“That is the most challenging part of journalism, isn’t it?” Tsitsipas said Saturday night with a mischievousness that perforated all the barriers between him and his audience.
“I think you all know that Roger Federer was my favorite player growing up, but I didn’t necessarily make him a god in my Facebook page,” he said.
A beatific smile lit his face. “Everyone was treated the same,” he added.
Because he was a novice journalist striving to find a unique way to present his information long before he became a seasoned competitor answering the same old questions, Tsitsipas said he recognized how challenging it could be to give an interview a different spin or present a novel angle.
“I do appreciate journalists that come out a little bit more, I would say, unexpected,” Tsitsipas said. “Ask me some other things that don’t relate or don’t have to do with my tennis match, but in a way, in a deeper sense, and kind of unlock something within me in which I can express myself a little bit more open, provide more information. That’s what it is all about: information; getting the best, the most, out of the player.”
The virtual news conference, while better than nothing, is not the best vehicle for steering athletes down interesting paths. Interviews are constructed like points in a match. Participants often start out with a planned course of action, but the best will nimbly adjust depending on what is thrown at them.
There is a flow, a spontaneity, to a verbal rally that is hard to achieve when there is an audio delay on one end or reporters are fumbling to unmute their microphones — or are cut off by the moderator midsyllable as they try to to nail down an answer with a second question.
Then there are the questions so convoluted they require multiple clarifications just so the player can make sense of what is being asked. At 114 words, the fifth of eight questions in the English portion of the Spaniard Nadal’s news conference on Sunday took longer than some of the rallies in his straight-sets victory over the American qualifier Sebastian Korda.