The Lighter side of Timea Bacsinszky – an interview by Svenja Mastroberardino @svenja_mastro

Interview by Svenja Mastroberardino from this piece on Lets Talk Tennis.

With 21 wins this season, of which 13 are consecutive, Timea Bacsinszky is off and running. The high flyer took the time to answer some rather more unusual questions from us at Lets Talk Tennis. In our interview we asked the 25-year-old about being mistaken for another, autographs and her music “sins”.

When did you last get an autograph?

It’s been quite a while. Several years ago I met Roger Tennis in the car park near Swiss Tennis in Biel. But I didn’t dare ask him for an autograph myself, so I sent Pierre Paganini after him and he came back with the autograph.

Hmm … it just occurred to me that wasn’t the last time. At the US Open in 2007 I had sore foot, so Martina Hingis lent me a pair of her shoes. I put them back in her locker after the match. The next day they were lying in my locker. Martina thought she had enough shoes so I could keep them. Then I asked her to autograph them.

When was the last time you were confused for someone else?

-That happened just recently in Acapulco. I was jumping rope to warm up and someone went up to my coach Dimitri and asked if I was Maria Sharapova. That made me laugh. Thank you so much, dear fan, but I’m not that big [laughs].

When was the last time you shared a room with a player?

It was quite a while ago. The last time I shared a room was with Imane Maelle Kocher at the Swiss club competition in 2010. She’s super nice and we laughed a lot together. On the tour it’s even farther back than that, 2007 I think. A former coach once told me that eating and sleeping are the most important things and to get enough of them. Whenever it was financially possible I’ve taken single rooms. Privacy is important for a tennis player.

When was the last time you bought a souvenir?

In Acapulco I bought about 20 small stuffed parrot key fobs. I’ll take them back to Switzerland to give to my nieces, my mother and my friend as small souvenirs. I always try bring a small keepsake from each place I’ve been to. Usually they’re magnets for my fridge – I have about 40 of them. So if someone doesn’t know what to give me, I’m always happy with magnets [laughs].

What was your worst experience travelling?

That would be in 2010 from Los Angeles to Miami. Fires broke out twice on board in the middle of the flight. They turned out to be nothing serious, but there was real panic on the plane. I was very happy when we landed safely.

When was the last time you were complemented by a player?

I have to say I received a lot of congratulations for my two tournament wins, from Aleksandra Krunic among others. I had a long talk with her last year at the ITF tournament in Kreuzlingen. We talked about how difficult it was to come back and climb up the rankings. After my win in Acapulco she hugged me and said, ‘Do you remember our talk? This is great, I’m so happy for you.’ At Indian Wells, Lesia Tsurenko, whom I beat in Acapulco and Monterrey, also congratulated me. It’s nice to hear that from opponents. It doesn’t happen often. I’d like to take this time to thank everyone for the many kind words and messages.

When did you last follow a tennis match on a scoreboard?

Last week for the Davis Cup. I followed all the matches and almost missed breakfast. Huge congratulations to the guys who almost made the impossible possible. Congratulations too to Henri for his performance, it was unbelievable. It was quite exhausting, almost fever-inducing [laughs].

Which musicians/bands on your Ipod are most cringe-worthy?

Hmmm … I have a song by Justin Bieber on my Ipod I thought was pretty good a few years ago, now I hardly listen to it. I have two songs by the Backstreet Boys I never play unless I’m with friends. They give me very funny looks. I still have some Britney Spears, but I’ll delete them soon.

How did you celebrate your wins in Acapulco and Monterrey?

After the win in Acapulco I had dinner with Dimitri and Andreas [Timea’s friend – Ed.] They both drank a glass of wine. I didn’t  because I had a flight the next morning. We captured the moment with a couple of Polaroids. It’s a very nice memory.

In Monterrey we got back to the hotel a 3.30 AM. I then spent 10 minutes alone outside. It was cold but it did me good. I listened to a Massive Attack song then enjoyed the peace and quiet. Then I had to go quickly back to my room and pack my things. Our transportation to the airport was arriving at 5. So we’ll celebrate properly when we’re back in Switzerland. We’ll organize something lovely and invite our friends. I’m really looking forward to it.

