As suggested by our loyal reader, Gregoire, I have written a transcript of my recent interview with one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Chris Evert, who believes that the upcoming French Open has all the right circumstances for world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki to win her first Grand Slam.
Question: Last year the United States Tennis Association started the US Open National Playoffs to allow anyone 14 or older a chance to earn a spot in the US Open singles qualifying tournaments. How much of an advantage do you think it is in tennis to be from a country that gives you an opportunity to earn such a wildcard?
Chris Evert: This is what we’re focusing on tennis in America in this one instance, the USTA is trying to open up into the inclusive of all tennis players. If you are a good college player, and you’ve always had that dream of playing in the US Open, but you never could, you never qualified, now it’s an opportunity to get into a tournament, a playoff, that if you play well and you qualify, you get a wildcard into the main draw. So, the beauty of it is that there are 16 tournament playoffs throughout the country and everybody has a chance, you just have to be over 14 years old. That’s why I’m playing in it, because Mike Greenberg , who is with ESPN’s “Mike and Mike”, said it was always a dream of his to play the US Open, and he was a college player, and he asked me “Would you play with me, would you be my partner?”, I said “Sure, let’s go and have some fun”, and at the same time give it a little publicity, for the USTA, so that’s why I’m doing it.
Question: How likely is Caroline Wozniacki to win her first Grand Slam at the French Open this year?
Chris Evert: I think it’s her best chance to win any Grand Slam so far, because every other Grand Slam you’ve had Serena or Venus on the fast courts, and you’ve had Kim Clijsters, who has been really playing well and won a couple of Grand Slams [note that Clijsters is unlikely to play Roland Garros this year, because of an injury sustained at a wedding]. This French Open I think Caroline will be favorite to win, probably her first Grand Slam ever. The heat is on, everybody’s talking about the fact that ok you’re great, you’re consistent, you hit the ball well, but you’re world number one and you’ve never won a Grand Slam. So, I’m sure she’s feeling the heat and the pressure. This is a great opportunity for her, because you’ve got a couple of injured top players and I don’t think Kim Clijsters, I think she’s maybe not quite as patient on the clay, so I think this is her tournament, if she really wants it, if she can really stay healthy and not play too much until then.
Question: What do you think her potential victory will depend on?
Christ Evert: I think she’s played a lot of tennis so far. She’s played the Australian Open, and she’s played some other tournaments leading up to Indian Wells and Sony Ericsson, she won Charleston… She’s got to be fresh. She’s in shape, so I would say stay fresh mentally, just to focus for those two weeks, because she will be the favorite and she’s just got to stay focused. That’s the key. She’s already a tremendous athlete. Stay focused and fresh. (Wozniacki photo: © Neal Trousdale)