Madrid — Saturday was one of those days you could sense from the moment it started that it would be a never-ending one.
When you have four day-session matches and every single one of them goes to three sets, you know you’re in for the long haul. Then of course, the first night-session match, which started two hours later than it should have, also went three sets.
The women’s draw kicked off on Saturday, along with men’s qualies, and there was so much action both on and off the court.
Last year’s runner-up Dominika Cibulkova was unable to do her pre-tournament press conference during All Access Hour on Friday so she sat down with the press on Saturday, which happened to be her birthday. The tournament got her a cake, and yes, we sang.
A Spanish reporter asked Cibulkova about Spain’s top two players, Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro, and turns out, they’re quite good friends.
“They are two of my favourite people on tour. With Garbine, we have nice relationship. We practice lot together. She’s really nice person. She won Roland Garros last year. I was really proud because she’s really nice person,” said Cibulkova.
“And the way she plays, you know, she’s great, aggressive player. She’s really tall. We always have fun that she cannot wear high heels, and that’s my advantage. I can wear high heels when we were at some party or something,” the
“About Carla, the same thing, you know. I really like Carla. We had so many great matches against each other. I remember last year Roland Garros, she beat me in three sets.
“It’s just, you know, always nice to play against them because we have a nice relationship. We talk a lot, even in the locker or during the practice. I practice a lot with both girls. They are really, really nice.”
Whoever said there are no friendships in the locker room was clearly wrong!
¡Así entrenaron @RafaelNadal y @DjokerNole hoy en la Caja Mágica! pic.twitter.com/XeK8ORBoXp— Mutua Madrid Open (@MutuaMadridOpen) May 6, 2017
Meanwhile, I picked Karolina Pliskova’s brain on whether she prefers combined events like Madrid or Indian Wells (where both men’s and women’s tournaments are held concurrently) or WTA-only events.
The Czech world No3 said: “I got used to the combined events. But before I was preferring to have just women’s. I thought it’s, like, more quiet, not that many people, not that many eyes on you. Yeah, I could really, like, focus more on myself.
“But as the Grand Slams are combined, I have to get used to it. So it’s better now. Just trying to stay away of the people here in the club, just taking my time, leaving as soon as I can to the hotel, yeah, that’s it.”
While combined events are great for fans and journalists, it sometimes means over-booked practice courts and a rowdy players’ lounge for the athletes.
One player who tried to escape from the hustle and bustle of the lounge on Saturday was Eugenie Bouchard.
In the hours leading up to her match, Bouchard was seen lying down, covered in towels, on two lounge chairs that were pushed into a hallway that connects the press centre to the player’s area.
The last thing you expect while walking through a narrow corridor is a player sleeping on the side and for a second there I thought she was feeling ill.
The Canadian escaped after her three-set win over Alize Cornet that she was absolutely fine, but looking for some peace and quiet.
“You saw me, huh? I was in the players’ lounge. Players’ lounge these days, they sometimes turn into daycare. It was quite noisy and loud. I think they should have a separate kids section,” said the 23-year-old Bouchard.
“So that was the only place I could find peace. Although I had a bunch of you guys walking by. ‘Oh, my God, what are they going to think? I’m depressed in the corner or something, so nervous’. No, I was just trying to find some peace and quiet.”