Congratulations on your win, how did the idea of your duo occurred to you and what are the prospects for you two to play together in the future?
Ekaterina Makarova: I didn’t particularly plan to play doubles in St. Petersburg. I texted a couples of girls after Australia, but they were not going to play this tournament. After that I got a message from Margarita suggesting we play together. I thought that I might play well with Rita – she plays an active and aggressive tennis – I agreed, and now we are sitting here.
Margarita, you also reached French Open semifinals in 2016 with Svetlana Kuznetsova. Do you plan to concentrate more on doubles? Do you pay attention on preparing for doubles?
Margarita Gasparyan: Yes, I really love to play doubles, but, unfortunately, I didn’t play many doubles matches last year, because I was more focused on singles. But this year I will play a lot more doubles and gain experience.
How quickly did you manage to establish connection between each other? It seemed that you understand each other well on the court. And what are the perspectives for your pair?
Е.М.: We needed literally only one match. Our first round match was very tough. As we have played together for the first time, we had to get used to each other, find out each other’s strong sides, and understand which combinations to play to be able to win. Sometimes it’s good to get such a touch first match. It allowed us to make a leap forward, and then it became easier to play next matches together, and we continued to win. As for the future, it’s difficult to answer. In Dubai I play doubles with the Czech Lucie Hradecka. And in Indian Wells, I don’t know yet, I haven’t negotiated with anyone and I don’t know exactly what plans I have for doubles. I really enjoyed playing with Margarita. She is a very good girl, very positive. Personally I felt very easy with her on the court. She always listened to my instructions and comments, and performed really well according to them.
М.G.: I tried to do so(laughter)! I wasn’t good at everything (laughter)!
Е.М.: We can always discuss everything with Margarita.
М.G.: In fact, all our matches were very difficult despite the score. It was tough to play against each pair of the draw. It wasn’t easy to reach the final at all. As Ekaterina said, it is probably better to have such a difficult first round. And then we quickly managed to tune ourselves up for the game, and began to understand each other well.
You lost in the first round in singles here. You, Ekaterina, are having some sort of a slump, you, Margarita, on the contrary, have reintegrated the Top100. Do you plan to return to the same level and raise your game t in singles, as it was in 2016?
Е.М.: This year I have played a few tournaments so far (laughter). This is only the second tournament since the beginning of the season. I somehow did not want to go early to Australia, it was a conscious decision to start only with the Australian Open. Therefore, I haven’t played a lot of games in singles. I am a player who likes to get in shape through matches. I believe that our victory is very important. Thanks to playing in doubles too, sometimes you get better and gain confidence, and it (playing in pairs) is already helping me. I think that in Dubai I am definitely going to play singles a bit better.
М.Г.: I have also, in fact, played not so many matches. I failed to play either in Auckland and Sydney due to injury. So I started my season with Australian Open. And this is my second tournament. It is probably good that I played the qualifications, I had three matches. Because of it, I’ve gained great confidence.
Last year you, Ekaterina, achieved your goal and became world №1 in doubles. Now you are in the Top10 in doubles. Do you a goal to return to the top of the ranking in doubles? What were your feelings when you climbed to the top of the rankings?
Е.М.: The experience was very pleasant and interesting. When we flew with Lena (Vesnina) to the Olympics, she turned 30 on that day. And then we became Olympic champions. Later, when we already learned that the girls (rivals to Vesnina and Makarova in the fight for the 1st place in the doubles ranking) lost at “Roland Garros”, we realized that we would be ranked first (in doubles). And on that day I celebrated my birthday – I turned 30 years old. We laughed at this coincidence with Lena. This is such a lucky number for us. It was very nice and good for inner confidence, for tennis, for our career. I can’t say that there is a burning desire to return to the first place. I just like to play doubles. I enjoy it. If there I show good results, the ranking will improve too.
You each have your own coach. Have all four of you shared experiences between each other?
M.G.: Of course, each of us tried to add something to the game. We all worked together, and achieved good result.
E.М: Eugenia Aleksandrovna Maniokova, taught Elena (Vesnina) and me how to play doubles, because she herself played it well in her days. Based on this experience, I myself have developed my understanding of the game in a pair. We always came to one decision. We passed on our experience to Margarita. And Carlos [the coach of Margarita Gasparyan] suggested interesting things from male perspectives.
Margarita, how do like working with Carlos? What did he bring to your game?
М.G.: I really enjoy working with him. We started working with him last year. I am extremely grateful to him for the support that he gave me last year. I really hope that we will have a good result with him.
Did you manage to get some free time in St. Petersburg, to see something? And will you come back next year?
Е.М.: Of course, we will try to come back here. I had one day-off when, and I seized this opportunity to visit the Menshikov Palace. It really impressed me a lot. I think visiting this palace brought us luck.
М.G.: Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit anything, because I played the qualification round, and then I got sick. I really hope that next year I will have an opportunity to come here and see something.