Petrova Confirmed For Classic
The Lord of the Rings not only won Academy awards it's winning the hearts of top-ten tennis players with Russian Nadia Petrova confirming her appearance at the 2006 ASB Classic event in Auckland January 2-7 as a result of the movie trilogy.
Saying her knowledge of the Tier 4 US$140,000 Auckland tournament and New Zealand was very limited it was the Lord of the Rings which has inspired her to come down under.
"I think you should be very thankful for the Lord of the Rings. I didn't know anything about the country. The Lord of the Rings really influenced my decision," says Petrova, "I have seen the movie and really want to see the country now."
Petrova is currently playing in at the Linz tournament in Austria and plans to play in Philadelphia and maybe make the year-end Masters field in Los Angeles to finish the season.
The 23-year-old learnt a large amount of her tennis in Egypt where her athletics coach parents were working. Her father, Victor Petrov, was a top hammer thrower while her mother, Nadejda Ilina, won a bronze medal in the 400-metre relay at the Montreal Olympics in 1976.
"I've seen it on a tape, someone found it for me. It was really exciting," she says regarding watching the tape of her mother receiving a medal.
Petrova herself has also competed at an Olympics, representing Russia in Athens.
She says her parents are very proud of her and like to have their say on her performances.
"They are interested in my career. My mother likes to come to some tournaments some times...they try and give me advice too."
Petrova has been one of the most consistent players in Grand Slam tennis in 2005 with some top-class results this year, especially in Grand Slams where she reached the fourth round of the Australian Open, the semi-finals at Roland Garros losing to eventual winner Justine Henin-Hardenne plus the quarter-finals of Wimbledon going down to Maria Sharapova.
Then at the US Open she made the quarters before losing to Sharapova in a dramatic three set match.
Her consistency in 2005 Grand Slams puts her ahead of Henin-Hardenne, Kim Clijsters, Amelie Mauresmo and Elena Dementieva and is bettered only by Lindsay Davenport, Maria Sharapova and Mary Pierce.
"Lindsay Davenport is my toughest opponent. It's really hard for me to find any rhythm against her. Her shots come really hard and deep into the court," she says.
Petrova also reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros in 2003 and the quarter-finals at the 2004 US Open. Her performances have seen her climb as high as No.6 in the WTA world singles rankings.
The announcement of Petrova delighted ASB Classic tournament director, Richard Palmer.
"It's wonderful that a player of Petrova's class is coming to the ASB Classic in Auckland for the first time. It's a coup to get her here. The commitment from ASB to make the tenth anniversary of their sponsorship of the ASB Classic special has significantly contributed to making this happen. We look forward to seeing a player of this calibre on court in the New Year." said Palmer
Surprisingly the Moscow native has yet to win a WTA singles title, coming close just recently at Bangkok where she made the final but lost to Nicole Vaidisova. She also had a runner-up finish at the Tier 1 event at Berlin in May, beating Amelie Mauresmo before falling to Henin-Hardenne. Other good results include two other semi-finals aside from Roland Garros, plus numerous quarter-finals.
On two other occasions Petrova has made finals, Gold Coast last year and Linz in 2003, however Palmer says the Classic could be an ideal opportunity for his top seed to take a title.
"She's certainly got the ability to win titles. We are obviously hoping that Auckland will be the first of many," says Palmer.
Only once previously has a current top-ten ranked player participated in the ASB Classic. This occurred when Germany's Anke Huber played in Auckland in 1997.
The 2006 ASB Classic featuring the Sovereign singles and doubles will be held January 2-7, 2006 at the ASB Tennis Centre, 1 Tennis Lane, Parnell with qualifying on Saturday 31 December 2005 and Sunday 1 January 2006.