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Indian Wells Notebook: He Better Be Back

As is customary at the beginning of a high level event such as this one, the WTA's top eight give up an hour of their time for All Access Hour. Alexandra Willis picks out a few highlights...

Published March 06, 2014 12:12

Indian Wells Notebook: He Better Be Back
Li Na

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - It's a certain fact that tennis players undergo more interviews than almost any other athlete. They are required to make themselves available after every match they play, and that's before any one-on-ones, features, photoshoots and the like.

With that in mind, the WTA's All Access Hour presents the media with a self-imposed challenge to change it up a little, and ask the players something more entertaining than just the usual 'Do you like this tournament' or 'What's your favourite shot.'

So it was that Agnieszka Radwanska found herself clutching balloons with a princess party crown on her head (it's her birthday), Petra Kvitova produced her go-to dance move (think penguin), Jelena Jankovic hula hooped in her new Fila dress, Maria Sharapova revealed she really can sing, and Angelique Kerber announced she would like to be a comedy actor as WTA's Live All Access Hour endeavoured to get a smile on every player's face.

Another highlight along the media pit stop was a dual challenge set by the tournament, testing the players' recognition skills and throwing ability. The top eight were first asked to pick out their fellow players out of a baby photo line-up, and then get four water balloons as close to a target as possible.

There was varying success.

While Sharapova successfully identified all of the youngsters, Maria herself was apparently not so familiar as a baby, one player saying 'Is that Rafa?'

Li Na meanwhile managed to hit tournament mascot Champ with her water balloon instead of the rather large stationary target she was meant to be aiming for. Even more unfortunately for her, Radwanska saw the miss in its entirety, and took the opportunity to let Li know she had managed four out of four. Not that tennis players are competitive.

Also around and about was Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who produced three 'did you knows'. She's learning to knit (just hats and scarves for the moment), her husband Justin cooks a mean steak, and her favourite way to spend a Sunday is watching NFL Red Zone.

On a more serious note, there were some interesting revelations too. Sharapova described carrying the Olympic flame at Sochi as one of the biggest honours of her career, admitting the hardest part was 'not dropping it.' Li, top seed here this week, mentioned that winning another Grand Slam and becoming world No.1 are future goals on her agenda, while Victoria Azarenka discussed her recent struggles with multiple injury interruptions.

But thought for the day went to Sharapova. Asking after tennis reporter Matt Cronin, very much in everyone's thoughts as he recovers from brain surgery, she said: "Well he better be back. We want him back. Okay, Matt?"

It was a poignant end to an entertaining day.

Alexandra Willis (@alex_willis) is a London-based tennis writer and editor, and manages the digital, social media and publications for Wimbledon, while also contributing to a variety of other outlets.

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