Twelve months, twelve interviews, twelve sentences: CLAY’s global impact on its first anniversary
PARIS – Can we ask you to wish us happy birthday? We’ve just celebrated our first birthday, and we’re very happy. We are doing the journalism and the site that we set out to do when CLAY was just a project.
What kind of journalism? One that is based on the following idea: tennis is played on the court, but also off the court. Tennis is played with the racket, but also without it. When the matches are over, when the activity calms down, CLAY sits down to talk, hand in hand, with the great protagonists of the sport. We are interested in listening to them, we want you to get to know them beyond a serve or a backhand.
And we also tell you what we see and know, what television often does not show. We bring all our experience and knowledge of a sport that is one of the most important and popular in the world.
This is what we have been doing throughout this year, since the 20th of May when we were born in Paris. A birth in which we had the support and initial congratulations of none other than Gabriela Sabatini.
There were many texts, photos and audiovisual material on social networks. From all this work we have selected twelve interviews and twelve phrases from these twelve months. Conversations between CLAY journalists and the stars of the tour in which the topic was tennis, but not only tennis.
You probably remember some of these quotes, even if you didn’t read them in CLAY: these interviews, which had a worldwide impact, were picked up and quoted by major international media. Proof of the quality of CLAY and the originality of our content.
We invite you, in this second year, to continue reading us and to subscribe to our newsletter, if you haven’t already done so. And to enjoy these twelve moments that we highlight below:
TONI NADAL: “I wouldn’t tell him (Felix Aliassime) anything to beat my nephew. Above all, I’m Rafael’s uncle.”
PARIS, 25 May 2022 – The men’s singles draw at Roland Garros 2022 put Felix Aliassime in the path of Rafael Nadal… and Toni Nadal, in a particular situation. The Spanish coach, part of the Canadian’s coaching staff, confessed to CLAY that he would not, for any reason, help Aliassime defeat Nadal. Part of the agreement between the work relationship by the way, but which caused a stir in the tennis world. Unprofessional attitude? Family affection comes first, he explains. In this interview, the man who won 16 Grand Slams with the left-handed Spaniard from the stands reflected on the day he decided to stop coaching his nephew, why Nadal could have 28 major titles, and the reasons he believes make Roland Garros a “colder” tournament.
PARIS, 15 June 2022 – Rafael Nadal “is the best of all” and “is going to die on a tennis court”; Djokovic “made a fatal mistake” by not getting vaccinated; and Andrea Gaudenzi acts like “a madman”: “The world is sinking, the economy is sinking and he wants to double the prizes”. Ion Tiriac uncensored, even to talk about Roger Federer when it was not known whether or not the Swiss would return to competitive tennis. “He can play for fun, which would be a great thing, but be careful: it would be a pity if he made a fool of himself. I see it as a danger after such a long time without playing,” the former Romanian tennis player told Sebastian Fest. He knew what he was talking about.
NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: “Nadal on hard court was for me just like another opponent.”
BELGRADE, June 20, 2022 – Russian Nikolay Davydenko, star of the 2000s, speaks based on facts. He can show a 5-1 record over Nadal on concrete courts and claim that when he stood against the Spaniard on that surface, he felt like the absolute favourite. Different was against Roger Federer, to whom he lost 19 times, three of them in Grand Slam semi-finals. The 2009 Masters Tournament champion spoke in depth about tennis with Serbian journalist Sasa Ozmo. In the process, he gave Carlos Alcaraz a great nickname: “Spanish Terminator”.
ALEXANDER BUBLIK: “I never had the choice not to be a tennis player. My father told me to play, and I played. My mother supported him.”
NEW YORK, September 27th, 2022 – “Do you guys mind if I have ice cream?” asked Alexander Bublik before sitting down for a chat with the CLAY team at the US Open. How to say no. Devouring it, the Kazakh acknowledged childhood impositions, confessed he doesn’t want his son to be a tennis player, and spoke of his distaste for travel. Does he still hate tennis? No, now that he is a father he enjoys it. Even if he has to play at noon in 40-degree heat under the sun, he said in this interview with Sebastián Fest and Sebastián Varela.
NADIA PODOROSKA: “I couldn’t watch tennis on TV because of how bad it made me feel”.
NEW YORK, September 28th, 2022 – Nadia Podoroska was physically and mentally very complicated for several months: away from tennis and not wanting to know anything about it. And while her body healed, she stayed close to her family and her girlfriend, who helped her out of dark places. She came back radiant after difficult months, something Sebastián Fest and Sebastián Varela noticed when they sat down to talk to her in New York. The first time, by the way, that the Argentinian spoke in the media about her sexual orientation. None other than Billie Jean King came out and publicly congratulated her for her bravery.
