Champion Spotlight Interview: Vera Zvonareva

Zvonareva

Ninth seed Vera Zvonareva entered this year’s BNP Paribas Open as one of six former women’s champions in the draw. The Russian became just the second WTA player to win both the singles and doubles events at Indian Wells in 2009, joining elite company with Lindsay Davenport.

Following her second-round victory over Kimiko Date-Krumm Friday, the Russian reflected on her 2009 performance and revealed the artist she would most want to perform with at the Grammys in this champion spotlight feature for BNPParibasOpen.com.

In 2009, you had a memorable performance here in Indian Wells, winning both the singles and doubles titles. Take us through that tournament for us…
That was definitely a great experience for me. I remember watching it on TV when I was younger. I think that it was an incredible achievement. Once you win an event like this, it is always in your memories, and a special tournament to come back to. I’m excited to be back here as there are only a few players who have won this event. So it’s great to be among them and see yourself on the posters around the grounds. It’s a cool feeling.

How do you think your style of play fits in with the tournament conditions, such as the wind and the temperature changes?
It doesn’t bother me too much. I can get adjusted pretty quickly. I like the atmosphere here, which is very important. We always have great crowds and it’s nice to see so many people support us. Whatever’s happening on the court, I’m able to adjust pretty easily.

What is your favorite thing about coming to the Palm Desert area?
Probably the feeling of being a part of this huge event. There’s always great energy and people recognize you here. The people love and know their tennis, so you feel like you’re in a big tennis city. It’s special for tennis players. We try to bring our best here, because you feel like people are waiting for the event to come each year. I also enjoy the variety of restaurant choices, because I like food, haha. I always try different restaurants, which is fun.

You’re accomplished in both disciplines, and this year, you captured your second women’s major title with your good friend Svetlana Kuznetsova in Melbourne. How special was that success for you, being able to share it with your countrywoman?
We didn’t expect something like that when we signed up for doubles. We just wanted to play. We both got eliminated earlier in the singles, so we stayed for doubles. It’s been a few years since I played that many doubles matches at a tournament. I had great support from Svetlana and I tried to do the same for her.

It was fun to be on the court with her. We speak the same language, we grew up together and here we are playing on one of the biggest stages in tennis for a Grand Slam title. A lot of people in Russia congratulated us, which was unexpected and amazing. You don’t hear much about doubles back home, but if you have success with your countrywoman, it becomes big news.

You’re studying for your masters degree in international economic relations. With it being an Olympic year, are you able to take your exams or have you opted to push them back to a period that better fits in with your schedule?
I’m still waiting. I postponed them as I have another two years to get back to school when I want. I’m waiting for the right time when I have more free time to concentrate on my studies.

With your wide taste in music, if you had to pick any artist or group to perform with at the Grammys, who it would it be, what would you sing and why?
I’d say Rihanna because she’s one of my favorites right now. I really enjoy her music and her voice. I think she’s just great. There are quite a few songs that I’d love to perform with her, but there is one called Breaking Dishes I really like.