The Maria Sharapova press conference experience continues to get more and more fun and it’s usually the subtle moments that end up becoming the real highlights.
On Thursday after her victory over Donna Vekic, a colleague’s phone briefly emits a sound and Sharapova quickly fires a sarcastic, “That’s a yellow flag, Ben”. A reporter asks her if she knows much about, Roland Garros — the pilot the tournament was named after — and she in turn asks the woman to enlighten her with info on him.
Sharapova’s press conferences are often more like back-and-forth dialogues rather than simple question-answer routines.
One journalist asked her if she was looking forward to return to the Philippe Chatrier centre court for her third-round on Saturday and she immediately quizzed him on how he knew the schedule so early?
The following exchange took place:
Journalist: What’s your feeling before returning on the center court for the next round? You have great emotion on the Philippe Chatrier?
Sharapova: Do you know the schedule?
Journalist: Could be very possible to be on center court.
Sharapova: I don’t know. Yesterday I got the schedule at 7:30 p.m., so if you know the schedule today for Saturday, please let me know (smiling).
Journalist: Because it’s [No. 6 seed Karolina] Pliskova and it’s possible to be on centre court. If you are on centre court, what will be your emotions or…
Sharapova: Well, there is also Sharapova. So…
It was a brief but telling moment from the Russian five-time Grand Slam champion — two-time winner in Paris — who reminded everyone that her presence alone can warrant a Centre Court assignment.
She then continued to answer him, adding: “Well, I would love to be there again, of course. And, yeah, I think from a draw perspective, it’s an anticipated seeding match of, you know, if those two seeds kind of went through, it’s a match that maybe people anticipated. And it’s been a while since I played Pliskova. It will be our first meeting on clay.
“As you said, it’s been a few years since I have been back on the court; so if I do have a chance to play on it I will welcome it with open arms, and if it’s another court then it will be great.”
Later in her presser, veteran Spanish journalist Manolo Poyan asked Sharapova about her lefty forehand shots which she sometimes pulls off during her matches. The right-handed ex-world No. 1 can switch her racquet to her left hand and hit a forehand instead of a winner. It doesn’t always work, but it has on several occasions.
“I grew up naturally left-handed, so I do a lot of things with my left hand, and I played tennis with my left hand for some time, so I sometimes do it on the run. It’s called the desperate shot,” she said with a laugh.
I made a guest appearance (along w @Sugarpova ) on SHOWTIME on #Billions alongside Damian Lewis &John Malkovich. What an amazing experience! The 5am call time 😱 isn’t so bad when you get to sit in a chair next to these two talents. 🎥 #oscarnom #dontthinkso pic.twitter.com/MwytaOOJRq
— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) May 28, 2018
SEND US YOUR CV, ANDREA
Another must-attend press conference at any tennis tournament is that of Andrea Petkovic.
The charismatic German can steer conversations into art, film, literature and anything else you can think of. The ever-interesting Petkovic, who is into the French Open third round, where she faces top-seeded Simona Halep, has been writing for a couple of magazines, in English and in German. She joked that if we knew anyone interested in hiring her as a columnist, we should let her know.
“I’m writing for Süddeutsche magazine. This guy here is the boss, in the front, of that,” she said in her press conference on Thursday.
“So I’m writing a column, which appears Mondays. About — well, it’s kind of complicated to explain, actually. It’s about films, more or less. I always pick one film that I talk about, and then I sort of make a connection to my life. It’s makes more sense when you read it than now when you actually hear it.
“But, yeah, and then Racquet, and that’s it. And that’s more than enough for now. But if you have a job for me, I’m always here. I need some extra cash on the side.”
Greece’s Maria Sakkari moved into the Roland Garros third round for the first time in her career with an impressive 7-5, 6-3 victory over Spanish No. 23 seed Carla Suarez Navarro on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old world No. 38 next takes on Russian No. 14 seed Daria Kasatkina, who survived a bizarre last-minute court change and beat the darkness by completing a 6-3, 6-3 win against Kirsten Flipkens just before sunset.
Sakkari has now made the third round in four of her last six Grand Slams and is looking to make the second week at a major for the first time.
“I know I have a very tough match in the next round, playing Daria. It’s going to be a battle because she’s playing well this year. It’s actually my third year now on the tour and I’m feeling much better and now more confidence on the clay as well. I’m ready to make the next step, I will give my best and if the result doesn’t come this week, I’m sure it will come next time,” Sakkari told Sport360 following her second round triumph.
Find out more about Sakkari in the video above as she answers some rapid fire questions I threw her way.
Tennis players have many reasons to share a connection with one another.
They could strike up friendships from being around each other for a long time, they could play doubles together, they could be engaged in a fierce rivalry, they can have the same sponsor, get stranded at an airport together because of a canceled flight, and nowadays, they can be connected because of their kids.
Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka spoke about the special bond they have formed after becoming mothers and on Wednesday, Novak Djokovic, father of two, revealed his connection with Serena, whose daughter Olympia is one day older than his daughter Tara.
“I love Serena. You know all the superlatives and beautiful words that you can think of, she deserves it. Especially now, I mean, after she gave birth to Olympia. And after all she has achieved in sport to see her back and, you know, putting hours on the court and work and again and again, it’s impressive. It’s inspiring. It really is,” Djokovic said after his second round win over Jauma Munar.
“I do have a really nice relationship with her, and there is actually, I don’t know if you know, but there is one day difference between my daughter and her daughter.
“So we have texted a lot in the process. She was very nice to share a lot of things that she was going through with me and my wife [Jelena], and I really appreciated that. I felt really close to her. All I can say is I love her, and I wish her all the best.”
— Olympia Ohanian (@OlympiaOhanian) May 26, 2018
AU REVOIR, NICO!
The day before, two other players shared a special moment as Nicolas Mahut played, what is likely to be the final singles match of his career, against Juan Martin del Potro in the Roland Garros first round.
Del Potro won the clash in four sets and they exchanged a warm hug at the net when the match was over.
The Argentine wouldn’t reveal exactly what they told each other because he wanted Mahut to tell the press himself that he was likely to retire from singles play.
“Towards the end, I wanted to savor the game a bit. It might be my last game here, my last match here. But it will depend on a number of things. I’m not saying that I’m going to stop my career, but maybe I will give preference to doubles,” said the 36-year-old Frenchman.
“Del Potro is a player that I like very much, and I’d be happy if my last match that I played was against him. I was lucky, because I was able to play the tournament. But afterwards, we don’t know what’s going to happen. The season is a long one. I can come back, but I could fall. If I do drop very much, then I’ll give preference to doubles. What I can say was that I really enjoyed the match towards the end.”