Petrova gets ready for Classic -
Dec 21, 2005
By Alan Granville(and peanuts)
The start of the Russian invasion of the ASB Classic began on Wednesday with the arrival of top seed Nadia Petrova in Auckland.
The world number nine has decided to come to New Zealand early to get ready for the January tournament.
The 23-year-old from Moscow will be one of half a dozen Russians to play at the ASB Tennis Centre.
She admitted she was surprised to see so many Russian names on the entry list.
"I chose to come to Auckland because I thought there would be no Russians coming here," said Petrova.
"I didn't want to challenge them in the first tournament of the year but when I signed up I saw that so many other Russians were coming out."
Elena Likhovtseva, Maria Kirilenko, Vera Dushevina and Vera Zvonareva are just some of her main rivals for the title.
Petrova admits that the smiles off the court between the Russians are not repeated on the court.
"We try to be friendly with each other but of course it's hard to be friendly when you are playing each other.
"We are all young and we are very competitive with each other and we all want to be number one."
Petrova ended the year on a high with her first ever tournament victory in Linz, Austria and she is hoping to repeat that feat in Auckland.
"It was a great experience for me. I had a hard season with lots of matches. At the end of the season I had seven tournaments in a row and then there was Linz. To win there was just fantastic, it made my year."
But it won't be all tennis for the Russian; the Lord of the Rings fan is also hoping to see a bit of the country as well.
Petrova had previously pinpointed Peter Jackson's movie trilogy as one of her main reasons for coming to New Zealand and she is keen to explore.
"I am going to try and enjoy myself as much as I can. I want to see some of New Zealand, maybe going on a helicopter ride or fishing.
"I enjoyed fishing very much when I was younger but when I started playing tennis there was no time for it so I am looking forward to checking my skills again.
"It's going to be my first time having New Year in New Zealand and it's going to be fun. I have some friends who are playing in the tournament here so we will have a good time."
The tournament, which starts on January 2, will have extensive coverage on TV ONE.