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Interview with Caroline Wozniacki; Interview with Fred Stolle

Aired January 26, 2012 - 05:30   ET


PAT CASH, HOST: Welcome to Open Court. It's summer in Australia. And for me, it's always been Christmas with the family, New Years with friends, and a January of sizzling hot tennis courts.

In a sports mad country, for this month only tennis takes center stage.

Coming up on the show.

Mixed doubles return to the Olympics this year, but are the players prepared?

Have you played mixed doubles?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my second time.

CASH: You're second time.

Caroline Wozniacki, the Danish great faces her most challenging year yet.

A walk down memory lane with an Aussie great.

Are you going to still be alive when we have an Australian Open champion? Am I still going to be alive?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What time is it?

CASH: This month, we're coming to me from the Hopman Cup in Perth. The tournament is very near and dear to my heart. And I'll tell you, there's no other tournament like it on the circuit. It's named after Australia's legendary Davis Cup captain Harry Hopman. Not only does it attract the top players in the world, but it challenges them to pair up together and play mixed doubles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love mixed doubles. It doesn't matter whether you're good or bad, you can play it.

CASH: Petra Kvitova, Thomas Berdych, Carolina Wozniacki, Li Na. Top players from all over the world travel to western Australia to ring in the New Year. The Hopman Cup is a classic warm-up for the Australian Open. Eight countries are represented by male and female players.

At major tournaments, mixed doubles can be an afterthought, but at the Hopman Cup it takes center stage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ah, yes. Good hands from Gasquet.

CASH: And with mixed doubles being reintroduced as an Olympic sport this year, it's an opportunity for these partnerships to test their on court chemistry.

The idea for the Hopman Cup started during a chat with my Aussie mates Charlie Franco (ph) and Paul McNamee, both entertaining players in their day.

25 years ago, you and I and Charlie Franco (ph) sat down and came up with some wacky concept called the Hopman Cup. I didn't think it was going to work. I thought mixed doubles, no chance. Yet here we are 24 years later and it's an amazing success.

PAUL MCNAMEE, FORMER TENNIS STAR: Yes, of course, just a (inaudible) idea. We'd had a few beers and you just shoot the breeze. And the (inaudible) team event for men and women. And I was crazy enough to think that I could run it. Charlie, you know, he came up with the first idea in the conversation. And you were crazy enough to say that you'd play it if we ever got it off the ground.

But then Charlie was bugging me for days and weeks, come on Mac, we've got to do this. And I said, Charlie, I'm still playing. I'm in a -- you know, I've got a couple of years of tennis in me before I retire.

So it really wasn't until I finished and you beat up on me at Wimbledon then I thought it was time to retire and we gave it a crack.

CASH: Why the Hopman Cup?

MCNAMEE: We thought what a fitting name and a dedication to a great Australian who had captained Australia to 16 Davis Cup victories in 19 years. And was an international person. You know, he obviously grew up in Australia and captained Australia, but he spent so much of his later years in the United States through the wonderful tennis academy which many people have followed.

CASH: Harry Hopman's widow, Lucy, is now 91-years-old. The tennis lover travels from Florida to west Australia every year to watch courtside.

LUCY HOPMAN, HARRY HOPMAN'S WIDOW: All I can say is with any luck, and I always have been lucky, I'll see you next year.

CASH: There have been some interesting pairings. Some of these guys don't play mixed doubles and yet the guys (inaudible) they enjoy it.

MCNAMEE: I think it's an interesting dynamic, obviously, just the dynamic of having men and women play on the same court together. This is one of the rare occasions in sport where women are actually can compete head to head with men. That's really part of the magic of this tournament. It doesn't happen for the top players at grand slams, so the fact that we're able to get them together -- there's no choice.

The chemistry, as we know, between men and women is the case. It's no different on the tennis court.

CASH: So in mixed doubles, do the guys really hit the ball hard at the girls? I mean, do they serve flat out? Or do you find they're a bit more gentlemanly?

MCNAMEE: When it's live, if you back off you lose. It's as simple as that.

FERNANDO VERDASCO, TENNIS PLAYER: I always serve hard. I'm sorry, you know, for the woman, but I need to go 100 percent and try to win. Of course, I don't serve to the body. I don't want to hurt them. But we just try 100 percent every point.

ANABEL MEDINA GARRIGUES, TEAM SPAIN: Think he has to serve, like, more to the -- yeah -- and (inaudible) is more (inaudible)

MARDY FISH, TEAM USA: We go hard. It doesn't look like it from my point of view, but she's trying to play the number one and number two girls in the world in singles and I've had to play them in mixed doubles and we lost. So they're a lot better than I am.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS, TEAM USA: We had fun today. I think the last couple of matches, actually, we've been really tired...

