Married with Tennis
Sorana Cîrstea (22 years) completed the first year on the top of Romanian women - being ranked #27 in the WTA world. A performance that makes one talking casually about all the factors that have propelled her into the top 30: consistency, mentality and determination.
Sorana, how do you gain consistentcy in tennis? Tell me, from your experience ...
With a lot of work. I worked twice more than I did before. I was very disciplined, both on and off court, because I realized that at this level you must do everything 100% and I think we are heading towards the right path. We will have four weeks of training following now, very, very hard training, which I hope will help me get where I want.
What does "very, very hard training" mean?
I have two hours of training in the morning, one and a half hour physical training in the afternoon, two hours of tennis, then again one and a half hour physical training. In total, seven hours plus recovery and often I arrive first in the morning at eight o'clock at the base and leave last. It is very hard work every day. I must always be consistent, disciplined. I realize that I like to do things differently. Work is the only way to achieve performance.
How many hours do you need to get ready for the WTA Top 10?
Everyone says that I have potential to reach the Top 10, but I think, because I proved this year that when I had a good day, I can beat anyone, no matter if it's number 1, number 2 or number 50. It is important to play consistently on a high level. That's why I say that, for me, it is very important to become consistent. Often, the difference between the top ten and the others lies in the mind.
How can you go and beat someone in the top 10, from the mental point of view?
(Convincing) I do not necessarily think about that. I do it unconsciously, I use my game. That's why everyone tells me I have a fantastic potential, but haven't made the best out of it yet. Because of this I have said repeatedly that with hard work I can do something with this potential.
Do you work on the mental aspects?
I got to play 28 tennis tournaments a year, almost one a week. You always get another chance. So, if you didn't win the tournament, you got defeated. Whether it's the final or quarters. It's a defeat! You must learn to get over it, because in two days or so begins another tournament. Mentally, there are many ups and downs in this sport.
And how do you maintain your mental balance?
It's all like a domino effect! When you win, you get confidence and get on court with some superiority. I used to have defeat after defeat and broke mentally apart. Now I'm on the rise. This is the great merit of victories. I am very excited for 2013, because I'm sure I will achieve great things.
What do you wish right now, in terms of yourself?
I know it sounds cliché, but I want health.
So, I ask you something: How many marriage proposals do you have received in 2012 compared to 2011?
I got much more, because I always said something: The more you climb up the rankings, the more attractive you are.
Oh, so you're not more attractive, Sorana, than your bank account, I guess?
Yes, it all adds up! And the thing is I felt it on my own skin, too: Playing better, getting more attention and requests, and other things come by themselves.
So, I see that in 2013 there are chances to see you married!?
(Laughs) No, no, no, no!
If we keep this ratio up , you will receive a lot of requests in 2013...
Just kidding! At the moment things like that can only amuse me and I think it is interesting to see so much interest from my fans.
What are your plans for the upcoming holidays?
(Prompt) going to play tennis! On December 23rd I will go to Australia and I'll be there on the 25th when I will probably go straight to the hotel, then having my workout and sleep, you have to get used to the time zone. And on December 31st I will have my first match, so at 12:00 I'll be in bed. That happened last year. I remember that I had a match on January 1st and I had gone to bed at 10:00. At midnight the fireworks started and I was nervous that I was awakened from sleep, because I had a match the next day. For me, there is no Christmas and New Year's Eve, unfortunately, because the season starts very early, the first week of January.
There are a lot of autobiographical books from great athletes. Which title would you like to have your book?
No, I never thought about that. In tennis, you have a rich career, one that goes up and you're down. It's like a rollercoaster. Probably I won't think about it until the end of my career. I hope to have a happy ending to what I write in it. The biggest fear is regret. That I will now do my best to give 100%, so that when you finish a tournament, a year or a career, I can be at peace with myself. Living with regret is the greatest punishment.
Do you have any regrets from the first part of your career?
In the first part I was very young and came from a country where the sport system doesn't support you very much, clearly you do not know what to do. My parents supported me, so I can not say I regret big period. I have some little regret about the coaches, certain competitions in the past and some injuries. I think they affected my career and it's quite difficult to live with. That's why I promised myself that I will try to give 100%, to think ten times before taking an important decision.
One last question, quite explosive. Sports are a target of the betting mafia. It's touched by it, but no one has been accused. How do you see the tennis business from the inside and how much influence does this scourge have on the sport?
(Hesitates) Tennis is a sport highly publicized. I am also the kind of person who is not familiar with all news, all the time I try to focus on what I enjoy and I have heard of such cases. True, we have never got some briefings from the WTA, we were careful to this point, but I think the girls are not that much. Not as much as the ATP. I have heard of topics like this from you in the newspaper. When you are on the tour, inside the business, you are always with your team. Tennis is mainly a singles' sport, everyone sees it as his or her job. I think the WTA is clean, untouched by it.
It's good to see that Sorana is fully aware of her strengths (big game, being able to play on a high level) and her weaknesses (inconsistency, wasted 'first' career, mental instability) which wasn't always the case in the past.
She seems to be on the right track. We can only hope she will find the consistency to establish at the Top of the game.