Francesca Schiavone on the meaningful words in her life

From the print edition of l’Équipe June 24 2015 page 17, by Julien Giovanella

Francesca Schiavone, exuberant? On the court yes, but not in the players restaurant underneath Philippe Chatrier where she joins us for an interview. “We’ll speak quietly, there are people around,” says the player who will be thirty-five on 23 June, before she picks a lap of paper with a proper name, a number or a date randomly from an envelope. Five years ago in Paris she was the first Italian woman to win a Slam, and a year later she was a finalist. Now ranked 92 in the world and playing in her fifteenth Roland Garros. In a quiet voice.

15

This is my fifteenth Roland Garros (she’ll meet the Chinese Qiang Wang). I still remember the first in 2000. I lost in the first qualification round 7-5 in the third against a girl who was playing well at the time (actually 9-7 against the Polish Magdalena Grzybowska). I was young (not yet 20) and I wanted to start this nice fairy tail well … I knew I had to work and work some more, but I already felt at home. I didn’t ask myself  “will I succeed or not?” I just played, full stop. And I loved it. When I saw this stadium for the first time (in 1997 as a junior) I felt the history of tennis. I remember one day going right to the top of Philippe Chatrier. Steffi Graf and Monica Seles were playing (semis, 1999). I was entranced. I got out my Kodak (smiles). I still have photos of the match at home.

Fed Cup

It’s the only time you share your work and your passion with others. I was told from the start: “You’re important to us.” That gave me so much energy. … There was always joy, even when we lost. There was respect between us and that gave me an incredible strength to play above myself (she won the contest in 2006, 2009 and 2012 but hasn’t played since 2012).

Today

What makes me keep playing? I have a new challenge. For a moment, I wasn’t at peace with myself any more. I had some personal difficulties which I’m overcoming, and I want to rediscover myself at thirty-five (birthday on June 23). I want the serenity I had at sixteen, seventeen, eighteen. It’s introspection to rediscover my balance and pleasure.

June

June 5 2010, on Philippe Chatrier, what a huge win. I gave myself a gift. It feels good to think about it. What I remember best is the second set tie-break (6-4, 7-6[2]) against Samantha Stosur). I felt all this energy inside me, my spirit and my body were one. My game, my mind, my tactics, my technique were responding perfectly …

Gabi Urpi

Gabi Urpi? Why this lap? Because he works with the French Tennis Federation? (He coaches the French Fed Cup team) He was my coach I shared with Flavia Pennetta. He has a lot of experience, but he also has great humanity, two things not easily found on the tour. The collaboration was a very nice page in my live.

Future

I see a picture with a lot of squares to put my wishes in. One might find: stay in tennis or stay at home and play “the mother”. There are other options too. If this new life were to start tomorrow, I wouldn’t be ready. I’m preparing. But I know myself and I might say from one day to the next: “I’m stopping, I don’t want to play tennis any more.” I hope not to do it, to take the time to make the right choice. I’m not thinking about it right now, I live in the moment.

4 H 44

That was so long (match won against Svetlana Kuznetsova at the 2011 Australian Open 6-4, 1-6, 16-14, the longest women’s match in Slam history). I’ve watched it sometimes since. (The whole match? we ask) No, I’m not crazy. Only the tough parts. The first time was on the same day with the physios, and that’s when I realised how long it was. On the court I was so concentrated that I didn’t think of either the length of the match or becoming 4 in the world if I won (her best ranking, achieved after the tournament).  What I was experiencing was so much nicer than that … Leaving the court, my toes on each foot were bathed in blood. It took me 2½ hours to get them out. After 4 hours and 44 minutes of pleasure, I experienced hell! That I well remember (laughs)!

Lin Zhu

(During the first round of the latest Indian Wells in March, her opponent, the Chinese Lin Zhu, had the ball bounce on her side before going over the net. The umpire saw nothing, the player said nothing and took the point, which was the second set winner.) She saw that the ball bounced on her side. The umpire, no, which is unbelievable.  He asked her, “what happened?” And she answered, “I don’t remember.” There, we have a problem. That’s a lack of respect for the sport and for life. I told her, “this is sport.” And since that day the phrase goes with me. It’s a whole philosophy of life other sports people, especially in cycling, defend, and which I hope to take with me when my career is over. Go and talk to her? What’s the point? Some of the younger players in the new generation don’t have those values, as opposed to Roger (Federer) Rafa (Nadal) Serena or Venus (Williams). We, the champions, need to be examples. You give your life on the court, but the respect and love are there win or lose.

