NEW YORK, NY, USA - Former champions, top seeds and rising stars were out in full force during US Open Media Day. Defending champion Naomi Osaka, French Open winner Ashleigh Barty, Wimbledon winner Simona Halep, former champion Sloane Stephens and on-the-rise star Bianca Andreescu hit the court at Louis Armstrong Stadium to meet the press ahead of the year’s final Grand Slam.
Check out some of their best quotes about the City, the tournament, and more.
‘There is no place in the world like New York’
For Roland Garros champion Barty, the key to thriving in the City That Never Sleeps is to embrace the energy and the hustle:
“There is no place in the world like New York. I think I have been here a few times now, and I understand the city a little bit better. I know how it works.
“You come here and you just take it in your stride. You enjoy it. There's no point fighting it. It's a beautiful city, a beautiful place that we get to come and play and compete every single year.
“I love New York city, always have. It's always been a city for me that I've enjoyed my time, love the conditions here in New York. I think it's definitely a spark in my calendar. I love coming back here every year.”
But Halep, who lifted the Wimbledon crown earlier this year, said it’s all about finding moments of calm:
“It's a little bit too much for me, I have to admit that, but I'm getting used to it more and more. I try to adjust myself as much as possible to this atmosphere. It's loud and it's different. Many people around.
“You expect very loud crowds. You expect loud atmosphere here. I'm trying just to stay on my rhythm. I have my restaurants where I'm going. I went to Central Park just to relax myself.”
19-year-old Canadian Andreescu had some recommendations of her own for how to strike the perfect balance between work and play:
“Explore New York, but at the same time be more mindful of that. Don't get too caught up in what's happening in the city. You don't want to get too tired. But that's personally more for me than for anyone else.
“You never know what you're going to see on the streets. There is always just something to do. It's literally the city that never sleeps. I think it does fit into my personality. I think I'm more of a night owl. Obviously I'm going to save that for after the tournament.”
‘I think no one really talks about it’
When asked how players manage their mental health during the grind of the tennis calendar, Barty opened up on her own experiences - and gave advice for other players who find themselves struggling:
“I think I had my own battles with mental health, and it was important for me to begin the conversation and start talking about that. That started with people I trust.
“I think that's probably the most important thing is to know that there are a lot of people in the world that struggle with it. It's not just you. You can go out there and talk to people that you trust. You know, I think then it's about beginning to learn to enjoy everything.
“You know, there are some different parts that come with being a professional tennis player. There are some great parts. I think it's important to embrace and enjoy it all, take it in your stride and take it as it comes. I think that's the best part about it that as tennis players we are shown so much around the world, extremely lucky to be able to do what we do. It's challenging at times but it's also very rewarding.”
Stephens also opened up on her own struggles with life on the road, and recommended to open up a dialogue to support players:
“If you are playing a lot, you're on the road a lot, you're away from home, away from family, it's definitely lonely. It definitely can be depressing, unhappy.
“I think mental health is something we should take more seriously because you are often forced to play when you don't want to play. You're often forced to travel to places you don't want to travel. That's just the way.
“I think no one really talks about it. It is like it's your job, you have to go, whatever. I do think people should take it more seriously because it is lonely.”
‘There are too many good songs out there’
When asked to choose what her walk-on song at the US Open would be, Andreescu barely hesitated:
“Oh, there are too many good songs out there. I'm going to stick with Drake, with my homeboy (laughter). Can't go wrong with that. 'Started From the Bottom.' Literally.”
‘I have been kind of hitting on these courts since I was a kid’
Former champions Stephens and Osaka fielded questions on their favorite things about the US Open, a tournament where both have seen their biggest successes.
For Stephens, it’s all about seeing the red, white and blue flags in the stands:
“I think just in general being an American playing at the US Open is super special. Having won my biggest title here is probably one of the best things to happen in my career. I always look forward to coming back here and playing. The atmosphere, the fans, the support is always incredible.
“Obviously coming back here is super special and exciting to play. I think, just like I said before, being an American at the US Open is probably the coolest thing you can do.”
Meanwhile, the Japan-born, Long Island-raised Osaka loves feeling at home at a tournament she grew up going to:
“I mean, I feel like I have a familiarity [with the courts here]. That's not because I won last year. It's because I have been kind of hitting on these courts since I was a kid. I used to train here.
"So that would be where that familiarity feeling comes from. My feeling last year was I lost three matches in a row before I came here, so I just wanted to, like, get one match. Then it just kept building on from that.
"As opposed to this year, I went to two quarterfinals back to back, and I feel very confident about how I am right now. So, yeah, it's a bit contrasting.”