MELBOURNE, Australia - If Russia's embarrassment of tennis riches seems to grow deeper by the season, it's because players like Alisa Kleybanovahttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/2_bing.gif (http://www.tennisforum.com/#) keep rising through the ranks. Just ask Ana Ivanovic, who lost an epic match to the 19-year-old in the third round at Melbourne Park.
Kleybanova enjoyed considerable success as a junior, particularly in doubles. At the age of 13 she won at Wimbledon in 2003 with India's Sania Mirza, and again four years later with fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkovahttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/2_bing.gif (http://www.tennisforum.com/#); she also took the US Open junior doubles in 2005 with Nikola Frankova of the Czech Republic.
And now she's making headlines at Tour level. The tall, powerful Russian attracted notice at Wimbledon last year when she beat 10th seed Daniela Hantuchova on her way to the fourth round; she also made the quarters at both Antwerp and Eastbourne as a qualifier, as well as at FŤs, which all helped lift her ranking more than 100 places in 2008. Heading into this fortnight's Australian Open, the Moscow native was placed at a career high of No.31 - good enough to be seeded at a Grand Slam for the first time, in just her second main draw appearance at the event.
We caught up with Kleybanova before her giant-killing run in Melbourne, on the sidelines of the Medibank Internationalhttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/2_bing.gif (http://www.tennisforum.com/#) in Sydney.
How did you get into tennis?
AK: I was four and a half and I got into tennis with my parents. They'd play for fun on weekends with their friends and as a little kid I was hanging around and playing with the balls. But from the beginning it wasn't like they wanted me to be a professional; it was just one of the activities that I did, along with swimming and athletics (http://www.tennisforum.com/#). My parents wanted to give me lots of options so I could choose what I wanted to do. After a few years I started to play a few junior tournaments and I really liked it, and by the time I was 10 or 11 years old I decided I would really like to pursue tennis.
What do your parents do? It sounds like they wanted you to have a well-rounded upbringing.
AK: My parents are not from professional sports (http://www.tennisforum.com/#). My dad was into mathematics and physics and my mum was a biologist. I'm an only child and they didn't necessarily want me to go into a sport, but because I really liked it and physically I was strong, tennis was a good choice for me.
Did you have a tennis idol, growing up?
AK: I didn't really look on one player like that because there were a lot of good players - Graf, Hingis, Seles - and it would be hard to say who I liked the most. That said, I really liked the way Kim Clijsters played. I was always just looking forward to watching any of them play on television, to see what I could pick up from them.
What do you consider the strengths as a player?
AK: I would say my serve, and my baseline game.
What's the one thing you'd most like to improve about your game?
AK: I have to improve my overall ability and mobility on the court because tennishttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/2_bing.gif (http://www.tennisforum.com/#) isn't just about power; you have to do everything very well. You have to move well, you have to be consistent, you have to be mentally strong. It's not enough to make a big serve and then hit a winner. However, you also have to keep working on your strengths as well, you cannot stand still.
You began last year at around No.150 in the rankings and finished the season at No.33. What are your goals for this year?
AK: My goal is to get as close to the Top 10 as I can, so the next big step is Top 20. But I played a lot of matches and had some good wins to rise like that, so this year I have to defend all the points and it's not going to be easy to go up so quickly. I really hope to play a smart calendar to stay physically fit and healthy - that's the most important thing.
If you could swap shots with another player, what would you take and what would you give away?
AK: I would say that if Venus and Serena Williamshttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/2_bing.gif (http://www.tennisforum.com/#) are in form then pretty much no-one can beat them. I've played a lot of good players but I played Venus at Wimbledon and I could see that it was really different to the others. I hit the ball very hard but maybe I'd take some of her power.
Do you have a favorite playing surface?
AK: I like all of them really; for me it's just a question of time getting accustomed to the changes. If I have enough time to practice and prepare, I feel good on all types of courts. That said I did really well on grasscourts last year, so perhaps I could say that grass is a little bit more special for me. But we don't get to play many tournaments on grass, so I think it's special for everyone and we really look forward to those few weeks. For this reason, out of the four Grand Slams, Wimbledon really stands out.
Any other favorite tournaments?
AK: The Australian Open, definitely. Everything is nicely organized. Sometimes the weather is very hot but I really like the courts and the surface. But also through the year there are lots of tournaments I enjoy very much; the Kremlin Cup in Moscow is one, and I played Berlin last year and that was very nice. Every tournament offers something different.
It must be nice to have reached a point where you now gain direct entry into some of these more exclusive events?
AK: Definitely. Last year I had to play a lot of qualifying rounds, which are tough for all the players because you have to arrive early to prepare and you really spend a lot of energy just getting to the main draw because everyone is determined to win. So, on the one hand it's a little bit easier because I now go straight into the main draw, but the benefit of playing qualifying is you have a chance to play yourself into the tournament. Now I go right up against the best players in the world, which means I have to be ready to play at 100% from the very first match. But I'm pretty sure I'll get used to it!
You mentioned the Kremlin Cup; obviously Russia is a formidable tennis country. Is playing Fed Cup something you aspire to?
AK: I like team things and playing for my country, Iím really proud of it, so I do look forward to that. If they asked me to play Fed Cup I would be really happy to join the team. Also in four years I really hope to get to the Olympics (http://www.tennisforum.com/#), so my goal is to improve my ranking year by year and get in the team and really participate in something big. For Russians the Olympics are really big, and maybe for me even bigger than the Grand Slams. It's only once every four years and if you're a sportsperson you really feel you need to be there. I practice at the same club as Elena Dementieva and I think we share a similar attitude.
What's your coaching situation at the moment?
AK: My coach is Iulian Vespan. He's Romanian. We met when I went to Italy to a club called The Art of Tennis and I've been working with him for around three years. He's a good guy, we have a good relationship and I'm really looking forward to keep working with him.
When I was younger I used to spend a month or two each year training in the States and I got to practice with some great players at the Bollettieri Academy and that really helped me. But Iulian's the one who really helped me make the hard step from the juniors to the pros. When I was 14, 15, 16 years old it was a little bit tough because I had arrived on the scene as one of the best juniors when I was 13 and then I had some difficulties taking the next steps. He really supported me and I'm very happy to have him as my coach.
How do you like to spend any spare time when you are traveling?
AK: I like to do things on my computer and I always carry books with me - something light but interesting. I like to do things that take me away from tennis and training for a while, even just talking with friends. Anything to relax. As a junior I was traveling with my mum a lot and we would try to go sightseeing in all the cities. I'm glad we did that but now there is so much to think about and organize, I like to lie low during tournaments. But of course it depends on the city! I would say that some players really like traveling but for me, of course it's nice to change places - you cannot imagine playing the whole year at the same club, you'd go crazy! But in itself I'm not so keen on flying and changing hotels. That's the hard part for me.
What do you like most about your life?
AK: I'm doing something I do well, and I enjoy it. This is really important, because a lot of people don't have that opportunity. As tennis players everybody comes to see us play and enjoy what we do. For us it's work but for them it's relaxation. We're privileged to get such attention and the support.
Feb 16th, 2010, 10:03 PM
Alisa has relaunched her official website www.alisakleybanova.ru/en
It really nice and pretty...
Feb 16th, 2010, 10:38 PM
thanks,it looks really good :D
Feb 18th, 2010, 01:00 PM
are the links to follow her on twitter or facebook working for anyone?
Feb 18th, 2010, 02:20 PM
I really like her website - very nice :yeah:
Feb 18th, 2010, 05:08 PM
i think that she has her profile on fb, but i'm not quite sure about link... but i didn't find her on twitter...
Feb 18th, 2010, 05:10 PM
I only get the general page of twitter and facebook when I click there,I thought it would be some Alisa related pages,maybe they will add them later?
