Andrea Petkovic on her Doha quarter-final loss

Original source: http://tennisnet.com/de/damen/wta/4672946/WTA-Doha_Rucken-macht-Strich-durch-die-Rechnung-Andrea-Petkovic

The back put a spanner in the works – Andrea Petkovic loses in the quarterfinals

A clearly hampered Andrea Petkovic missed reaching the semifinals at the WTA Premier tournament in Doha.

“I think she’s an incredibly good player, she’s been in the Top 20 for 2 years now, at least makes the quarterfinals at every tournament. We’ll see how well I can recover, because that was another quite long match and I’m really feeling the last matches in my bones.”  That’s what Andrea Petkovic had said to tennisnet.com after her second round win at the WTA Premier tournament in Doha about her next opponent, Lucie Safarova.

And her worries have materialized: In the quarterfinal against the World No.15 from the Czech Republic, the body of the German No.1 didn’t play along anymore.

Because of her many matches at the Fed Cup against Australia and during her tournament win in Antwerp, her back had acted up, and that only increased on Thursday: The World No.10 lost, clearly hampered, in straight sets, 2-6 1-6, and therefore couldn’t continue to use her good draw in Doha. Safarova will now meet her ranking neighbour Carla Suarez Navarro. The Spaniard, currently the World No.14, beat the No.1 seeded Czech Petra Kvitova 3-6 6-0 6-3. The other semifinal will be contended by Venus Williams, who beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 1-6 6-3, and two-time Doha champion Victoria Azarenka, who thoroughly defeated Caroline Wozniacki 6-3 6-1.

“Certainly not from me! I would have to fly against the wall with my head [for that to happen]. As long as I can stand on two legs I’ll play!” Petkovic had laughingly proclaimed to tennisnet.com the day before when asked whether there could be a walkover or a retirement.

And there wasn’t one indeed, but the Darmstadt native afterwards couldn’t hide that she wasn’t fully fit. “I injured my back a little bit” – which, as reported, had been giving her trouble before, but this time the trouble was much more severe. “At the start of the match, I think at 2-1 in the first set, I ran to a corner [of the court] and then my back just gave in”. But she didn’t want to use it as an excuse: “I have to say that she played great,” she praised her conqueror, despite the disappointment.

Denmark – Police investigating match fixing in tennis

Translation of  http://www.b.dk/nationalt/politiet-undersoeger-matchfixing-i-tennis

by Mette Dahlgaard and Eva Jung, December 28, 2014

Police investigating match fixing in tennis

The Fraud Squad are investigating an attempt to pay up to 30 Danish players money to lose

The Fraud Squad, who investigate and press charges in cases involving economic and international crime, are now for the first time involved in a case of attempted match fixing in tennis. It happened in the late summer at Futures tournaments, the lowest tennis level, held in Aarhus and Copenhagen.

The Deputy General State Prosecutor Per Fiig has stated that the State Attorney for Special Economic Crimes and International Criminality has found cause to start an investigation, but at the moment cannot say anything about the current investigation.

The Danish daily Politiken had a story earlier that there was an attempt to bribe with large sums of money tennis players to lose a set on purpose. Berlingske can now publish details in the case, such as how the match fixers went about it.

“It’s gratifying the the Danish prosecutors are looking at the case. I’m looking forward to what might happen. I’m very satisfied that this is being taken seriously because the problem won’t disappear on its own,” says Sune Irgens Alenkær, who is a director of the Danish Tennis Association (DTA).

The Danish Athletic Association (DAA) is also gratified by the news that the Fraud Squad is interested in the case.

“It’s super positive. It hasn’t been pleasant to see that there have been foreign match fixers willing to operate in Denmark in connexion with competitions. Because everything points to it being foreign match fixers, we haven’t, as a Danish association,  had jurisdiction over it, so we couldn’t investigate the case directly. If the police have taken up the case, we can only welcome it,” says Jesper Frigast Larsen, who is head of the DAAs Match Fixing Committee.

