A nice interview with her coach Silver Karjus: http://www.ohtuleht.ee/index.aspx?id=398527
(I'm sure there are some grammatical mistakes, I can never get the prepositions correct
Silver Karjus is like a mister X. No one understands, how this completely unknown person could drag Kaia Kanepi out of the deep hole. "Us getting together was a jackpot for both of us," says Karjus himself.
"How's it possible?", "Who is he and what has he done to Kaia?", "What happens if they won't get along anymore?" Questions similar to those have sent Karjus and Kanepi since the spring, when Karjus, formerly known as a hobby player and kids coach, started working with Kanepi.
Karjus has preferred to keep himself away from the fame lights
, it took a while to convince him to give this interview.
"Of course it was a rather surreal story and just a fluke. It's like all of a sudden I became from postman to millionaire. It was a jackpot for both of us," the 35-year old doesn't deny.
"We've known each other for several years. I had been watching her play very closely since the winter. So, when I gave him some advice by e-mail
, she liked it and so it went," says Karjus, reminding the beginning.
He stresses, "Actually I had to think it through, whether to go along this road. I realized from day one, that it all centers Kaia and that I'm taking a huge responsibility."
And another argument, "My family suffers a lot. When my daughter graduated from the kindergarten, dad was far away. When she wen to school, dad was in America and felt sorrow. I hope my family continues to understand me and support me."
There are different kind of stories about Karjus, but he doesn't let those get to him. His self-confidence comes through from each of his sentence. At times it feels like bringing Kanepi out of the deep slump didn't require anything amazing.
"Everybody surrounding her talked something, one spoke about one thing, the other about something else. Actually we didn't need anything complicated. Sometimes it's about some little details. Well, the coach's big name doesn't help the player, it matters how they are able to teach the player."
However, Karjus admits that in the beginning of their road Kaia was in a very-very bad place.
"We haven't talked a lot about this to each other, but it wasn't far from the point she could of taken the time out, or could of even retired. Her tennis was in a deep hole. And the mental pressure was huge."
So, what has he changed in Kaia's game, that the season is illustrated by her first WTA title, two GS quarterfinals and career's best end of year ranking?
"Kaia doesn't only hit the ball today, but she's playing
. It was clear that one's not going to win the tournaments by just hitting hard, it's impossible to smash them all on the court. We have changed the tactics and technique, Kaia is more diverse and more stable now. We slowed it down a bit, so now she can wait and be more patient if needed. Also, she's physically in much better shape than ever before," says Karjus and thanks the physio coach and the masseuse.
Self-confidence as a virtue
Karjus says, that Kanepi's frequent coach changes haven't scared him for a bit.
"It could happen that the people doesn't fit. If you get married at 18, you might wait and hope till you're 35. But tennis career is extremely short. The clock's ticking non-stop, every hour counts. Coaches are changed very often. We've also had some rough days," says Karjus.
Karjus doesn't bother himself with the thoughts about what will happen if Kanepi should fire him one day. He knows it could happen, but doesn't think about it.
"I live for Kaia's success. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night at 5 AM and write down my thought. Or stop the car while driving and take a pen and paper. I don't have time to worry what could happen. If we click with Kaia, it's great. It's her decision. But it's not like we're married for life, maybe it's me who'll leave instead. Maybe Serena Williams wants to hire me? Or Kuznetsova...," Karjus claims.
"No one wants to play against Kaia today"
"I think of myself as a tennis coach, not just a coach. I've been feeling certain about myself since the beginning, now I'm feeling even more certain. I just hope this kind of self-confidence won't take me down."
Karjus continues, "Even the colleagues who have been on the Tour for years, recognize me. To them I'm even a bigger mystery than for Estonians. I feel equal to them. And why should I be worse?"
Karjus doesn't want to predict how far Kanepi could go and how high she could rise in the rankings.
"There's no need for the pressure. The ranking she has on a given day, is right for this day. There's no point to chase the points. Her game doesn't get better with points, but vice versa."
He finishes, "We'll be slowly walking the same path. We'll try to get one per cent better in 15 little things, if we can do it Kaia'll rise one class again. At the moment no one is looking forward to play against Kaia. But nothing guarantees that it all will continue to go up-hill."