The "Lions" showed character. A meet-and-greet press conference with the team took place

Please share your feelings about being in Saint Petersburg as part of such a large international team. The format is unusual for tennis, and there are few tournaments like this...

Karen Khachanov: I would say that everyone was aware of how well this tournament had been held in the past. This time the approach is very different, and a very interesting format. Speaking for myself and probably for all the players, we are all very happy to come and participate. I've already had quite a bit of training, so the conditions are roughly the same. Our schedule is also very packed, and we look forward to seeing as many people as possible, especially children, at our matches. We hope for exciting matches and beautiful tennis.

Victoria, maybe you also want to say something?

Victoria Tomova: Yes, I am very happy to be here and of course it is very nice that this is a team competition and usually we play every week for ourselves so it is very nice that this week we will play together. And I am really happy to be in the Lions team and I hope I can add some points to my team and play well and have some good matches and good time this week.

As for the captain's meeting yesterday, did you change the strategy after it?

Svetlana Kuznetsova: We haven't discussed the strategy yet. We talked about the format because it's new, and I think it will be very interesting for everyone. We are looking forward to good matches and beautiful rallies. And I think Janko will add something too. He practically understands everything in Russian but will speak in English.

Janko Tipsarevic: Yes, I understand Russian, but sadly I do not speak it. Sveta mentioned we won’t’ be saying any secrets that we spoke yesterday at the meeting. I think the special format of this tournament is that it is a team competition, and the biggest challenge for us is that the vast majority of the players are in different positions and different points of their training and their place in the season. So, for us as trainers the challenge will be to work with that and see who is playing in what form and try to bring out the best in this friendly yet competitive environment.

Alexander Ivanovich, please tell us about your expectations for the tournament, as each tennis event in Saint Petersburg is unique. Organizers always surprise with something, change the format, and it feels like it's getting more and more exciting. Is that so, and what can we expect from this tournament?

Alexander Medvedev: Indeed, such tournaments are very rare; only the Laver Cup comes to mind, where players from Europe compete against players from the USA and Canada. Well, there's also the Hopman Cup, where women and men play together in a team. However, a tournament like this, with no continents or countries, but with 'Lions' and 'Sphinxes,' symbols of our city, has never been seen anywhere else. And you see the lineup of participants – the 'Lions,' by the way, I am a Leo according to the horoscope, but that doesn't mean the 'Lions' will win (laughs).

Therefore, every match will be of great interest because players have different styles and play in different manners. Plus, these matches can't drag on because in case of a tie at 1-1, there will be a championship tie-break that will determine the winner. In other words, there's no need to leave the stadium early; you can stay until the end of each match. Today's success depends not only on the players and organizers but also on the audience. I encourage everyone I see now, those who came on this first day, to invite friends, relatives, and acquaintances because there will be very good tennis. Yesterday, during the captains' meeting, we agreed that there would be fair play – no intentional losses regardless of the score. So, we look forward to seeing everyone at the arena!

Question for Alexander Medvedev. Yesterday it became known that Vera Zvonareva will participate in the tournament. How was such a decision made, and how quickly did Vera agree to participate?

Alexander Medvedev: Our of our players from the lineup from Italy, Jasmine Paolini, unfortunately suffered an ankle injury. This raised the question of a replacement to ensure that the teams were in equal conditions. Since it's challenging to replace a girl with Alexander Bublik, despite all the desire, we looked at several candidates, contacted them, and Vera responded. She had a very successful doubles season, winning the WTA Finals. We know that she has also won a couple of Grand Slams in singles in her career, in case anyone forgot. So, the quality of the team did not suffer at all, and considering the presence of doubles and mixed doubles, it may have even improved.

Question for the fathers Alexander Bublik and Karen Khachanov. Does the birth of a child, a second child, change you as a person and as an athlete? Perhaps you become more reflective, more honest with yourself? And how does it affect tennis?

Karen Khachanov: Honestly, I try not to attach myself too much to it. I always said that family is the most important thing for me. I'm immensely happy that I have such a family, it's growing slowly, and my second son was born. I'm just happy, and it probably adds quality to life, more responsibility. You understand that everything does not revolve around tennis, and you grow as a person inside. So, I don't know if it harms or helps in terms of the game.

Alexander Bublik: In my case, on the contrary, the birth of a child - 100% affected me and my career because it brought more responsibility for my actions, responsibility for the fact that he is growing up, he will primarily look at his father and imitate him. We will try to avoid that, of course (laughs). That's why I dare to assume that it somehow changes me, slowly but surely. In the end, I hope that I can become a good example for my son and for other little fans of our tournament.

Svetlana, you have tried on the role of an actress in the movies? Please share your impressions with us.

Svetlana Kuznetsova: I had the experience; I appeared in a TV series, and it was very interesting. I took acting classes, which were much more challenging than being on set. My good friend is a producer. I relayed some of my stories, and she wrote a script based on them. But when you watch the series 'Trigger,' I warn you in advance, not everything happened to me exactly as portrayed.

And what's more challenging, tennis or acting in movies?

Svetlana: I think I starred in the series just as well as an amateur would play in a tournament. Playing tennis is, of course, easier when you've been doing it for so many years.

According to the tournament rules, captains can step onto the court, and they decide who to substitute. Have you and Janko already figured out the criteria for making this choice?

Svetlana Kuznetsova: Janko and I have a great deal of respect for our players and decided that we will act according to the situation.

Janko Tipsarevic: I think the initial request for the hypothetical change on the court needs to come from the player, which I personally respect but I don’t think Sveta at any point will keep the player out and put someone else in the court unless they really want to.

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