Unfortunately there was no transcriptionist at the Citi Open this year, and considering things were crazy when covering the tournament–as they always are–I got incredibly behind on my transcribing. (I’m pretty much the slowest transcriber in the world.)
But here are a few of my favorite press-room moments from last week. (Petko’s are not included because Petko needs an article to herself. I’m backlogged, but it’s coming.)
All answers are transcribed, all questions are summarized.
Juan Martin del Potro
You are very well-behaved, especially after tough losses such as the Wimbledon semifinal against Djokovic. What’s your philosophy on sportsmanship?
First of all, I think, Novak is a friend of mine. When we were playing that match, it’s like a war down there, but at the end we are still friends, we are normal persons. I think we did a very fair game in the semifinals, and in tennis, one has to win and one has to lose.
Did that philosophy come from when you were a child? Did you ever get mad on the court when you were little?
When I was a child, I play soccer. (Laughter.)
Going back to the sportsmanship … Jimmy Connors said that the rivalries among the top players were soft. He liked it better in his era when there was more aggression. What do you think?
Maybe for the show, or the crowd, it could be better, but at the end the crowd or the fans like to see all the players very friendly. Of course, at the end of the match I would like to kill Novak for beating me. But I couldn’t. I like the way it is now. It’s more friendly for us.
What did Bartoli winning Wimbledon mean to you and the rest of the French players?
Well, it was an amazing win. We were all very emotional about it. A little bit surprised as well, it was a big breakthrough. I think it was a great motivation for all the French players. She showed the example that everything is possible in tennis, and if you really want it you can do it. She’s the perfect example of that.
Now we all want to do the same. The next generation of players coming up, Caroline Garcia, Mladenovic, and myself–because I’m still young–we all want to do the same. It’s our dream to have this emotion. Marion showed us the way and I hope we will follow it.
Why do you peak at the Grand Slams and struggle at the smaller tournaments?
Like everyone asks me that question, but I think the point is to like, peak at the Grand Slams. You want to play your best tennis at the Grand Slams.
So, I mean obviously most of the tournaments I train really hard, like leading up to a tournament like this, and then I don’t play that well, and it’s probably because I did fitness for like eight hours a day for this past week, things like that. People just don’t know. They’re just like, ‘Wow, you look slow and horrible,’ and I’m just like, ‘Sorry. Just a bad day.’
(I bolded the part in the above quote because I found it amusing after reading the quote below from her Toronto presser:
Q. You were doing eight hours of fitness a day at times after Wimbledon? Did I read that?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Eight hours?
Q. Yeah, I saw that quote, eight hours, which is a lot.
SLOANE STEPHENS: I was in Hawaii on vacation. (Laughter).
Q. So you weren’t doing any fitness?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don’t know who tweeted that, because I literally did not do anything for like a whole week.
SLOANE STEPHENS: That is the most absurd thing I have ever heard.
Q. Not you?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No.
It just goes to show that tennis players really have no idea what they’re saying half of the time in pressers, and we take this stuff way too seriously.
Okay, back to the Citi Open…)
What did you think of Marion Bartoli winning Wimbledon?
I mean, I thought that was great. I mean, who would have thought at the beginning of the tournament that she would have won Wimbledon? That’s insane. But, I mean, she deserves it. If anyone deserves it she does. She’s been playing for so long and she played really great and, I mean, well deserved to her. I think it’s awesome.
I wonder if she’s going to have any extra pressure on her?
Were you disappointed that you couldn’t defend your points at the Los Angeles tournament this year?
I was bummed. But it happened to me in Las Vegas and it happened to me in Serbia. You don’t want me to win your tournament.
What does it mean for you to be a member of Athlete Ally?
It’s very important. It’s something that I feel very proud to be a part of, and feel very strongly about. You know, I get constant e-mail updates. It’s something that you can be a part of as much or a little as you want. It’s something I believe in, I think that’s the easiest way to say it.
Do you think that tennis is close to having a male player come out of the closet?
Maybe. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone said he was gay. It wouldn’t change anything.