Translated by MAN

“I need to improve my game, not change it.” Caroline Wozniacki on RG, Slams and Arantxa Sánchez

Caroline Wozniacki interview in the German net newpaper SPOX by Florian Regelmann Part One

Caroline, the French Open starts on Sunday at Roland Garros. There’s a nice video of you where you, as a little girl, say you’ll be in Paris later. Did you realize already then that you were going to be a professional tennis player?

(laughs) Yes I’ve believed since I was a kid I could make it. Although there were some bad periods on the way to the top, I’ve never doubted it. I’ve always had the dream of playing the big tournaments like the French Open and hopefully winning one sometime. When I saw the clip recently, I couldn’t believe I’d said that. It was cool to see it again. So I though I’d share it with my fans.

You’ve never done very well at the French Open – you’re best result is a quarter-final in 2010. Is there a reason why Paris has always been a disappointment for you?

Not really. I don’t really know why I haven’t had better results up to now at the French Open. My game really should fit on clay, but hopefully I can change that this year. In any case, I’m working hard at and I’ll give it everything I have in Paris. Hopefully it will be my year.

A first Slam title would definitely make 2015 your year. You’re still waiting for that big win. Are you felling pressure?

No. I hope that a Slam title is just a question of time. I work very hard every day to reach that goal. I know that’s what every training session is for – because I want to win a Slam. It’s one of the last things that I’m missing in my career. I’ve won pretty well everything else. A Slam title would be fantastic.

Does it bother you that you’ve won over 20 titles and were number one for a long time, but what’s mostly talked about is that you’re missing s Slam?

Honestly, I really don’t think about that much, I really don’t. As a tennis player, you have two big dreams: to be number one and to win a Slam. I’ve accomplished the first one, the second one not yet. But I hope I’ll have at least one Slam on the shelf before I hang up my racquet.

After all, you’ve been close. You’ve twice been in the US Open final, losing the one time to Kim Clijsters and the other to Serena Williams. What are you lacking to make the big score?

I don’t know if I’m lacking anything. I’ve beaten every player on the tour and shown that I can compete. It’s simply a question of the right timing and being in absolute top form over two weeks. Winning a Slam isn’t easy. If it were easy, everyone would have done it. It’s not easy either to win a tournament or be number one. I believe I’m good enough to win Slam titles. I need to improve and work hard, and it will happen eventually.

In 2010 you became number one in the world after a win in Peking. What do you remember about that moment?

Becoming world number one meant so much to me. Looking at the rankings list and seeing your name at the top is very special. Growing up, my dream was always to be number one. I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. For me it was a very big moment I’ll always remember. It was an incredible feeling.

When looking for reasons why you haven’t won Slam titles, the answer always ends up being, you aren’t aggressive enough. How do you feel about that criticism?

“I won so much playing my game, but it’s not enough for a Slam? I honestly don’t think it’s about my game or changing anything in it. It’s about hitting top form for those two weeks. It just hasn’t happened yet for me. My strength is to be aggressive from defence – that’s my game. I need to improve my game, not change it.

You’ve had some deep valleys in your career. 2013 was a difficult year for you. How did you climb back out again?

Because I was number for a while, and it was my ambition to stay there, then it’s a bad year when you finish the year at number ten. And looking back, a lot of players would have been happy to have had my 2013. In sports as in life, there are ups and downs. It’s quite normal. When things aren’t going so well, there’s only one thing you can do: keep going and work even harder than before, and your time will come again. So that’s what I did.

Currently you’re world number five and have been playing consistently well for some time. Is this the best Caroline Wozniacki ever?

“Yes, I’d definitely say that. I feel that I’m constantly improving. I’m definitely playing better than when I was number one. But the thing is, all the other players are improving, the level just gets higher and higher. Everyone wants to beat you. Everyone has analysed your videos and knows exactly how to play you. You really have to keep trying to stay one step ahead.

This year you tried to get new input from a brief collaboration with Arantxa Sánchez Vicario. What did you hope to gain?

We worked together for a couple of weeks in Miami. It was really a great experience for me. Arantxa is such a positive person. I love the energy she radiates. I got a few tips from her because there are very few who know more about clay court tennis. Spending time with her was great fun. We keep in touch regularly and hopefully we can work more intensively together in the future.

