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Henri Leconte NYC & US Open

Back to Paris

 

New York, it's Tuesday morning 8.30 o’clock. Slowly I wake up, I'll pack, and answer several phone interviews to Rafael Nadal 's victory over Novak Djokovic. The whole world wonders if he can beat the record set by Roger Federer, with 17 Grand Slams.

 

I think it's a bit early to talk about it. You have to wait and see. Let's stop speculating about everything and nothing ... This is my opinion!

 

While packing I realize that I have to buy another suitcase to bring home the gifts for my children. So downstairs to the hotel shop and get a new suitcase because mine is about to burst!

 

Now it's 12am and I get in the taxi to Kennedy Airport. Although I am early, my flight is at 16.00 h, but I love to have time. I check the shops at the airport to buy another bag and then go to the Air France lounge to write this blog.

 

I have to say that I’m very happy to come home to Levallois. To see my wife Florentine and my kids Jules, Ulysse and Marylou, my princess. I missed them a lot. Of course I also missed my ‚big ones’ Maxim and Luna.

 

Not to be there with the kids at the beginning of school was really something bigger. They were very nervous to see their friends again, and were wondering if they all would be in the same class. Huge excitement for them ... and unfortunately I missed all that and wasn’t there to share this important moment with them.

 

I have to admit that it was a great pleasure writing down my analyzes, experiences and feelings during the U.S. Open. It was the first time form e doing that but certainly not the last.

 

This daily exercise also helped me. I sort of looked in a mirror to write down my feelings, share my doubts and what moved me on the ATP World Tour.

 

At first I did not believe that I'd able to do that. Thanks to my friend Hervé who has pushed me to do so. It's great to write all that. It is a lot of work, but we will try to more of these things in the future – I hope at least ...

 

These reports not only appeared on my Facebook, but also in 3 languages (German, English, French) on my website www.Henri-Leconte.com.

 

I had a lot of fun reading your tweets and reactions. Also on my blog back. I was pleasantly surprised that many journalists read my blog, too. I understand this world a little better now. Thank you.

 

Perhaps there is a way for me to do someting like that on the radio?

 

With regard to Eurosport, it was a great adventure again. It was our first time with ‚Avantage Leconte’ at the U.S. Open. It worked very well with the whole production team, all took care for me and I want to thank them warmly.

 

A short message to one of you: ‚Hola Pedro’! He was very sure that Rafa would win the tournament.

 

I had a lot of fun commentating some matches with Bertrand Millard, including the match with Gael Monfils. But I regret not to have been able to commentate the men’s final with him. Maybe next time!

 

Next weekend I’ll meet my friends Mats Wilander, Mikael Pernfors and Pat Cash in Arcachon / France at the Legends Rendez -Vous (September 13-15). So, come to Arcachon for the weekend!

 

Then from September 25-27 I’ll be in Lyon at the Classic Tennis Tour with Yannick Noah, Mansour Bahrami and Fabrice Santoro.

 

That’s it so far, my last words from the U.S. Open.

 

Soon there will be more to tell ...

 

 

Au revoir!

 




Henri Leconte NYC & US Open

Flushing Meadows, Day 19. Men’s Final

 

It is very special to play the final on a Monday. Normally the final is played on Sunday. But due to the unsettled weather over the past five years, it is now played on Monday. Also this year the USTA decided to do it on Monday.

 

The atmosphere at the final is exceptional, even if you do not play yourself. Everyone can feel the pressure.

 

Look at this anthill, all around centre court it’s teeming with people. They are all there: sports stars, actors, politicians and the normal audience. It’s getting even more crowded. All of these people, the celebrities, the rich, the famous and the "tennis crazy" people eagerly await the final in the wonderful Arthur Ashe Stadium.

 

The taxi ride took me very long because of heavy traffic to Flushing Meadows. After my arrival I hurry up to the Eurosport club to see if everything is okay and if I need to prepare for any interviews. Over the past few days we’ve already prepared many features for the male finals. We are well prepared at Europsport, so now all of us can watch the final just like you do.