FISH: ...we're going to be tired after this.


CASH: After 24 years you must have seen some serious moments. What are your highlights?

MCNAMEE: Federer and Hingis winning the tournament.

CASH: That's not a bad seed.

MCNAMEE: You can see just so young. Look at his hairdoo, the whole thing.

Hingis was already a champion. Roger Federer was a young guy, had never won a tournament before and came to win his first professional tournament here in Perth at the Hopman Cup with Hingis. She wasn't just helping him out on the court. I thought they had a pretty good rapport. And Roger was scared of Martina Hingis. I think he actually was scared that she might really like him, you know, whatever. It was really fascinating seeing them.

But that was a big highlight.

CASH: It was Cashy playing in the first year.


CASH: Me accidentally hitting Stephi Graf in the stomach with a...


CASH: Because Stephi and I are actually good friends. So I thought I'd just sort of scare her a little bit, run around and smack a forehand near her somewhere.

MCNAMEE: And bing, your forehand 100 percent sure where it was going.

CASH: It could have gone anywhere else.


CASH: ...million miles and hour.

MCNAMEE: Backhand...


CASH: I didn't win many fans that day.

MCNAMEE: You were ruthless, mate. You were ruthless.


CASH: Mixed doubles is what makes this tournament unique. It's very rare that you have men and women at a top level playing against each other in an international competition. Today I'm lucky enough to be paired up with Bethanie Mattek-Sands from the USA against Team Bulgaria


CASH: And...


CASH: And do you play mixed doubles?

DIMITROV: This is my second time.

CASH: Second time.


CASH: (inaudible) mixed doubles, you know we used to have a go at the girls. You know, if the ball was short we'd used to -- you know, we used to hit the ball straight at them.

DIMITROV: I can't do that.

CASH: You can't hit to the girls? You can't try and hit the ball hard?

MATTEK-SANDS: I think that's kind of sweet. If you make a girl cry, it's not...


CASH: Why don't we play a little bit. And you tell me what I'm doing wrong. Come on. Let's got. Come on. Come on.

We know Grigor is a nice guy, but I want you to try and hit him, OK?

Here we go.

Get him. Hit him! Get him! Get him! Yes!

Is that legal? I think it's legal. We'll count it.

What are you doing?


CASH: That was my side of the court. That was my...oh.

MATTEK-SANDS: I went like this, and then like this.

DIMITROV: They don't speaking the same language.

CASH: Why don't we do the signals again?

Although, ma'am, you've got to say it at least three times -- two or three times for me to understand it.

What on earth does that mean?

You have to have signals in my day. What does that mean? Give me a (inaudible) signal. Right.

That means. That means, go that way, yeah.

MATTEK-SANDS: This is wide.

CASH: Yep.

MATTEK-SANDS: This is body.

CASH: That doesn't look like body, looks like something rude scene to me, but.

So what about you guys? Do you do signals?

DIMITROV: I did once, yesterday.

PIRONKOVA: Yeah, he did...

DIMITROV: But she was laughing at me so...

CASH: If the ball is in the air, make it after the smash, who should take that? They guy or the girl?

MATTEK-SANDS: Communication is huge in doubles and mixed doubles. So if the guy calls it first and even if it's on my side, I mean, I'll duck.

CASH: Let's do some volleys at the net and I'll work out which ones I'm supposed to take and which ones I'm not supposed to take.


CASH: That was awful. That was all my fault, basically. I was too slow.

MATTEK-SANDS: Exactly. He needs to let me go, OK, got it.

Bring it on.

PIRONKOVA: You are going to hit the ball...

CASH: Oh, I wasn't ready.

Grigor, you're supposed to serve as hard as you can to the women. Are you going to do that?

Come on, smarty pants. Big one.

Holy smoke.

Now is that fair?

MATTEK-SANDS: That's fair.

CASH: OK. Last point.

Here we go, match point.

Thanks partner.

MATTEK-SANDS: That's generally not a strategy I've seen in doubles, but it worked.

CASH: Thanks very much. Good luck to you guys. Thanks very much for giving me some tips on mixed doubles. Certainly need it.

It's time to take a short break, but when we return, one of the most determined players on the tour: my interview with Caroline Wozniacki.


CASH: Caroline Wozniacki, she finished 2010 and 2011 ranked number one in the world. Now the Danish star is even more determined than ever to win her first grand slam.

I caught up with Caroline from the sidelines of the Hopman Cup.

I saw you playing in a pre-Wimbledon tour. You are a skinny, little Danish girl and somebody said to me, have a look at this girl. She's really good. She's just won junior Wimbledon, have a look at her.

You've had a great run, but it's also really tough work, isn't it?

