Taylor Townsend, Monday post-match press conference:
Venus Williams, press conference after her loss to Lucie Safarova, Tuesday:
Andy Murray answering questions about the court conditions in Toronto, strategy for playing on quick surface, texting with Amelie (“Her spelling is not that good so on messages I correct her quite a bit”), how well Jo played in Toronto (recited various serving speeds), crowd noise, and how Mason is different than other Masters cities (staying in downtown Cincinnati; goes to Whole Foods a lot; went out for steak).
Novak Djokovic joking with media members about not inviting them to his wedding and how he should have brought chocolate.
Madison Keys, Monday post-match press conference:
Roger Federer, Tuesday, 5:30 pm (after his 2nd practice, the day before his opening match):
Photo credit: Peg
Check out all our Cincinnati 2014 coverage.
Thanks to Peg, who covered the Cincinnati Masters for Tennis Buzz, a few pictures of players practicing:
Peg is covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Buzz. Enjoy her behind the scenes of the tournament (more to come!):
At the Western and Southern Open, interviews are conducted in a variety of settings, including on the ESPN stage, which was set up Sunday morning:
By mid-week, swarms of spectators crowded around the broadcasting tent whenever a post-match interview was in progress, craning their necks to see Serena and other stars:
There are also on-court interviews, interviews in the mixed zone (which I’ll report on in a separate entry), and the WTA All Access Hour (a time — in this case, Monday at noon — when the top eight seeds were all present for interviews, prior to their opening matches), as well as “one on ones” (interviews between an individual journalist and an individual player) and other configurations.
The scheduling and location of press conferences is dictated in part by the requests submitted to the ATP and WTA before the start of the day. To quote from the instructions reiterated within in each morning’s e-mail from the media center manager (Pete Holtermann), “Each request should clearly state if the interview is for match coverage or for a feature interview, and if the request is win-only or win/lose.” The WTA interview form also specifically asks the requestor to indicate the need-by time, the duration of the interview, and the subject of the interview. The ATP fields requests primarily via e-mail.
Near the end of the first Saturday (i.e., the first day of quals), the Sunday schedule of pre-main-draw press conferences was released, with Isner scheduled for 2 p.m., Murray for 2:30 p.m., Djokovic at 2:45 p.m., and Azarenka at 4 p.m. When these conferences took place, there were also second-round qualifying matches taking place on six courts, as well as practice sessions on eight other courts. On Monday and beyond, the day session featured main draw matches on eight courts and practices on all the courts. In other words, there were times when I wanted to be in fifteen or sixteen places all at once. Since that wasn’t feasible, I sketched out Plans A, B, and C in my notebook and revised them on the fly throughout the day. On the first Sunday, this meant I caught part of Tomic vs. Ebden (second-round qualifying), part of Goerges vs. Wickmayer, and most of Hewitt vs. Melzer (the first main draw match) but missing other matches in order to attend the Murray and Djokovic pressers:
The Sunday pressers were not transcribed, but on Monday, the ASAP team was in place:
The media center volunteers distributed some transcripts as soon as the hard copies were made (“Anyone for Isner? Anyone for Ivanovic?”), particularly during stretches of heavy production (i.e., when the media center was populated with many writers, videographers, and editors hunched over their laptops, racing against deadlines) . Other transcripts were obtainable via the handout wall, where OOPs, press releases, scorecards, and other documentation could be found.
In the course of attending multiple conferences, I was able to pick up on some trends in questioning (and thus what those writers or producers had in mind for their features). A USTA writer asked several players about language skills. (Madison Keys: “Christina McHale speaks Spanish fluently and she also knows some Chinese. So I strive to be like Christina, but it probably won’t happen. . . . I want to learn like Chinese so Christina and I can start speaking Chinese in front of another person and just totally confuse them.”) A Cincinnati journalist asked every player about bad tosses when on serve. Ben Rothenberg asked several players about crowd noise (and when Ben wasn’t present, I did). Being a strategy nerd, my go-to questions were about court speed and conditions.
A preliminary schedule of interviews was distributed each morning, with additional interviews announced via closed-circuit TV (and sometime via intercom or walkie-talkie or volunteer walk-throughs) during the course of the day. Because the timing of 95% of the interviews depended on when a match ended (and sometimes on the result of said match), there were periods where I felt compelled to remain at my carrel in the media center instead of going out to the courts, the better to race down to the mixed zone or the main interview room upon the conclusion of certain matches. I also took to annotating my order of play in order to reconcile who might be available (and in what format) vs. practices and matches I hoped to cover:
My assignments were the top priority in my planning, of course. One of my tasks was to photograph Stefan Edberg. Having seen the Timberland deck packed to the gills on Sunday for a Stan-Novak practice — as well as fans lined up not only along the top rail of Grandstand, but along the edge of the Svensk Vodka lounge as well — and, having chatted with Cincy regulars who reminisced about a four-hour wait for a Nadal practice, I knew that I had to stake out my spot at least an hour in advance. (Not having access to the Center Court photo blind, I had concluded that a Federer practice would provide me with the best opportunity for good pictures.) The stands of Court 15 were already packed when I planted myself on the back row of Grandstand, seventy-five minutes early; by the time Federer, Mahut, and their people arrived, there were at least two more rows of people standing behind me, and I didn’t dare cede my spot, even though I could hear oohs and aahs of appreciation for the show Wawrinka and Becker were putting on for the folks actually watching their match. Part of me desperately wanted to see the actual match in progress, but another part of me was engrossed in capturing the interactions among Federer, Edberg et al., including the post-match pleasantries, which (among other things) featured Federer taking a photo of Edberg and a kid-minder on Mahut’s team:
Federer’s pre-competition interview was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. On my way back to the media center, I parked myself in the mixed zone, since I knew that Stan would arrive shortly:
I didn’t stick around for the English questions posed to Stan, but I was still a hair late to Roger’s presser — he was already answering a question about his new racquet by the time I reached the third floor:
The French broadcasters approached the dais after the conclusion of the English questions. As I left the room, I could hear Roger saying to the moderator, “Yes, we go back a long way…”
More reports from Cincinnati:
On the way to the Western & Southern Open
The Western & Southern Open main draw party
Friday evening at Lindner Family Tennis Center
Seeking relief from the heat
Thanks a lot to Simon for sharing his brother’s pictures from Toronto!