Feb 25th, 2010, 09:53 AM
Elena, Alisa Sweat It Out
Elena Dementieva and Alisa Kleybanova stayed on course for a possible all-Russian final at the inaugural Malaysian Open on Wednesday, both securing places in the last eight - albeit in very different style.
Playing earlier in the afternoon, Alla Kudryavtseva made life much harder for fourth-seeded Kleybanova, who eventually prevailed in three sets, 76(4) 36 64.
"The heat was tough for me and for everybody today," said Kleybanova, the only seed in the bottom half of the draw to make it to the second round. "I didn't play my best tennis but I think that after the first set, I regained my momentum and managed to secure the win against an opponent who was playing consistently."
Kleybanova struggles past Alla to reach quarter-finals
By LIM TEIK HUAT
KUALA LUMPUR: Russian seeds Elena Dementieva and Alisa Kleybanova stayed true to form by advancing to the quarter-finals of the Malaysian Open women’s tennis tournament at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort yesterday.
World number seven and top seed Dementieva converted four out of five service breaks to brush aside Serbian Bojana Jovanoski 6-2, 6-3 in just 71 minutes.
The Beijing Olympic singles gold medallist faces an interesting last eight encounter against either Thai wildcard Noppawan Lertcheewakarn or seventh seed Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia tomorrow.
“I did not play Centre Court last night (in her 6-2, 6-1 first round win over Ekaterina Bychkova on Tuesday) and today was my first. I need to get used to the surface.
“The conditions were hot and not easy. My opponent (Jovanoski) also tried her best to stretch the game,” said Dementieva, who is hoping to win a third WTA Tour title in Kuala Lumpur.
While Dementieva had it easy, Kleybanova was pushed to the limit by fellow Russian Alla Kudryavtseva before winning 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-4.
The fourth seeded Kleybanova will take on Rus**sia-born Anastasia Rodionova, who now plays for Australia, for a place in the semi-finals.
Rodionova, who was granted Australian citizenship last year, beat Russian Ekaterina Ivanova 6-2, 6-2 in a battle of unseeded players to reach the last eight. Earlier on Monday, Rodionova saw off eighth seed Olga Govortsova 6-4, 0-6, 7-5 in the first round.
Kleybanova, the world number 31, said she was delighted to win the match.
“I had to be mentally strong to survive the heat.
“I have always won against her (Kudryavtseva) but it was a tough fight today.
“I just kept my focus on the game to win every point,” said the 21-year-old, who made her senior tennis debut when she was only 14.
On what she attributed her victory to, Kleybanova felt it was her serve.
“It was good today. It gave me confidence in the match and mentally I was very strong. I was fighting for every point until the end.”
In another second round match, Ayumi Morita of Japan ended the run of wildcard Yan Zi of China with a 6-2, 6-1 win in just over one hour. Yan Zi had eliminated fifth seed Melinda Czink of Hungary 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5) in a first round match on Monday.
Malaysia, 27 February, 2010 – Two in-form Russians will battle in the singles final of the Golden Horses Health Sanctuary Malaysian Open 2010 – Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Elena Dementieva (RUS) and Alisa Kleybanova (RUS), who have never played each other before, will be looking to make history by becoming the first winner of the inaugural US$220,000 event.
In today’s first singles semi-final match, Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) took on 19-year-old Ayumi Morita (JPN). After a tightly-contested first set won by Kleybanova, the Russian then stormed through the second to secure a 6-4, 6-1 win, putting her in good stead for the final against Dementieva.
Looking excited and confident, Kleybanova attributed her win today to her consistent serve. “Ayumi is a powerful player and breaking her serve was key to winning the match today. I was holding my service games consistently so my confidence was building as the match wore on. I was more relaxed in the second set and I think I played better as a result as well. For me now, the final will be another day on the court where I will look take things one point at a time. I will fight and do my best tomorrow against Dementieva who is a very strong player,” said Kleybanova, who aims to break into the top 20 of the world rankings this year.
Elena Dementieva (RUS) and Sybille Bammer (AUT) took to Centre Court next, with a fast-paced match. Dementieva imposed herself from early on with quality winners throughout the match and with her opponent making a number of unforced errors; she managed to close out the first set 6-1. The second set saw Bammer fighting back, before rain stopped play with the score at 4-3 to Dementieva. However, when play resumed under an hour later, Dementieva wasted no time in winning the next two games to clinch the set 6-3.
Said Dementieva, “It was a good, physical match with a lot of fight. The conditions were very difficult today with the rain delay but I was able to break her service game. It will be a tough match tomorrow against Alisa, who is powerful from the baseline and has a huge serve. She’s had some good results against the top 10 players and is very positive on the court. Both of us want to get the title here in Kuala Lumpur and it will be a challenge for me tomorrow against one of the Tour’s talented young players. I will try my best to win the final.”
The last match of the day saw Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) and Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) take on the first seeded pairing of Chan Yung-Jan (TPE) and Zheng Jie (CHN) in the second doubles semi-final. It was an easy victory for Zheng and Chan who worked together perfectly and sealed their place in the finals with 6-4, 6-0. They will meet sisters, Anastasia Rodionova (AUS) and Arina Rodionova (RUS) tomorrow.
The Rodionova sisters had booked their place in the finals late yesterday night with a convincing 6-1, 6-1 win over Ekaterina Dzehalevich (BLR) and Tatjana Malek (GER).
Tomorrow’s matches will kick-off with the doubles final at 2pm on Centre Court. Following that will be the singles final at 4pm and the prize presentation, both also on Centre Court.
Feb 27th, 2010, 06:53 PM
All-Russian Final Set in KL
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Two of Russia's best will face off for the first time Sunday in the final of the inaugural Malaysian Open, after both Elena Dementieva and Alisa Kleybanova earned their berths in formidable fashion.
Fourth-seeded Kleybanova, a three-time semifinalist who is through to her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour final, never lost her serve and sent down 11 aces in her straight sets win over Ayumi Morita, 64 61.
"Today my serve helped me a lot and I took advantage of it," said the 20-year-old. "I could relax and take more risks with my shots."
Veteran Dementieva was even more efficient against No.6 seed Sybille Bammer, who conceded the first set in just 16 minutes. Although the Austrian lefthander provided more resistance in the rain-interrupted second set, Dementieva broke five times while only losing her own serve once en route to a 61 63 victory.
"I'm really looking forward to the final as I have never faced Alisa before," said Dementieva, who has lost just 15 games so far this week. "I think she is one of the most talented young players around; she has a good serve and the key on Sunday is to hold on to my serve."
The Kuala Lumpur final will mark the 23rd all-Russian final in Tour history. Previously Dementieva has been a protagonist in 11 all-Russian title bouts, going 6-5 to date - and winning the last four. She is gunning for her 17th career singles title, and third of the 2010 season after Premier wins in Sydney and Paris [Indoors].
For her part, world No.29 Kleybanova is the third-highest ranked player yet to win a Tour singles title, right behind No.27 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and No.28 Dominika Cibulkova. She already has five Top 10 wins to her credit, against four different players.
Feb 28th, 2010, 05:42 PM
Kleybanova Cruises To First Title
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - She survived some tough battles earlier on but once she got into a groove she couldn't be stopped, and in the end Alisa Kleybanova was too much for one of the hottest players out there, cruising to her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title at the Malaysian Open.
Kleybanova, seeded No.4, was pushed to 6-4 in the third set twice, against Alla Kudryavtseva in the second round and Anastasia Rodionova in the quarterfinals. But a 64 61 win over Ayumi Morita in the semifinals must have given her a boost, because she had one of her most dominant performances of the week in the final against one of the hottest players around right now.
Elena Dementieva, seeded No.1, had not lost a set en route to the final. In fact she had barely lost any games, surrendering a total of 15 in four matches (an average of less than two a set). But that didn't make a difference to the heavy-hitting Kleybanova, whose big serve resonated - she punctuated her first three service games with aces - during a 63 62 rout of the world No.7.