The Danish Tennis Association, who arranged the tournament together with Århus 1900 and Copenhagen’s Ball Club, have since the late summer been unable to gain any insight into where the case stands. The International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) own investigative arm, the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) gathered evidence in the form of e-mails, Facebook messages and text messages. The Danish association has since been kept in the dark of it’s own parent organisation, which, despite numerous enquiries, hasn’t found time to meet with the DTA.

Berlingske has been in contact with several of the tennis players who all tell the same story: they were offered around 30,000 Danish Crowns ($4,500 US) to lose a set, but they haven’t heard from either the TIU or the Danish police about making statements. They handed over all evidence to an ITF supervisor who was at the tournament. But the German supervisor, Nico Naeve, has been muzzled, he wrote in an e-mail to Berlingske.

Asked directly what the status of the Danish case was, the TIU answered: “We are aware of the accusations at the tournaments in Denmark, but we cannot answer specific questions,” they wrote.

The Danish Athletic Association understands that there needs to be quiet about ongoing investigations, but “clamming up” isn’t the way forward.

“We don’t believe at all that one’s sport is protected by pretending the problem doesn’t exist. We tip our hats to football/soccer that has doen a lot to address the problem.”

Translated by @markalannixon

Potential delays to Roland Garros development plans

From l’Équipe print edition 18 February, 2015.
Article written by Philippe Maria

While the French Federation of Tennis were expecting that the building permits needed to begin the planned Roland Garros extension works of Roland Garros would be issued any day soon, a report published online last Monday evening (on the Ministry of Ecology’s website) could cause a delay.  Yesterday, through its general director, Gilbert Ysern, the FFT spoke out to voice its incomprehension. A political maelstrom followed and looks far from ending.

What is the problem?

After three years of petty administrative wars, the RG extension project (handover planned in stages between 2017 and 2019) finally looked to be on track. All systems were go for the Federation which was only waiting for the building permits to launch the public tender procedure. And, bam! In a period of peace, an unexpected report came, Monday evening, on the website of the Ministry of Ecology, concluding that an (old) alternative project, based on covering the A13 motorway was feasible..

In itself, this report, which has no legal value (it can’t delay the issuance of building permits) could have been ignored by the federal officials. As a very wound-up Gilbert Ysern said yesterday: “We did not wait for this alleged study to know that it was technically possible to cover the motorway next to Roland Garros. If tomorrow, we wished to dismantle the Eiffel tower and assemble it back in my garden in Narbonne, of course that would be feasible. But how much would it cost? How much time would it take and who would pay for it?”

The problem is that this report comes from the general Agency for Environment and Sustainable Development, which is a unit of the Ministry of Ecology, and that, to definitively approve the expected building permits, two signatures are needed: the signature of the Ministry of Culture, which should not be an issue; and the signature of… the ministry of Segolène Royal. [i.e. Ministry of Ecology.]

Was the Federation expecting it?

For several weeks, even if it’s not admitting to it, the FFT had heard that the former presidential candidate, who lives close to the stadium, was trying to obstruct the project, to the point that, during a presentation to the president of the Republic, François Hollande, the subject had allegedly been diplomatically addressed. Indeed, from the city hall of Paris to the Elysée, via Matignon, the file seemed to have unanimous approval. That being said, nobody in Porte d’Auteuil was expecting the report. This explains the (feigned?) incomprehension from Ysem: “For the first time, the project is attacked by part of the administration,” he said, “Yet it comes at a time when the government supports the organisation of the 2024 Olympics in the capital – a venture that the new Roland Garros would be a part of. Thus I can’t believe the government is opposing our project.” The FFT general director explained that he had managed to book an appointment with Ségolène Royal before it was cancelled by phone due to other commitments. “We only spoke on the phone. It was before the report was published (Monday).” The Ministry of Ecology, which we contacted yesterday, didn’t respond to our request for a comment.

Could the current project be reconsidered?

Considering that the signature of the Ministry of Ecology is necessary for the building permits to be issued, yes. Even if Ysem refuses to believe it.  “This project has passed every administrative obstacle, including the last public inquiry report, which had laudatory conclusions. And now that we are finally approaching the final chapter, it’s like someone is tapping on our shoulder saying: ‘we are changing the rules, you are going back for three rounds! What people don’t realise is that for us, who have to prepare the tournament before it is played, two months is a year! Because Roland Garros cannot stop during the construction. It would be suicide.”

