Who is Brazilian WTA tennis player Beatriz Haddad Maia, or simply Bia Haddad? Read on.

Beatriz Haddad Maia, or simply Bia Haddad, a tennis player who was compared to Russian Maria Sharapova in the beginning of her career because of her beauty, turned 19  obsessed with exercise: not just physical, but also mathematical.

“Taking care of my body is my nerd side. I wake up before the other girls, at 6 a.m, put a towel on the floor of my bedroom and start to stretch, to release, I do all the exercises for abdomen, hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, wrist. There are people who think I´m crazy. But I love it,” says Bia.

The other nerd side she is applying is in her academic career. The Brazilian tennis player has been attending on-line university since the beginning of the year studying business administration.

“If I didn’t play, I would be studying civil engineering or medicine.  I love mathematics, physics. But with our careers it’s impossible,” she says.

“I need to exercise my mind off court. If it stays only on tennis, when you lose, you want to kill yourself,” she finishes.

With all the energy spent on the court or studying between matches, Bia goes to sleep around 9h30 p.m. “I get very sleepy, I shut off.”

On July 16 in Toronto  she found another reason to stay awake: The 2015 Pan American Games, a competition she will play for the first time in her career. “I dream about playing the Olympics and the Pan Am Games. I grow up a lot playing for Brazil. I’ll meet a lot of new people, open my mind, learn and have fun”.

At 13 years old, Bia already captured attention on the Brazilian circuit playing against older girls. But it’s been in the last months that her career got back on track and she started grabbing attention outside of Brazil.

It’s not just the recently acquired driver license  at a driving school that gets Bia excited.

This year, she won her first WTA title on doubles playing with Paula Gonçalves (who alongside Gabriela Cé are the Brazilian women’s tennis team at the Pan Am Games), in Bogotá, Colombia. Bia also made quarter-finals of the Rio Open and reached her career high singles WTA ranking of 148.

A revolution after some suffering which she sums up this way: “Two years ago, I was unlucky, I fell on court and hurt my right shoulder. After that, I had three herniated discs, my right leg was paralysed, I had back surgery, I was feeling so bad, I didn’t know if I was going back to play. In those six months, I became somebody else,” she recalls.

“We learn through love or pain,”says Bia.

The pain never returned after October 12 2012, the day she had the back surgery.

The love comes from family. Her mother, Laís Haddad is a tennis teacher, her father, Ayrton Maia Filho, was a basketball player.

From the Maia family, she inherited the height. Today, at 1,85m, only Sharapova in the top 10 of  the WTA is taller than her .

“Being tall is beneficial. A lot of tennis players wanted to be tall and left-handed like myself,” she says.

“But Sharapova is not a player who I copy. Petra Kvitova, Serena Williams and Simona Halep are the players I look at to improve. From Sharapova, only the mental side. But I prefer just being myself, Bia”.

Bia Haddad has some of the best tennis professionals of Brazil on her team. In Balneario Camboriu, located in the Santa Catarina State, where she lives, she is coached by Larri Passos, former mentor of Gustavo Kuerten, who also travels with her.

Bia’s technical coach is Marcus Vinicius Barbosa, known as Bocão, a pupil of Passos. She has Gustavo Magliocca as her physiologist (who also works with Olympic swimming gold medalist César Cielo ), her psychologist is Carla di Perro (also Thomaz Bellucci’s), as well as a physiotherapist, a personal trainer, an orthopedist and an osteopath.

Translated by Sara Tavares.
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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

“I’ll continue as long as I can” – Amélie Mauresmo on Fed Cup and a bit about Murray – interviewed by l’Équipe’s @sophiedorgan

From the Équipe print edition April 16 2015 page 13. Interview by Sophie Dorgan

Amélie Mauresmo, pregnant, won’t revise her commitments with the French team. As for her coaching role with Andy Murray, she hopes to be with him until Wimbledon, then take stock with the Brit.

In a friendly atmosphere, the French Fed Cup team gets set to take on the current title holders, the Czech Republic, in the semi-finals Saturday and Sunday in Ostrava. Caroline Garcia, who arrived on Monday a day after her team mates, is recovering and her partners are acclimatising themselves to a surface considered “neutral” by Alizé Cornet, not too fast, not too slow. As for the captain, Amélie Mauresmo, who’s had the job since 2012, she prefers only to talk tennis. She only talks about her pregnancy, which she made public a week ago, in passing before coming back to her priority for the week: the Fed Cup.

You announced your pregnancy last Thursday, with the birth expected in August. How will that change your calendar?

It won’t change any of my Fed Cup commitments. As for Andy, we’ve talked about continuing as long as possible, which means including Wimbledon [June 29-July 12]. After we’ll talk quietly about the follow-up to our collaboration [begun last summer].

You’ll be making a professional choice?

“Of course.”

You say it changes nothing for the Fed Cup, but if you win this weekend [the final is set for November 14-15. The other final this weekend is Russia-Germany], you won’t be able to follow your players. Will you function differently?

I won’t be at the US Open [August 31-September13], but that won’t change things much. Since I started working with Andy, I’m not at all of their matches. There’ll be times when I can talk to the girls. I’m not at all worried about that. I’ve known them for a few years now. If someone needs to be with the French or their opponents, Gabi [Urpi, coach of the French team] will take care of it.”

I have a course of action and I’m sticking to it

We know that you were pregnant during the last meeting with Italy [3-2, February 8, last round]. It must have been wrenching emotionally?

I totally cracked at the end [smiles]. It was very tough. It would have been in any case having just arrived from Australia [after the final lost by Murray to Djokovic] together with the fatigue from the trip and the intensity of accompanying a player of that level to the final of a Grand Slam. I had the duty and responsibility of steering this French team into becoming the best it could be. It wasn’t easy, but it’s probably one of the best weeks we’ve ever experienced.”

To what do you attribute this French team’s success? Mature players, a solid staff and a bit of luck?

When you talk about achievement in sport, success is inevitable at certain times. But you have to induce them at a certain point, make some choices that are a bit daring, be strict about certain things. I have a course of action and I’m sticking to it. We have a young team, the girls are maturing, improving and realising so many things individually. I always tell them: “The stronger you are individually, the stronger the French team is. And the group gives you things as individuals.”

You’ve evolved too in your role.

Of course, I learn during every round and outside about how to position myself in relation to their individual structures. Now there’s a symbiosis.

How will you tackle this meeting with the Czech Republic?

It’s a heck of a challenge. What happened during our last round has expanded our horizons, even if we’re far from being favourites. The goal is to play our cards right and be opportunistic this weekend.

There’s a lot of talk about the return of Petra Kvitová, who was absent from the American swing [fatigue]. What are your thoughts?

We don’t know. That’s why we’re not focussing on Kvitová [ranked 4 in the world]. We haven’t seen her compete recently, first of all, and we’re not sure she’ll be on court. So, perhaps more so than in other rounds, we’re concentrating more on ourselves. The girls have all arrived in different states, and our priority is getting into the best shape possible Saturday and Sunday.

You’ve taken on a left-handed hitting partner, Jonathan Dasnières of Veigy, to prepare for possible lefties Kvitová and Šafářová (13th)

I like everything to be covered. It might be the little detail that makes the difference. If the girls who have hit with “Jon” hit a winner on break point off a lefty serve, there you go … It may not happen, but we’re giving ourselves every chance.

Translation 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