Who is your dream partner in doubles and mixed doubles?

With the women, it’s obviously Kim Clijsters. I found her super nice. I’m convinced we’d have a lot of fun together. Justine Henin would also be a great partner. With the men, it’s Roger. But it would be cool with Stan too. What do you think, should I ask him for the Olympic Games in Rio [laughs]? I’d like to play with Nadal too. He’s a defensive wall.

Translated by MAN

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“I have a father who put me in a cage,” Timea Bacsinszky opens up about her childhood interviewed by @flaberne

From the print edition of l’Équipe, March 19 2015 page 13. Interview by Frédéric Bernes

The Swiss Timea Bacsinszky hasn’t stopped winning in 2015. And yet she’s come from a long way back.

Last night Timea Bacsinszky challenged Serena Williams on Court 1 in the Indian Wells quarter-finals. Before the shock against the world number one, the 25-year-old Swiss, 26th in the world, was coasting on a series of 15 wins in a row. It’s been twenty-one wins and two losses [Halep in the final at Shenzhen and Muguruza in the third round of the Australian Open] since the beginning of the year for Bacsinczky. It’s impressive in itself, but is brought even more into relief by the knowledge that she had stopped playing tennis two years ago with a career in the hotel business in mind. At the time, it wasn’t so much tennis but her father she was escaping from. And then she got an email asking her to sign up for the Roland Garros 2013 qualifications. She told herself, why not?  And she was off again. For herself and no one else this time. She tells her story:

Exactly two years ago I was arranging the date to start my internship in a five-star hotel. For me it was over, I wasn’t going to play any more. I told my friend: “Ok, fine, I’m going to serve coffee in cafés.” And I would have loved it.

That’s when you find out that you aren’t aware of the resources a human being can have. I still can’t get over having put together those two weeks in Mexico [she’d just won Acapulco and Monterrey back-to-back] and to win even more matches here. It’s almost unreal.

Considering the athlete I was before – really, athlete in quotation marks, because I was in really sub-standard condition – I don’t even know how I managed to get up to 37th [in 2010]. I was ultra clever, I read the others’ games well but I never worked on my own. It was just a continuation of the world I’d been put in. It’s one thing to want celebrity, money, all the shiny stuff, but I wasn’t a happy person. I was hiding from reality. I had my little tennis success, I imagined kids wanted to do what I did, but they didn’t really know. I couldn’t go all out because I had a father, really just a sire – I know the words are rough, but it’s an objective view of the situation – who put me in a cage. A prison. I don’t want to complain, that people say: “Oh that poor girl!” By telling my story, I tell myself that it might help other people. Open eyes.

My mother is a dentist. So it wasn’t likely to be her who would show me how to hit a forehand. My dad is a tennis pro. I was three when he brought me onto a tennis court for the first time. He saw quickly that the project that was unsuccessful with his two other kids [by another mother] was possible with me. My mother didn’t say no. Did she sense what I was feeling? I don’t know … I’m not upset with her. She brought in the money so her family could live, she couldn’t see everything, know everything.

I didn’t have a cool childhood. I remember there were hotlines for children who were not being treated well and thinking about calling them ate me up. But I was afraid that he [her father Igor] would see on the bill that I’d dialled that number and I would have problems … I was never hit. I got a few slaps, he pulled my hair … But it was mostly psychological. I thought about running away. I’d searched the Internet to find out about how to run away successfully. I suffered from the “pushy parents” syndrome, which is pretty widespread in tennis. And we still don’t know everything. The WTA prefers to show all the nice stories. But if I look around me, if I look at the stats … To me, parents, they’re not made to coach. Any parent can teach a kid how to play tennis. It’s enough to read books. After, you have to step down.