Translated by MAN

Eduardo Schwank talks injury, comeback, goals

Original source:  http://www.ole.com.ar/tenis/Arranco-cero_0_1348665421.html

“I’m starting from scratch”

Eduardo Schwank will make his comeback at the Villa María Futures Tournament after nine months of inactivity, product of the fractures he suffered on his left arm in a bicycle accident in Gstaad. “I felt like giving up, but I miss the adrenaline of tennis, and I have a lot of energy”, he said to Olé.

His last match was on July 24th 2014, a defeat in doubles with Marcel Granollers in Gstaad, the same place where a few hours later he fell from his bike while training in the mountains, turning his tennis career  into a huge question mark. The fractures on his left arm kept Eduardo Schwank away from a racket for too long… nine months.

“At the beginning I didn’t wanna deal with it. I was pretty depressed, and I was constantly remembering the accident. But everything happens for a reason. Inactivity made me realise the important things. Right now I have a lot of energy, and I really appreciate this return to the courts,” says the 29-year-old while preparing to play the Villa María Future in Córdoba, starting on Monday.

-How are you preparing your comeback?

-I’m feeling better every day, I started to train eight weeks ago, and in the last two weeks I started hitting backhands. I’m lacking competition, but I’ll start with some Futures to get some rhythm. I wont be looking for results, I just want to be fine and feel no pain.

-What is it that you missed the most during this nine months?

-I missed the adrenaline of tennis. I’ve been doing some other activities, but I couldn’t find anything like it. The tension before a match… those things that when you’re on the tour you take naturally, and you don’t really appreciate.

-Do you see the tour differently from the outside?

-Yes. You get used to packing your bags, getting on a plane, living in hotels. You don’t have time for anything else. The first two months without playing went by really slow for me. I miss that too… having your head wrapped around the competition.

What are your targets now? You are starting without ranking in singles…

-If everything goes well in Futures in this country, I’m thinking about traveling to the Challengers in Europe, playing quallies and trying to gain points. That’s the only way to start. When I start getting rhythm I’m dangerous. Results will come as I feel better.

-You turned pro in 2005. Is it hard to set up your mind to start again?

-Yes, it’s like starting a new career. I’m starting from scratch. But I have the support of a team, and I’m also doing this for self-pride, because I want to go back to play ATP tournaments. I know it will take time. But I’m going to do this with more professionalism than I did before.

-How do you stand the daily struggle with the body? Del Potro is living the same thing.

-It’s hard when there’s a retrogression. I was well in December, but then in January I had to have surgery on my elbow, that delayed the comeback and got into my head. Everything fell apart for me when the doctor told me it was going to take four more months. It’s frustrating to not be 100% phisically. It must be really ugly to have to retire from your career because of an injury.

-Did you ever think of quitting tennis?
-Many times. I thought of leaving everything and moving forward with my Academy (Schwank Tennis Center) and having more time for my Fundation (Estar Eduardo Schwank) that keeps opening schools for disabled kids. But I still think that tennis can give me things. I thinl I have a lot of years ahead in my career. [Nowadays] players stay longer on the tour.

-What goals do you still have?
-Tennis gave me more than I ever expected. I’ve done great things in doubles (N: He was a finalist at Roland Garros 2011 with Colombian Juan Sebastian Cabal), but I neglected singles, and that’s something I want to fix. I want to have a good ranking again (48th in the world in June 2010). My head was not 100% at the time.

-Does Davis Cup motivate you? You played some great battles with Nalbandian, and you went to watch the tie against Brazil.

-Yes, that’s one of the main reasons I want to return. I’ve never felt anything quite like representing my country, it’s a huge responsibility and it’s not the same as playing on the tour, mainly when the crowd is in your favour. It’s one of my targets. I hope I can play it, even if it is just once more.

~

Translation by @WTAenespanol

We are not robots: interview with Jerzy Janowicz

Original source:  http://www.sport.pl/tenis/1,64987,17841694,Tenis__Janowicz__Nie_jestesmy_robotami_zaprogramowanymi.html

“We are not robots, programmed to win.”

There’s a saying ‘What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.’ Is that’s how you look at injuries? After another foot problem or – as it happened a year and a half ago and recently – with your spine, do you come back on a court mentally stronger?

