Monday, March 31, 2014

Top seeds talk on Charleston opening day

Photo by Daniel Ward

Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic and the other top Family Circle Cup seeds met the press today as main draw play began in Charleston. Jankovic, as always, was worth the entire trip to the All Access Hour event. The second seed talked about everything from her elastic body to her early ballet lessons to the shock of seeing herself fall down on the court in recent tournaments.

Eugenie Bouchard impressed with her mature approach to her new fame, and with her belief that she cannot worry about things over which she has no control.

2009 Sabine Lisicki talked about what it's liked to be coached by Martina Hingis; she said she feels confident about hitting the ball, but Hingis is helping her learn when to hit the ball. The often-injured German player now has a physio traveling with her. She discussed her recent shoulder injury, but when asked about all the injuries she has sustained in the last six months, her reply was "You can look them up."

While she's in Charleston, Sloane Stephens is living in a house with coach Paul Annacone and hitting partner Andrew Fitzpatrick. "If I don't put the rule in place," she said, "they just do whatever they want." Apparently, Stephens has to set rules about everything from parking the car to opening beverage bottles.

Stephens said that, for her, the transition from green clay to red clay is more difficult than the transition from hard courts to green clay.

Photo by Daniel Ward
2010 champion Sam Stosur and top seed and defending champion Serena Williams both sounded relaxed and ready for competition. Stosur said she was grateful to be in good health for this year's tournament. Asked about her favorite of all the tennis outfits she's ever worn, Williams said immediately that she favored both the cat suit and the denim kit. She also talked a little about her training regimen and how it changes from time to time. She said she no longer runs, and that she does flexibility training, but that it's not really related to her tennis.

I was fortunate to also attend the annual patron party, where there were some pretty impressive guests: Maria Kirilenko, Sloane Stephens, Eugenie Bouchard, Daniela Hantuchova, and Nadia Petrova were all there. Kirilenko, just returning from a long injury layoff, had already gone out of the tournament. The Russian star was defeated in the first round today by Belinda Bencic, who needed five match points to get the job done.

Hantuchova, who readily acknowledged that clay was her most difficult surface, said that she was taught to play tennis by her grandmother, and that she still plays exactly the way her grandmother taught her.

Also going out today in the opening round were Varvara Lepchenko, Christina McHale, Julia Goerges, and Alison Riske.

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