The only thing that could redeem the fact that I missed Heather Watson's awesome beatdown of the Impaler, which seriously I was super pissed about, was getting to talk one-on-one with my fave player numero uno (Sorry, Sam, but it's true), the one and only Baby Elephant, who is looking way more Adult Gazelle this year but I like my nickname better.
The event was supposed to have Jo and Fernando as well (adiAWKWARD), but the rain delays over the past few days in Melbourne meant that they were going to be playing at Kooyong that afternoon. So it was just Ana and the ADPD crew, which was A-OK with me. The event was the culmination of this week long promotion here Melbourne, asking fans to help find Ana's missing adizero shoes. The winner got to hand Ana the shoes and in a hilariously awkward moment, we all stood around as Ana put her new shoes on.
Ana legs! Oh, and the shoes.
Pics with the kids, who got to hit with Killer and Ana.
Once she got her shoes tied, it was on to media. Things I learned while waiting for my interview with AI. She and I hae the same camera. How do I know this? Leather was there (!) taking pictures of the whole thing like a fan (totally cute), and we were standing next to each other. So I casually (read: not casually at all), turned to her and said "Nice camera" and held up mine. "Oh, thanks. It's not mine, it's Ana's." I think it's super cute that after all these years, Ana insists on documenting all these little moments for herself.
Another hilarious moment: The WTA Tour video team was on hand and while Ana was interviewed, the camera guy stood about 3 feet from Leather and zoomed in on her. "Nooooo....don't do that," she said, laughing and smiling. I was probably laughing way more than I should have been, but Leather's JJ-like voice was just killing me. I am a LeatherKAD.
More media. I was at the event with tennis tweeter and blogger, Rishe, who was a recent Ana convert. She tried to call me out on the man-hands thing, saying that she just wasn't convinced I was on to anything. Let's just say Rishe is also a man-hands convert. That shit is real, yo.
Ok, so my interview.
I got about 3 minutes with Ana and we talked about Hopman Cup, her fitness, and her favorite tournaments. The interview was pretty much as expected. Ana was thoughtful, never broke eye contact, really listened to the questions, and was just lovely. She absolutely agreed with my very technical and savvy theory that she hurt her stomach because she was laughing too much with Nole.
On fitness, she said she did a lot of off-court work, pulling back on volume and working more on specific movements and exercises. Jumps and long-distance running. She feels faster and fitter (stomach notwithstanding) than she has in the past. They want to work on her upper body strength, but that will come later and she's really focusing on strengthening her base for now.
As I've had opportunities to have greater access to the players over the past year, I can say that it's always disappointing when you actually meet them and they kind of suck. There have definitely been players in the past who I wish I had never met, as it was so much easier to be a fan from a distance without seeing them be pricks and idiots in person.
But I can honestly say, I picked I good egg, with Ana. That is just a genuinely nice, grounded, pleasant human being. And really, it sucks to say this, that's a rare thing.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)