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They Said It: Fun Quotes from the 2009 US Open

Melanie Oudin reached the quarterfinals of the 2009 US Open.
Rafael Nadal in action during the 2009 US Open.
Novak Djokovic returns a shot during the 2009 US Open.

By Jeff Gold

Tennis players are among the most accessible athletes in the world. And tennis journalists across the world can come up with some of the most bizarre questions.

That combination led to some priceless moments in post-match media sessions at the 2009 US Open.

The second week of the tournament naturally becomes about the champions. But the first week is about the surprises of the tournament. American Jesse Witten, a qualifier, won two rounds before losing to Novak Djokovic, and enjoyed the experience.

Question: Was there like a best perk of playing in this tournament for you that you're going to miss, you know, back on the challengers?

JESSE WITTEN: The new laundry every day.

Question: That doesn't happen elsewhere?

JESSE WITTEN: I don't have to worry about conserving one shirt. I can just go through them and just throw them in the laundry bag. No, it's nice.

You get chauffeured around with the cars. Everything is nice here. This is the best tournament in the world. You can't beat this.

Question: May I ask (where you got) your shirt? I can't see a logo.

JESSE WITTEN: This is just a white T-shirt.

Question: It is?

JESSE WITTEN: Yeah. I bought this.

Question: Bought it like at Sports Authority or something?

JESSE WITTEN: This one? Somewhere in the mall. I think it was like 10 bucks, but it's comfortable. I go for comfort. Doesn't matter where it's from.

Lots of reporters' questions focused on Roger Federer and fatherhood. The all-time Grand Slam champion now has twin daughters. Apparently, he doesn’t do everything as well as he plays tennis.

Question: How are your diaper-duty-changing skills?

ROGER FEDERER: Thank God nobody is judging me on it, but I'm trying hard.

Federer, of course, isn’t the only new parent. Kim Clijsters’ run through the tournament just a year and a half after becoming a mother was inspiring, as well.

Question: What kind of things do you have to pack and do?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Obviously, there are a few more toys in the suitcase that we take onboard just to keep her entertained.

The enthusiasm of the fans is one of the great aspects of the Open, but some fans can get a bit carried away, like a fan who ran onto the court after Rafael Nadal’s win over Gael Monfils. Nadal took it in stride in typical style.

Question: What did you think when the man came out of the stands and came up to you?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, for me it wasn't the problem. The guy was really nice.

Question: Did he say anything?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yes. He was a great fan. He said, I love you, and he kiss me.

Nadal often entertained the crowd with his ability to juggle a tennis ball. Tennis players aren’t just great athletes; many are fans of other sports, as well, as we learned in this exchange with John Isner.

Question: Looking ahead to the indoor season, your biggest results have come in the States. How important is it for you to start getting big results overseas?

JOHN ISNER: Yeah, um, I've never been to Asia ever, so I'm going to have three weeks over there. It's going to be different. I like staying at home and watching football. But I've got to be over there and not watch football. It's going to stink.

Isner has one of the biggest serves on tour. Like many players, he goes through a routine of looking at a bunch of balls before deciding which to serve with. Does it make a difference? Well, that’s not entirely clear. Just ask Novak Djokovic.

Question: Most men's players, when you go to serve, you take three balls, reject one of them. How big a deal is it with the balls, and is part of it just a ritual or a superstition or a time killer?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't think it's a time killer. It's just some ritual that most of us guys have. Some look for more fluffy balls. Some look for more balls that are bald and new so you can have faster serve. You're just imagining things, obviously. So yeah, I mean, you try to take your time, a little focus, and I look for a faster ball.

Question: Do you think it makes a difference?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't think that much, but I'm convinced in my head that it does.

Djokovic doesn’t only serve well, he is also trying his hand at reporting, as we found out in this exchange with the loveable Marat Safin.

Question: Djokovic said yesterday you told him you were going to go and climb a mountain in South America. Is that right?

MARAT SAFIN: Djokovic has the breaking news, huh? I think he should stick to his tennis and keep his mind into tennis instead of giving up my private life.

Melanie Oudin’s run to the quarterfinals was one of the great stories of the tournament. Reporters wanted to find out about the other details of her life.

Question: Young girls watching you and looking up to you, they see you also as just a 17-year-old girl. So what things do you do outside of tennis that help you relax? Do you like going to concerts? Movies? What's on your iPod?

MELANIE OUDIN: I'm basically a normal 17-year-old kid. I still go to movies and go to the mall. Like to shop. Here we've seen a couple of plays. I just like going back and watching TV. Playing -- I have a Wii at my house. I love playing that.

Just different things, like board games and cards with my grandma. I mean, I just love doing all of that stuff, so basically I'm just a normal kid.

 
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