“I felt the pressure,” she said.
Ostapenko, who took Gauff off the court with straight sets Sunday, knows a thing or two about that. Her life was turned upside down when she won the 2017 French Open. She felt like everyone expected her to win every tournament, “which is crazy, because you are still a human and you cannot feel great every day,” she said. “A lot of attention from everywhere outside the court, like photo shoots and all those kinds of things. You were more well-known in your country. Everybody is watching you.”
Ostapenko, currently ranked 17th in the world, said she came to Australia with the intention of climbing back up to the top 10.
It’s worth noting that inside the locker room, no one is under the radar. Every player knows every other player’s strengths and weaknesses, who’s hot, who’s nursing an injury or having a crisis of confidence.
Both Pegula and Gauff said that Rybakina had taken out Swiatek, having played her first matches on outer courts.
“It’s a motivation to win even more,” Rybakina said last week of her court assignments.
Likewise, everyone in the locker room knows Pegula, who beat Swiatek earlier this month, has been playing the best tennis of her life, moving fast across the court, giving away so few points, forcing opponents to take whatever they can get from her, which hasn’t been much.
“That locker room is the most educated place in the world,” said Pam Shriver, the Grand Slam doubles champion who recently started coaching Vekic part-time.
Shriver, who was present Monday as Vekic defeated Linda Fruhvirtova (a gifted 17-year old from the Czech Republic), was on courtside. He is now contemplating the so-called Netflix curse. No player featured prominently in “Break Point,” which was released 10 days ago, made it past the fourth round. Three players pulled out of the tournament due to injuries days prior. Shriver wondered whether the players who had decided to participate in the series had taken the time to think through the effects that being part of a high-profile series might have on their psyches on the eve of the year’s first Grand Slam.
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