My father never took care of me except on the tennis court. Taking care of your kid isn’t throwing a tennis ball at her. I didn’t have a father. I don’t see him any more, I don’t talk to him and that’s the way it will be to the end. I’m not lacking in anything. My childhood was stolen. My adolescence was stolen too. You couldn’t take Timea out of tennis. Me, I only had one wish: to get away. The worst thing is, I’d certainly have played better if he’d let me breathe. On the court I had a moment where I could escape his control. He told me, “play crosscourt there.” And I’d play down the line. Except there would come the moment where I had to win the match, otherwise he’d make me pay [she twice won The Little Aces, the official World Championship for under 14’s, as Martina Hingis did]. When you’re afraid of what might happen to you if you lose, you develop a special thing. But I think I loved competition when I was a kid. What kid doesn’t like to win? I’m convinced that when I was very small, I loved tennis. But he made me hate it.

He had this unhealthy desire to shine, to be known, that people would say he was the best coach. To do that it was no problem for him to scream at me. Money? He surely wanted to end his life in a palace. When I got my first sponsor, he quit work to become my coach. It was the worst moment of my life.

He took a nice little salary with his girl’s sponsor. He bought me one or two pairs of jeans because he needed to give a carrot to the donkey.   When I was fifteen, I forced my mother to divorce him. If she didn’t, I didn’t want to see either of them ever again. Happily, I had school. I was so happy to learn new things, new Swiss things I couldn’t learn at home because my father is Hungarian. I lied to my father to take part in intramural competitions. I’d hidden my running shoes under my history book. I’d become a professional liar. I had to get around him all the time just to live, or survive. I don’t know. I was lucky to have nannies at home. One of them gave me the love of cooking. I made soups for my mother in the evening with my nanny. I was happy then.

I’ve been working with a psychologist for the last two years. I’ve finally understood why I couldn’t do more before. Because if I shone, “he” shone too. With what I’ve endured, people who know me ask me how I managed to stay out of drugs and alcohol. At one time, I went out a lot in Lausanne. I must have been a sorry sight. During the day I was glued to the settee. In some ways it was good I got injured [a foot in 2012]. In 2013, I started an internship in a palace in Villars. In September I was supposed to enter hotel school. Maybe later, I’ll go back.

Translated by Mark Nixon

Caroline Garcia: “Hey! There’s a 2 now in front of my ranking number”

An interview by Frédéric Bernes in the 15 March 2015 l’Équipe print edition.

Garcia is “Miss Latina”.  The trend is confirmed.  Now ranked 28, the 21-year-old native of Lyon won her only title in Bogotá last year.  And now she’s reached two consecutive finals in Acapulco and Monterrey, each time meeting the same woman: Timea Bacsinszky.  Goodbye Mexico, it treated you well.  Now the locale has moved to the Californian desert where heat was oppressive yesterday (34°C). Yesterday, Garcia was in a tussle and escaped with a 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 win over the Slovenian Polona Hercog, ranked 75, in 2 hrs 17 minutes.

Would you say your Mexican tour was a success or was there one more win missing, like a title…

“Considering the circumstances before making the trip, I’m very happy with the two finals. I might have gone out in two first rounds.  There were no titles at the end of it but going through all that was good experience.  I’d gone to Dubai just after the Fed Cup.  We all know how the Fed Cup eats up energy.  Especially when you win the deciding doubles 3-2 [which is what happened in Italy].  I reached the doubles semi-finals in Dubai, so I left Sunday evening—for Lyon.  It was either that or spend seven hours waiting at an airport.  After that, I took three flights: Lyon-Frankfurt, Frankfurt-Mexico, and Mexico-Acapulco.  Because the final there was scheduled for Saturday, I had to play on Tuesday.”

It seemed that between Acapulco and Monterrey there was a change of season…

“It was summer in Acapulco.  It was 30°C and very humid.  And then we went from the seaside to a refrigerator.  It was 10°C sometimes in Monterrey.  Even 8°C, I think.  There’s a heat limit in the rules, but not one for cold.”

You didn’t lose a set on the trip…

[cuts off] “Yeah, except in the final! [laughs]. OK, that means I had some solid matches.”

The one against Ivanovic [6-1, 6-4 in the Monterrey semis] made an impression. Was it a good match?  A great match?

“A good match.  I wasn’t playing out of my head—not that, no.  I put her under pressure from the start and she couldn’t deal with it [Garcia meets the Serb in the next round].  It’s my best match this season but I wasn’t putting everything I had into it by hitting like a crazy person.”