"I'm just so happy to win tonight. It's a great way to end the week," Kleybanova said. "I've been working and training hard these past few years and I'm happy I was able to put a great game together today. I would like to thank all the sponsors and everyone involved in the event for helping me feel at home this past week. I also want to thank all the fans and I wish to be back next year!"
"I want to congratulate Alisa, she played really well today," Dementieva said. "I know it is difficult to organize a tennis event such as this but I think the organisers have done a great job and I hope this tournament will continue for many years. I am grateful for the warm welcome here in Malaysia and I thank all the fans for staying and supporting us today and through the week."
Kleybanova was playing her first singles final on the Tour, her best results prior to this week being semifinal finishes at FŤs, Toronto and Moscow last year. She had won three Tour doubles titles though, and even made the Top 10 in the team discipline earlier this year. That singles title was the last piece of the puzzle.
Mar 18th, 2010, 09:12 PM
Indian Wells: Is Alisa Kleybanova the WTA's future?
There's been a lot of talk lately about the WTA being in bad shape, about how only senior citizens Serena Williams and Justine Henin are flying the flag of sincere quality while the younger generation -- Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Agnes Szavay, etc. -- are nothing but long-legged poseurs.
Could be, could be. But maybe there is a youngster making a move and we just haven't noticed. Meet the 20-year-old Russian Alisa Kleybanova.
She won in Malaysia a couple of weeks ago, topping a streaking Elena Dementieva in the final. Here in Indian Wells, she knocked out Kim Clijsters Monday with an astonishing display of nerveless third-set tennis. And today, looking like a happy trained seal, she just ousted Carla Suarez Navarro in a playful, come-from-behind thriller, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4.
Despite being 5'11" and more than 160 pounds, Kleybanova has been consistently overlooked by pundits searching for the Next Big Thing. Actually, it's probably precisely because she's such a big girl that she has slipped under the radar. No one thought Lindsay Davenport would be the model for 21st-century women's tennis.
But while at first glance she'll make fans of a certain age recall Betty Stove, Kleybanova plays a very modern power baseline game. When she leans into her backhand, it stays bent. The ball zips down the line on its way to low-altitude orbit. And yet she's not just a banger. Like with Serena, you wonder how she gets around the court so well. Plus, she's smart. She beat Clijsters by changing up the pace, mixing her oompah drives with high-bouncing loopers right out of Chris Evert's French Open playbook.
Something old, something new. It looks like the future.
Mar 18th, 2010, 09:14 PM
A Love Letter to Alisa Kleybanova
Alisa Kleybanova delivered what is, in my mind, the most impressive performance of the year so far Monday night, upsetting US Open champion Kim Clijsters 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(4) in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
The match appeared completely out of Kleybanova's reach several times. Clijsters sailed through the second set with considerable ease, and raced out to a 3-0 lead in the final set, making her stranglehold look fairly routine. But Kleybanova dug in and fought, as she does like few others, fighting for every point and leveling the match at 3-3.
Six tight holds later, the match headed into a deciding third set tiebreak. Clijsters raced out to a 4-0 lead in the tiebreak, with the match again looking to be completely locked up. But Kleybanova again rallied, winning an incredible seven consecutive points to stun Clijsters and seal the shocking win in 2 hours and 36 minutes (which is a little on the short side for a Kleybanova match).
The way Kleybanova shook off her second set drubbing to comeback twice against a player who is frankly her superior in most every category is incredibly impressive, and shows a self-belief and willpower that is scarce in her generation. Clijsters didn't choke the match away at all, but was simply bested by an opponent who raised her game to its highest level when it mattered most.
Kleybanova's matches are always longer than your average epic film not because of the stall tactics that slow down so many modern WTA matches, but because she plays longer rallies than any other aggressive player I've ever seen. Her relatively lumpy build makes her speed deceptive, and opponents are clearly bewildered as ball after ball comes back with interest on point after point, from the farthest flung corners of the court. Kleybanova also has a pretty respectable amount of variety to keep her opponents off balance, mixing deep flat shots with short scoops effectively.
Clijsters is by no means Kleybanova's first big scalp. She has previous wins over Ana Ivanovic (when she was better), Elena Dementieva (whom she beat for her first title last week in Kuala Lumpur) and has pushed Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova to the brink at big tournaments (the Australian Open and Toronto, respectively). Kleybanova is on the verge of the top twenty, and has a very decent shot at the top ten in the next couple years.
So good on ya, Alisa. You're the scrappiest player in the WTA today, you rarely fail to impress, you work so hard that you literally have to wring the sweat out of your ponytail, and you sort of resemble John Isner. What's not to love?
^^I saw that article earlier on - it pretty much sums up my feelings about Alisa (except for the Isner lookalike!)
I think that's OohZuzana's website (member on tennisforum).
Mar 19th, 2010, 12:34 AM
Alisa's interview after defeating Kim:
March 15, 2010
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
A. KLEYBANOVA/K. Clijsters
6-4, 1-6, 7-6
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. So? How do you come back from Love-4 down in that tiebreaker?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: Yeah, well, the whole match today was, you know, with many ups and downs for me. Some point I didn't play too good. But, you know, I just said to myself, I got to stay there. That's what I did until the end of the match, even that I was 3-Love down in the final set, 4-Love down in the tiebreaker.
But, you know, in my mind it was just until the last point is played the match is not over. So I just kept fighting for every ball, and finally it worked.
Q. So how does that feel? It's pretty big to beat the US Open champion in a long match like that.
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: Yeah, well, recently I played many, many long matches. You know, I won a tournament a week ago, and I didn't think about that I'm playing against such a great player, US Open champion, you know.
It was just another match for me, and I was just playing against the opponent. I didn't think too much about who was on the other side. I think this was the key for me, to stay out there and not think too much, just focus on my game and fight for every point.
Q. What are you most proud of tonight?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: Well, that I was able to come back from, you know, some downs in the match. Because obviously against this kind of player, on this high level, it's very difficult.
Because once you give them a chance to go forward, it's very difficult to take the opportunity afterwards, to come back.
So this was something very important that I did today. Because, you know, when you play against some decent player, you can, you know, come back, go forward. You can play a little bit like that.
But here it's quite tough. If you give them a chance to go so far ahead in the final set, like 3-0 or 4-0 in the tiebreak, it's very difficult to pick it up to stay in the match.
So I'm very proud of myself that I've been, you know, really strong at the most important moments, and I could pull it through and finish the match. Because obviously in the tiebreaker after 4-0, every point was tough to win. It was not like, you know, she missed six or seven balls in a row. It was very difficult.
So I'm very proud that I was there and I played very, very clean and focused seven points in a row.
Q. What was your problem with your serve during the second set?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: Well, it's quite difficult here, because, you know, as soon as I arrived the balls are flying a little bit, so I've been struggling couple of days already for, you know, because usually I put a lot of power in it.
It's not really working so well here, because, as I said, the balls are flying a bit more. So as I saw in the match, also in the first round and today, that many players been struggling with the serve. Because also Kim was, you know, she did couple double faults and also was struggling with the first serve.
So I just -- you know, but I know that I'm confident in my second serve. So I said, Okay, don't worry about it. If you don't make too many first serves, you just stay there. The second serve is good. It's tough to make a pressure on it.
So I was not really disappointed about it. I was more thinking about the game than, you know, struggling to put the first serve in.
Q. Your next opponent is a totally different type of player than Kim. What kind of match do you expect, and what will you have to do to be successful?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: Yeah, well, to be successful, I obviously have to play better than my opponent. (laughter.)
So I will try my best to, you know, recover well from this long match and to go out there tomorrow and try to play as good as I can for that day, you know.
So you never know what's going to happen in the match. Obviously you're right, that it's a completely different player with a different type of tennis. I played against Carla couple of times in the juniors and also in the pro circuit.
