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
The new Fall 2014 Tech Pack collection, featuring an updated Tech Windrunner and all-new Tech Butterfly, arrives on nike.com/sportswear August 21, and at select retailers August 28.
Serena Williams returns to New York looking for a sixth title US Open title. She will compete in the fierce Nike Serena Dress.
Serena Williams night pack (on the right):
Sabine Lisicki vs Julia Glushko
With the retirement of the 2013 champion Marion Bartoli, the 2013 champion, last year’s runner-up Sabine Lisicki was asked to play the prestigious opening match on Centre Court. She needed less than an hour to beat No. 79 Julia Glushko 6-2 6-1.
Lisicki has been struggling with shoulder and wrist injuries all year and has not confirmed (yet) her run to last year’s final. Do you think the German is a contender for the title?
Rafael Nadal vs Martin Klizan
Beaten by Lukas Rosol in the secound round in 2012, beaten by Steve Darcis in the first round last year, Rafael Nadal has survived an early scare but rallied to defeat Martin Klizan 4-6 6-3 6-3 6-3 and reach the second round.
With this victory, Nadal joins the 700 wins club: he is the 11th player in the Open Era to win at least 700 matches in his career and the first to accomplish the feat since Roger Federer at Roland Garros in 2010.
The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club:
Wimbledon guided tour – part 1
Wimbledon guided tour – part 2
Wimbledon Centre Court roof
Court 3 : a new Show Court at Wimbledon
Waiting in the Queue to Wimbledon
Wimbledon Museum: The Queue exhibition
The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum: Player Memorabilia
Fashion and gear:
A trip down memory lane:
Wimbledon past champions: stats and records
Wimbledon ‘s biggest upsets
Wimbledon memories: Mrs Blanche Bingley Hillyard
Wimbledon memories: Charlotte Cooper Sterry
Wimbledon memories: Dora Boothby
Portrait of Wimbledon champion Ann Jones
Wimbledon 1969: Laver’s getting beat by an Indian
Rod Laver – John Newcombe Wimbledon 1969
Bjorn Borg – Ilie Nastase Wimbledon 1976
Portrait of 5-time Wimbledon champion Bjorn Borg
Wimbledon 1976: Chris Evert defeats Evonne Goolagong
Portrait of Virginia Wade, winner in 1977
1981: First Wimbledon title for McEnroe
1982: Jimmy Connors defeats John McEnroe
1984: John McEnroe defeats Jimmy Connors
1985: Boris Becker, the man on the moon
Portrait of 3-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker
Wimbledon 1988: An era ends as Graf beats Navratilova
Wimbledon 1988: Edberg a deserving new champion
Portrait of 2-time Wimbledon champion Stefan Edberg
Wimbledon 1991: the first Middle Sunday
1992: first Grand Slam for Andre Agassi
Andre Agassi: thanks to Wimbledon I realized my dreams
1993: Pete Sampras defeats Jim Courier
1994: Pete Sampras defeats Goran Ivanisevic
1996: Richard Krajicek upsets Pete Sampras
1997: Pete Sampras defeats Cédric Pioline
2000 Wimbledon SF: Pat Rafter defeats Andre Agassi
2000 Wimbledon Final: Pete Sampras defeats Pat Rafter
2001 Wimbledon 4th round: Federer defeats Sampras
Wimbledon 2010: Rafael Nadal defeats Tomas Berdych
The Spirit of Wimbledon: a 4-part documentary by Rolex retracing Wimbledon history
Will Andy Murray retain his Wimbledon title?
- No (80%, 45 Votes)
- Yes (20%, 11 Votes)
Total Voters: 56
Who will win Wimbledon 2014?
- Roger Federer (31%, 14 Votes)
- Rafael Nadal (24%, 11 Votes)
- Novak Djokovic (24%, 11 Votes)
- Andy Murray (13%, 6 Votes)
- Milos Raonic (4%, 2 Votes)
- Stan Wawrinka (2%, 1 Votes)
- Richard Gasquet (0%, 0 Votes)
- Ernests Gulbis (0%, 0 Votes)
- David Ferrer (0%, 0 Votes)
- Tomas Berdych (0%, 0 Votes)
- Other (2%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 45
Who will win Wimbledon 2014?
- Maria Sharapova (41%, 12 Votes)
- Serena Williams (21%, 6 Votes)
- Other (14%, 4 Votes)
- Li Na (10%, 3 Votes)
- Simona Halep (7%, 2 Votes)
- Victoria Azarenka (3%, 1 Votes)
- Petra Kvitova (3%, 1 Votes)
- Agniezska Radwanska (0%, 0 Votes)
- Jelena Jankovic (0%, 0 Votes)
- Angelique Kerber (0%, 0 Votes)
- Dominika Cibulkova (1%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 29
“It’s always a fun challenge when I work with Nike Tennis to create looks and clothing that let me express myself and my unique style while respecting the tournament. What I wear on-court is a key part of my advantage out there, so we focus on making my dress lightweight and allowing for full movement while not compromising on style.”