July 10, 2020

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The tennis stars talk at Indian Wells, and much of it was about Maria Sharapova

INDIAN WELLS – Most of the best tennis players in the world went through a round of interviews Wednesday, as the BNP Paribas Open got under way for real with women’s first-round singles and doubles matches.

Here’s a taste of what it was like, starring Marin Cilic, Karolina Pliskova and Roger Federer, who is returning to the desert for the first time in two years.

Almost exactly a year ago, the biggest subject discussed around the round table was the positive doping test from Maria Sharapova, who held a conference in Los Angeles just as the qualifying for the BNP Paribas Open was getting under way, just a few days before the players were available to the media.

Fast-forward a year, and the question (although not to Federer) was about whether Sharapova, who will return to action April 26,  “deserved” all the wild cards tournament directors have been offering her to ease her way back onto the circuit after serving a one-year suspension.

Mostly, the answer seemed to be “Hell, no.”

Croatia’s Marin Cilic did seem to side with Sharapova on one main issue. He had his own issues with the International Tennis Federation a few years ago after a positive test he produced after inadvertently taking a supplement containing a banned substance (a product his mother (who doesn’t speak French) had purchased for him at a pharmacy near his residence in Monaco).

Let’s just say Cilic had nothing positive to say about the organization – at all. He and Sharapova could probably have quite a conversation on that issue.

Not present and accounted for Wednesday was world No. 2 Novak Djokovic. The word on his doing pre-tournament media was, “Thursday or Friday, if he does it at all.”