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From Naomi Osaka to Daniil Medvedev, the best from today’s meetings of top tennis stars with the press at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
Naomi Osaka and her philosophy
The second seed of the WTA tournament comes to Rome following an early upset in Madrid, but her mood was nonetheless optimistic.
“Honestly, I feel like that’s the reason why I’m here for match prep. I think, you know, actually in a weird way I’m kind of glad I’m not winning”, she explained calmly. Finding herself in need of dealing with her least favourite surface, Osaka is taking the time to make the small adjustments her game needs on clay: “I know that sounds a bit off, but I feel like I’m learning a lot. It kind of gives me a lot of drive to practice harder and to learn from all my practices”.
“I would say for me mentally”, was the reply when asked what the hardest part of this adaptation to the surface process is: “At the beginning when I first started training on clay, physically it was definitely very hard, but I’m the type that adapts quite quickly physically. So, I would just say mentally it’s a bit harder because you have to structure the points differently. I also think there are bad bounces and stuff. I get quite frustrated. So, yeah, mentally I think it’s a bit more taxing”.
Daniil Medvedev coming to terms with clay
Soon-to-be world number 2 Daniil Medvedev had also a similar approach to the tournament as Osaka’s. The Russian has made it no secret to dislike playing on clay, yet he calmly gave his reasons.
“Every time I play first tournaments on clay it’s really tough on my body, because I feel like my game is not adapted to it, so I have to force my body, my shots. My muscles to do something they are not used to”, he explained. “I feel like Madrid was a good tournament finally. Match with Garin was good match also, even if I lost. So hopefully I can get some confidence going more and more”.
Despite his early loss in Madrid, he will find himself passing Rafael Nadal in the ATP rankings from tomorrow.
“Every match I win, the further I go in the tournaments, the better for me”, he commented on his situation during the clay swing: “I’m not looking to make, like Rafa, 5,000 points during clay season, you know. But the more I make, the better it is, and the better it will be for my confidence on other surfaces, the better it will be for the ranking to be seeded. Maybe on some, yeah, like for example Roland Garros, I don’t care if I’m seeded second or third one. Doesn’t make a difference for me who to play in the semifinal, to be honest. But some other Grand Slam it can make a difference”.
Elina Svitolina’s good memories
On the other hand, two-time Rome champion Elina Svitolina is over the moon to be back at the Foro Italico. Similarly to Simona Halep, the Ukrainian is returning to Rome with plenty good memories to boost her mood.
“This year it’s a bit quicker coming around, and we just kind of played, feels like, not long ago here in Rome”, she smiled: “It’s nice. It’s one of my favourite tournaments to play here. Winning here twice definitely brings lots of good memories. Really happy to be playing here”.