They said it in Indian Wells


images.jpg
The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells draws the best tennis players in the world. The tournament concluded today, when Naomi Osaka, an unseeded 20-year-old from Florida by way of Japan (sort of) won the women's title, knocking off another 20-year-old, Daria Kasatkina, from Russia. Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, 29, took the men's title in a tough match against fan favorite Roger Federer, who is 100 years old and, until today, hadn't lost in 17 consecutive matches. For their couple weeks of work, the winners cash checks for
$1,340,860.

The players uniformly love this tournament, as do the fans -- this year's attendance was upward of 450,000. Few players, however, enjoy the post-match obligatory news conferences, and it doesn't matter if they won or lost. Seldom is anything insightful or notable said, by the media or the players. Occasionally, however, the listener is amused.

Media Question: Will you be watching Serena and Venus play tonight?
Answer: Yes I'm looking forward to putting my feet up and getting, like, a cheese burger or something..."
Q: What's your favorite burger?
A: In-N-Out, Double-Double with cheese fries, probably a milkshake. ... If you're gonna do it bad, do it real bad.
-- Sloane Stephens, after her third-round loss to Daria Kasatkina

Q: What's your favorite place in Europe?
A: Barcelona.
Q: What is your favorite or what's the best Spanish food? Do you drink Spanish wine?
A: Good question (smiling). I'm not 21. Yet.
Q: Doesn't matter in Europe.
A: In Europe it doesn't matter. But of course I love paella, jamón ibérico. It's, like, (kisses fingers). Actually, the tapas. Almost everything in Spanish food I like.
Q: ... [Y]ou had so many big matches here, but your mental toughness, you have shown no nerves, at least outwardly,... Where does that come from? Where are you drawing this confidence and just incredibly, like, ice in your veins?
A: From cold Russia (smiling).
Q: This is a Russian mind-set?
A: Yeah, we are always unhappy.
-- Daria Kasatkina, runner-up

Q: How has the Coachella Valley been treating you?
A: I haven't been doing much except coming to and from the tennis. That's a good problem because it means you're winning matches. I don't want to be too much of a tourist here, because it means you've lost.

Q: Do the losses hurt as much now as they ever have or more now than ever before?
A: You don't get used to losses, ever.
Q: Nothing's changed?
A: Anyone who gets used to losses should give up on life.
-- Venus Williams, semifinalist

Q: ...[T]his is three straight semifinals at this event. Is there something about this event specifically that makes you play at a high level?
A: Honestly, I just have a personal calm at this event maybe compared to others. It's a little bit quieter here. ... You don't have to fight through traffic to get here. You get here with ease.
-- Milos Raonic, semifinalist

Q: How does it feel to be in the final of a tournament like this?
A: Well, it feels a little bit lonely, because there's, like, nobody here. Like, I'm kind of -- like, as it goes on, there is less players and stuff. It's kind of cool, but also a little bit, like, sad because then you're not around the people that you talk to and stuff. But other than that, it's cool. Because then, like, all the sushi, there is still a lot of sushi left and stuff.

Q: You have shown us a great sense of humor. Where do you get that from?
A: I don't know. Um, I'm not really sure, because my parents aren't very funny. I kind of think I just got it from the Internet.
Q: Do you ever have the opposite experience where you think we laugh at the wrong moments when you're being serious?
A: Every day (smiling).

Q: Do you ever think it would be cool to be in her shoes at Stanford instead of what you're doing?
A: Who?
Q: Your sister.
A: She's not in Stanford.
Q: Where is she?
A: She's in Florida.
Q: Sorry about that. But anyway, same question, though. Do you ever think it would be cool to be in her shoes in college?
A: No, no. She's not in college. Is that all Wikipedia or something? I'm so confused right now.
Q: But you do have a sister?
A: Yes (laughter).

Q: Winning becomes a habit, but to get there, there are other things that you have to do along the way. Your own day-to-day habits become more consistent. What would you say those are that are working for you?
A: Well, I mean, I'm a little bit superstitious, which is weird, because today -- OK. Usually in the morning I eat the same breakfast, like, every time. But then today they brought me sourdough toast instead of wheat. I freaked out a little bit, but I still ate it. And then I was thinking, if I lose this match because of the sourdough toast, I'm going to be really upset (smiling).

-- Naomi Osaka, women's champion


More by Ellen Alperstein:
Recently on Native Intelligence
New at LA Observed

LA Observed on Twitter