But, you know, that was quite a while ago. So, you know, we've been improving a lot since then. So you never know what's going to happen. I'm just going to try to go out there and play my game. Because, as, you know, it's really depending a lot on how I'm going to play in this match, because I think I need to really dictate my game, my power, my speed, and then, you know, we see what happens.
Q. You've beaten big players before, obviously, but it seems like now three sets, longer matches, you're looking stronger at the end than you had previously. Do you feel any difference stamina-wise, strength-wise, at all?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: Well, yeah, definitely, because, you know, last year I've been really working a lot on my fitness and my conditioning, because in a couple of years the tennis has really grown up. Everybody is so strong now. It's no more, so, like, easy matches.
In the first rounds you get all the tough opponents, no matter which tournament you play. No matter a Grand Slam or a smaller event, it's always difficult. So you gotta be there like really in good shape to play those long matches, because it's never easy. And.
You have to, you know, go through these three-set matches and be able to go out tomorrow and the next day and, you know, to play again your best tennis.
You don't have much time to recover at all. So it's very important, I think, now to be in good shape, because this is I think also one of the keys to success in this long matches. You know, it's not every day when you go there and you play your best tennis when you feel everything on the court.
But if you're physically strong, you know that mentally you can just keep fighting, fighting, running through every ball. Then you can, you know, even if you're not playing your best, you can go with the physical conditioning, not just like, you know, playing unbelievable balls and making winners every second shot.
Sometimes it doesn't work. And if you are strong, if you're mentally there, you can just keep fighting and still pull out the matches like that.
Q. What does this win mean for your ambition? Did you set a goal specific for this year for the ranking?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: Well, I don't think too much about the ranking, you know. I know that the more I win, more higher I'm going to move in the ranking. But for me, of course, by the end of the year I would like to reach the top 20. I mean, I had this goal also for last year, but it was quite difficult to achieve it.
So I said, Okay, it's good already that I was able to stay in the top 30, not to lose my position there, because it was not easy.
And this year, if I can, I would like to move forward. You know, one of my goals was to win an event, and I'm very happy that I did it because this really brought me a lot of confidence. This is something that, you know, I made another step forward.
It's like you play tournaments, you win against top 10 players, but, you know, once you really win a tournament, you have some feeling that, okay, the week finished out the way it should by winning the last match. This is something that really brought me confidence into my game.
So in this tournament, it's a Masters, it's the mandatory big event, and I really came here to try to win as many matches as I can. I have confidence from my last winning tournament and I feel well on the court, and, you know, I'm really full of energy to keep fighting even if I'm not playing my best tennis, but just, you know, staying out there I really enjoy.
And I'm happy that this match was tough, because more tough matches you win, more confidence you get. Sometimes, you know, easy matches don't really help you that much. So, you know, so far I'm enjoying a lot playing here, so I hope to keep going.
Q. It was I think at 5-6; you were two points from losing at 30-All, and you hit that dropshot. Is that a bit of a chance or did you think about it or why did you play that shot at that point?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: Well, you know, sometimes when you're so much into the points, into the match, you do some things that you don't even think about, you know. I did that dropshot, and afterwards, I was like, What a great shot I did, you know. (laughter.) I didn't really prepare it that I'm going to do dropshot, because obviously I didn't make too many successful dropshots today.
So this is important thing, to be clear, you know, when you're playing these important points. I mean, everybody stressed at the end of the match. Everybody felt this tension. You know, it's really close to finish, two points away for Kim. So, you know, it's a lot of tension for all of us.
But I was happy that I was able to be clear on the court without agitated, because that's why I could make it. If I was trying to keep the ball in the court, you know, to play more careful, it doesn't work against these players.
There, in important points you have to risk. You have to do something different, and then, you know, whatever happens, if you are good enough, you can risk and you can win the points without missing it.
So I just -- I don't know. I mean, I didn't really prepare it too much. It just came up in the right moment. (Smiling.)
Q. Do you feel like you're mostly playing from instinct, or are you thinking through a lot of the points?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: Depends. Because thinking all the time it's really, for me, it's impossible. Many shots I'm doing when it's just, you know, it comes at the last moment and you just feel to place it there and that's it. You don't know why it comes to play in certain place, but you just feel like this.
But of course, in general, you just try to play with tactics. You try to see what's happening in the court, to look where is the opponent, where is the ball, where is more comfortable to hit.
But when you play these long matches, tough matches against the players who run really well and play fast, many times you don't have time, much time to think where to play the ball. You follow your instinct.
Especially when you have tension, when it's important point, when everything happens fast, you don't have too much time to make a decision. Sometimes thinking too much really makes you more tense, so you just -- certain moments, you just have to relax and just leave it, you know, leave it for instinct and play as you feel, not think too much where to put the ball.
Q. Back in Australia, you were close beating Justine Henin.
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: Yeah.
Q. She also made a comeback, but did you learn something from that match for now beating Clijsters?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: Well, I didn't really think about, you know, that I didn't win against Justine and today I play against Kim. They are completely different players for me, and I've been -- you know, I think I've improved a little bit since that match with Justine, because, you know, I wasn't able to finish it the way I should.
I wasn't set up, and I think it was 3-1 in the second set, 4-1. It was quite disappointing that I didn't win that match. But, of course, every time when you lose or win, you try to learn something from the match. If you did some mistakes, you try next time not to repeat them.
So, you know, of course I was disappointed that I didn't finish it as strong as I should. So today I'm happy that at the important moments when I was up I was able to finish the match, you know, without losing match points, coming back and then fighting again.
When I have a chance, I took it. So this was the important thing that I didn't do it, you know, at the important moment with Justine in the second set.
So this was something that I did different today.
End of FastScripts
Mar 21st, 2010, 01:17 PM
Alisa Kleybanova Interview March 18th
J. JANKOVIC/A. Kleybanova 6-4, 6-4
Q. Tournament’s over, but it’s been a great run. What have you taking from this experience to get into the quarterfinals?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: Well, you know, I’m really happy that I got so far this week. It’s been really a long, tough matches for me. I think the most important is that I’ve been really fighting a lot, and I played some good matches here. It’s always experience.
The more you stay out there playing matches, competing, you definitely get more experience, more confidence. So I think to have so many matches already during of the beginning of the year, it’s very good.
If I can keep up like that, you know, without injuries, and if I can keep up with this tennis, with this attitude, with this, you know, like fighting spirit, I think I can really have some good results.
I’m looking quite positive for the next tournaments.
Q. Over the last couple of months, your ranking has been rising steadily. Is there one thing that you can kind of, pinpoint, that’s been the cause of that? Is it your fitness? Your increased foot speed? What do you think has been the main ingredient?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: Well, it’s all together. Because more you practice, more you work hard, more stronger you get, it’s more mentally stronger you get because you feel more confidence in the court. You feel like you can do more.
Once you start playing matches and you start winning tough matches, you feel better, obviously. You prove to yourself that you can do — you can stay out there. You can fight, you can run, you can, you know, do many things.
And, of course, winning is helping you to believe even more. So I think this is like — it’s just when everything comes pretty much together.
Q. The Russians speak very good English, and the people from the United States don’t speak good Russian. Do you have a tutor? Do the Russian tennis players have a tutor?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: Well, I think it’s because wherever we go out from Russia, we speak English. So, you know, obviously the people from States, when they travel, they speak always English. They don’t have to speak Russian. I think that’s why, you know.
When you travel for more than 10 years and you have to talk English all the time, you know, sometimes we have problems speaking Russian when we’re back home. We start talking with accent.
You know, we’re so used to speak English, especially when you have so many tournaments in the States. You have to stay couple months of the year here. Well, I guess we practice a lot of English.
Q. Do you and Pavlyuchenkova feel like you’re the younger generation than maybe trying to take over from the older generation of Russians? Do you feel a bond with her at all?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: Well, we’re good friends. We practice together sometimes, we’ve been in the Fed Cup team together.