There are good vibrations between you and Latin America…

“I love that part of the world.  I made the finals there in Casablanca [Mexico] as a junior and I won in Venezuela.  I like the people in those countries.”

And they must like a woman called Garcia…

“It’s a good name to have there, true.  It plays well.  There are a lot of Garcias in Mexico.”

Did you get the impression that you found more solutions from one final to the other against Bacsinszky?

“I won three games in Acapulco [6-3, 6-0] and I won more in Monterrey [4-6, 6-2, 6-4]—so, yes.  Like she disappeared for a bit and we didn’t know her game. She runs everywhere, she gets everything back.  She has this incredible backhand. You can’t tell where it’s going.  She shifts gears on her backhand [like Benoit Paire].”

You’ve never been ranked as high before as you are this week.  Is that important to you?

“Getting into the top 30, that means something.  Hey, there’s a 2 now in front of my ranking number! [laughs].  It’s one of those small peaks you need to climb over; it gets you seeded in the big tournaments [here she’s seeded 25].”

We saw that your left thigh was very well taped up…

“No, it’s OK. It’s nothing now.  [Her father and coach interrupts: ‘It was still a muscle pull.’]  Yes, but it’s gone now. [Louis-Paul: ‘You couldn’t hit for three days.’]”

When will Nathalie Tauziet, who’s been advising you for a few months, join you?

Louis-Paul: “We don’t have any finalised plans.”

But it’s still on?

Louis-Paul: “We’ve always worked in stages—with Nathalie like with others.  We have a base core, Caroline and me, which we add to.  But we have no finalised plans there.”

Timea Bacsinszky: “I need time to catch my breath.”

Combined from two interviews in the 14 March 2015 print editions of La Tribune de Genève and Le Matin (Switzerland) by the same journalist, “SI”.

Timea Bacsinszky needs to catch her breath after an explosive beginning to the season.  After the tournament in Indian Wells, the Vaude native won’t take part in the Premier Mandatory event in Miami.

Eighteen wins in 20 matches, three finals, two titles: Timea Bacsinszky couldn’t dream of a better start to the season.  The Vaude native (WTA 26), who started her Indian Wells appearance with a match against the New Zealander Marina Eraković (WTA 80), sums up her 2015 season start.

Is the start of the season like being in a dream?

“I’m delighted by what’s happened.  But it’s not like a dream because I know what I’ve had to go through to get here.  I always felt the investment would pay off.  But that doesn’t mean you can let up.”

How did you celebrate your two titles in Mexico?

“There was nothing special.  In Acapulco, we simply ate at the hotel.  My coach  [Dimitri Zavialoff] and my friend had a glass of wine, but not me.  In Monterrey, the final ended very late and we got back to the hotel at 3:30am.  I just took ten minutes or so to savour what I’d accomplished.”

Have you set new goals for yourself after your flourishing season start?

“I just want to see how far I can go playing my best tennis.  That way, at the end of my career, I can say that those were my limits.”

What’s your recipe for success?

“Besides the fact that you have to work hard without expecting immediate results, I feel I’ve become more professional both on and off the court.  I’ve managed to find a good balance between Timea the player and Timea the woman. In short, I’m at peace with myself.”

You feel fulfilled then?

“Yes.  I’ve never been this happy before in my life—and it’s lasted for two years now.  I feel good about my life, something I’d never felt when I was younger.”

Do you go back and think sometimes about 2013 when you’d almost quit tennis to start an internship in hotel management?

“I was happy at the time to try something new!  I really enjoyed my work in that hotel.  And it’s not impossible that I’ll go back to that in the future.  The big difference is that in 2013 I got no pleasure from playing tennis.  But things have changed in the meantime, and two years later I’m in Indian Wells.”

You said in Monterrey that you wanted not only to become a better player but a better person.  What did you mean by that?

“I didn’t say I was a bad person.  I’m like anyone else.  I just don’t want success to go to my head.  The are a lot of people who mean a lot to me in my life and I don’t want ever to forget them.”

You’ve had difficulties with your father.  Where are you in your relationship with him?

“I haven’t spoken with him in several years.  It’s my decision and I don’t care if he respects it or not.  He has no rights over me and I want to live my life the way I want.”

