The Top 8 seeds converged on the Western & Southern Open for a rollicking afternoon of pre-tournament interviews. Check out the best quotes from likes of Karolina Pliskova, Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka, and more!
David Kane
August 13, 2019

CINCINNATI, OH, USA - The Western & Southern Open began in earnest on Monday afternoon, but the Top 8 seeds enjoyed one last day of pre-tournament media before beginning their opening round matches later in the week.

Led by top seed Ashleigh Barty and new World No.1 Naomi Osaka, the sometimes-serious interviews gave way to more than a couple sarcastic quips and catchphrases. Check out some of the best moments from All-Access Hour:

Ashleigh BARTY (AUS)

On whether winning Roland Garros changes how she feels about the clay court season...

I don’t think so! I extended my clay season to where it was the longest I’ve had in my life, but it was a pretty good one. No complaints from me, but then I only played two grass court tournaments for the year, which made me a little bit sad. Still, it was a really successful two-three month period for me and my team, and we enjoyed every minute of it.

On how she spent her post-Wimbledon vacation...

I didn’t think much about tennis at all, to be completely honest. It was time for me to refresh, spend time with my family, and really switch off. It was great, perfect, exactly what I needed, and I felt like when it was time to leave again and time to come over to North America, I was ready to go. I gave myself time to feel like I’m hitting the ball well.

I’m a pretty simple person; it doesn’t take much to please me. It’s a good coffee, a bit of time with my family, my puppy, my niece and nephew, and all the very mundane things we don’t get to do while we’re away. It’s pretty satisfying to have a clean house at home, as well.


On whether she should have played Wimbledon after skipping Roland Garros due to a forearm injury...

Maybe I should have skipped Wimbledon, so I could have had one more week of rest, but my heart would cry if I didn’t play Wimby. I still did a good job over there.

On spending time to rehab her injury...

It’s so boring. I don’t like it! It’s better to be healthy and just practice, and so in the evening, I can be in the bed, be dead. I was still pretty busy, so I couldn’t do a lot; I saw my family on the weekends because that’s when they’re not working.

Naomi Osaka, Western & Southern Open, Cincinnati


On entertaining fans with Instagram Live broadcasts...

You guys know I don’t talk that well, so in a way, it’s a way for me to practice interacting with people, and I like getting entertained. That part’s a little bit hard because – I don’t want to say this – but when the person is not entertaining, I can’t really exit out, because they’re still watching, so I’m just practicing a dialogue. But everyone is super nice.

Click here for more from Osaka's All-Access Hour Interview.

On her perceieved shyness...

I’ve always liked talking to you guys. That’s the one weird thing about me. No offense, but I can talk to cameras and you guys, but when it’s a one on one conversation, I feel like there’s too much pressure and expectation. Here, I’m fine. I think it’s because my dad has been shoving a camera in my face since I was little.


On participating in the Rogers Cup x You Can Play Pride Day initiative...

It was my sponsor, Fila, so they were sponsoring it. I have Conchita Martinez, and I was very good friends with Rennae Stubbs, so it’s something I really support. If someone asked me, I would support it because I know a lot of people. It was nice, and it’s sometimes important to have these kinds of ideas.

On her on-court mentality...

I never really make big dramas out of anything, even on court. It’s not always that I play well or am totally enjoying myself on court, because it’s tough when you’re losing, but I just try. I just try not to take things too seriously and enjoy a little bit. Of course, you can have good moments, tough moments, but it’s important to find a way to enjoy yourself a little bit, and enjoy the tennis. With the atmosphere we have, it’s easier when people support you. I have nice memories here and almost every week at the tournaments I play. I try to do my job, so it’s not like I’m only there because someone’s pushing me.

I just try to do game set and match, do the cabbage patch.

Elina Svitolina, Western & Southern Open, Cincinnati


On GeMs Life Instagram account...

There are fewer people who leave negative comments when we lose. That’s what we’ve noticed, and that’s maybe why we spend a little more time there! There’s not a big difference. We get lots of support; it’s so nice. We didn’t expect that much support from just doing the GEMS account.

We have people who take care of our social media, but you can’t escape negative comments because it’s obvious that it’s there. Social media is about sharing with people who don’t have a chance to go to the tournaments or get to know the professional tennis players.

On relationship with ATP player Gael Monfils...

I won’t say it makes life complicated, but there are some good things and bad things. Most of the time, we’re playing big tournaments together, so he’s here supporting me. He knows tennis, supports me, and even through injuries, he’s there for me and knows the situation I’m in. It might not be great that we’re always in tennis mode, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You have to manage the same way as you would if you were with someone who wasn’t as involved in tennis. For other people, that might be a good thing because it might help take their minds off tennis and the pressure. But it depends on you and what you want.

Simona Halep, Western & Southern Open, Cincinnati

Simona HALEP (ROU)

On Rogers Cup champion Bianca Andreescu...

After her injury, it’s great she could win a big tournament, beating very good players, Top 10 players. She’s a fighter; we can see that. She has good tennis, strong legs, moves well. She had everything to win these tournaments and she showed it, so I’m really happy about that.

Click here to read more from Halep's All-Access Hour Interview.

On playing in North America...

I don’t really know which time of year is my favorite because I’ve played well in Australia, the French, now grass, and here. I will take the whole year as my favorite, and I won’t split. I feel like I’m playing well everywhere.


On other players talking about her as a top player...

It sometimes feels a bit weird. For me, it’s just like, I’m Kiki, trying to do my thing, and I’m just focused on that. In one way, I know I’m a top player; other times I don’t feel that way. So, it’s good to listen to that, and that way I feel it a little bit more.


On social media...

I just blocked somebody this morning. People are people, and everyone’s human, and the human side of this sport means that people can be attacked. People can say whatever they want with no accountability. That’s pretty tough, but the reality of it is that you can be doing really bad, and people can say really mean things to you and you’re supposed to just carry on. At some point, when things get good, those same people will tell you that you’re the best.

Click here to read more from Stephens' All-Access Hour Interview.

Social media is almost like its own job, in how you have to keep up appearances, make sure people see you, and when you play a sport, it’s about helping people keep up with your life so that they feel connected. That’s more of the job part of it. My social media isn’t my real life; it’s more my work life because it’s a lot of tennis photos, or when I’m going to work or a photoshoot. When it’s not so personal, you can separate yourself from it because people do say some things and you’ll think, ‘Damn, that was...' But you just have to brush it off, because it’s no big deal.

On how to deal with social media abuse...

It’s a free-for-all, and you can do whatever you want, but if you say something back, then it’s bad, you get judged because people will say, ‘She’s so mean; I can’t believe she’d say something back to that person.’ You just have to be able to take it, do what’s best for yourself, but I think the tides are changing because some people just don’t care anymore. I’ll think, ‘I can’t say what I really want to say because I can’t say that,’ but other people will. They’re probably a lot happier.