Nice article in the local Cairns paper: http://www.cairns.com.au/article/201...port-news.html
Zuzana's flying high this time
Friday, September 20, 2013
© The Cairns Post
SLOVAKIAN Zuzana Zlochova and her coach Jozef Kraus drove a campervan 15,000km around Australia last year on a 77-day trip following the summer of tennis. Now the Cairns International women's top seed is back, but has opted to take to the skies as the pair eye a berth in Australian Open qualifiers early next year.
Zlochova reached today's quarter-finals with a cruisy 6-0 6-1 defeat of Yumi Nakano in yesterday's steam heat at the Cairns International Tennis Centre, but rarely has the 23-year-old had it that easy. Last weekend she lost the final in Toowoomba despite having two match points, and was forced to play her conqueror Isabella Holland in the first round in Cairns on Wednesday.
"It was my nightmare game. I told my coach he was to stay in the (hotel) room in Cairns because he aged about 10 years after that final; I had it in my head for two days," she said.
"It was important to win, and I'm not quite sure how I did."
Kraus wandered down to the courts yesterday once Zlochova had progressed. "The road trains, some with four, five carriages and you try to overtake them," the coach said, remembering the long hours driving in a Jucy van through the Australian Outback last year. I would pull over, then look ahead and blink my eyes; I couldn't believe how big some of that mining machinery was."
But Zlochova, whose marathon-running father introduced her to tennis as a six-year-old, loved it so much she had to return in 2013. "I had never been here, but had heard so much and wanted to discover a new country," she said. "We drove for 77 days, but this year we are just flying. I went pretty well, now I have to defend my points and stay healthy."
Even if she wins in Cairns it won't guarantee her a spot in qualifying at Melbourne Park in January, meaning the pressure in on until then. "It's always pressure when you travel so far, with so much money to get here," she said. "I need to be ranked 250 and I'm about 280 now. It's not really far, but it is."
European players have come out of the woodwork in recent years but the top seed said Australia was still producing talent, too. "Yes, so many players (in Europe). Everyone is playing. But here lots of young girls are too and the standard is good. There are no easy matches," she said.
She will meet one of those, Australian Kimberly Birrell, in the quarter-finals today.