I think that when it comes to injuries you can’t say they make you mentally stronger. It’s very frustrating because when an athlete in is in good shape and an injury happens you have to start from scratch. If it’s a prolonged injury, a return to good form can take many weeks. That’s what happened to me, when I had a serious spine injury a year and a half ago  and when I came back, my foot got injured. I couldn’t prepare for the following season and the effects of it affected my whole 2014 season.

In recent years players and experts have noticed an increasing dominance of hard courts on WTA and ATP tours. Some prefer more surface diversity and say that cement puts more demand on the body and because of that causes more injuries. Others believe that a body gets used to a surface and it’s healthier to change it less frequently. What’s your opinion?

To be honest, I prefer diversity. It’s not a problem for me to play on a clay, hard or grass court. What matters to me is if it’s outdoors or indoors. I would like to see more indoor tournaments. Indoor and hard courts – they’re my favourite tournaments.

Do you put great importance to Madrid and Rome or rather – because you’re coming back from an injury – treat them as preparation before Roland Garros? Or maybe do you want the clay season to finish as quickly as possible and can’t wait for the grass season?

All tournaments are equally important to me. Madrid and Rome are very prestigious, with a lot of points to gain, and that’s necessary if you want to advance in the rankings. Of course I’m excited about the grass season, especially that we’ve got one more grass tournament this year– Stuttgart. So the grass season will be a bit longer.

In general, players prefer to play against high-ranked opponents as late as possible. Your mum told me once that you prefer to fight more demanding opponents straight away. Does it help you with motivation?

First rounds of every tournament are difficult, no matter who you have to face. But it’s true, I prefer to play against better opponents. You play on a bigger court, in front of a bigger crowd and stronger support. And I like this kind of atmosphere. It mobilizes me more. But I treat every opponent in the same way and take every match seriously.

Are you superstitious? Some say there is a ‘Hopman Cup curse’. You and Agnieszka Radwańska started the year with a success in that event but right after that she started to have problems with her form. In February you reached a final in Montpelier but had to withdraw from the match because of an illness. Not everything has been to your liking since then…

I don’t believe in superstitions. My bad form in Montpelier was a coincidence, it was an infection that hit me really hard. It could have happened in any place, at any time. As for Agnieszka, she’s been a top player for many years. Maybe she’s going through a rough patch now but it can happen to anybody. We are human, we’re not robots programmed to win. Agnieszka is a very experienced player and she will deal with her problems. It’s a long time to the end of the season.

She has been saying recently that you can’t look at your opponent’s ranking position only, because it’s usually lower than it should be and doesn’t reflect a player’s skills. Do you share this opinion? How important for you is your ranking position?

To be honest, I don’t make any ranking plans before a season starts. I want to win matches and advance in the rankings but I don’t aim for top 20 this year and top ten next year. It will be great if I’m in the top 20 but I won’t despair if it doesn’t happen. Of course, your position in the rankings is important, it allows you to play in a given tournament. But rankings don’t play matches and they don’t determine that a player from the second hundred can’t win with a top 20 player. Life shows that it happens very often. It’s a rivalry and everybody wants to win when they step on a court.

A couple of months ago you were a guest in Turbokozak and got to show your football skills. Are you a football fan? Do you support any particular team? Or maybe you prefer volleyball –  because of your mum, a volleyball player, or your ties with Skra Bełchatów players?

I’m not a football fan and I don’t support any team but I enjoyed being in Turbokozak. I prefer volleyball and I go to see matches if I can. I friendly with Marcin Wlazły. I had an opportunity to play volleyball in a charity match in Częstochowa and I think I did pretty well. I like watching sports, especially with Polish players.

Interview with Dominic Thiem: “I’m a good guy and I like to show it, unlike Gulbis”

Translation of this Punto del Break piece by Juanma Muñoz

Dominic Thiem has granted an interview with Punto de Break in Barcelona, where he will compete in the Conde de Godó, starting on Tuesday.

At 21 years old, Dominic Thiem (No. 43 in the ATP rankings) is one of the players with the highest projection in world tennis. One day before his first match in the Conde de Godó against Victor Estrella Burgos, the young Austrian granted an interview with Punto de Break in the area reserved for players and coaches of the Royal Tennis Club of Barcelona.
A frequent user of social networks, he smiles when we ask him about the term “Bamos” which he frequently uses in his posts. “I know that’s not how it’s spelled,” he tells us while heading to the tables by around the pool.

