As play continued on all three courts at the Porsche Arena, two of the main draw’s biggest names sat down with members of the press to field questions from the media. Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki have had very different clay court results in recent years, but both are looking forward to getting started on the surface.
After celebrating her 28th birthday on Sunday, Stuttgart’s three-time defending champion and top seed was the first to arrive to press Monday afternoon. Several questions concerned the left thigh issue that forced the Russian to miss out the Fed Cup tie in her hometown of Sochi.
“Yes, I’m doing much better. I got better a few days ago, a little bit of time ago and just started practicing for six or seven days now,” she explained, adding that she was happy to be healthy and ready to step on court, though the amount preparation less than she might have hoped.
When asked about missing out on Fed Cup, Sharapova admitted, “I was so excited to play in my home town and it was quite unfortunate that I couldn’t and I just kind of ran out of time.” With Team Russia qualifying for the finals this weekend, the Russian was pressed about an appearance in November, but the World No. 2 said though hasn’t made a decision yet, she will talk to coach Anastasia Myskina in the summer.
The 28 year-old went on to say how it’s always great coming back to a court – and a surface – where she has enjoyed previous success.
“It’s also a long road with a lot of tough matches – you never underestimate anyone you’re going to play”.
The conversation took the inevitable turn towards Sharapova’s clay prowess in the past few years; the Russian, called “Claypova” by fans since her Roland Garros breakthrough, credits her improved fitness that helps her fight her way through the matches.
“Even if it’s a three-ball, a six-ball or a ten-ball rally you’ve got to be there until it’s over.”
Not surprisingly, there was also a little snark in the presser. After assuring those in attendance that she was 100% fit, Sharapova was asked whether that meant “99% or 100%.” After a short pause she replied with a dry tone that has become her signature.
“99 or 100 sounds the same, I don’t know.”
Appearing second, No. 4 seed Caroline Wozniacki took her turn, talking about her expectations for the next few weeks and her work with three-time French Open champion, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.
“I was with her for a few weeks when I was in Miami, and the last few clay court seasons haven’t been the best for me.”
The Dane hopes the the Spaniard can impart some clay wisdom upon her, particularly when it comes to the tactics and mentality necessary for matches played on such a grueling surface. For one who plays such a physical game, the former No. 1 is certain clay could suit her game, even if things haven’t really fall into place for her in recent years.
When questions turned to Fed Cup, Wozniacki offered some thoughts of her own, echoing the opinion of many other top players.
“I play with the Danish flag next to my name every week, so I feel like we represent our countries every week,” she explained, adding that she definitely enjoyed the team environment. Speaking on Olympic eligibility, the World No. 5 said, “Pressuring people to play, enforcing players to play something is not the right way to go about it.”
When not opining on the state of Fed Cup or her own clay court potential, Wozniacki can be found spending an evening singing Karaoke in her hotel room:
Touching upon the above tweet, she laughed about her karaoke habit, but also discussed reading a lot. “Starry Nights” was the last book she finished, in case you want to know what is on her bookshelf. Most importantly, she prefers to relax and spends time with family and friends.
Upon leaving the press center, a fairly upbeat Wozniacki took pictures of the Centre Court and, when asked what her favorite 90s song was, the 24-year-old clearly put on her thinking cap, but ended up with a smile, shouting, “Oh, WAY too many!” and made her way towards the practice courts.
Tomorrow Halep and Kvitova amongst others will be talking to the media; it should be interesting to hear about the Romanian’s expectations for the clay, and how the Czech feels – having just returned to the competition a few days ago.
What do you think of Sharapova’s and Wozniacki’s chances in Stuttgart? Sound off in the comments!