Since the rain was beating down hard for much of the morning and afternoon, I took advantage of the opportunity to attend some the press conferences held as part of the All-Access Hour. It’s the first time i’ve ever been media so it was a new experience for me. Here are some of the highlights…
The day began with a press conference to announce a new £44 million single site investment for the Devonshire Park site in Eastbourne. The LTA chief executive, Michael Downey was in attendance, as was Johanna Konta. It was also my first ever press conference haha!
It was announced that there is a new long-term agreement in place for the Aegon International to run until 2026. The venue will also see the construction of a new show court, off-site practice facilities (which really concerns me because I love the access here right now) and new player facilities. Eastbourne will return as a joint event next year and the draw sizes were confirmed today.
WTA: 32 player qualifying draw, 48 player main draw and 16 player doubles draw
ATP: 16 player qualifying draw, 28 player main draw and 16 player doubles draw
Interestingly, qualifying will start on Friday next week… This could change my plans next year!
After the press conference about Devonshire Park, Konta stuck around to complete her pre-tournament press conference. The Brit was in reasonably jolly form. She dismissed claims that her start to the grass court season hadn’t been successful and cited the quality opposition she had had to face in Nottingham and Birmingham. She was also asked about the possibility of Andy Murray coming to Eastbourne as the ATP tournament will return next year, to which she said she’d have a chat to see if he wants to come down to Eastbourne! In all seriousness, that’s never going to happen! Konta also spoke about the perks of playing a tournament where she can stay at home – she can ask her mum and dad to make breakfast!
Agnieszka Radwanska was up next and commented the awful weather in Birmingham and having to conduct half of her practises indoor. . She also spoke about watching Euro 2016.
She was also asked about the possibility of playing CoCo Vandeweghe in the second round (Note – the American player has now pulled out of the tournament) to which she said she was looking forward to the prospect of possible revenge!
Belinda Bencic was up next and was very chatty and smiley as ever (as i’ve already mentioned from my post on the practice courts!). She sounds good to go after pulling out from Birmingham last week. Encouraging news is that the injury she picked up last week is not in any way related to the back.
Belinda is just like us tennis fans, she has TennisTV!
Belinda Bencic also confirmed that she will play doubles with Martina Hingis at the Olympics. She said that Stan Wawrinka hasn’t decided yet about mixed doubles as Hingis will pair up with Roger Federer. Belinda also said that Bacsinszky hopes to play doubles at the Olympics with Xenia Knoll, if she is allowed to play (she hasn’t played the three Fed Cup ties).
Timea Bacsinszky was up next… I warmed to her even more, she’s great! Her press conference went on much, much longer than anyone else and she goes into such meticulous detail – I LOVE the detail! I was also chuffed because I asked my first ever question in a press conference and she gave me eye contact with the response. There was also a funny moment when Bacsinszky stuck her tongue out… we then realised Bencic had walked behind the press making faces at Bacsinszky. They seem to get on really well 🙂
Timea was asked about her relationship on grass. One of the highlights of the press conference was her description of Roehampton qualifying as a potato field haha!
Timea also spoke about her run to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year and overcoming Monica Niculescu!
And Timea’s assessment of her game on grass… she seems positive!
And then I asked Timea about how she copes with the rain delays! It turns out her best friend has been with her in Eastbourne.
When I left the media room later on in the day, I walked past Timea eating a sandwich and she smiled at me! 🙂
The last press conference was Roberta Vinci, which was the least well attended. Roberta said of all the surfaces, she is most going to miss grass!
Vinci commented about preferring to play matches the week before a Slam rather than just practice.
I asked Roberta about how she was feeling physically after all the injuries she had during the clay court season. It sounds like she is good to go!
And Roberta validated again that she likes the grass.
Roberta was lovely!