What memories do you have of Spain in and away from the competition?

The majority are good memories. The first time that I came to Spain was to play junior tournaments. Last year, I came to Barcelona and Madrid where I had some very successful weeks. In Madrid, I beat Wawrinka, which was the first victory of my career against a top 10 player.

How long ago did you start doing your pre-season training in Tenerife?

Since four years ago. Tenerife is a great place, and it was a great time in December. It’s the perfect place to do pre-season training and it’s not too far from Europe (continental).

Why did you choose Tenerife?

Because Michal Novotny, the physiotherapist of Ernests Gulbis (with whom I shared a coach until a few months ago), had a centre there. It’s a good place.

I would like for you to explain to me what you military service in Austria consisted of. Have you already finished it?

Still no. I will finish it on April 31st. The first four weeks were very hard, because I had to be there all the time. Now, it’s fine because I can leave to play all the tournaments.

What did your military service consist of after the first four weeks?

If I’m in Vienna, I have to present myself at 7:30 in the morning.

Did you receive any special treatment for being an elite athlete?

No, I probably received worse treatment (laughing). I didn’t receive any special treatment.

You’ve changed your racquet this season (from Head Prestige to Babolat Pure Strike). Why?

I started to try out the new one in December, because I finished my contract with Head. I liked the new racquet a lot from the start. I started to play more with it and now I enjoy it a lot.

Your results in the first weeks of the year weren’t good. Have you completely adapted to the new racquet?

Yeah, it’s always difficult to change your racket and stringing, but now I’m completely adapted and I like it.

Have you noticed any change in your relationship with your coach Gunter Bresnik since the split with Gulbis and now he only coaches you?

I don’t think there is anything different, because I’ve been with him 11 or 12 years and in the first 9 or 10 I was also the only one with him.

He doesn’t dedicate more time to coach just one player?

Yes, of course, but we always practice all together, so it is the same.

You know Gulbis well. How would you describe his personality away from the court?

He is a good guy, but maybe he doesn’t want to show it. He has an interesting personality. I’ve learned a lot from him. It’s great sharing time with him.

And how is Thiem away from the court?

I think I’m a good guy and I like to show it, unlike Ernests (Gulbis). I have easy-going character. I don’t like complications.

When you were a kid, you used to play with a two-handed backhand. You changed it to a one-hander with Gunter. Was it a successful decision considering the way tennis has evolved?

Now I think it was a successful decision. It was difficult during the first years. I think that now I have a very good backhand. Maybe it made sense to change precisely because in modern tennis there is, mostly, two-handed backhands. That is an advantage for those of us that have one-handed backhands, because we have more variety, an easier effort, and can get to more balls… Each time there are less players with one-handed backhands and those of us that maintain it have an advantage.

It wasn’t long ago that you were playing junior tournaments. What are the most important differences that you noticed in the jump to professionalism?

It’s very hard, because as a junior, if you are good, you are already a star. You go to nice hotels… Then you got to play Futures and it’s completely different. You have to live by yourself. It’s not easy.

What is your main goal in tennis?

I think the main goal of any player is to win a Grand Slam. It’s the biggest thing that you can get in tennis.

Which is your favorite Grand Slam?

Roland Garros

And what do you think you need to improve to reach this goal?

Everything. There is nothing that I can’t improve. I should work hard each day so that I will be able to reach my goals.

And that’s Dominic Thiem, the good guy that writes “Bamos” and dreams of winning Roland Garros.

Translated by jpine

Wiktorowski talks Radwanska, technique, and surface slow-downs

Original source: http://www.sport.pl/tenis/1,64987,17755508,Trener_Radwanskiej__Najgorsze__co_mozna_zrobic__to.html

Jakub Ciastoń: It seemed that in a small tournament in Katowice, in front of her own audience, Agnieszka would try to rebuild her form and confidence in this season, but the semifinal she lost to Camila Giorgi brought us all to earth. What’s happening to Agnieszka?

Tomasz Wiktorowski: For the last four years we were all happy and sometimes on cloud nine because Agnieszka played really great but now we have to put our feet on the ground, very firmly, because things don’t come easy now. But nobody is giving up. Nevertheless, I’m tired of questions posed in such a way, of having to analyze each match in isolation, each and every week. If you disregard the first couple of games in the first set, the match against Giorgi was definitely not good. The fact that the Italian lost the final proves that she was beatable. She played under greater pressure in the final because she was the favourite, but for us it’s not an excuse. Nothing fundamental has changed for Agnieszka this week so I don’t even pick up the phone because I have nothing new to say. We are working on improvements but we need time, patience, solidity and support.

