By Tucker Verdi
The 2018 Miami Open has kicked off and will feature most of the biggest names in the sport from Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic on the men’s side to Venus and Serena Williams and World No. 1 Simona Halep.
Some of the tournaments top players got a chance to sit down with the media and answer questions ranging from Serena’s return to the game, their thoughts on the Miami Open moving to Hard Rock Stadium, and March Madness.
Players participating in media day were Caroline Wozniacki, Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza, Caroline Garcia, and Jelena Ostapenko of the WTA Tour and Grigor Dmitrov, Jack Sock, Marin Cilic, Alexander Zverev, and Novak Djokovic of the ATP Tour.
Wozniacki, who enjoyed a red velvet cupcake courtesy of Sasha Zverev, spoke of the relief of winning her first Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January and how it affects her play now.
“I think once I go to the next Grand Slam – the French Open – I’ll feel differently, I’ll feel less pressure. I think that will be the biggest difference for me.” The former World No. 1 added that her mindset wouldn’t be any different at the Miami Open though, saying, “These tournaments I approach the same way.”
Dmitrov, who called himself a “creature of habit,” said that while he has enjoyed the years of coming to Key Biscayne, that the move next year to Hard Rock Stadium is “exciting” and that “ATP and everyone has done such a great job over the years of trying to please the players.”
Djokovic, who is looking to win his seventh Miami Open to break the tie for most titles with coach Andre Agassi, broke the news that his elbow doesn’t seem to be causing him anymore pain, saying, “Well to be honest with you I actually started playing pain-free in the last two days so its quite refreshing because everything else was pain-involved.”
The former World No. 1 has been using a strange warm-up method to strengthen the muscles around his elbow: tossing a baseball. With a mitt on one hand and a noticeably less yellow ball in the other, Djokovic plays catch with his trainer, explaining, “It’s one of the ways I warm up and get my body and my mind synchronized with a certain motion that I would like to have when I serve because that’s where I have compromised my elbow the most.”
World No. 4 Svitolina, who has the unenviable task of playing either 23-time Grand Slam champ Serena Williams or Naomi Osaka – the winner at Indian Wells riding a hot streak, said she doesn’t have a preference for an opponent, adding “I’m just going to wait for a winner and go from there.”
The young Ukrainian actually participated in the draw ceremony, but says she “didn’t even notice” during the draw that she stood to take on one of the two formidable players.
American No. 1 Jack Sock, who called his play thus far in 2018 “atrocious,” feels that his month off after the Australian Open has him physically and mentally ready to compete.
The Kansas-native was asked on his way out about the state of his NCAA Tournament bracket.
Sock no doubt hopes he can do his part to get the Miami Open bracket to hold for a while, as he looks to get past fellow American Sam Querrey and into a second consecutive quarterfinal here in Key Biscayne.