 

It will be fascinating to see how these two "grandes" will compete, just like every time. I certainly hope so! The weather conditions are good, it's not too hot, not too cold, but very windy that’s what the two need to consider in their play.

 

In the offices and newsrooms there is excitement everywhere. Everyone begins to pack his equipment, they want to be prepared to leave after the final as soon as possible.

 

Here we are at the Arthur Ashe Stadium (about 22,540 spectators), up to now the largest tennis stadium in the world. We welcome Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal!

 

The first set is impressive, Rafa has dominated and wins 6-2 over Novak. He beat Nole despite the wind and the enormous pressure.

 

The second set begins with incredible rallies. No one is giving in. Rafa with his incredible backhand. The pressure is increasing in the second set with a more aggressive Novak. 54 incredible rallies lead to 3-2. Novak leads 4-2. Then 4-3, 5-3. He wins his serve, the the first set is done, 6-3.

 

It’s getting cooler. Everyone in the stadium now needs a jacket or sweater. Completely different weather compared to the last few days. And with the wind, really not easy to play.

 

So Novak has equalised. I feel like Gad Elmaleh used to say in his comedy "Just a small coffee". I am privileged to be here, but also frustrated because I’m watching this match like you on Eurosport, but I would just love to comment it live on TV.

 

The pressure on Rafa is getting bigger. Nole uses his chances and breaks Rafas serve a few times. But I'm sure Rafa will not give up. The bull will respond. Nole is in the lead now with 2-0 ...

 

Both hit the ball harder and harder. You might think it's table tennis, they play so fast! The rallies are getting longer and longer and nobody makes a mistake. How are they doing that? It 's crazy, like in a bullfight without the ‚Olééééééé’! The crowd is screaming! An atmosphere you only get in the United States.

 

Rafa finally is coming back and plays much better. He defends every ball like a lion, and leads 4-3. Now Nole again. I follow everything exactly and I'm out of breath – what a game! 4-4. Nole had three break points. Rafa plays an ace at 30-40 with 201 km/h ... incredible.

 

Rafa will not let go! What a wonderful lesson for all young people who watch this match. Never give up, always believe in yourself no matter what and always stay focused. Every day we can learn from these two extraordinary champions!

 

It goes on and on, a very close match! Nole leads 30-0 and loses the set 6-4 in the end. Rafa is strong. Nole probably thought this could be a more easy set. But no ... Rafa now leads by two sets after 2 hours and 45 minutes.

 

Beginning of the fourth set. I'm at Eurosport with my friend Mats Wilander. We discuss the match and we both believe that Rafa will win in four sets.

 

Rafa wins his first match and breaks Noles serve. Rafa is over the moon, leads 3-0! Both fight even more, they play better and better. Very impressive, but Rafa is unbeatable. He leads 4-1. Then Nole unfortunately loses his serve and makes stupid mistakes. Nadal leads 5-1. The end seems to be near and Rafa tries to win his serve. 15-15, then 30-15 with an ace. Then 40-15 – can he end it now? And the ball was called good!

 

Rafael Nadal has won his second U.S. Open title. Bravo, Bravo, Bravo! An extraordinary champion.

 

What a great success for Rafael after these difficult times and his knee problems. Once again it was impressive to see who is physically tougher to win the match. I have no words to express my deepest respect. Rafael Nadal is so strong. Soon he will be number 1 in the world, I 'm sure.

 

The tournament is over and I hope that I was able to give you some inside views oft he tournament, my words and feelings in detail. It was a great pleasure for me. Upon my return, I'll do an analysis of the tournament for you.

 

 

Thank you very much, see you!

Yours, Henri

 




Henri Leconte NYC & US Open

The Women's Final

 

The most important thing at the end is the final. Don’t miss it. The final, which inspires and at the same time also can cause suffering ... the culmination of a tournament! On this day you have to be extremely strong mentally and physically at all times in order to win.

 

All or nothing, all the previous matches do not count. You need to win this final. The second place doesn’t count! You have to win the finals, win, win.

