INDIAN WELLS, California - The race to qualify for the Akron WTA Finals Guadalajara is heading up and the BNP Paribas Open. The last WTA 1000 event of the season will play a big part in the final regular-season standings on the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals Leaderboard. The Top 8 seeds, as well as defending champion Bianca Andreescu, US Open stars Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez, and American Coco Gauff all spoke to reporters ahead of their opening matches.
WTA Insider rounds up the best insights from Media Day:
Iga Swiatek, who sits at No.7 on the Porsche Race Leaderboard, on her motivation to qualify for her first WTA Finals:
"I'm pretty happy, first of all, that I still have energy and motivation because that's my first [full] year on tour and I didn't really know how I'm going to cope with playing tournaments the whole year without basically any break. Because of the Olympics, we didn't have any break. I just took four days off in the middle of the season, so hopefully it's going to be enough for my motivation to last till the end of the season.
"But playing the WTA Finals, really, it's something special. You know, I never actually thought about that before because usually I was just focusing on playing good at Grand Slams. But right now, when we're actually heading to the end of the Race and we are getting closer to this tournament, I'm just getting excited. So on one side, I would really like to qualify, and it's really exciting for me. But on the other side, I know that the most important thing is to just stay focused and keep doing the same thing I did during the whole season because sometimes when you just don't think about what may come, it's easier to play and work.
"Still, I know that even if this tournament is not going to go well I still have some chances to get more points. I'm just really happy that I still have power. I don't have any injury. Because it's the end of the season, many players are coping with that."
Maria Sakkari, who sits at No.5 in the Race, on her motivation :
"It would sound crazy and stupid if I said that I'm not motivated because I'm trying to achieve one of the biggest goals of my career for the first time, which is the Finals. I'm more motivated than I was the first week of the year.
"It's the end of the season. I know that other players are tired. I know that other players don't have that goal. I know that with a couple of good results, I'm probably going to make it. It doesn't put me any stress, it doesn't make me feel any pressure, but I know that I can and I see myself over there.
"So my motivation is pretty high and I'm feeling fresh. I'm making clever decisions with practice and rest and everything in order for me to last until middle of November. It feels great that we have that opportunity to be here and collect some points for the Finals."
Top seed Karolina Pliskova on how she turned her season around to qualify for the WTA Finals:
"Normally I don't really follow rankings and Race at all. [I follow] the Race a bit more than ranking because at least you kind of know where you are. Then I could see in the beginning that maybe I was like No.30 or 40. I never started a year like this in the last five or six years. So I was like, 'OK, that's really bad,' you know?
"But then still, I believed there are still so many big tournaments. Then once I got closer and I was like No.15, I was like, 'OK, that's really good. I'm No.15, I'm getting closer.' But of course, still there are huge points that you need to be in the top eight. Now [I'm] actually back in the Top 5 after a couple of years.
"So super proud about that, that we didn't give up. I think it could easily go the wrong way, just to go, 'OK, whatever, this year is horrible, COVID and bubbles and everything, I was tired. But I'm just proud that we somehow stayed [with it] and even made it much better. I think that was the best second part of the year that I had ever."
US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez on Maria Sharapova's encouragement at the Met Gala:
"I was lucky enough to meet Maria Sharapova at the Met, and we kind of chatted a little bit and she gave me some pretty good advice. I don't want to disclose any of it because it's very personal to me, but I was very lucky to have met her and she is an amazing person. She told me her own experience and the way that she was able to bounce back. She's just a great person, great inspiration to look up to and to just get better every day."
Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova on qualifying for her first WTA Finals as a singles player:
"Most of these things I have actually experienced in doubles, so it's going to be way different. I'm not going to say a little different. It's going to be way different. It's just going to be huge for me because I'm going to be playing WTA Finals in singles and also in doubles, which is really exciting. I'm going to have a really, really tough week. But it's just really a privilege to be there. To qualify it says that I've been having a really good year and I'm really proud of it."
Chicago champion Garbiñe Muguruza on playing the first fall edition of Indian Wells:
"I feel it's very refreshing to have this tournament now. Other times we usually have to have longer swings and travel to different places and different jet lag. In my case, I just stretched the US Open series until here and not having just to go back to Europe, go back to Asia. I just stayed here and it doesn't feel weird."
Defending champion Bianca Andreescu's advice to the successful teenagers on tour:
"The advice I would give is to always remain grateful, even if you're having the hugest successes, because it can all be taken away from you in a split second. For me, it was being injured two months after and that was really hard for me. I feel like I didn't savor it as much. That's one thing I learned now that I wish I did back then.
"Don't let it go too much in your head. Stay confident, obviously, but you know, don't become stuck up or, you know, I want to Grand Slam, so look at me. Just stay humble. Remain grateful and continue to work hard because everyone says, at least in my experience, it's easy to get to the top. But stay staying at the top is what is the hardest part."
Petra Kvitova on her tough task at Indian Wells:
"I didn't really have the best results here so far. I made quarterfinal, I think, maybe once or twice.
"But for me, this tournament, it's such a beautiful event, the place and everything, so quiet and everything. But the surface and the balls, it's nothing for me, unfortunately. It's not flying at all. It's very slow. It's bouncing so high. For me, it's really difficult to play here, actually. I know it's not humid, which is good, but it could be very hot as I already had it in my practices. So it's very, very tough, especially at this time. The weather is just totally different compared to March.
"And for me, because it's my last tournament of the season, playing here it's even tougher. I know it will be physically, mentally, really tough. I know it's not really suiting my game, so that's maybe even worse and tougher."