While Yves Contassot, Parisian consultant for “Europe Ecologie les Verts,” highlighted the “technical and legal viability of the alternative project”, the mayor of Paris, Anne Hildago, didn’t delay yesterday in coming to the aid of the FFT:  “I am worried about the delay suffered by this project, which is indispensable to maintaining this international tournament in Paris. The covering of the A13 motorway is brought up once more today, while two studies have concluded that it was not relevant. The series of procedures (not counting construction time) would be long and complex… The handover would take place, at best, in 2025 or 2026. At a time when Paris is considering being a candidate for the 2024 Olympics, such a delay in the extension of Roland Garros would be a very bad signal to send to the IOC. I appeal to each and everyone’s responsibility so that this project, which has been the subject of substantial consultation and will be part of the international influence of Paris and France, may see the light of day within the agreed time frame.”

Tennis match fixing in Denmark: “Are you interested in making some money on the side?”

 

From  the Danish http://www.b.dk/nationalt/er-du-interesseret-i-at-lave-nogle-penge-ved-siden-af by Mette Dahlgaard og Eva Jung

“Are you interested in making some money on the side?”

No thank you. 30,000 Danish Crowns doesn’t sound like the kind of money you’d want to risk your career for. But for constantly travelling tennis players, the offer can help pay the expensive travel costs, point out players who said no to the offer.

Do you need 30,000 crowns?

That was the question upwards of 30 tennis players were asked when they took part in a tennis tournament – a tournament at the lowest professional level – in Aarhus and Copenhagen respectively in the late summer. The person or persons behind the offers contacted the players by text message, by e-mail or by Facebook and wrote in English that they didn’t need to lose the match. Just one set would be rewarded with €4,000, the equivalent of around 30,000 Crowns.

“I’m your contact person, and I can meet you in person in Copenhagen to give you a deposit of €2,000 today,  you will get the rest after the job is done,” was the message.

€4,000 is a large sum in a competition where the women’s winner got $1,568 and the men’s got $2,160.

The 17-year-old Benjamin Hannestad is number 58 in the world junior rankings. Despite his age, he was invited to play with the seniors at the Futures tournament in the summer. A couple of weeks before the tournament he received a friend request on Facebook with a profile calling itself “ITF” and used the International Tennis Federation’s logo. With the friend request was the message:

8098238-saxo-photo
Benjamin Hannested accepted the friend request and gave his details.

“When I got the friend request, I thought it was part of a process for when you play for money. I could see that several I knew had accepted the request,” he says.

When Benjamin Hannestad had played and won his first Futures match, he received a text message on his phone:

8098237-saxo-photo
Benjamin would get €2,000 before the match and another €2,000 “after the job is done”. A contact person in Copenhagen would give him the money.

“There was no chance I would say yes to the money. That’s not like me at all. I was very surprised to put it mildly. Even though I’d heard it could happen, it was still crazy that I’d get this offer in my first tournament as a senior,” says Benjamin Hannestad, who reported the matter to the TIU, the International Tennis Federation’s investigative unit.

Large sums tempt

But other tennis players at the same level might be tempted. Seniors at the lowest levels struggle to raise the money to travel to tournaments around the world, and the money should be seen in that light. And if you don’t have a big-money sponsor behind you, match fixing can be tempting, says Jens Sejer Andersen, international head of the Play The Game initiative.

“Tennis is a sport a lot of semi and quarter professionals play. There are few who earn big money, while there are many who try. There can be lots of older seniors who can’t earn a living elsewhere and perhaps feel  that tennis is possibly their best chance.  Maybe after a few years they get fatigued and develop a certain cynicism and vulnerability to “the good offer”,” he says.

While match fixing in football/soccer requires that at least goal keeper, a defender and an attacker agree to play according to an agreed pattern, tennis is different. All individual sorts, all things being equal, are more vulnerable to match fixing. All that’s needed in tennis are a few balls into the net.

