PARIS, France - Three years after receiving an automated email from the WTA informing her she was still eligible for qualifying at Roland Garros in 2013, Timea Bascinszky is back into the Round of 16 for the second consecutive year in Paris. The surprise semifinalist of 2015 advanced on Saturday with a 6-2, 6-4 win over France's Pauline Parmentier.
Despite being one of the best players on clay the last two years and putting together a strong clay season this year, the 26-year-old from Lausanne has been under the radar throughout the first week in Paris. She has not lost more than four games in any given set and has breezed through the early rounds, which included a strong win over Eugenie Bouchard in the second round.
And Bacsinszky has been dazzling both on court and off. One of the best talkers in the game, the World No.9 has been holding court in the interview room as well, touching on all topics. Whether discussing strategy and tactics or food and fun, Bacsinszky has a gift with with words.
Here are some highlights:
On her tactics against Pauline Parmentier:
"Her forehand was so strong today that I had to find solutions to neutralize this forehand and then I had to play my game. And then when the balls were changed, her forehand was again very strong. It's one of the forehand shots on the courts that's the strongest of all. It's her biggest weapon.
And then I thought that afterwards if I play long rallies, if she's to make an extra effort, then maybe I'll be able to win a few points here and there, either to make her run or because she would make a mistake.
So this is what I decided to focus on, to be very consistent, to show her that she would have to fight for each point, and that I would change the game, that is, change the speed, change the angles, change the returns and my serves.
I think that during the first set I was very solid, very efficient to finish the first set. I didn't really feel I was brilliant or anything like that in the last game of the first set. But tactically speaking I managed to show her that she would have to understand what to expect from me. You know, I was showing her I am ready for this match."
On friendships on tour:
"I'm not looking for any type of conflict with any player whatsoever. It's totally useless. So I'm really in favor of peace. If there is one of them who doesn't want to speak to me, I'm not going to come to her and speak to her. That's the way I am.
But then if I feel there is a feeling with some players, then, yeah. For instance, Pauline, well, if we're at the same hotel, sometimes, for example, in Rabat we played, both of us, and in the morning at breakfast I was alone and she asked if she could sit and have breakfast with me. And of course we did that. We had breakfast together.
And Pauline, I have known her for years. We have played many matches as in the same team or against one another, together also during doubles. So I have been seeing her for a long while. So we are close.
But I wouldn't say this is deep friendship. I know some things about her. She knows some things about me. But my friends in Switzerland, it's totally different. I have a group of friends. That's different type of friendship, and with the players, it's not as deep.
On how friendships can affect a match:
"Knowing someone well is something that helps you understand their tactics during the match. For instance, if someone is well organized in life, I don't think that this person on a court will do anything and everything, you know?
There is a Ukrainian player who is amazing, a Ukrainian player -- Dolgopolov. That's the name. I don't think in life he's very organized. I don't know.
What happens on a tennis court is something that mirrors the person you are. These are the little things that you can see in the locker rooms. If a girl folds her towels away, et cetera, everything is clean and neat, if during a match you can break her game, maybe she's going to be lost.
I don't know. These are ideas I have that come to my mind. So to have deep friendships in tennis is okay, but, you know what we want to do, tennis is our bread and butter. We want to win. We can't give too much space to others. So we have to find the right balance, I think."
On playing on the major show courts:
"I think for a tennis player what's important is that, if you don't like playing on a big court, you aren't doing the right job, I think. The higher you go in the rankings, the more tournaments you play, the more you're given this honor. I take it this way. It's an honor to be able to play on the biggest courts.
This is what people expect. They want a show. It really is status enhancing. We practice sometimes in the dark when no one is looking at us, when we're doubting. And all the sports people will tell you the same.
You know, if the career is going up all the time, no, no, this never happens. It has ups and downs. So if you're on the central court anywhere in the world, then this is a moment to remember, a moment you will remember. It's always something special to play on a big court.
I'll never be fed up with that except the day I decide to withdraw altogether. But that's not what I intend to do."
On recent complaints about the coverage of women's tennis in France:
"What I expect is not to be in the spotlight. To be in the spotlights, you have to deserve it. I'll never think, Okay, why are they talking more about Stan and Rog when I've just won a match? Look at all the titles they have. I have perhaps something like 10% of Rog's titles or wins. This would be my dream.
I don't know about the French. I don't know if the French, if the Frenchmen are, how can I say, have results that are a lot better than women's results. I don't know.
But I have always wondered about this. And again, it's me talking to myself: If you want people to talk more about yourself, play better. Be better. You can't expect anything else.
Being ranked 50th in the world, I wouldn't expect anybody to praise my games. You know, it's very nice to be 50, to be around 50. It's really good. 50th in the world. It's so big, so huge.
But then some people are doing better than that, so if there is less buzz, less buzz about women's tennis, I don't know what the reason is. It's been the case for years and years. So what's the point in fighting and struggling and saying, Okay, we shouldn't talk about women's tennis this way. We should change -- no, it's a fact. Either you accept it or not.