I’m happy that we’re actually together coming up, because, you know, there are so many good Russians still on top of us and not so many young ones coming. You know, they are still there, the elite group, and I’m happy that she’s the one to join me to go forward, because it’s always better to have more from our country, you know.
Of course we compete against each other, you know. Obviously we have a competition between us when you have so many Russian players. You always want to be better than the others.
But it’s nice to feel something in the back, you know, with someone that it’s also good and you can go forward in a tournaments. And also, I mean, she’s a great player. She’s a very nice person, as well. She’s a nice girl.
You know, I’m really happy that we can be there together.
Q. Has any of the older generations of Russians, any one of them, been particularly helpful to you?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: Well, I mean, helpful in which sense? Like helping me to play better? No. (laughter.)
But, you know, I mean, I’m really good friends with Svetlana, with Elena Dementieva, couple other girls. But it’s a lot of competition. It’s difficult to be like all of us and being close friends together, because, you know, we all — one is doing better than the other one in the tournaments, you know. It’s always difficult when you have so many good players from one country.
But anyways, I think more stronger we are, more players are strong from our country, it’s more difficult for the others, because obviously they have a lot of pressure from our side. All the girls from our country right now are playing so strong.
So, you know, it’s whatever. If you’re from Russia, when you go out on the court, everybody’s a bit like, you know, expecting something great from you.
So I think it’s better if we have more young players coming up which can compete against the top level.
Q. Your game has been called unorthodox by Tracy Austin, but very successful for you. What do you have to say about that?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: Well, you know, I know that. I’ve been told couple times already during this week that my game is a bit strange, you know, more strange than the others.
Well, you know, I don’t really try to make it so different. It’s just the way I am, you know.
I’ve been playing like this, with this style, for many, many years since I’m a junior. I’m working now with my coach Julian Vespan since already almost five years. He just saw something in me that he decide we’re not going to change, we just going to keep going.
If it’s successful and it’s good, if this style is matching me how I am physically and mentally, we just gonna keep improving it, and make, you know, my game, my style, more, you know, offensive. And some strange parts of my game, to make it the strongest part, you know, to bring a lot of difficulty to the others.
So, you know, I would say that I accept that it’s different than the others, but I enjoy. Because, you know, if you try to do something, you know, if you try to change it, if you try to do it, you know, more like the others or put something perfect, it’s not you anymore.
So once you’re just yourself on the court and it’s bringing you to success, you can win like this, you just have to be out there and be yourself, you know.
I know that sometimes people say, you know, how does she hit certain shot with this technique? It’s impossible to put in the court. But if you feel good with it and you make it work better than the others, why do you have to change, you know? You just have to keep going, keep improving, and make it your, you know, your weapons.
Q. I want to ask you about your English still. I’m very envious of you, because my English is not good enough, as you can tell. So I was wondering, your English skill, if you can speak good English, do you think you can feel very comfortable on the tour in terms of like confidence level if you can speak good English, you can be very comfortable on the tour and you can make friends?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: Yeah. Well, it’s important if you can speak well fluently, because, you know, it’s not just being out on the court and playing tennis all day long. You have to talk. You have to communicate a lot. Once you’re out from the court, you have to communicate somehow.
It’s not just hitting the balls there. It’s many, many hours in the day we have to talk to our friends, to the press, to the many — you know, to the sponsors, to many people. I mean, even to the fans you have to talk.
We are doing blogs; we are doing many things outside from the court. It’s important, because more — you know, better you speak, more relaxed you feel, you can express yourself better. And of course you feel much better when the people can understand really well what you want to say.
Because if you have troubles talking, it’s difficult, because sometimes we want to say something and you don’t find good words for that.
But many years traveling helped that, of course. But I think most of the players, like me, they’ve been starting English before starting to go on tour, because it’s difficult. If you don’t talk at all, it’s tough to pick it up so quickly.
So, you know, all of us, we went to school. Maybe some players for sure took some private lessons. But then when you have some base and you start traveling, it’s obviously much easier to pick up everything. A lot of girls on tour speak very well.
We try to help each other sometimes, especially from one country. You know, we always support. So, you know, more we speak English, more — of course much better we feel on the tour. I mean, we can communicate each other. It’s much easier.
Q. Could you explain, you are the only one on the tour who turns the head down when you hit the shot, doesn’t matter forehand, backhand, or serve. Why do you do that?
ALISA KLEYBANOVA: You’re asking me why do I that? My coach is asking for five years already why I do that? He has stopped because there is no answer to that. (laughter.)
I mean, my mother was my coach for almost 10 years before I started to work with Julian. I mean, obviously in 10 years she tried to change it, but it was impossible, I guess, because I still keep doing that. I don’t even think about it.
When I go on the court, I just see the ball, I just see my opponent, and I see the court. That’s the most important things.
I know that my head is doing many strange things during the match when I play. But sometimes it’s unhelpful, I accept; but sometimes it works, so I don’t know. I mean, it’s really tough. It’s just — it’s coming by itself, and that’s probably something — you know, one of the things when you do on the court not technically, it’s just how you feel, you know.
If you feel in certain movement to put the ball in the spot, in the right spot, you have to do that movement, you do it, you know.
It’s just, you know, many times when I play I follow the intuition, I follow the feelings. I don’t follow the perfect technique.
So, you know, if it’s working, then I go for it.
PARIS: After ousting former champion Ana Ivanovic at the French Open, Alisa Kleybanova wasn't going to let anyone spoil the moment.
The easy 6-3, 6-0 win over Ivanovic on Thursday propelled Kleybanova into the third round for the first time at Roland Garros, though she's gone one round better at 2008 Wimbledon and the 2009 Australian Open.
At the news conference, rushed to explain the decline of Ivanovic, who won the French Open and reached No. 1 in 2008 and hasn't achieved much else since, Kleybanova was as quick to turn the attention back on her deserving 20-year-old self.
"You know, I also think it's difficult to play against me," she said. "I'm a powerful player, with fast balls. And I took my opportunities all the time today. She's a tough opponent to play against. But when I go on court, I'm not thinking about my opponent's problems."
Kleybanova has contributed to Ivanovic's slide by beating the Serb three times in their four matchups, including in the Fed Cup for Russia in February.
"Of course, when I play against someone very strong and powerful, I try to give her as less time as possible," Kleybanova said. "For me, it was very important to make her feel uncomfortable with the balls, and to take out her timing. I was just focusing on what I was doing. It was the key today."
Kleybanova, coached by her mother in Moscow until she was 13, cracked the top 10 rankings in February then won her first career title in Kuala Lumpur, beating compatriot and two-time Grand Slam finalist Elena Dementieva in the final.
But a foot injury sidelined her in April and she came into the French Open seeded 28th with realistic hopes.
"I have different goals. To stay No. 28 in the world and to be at No. 1 straight away is quite difficult to achieve," she said. "I would say I'm trying to reach one goal at a time. For the moment, I want to focus on the tournament. For this year, I will really try to get into the top 20 and to stay in there."
As for Ivanovic, Kleybanova was sympathetic. "She's trying to come back, trying to build up her game again. It's gonna take a long time," she said. "(Tennis) is very difficult for everybody, especially when you have been No. 1 and won a Grand Slam. You have pressure, all the world is looking up to you. It's very difficult but I'm pretty sure she will keep going. Everybody has some tough times during a career. It's impossible to always be at the top, you have ups and downs."
STANFORD, California—Tonight’s heavily anticipated opening night at the Bank of the West Classic is enticing for many reasons. Ana Ivanovic has amassed a huge following over the last few years, and fans will no doubt arrive in droves to see if she can play herself into top form. But on the other side of the net, a less heralded but very dangerous competitor will be waiting.
http://www.onthebaseline.com/uploads/alisa_kleybanova.jpgAlisa Kleybanova is well within striking distance of her career high ranking of No 22, and she’s feeling confident in her abilities, after securing her first WTA Tour title in Kuala Lumpur in February. She may not be precisely where she wants to be yet, but at twenty-one, the powerful Russian believes the rewards will come if the work gets done.