The women’s winner of the Futures tournament, Mai Grage, also received the offer to lose a set on purpose. She didn’t answer the friend request from the fake profile. She figured out the profile was fake because they had no common friends.

“You hear about match fixing at higher levels, but I was very surprised to hear about it at the lowest international level,” she says.

Translated by @markalannixon

Aleksandra Krunić on her US Open breakthrough and more

Krunić: “Everything clicked in New York”

From a pre-season interview with Saša Ozmo on Serbia’s B92.

On her US Open experience:
“That memory is unreal to me, especially from a distance of three months, since I had poor preparation—two tournaments on clay where I wasn’t successful.  There was no indication that I’d play well at the US Open.  I didn’t have a coach either, so I was thinking about that, too… I wanted to be home in Belgrade, and my whole team is from Serbia, making it complicated to have a foreign coach.  In the end, I decided to have Bane Jevremović with me: I’ve known him a long time and trained with him when I worked with Biljana Veselinović.  I really couldn’t go to the US with a stranger.  Then, in New York, everything ‘clicked’…  For a year and a half I was ranked around 150 and I kept thinking, ‘What do I need to make a jump?’  I was training hard, I have no injuries—it really wasn’t clear to me.  But it’s no good wondering.  It just comes.”

On why things “clicked” in New York:
“The only thing I can think of is that I was a little more tolerant with myself at the US Open.  Normally, I’m a perfectionist and if something’s not ideal, I act like I don’t need it.  There will be maybe five matches of the year that go as well as that…  Then, I dropped the ball in New York—everyone makes mistakes, including me.  To outsiders, it must sometimes seem arrogant, the expressions I make, like ‘I can’t believe I missed that.’”

On her loss to Azarenka at the US Open:
“Experience was the key in that match.  Even if I’d won, I don’t know how I would’ve handled it—a Grand Slam quarterfinal would turn my life upside down.  You need to be mature enough for that kind of thing….  I was up a set and 3-2 in the second and I thought to myself, ‘Wow, I could make a Grand Slam quarterfinal!’  Who made me think that?  That might have ruined the match for me.  You simply can’t completely escape those thoughts, especially in front of 20,000 people at Arthur Ashe Stadium and with Azarenka across the net.”

On her post-breakthrough perspective:
“My expectations for myself have grown—I’m always battling with that; but after the US Open, even more so.  As far as pressure from others is concerned, [it’s changed] somewhat… There are many people here who love to get involved.  I remember in 2011, when Novak lost one match and there were immediately comments like, ‘What happened to him?’ or ‘How?’ …  Or when Ana once lost to Stosur—I looked at our own and Australian newspapers and with us it was ‘Sam smashed Ana’ but with them it was merely that Sam won.  That fascinated me.”

On being consistent throughout the whole season:
“That’s the hardest part and it’s the difference between those at the top and the rest of us.  I need to be persistent in practice—that depends solely on me, which isn’t always the case in matches.  I played the best tennis of my career at the US Open, but I’m aware that won’t happen every week.  That’s why my main goal is to raise my base level of play—and not fall below that line.  It’s also important that I enjoy what I do.  Whatever is happening, I need to stay positive—that attitude will help me improve.”

On her goals for 2015:
“I want to make the Top 50 before the end of the year, but the most important thing is to stay injury-free.  I’d also like to be in the main draw of every Grand Slam tournament, which would be a sign of progress.  Plus, I want to get out of this group in Fed Cup—where we are now is a catastrophe, after being in a final.  Game-wise, I would single out needing to improve my first-serve percentage; but the main thing is to be hard-working in practice and stick to the basics. ‘Keep it simple,’ as they say.”

On what constitutes a good coach:
“Above all, I think a coach needs to be a good psychologist, particularly when working with women.  Every day is different—when someone’s in a bad mood, the coach needs to find a ‘hook,’ to think of something interesting in practice that is useful at the same time.  The easiest thing is to say, ‘I don’t care how you’re feeling; this is what we’re doing.’  So, the coach has to understand the player—of course, there has to be good communication, since no one’s a mind reader.  Also, a coach needs to adapt to the player he or she is coaching; many coaches have their own ideas about how tennis should be played and don’t take the tennis characteristics of the person they’re working with into account.  The game should build on the player’s character—you can’t make a naturally aggressive player a retriever or the other way around.