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI, TENNIS PLAYER: It is, yeah. I remember we played in Liverpool I was thinking (inaudible) in the park and on the grass courts there and (inaudible) I was just dreaming about what I hoped to achieve one day. And everything has just gone so fast.

I mean, I'm (inaudible) brother played as well and my mom plays volleyball, so sport was always in my genes. They like to play tennis once and a while for fun, but no one wanted to play with me, because I wasn't good enough so they always put me in the umpire's chair. And no one really cared about me at that point.

I thought, OK, I'm stubborn so I always was like, OK, take the rest of the balls and started to hit it against the wall for three or four hours every day. Just I wanted to show them up.

PATRIK WOZNIACKI, CAROLINE'S BROTHER: Once she got better, we played mixed doubles, Caroline and I, against our parents. And if we won, we won an ice cream. We wanted ice cream, so the competition element was in the game already from a young age.

We were very motivated for winning our matches.

C. WOZNIACKI: One day my dad would say, OK, if you want to play tennis I can help you out. And that's how it started. And I had a goal. I wanted to beat my mom first. And my parents and my brother. And that was the ultimate goal.

P. WOZNIACKI: I remember the first time she beat me at tennis. She was 10 maybe, I was 14. Four years is a lot between a girl and a boy, you know, and I was winning the championship at the club I was playing in at 14. So I was the best boy, you know. And she won against me and I broke the racket. Yeah, tried to hide it. I didn't want to show my dad that I broke the racket.

C. WOZNIACKI: I have a very close relationship with my parents. My dad has always been my coach. And I've spent so much time with him. So he's one of my best friends. And I can talk to him about everything.

My mom was always the support. I can always go out to her and she'll always find the positive in things.

And then I have my brother who is just so supportive. And he's just the crazy one.

CASH: You're a super star. And there's cameras following you everywhere. You have a celebrity boyfriend. Super star sportsman himself. Do you have any time for yourself?

C. WOZNIACKI: You always try to get some time for yourself. And I think that's important. And I still do the same things I always would do. I mean, if there is a camera or someone making a picture or just do the things you always want to do, because if you start thinking about everything then you know start changing the things you would do. And that's not the life you want to live.

So I'm just enjoying what I'm doing on the court. And if that means that there is a camera or two when I arrive or if I go somewhere, I mean, I just -- I see that as a positive thing. It means that someone (inaudible). It would be worse if no one cares.

CASH: It must be tough to keep a relationship going too. You're on the other side of the world. I mean, I know I knew too well, it's not easy to keep a long distance relationships going.

C. WOZNIACKI: Yeah, but it's actually worked well. I mean, (inaudible) little bit for two weeks. And he was there. And then I went to Thailand and he was there again.

When we're in Dubai, (inaudible) the first time. And we got to kiss the dolphins actually, to be honest. It was supposed to be some on our cheek, but I didn't understand that part. So I actually just kissed it right on the mouth.

I just tweeted I don't think Rory will like this too much.

CASH: And how's your golf game, by the way? Hey, can I get any tips?

C. WOZNIACKI: I'm probably not the best person to ask for tips, but I'm trying to get better myself.

CASH: He's been very complementary about you saying how hard you work. Have you thought about getting him fitter, perhaps? Does he need to be fitter?

C. WOZNIACKI: He actually love the gym. And he is in the gym maybe twice a day every day. So when I had my offseason, I said OK, no gym, no nothing. I'll just relax. But he was going to the gym after his golf all the time. I felt bad. So he made me actually go to the gym.

CASH: Oh, there you go.

C. WOZNIACKI: So, yeah, he's been good. Good for me. And I hope that I'd been good for him.

CASH: You're obviously looking for -- to do even better this year. You've had a great couple of years at number one. But you don't have a grand slam. What is it going to take for you to get that next step?

C. WOZNIACKI: Yeah, my dream was always when I was a little girl to be number one and to win grand slams as the number one. Now it's two years in a row. I finished number one two years in a row. And definitely a grand slam would be the next goal. And I've beaten all the players before so I know I can do it.

CASH: Thank very much for spending some time with us. And good luck in this year 2012.

C. WOZNIACKI: Thank you.

And if you're commentating me I hope you are nice to me.

CASH: I'm always nice.

Still to come, how much longer do we have to wait for the next Australian tennis star? Aussie legend Fred Stolle joins me next.


CASH: Welcome back to Open Court. We're here in Perth at the Hopman Cup. And I've spending a fair bit of time in the commentating box with Aussie tennis legend Fred Stolle.

FRED STOLLE, TENNIS LEGEND: Cash, I've enjoyed the commentary, mate. But have a go at that chair. You're (inaudible) get up a little bit higher. I don't like that.

