NEW YORK – ESPN tried something knew when an announcer interviewed CoCo Vandeweghe in the middle of her first-round match on Monday. Vandeweghe said they approached her on Sunday to ask if she was cool with it. She said yes, knowing that she could wave the announcer away if she changed her mind.
She didn't change her mind, and answered two questions on court between sets. "I think it's a positive. I think any innovation, it is a positive. So I see no harm in it," she said later, when asked if it was distracting.
The veterans disagree. Not only do they think it would be distracting, they're also annoyed that ESPN didn't go through the right protocols.
"I don't know how much it can really work in tennis," said Novak Djokovic. "I will not, definitely, this tournament. But who knows? Who knows what the future brings?"
"I'm old school, so I don't know if I can say that's something I would do, per se - but I found it quite interesting," Serena Williams said. "Maybe that's the future of tennis, the future of where it's going. You know, hopefully they don't make that mandatory." Contemplating it further, she added,
I'm really focused the whole time. I'm really trying to think about what I want to do. I don't necessarily want to answer questions about anything. I just want to be in that moment and kind of focused. That's kind of the integrity of tennis when you think about it. It's just you on the court. It's not a reporter. It's not a coach. It's just you in that moment. I kind of love that.
Federer said anything is possible, but, at least for now, he's not into it.
In the beginning also we didn't have interviews going onto the court. That was already weird, but we got used to that. Who knows moving forward what's going to happen?... But we'll see what's gonna happen, you know. I understand the idea, but what's too much? What's enough? All these things. I understand pushing the boundaries and being more accessible. For me, in some ways it's -- I haven't done it in 17 years, so why start now? At the same time, you might think, Who cares, you know? Honestly I think I'm pretty relaxed when I'm sitting there at the change of ends. But you don't want it to impact your game and you don't want to look back and think, What a stupid move that was in hindsight, you know. Then you're frustrated about it. So I don't know. I understand the request, but I'm not sure if many players are actually doing it.
He and Rafa seem most annoyed that ESPN didn't clear the decision with the ATP, or ask the players collectively. "I think they went straight to the players. That's not the way to go," said Federer.
Rafa added that if every player isn't comfortable with it, he doesn't think any players should be doing it.
So the normal thing when one improvement or one new thing like this can happen, the good thing, in my opinion, is if we have a meeting together, the players, we accept, we don't accept. That's how normally we work in our organization, no? Is about the most of the player, if they are open to do it or they are not open to do it. For me, [I'm going to do] what the most of the players want.
Stan Wawrinka is a no-go, too, for more strategic reasons.
I don't think it's something that I want to do. I also told them. I don't think there is many things to say during a match. First, his coach can listen what you going to say. You don't want to talk exactly what's going on except talking about the sun and the crowd. There is not much to say really. You don't want to get through those match, and it's not something that I will do.
CoCo Vandeweghe said she had no idea why ESPN asked her first, but it seems pretty clear: she's part of the young guard. If this is the future of tennis, why not start with someone who will be here for that much more of that future? As for the ones that will likely be in next week's final, forget about it.