The best players on the WTA tour talked ahead of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia
On a picture-perfect day at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, the best WTA players of the world talked about their feelings, expectations and hopes ahead of the Masters 1000 of Rome. The sunny day at the Foro Italico helped them feeling relaxed and ready to enjoy a fortnight of tennis in front of the Italian fans.
Swiatek feeling the level is growing
The world number 1 has only flown to Rome yesterday and her first impression on the day was the big spaces that are now at use of players in the refurbished venue of the Foro Italico. “If you see me lost, like Katy Perry, then please save me,” she joked.
With two Roman trophies on her cabinet already, the Pole is the main favourite for the win, also in the light of how dominant her performances always looked in Rome. Thus said, she wants to come with lower shoulders: “It’s tough. It’s always tough. Doesn’t matter how the finals look like. With Ons, it was pretty tight anyway. I remember it was really physical and every point mattered. 2021 I almost lost against Barbora in quarterfinals I think. For sure I have good memories from here, but I’m not expecting this tournament to be easier than any other because it’s tough. Yeah, we’ll see how I’m going to play.”
Sabalenka and the number 1 goal
Coming strong of a final in Stuttgart and the title in Madrid, Aryna Sabalenka is not hiding her dream of overtaking Iga Swiatek on the lead of the WTA rankings.
“I’m doing everything I can to get closer not like to her but to my dream. I’m working really hard. I’m trying to stay focused on every match, every tournament. That’s what I really want to do,” she admitted.
In a sport in which often players prefer to look at abstract concepts rather than mathematical goals, the second seed here in Rome analyzed the advantages of this specific goals being set: “when you have a target, if you have really big motivation, it’s not like easier, but you have a goal behind all those tough practices. It’s easier to keep going. When it’s tough, you remind yourself why you’re doing it. It’s not like easy, but it’s really helping to stay strong and keep pushing yourself to the limits and keep improving yourself.“
Ons Jabeur not short of smiles
The Tunisian player returns to Rome following the final reached 12 months ago: “It was good memories till the final, then it got ruined”, she said smiling throughout. “Yeah, I remember it was a great time here in Rome last year. Hopefully this year will be much better. The most important thing for me is to be healthy and to be back at my level”.
Jabeur is set to return playing after having been forced to skip Madrid, where she was defending champion, due to a tear in her calf that happened during Stuttgart. The process involved a lot of rehab and some boxing session with her husband and trainer.
“I tried to stay active, keep my physical level at the perfect. For me, I was doing a lot of rehab, a lot of PRP, a lot of mental training to get back stronger. I had fun kicking my husband in the face. It was fun,” she joked: “I had a little backup after. But I tried to come back slowly, hit few balls, even though sometimes I was actually sitting on a chair hitting the ball. Yeah, I mean, I really did my best, and hopefully I can be ready here in Rome.”
Gauff already loving the new site
Coco Gauff only arrived to the venue today, but she was immediately blown away by the changes made to the site.
“We have a brand-new site”, she explained: “I didn’t know they were going to make all these improvements. It’s great. I think everyone was a little bit worried how Rome was going to be with the draw expansion. It’s already tight quarters, a lot of walking, but it’s really nice to see how they expanded it. So, I’m excited for that, and playing in front of the Italian fans, as well.”
With every season meaning additional experience for her, the American is feeling confident about her chances in Rome, but she feels she has learned that it is best not put expectations on herself.
“Now I feel like at this point I don’t really expect anything like result-wise. I think I’m just going to try to enjoy it more, more than thinking in the future. Yeah, I mean, at this point I feel like Rome will be easy for me to do that. I do think in Paris it will be a challenge for me to overcome. I think these are the type of moments that make you better. Hopefully I can learn from what happened in Madrid and apply it into this week and in Paris.”