All of that gave her reason to smile as we had a nice chat in the players’ lounge on Sunday afternoon.
OTB: Happy birthday [Alisa turned 21 on July 15th]. I heard you went and did some celebrating in Italy. How was that?
Alisa Kleybanova: Thank you. I practice in Italy sometimes, so I just happened to have a birthday there. It was one of the best birthday parties that I’ve ever had. It was really nice.
OTB: Did you have some of the chocolates from Perugia?
Alisa Kleybanova: Of course, during the birthday, we had everything.
OTB: Did you bring some with you?
Alisa Kleybanova: No, I didn’t bring anything with me. They would melt, it’s too hot. It’s 45 degrees in Italy now. It was impossible to bring any chocolates here (laughing).
OTB: Are you happy to be in the States, and do you enjoy this American hard court swing?
Alisa Kleybanova: Well it’s a bit difficult in the beginning because until now I was practicing on the clay courts. I didn’t want to rush too much to go onto the hard courts because we have a really long season. Until next clay court season we have all the tournaments – outside, indoors, everything – on hard so I have enough time to get used to it.
But anyway, I like to play tournaments in the States; it’s really nice. It’s just a bit long series now with six tournaments. It’s not easy.
OTB: It’s tough on the body. Well, can you take a few off?
Alisa Kleybanova: Well, it’s the third time that I’m doing it, so you know, past two times went pretty well – it all depends on the results, if you go forward to the end of the tournament or you lose first or second round. It depends on many, many things and you can adjust your schedule through all of this.
OTB: You have Ivanovic in the first round. Do you start to practice with her in mind or do you just worry about your own game?
Alisa Kleybanova: I don’t worry about my opponent so much, but of course a little bit you have to adjust when you know who you have to play. But for me now I just want to enjoy and try to get used to the courts, because for the moment I am just trying to feel the surface. I am not worried too much about who I am going to play. It’s my first tournament playing on a hard court and I just want to enjoy and see how it goes and not put any pressure on myself. For me, the most important thing is just to stay healthy and pick up my game step by step.
OTB: I like your philosophy. It’s a long term philosophy.
Alisa Kleybanova: Yes, well, this probably helps me. If you play every tournament like it’s the last tournament in your life it’s difficult to stay all year through and still enjoy.
OTB: Which was more exciting, winning the first pro tournament you entered when you were 14, or winning your maiden WTA title in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year?
Alisa Kleybanova: This last title in Kuala Lumpur. It was definitely not the easiest tournament that I played. I had many three set matches and the weather conditions were really tough, so I’m really happy that I was able to stay there until the end of week and especially to beat Elena [Dementieva] in the final because she’s such a great player. For me it’s a big achievement. This win in Kuala Lumpur really gave me some positive emotions. I’m not thinking about it anymore, because you have to keep going, but there is something deep in the heart that stays with me, because it’s the first one.
OTB: If you win a Grand Slam you can think about that for a while.
Alisa Kleybanova: Yes, definitely (laughing). I think to start with Kuala Lumpur is not bad though.
OTB: You said you’d prefer an Olympic Medal over a Grand Slam. What are your reasons for that?
Alisa Kleybanova: I don’t know, maybe it’s because of my country. But for me to win the Olympic Games is something special. It’s a sporting event for everybody in the world. If you say Olympic Games there isn’t one person in the world that doesn’t know it. The Olympic Games mean to me something completely different. Of course I would like to win a Grand Slam, but there is something apart, something emotional about it.
But with our country where we have so many good tennis players it is not even easy to get to play in the Games. So, first achievement would be to get on the Olympic team.
OTB: Well, you’re a great doubles player, there might be room there.
Alisa Kleybanova: (laughing) Yes, mixed doubles, doubles. I would really prefer to play the singles.
OTB: There have been a lot of great Russian performances at the Olympic games – what is your favorite of them?
Alisa Kleybanova: One of my favorite figure skaters is Alexei Yagudin. I watched his videos and I watched the Olympic performance in Salt Lake. When I saw the emotion when he got the gold medal, it was completely, I mean I was close to crying. It’s something that stays with you all your life.
OTB: It’s emotional.
Alisa Kleybanova: For me it’s really emotional. It’s something that’s completely special.
OTB: Speaking of emotions, did you cry when Francesca Schiavone won the French Open?
Alisa Kleybanova: I wasn’t there and I didn’t see, so it’s different when you are getting text messages. I was really, really happy for her because the last couple of months we played doubles together, so I could see how she is working and how she is thinking and how bad she wants it. Before I always knew that she’s a great player, but I never saw her so close, as my doubles partner and as a friend. To win a Grand Slam is really something that she deserved because she worked for it and I’m happy that she got that chance – and she used that chance, totally.
OTB: Does it give you a feeling that it can happen to you too?
Alisa Kleybanova: The only thing is that when you have your chance you have to take it.
OTB: In my neighborhood there is a Russian market and I never know what to order. Can you help me with that?
Alisa Kleybanova: Honestly, I like Russian food, but when I go abroad I never go to the Russian stores. In general it’s tough to say. Always when I am home I know exactly the best shops, the best stores, the food which is very fresh, but when I see the Russian supermarkets in America or Australia it’s a bit strange, because Russia is really far. Expecting that the things that they sell there and are very good quality, I would think about it.
California is a beautiful state and you really have a lot of possibilities to eat great meat and great vegetables because the climate here is so good that there are a lot of fresh things growing here, not like in Russia where it’s six months in a year and nothing is growing really (laughing).
OTB: Thanks so much, I’ll let you go because I’m sure you have lot of things to do.
Alisa Kleybanova: It was a pleasure.
Jul 27th, 2010, 09:24 PM
thanks,very interesting read,really :)
I hope her last result is only indicating that she's still trying to adapt to the hard courts as she says in the interview.And of course I hope she can one say fulfill her olympic dream.
Aug 3rd, 2010, 09:16 PM
SAN DIEGO, CA, USA - The first round of the Mercury Insurance Open kicked off on Monday and the drama didn't take long to arrive, as Alisa Kleybanova and Aravane Rezai duked it out in a see-saw three-setter on Stadium.
It was tough to predict the outcome of their match-up from the career head-to-head, which Kleybanova led just barely, 3-2. But that may have set the tone in the end, as the No.28-ranked Russian regrouped after squandering a match point at 62 54 and eventually closed out the No.18-ranked Rezai, 62 57 63.
Kleybanova punctuated the victory with her fourth ace of the day.
"I played very well in the first set and kept going pretty well in the second, but I wasn't aggressive enough at the end of it, so Aravane had more time to set up her strokes," Kleybanova commented afterwards. "She is playing great tennis when she can dictate the game, but in the third set I tried my best to stay in it and put pressure on every point, and I'm happy it worked well."
Next up for Kleybanova will be No.1 seed Jelena Jankovic, who received a first round bye. Kleybanova is actually tied in her head-to-head with Jankovic, 2-2, winning both of their 2009 meetings (Jankovic has won both 2010 meetings).
Aug 5th, 2010, 06:53 PM
At night, Alisa Kleybanova continued her strong results against Jelena Jankovic, pulling off a remarkable first set comeback and eventually cruising to victory over the No.1 seed, 75 62. Jankovic led 4-0 in the first set and held three set points at 5-3 but just couldn't seal the deal against Kleybanova, who won eight straight games to make 3-5 turn into 75 40. The Russian didn't look back and improved to 3-2 lifetime in her head-to-head against Jankovic.
