BY NICOLA ABERCROMBIE
When flicking through the doubles history books, there are certain pairings that jump off the page. The Woodies, Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver, sibling duos the Bryan brothers and Williams sisters, John McEnroe and Peter Fleming. While Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova aren’t quite in that elite company yet, they are certainly well on their way. With four Grand Slam doubles titles together and the top two spots in the WTA doubles rankings, Team Bucie are riding a wave of success and they’re having an absolute blast as they go. BNPParibasOpen.com sat down with the dynamic duo to find out just what makes them tick.
Q:You had a tough opening match, how are you feeling coming into the week?
Bethanie Mattek-Sands: The other team played great, Christina McHale we’ve played a few times and we’re good friends with her, she was playing well today her forehand was on, she was going up the line and crosscourt and it’s always interesting playing Monica, she’s got that slice forehand. It was a good match, a good first round but Lucie and I played our game and had fun.
Lucie Safarova: It’s never easy first round, getting used to the conditions, but the crowd was amazing, I was like “I feel like I’m home”.
BMS: Yeah the crowd was on, I was like now I know what Roger feels like. It was almost as big as Rafa’s practice!
What is it about the BNP Paribas Open that the players love so much?
BMS: For me it’s like a home tournament, I’m from Phoenix so I just drive here.
LS: Yeah and the site is beautiful, the mountains are right there and the weather is great which is so important for the players and the fans. The tournament also takes really good care of us players.
BMS: It’s a convenient tournament, all the hotels are really close here, and there are some great restaurants that everybody loves to go to. I love it here and I think that it’s great that all the top players love coming here cos it’s a neat spot, a neat place. Every year they’ve improved it so it’s fun coming back and seeing what they’ve added.
Q: You have one Grand Slam this year already, Bethanie is the No.1 doubles player in the world. What’s the goal for 2017?
BMS: Lucie’s No.2! I’ve said this before, doubles No.1 you don’t get there without having a great partner and whether we’re equal No.1 or not I don’t think it really matters, we play as a team. No.1 is great and we’ll get Lucie there for sure but we’re just having fun.
LS: Obviously the rankings are important but on the other side for us I think it’s mostly about the enjoyment.
Who’s the messiest out of the two of you?
BMS: I have more stuff, but I’m kind of organized about it. I just have a heap of stuff. I got snacks, I got extra clothes; I’m that person that if you need something, I probably have it!
LS: I keep it pretty simple but organized as well. I almost feel like I need to take some of hers to help her because she always has so much stuff.
Who has the weirdest habit?
LS: The only weird thing about her is everything is so big! You have the biggest car, the biggest dog, everything has to be big.
BMS: And you’re like the opposite!
LS: I have a Yorkshire terrier and she has the biggest dog I have ever seen.
BMS: Lucie is very efficient and simple, we go to practice and she has one sweatband and I have like seven.
The Team Bucie dance, how did that come about?
BMS: I’m really good friends with [fitness trainer Shaun T], so I said you gotta teach us one of your dances for a warm-up so he just taught us the first few steps. Then a few days went by and he taught us a couple more steps so we added it all together. We weren’t going to do it after the match and then Lucie was like “the song’s playing, we gotta do it” so I counted it out and we did it but that was definitely not planned.
And what about Team Bucie dance 2.0?
BMS: Well Shaun is here so we’re going to add to it. It’s going to be extended. It gets more real!
If you weren’t tennis players, what career would you pick for each other?
LS: You could be a dancer.
BMS: Like a stripper dancer? I don’t have the flexibility.
LS: No! Like a cool dancer, like in a music video.
BMS: Good, just making sure what you think of me. I could see you being an interior designer, or doing something with kids because you’re really good with your little cousins.
LS: Yeah I would do something with people, and something very active.
BMS: You could do summer camp for kids. You’re camp counselor! Life lessons around the fire. Summer Camp with Lucie, I’m getting the shirt!