“A coach is someone you’re with 24 hours a day, more or less, so you have to be close with that person.  I don’t think a distant player-coach relationship works.  Of course, coaches are there because it’s their job, and you’re paying them—nobody’s going to work with you for free.  But if you find the right balance and your team functions well, with everyone getting along, that’s the real deal.”

On WTA stars she likes:
“I saw Kvitova crying in the gym after our match in New York—and I like her so much, I just wanted to hug her.  She’s completely normal and grounded, and she doesn’t have the need to be completely dressed up in ‘Louis Vuitton’ or drive a plane or whatever…  She’s just doing her job and I have tremendous respect for her.  Besides her, Radwanska is totally relaxed, and, of course, Jelena Janković—she’s always the same, regardless of whether she’s ranked first or the last in the world.”

On WTA players’ relationships:
“Each of us maintains distance and has certain defense mechanisms, so it’s hard to get close.  I think the male players respect each other much more—they always extend a hand.  It’s not the same with us—half the players don’t even say ‘hello.’  We’ve got some issues, that’s for sure.  Billie Jean King talks about how the players used to help each other, cheer for each other, and nowadays that’s impossible.  God forbid that you ask someone, ‘Where do you practice?’ or ‘What are your plans?’—they’d immediately wonder, ‘Why is she asking me that?’  Of course, it depends on the person: a lot has to do with what you were taught at home, then some with the team of people around you.  I just don’t see how it would help my career to wish someone else ill.”

On athletes’ rituals and routines:
“I don’t know if they’re rituals or insecurity—something is probably being covered up with that [behavior].  They’re routines which make you feel comfortable.  On the tour, we’re constantly traveling, there’s always a lot going on, and it’s normal to have a need for something that’s yours alone, even if it’s just a small ritual.  Even when we return home, it no longer has that feeling—I don’t know where my home is, though it’s probably here in Belgrade when I sleep in my own bed.  The airport is my house— I’ve already gotten used to it.

“I like to have at least an hour and a half between the end of warm-up and the match.  Before the first point, I read a prayer and that’s it.  I’m not one of those people who only pray to God when they need something, but I’m not too pious either—I believe in destiny: that a path is charted for each person.”

On sports media:
“I don’t follow the media, but my mom reads everything—both articles and comments.  Honestly, it doesn’t interest me.  Sometimes, people tag me on Facebook; so then I see stuff…  And my family got in touch during the US Open to say that I was being written and talked about, but I didn’t look at anything.  Just once, I was annoyed during Fed Cup when we played against Canada, and someone wrote: ‘Who taught this Jovanovski to play tennis?  She has no idea—and Krunić belongs in a zoo.’  It was clear to me then: there are always fools and those who are dissatisfied with their own lives, and they vent their frustration [online].  If you have time to comment all day…  We’re an emotional people.  They elevate us [athletes] to heaven, and then we fall at the first opportunity.  Yes, we love our athletes—they love us whether they spit on us or not, but I think that it’s all a reflection of dissatisfaction with their own lives.  It’d be stupid to let that affect me; but I’m sorry for my mom, who gets torn up over such things.”

On social networks:
“Everybody says, ‘Get on Instagram!’—and I don’t even get Twitter yet.  At one point, I erased all of the applications—there’s always something ringing and I can’t take it anymore.  Then, it’s a problem if I reply to one person and not to another…  On the other hand, I’ve recently signed a contract with Octagon—I needed an agency.  But if I leave it up to them to take care of my accounts, then it looks like I can’t put three meaningful sentences together by myself and that’s just silly.  People want to be in the loop, to know what you’re up to, and I guess it’s only going to be more pronounced if I keep progressing, even if I don’t like that kind of self-promotion: ‘Here I am in Amsterdam’ or ‘Here I am having lunch with my grandma.’  But that’s how it is today—everybody is always on the phone.  ‘What’s the wi-fi code’ is the first question everybody asks when they enter a players’ lounge.  I don’t like it—it’s sad how much you miss while you’re staring at your phone.”

