managed to be conscious about it and learn about myself intrinsically so I can grow and be better and grow all the character features that I have, my strengths, and my flaws and kind of confront them…
“But generally in life, it’s important to have the right amount of adrenaline and things that make you happy. Most of the guys are very dynamic, have active personalities, lifestyles. It’s important to kind of balance that out, have downtime, peaceful time, otherwise you’re going to burn out.”