People talk about men's tennis. You know, I don't want to go against this trend. I'm trying to do my best. And that's about it.
Then if people talk about me, that's good. If nobody talks about me, what's the saying, I think in French we say, to live happily you have to live in the dark. That's good for me. I don't want to always be in the spotlight."
On her tactics against Eugenie Bouchard:
"I couldn't get my bearings on a big court. There is a lot of space around the court. Even though I warmed up 30 minutes in the morning, I couldn't get the groove, and she had different tactics in comparison to the last time I played against her.
She expected me to put a lot of variation in my game, so I had to find another game plan in order to get the upper hand. I was down 3-Love, but I was not really concerned. Not worried. Because she was not head and shoulders above me.
It was just a matter of adaptation. And when I managed to change my game plan, my tactics, my game intentions, things went differently, and I managed to hit balls inside the court. So I got the upper hand slowly but surely until the start of the second set."
"Last time I played against her, I changed the pace. I changed the tempo with more variation. Last time I played against her two-and-a-half months ago, it was on a hard court with high bounces. It was quite hot. The court was different.
Today it was different. Clay was slow. So I played against her on big center court, so there was a lot of space. But she expected me to have a lot of variation in my game. She expected me to deliver lots of dropshots, so the first dropshot that I hit, she managed to chase it down. So I said to myself, Let's change the tactic.
What is good is to have lots of game plans under your belt. At the start of the match I wanted to open the court to attack and to hit the ball deep, because at the start of the match, I mean, I played short balls.
So when you hit the ball deep in the court, normally you are not attacked. So I tried to change my game plan. So it was a matter of knowing who would take the upper hand first, especially on clay. Then I wanted to make the most of the short balls in order to deliver some deep shots or dropshots."
After being asked for her opinion on Bouchard' psychology during their match:
"You should put the question to her. I don't know if she's delivered her press conference. I mean, I can tell you about my feelings. I don't have the power to be in the minds of other people. I'm working on it, but it's very difficult to have this power. So you need to introduce me to the person who can read in the minds of other people."
On having NHL hockery player Nino Niederreiter in her player's box:
"I don't know him very well, by the way. Switzerland is small country. Through the social networks, you can exchange your views with other Swiss athletes. With Nino Niederreiter, Swiss-German, Thomas Weisel was there for my first match.
So it's cool. It's great to have however many personalities, personalities are from sports or from another field. It's great to have them, especially when they want to watch a match and to watch my match.
I was a little bit late for this press conference. Why? Explain to you. So before taking a shower, I met this person, and I thought that we would talk four or five minutes, and at the end of the day we talked 20 minutes, and it was with two wrestlers. I didn't know them very well, so we discussed 20 minutes only.
There were so many topics, I mean, to talk about regarding the source of inspiration now. So when you have an unconventional sportsman, it's a source of inspiration for me. So I would like to thank him and he will turn up on Saturday, so I hope that I will be in a position to talk more with him."
On her pre-tournament preparation, practicing indoors:
So I will practice on my own without trying to play outdoors, because I have played so many matches on clay. Roland Garros, it's the most pleasant type of clay in a certain way. All the types of clay I practice on, I know that I practice perhaps even harder because the clay is not as good as here.
But then this affected me, if I can say, had an impact on me during the first games of the match, but after a while, I managed to hit long and heavy points, and that was my cruise speed, I can say."
On players choosing to skip the Olympics:
"I'm not going to pass judgment on their decisions. They decide their career themselves. I'm delighted to take part in the Olympic Games, but if they don't want to play in Rio, it is their choice. It is their priority. That's all.
It's a matter of priorities. It depends on the importance that you attach to a tournament. For example, Radwanska, she's decided not to play in Rome. Is it a good choice? Is it a bad choice? It depends on the player. It depends on Radwanska in this case.
It depends on the plans that you have for the weeks to come. And the same goes for the Olympic Games. There are some pros and cons. There are lots of tournaments. It's very difficult to establish the right schedule.
I have heard that Dominic Thiem is playing all the tournaments. But if a player makes a decision, I mean, we have to respect the decision. It's a matter of schedule. It's a matter of priorities. I'm not in a position to tell you whether it's good or bad. I don't have any opinion on that."
On her visit to the Food Truck Festival in Lausanne:
"You know what I love? I love food. It's something that's very important for me.
I love discovering so many things. It's a big problem, there are so many things to eat. They were kind enough to give me arancini from Sicily and then soft shell tacos, a vegetarian meal. Another one was pulled pork. And then a hot dog with French fries. All of this with my best friend, you know. I'd like to say hello to her, by the way. She loves food as much as I love.
She doesn't know anything about tennis. I don't know anything about horse riding. But what we love, what unites us is this discovery of food.
Then there is the Hungarian specialty called kurtoskalacs, and, well, I hope the interpreters can understand this, or the typists write this down, it's called in French gateau d'cheminee, it's like a chimney or a stack. It's pastry that's on a wooden type of base and then it's dipped into sweet water and then it's grilled. I suppose you love that but I love talking about this."
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.