This is the weakest start of the season in Agnieszka’s career. She lost a similar match against Heather Watson in Indian Wells. She was able to deal with aggressive opponents like Watson and Giorgi in the past, it’s Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova that were problematic.

But times have changed. We can’t analyze Agnieszka’s tennis in isolation from what’s happening. Today, there are several players that play like Williams or Sharapova and tens of those who are a bit weaker. The level is higher, we have young guns like Garbine Muguruza, Madison Keys, Pliskova or Elina Svitolina, players like Simona Halep, Lucie Safarova, Ekaterina Makarova or Carla Suarez Navarro have been playing better. Malcontents will always complain that the level of women’s tennis is low but if they stop pointlessly comparing it to the men’s tennis, they will see something else. We notice changes and we have to adapt.

So we have to accept that Agnieszka’s level will inevitably decline?

A change of guard will happen, slowly. Agnieszka is not one of the youngest players at the top. In 2007 a teen Agnieszka beat Martina Hingis. Did the Swiss despair after the match? Did she retire? No, she continued to play and tried to change something. Agnieszka has to adapt too because she will not have a chance to win with newcomers by playing her old, defensive tennis.
If Agnieszka doesn’t modify her style a bit, it will be harder and harder, with time, because physically she works 30-40% more than her opponents during matches, she runs 1-2 km more. Tennis based on running will have to be limited as years pass. That’s why conditioning is so important, Agnieszka pays a lot of attention to it, but at some point she won’t be able to cheat time.

That’s why you talked about a necessary revolution in Agnieszka’s game – moving forward, better serve, return, taking the initiative. Sometimes we can see the effects, but not in matches against Watson or Giorgi.

I watch Agnieszka, I can see that she’s torn between continuing what she’s been doing for 20 years and trying a more aggressive tennis. When she employs new elements, plays aggressively, closer to the lines, takes risk with the return, I can see that she can do it, very effectively. But moments like these are still too scarce. In difficult moments she moves back. We have been working on these things for three, four months though, it’s not enough. You have to regenerate during a tournament, travel in-between, rest, there wasn’t much work on a court. But don’t ask me how much time we need, I don’t know that myself.

Nobody speaks much about Agnieszka’s technique which also forms a kind of a barrier?

It’s much more difficult for Agnieszka to play offensive tennis because she can’t generate lots of power in her shots. She doesn’t use the twist of the shoulder girdle and leg well enough. She learnt to play on super-fast surfaces where the ball accelerated very quickly and it was sufficient just to put the racket on the ball. This sequence of movements is encoded now and very difficult to modify. It’s not helpful against aggressive opponents on slower courts. In the last five years all surfaces have slowed down, even the grass at Wimbledon, which is hard to believe. The British use a different mix now which slows the ball after the bounce, on purpose.

Agnieszka can’t grow any taller but she can develop stronger muscles, and recently she’s lost some weight, too much even.

It is a problem… We talk with Agnieszka about it all the time. That’s all I can say.

Every tennis player goes through a crisis. Woźniacka, Azarenka, Kerber, even Sharapova, they dropped out of the top ten, then came back. Will Agnieszka manage as well?

We can’t judge her whole though that Wimbledon final. There are better and worse moments in everybody’s life, Agnieszka is going through a worse phase now but it’s normal in tennis. I can name 20 players whose careers were rocked by bigger shocks. If we analyze it closely, it’ll turn out that compared to them Agnieszka is dealing with it really well. The worst thing to do is to sit and cry. Agnieszka is not doing that, she’s focused on the future.

Martina Navratilova also believes that this revolution will be successful?

We all believe that.

Are you still working with Martina?

She will be with us at Roland Garros, maybe also before Madrid. We will work together until Wimbledon, then we’ll see, what’s next.

~

Translation by @jesna3

Raonic, clay or not: “I want to be number 1” Interviewed by @VinceMartucci

Translation of an interview in La Gazzetta dello Sport, print edition April 15 2015 by Vince Martucci.

The Canadian lives in Monte Carlo, but he has yet to win on the red: “The surface doesn’t matter, my goal is to win Slams.”