"I kept trying to find the key to the match. After the first few games I picked up the pace," Kleybanova said. "I figured I would see what happens, and even better if I won the first set. My job today was to play, fight and win."
Aug 12th, 2010, 04:16 PM
Cincinnati: Alisa Falls
Alisa lost her second round match against Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-4, 6-2 on a rainy Wednesday. The match lasted one hour and 18 minutes.
The 21-year-old Russian was broken once in the first set and twice in the second. She didn’t have any break point chances in the match. Alisa fell to 21-17 on the season with this loss.
Alisa will next play the Rogers Cup in Montreal which begins next week.
Sep 20th, 2010, 01:30 PM
Kleybanova Cruises In Korea
SEOUL, South Korea - World No.28 Alisa Kleybanova made an impressive start to her Hansol Korea Open campaign on Monday afternoon, easing past Chang Kai-Chen in an hour and 24 minutes on Centre Court, 62 63.
Kleybanova, the No.5 seed at the International-level event, lost her serve three times against the talented Taiwanese but broke her opponent six times and overall was strong on serve, finishing off with her fourth ace of the match.
This is Kleybanova's second time playing in Seoul. She made the quarterfinals last year and almost made the semifinals, leading Kimiko Date Krumm, 64 52, with match point at 64 53; but she fell to the eventual champion, 46 76(4) 63.
Next for Kleybanova will be Ksenia Pervak, who rallied from 1-5 in the second set - and saved set point at 2-5 - to beat Chan Yung-Jan in straights, 64 75.
Sep 24th, 2010, 12:11 PM
Kleybanova, the No.5 seed, took just a little longer - 68 minutes - to win her match against Ekaterina Makarova, 61 62. Kleybanova also broke serve five times for the victory over her good friend and frequent doubles partner.
"I've played Ekaterina many times. We've known each other since the juniors," Kleybanova said. "She definitely wasn't playing her best, so it was quite an easy win for me. But I know she's a great player. I'm just happy I won."
Sep 24th, 2010, 03:14 PM
Interview: Alisa, modern version of Lindsay Davenport
Q1. Can you briefly comment on your game today?
Alisa: Today wasnít a very tough match, I mean, the score shows it. I played against Ekaterina before many times because we know each other since juniors. We always had tough matches against each other. But probably today she wasnít playing her best definitely. So it was quite an easy win for me. But I know that sheís a great player. Iím not really looking seriously at this match. Iím just happy that I won it. Iím looking forward to my next matches
Q2. You ended your season last year no. 26, and youíre currently no. 28. What would be your goal for the rest of the season?
Alisa: My goal for the rest of the season is definitely to try to finish better than last year. If I can make it into top twenty, this is really gonna be a big achievement. Because itís the second year that Iím finishing in top 30. I really wish that I can make a step forward to go into top twenty
Q3. Many critics say that your style is modern version of Lindsay Davenport. How does it affect your goal setting, and does it motivate you?
Alisa: I get that many times, recently. Itís a huge compliment for me. And Iíve heard it already couple of times during this year. I mean, sheís a great player. I think itís unbelievable feeling to be compared to someone like that. For me, I know this is my power of my game. This just helps me to improve strong parts and weaker parts and build up the whole picture of my game. You canít really change completely the way how you are naturally. So, you have to look forward and try to realize what are your strongest parts, and you have to work on it to improve and to win more matches and to beat other players. Itís very difficult right now. Tennis is very strong, and the level is very strong not just at the top players, also the rest of the players. So every match is tough it really helps me that I know exactly how I am and I can work in the right direction.
Q4. Itís your second visit to Korea. What is your impression of Korea?
Alisa: Well, my impression of the whole country for the moment is just the hotel and the tournament site. So itís difficult to speak about the whole country. Even if itís my second time here I didnít see anything except the hotel, airport, and tennis court. But so far, Iím happy seeing the tennis courts because Iím still playing. I really donít mind coming each year to the country not seeing the country but playing so well, winning and going forward (laugh). Anyway, itís the same thing for tennis. The most important things are hotel and tournament site because we travel all year. Thatís pretty much most things that we see, first of all. Afterwards, if we have some free time we go to the city, but if you keep playing, you need to feel great on the site because if you feel comfortable it helps you to play better. Itís my second time here and I have enjoyed so far. There are many courts, itís a nice tennis center, great center court - I already played a couple of matches here. The hotelís very nice, saw lots of restaurants and food. Everything is very comfortable. First impression is that most important things we need for our job is very good. Afterwards I hope I have some free time to visit the city but for the moment Iím feeling well here. Thatís actually the reason why I came here again.
3:30pm Fri, Sep 24, 2010
Dictation by Shirley Hwang, KTA Press
Sep 25th, 2010, 11:07 AM
SEOUL, South Korea - Alisa Kleybanova survived a marathon first set then cruised through the second set and into the final of the Hansol Korea Open, beating Agnes Szavay for a shot at her second career title, 63 62.
Kleybanova, the No.5 seed, needed six deuces to hold her serve in the opening game, a taste of things to come in the 62-minute first set. But she cruised past the No.8-seeded Szavay handily in a routine 37-minute second set.
"In the first set, especially at the beginning of the set for a couple of games, we had many deuces and advantages. It was tough, really tough," Kleybanova said. "I wasn't thinking about winning or losing; I just tried to focus on each point."
This will be Kleybanova's second career final. She won her only previous final, at another Asian hardcourt event earlier this year in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
"I really hope it's going to be another title tomorrow, but I don't want to think about it too much," Kleybanova said. "I'm just playing match by match. I'm going to do everything to prepare my best. Tomorrow is another day."
Zakopalova leads Kleybanova in their head-to-head, 1-0, winning in the qualifying rounds of Paris [Indoors] two years ago. That was early on in the rise of Kleybanova, however, as she wasn't even ranked in the Top 100 at the time.
Sep 26th, 2010, 06:34 PM
Alisa: Seoul Survivor
SEOUL, South Korea - Four of the world's Top 25 travelled to Seoul, but the last woman standing was none of them. World No.28 Alisa Kleybanova ended the week on top, winning her second career title at the Hansol Korea Open.
Kleybanova, seeded No.5, was given a tough test in the second round by Ksenia Pervak, losing the first set in the longest tie-break of the year, 15-13; but after losing that tie-break Kleybanova seemed like a woman on a mission, losing just 15 games in the next eight sets she played, dusting off the week with a 61 63 championship drubbing of Klara Zakopalova.
"Before coming here I wasn't thinking about winning the title because I haven't been playing so well recently," Kleybanova said. "Day by day, match by match, I was feeling better about my game; towards the end of the tournament I was fighting to win the title. I'm really happy that I made it in the end."
Kleybanova improved to 2-0 in career finals, having won her only previous final, at another Asian hardcourt tournament in Kuala Lumpur in February.
"The first one is always special, but the second one gives me confidence and proves the first one wasn't a lucky one," Kleybanova added. "I deserved it, and I'm good enough to win another one. This definitely helps me towards getting into the Top 20. I know not straight away, but it gives me the belief."
Zakopalova fell to 2-9 in career finals, and 0-2 this year. She was runner-up to Caroline Wozniacki in Copenhagen earlier in the summer.
"Alisa was playing very well today," Zakopalova said afterwards. "I was fighting and tried my best, but it was not enough against her. The Korean fans were supporting me so much all week though, and I have to thank them."
Mar 15th, 2011, 02:11 PM
MARCH 14- Alisa Kleybanova is a big fan of historical fiction and is currently reading one about the Romantic Era. On Tuesday, the Russian will face Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round, a good opportunity for her to show off her inner Tchaikovsky and unravel Wozniacki’s more sensible game with a dramatic waltz.
As Kleybanova says, Wozniacki is the mark of consistency, a player who cannot just be simply hit through or willed off the court. She’s a competitor who goes deep time and time again because she plays a very physical brand of yellowball and anyone who wants to beat her knows that they absolutely must be willing to commit to long rallies and be willing to accept the fact that it might take seven fine strokes per rally to take her out.
