Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia
Re: Podme Jarka - Our Aussie takes to Clay
Tennis player Jarmila Gajdosova today asked for understanding in her native Slovakia and adopted home of Australia over her bid to change nationality.
The 21-year-old qualifier bowed out in the first round of the French Open, losing to local wildcard entrant Olivia Sanchez as rain made a mess of the schedule for a second day.
Despite being granted permanent residency and training at the Australian Institute of Sport [AIS], Gajdosova is still considered Slovak by tennis authorities as she awaits citizenship.
So, while she plays with SVK next to her name at Roland Garros, she says she still feels as though she is representing Australia on the court.
"I do live in Australia and I train there and all my friends are there as well and all the coaches," Gajdosova said.
"I was born in Slovakia and my parents are still there, so I can't say I'm not Slovakian.
"But I play for Australia, I like it there and I'll be living there, so I have to say I'm Australian as well."
The logic is not easily understood by detractors in both countries.
Some feel she has turned her back on her homeland, while the move has raised questions over the allocation of training resources to home-grown prospects in Australia.
"It's hard for people to understand why or where did it come from and understand why I'm doing that, so for sure I get it from both sides," Gajdosova said.
"Hopefully in time they will understand why and they will see the reason, that it's not really about trying to say that I don't like Slovakia or I don't want to be there, but it's just really good for my tennis and I just love the country [Australia], so that's as simple as it is.
"I've got good support from the AIS and everyone so it's good help for me for my tennis."
Anastasia Rodionova is in a similar situation this week in Paris, being listed as Russian in the draw even though she has permanent residency in Australia.
Gajdosova moved to Sydney at the age of 16 when she was working with Australian coach Simon Walsh.
"I enjoyed being there and I fell in love with the place," she said.
So much so that while her brother has visited her in Australia, she has not been back to see her parents.
"I always make sure they see pictures," Gajdosova said.
"My brother has seen where I live and where I train and he lets them know it's all ok. They're happy for me.
"Hopefully I can bring them to Australian and they can see with their own eyes how good it is."
She now splits her time between Melbourne and Canberra.
Since September 2006, Gajdosova has seen her ranking slip from a career-high 64 to 195 after a prolonged battle with injury and illness.
Today's performance was an erratic one from Gajdosova, who blew a 3-0 lead in the first set and fought back from 5-0 down in the second before the 114th-ranked Sanchez prevailed.
"Hopefully it's going to be the turnaround in the year so I can get back where I was," she said.
The match had been postponed the previous day, delayed by three hours today and was interrupted for another three hours.
Only 13 of the 72 matches scheduled today were completed and 16 were suspended part-way through.
S.Williams M.Bartoli A.Barty