ANDREY RUBLEV: “The British government is showing that it’s more interested in politics than peace.”
RIYADH, December 16th, 2023 – These were uncertain times for Russian and Belarusian tennis players ahead of the 2023 calendar. Players such as Medvedev, Kasaktina, Azarenka, Sabalenka and Khachanov did not know if they would be able to play at Wimbledon after being banned in 2022 by the All England Tennis Club because of their nationality. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing war had a major impact on tennis. Rublev raised his voice, and in this interview with CLAY, he strongly criticised the British government, responsible for the AELTC’s decisions: “It will be worse for tennis if they don’t let us play,” he said in the one-on-one with Sebastián Varela. Everything is back to normal, and the 2023 edition of Wimbledon will only discriminate who can or cannot play according to their place in the rankings. As always.
TAYLOR FRITZ: “Homosexuality in men’s tennis would be accepted.”
RIYADH, December 25th, 2022 – Gays in men’s tennis – the sport’s biggest taboo? We think so. Never has an elite male tennis player publicly confessed to being attracted to men. It is hardly ever talked about. Different is the case of sexual minorities among women tennis players, who have been speaking out since the 1970s, led by Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova. And since we don’t believe that taboos should exist, we asked North American Taylor Fritz, who spoke about it with total normality. In this interview by Sebastián Varela, Fritz also talks about his defeat at Wimbledon against an injured Nadal, and the usual controversy about the destruction of rackets. Not to be missed.
BUENOS AIRES, January 12th, 2023 – Rafael Nadal’s desire to win on any tennis court is very high; on the Phillippe Chatrier, it must be brutal. But on the fairway of a golf course? Now that’s a “nightmare”, says Casper Ruud, one of the most successful tennis players of 2022, who knows all about the Spaniard’s competitive levels. Sebastian Fest sat down for a chat with the Norwegian while he was in Argentina for a series of exhibitions with Nadal in South America, and asked him if he thinks he can replace Federer as his great tennis friend.
CAMILA OSORIO: “Have you seen Barbie? Barbie says ‘you can be anything you want to be’. I’m like that in my life, because I like something and I want to do it.”
MELBOURNE, February 8th, 2023 – We took her out of tennis and Camila Osorio got sidetracked by many topics she is passionate about. In this interview, the Colombian number one let herself be known without filters. Golf, books, modelling, museums: Osorio is what she wants to be and she is not afraid to talk about it: “I’m so happy! And I think people notice it. I’ve done things I’ve never done. We only have one life, don’t we? We have to live it to the fullest, enjoy it and have fun.” Authentic, sincere and smiling in this one-on-one with Sebastián Varela. A total Barbie.
JUAN CARLOS FERRERO: “Alcaraz has Djokovic’s aggressiveness, Roger’s net approach and mentally, obviously Rafa.”
VIRTUAL INTERVIEW, February 13th, 2023 – If you put the Big Three in the juicer, does Carlos Alcaraz comes out? The world tennis sensation has elements of the greatest tennis players in history, says his coach in this conversation with Sebastian Fest, in which he describes the 20-year-old’s goals after he exploded with that 2022 US Open title to become the youngest-ever world number one. “Winning tournaments is not his obligation, winning tournaments is a consequence of being happy with himself.”
JELENA OSTAPENKO: “Playing someone I don’t like, makes me want to leave everything on court.“
DOHA, February 17th, 2023 – An interview full of the originality of a tennis player who never leaves anyone indifferent, and who knows that it is always better to receive free publicity. “If people know you, they will always talk about you. Good or bad, they will talk about you anyway. The bad thing is when they don’t talk about you. That means you’re not interesting anymore,” Jelena Ostapenko told CLAY in Doha. Hated or loved. Take your pick. With Ostapenko there is no abstain.
DUSAN LAJOVIC: “I should have started psychotherapy many years ago.”
SANTIAGO DE CHILE, April 25th, 2023 – On the men’s tour, there are often more taboos surrounding the mental health of athletes. Dusan Lajovic went against that trend and opened up in conversation with CLAY to talk about what is not often discussed on the men’s tour. The Serb publicly reveals his personal struggles with anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders that he has suffered for a long time, but which have been on the rise since the pandemic. “I should have treated myself earlier, but back then, the social environment was very different in Serbia,” said Lajovic in a conversation with Sebastian Varela.