On the other hand, your relationship with your coach Dimitri Zavialoff is in good shape.

“Yes, he’s a terrific coach.  He adapts very well to the people he works with and allows them to develop.  Working with him is very stimulating.  He started coaching Stan [Wawrinka] at a very young age, bringing him to the top 10 in the world.  And despite his success he’s always stayed grounded.  I could really keep talking for hours about his qualities.”

After Indian Walls, you’re skipping the Miami tournament. Isn’t it a shame to miss such an important tournament considering your current form?

“I’ve played an enormous number of matches since the start of the season.  I need time to catch my breath, but also to prepare the rest of my season, starting with the Fed Cup in the middle of April.”

About the Fed Cup, would you welcome Martina Hingis to the team?

“Of course!  It would be wonderful to have such a great champion on the team. And on a personal level, I think I could learn a lot by being in contact with her. But even if it doesn’t happen, this Swiss team should be able to aim for promotion into the World Group.”

Translated by Mark Nixon.

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Timea Bacsinszky: Flying high and getting noticed

Translation of this piece http://www.srf.ch/sport/tennis/wta-tour/timea-bacsinszky-ein-hoehenflug-mit-ankuendigung by Svenja Mastroberardino

Timea Bacsinszky is the high-flyer of the WTA. In Monterrey, the Vaud Canton native celebrated her second tournament title of this season – https://twitter.com/svenja_mastro — and proved that hard work and commitment pay off in the long run.

Once again Timea Bacsinszky needed to give a victory interview. Overcome by emotion, the player from Lausanne couldn’t hold back a few tears: “It’s unbelievable, I have no words,” she said, visibly moved.

12 wins in a row, titles number 2 and 3 – Mexico was truly a good place for the 25-year-old. Bacsinszky is really the player of the moment on the WTA tour. With an impressive 18 wins on the balance sheet against only 2 defeats, she is clearly the most successful player right now. Only the Czech Karoline Plíšková can match her for wins in 2015 (against 6 losses). In the last 4 tournaments she’s played in, Bacsinszky has reached the final 3 times – and that’s a record.

Fed Cup captain Gündthardt is impressed

Two tournament titles in a row with quality play. SRF tennis expert and Fed Cup captain Heinz Günthardt had only praise: “Over such a time span you’ll always have matches when you’re not at your best. For Timea  to still find a way to win says a lot about her.”

Günthardt never had any doubts about Bacsinszky’s abilities, but the way she would explode upwards in the rankings was something no one dared expect (from 285 at the end of 2013 to 26 on Monday). “She is an immensely talented tennis player. Earlier she lacked consistency – during training too, partly due to injuries but also because of problems with motivation.”

A model pro even in training

A statement Beni Linder can attest to. Swiss Tennis’ head fitness coach has worked with the sensitive Romande [someone from the French-speaking parts of Switzerland]. “The Timea of today can’t be compared with the old Timea. Now she’s completely professional about her job, whereas before she struggled with others but especially with herself.” Driven by her ambitious father, she often lacked the joy of sport. This can now be just a catalyst: “There is so much joy in Timea. That’s what gives her so much energy.” said Linder.

In the last 12 days Bacsinszky has played 10 matches and spent almost 22 hours on the court – some of them well into the night. But there were no signs of fatigue or physical exhaustion. “The physical effort it has taken to get to this level shouldn’t be underrated,” said Günthardt. “Timea has run a lot of metres and spent a lot of time in the weight room. That can’t be stressed enough.”

Linder added: “Her performance is a product of continuous daily work. Timea winning a tournament didn’t come as a surprise for us. But we didn’t expect it to lead to such a continuously high level.” This from the fitness coach who is in regular contact with Bacsinszky’s coach Dimitri Zavialoff.

Next exploit at a Grand Slam?

She wanted to see what her limits were, Bacsinszky has said repeatedly after being “near quitting”. Where does Günthardt think they lie? “If she keeps this up, she can get into the top 10. To do this, she needs to play where the points are — at the Grand Slams. She has the level in any case.” The next chapter in this story is waiting to be written.

Translated by Mark Nixon with corrections by Svenja Mastroberardino

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