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January 13, 2014

Matthew Ebden


M. EBDEN/N. Mahut
6‑3, 7‑5, 4‑6, 0‑6, 6‑3

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  You jumped out of the blocks pretty quickly.  But three and four, what happened there?
MATTHEW EBDEN:  Yeah, first couple sets was good.  I was able to play how I wanted to play.  Things I've been working on, they were really good out there.  The third set, little bit of a drop I guess in my energy and intensity.  Obviously, a guy like, that a good player, he's going to step up and start crushing the ball.  He probably went 30, 40 minutes and made less than three or four errors.  He really lifted his game.  I knew that was going to happen.
I tried to be a bit more aggressive.  I had a breakpoint back at 5‑4 late in the third set, but he played a good game to get out of it.
Physically I wasn't so good in three or four.  The last three or four weeks I had a bit of an accident with my ankle, so the last three or four weeks I wasn't able to train much.  I just wanted to be fit and ready to play here.  I'm just glad I was able to get some lift from the crowd in the end and pull it out.

Q.  What was the mindset at 2‑All in the fifth set?
MATTHEW EBDEN:  Two sets all.  Took a little break, went off the court, toilet break, changed my shirt, tried to cool down a bit and get physically ready so I could try and play a good fifth.
I guess in the fourth, by the time he had a couple of breaks, probably wasn't worth me trying to put everything into trying to come back from 5‑4 down.  I conserved a bit of energy and knew I would put everything towards the fifth.
Yeah, the crowd really lifted me.  They lifted my spirits.  They gave me energy, you know, stuff that I didn't have.  You know, that was I think the difference for me.

Q.  Can you tell us a bit more about the crowd.
MATTHEW EBDEN:  Yeah, it was insane.  The first five minutes, the warmup, the Fanatics, they had everybody on their feet clapping and cheering.  I had to nod, too good, just acknowledging that.  You got however many thousand people cheering.  From the word 'go' that definitely got me pumped up.
Yeah, that was an incredible crowd.  That was probably the best crowd I ever had, right through till the end.

Q.  You started to use them a little bit in the fifth set as well.
MATTHEW EBDEN:  Absolutely, yeah.  I'm sort of learning a little bit how to do it.  Had a couple tough five‑set losses here in the last couple years.  But last year I had a tough five‑set doubles in Davis Cup with Lleyton that we won.  I learned a few little things from him, you know, just how we turned that and won that fifth set.  I was able to be a bit more experienced today, I guess, yeah, and really use the crowd to my advantage, yeah, to pull out the win.

Q.  Can you talk about what Lleyton told you?
MATTHEW EBDEN:  Yeah, it wasn't so much what he told me as what he showed me.  It was a Davis Cup against Uzbekistan last year.  It was one rubber all.  We had a very important doubles.  We played Istomin and Dustov.  We were in the fifth.  Lifted to another gear, started to get really pumped up.
In the past when I've gotten into the fifth, I've been a bit hanging my head a little bit, being negative, not feeling so great because I've been up and then the guys have came back on me.
But I was determined.  I got up in the set which was important.  I held for 1‑Love.  Started pumping myself up.  Decided to just use the crowd a little bit, really get into it.  I knew I had to make some shots and serve well, of course, in the fifth because he was playing really well for three and four.
Yeah, just being able to use the crowd, I was just in the moment, just trying to do everything I can.  You know, came up with a few good winners when I needed to.  That's what it takes.  He's a top‑40 player.  No one's going to give you the match.  You got to play, you know, some good points and some good tennis to win those matches.  Hopefully I've learnt how to do it.

Q.  Feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders?
MATTHEW EBDEN:  Yeah, definitely.  Never a good feeling playing two good sets, not feeling physically great, he coming back and playing so well.  Everywhere I hit the ball he's crushing winners.  Serving better.  My level dropped a little.  It wasn't as if I missed tons of balls.  He started playing really good.
I just really didn't want that to happen again.  I was just determined to try to do something a little different.  Yeah, I guess I did, yeah.

Q.  Two sets all, hard not to think about the past with having them slip?
MATTHEW EBDEN:  Yeah, of course, those thoughts are there.  At the same time the guy I lost to was in the second round for a place in the third round, Nishikori is 12 in the world or something.
Youzhny, as well, he's been top 10 and he's still top 20.  That was last year, and I even came back in the fourth set, had a match point, didn't get it.  Lost in five.  These guys are very good players who I probably should have beaten.
I guess I've tried to look at it in a positive light and take confidence from it knowing that in Grand Slams I've had these guys on the ropes and probably could have gotten over the line, you know, very, very closely.
So it's part of the learning experience.  Grand Slams don't come around all that often.  You don't get that many times to get practice or experience.  Only four times a year you get to play the slams, and they're best‑of‑five sets.  Obviously Davis Cup as well.
I try to think a little bit about the Davis Cup matches we've had and, yeah, just found a little bit of extra inspiration, I guess.  Yeah, I think the crowd was incredible.  I think without them, I might have been struggling out there.

