Champions Corner: Mattek-Sands & Safarova Strike A Pose With Second AO Win
Published January 27, 2017 12:16
MELBOURNE, Australia - Bethanie Mattek-Sands took the No.1 ranking with the help of good friend Sania Mirza, but it seems only fitting that the American cement her place atop the doubles game with Lucie Safarova, the partner with whom she began this awesome ascent up the rankings.
Catch up with WTA Insider's exclusive chat with the No.2 seeds as they elaborate on the importance of enjoying the chaos, their increasingly difficult pre-match dance routine, and just how soon Mattek-Sands started celebrating yet another Grand Slam title:
WTA Insider: Beth, another amazing couple of weeks, an amazing partnership with Lucie. You must be just high on life right now; is anything going wrong?
Mattek-Sands: I'm loving life right now. I'm a pretty positive person, and I really look at challenges as an opportunity to learn, even if it wasn't going well. Lucie and I really clicked out on the court, and everyone knows that. Sania and I had a great tournament in Brisbane. I just really enjoy being out there with my friends. We talk a lot; some of it is about tennis, some of it is about life. But we really have fun out there and we're competitors.
I think we all know how hard we work, and we all want to win, but we're there playing each point, one point at a time. That sounds really clichéd, but you really have to go with the ebbs and flows of the match. We were down in that first set today, and down a set at the US Open finals, so we're used to coming back, and we do that one point at a time. I feel like when I have Lucie, my rock, next to me and keeping me positive, we can do anything.
WTA Insider: We talk so much about the chemistry in your partnerships, but just from the technical, boring side of things, you and Lucie clicked from the get-go and so do you and Sania. What is it about these partners, from a tennis perspective, that works for you?
Mattek-Sands: From a tennis perspective, I always know what my partner likes best; I always know which is their money shot. For Lucie, a lot of times we use her leftyness, whether it's on the serve or her forehand. We set up points that way, and we take into account who we're playing. Some opponents like baseline, others like the net, and we try to pinpoint the ins and outs of our opponents.
For the most part, I like to be at net, but we're not afraid to both play from the back of the court either, and I think that's one of the things that makes us tricky to play. We can change up so many things; one set I can be serving and volleying, and then the next set, we're both back. That mix-up can be tough for opponents to adjust to.
Lucie and I joke about it because at the end of some of these points, we talk about how much we love the chaos. That's kind of how we play; we don't mind crossing, or sometimes I'm at the net standing in the middle and poor Lucie is behind me trying to guess which side I'm going. That's just part of our game; we fly by the seat of our pants, trying to play aggressive.
WTA Insider: In singles, everyone has a style, and there's a tendency to focus only on your own game. In doubles, there seems to be more permutations on what you can do on the court, and that allows for more creativity.
Mattek-Sands: You're constantly trying to figure out angles on the doubles court. When you're sensing someone's close the net, you hit a lob, for example. There's a lot of this second sense or improvisation, which I enjoy. I love being ahead of the game, faking my opponent out at net on the direction I choose.
To me, that's a win, not just winning the point, but figuring out opponents and getting in their heads. Once we figure out something that's working, we do keep going there; there's no reason to overdo it either. That's one of the reasons why Lucie is a great partner for me, because she can recognize that, be consistent and make those play calls.
If it were up to me, I'd be like, 'Tweener on the next lob, then a drop shot!' That's what makes a great partnership, the yin and yang.
WTA Insider: Fans sometimes have a hard time following doubles because teams break up. When you don't have a consistent rooting interest, that can be tough. I feel like we're seeing more top teams sticking together. Do you sense that having the Team Bucie identity helps in any way?
Mattek-Sands: Definitely. We have people in the stands coming up with Team Bucie cheers, and half the time it's Czech fans and I have to ask Lucie what they're saying. What were they saying?
(Lucie Safarova arrives).
Mattek-Sands: See, they add a little flair.
Safarova: My name in Czech is pronounced like Lutsya, so they pronounce it the Czech way, but I prefer Bucie. It sounds better.
Mattek-Sands: That has a little flavor too.
WTA Insider: But speaking of developing a following, talk about the dance. How did that start?
Mattek-Sands: Shaun T has been here in Australia, watching all of our matches. This guy really brings energy.
Safarova: So positive.
Mattek-Sands: I thought I was pretty high-energy, but this guy beats me out by far. He's a fitness trainer, and he has some dance videos, like the Insanity workout. This guy's dance moves are amazing, and it's fun.
Safarova: It's a lot of fun, and it's a good workout.
Mattek-Sands: That's my new goal, leaning how to dance with Shaun T! But we decided to have him choreograph a Team Bucie pre-match warm-up routine, and it just started after one of our matches. He's an amazing teacher; I didn't think I'd be able to pick up the steps. We practiced it a few times, but he's great at getting us in sync. He picked out the song, and that's why at the end of the match, the song came on, and we were like, 'Let's do this.'
But it's a lot of fun, something different, and Shaun was happy to do it. We're apparently adding more to it, so it's going to get more complicated. Stay on the lookout, then. I was practicing a little bit in my room last night and again in the locker room this morning.
WTA Insider: But Lucie, now that I have you here as well, I have a very important question to ask you. How hard it is to keep up with her in the post-tournament celebrations?
Safarova: Actually, I came to the locker room this morning, and she opens the locker. Usually she has oatmeal, honey, and healthy stuff. Instead, she had tequila! I was like, 'Tequila, already?'
Mattek-Sands: I came prepared, no matter what happens. I legit have a bottle of tequila in my locker. They have limes here, so I'm not worried about that.
Safarova: But I keep up.
Mattek-Sands: She does; I'm proud of her.
WTA Insider: How does it feel to be able to finish off your tournament with a trophy?
Safarova: It's amazing. It's the best finish we could have possibly had, and after two years, winning again and holding the trophy, it's been so much fun. We had a blast the whole two weeks. It's almost a pity it's over.
Mattek-Sands: You're here almost two and half weeks, and then when it's over, you can't believe it.