Fights, vodka at classic press showdowns

Updated: 22 January 2011 15:53 IST

Top seed Caroline Wozniacki's table-turning press conference stole the show at the Australian Open, but bizarre scenes are nothing new at post-match tennis inte

Fights, vodka at classic press showdowns

Top seed Caroline Wozniacki's table-turning press conference stole the show at the Australian Open, but bizarre scenes are nothing new at post-match tennis interviews.

Emotions can run high after a difficult match, leading to some run-ins with media. By comparison, "boring" Wozniacki's performance - where she predicted a list of questions and rattled off the answers - was relatively tame.

Probably the most infamous tennis press conference, featuring none other than John McEnroe at Wimbledon in 1981, ended in a fist fight between journalists.

Rising tensions between English and American reporters, sparked by McEnroe's on-court histrionics, spilled over when a British journalist asked the American about his girlfriend.

The "Superbrat" unleashed a verbal volley and stormed out, and punches subsequently flew among the press corp.

English reporter Nigel Clarke later recalled tackling US journalist Charlie Steiner.

"I had the presence of mind to stand on a chair and punch downwards," Clarke said.

Sisters Serena and Venus Williams would rather talk about their fashion designs than their opponents, and Serena once raised eyebrows when she turned up with a T-shirt which read "Can you see my titles?"

Other players, like Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick, don't suffer media gladly, especially after a loss, and monosyllabic answers can be the order of the day, or night.

"(2002) Wimbledon final wasn't too close," Hewitt snapped this week when asked about his battles with David Nalbandian, after losing to the Argentine in five sets.

On the other hand, Roger Federer is a journalist's dream, giving press conferences in English, Swiss-German and French, often spending close to an hour fronting the media after a match.

Frenchwoman Camille Pin went out in style at the French Open last year, announcing her retirement with a flourish as she turned up drunk to the press conference.

"I'm sorry. I've drunk two glasses of champagne on a bare stomach. I wanted to be totally drunk here. I thought it would be funny," Pin said.

Russian Nikolay Davydenko also became the talk of the press room with his offbeat interviews at the Australian Open last year.

Revelling in the media attention, Davydenko waxed lyrical about drinking vodka, having children, life after tennis, his relationship with his wife, and why money is so important to Russians.

Some conferences draw huge crowds, and at other times the biggest names will find themselves being quizzed by just one or two reporters.

On some occasions, the media tire of waiting for players to arrive.

American star Chris Evert was once an hour late turning up for a press conference and as soon as she walked in, the assorted media pack walked out in protest.

But when it comes to memorable press conferences, surely no player can hold a candle to recently retired Marat Safin.

The supremely talented but hard-living Russian turned up to his press conference after winning the 2000 US Open with a tray of vodka. In 2009, he fronted media with a huge black eye at the Hopman Cup.

"I won the fight, I'm good, I'm okay," he grinned, adding that the "other guy" looked much worse.

At the 2004 French Open, Safin dropped his shorts on court to celebrate winning a spectacular point and was docked a point by the umpire.

"I felt it was a great point for me," he told journalists after the match.

"I felt like pulling my pants down. What's bad about it?" Unfortunately, most of the hundreds of press conferences at Grand Slam tournaments are not so entertaining.

Topics : Tennis Caroline Wozniacki
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