Q.  What did you draw on physically and mentally in the fifth set?
MATTHEW EBDEN:  Yeah, you know, I know that last year I've become a lot better physically.  Bar the last three or four weeks, because I had a bit of an accident, I haven't been able to train much the last three or four weeks, which probably hurt me a little bit today, but I would have still come through.
I knew I've done a lot of work in the last year, and my fitness has improved a lot.  The match was only just over three hours, so I knew, Okay, it's five sets, but it's not that long, hasn't been that grueling.  But with the heat, nervous energy, probably learning to manage that nervous energy as well.  In the heat over three hours, five sets, plus nervous energy, you start to fatigue a little bit more than usual.
I think, you know, I was just looking up at the crowd, they were just cheering me on.  Guys, give me more, give me more.  I was able to really use that.  I knew that was also going to be tough for him.  You know, it's not just me out there.  He's up against a few thousand people, as well.
I've been in that situation.  That's never easy.  So I thought a little bit about that.  Just tried to use everything to my advantage.  Yeah, you know, came out all right.

Q.  You seemed to get a little annoyed at the crowd at times.
MATTHEW EBDEN:  No, I was never annoyed at the crowd.

Q.  No, he was.
MATTHEW EBDEN:  He was, yes.  Yeah, you know, from the word 'go,' like you said, from the warmup, they were giving him a bit of hassle, but I hope in good spirit.  I think he clapped the crowd at the end when he walked off, so I hope he appreciates the atmosphere that they created.  If there was no one there, we're playing a match, and there was no one there to see it or cheer, I think any tennis player would much rather have 5,000 people going nuts than nobody.
Yeah, look, we're in Australia, we're in our home slam.  If I play him at the French Open in a few months, I'm sure I'll be getting it left, right, and center.  We've got to take everything we can get, especially down here in Australia.  Our crowds here are phenomenal.

Q.  Because of the interrupted preparation, not that you wish it, but the five‑setter probably wasn't a bad one to have today.
MATTHEW EBDEN:  Yeah, I just spoke to Pat and Rochey and Newk out there.  They said, Physically you weren't so good.  I was like, Yeah, the last three or four weeks haven't been great for me.  But I was like, Today was a good physical training session, if you look at it like that.  I have a good day to recover.  For the rest of the week, I'm going to feel more confident in my body and my fitness.
In the last three weeks before today, I haven't been able to train more than an hour or two max.  I feel very fortunate, first of all, to be fit to play, get the fitness back, and get through.

Q.  How has the ankle pulled up?
MATTHEW EBDEN:  Yeah, it happened just before Christmas.  It was a total accident.  I was training in Perth.  A ball unhinged itself in the back fence and I was running out wide, and the last minute it unhinged itself and rolled back on the court, and I stepped on it and slipped my ankle real bad.
I was on crutches for a couple days.  There was a big tennis ball that swelled up on the side of it.  I was in doubt for Brisbane.  Brisbane was two weeks away from when I did that.  The doctor said, You'd be lucky to play in Brisbane.  You probably need more time.
I kind of maybe rushed the recovery because I really wanted to be ready to play, obviously coming off a good end of last year.  I was able to play Brisbane and win a match moving probably 70%, 80%.  Then last week it flared up a bit, probably because I came back on it a bit too soon.
But this last week I had a couple days to settle it down, some good preparation.  Yeah, I'm just really happy to be competing and to hold up really well physically over five sets and still feel good on it.  Yeah, really makes me happy.

Q.  Did Casey's win give you a boost?
MATTHEW EBDEN:  Yeah, I didn't know she had won just yet.  But seeing her do well the last few weeks, she had been winning some matches.  Yeah, absolutely.  She's done well the last few weeks.  But the last few years as well.  Last year she had an incredible year in the doubles.  She has been doing well in the singles.  Hopefully she can kick on and get on in the singles as well.  It's great for Western Australia.  We're both doing our best.

Q.  A lot of Australian men playing tomorrow.  James Duckworth playing Roger.  Tell us what you know about James, how he'll handle that.
MATTHEW EBDEN:  I'm playing doubles with James actually.  Actually the other night I was chatting to him a bit about his match.
You know, it's not the draw you really want, not in the first round.  Everyone wants to play Roger, but maybe third or fourth or quarterfinal or something.
You know, it's going to be a great experience for him first off to get to play one of the greatest players of all time.  What, are they playing night match?

Q.  Day.
MATTHEW EBDEN:  Day on Rod Laver.  First, he's going to soak up the atmosphere, I guess.
In terms of the game, you know what Roger's going to do.  He's going to serve well, he's going to hit amazing forehands, he's going to chip his backhand.  You're going to get some areas of the court that you can expose.
James has got a very good serve.  So he's got to use that as best he can, then try to figure out some ways to keep Roger pinned back.  You never know.  Rusty beat him a couple weeks ago.  That was pretty inspirational.  Yeah, I hope he goes well.

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