Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci have now qualified for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. They have won all the doubles Grand Slam titles and need only the Finals trophy to complete the Quintuple Crown, could you comment on their partnership and game – what sets them apart?
MN: Most of all they are very good friends who support each other and who understand each other. And of course they both know where is the best place to out the ball and they have the ability to do it. They know their own strengths and their own weaknesses.
Which other teams are looking particularly strong and likely to qualify to play in the WTA Finals this year?
MN: Su-Wei Hsieh and Peng Shuai and I think Black-Mirza have a very good chance to make it as well.
Many view your partnership with Pam Shriver as the greatest doubles team in WTA history; that said, who were your best matches against? The biggest challenges for you as a team?
MN: We both played singles as well so it was tricky with the schedule and also for our fitness and mental state. Many times we had to play singles against each other followed by doubles playing together. That was difficult.
The team that was most challenging for us to play I think was Sukova-Kohde-Kilsch.
As a tennis Legend doubles player, do you think the doubles game is emerging and capturing more public and media attention? If yes, why?
MN: I think the media doesn't pay nearly as much attention to doubles as they could, mainly because the top players are not playing. But in social tennis, in clubs, people play more doubles than singles, I think.
What skillset sets doubles apart from singles?
MN: Of course you need to have a decent volley and overhead and also a good second serve to keep your partner from getting pummelled at the net.
This year, the doubles competition at the WTA Finals will included the Top 8 doubles teams (previously been the Top 4). Do you think this will encourage more partnerships to stay together for extended period of time, as more and more players look to qualify for the WTA Finals?
MN: I certainly hope so. Teams always get better the more they play each other so they can be more instinctive and think less.
The WTA Finals Doubles Trophy is in your name. You will fulfil an ambassadorial role for this year’s WTA Finals. What are you looking forward to doing when you’re in host city Singapore?
MN: Just learning the ropes - I love a challenge and I love doing new things, learning. So this will be a learning experience for me, hoping to increase the visibility as well as popularity of this wonderful sport.
Women’s tennis is growing in Asia-Pacific. Do you believe women’s tennis has the power to make a difference in the region, and how?
MN: Well, playing any sport is about ability, opportunity and for girls and women it's also about equality and empowerment. So yes, the more girls and women play tennis, play sports, the better it is for society and therefore the better it is for all of us.