Here, at the Country Club, he won his first match on clay in 2011. He was 20 and defeated Llodra 6-3, 0-6, 6-0. He’s made his home here in the Principality because it’s where his his Guardian Angels, Ivan Ljubičić and Riccardo Piatti, live, and they’re opening his eyes to the pitfalls of the red clay to bring him into paradise. “They believe in me and I believe in them: we push each other.”

Milos, this club has no secrets for you.

No, but I’ve never practised on the main courts, just under the rocks. But I feel at home, I have my own car, I know places, I don’t need a guide. I hang around with Bernard, Tomic, I’ve known him since juniors.

In Monte Carlo, the talented youth, more solid and consistent and at 24 ranked 7 in the world, is looking for his first high point on red on the heels of his 3 saved match points against Nadal at Indian Wells.

I like the place, and the surface challenges me. The difficulties are the higher bounces and the movement adjustments that follow. I don’t need to change my aggressive game – I need to dictate the points. But it’s not instantaneous, it takes time to learn to do it on clay too.

Surely one who has won 6 tournaments out of 14 finals, all on hard courts with that bazooka serve, thinks more of winning a Slam at Wimbledon, or even the US or Australian Opens, surely not at Roland Garros.

I’m looking to do my best, to improve. I’m making progress, and I haven’t shown my full potential yet.

What’s the biggest improvement apart from the backhand and movement?

I know myself and my game better, I know better how to manage the situations and choose the right shot.

Certainly, the word Wimbledon has a fascination all it’s own.

Wimbledon makes you think of prestige, history. My idol is Pete Sampras. I’ve recorded all his most important matches, but I couldn’t believe my eyes when I re-watched the Wimbledon 2000 final against Rafter.

Sampras won 14 Slams and became nr. 1 in the world. What’s Raonic’s aim?

To win Slams and become nr. 1. That’s been the objective from the beginning with Piatti and Ljubičić. That’s what I’m working for. But I need to raise my level first, and then keep it for the long run.

And the sleeve he always wears: is it protection or a good luck charm?

It began as protection, as a support for the arm that gets used so much. But I never use it in practice.

Raonic is a son of Montenegro, but a Canadian citizen.

“Canada gave my parents the chance to give us boys possibilities. I understood that when I was growing up and started to travel. I promised them that after tennis I’ll graduate like my two brothers, who have returned to Podgorica. I was born there, but I don’t have roots there – I left when I was 3 years old …”

Raonic seems too intelligent to only concentrate on tennis.

“I get obsessive. Now I’m trying different things to get my mind somewhere else. I’ve found there’s nothing better than visiting the tournament city.  In Paris I absolutely need to take a boat ride. I’ve visited some museums in Rome, but I’ve missed the Vatican. I love musicals, the theatre, music. They’re excellent to get my mind off tennis.”

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

Pauline Parmentier on playing the ITF tour: “Some players ask to live with a host family”

From the print edition of l’Équipe April 7, 2015 page 11. Interview by Sophie Dorgan

“Some ask to live with a host family” Pauline Parmentier explains the differences between the women’s tour, which has less money, and the men’s.

Fallen to 250 in the world November 2013, Pauline Parmentier had to fight on the secondary tour to get back into the well-known top 100. She weighs the differences between the WTA and the ITF secondary tour and shines a light on a very relative parity.

“Everything is very complicated at the small tournaments. We play without ball persons and without line umpires until the semi-finals, sometimes the finals.  There are two shuttles a day to get to the site. If you play at 17.00,  you need to leave at 10. But we shouldn’t complain in France. We’re lucky to have GDF-Suez which sponsors numerous tournaments. A Bulgarian has zero where she lives. You need the drive and the sponsors, because money-wise it’s tough. If you travel outside the country, you lose money playing the $10K’s. Lodging is rarely taken into account. Some players ask to live with a host family to avoid paying for a hotel; others live 3 to a room.

On the secondary circuit, many players have no staff. You open up more to other players, you eat together, it’s nicer. At the big tournaments, everyone’s on their own, eat with their teams and nothing much happens. On the other hand, it’s complicated in terms of programming. We have far fewer tournaments than the men. During a WTA meeting, a player, who is ranked around 130, explained that if you don’t get into the qualies at Indian Wells, there’s zero choice of tournaments for a month and a half. The ATP tries to make sure everyone is playing. The WTA revolves more around top players.”