On her off-court interests:
“I live with my grandmother—it’d be stupid to have my own apartment when I’m never there.  I stopped eating meat before the US Open, and my grandmother doesn’t get it.  Now I eat tofu, soy—I’m teaching her.  I love animals and I watched a documentary about the meat industry— the meat they produce isn’t what it should be; who knows what they put into it…. I like historical documentaries (about communism, World War II), but I also watch ‘Car Rescue,’ some mysteries, and You Tube is constantly on.  Because I’ve been to Amsterdam, I want to see the documentary ‘Red Light District.’  I’m interested in those girls’ stories—they’re almost all forced to do what they do.  My friend told me that many of them were promised jobs in fashion, dance, or something similar, and then they end up like that.  Seeing it disgusted me: not because they’re half-naked but because they’re kept in a glass case.  It’s terrible.

“Right now, I’m reading a book about the Romanov dynasty, but it’s very difficult and requires serious concentration—I can’t be tired when reading.  Honestly, I prefer to watch than read; but I still plan to read the whole school reading list.  In Russia [where Krunić grew up], they require War and Peace, Dead Souls too early; it has absolutely no purpose then—you read it and don’t know what it means.  I read The Hunchback of Notre Dame recently, and I inhaled Dreiser’s famous trilogy: The Financier, The Titan, and The Stoic.”

~

Translated by Saša Ozmo with an assist from Ana Mitrić.  Please let us know what you think in the comments.

“Gaël will be ready to work even harder.” Jan De Witt, Monfils’ coach, interviewed in today’s l’Équipe

“Gaël will be ready to work even harder.” Jan De Witt, Monfils’ coach, interviewed by @djub22 Julien Reboullet in today’s print l’Équipe.

Why didn’t you want Gaël Monfils to play in the Davis Cup first round?

− Together with Gaël and his physical trainer we’re trying to optimise the time we have available to reach the objectives we’ve set. Part of the time should be devoted to playing high level matches and improving his game of course. But another part should be set aside for working and resting. Look at the best players in the world: Gaël’s the one who had the shortest off-season because of the Davis Cup final and the IPTL. We need to find a balance where his body breathes a bit then gets stronger. He did exactly that superbly before the Davis Cup final where he put everything together and was totally involved.

This balance meant rest now?

− Gaël has played a lot of matches in a short amount of time. So I insisted and ended up convincing him that that it was time to recuperate to build up his body, to find his best form and make sure that no big injury puts the brakes on things again. We’re in complete agreement about that. In turn, Gaël convinced me that after the Marseille final the time wasn’t right for him because he felt the need to be with his team.

Is your relationship with the staff of the French team tense now after this?

– Arnaud [Clément, captain] and “Lio” [Lionel Roux, coach] are doing their job which is  putting the best team possible together for Frankfurt. We’re communicating very well with each other even if we don’t always share the same opinions. Of course we agreed that the team was stronger with Gäel but they couldn’t convince me it was the best choice possible for my player in the current situation. I love the Davis Cup and I want my two players to win it, but as a responsible coach have to look at the season as a whole. In the end, it was really Gaël who showed me how much he wanted to play and he convinced me that he would be ready to work a lot more during our next work session before Roland Garros. Because the big objective − or dream − is to win the French Open.

Is it win-win? In other words, is there some kind of deal with Gaël like: “You let me play the Davis cup and after I’ll follow to the letter everything you tell me”?

− No, that’s not how it works. Gaël listens now − more often than not − to the advice he gets. And there are many things in our working together that suit me, lots of aspects that are improving. Anyone who saw the Marseille final noticed that there were areas of improvement. And you know, I can can be convincing without being menacing. In any case, the player should follow my advice, or what would be the point of working with me?

Have you considered possibly stopping working with him because he’s sometimes difficult to understand?

