by our reporter in Linz, Michele Galoppini
For the second time this year, Johanna Larsson from Sweden and Kiki Bertens from the Netherlands won a WTA title, this time in Linz at the Generali Ladies, after the trophy in Nuremberg, where Bertens won also the second singles title of her career. Showing a lot of smiles and a contagious happiness, the team talked with the press in the post-match conference, about this title, her story and friendship and their goals.
Welcome and congratulation! Linz is the second title of your season, it was a tough match today but it looks like you had so much fun.
Bertens: I think today we played pretty good, even if we lost the first set. We tried to find a way to turn the match around and we did. It’s all week we are playing really well, and also today with aggressive tactic we won the title.
Larsson: yes, I can only agree [laughters].
How did your career as a team started?
Bertens: I think it started 2 years ago… maybe 4…
Larsson: it was 2013, at the Us Open [smile].
Bertens: oh right, but then we started playing pretty much all the year together since last year, starting from Australian Open. We won titles last year and also this year they are already two. Most important is that we had a lot of fun together, we always go to dinner together and so on. Furthermore, she is always there for me if I need help or advices when I don’t feel good. Together I think we make a pretty good team.
How much is important to have a doubles partner who is such a good friend and not only a co-worker?
Larsson: it’s awesome to have such a good friend on tour, mostly on tennis, where players are often very lonely, travel alone and all focus is on themselves pretty much. It’s nice to have Kiki, to share some good memories, to play doubles, to spend time also off court, to have fun, to visit kangaroos and laugh about it [laughters from both]. It make the journey on the tour more special.
Are you afraid of playing each other on singles?
Bertens: we had to play against once last year in Monterrey, where she won, but never happened again. Better don’t say it too loud or it will happen again [laughters].
Larsson: well, season ended, we are safe for 2016. But it’s going to happen again at some point, also cause we play very often the same tournaments also in singles. If it will happen we will play, if it won’t happen we will be happier [smile]. It’s tennis afterall, we have to think about winning also if we play each other, and then we still will have fun off court.
Bertens: at least we would be sure that one of us is going to win [laughters].
Which are your strong points as a team?
Bertens: I think having a lot of fun, on court and off court. This is the most important thing.
Larsson: It is not even so easy to play doubles since we play a lot of singles matches and sometimes one needs to focus a bit more in singles than in doubles.
Bertens: but at least when we go on court we give anyway our best cause we like playing together. It is a nice feeling. Also cause sometimes, when you lose in singles, you have the chance to play again the next day in doubles.
Would you like to win a Slam?
Larsson: of course!
Bertens: why not? [laughters]
Larsson: we have been already twice in a quarter final of a major. Like this year in Roland Garros we were playing pretty well, but Kiki was playing even better in singles [smile]… it was tough to combine the energies left, but surely we have our chances to make it.
Johanna, did you get angry with Kiki cause she was playing so well in singles? [laughters]
Larsson: no [smile], it is tough to be angry for such thing. It was amazing to see Kiki playing so well in singles and reach the semifinal in a slam. If it will happen again it will be amazing to be again without energies cause one of us will be far in the singles draw [laughters].
Kiki, about that semifinal, is it true you had to reach at least the 4th round to have the chance to play Olympics, according to your federation’s criteria? And in that case, how was to play with such a pressure?
Bertens: honestly it didn’t really matter to me. The week before I had won my second WTA tournament of my career in Nuremberg and I was really happy and playing so good. In third round in Paris I played and won that unbelievable match against Kasatkina, I think it was 10-8 in third saving match points, in a decisive match for Olympics. And by the way I really enjoyed Rio’s experience.
And Johanna, your hardcourt results are getting better and better in last season, this year for example you reach quarterfinals at least in four occasions. It is the result of specific work you have done?
Larsson: definitely, tennis is very tricky also cause you keep changing the surface you are playing on. Of course the ‘mer’… oh my god, ‘mer’ is Swedish! [laughters] I meant, the more you play on a surface the better you achieve. So yes, I am actually focusing a bit more on hardcourt, also cause I really like hardcourt. It would be awesome if I could play well also on… grass [sarcastic laughters]. But that’s another long story
Halloween’s coming. Any idea for a costume?
Larsson: this year I will celebrate it finally, cause I think I will be in USA during Halloween.
Bertens: I don’t know if I will celebrate it cause there is still a chance for me to be in Zhuhai, for the Elite Trophy, so let’s see. But without doubts I will be in holiday for some weeks, probably at the sea. A beach and some good food are more than enough to make me happy…
Larsson: …and a pinacolada! [laughters from both] I will stay at home a little be and then I will go to USA.