Translated by MAN

“France, the country that welcomed me so well”: Interview with Novak Djoković

An interview by Carole Bouchard published in Le Parisien magazine.

A declaration of love.  While he doesn’t launch his clay campaign until April 11 in Monte-Carlo, Novak Djoković agreed to be interviewed a few weeks ago about the privileged relationship he’s had with France since his youth. The world number one, who didn’t want to risk answering our questions in French, but does so willingly for short periods on TV, has the goal of winning Roland Garros on June 7—the only Grand Slam tournament missing from his record.

What are your first memories of France?

Before even setting foot in your country, I had a positive image of France.  There’s a long tradition of friendship between our countriesmany French live in Serbia and many Serbs speak French.  Me, too, although I’m still working on improving it.  When I came for the first time, at 11 years old, to play the Tarbes International, I loved your country as well as the people.  And then I played my first Roland Garros at 16 as a junior.

What impressed you then?

As a Serb, after the war in Yugoslavia, it wasn’t easy to travel.  When we gave our nationality, people recoiled and looked at us oddly.  They thought we were terrorists who were going to play some dirty trick.  It was very complicated for my family and me, especially for my father, who travelled with me to junior tournaments.  We had to work twice as hard to impress people.  But France was one of the few countries where we felt welcomed and where there really was some human warmth, some friendship.

What were your first visits as a tourist?

In juniors, we often travelled by train and passed through Paris, where the train stopped at Lyon Station.  So, we’d do a tour of the neighbourhood.  That’s where I saw the Bercy complex for the first time.  When you’re a player, you spend days on the courts and you don’t do a lot of tourism because it takes time and energy.  I needed four or five years before I went to see the Eiffel Tower!  The same for the Louvre Museum.  Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the worldevery building has a soul, a special architecture and a history.  I myself come from a country filled with history, which cultivates its traditions and cultural heritage, and have much respect for those which do the same.  I enjoy those countries more because I feel this soul, this ancient history.

What are your favourite parts of Paris?

The Bois de Boulogne, Parc Monceau, the nice neighbourhoods around Avenue George V and the Champs Elysées … And then there’s Montmartre, magnificent with its artistic side.  The Louvre is impressive, too.  There are also restaurants I visit regularly, like the world-famous Le Relais de l’Entrecôte!

Have you developed a particular relationship with France?

I feel closer and closer to French culture.  Speaking the language helps, as does living in Monaco.  I meet French people every day.  And I have French sponsors like Peugeot and Nutrition & Health (Gerblé), who chose me because I can identify with French culture.  I like your sense of humour which is quite sarcastic and distinctive.  It makes me laugh.  I’ve also noticed that people in France are very confident, especially in Paris.  I find it interesting to meet people who have that joie de vivre, that desire to succeed and that influence.

You had a son, Stefan, in 2014. They say he was born in Nice…

No, he was born in Monaco.

A trifle, he couldn’t play for France!

[Explodes into laughter.] OK, well, I don’t know how that would work, I haven’t checked it out!  Will he play tennis later?  That’s impossible to predict.  When he learns to walk, there’ll come a moment when he’ll grab a racquet and ball, it’s only natural.  As soon as he learns to talk, people will ask him if he wants to play, be better than his father.  But I don’t want to force him to become a professional tennis player.  Children of champions who don’t succeed in the same sport as their parents are more numerous than those who succeed because there’s so much pressure.  I’ll tell my son what he can expect so he’ll be ready.

You’ve played legendary matches at Roland Garros, like the semi-final you lost to Rafael Nadal in 2013. But the title keeps eluding you…

It’s a tournament I dream of winning.  The matches I lost at Roland Garros against Nadal were really not easy to digest.  But I take that as an apprenticeship: it’s a challenge that allows me to grow and improve.  That will be my state of mind for the 2015 edition [May 19-June 7- ED], which I can’t wait to play.  I think it will go well for me there, even if it’s a ways down the road and, psychologically, I don’t want to think about it yet.  Roland Garros is always at the top of my priorities.

Because the crowd supports you?

Last year, after my loss in the final, I had one of the most touching moments of my career when the whole stadium applauded me for a long time.  I had tears in my eyes because the French crowd isn’t easy to win over.  To enjoy this support when I’m not French is something I’ll never forget and it encourages me.  What’s important is what you feel—and, in Paris, I feel good, appreciated, carried along by a positive energy.  When I feel that good, I play my best tennis.

Translated by MAN