− No. Gaël doesn’t have the same background as I, neither as a person nor tennis-wise. But he’s a super guy and we understand each other better and better. And remember, when we started working together it was you guys who said that our association was fire and ice. I imagine the ice was me, the cold-blooded German. And if that’s the case how can you ask me now if I want to stop because understanding Gaël isn’t easy? If you think I’m as rational as all that, then I would have realised that that part of the job wouldn’t be at all easy. I guarantee you I’m fully aware of it.

Translated by Mark Nixon

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17-year-old Emilie Francati is Denmark’s biggest young tennis talent

Article in the Danish BT by Jeppe Melchior Mikkelsen and Esben Drachmann Rasmussen

Emilie Francati. Remember the name. Because she just might be the girl Danes look to in the future on the women’s tennis tour. At the moment she’s in a good position at 79 in the ITF junior rankings to get direct entry into the main draw at the four Junior Grand Slams.

She’s already played the first a month ago one when she played “Down Under” at the Australian Open. Unfortunately, she went out in the first round of the singles competition when she lost in a third set tie breaker. She had to focus instead on the doubles, and she and her British partner Emily Arbuthnott reached the semi-finals. That made her hungry for more.

“It was fantastic! It was huge fun to experience the atmosphere when you reach the semi-final and final days. The crowd isn’t spread out among twenty courts. They’re all gathered around your court, so you need to get used to that, of course. And there are all sorts of emotions and nerves involved which you’ve never had to deal with before. Unfortunately I didn’t handle them well for myself on the day, but I hope I’ll do better next time,” says Emilie Francati.

Busy day

Emilie Francati, who has Italian roots, comes from a family of tennis players, and her father runs the Gentofte Tennis Club, where she trains for four hours every day, and that’s besides the strength training she also does.

The many training hours also mean that there isn’t time for a normal education. So while other young people go to upper secondary school or business college, Emily studies individual subjects over the internet. She also makes compromises about her social life when she spends most of the time travelling around the world playing tennis.

“It was hard at the start. Travelling around the world like that is very lonely. Luckily there are other Danes along some of the time, but it’s lonely sitting alone in a hotel room day in and day out. But of course you get to know others from other countries, so there’s some socialising, but obviously I don’t have a class here at home with 28 upper secondary school classmates.”

Even if Emelie’s live is different from other 17-year-olds who use the weekends to party and get drunk, it’s a price she’s more than willing to pay.

“I’m not a big party animal,” says Emilie with a smile. She explains further: “Not because I don’t want to, but it’s difficult to find time for it. It’s not like I can’t have a fun evening when I’m here at home, but when you’re travelling it’s not like you run around and find the nearest bar. It’s not as if I feel I’m missing anything. Sometimes you get a bit annoyed at saying no to various birthdays and parties, but I’d rather have what I have,” she says firmly.

With her 183 centimetres Emilie is well above average in height, and it’s tempting to compare her to the Russian Maria Sharapova. But while Sharapova won her first senior Grand Slam at 17, Emilie is still on the junior tour. It was a conscious choice on her part to wait before moving up to the seniors. as she wants to wait until she has a backpack filled with memories and experiences before trying new challenges.

“I’d like to experience playing the four Grand Slam tournaments, and it would be a bit precocious to say I only want to do that as a senior. And I’m really happy I made that choice. I’ve had some unforgettable experiences. Being in Australia and walking around with people like Federer and Nadal whom you’ve only seen on TV and looked up to a large part of your life gives me a lot of motivation.”

But Emilie wants to get even closer to the big stars. She wants to play against them – that’s her ambition for the future.

“My goal is to turn professional and continue playing full time and travel around. I hope I can get good enough to play senior Grand Slams and be up there among the really good. There’s a way to go yet, but I’m definitely giving it a shot.”

As the country’s biggest upcoming talent, it’s impossible to avoid the label of “The New Wozniacki”. But the young tennis talent takes it quite calmly.

“I have nothing against it because I have great respect for everything Caroline’s doing and has done in her career. And yes, it would be cool to be the new Wozniacki, but I’d rather be a Francati!”

Up next for Emilie Francati are two clay tournaments in Brazil at the beginning of March. Even though her favourite surface is hard court, it’s time to get used to clay so she can check off the French Open in May – the only junior Grand Slam she has yet to play.

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Translated by Mark Nixon