CASH: This is the sort of stuff I've got to put with (inaudible).

(inaudible) time in the box.

Why don't we go outside for a bit of fresh air.

STOLLE: Have a breather, yeah.

CASH: Fred, tell me how many grand slams you won?

STOLLE: Well, officially 18. A couple of singles and the rest of them doubles and mixed doubles.

But you know maybe 19, because there was a final thrown in there that wasn't completed. So some guys claim that. I didn't claim that. If I claimed it 19.

CASH: 19, that's not bad at all.

ANNOUNCER: It's an all Australian finale at Wimbledon in the men's singles. It's a slam bang match with both men fighting for every tally.

CASH: You had a couple finals at the U.S. Open. You won '66. And you were runner up in '64. You must have been a young guy in '64.

STOLLE: '64 -- again I played Roy Emerson. Roy beat me in five grand slam finals in '64. U.S. Open happened to be one of them. And I know you've got some footage of that, but I'm not going to talk about that. I want to talk about beating Nucome (ph) in '66.

CASH: Sorry, I don't think we have the footage for that one.

STOLLE: Neither does (inaudible).


ANNOUNCER: Australia now holds the David Cup for the third year running.

CASH: You got to play in the Davis Cup. I mean, Australia has got a rich history at the Davis Cup. Of course, we had so many Davis Cup victory, but there was always a big thing for you to play Davis Cup.

STOLLE: Well, I think most Australians -- I would guess would be the same for you. I think to represent your country and win Davis Cup was more than any of the personal things that you ever did. It was tough for me to get on the team. I lost in the Wimbledon final in '63. And Hop told me that I was stale. So that's the way of telling me I was off the team that year.

CASH: Harry Hopman is a legendary Davis Cup captain. Was he as tough as they all said he was. I got a chance to play -- I had a little workout with him when I was a kid and he ran me all over the court. And they said, oh, you got off light. He was tough.

STOLLE: You did get off light, believe me. He was very, very tough.

And -- but you know he was the same with everybody. He was the same with everybody. But in '61 where I was the fourth man team where he got up and said I'd never play Davis Cup because I wasn't good enough, but we had a team then of Labor (ph), Emerson, and Frazier (ph). And he made that announcement in Melbourne in front at the Town Hall there. So I felt about as big as that.

But anyway, after we beat Italy in that challenge round then -- as the challenge round was known, then. And I was going to go out to dinner with Emma and Joy and Pat and myself and he said, no, Fred you're going to the umpire's dinner.

So I went to the umpire's dinner.

CASH: You did what you were told.

STOLLE: I did what I was told.

CASH: Have you seen tennis developed in Australia? I mean, it's different now than it was back then.

STOLLE: Well, I think it became different when Harry left, when Hop left and went to the states. Then you played under Neil Frazier and he was the Davis Cup captain for many, many years. Then when (inaudible) tennis came about, the players and started then make their voices heard and they controlled the game.

Now you tell the federation -- well, I'm not playing Davis Cup. Well, in our days, hey, you just wanted to do everything to play Davis Cup because it was the amateur stuff. But as the money has come into the game, things changed.

CASH: We haven't had an Australian Open winner -- I say we as in Australia haven't had an Australian Open winner for a long time, since Mark Edmonton (ph).

STOLLE: Yeah, well that was a bit of a surprise too. Who'd he beat in the final? John Nucome (ph) I think. I don't think Nuke remembers that, does he?

CASH: I think it was day winder than it was here today. I always thought it was Australian tradition to be tough, and never give up. You know, fight the whole way through to the end. Austrlian players are a bit soft now?

STOLLE: I don't think know -- well Lleyton is -- you can't say Lleyton is soft. But I think some of the juniors maybe. I think some of the fellows coming through here from what I get from the coaches and so forth who are looking after them now they're getting a little bit -- as we say, a little bit too much too soon.

Yeah, we always fought to get into the top 10. You wanted to be the best. You wanted to get into the top 10. Today, I think they're pretty complacent if they're making a good living. And that I'd like to see change. And hopefully in the next four or five years it does change for Australian tennis, because as you mentioned we haven't had an Aussie champion and it's right now it's pretty much over the horizon isn't it?

CASH: Are you going to still be alive when we have an Australian Open champion?

Am I going to still be alive?

STOLLE: What time is it?

CASH: Well, Fred, thanks very much, mate.

STOLLE: Thanks Cashy. It's always a pleasure, mate.

CASH: A real honor to speak to one of the legends of Australian Tennis.

STOLLE: Great working with you on the TV.

CASH: Thanks very much for joining us on this show from my home country of Australia. Next month, Open Court travels to India. Until then, good bye.