The press conference took place at the Four Seasons Hotel after the official draw ceremony on February 6, 2016. Tennis players and directorate talked to the press.
What do you think of the draw?
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: The draw is a good one. I thought I was going to play with Elena Vesnina. But it’s nice we are in different parts of the draw. It’s difficult to speak on the physical form of all the tennis players before the tournament. In any case, it’s a tough tournament and that’s why it’s going to be interesting.
Elena, what can you say about your competitor Alize Cornet?
Elena Vesnina: Many players will come to St. Petersburg after the Federation Cup matches. As for the Russian team, I hope the luck will be on the girls side. Well, you cannot chose the draw. But I know Alize Cornet very well. She’s a very strong and athletic player with a perfect game on the backline. The first round is always tense. Let’s see, I hope I will be able to play a good match and win.
Did you have enough time to try to practice on Sibur Arena tennis courts? What can you say about the surface?
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: Today I had a chance to practice on Sibur Arena and I’m satisfied with the surface. I didn’t have opportunity to play on the central court, but hope I will do it next day. I was told the surface is all the same on every court. Anyways, I will adapt to the given conditions.
Elena Vesnina: I came to practice on central court yesterday. It’s very comfortable arena, nice atmosphere and the spectators seats are located close to the court which is cool for the fans.
When I stepped out on the tennis court, the surface seemed to me very familiar. Natalia Alexandrovna Kamelzon (tournament director) said it’s nearly the same as on the WTA Final tournament in Singapore.
As for the cheer leaders who were engaged during the changeovers at St. Petersburg Open 2015, will they distract attention of the pretty tennis girls on court? Shall they be substituted by the handsome guys as cheer leaders?
Anastasia Pavlyuschenkova: We don’t mind if the guys will be the cheer leaders (smiling).
Alexander Medvedev: Well, we had this on our mind. But decided the girls will pay attention twice as much on handsome guys as ATP players did on girls.
Tony, the tournament starts right after the Federation Cup matches, do you think there will be any difficulties to complete the first day schedule?
Tony Cho (WTA supervisor): This is always uneasy to plan a schedule for the tournament, that goes after team competitions. It’s especially difficult as the tennis players come from all over the world. That is why more time is given for those players who travel from distant places. For those who are engaged in tournaments not far from St. Petersburg, we plan matches earlier during the day.
Anastasia, a couple of years ago in February, you won the tournament in Paris and the tournament dates were more the less the same. Moreover, you show very good results during the indoor competitions. Can we say February is a lucky month for you? What can you say about your psychological and physical level of preparation?
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: I do prefer to play indoor tournaments. I showed pretty good results at the end of the previous year, so I am happy we now have a tournament during February in St. Petersburg. That’s why I am here. Although I started quite alright in Brisbane, I performed not very good at Australian Open. So, I am very motivated and prepared.
What can you say about new concert lightning?
Elena Vesnina: The lightning is absolutely stunning. I know only two tournaments where this is in use. I practiced yesterday on Sibur Arena and realized my eyes were not tired. The light is very soft, but at the same time it is very bright. I must say it’s very important when you serve. Overall, the lightning is very comfortable. I think for the TV it’s an advantage as well, as the tennis court will be under the light while the viewers zone – in the dark.
Tony Cho: I wanted to add some words regarding the lightning. The lightning is a part of an entertainment programme, aimed at making interesting show for tennis fans. By the way, all these special bulbs are easy to switch on and off, while the general ones need time to accumulate warmth and to work properly.
Will the tennis players grunts be measured in decibels as serve speed is measured, for example?
Alexander Medvedev: Statistics is very popular in many kinds of sports. I’m not sure if we are going to measure the sound level of players’ screams, but it’s definitely not forbidden.
Who didn’t come to the tournament out of these tennis players you wanted to see here?
Vladimir Kamelzon: We hoped, Maria Sharapova would play in St. Petersburg. Alexander Medvedev had a word with her in Prague and she was close to accept the invitation. But she got a shoulder injury at Australian Open during the match with Serena Williams. Sharapova is now in Moscow, she’s a part of the Russian team. Her request for the Federation Cup gives her the opportunity to perform at the Olympics. She was ready to play at St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, but the injury stopped her.
The relationships with Maria are very nice and friendly, so she says she will definitely take part in the competitions here in the future.
I’m sad Svetlana Kuznetsova will not be a part of the tournament this year. Besides, Svetlana comes from this city and this means a lot in political case. To my mind, nothing could stop her from taking part in St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy.
St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy directorate hope this tournament will be of the same level as ATP tournament held here in September 2015, or perhaps it’s going to be even better. We try to do our best to be on the top as we did with the ATP tournament. I wish success for the participants and the tournament.