MELBOURNE, Australia -- And just like that, the scribes came dashing into the new media hub at Melbourne Park with their phones set to record and pens ready to jot down notable words from the best tennis players in the world.
Yes, it was media day at the Australian Open, essentially the first chance for the probing journos and players to get back into the Q&A routine. From injuries and expectations to the Margaret Court Arena controversy, we learned quite a bit from the verbal volleys. We start with a certain Serb who has been missing in action for more than six months.
Did you think Novak Djokovic missed his time away from tennis? The 12-time Grand Slam winner walked into the media room, grinning from ear to ear, ready to answer any and all queries.
While unofficial, we can say with confidence that his press conference -- his first at a sanctioned event since last year at Wimbledon -- was far and away the longest of the day on Saturday. The total length? A whopping 1,951 words. If you're wondering, he (A) has a new service motion, (B) is still a little concerned about his elbow injury and (C) is stoked to be back.
It's Rafael Nadal and all his friends. We kid, of course, but the world No. 1 hopes for a quick start come Monday. As he said in press, this is the first time he has entered the Australian Open without an official match under his belt that year.
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) January 13, 2018
Hey, forget you're the No. 1 player in the world vying for a first Grand Slam title. We must get to the bottom of the Simona Halep fashion decisions, which accounted for 11 (yes, 11!) questions in her press conference. Have a look:
Q. People notice you ended with Adidas at the end of last season and don't currently have a sponsor. I don't know if you're close to getting one, what that process has been.
Halep: Yeah, my people are working for me on this stuff. They are talking. But the conversation has just begun. I have no contract now. I'm still with no brand clothes.
I just want to make sure that I will choose what I like -- and also the brand to like me. It's really important to have a nice outfit and to feel good in the clothes. So I'm not rushing. I will wait what future gives me.
Q. You have a lot of freedom to pick whatever you want to wear now.
Q. Is that sort of fun in a way? Usually, you used to just get the package from Adidas and wear that. Now you get to express yourself more maybe.
Halep: Yeah, it's an interesting period, to be honest. [Smiling.] For the moment, are many brands, so I don't know which one it's going to be. For sure it's going to be one. But we will see in the future.
I really want to have something nice, to have nice feeling with the future brand that I will wear.
Q. Are you going to stick to your red dress from Shenzhen for here?
Halep: Yes, same.
Q. How does it work? If you don't have a clothing supplier, do you go to the shop?
Halep: No, I ordered. How do you call the ladies that are making the clothes?
Halep: Yeah, I sent a picture. Was a site, in China actually, and one of my managers helped me, and in 24 hours I had the outfit and were perfect. [Smiling.] I was lucky.
Q. How did you find them?
Halep: On internet.
Q. You just searched on the Internet?
Halep: Yes. Everything is on internet now. [Smiling.] I was a little bit stressed.
Q. You designed your own clothes?
Halep: No. I chose the model. But it's plain, come on. Nothing special there. It looks good, in my opinion. I like it.
Q. Do you ever think you'd want your own clothing line, like Venus has?
Halep: No, I will not have that.
Q. Did you consider getting a T-shirt with the No. 1 on it?
Halep: No. I'm not that type of person.
While Halep's clothing sponsor is up in the air, she apparently has strung together the most powerful entourage in this history of tennis.
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) January 13, 2018
Hey, Kevin Anderson, looking good, buddy:
— Kevin Anderson (@KAndersonATP) January 13, 2018
And while we're at it, here's a few other words of interest from the stars on site today.
Sloane Stephens kicked off Aussie Open media by addressing questions on how life has changed for her since winning the US Open in September. Here’s some of what she had to say: “Yeah, of course, you guys are tweeting about me more. Everyone is talking about me more. I mean, it's kind of what comes with the territory. You kind of can't put too much emphasis on it.”
No question it looks like we're seeing a new Nick Kyrgios this year. The Aussie spoke of his maturation and drive to win -- sentiments we've rarely seen from him in the past: "I think last year there were periods where I was really good and really bad. I can't expend too much energy on other things. I want to kind of ride the highs, not as high as I usually do. If I lose a match, at the end of the day it's a tennis match. I kind of want to keep it even-keeled throughout the whole year rather than being such a rollercoaster ride."
Perhaps the most interesting takeaway from the Australian Open media day? Simona Halep's clothing. The world No. 1 was asked a whopping 11 (yes, 11!) questions on her fashion choices -- all this from a player who currently doesn't have a clothing sponsor.
Stan Wawrinka, who has not played a match since losing in the first round of Wimbledon last June because of a knee injury, feared he might never return to the court. Here's some of what he said Saturday in Melbourne: "For sure I was worry a lot because I had eight weeks on crutches. I started my first fitness by just walking. The thing is, it's always complicated when you're like at that level before, you get injury, you can get through pain mentally also, feeling lonely, not feeling good."
Here's Caroline Wozniacki on whether she's a better player now than when she was ranked No. 1: "I think so. Yeah, I think so. I think when you're in the spotlight so much, when you play on big courts, when everyone knows -- obviously all the players know you, they want to beat you, you have a target on your back. They try to find new ways to beat you. You have to keep improving, find a way to be ahead of them. I think definitely."
One more player to speak: Roger Federer will address the media at 2 p.m. local time Sunday (10 p.m. ET Saturday.)