 

Probably that’s exactly what Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka have in their mind now.

 

In a few hours they will play strong and determined. You must not falter, need to stay focused on the game. Don’t allow your emotions to rule yourself. In short, they have to play their best tennis.

 

Both players know each other very well. They played against each other last year in Flushing Meadows, too. It was a very tight match, Serena has won. Recently, they met in Cincinnati. Victoria won in three sets, the third with 7-6.

 

But today is different. A much greater challenge. It's the U.S. Open and the pressure is enormous. There is a great match to come, as always with these two players.

 

They won’t give away anything for free, both are great fighters although their ‚mode of warfare’ is not so great. But in my opinion this is more true for Victoria because she has not played her best tennis at the U.S. Open. But she has won all her matches, which means that she plays with a lot of brains and intense! The complete opposite of Serena who played a very impressive tournament so far.

 

Ultimately, they are the two best players in the world and will meet in the final. The rule has been complied.

 

So ladies, have fun, fight, play the dream tennis as always when you meet each other and may the best win!

 

Until tomorrow!

 




Henri Leconte NYC & US Open

Semifinals

 

Mens semifinals day at the last Grand Slam tournament of the year has come. The players face many questions. How do you cope with this situation and how to behave on court? Relaxed, but also confident and determined, knowing clearly what to do, but also ignoring things and finally, how to enjoy the moment and let go? Also Richard Gasquet will ask these questions.

 

In my careeer I was also lucky enough to be in the semifinals of a Grand Slam and really enjoyed it. Back in 1988 against Swedish Jonas Svensson. I’ve played a perfect match that day, attacked constantly and took a lot of risks. I was very calm, had my tactics and even if the world would have collapsed, it wouldn’t have changed one thing. I was so focused. I had to "conquer", I knew that this was my day, my match and especially my chance to reach the final of Roland Garros!

 

As every day I prepared myself with a great warm-up at the Racing Club de France not far from Roland Garros. A little warm up with my coach Wojtek Fibak. He was the coach of Ivan Lendl in the 80’s. Well, so I made it to the Roland Garros semifinals.

A lot of people were already there at Roland Garros when I’ve arrived. I went into the locker room to change, prepare my rackets and go through the final instructions with my coach. The things he said were very clear: attack, take control of the game from the first to the last point knowing that you win points even if you make a couple of mistakes. 

 

The aim was to behave like in a boxing fight, to act and react when needed, without too much thinking, to accept the challenge of the game and then do everything to win.

 

I still remember those intense moments. This incredible feeling almost as if you’re  dazed. Like you could predict what is going to happen. Everything seems to be simple, but incredible. Reminds me of the 1991 Davis Cup match against Pete Sampras in Lyon. But that's another story ...

 

In this semi-final I was able to use all my resources to the point and always had exactly the right solution, it was incredible. I won the match and suddenly found myself in the final against Mats Wilander (the first semi-final Novak Djokovic against Stanislas Wawrinka is in progress, by the way). It was fabulous. Despite my loss in the final we are good friends now working together at Eurosport.

 

After 4 hours and 9 minutes the match of Novak Djokovic against Stanislas Wawrinka comes to an end, Novak wins in 5 sets. A crazy match, more intense than at the Australian Open. Hope this has no effect on the play of Richard Gasquet  who is still waiting in the player area.

 

The match begins, unfortunately I don’t comment it on Eurosport.

 

At the beginning Richard seems to be very nervous. But this is normal, he tries to play aggressively and harass Rafa. It is interesting that he goes to the net a lot more and tries his luck there. This is very positive, also for the future.

 

I admire the mental strength of Richard. Although he lost the first set he brings back the serve of Rafa. But as usual Rafa is getting stronger and stronger and wins 7-6. Rafa outplayed him in the third set, Richard had no more strength.

 

Richard can be very proud of this tournament. He achieved everything and has shown to the other players that he’s become much stronger and one can count on him in the future.

 

Richard, keep it up and keep on fighting on as you've shown, that's the important thing.

 

Bravo!

 

 

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