Tennis a release for Chakvetadze
By David Borges, Register Staff 08/18/2008
NEW HAVEN — She says that it’s no longer an issue, totally out of her thoughts.
Anna Chakvetadze insists that the brutal invasion of her Moscow home by several masked burglars last December is simply a thing of the past.
“I did put it behind me,” Chakvetadze said on Sunday. “I don’t think about it anymore.”
But there will always be reminders of the incident for Chakvetadze, the 21-year-old Russian tennis standout.
The physical scars have healed. Chakvetadze’s hands were tied so tightly with rope during the robbery that she lost feeling in the fingers of her left hand and couldn’t hold a racket for about 10 days afterward. But she rebounded to win her seventh WTA title — the Open Gaz in Paris — two months later.
However, the increased bodyguards and elaborate alarm systems in her home offer constant reminders that things will never really be the same since the night of Dec. 18, 2007.
Six armed robbers broke into the home Chakvetadze shared with her parents that night, tying the three of them up and beating Chakvetadze’s father, Jamal. They stole roughly $202,000 in money and valuables, according to reports, and have yet to be apprehended.
But despite rumors that the robbers have vowed to return, Chakvetadze has not left Russia — and, in fact, hasn’t even moved out of the house.
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“I wanted to move, but my parents didn’t want to,” Chakvetadze said. “They wanted to stay, so we stayed.”
Tennis has been Chakvetadze’s greatest release from the incident. Unable to practice for a few weeks afterward, she figured she probably wouldn’t be able to play in January’s Australian Open — perhaps her favorite Grand Slam event. But she recovered in time to compete in the event, falling in the third round to fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko.
A few weeks later, Chakvetadze defeated Hungary’s Agnes Szavay in Paris. Currently ranked No. 10 in the world, she’s the top seed in this week’s Pilot Pen Tennis tournament.
Chakvetadze has earned a first-round bye and won’t begin play until Tuesday or Wednesday, but she’s looking forward to her third trip to the Pilot Pen.
“It’s a good tournament to get some confidence back and play some matches before a Grand Slam event,” Chakvetadze said.
Chakvetadze elected not to participate in the Beijing Olympics, but was glad to see her fellow Russians collect plenty of gold medals in tennis. Instead, she practiced out in Los Angeles for the past couple of weeks.
“Of course the Olympics are something different, but I just didn’t go there because I thought the U.S. Open was more important for me,” Chakvetadze said. “So, hopefully, I’ll play well in New York.”
That would certainly go a long way toward putting that Dec. 18 home invasion behind her. But first, Chakvetadze has some business to attend to in New Haven.