An Emotional fighter
In a exclusive chat with Pune Mirror, World No.2 Vera Zvonareva says she has matured as a player but insists that she will always express her feelings while playing.
SPORTS IN HER BLOOD
* Her father Igorevna played Bandy (Russian hockey) in the USSR championship for Dynamo Moscow
* Her mother Nataliya played (field) hockey and was the bronze medalist at the 1980 MoscowOlympic Games
* Vera was introduced to tennis by her mother at the age of six and turned professional in 2000
World No.2 Vera Zvonareva may have missed topping the world ranking this year by a whisker, but she has surely emerged as the biggest surprises of 2010, especially after the a career-damaging sequence of injuries last year.
The 26-year-old Muscovite reached two Grand Slam finals this year and had pouched some notable victims twice each. The names include world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki , US Open champion Kim Clijsters and former world number one Jelena Jankovic.
Known for her stirring presence on the court as well as emotional and even volatile temperament. One of the most aggressive players when it comes to striking the ball with exceptional speed and high-tempered gesture, she admits that she has now matured as a player.
Mental fragility on court was something that was turning out to be Vera’s weakness and this has changed in 2010. The credit goes to the special efforts that she adopted to get a grip over her emotions that often proved counter-productive.
“I think I have just matured and feel more comfortable and confident in my own skin now. I am always going to be an emotional player. Simply because that is how I am, but I also will never give up and not fight.\"
"Just because I get mad doesn’t mean I am not trying,” she adds.
Tennis at the age of six
Vera hails from a family where no one else had played tennis. Her mother Nataliya, an Olympic hockey bro nze medallist, brought her mother into the sport.
“I played field hockey for fun and some other sports like football but my mom put me in tennis when I was six years old. She knew I liked sports and tennis was becoming more popular then,” she recalls.
Highs and lows
Vera’s career has been a constant battle between injuries and unexpected loss of titles. Was it the lack of extra bit of luck in the final matches in spite if giving 100% on court that led to the losses?
She was quick to clarify, “If you are referring to my two Grand Slam finals this year I think I just ran into some women who played very well those days. I don’t think I showed my best but that was partly due to their high level of play.”
“Of course, I am disappointed that I wasn’t able to win either of those matches, but now I have been there and hopefully I can improve on those results,” she adds.
As per the current rankings, Vera is the world’s second-best player, but topping the list is not on her priority list for 2011. “Everyone wants to get to No. 1 in the world but I don’t think too much about the rankings.
I try to focus on improving and working hard to stay healthy and fit. The rankings will take care of themselves,” she clarifies.
Hard court being her favourite, Vera is attached to Wimbledon for some special reason. “I prefer hard courts but I really like Wimbledon especially since it is the venue where I reached my first Grand Slam singles final. It is surely a special place and a special event.”
Favourite player and rival
She has a special admiration for the current men’s World No.1 and that’s surely with a reason. “I really admire Rafael Nadal. He is the guy who works so hard and puts 110% into every shot and every match. He is exciting to watch and great for the game.”
Vera has a unique accomplishment that she is unaware of. She has won 10 out of 10 encounters against Italy’s Francesca Schiavone. Is Schiavone, Vera’s favourite rival!
“I didn’t realise that, but she is a great player. She won the French Open this year and it was great to see her reaction after the title victory. It was so real and from the heart. I don’t really think about my head-to-head records versus other players. Each match is so different,” she points out.
Along with her coach Sergey Demekhin, she has played and won mixed doubles together at the Russian Championship. Knowing the coach for a long while proves to be a strong point.
“I think it does help because he knows me well as a player and as a person. He knows when I don’t want to discuss tennis and when I want his input. I think 2010 showed that we work well together and we will continue next year.”
From court to classroom
After graduating from the Russian State Academy of Physical Education and now progressing to a second degree in international economic relations at the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vera wants to continue studying apart from playing tennis.
She signs off saying, “After I finish this degree I am not sure what I will study. I really enjoy going to school and learning new things. I am open to all kinds of topics so... who knows.”
Posted On Friday, November 19, 2010 at 12:09:24 AMwww.punemirror.in