After the official draw ceremony the Director General of the tennis tournament Alexander Medvedev and No. 6 and 8 seeds Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Daria Kasatkina held a press-conference for accredited journalists.
– Tell us please about the wild cards.
– Alexander Medvedev: There is a system to hand over wild cards. The IMG company who let us rent the tournament, is entitled to one wild card. There is an agreement between IMG and us to discuss and then decide upon that wild card. We handed over this wild card to the young tennis player from Russia Anastasia Potapova. Moreover, WTA can hand over two wild cards to TOP-20 players and to the winners of some tournaments, Grand Slam, for instance. WTA and our tournament took the decision about these wild cards together. The tournament St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy has one more wild card, the last one. The tournament received requests for WC from the players. Petra Kvitova sent one. We all know what drama happened to Petra, but now she is coming back: her R1 match at the Australina Open-2018 was tough, she lost 8-10 in the third set, if I remember correctly. So after the Australian Open Petra Kvitova decided to come to St. Petersburg.
– Anastasia, could you, please, comment on the results of the draw? It seems like you’ve had mixed feelings about it.
– Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: I believe that there is always a tough competition in St. Petersburg, especially when so many good players enter the tournament. It is impossible to hope for a good or bad draw here. I knew that any opponent would be strong. And that’s what has happened. In general, a lot of things have been happening recently, which makes it possible to say that tennis is a very peculiar and difficult sport, so it is difficult to make any judgments about tennis only by surnames, that’s why every player should play every match with full dedication even against players from the qualifications or against lucky losers. In other words, against any player at all.
– You had an early exit at the Australian Open, so you had more time to prepare for St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy – as compared to the other players who left Melbourne 3-4 days ago. Do you think was it is an advantage?
– Daria Kasatkina: Acclimatization is always very important. We travel a lot, sometimes it is difficult to travel from Australia or America, but there are some players who have no problem with it.
– AP: I think I’m still young … Although, we can say that I’m already a middle-aged player as I’m 26-year old. But still there is ф comparable difference between my physical abilities now and 3-4 years ago. Back then it was easier for me to adapt and acclimate. I don’t know, but, probably, I’m just getting older. I didn’t pay much attention to it in the past, but now I understand how difficult it is. Today is the first day when I feel a bit better, although I came back from Australia a week ago. Therefore it is very important to have some extra time.
– What can you say about the current lineup of the tournament? What significance does the current tournament of this year have in terms of its development? And how would you comment on women’s final in Australia?
– AM: I strongly recommend to watch the women’s final of the Australian Open to anyone who hasn’t done it yet. If not the whole match – then at least the third set, which was very grueling. Some commentators complained saying that this wasn’t the most interesting tennis. But in my mind the third set was quite interesting. At first ,Wozniacki was leading 3-1, but then lost two serves and the score was 3-4. After that she made a break, after which she showed an amazing game.
As to thelineup of our tournament, we can conduct a statistical analysis. And it will show that our tournament is one of the strongest in terms of lineup. We expected to have 4 players from the world’s top ten in our tournament, and now (after Halep pulled out of the tournament) there will be 3. But we always plan to have at least 2 players from the Top10, so we fulfilled this plan and even overfulfilled it. Just look at the players from the Top20 who are going to come to our tournament! It’s very important for the tennis development as any well-organized tournament attracts spectators and motivates young people to play tennis. That’s the whole point of any tournament – to please the crowd.
– In your opinion, will Wozniacki have enough stamina to play in St. Petersburg and show a good tennis?
-AM: Girls were talking about transportation problems coquettishly, so apparently the King of Denmark heard it and said that he would send his plane to Carolina for her not to have such a problem.
– Anastasia, this question is for you. The colleague who pulled out the chip for you looked slightly guilty (Pavlyuchenkova will play the 1st match against Ekaterina Makarova). If you win the tournament, will you give something as a gift to this colleague who determined your draw?
– AP: My wristband after the match (laughing).
– Question to all the participants of the press-conference. St. Petersburg was fighting for the right to hold the WTA year-end finals recently, but it didn’t happen. Alexander [Medvedev], did we have any real chance? Why did we lose? Nastya [Pavlyuchenkova] and Daria [Kasatkina], what was your reaction to the final decision of the WTA?
– АМ: We had a chance. St. Petersburg, Singapore and Shenzhen were in the final threesome and I hope there was no political factor involved that could have influenced the final decision and only the financial factor made difference. If we speak about the prize money fund and financial reward to WTA from the Shenzhen side it was sizeably higher than ours, roughly 30 per cent bigger. There is a rule in business: the highest and the lowest values are out in order to escape risks. But they did it differently in tennis. But we are discussing with WTA – maybe we could do something even more interesting than the WTA Finals. At least WTA is supporting us in our wish. We should think of something interesting for the tennis players. It’s going to be something new as we’d like to show that tennis is developing and doesn’t stagnate We’ve already seen the example of a new format at the Next Gen U21 tournament in Milan. Sure, some conservative-minded people complained – namely the “ageing” [speaking to Anastasia and Daria] Andrey Rublev” (laughter). But seriously, for sure tennis should save its secular traditions, but on the other hand we should develop this sports because our life is changing in the real world.
– AP: Of course, we would have liked Russia, St. Petersburg, to win. Because it’s very difficult to plan the tournaments’ schedule when Asia is on the list. For example, we are playing the Kremlin Cup at the end of the season and it’s easier to come to St. Petersburg than to Asia to play in WTA Finals. It takes much time to fly to Asia and then you have a hard time with acclimatization goes tough. That’s why we’d like to see such big tournaments as the WTA Finals in Russia.
– DK: It’s a pity… As players enjoy their time in St. Petersburg and at the end of the season most of the tournaments are held in Europe and it’s easier to come to Europe than to Asia. I hope Formula-TX could think up something new.
– Alexander, what could you think up new in tennis? We’ve seen the Next Gen tournament in Milan, maybe something like that? Daria and Anastasiya, do you think it could be interesting for tennis players?
– AP: It’s a pity we didn’t have so much of the stuff we have right now when I was 19-20 years old. In my point of view, it’s a good chance for the young players to play in such tournaments. Though itseemed to me it wasn’t the best one. There were some strange new rules with no let on the serve and there was a special court. I don’t think everyone was happy with these rules. But still it’s a good opportunity for the young players to prove themselves.
– Daria, you have changed your coach recently, could you, please, introduce him to us?
– DK: Yes, I have a new coach. His name is Philippe Dehaes, he is from Belgium. We began to work with him in Moscow at the Kremlin Cup. In fact, we worked with him when I was 17-year old. Then we couldn’t continue our joint training and I began to work with Vladimir Platenik. And three years later there was an opportunity to restart working with Philippe Dehaes, and I seized this opportunity. I hope that my work with Philippe Dehaes will bring some substantial results – if not in St. Petersburg then at other tournaments.
– This question is for Anastasia. You have gained new experience playing in the Hopman Cup. Will you play in mixed doubles now? Tell us about it.
– AP: Yes, it’s a good tournament and it’s held in a good place. I really liked the very idea of playing singles, and then mixed doubles and the atmosphere at this tournament. Russia finally was able participate in this tournament, as far as I know our country hadn’t been presented there for eight years.