Kleybanova is 0-2 against Wozniacki, but both those matches were played in 2009 on clay and grass. The results do matter to some degree, but not that much as both are significantly better players now. Kleybanova showed that by besting Flavia Pennetta for the first time 6-3,6-4, and Wozniacki did the same by winning her first match in four tries against Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in a 6-1, 6-3 victory.
While Kleybanova doesn’t look like the fittest player on tour, she has been doing a fair amount of work off court and she’s also trying to play more patiently. She’s willing to rally until she can get a good ball to take a rip at, rather than just a swinging away at everything. Pennetta is a B-plus version of Woznaciki so that win was a goof sign She says she’s willing her body to be more aerobic.
Mentally you have to believe,” the 21-year-old Kleybanova said. “Sometimes you think you are tired but your body is really ready to do it. It’s difficult to do it straight away, but I think I’m improving on it.
The 20 year-old Wozniacki mentioned too that her game has matured to the point where she can think her past the tricky Martinez and not be bothered by trick shots, let alone serve and volleys.
It’s a pretty straightforward match for the Dane against Kleybanova, who is more powerful than she is but nowhere near as fleet or really -- despite the fact that the Russian is a year older -- experienced. Kleybanova admits that she has a risky game and now accepts that she’s an up and down player. She doesn’t want her results to constantly be full of peaks and valleys, but in order to do that, she has to play more sturdy defense and commit a bit more to the grind.
Wozniacki has, but has yet to commit to risk taking. But what her style has brought her is the top ranking – legitimate to some and not to others – because she almost never lets down. Yes, she is still a little scared against the more experienced players (i.e. Clijsters, Zvonareva, Li) but she squeezes the margins of the courts with her intense movement and it;s very difficult to completely take her out of her comfort zone. She almost never gets crushed.
Kleybanova says she become better at accepting that she’s not going to win every time and as a result she feels more at ease on court. While that isn’t showing week to week in her results yet, she seems pretty happy.
Beating Wozniacki would be a big step up for her because this is the year that she's supposed to take a leap into the top 10. She better than just a top 25 player, but if she can’t keep her head in every match than she may stay outside of the top 20. But it sounds like she believes she has the recipe to upset Wozniacki.
“She No. 1 and very tough and confident but that puts pressure on her and not on me,” Kleybanova said. “She knows that unless someone hits a lot of winners that she’ll get every ball back. She consistently puts pressure on other players. I see other players before the match that mentally they are thinking ‘What can I do against her, she doesn’t miss and runs for everything and they’re no chance I can win.’ That’s the wrong thing to do because everybody is beatable. If you really believe and try to find a way, you can do it. It’s a matter of making adjustments.”
Apr 26th, 2011, 04:35 AM
ESTORIL, Portugal—It’s early to have a favorite court at the Estoril Open, but the charm of Centralito is undeniable. “Little centre,” flanked by colonnades and backed by the slanting pine trees covering the hills of Jamor, is a pleasant place to sit on sun-warmed stone bleachers and enjoy a soft breeze coming off the sea. There’s nothing soft or pleasant, however, about the manner in which Alisa Kleybanova (http://www.tennis.com/players/player_info.aspx?player_name=Alisa+Kleybanova) dismantles Olga Govortsova (http://www.tennis.com/players/player_info.aspx?player_name=Olga+Govortsova), 6-2, 6-2. The tournament’s top seed has 90 ranking places on her opponent and seems determined to exact revenge for her defeat by the Belarusian in her last two matches.
It’s a match of short points and first strikes. Govortsova hits big, but up close, Kleybanova’s tennis is simply huge. She hits flat and hard, the ball popping cleanly off the strings each time to clear the net by inches. She is clinical and effective at net and willing to forge forward when she can. Type ‘Alisa Kleybanova (http://www.tennis.com/players/player_info.aspx?player_name=Alisa+Kleybanova)’ into Google and the first two suggested search terms you get are “fat” and “weight,” but the woman I’m watching looks amazingly fit. Even the sudden jerk of her head as she hits through the ball looks different seen from close-up; more an organic part of her stroke, an expressive flourish that redeems her style from the clean and mechanical.
Kleybanova kept Govortsova waiting at the beginning of the match while she exchanged a few last-minute words with her coach at the top of the Centralito stairs, and keeps me waiting for the best part of an hour for a post-match interview, but she doesn’t waste time when she does arrive. Frank and straightforward, Kleybanova uses the word ’hungry’ a lot—she’s hungry for matches, hungry to put her training into practice, hungry for the big tournaments. She doesn’t smile a lot, but when she does—noticeably when talking about her grandmother Zhanna, who is traveling with her for the first time—it transforms her face.
I ask her about the current state of the WTA and the sense that any one of a number of players, Kleybanova included, can win a big tournament or even a Slam if they get their form together. “I would say that Top 30 is really very close to each other in the level, it’s very strong. So someone who is better shape and has a bit more luck during the week and I don’t know, finds himself [sic] on the court good has a lot of chances to win…Every match now is difficult, I mean for example I’m a top seed or a Top 4 seed, it doesn’t matter, you get a tough match straight away from the first round. Now any match you get, no matter if you’re seeded or not, you have to give everything and be ready for a fight.” As we talk, Bethanie Mattek-Sands (http://www.tennis.com/players/player_info.aspx?player_name=Bethanie+Mattek-Sands), the fifth seed, is losing to Monica Niculescu (http://www.tennis.com/players/player_info.aspx?player_name=Monica+Niculescu), proving the point.
When I think about Kleybanova, I think of a player on the verge with all the talent in the world, seeking a way to put it all together. She can beat any player on tour on her day, as she says, but she’s also prone to bizarre losses - most recently a 6-1, 6-0 rout at the hands of Christina McHale in Charleston, a match she refers to as “a bit of disaster.” It’s useful to remember that despite her imposing physical presence and air of maturity, she’s only 21, her big break coming at Wimbledon 2008 when she made the fourth round. She would love above all things to go further at Wimbledon, she says, and in an age where players are maturing later than they once did, it’s eminently possible.
What’s interesting about Kleybanova on court is how self-contained she is, how unemotional. Her game is premised on rendering the opponent irrelevant by hitting past them if possible, through them if necessary; it’s mirrored by her self-absorbed body language, barely glancing down the other end of the court or looking at her coach, who reclines in his seat like he knows he doesn’t have much to do today. The other day I listened to Eleni Danilidou’s coach yell “emotions out, Eleni, emotions OUT!” after every other point for three-and-a-half hours, but Kleybanova’s tennis is a world away from the Greek’s choppy, battling style; it’s not about engaging the opponent and breaking them down, as for example Caroline Wozniacki (http://www.tennis.com/players/player_info.aspx?player_name=Caroline+Wozniacki)’s game, it’s about executing her own game well and trusting that everything else will take care of itself.
Something that sounds as simple as that has to be very complicated indeed, and Kleybanova gets her most animated when I ask about her inconsistent results. “It’s not like I don’t know how to play,” she says, sounding for once as young as her years. “Recently I tried to take my bad losses more quiet like, it’s OK, I know that it happens to me and I just don’t want to focus on it too much. When you can accept that you can play really bad, you go on the court and you just say, OK, I’ll try to do the best that I can. And if it isn’t working, I’ll try to win the match anyways, I’ll try to find the key to win…So maybe like step by step I am trying to make my game more consistent so it won’t be such a big difference between great matches and bad losses. I still have some strange matches going on but I hope it’s going to be less and less and I’m going to have my level more steady.”
It sounds like her biggest competition is herself, something that her childhood spent training as a swimmer alongside tennis has clearly prepared her for. She chose tennis because “you can express yourself more, it’s more individual…In tennis you can be tall, you can be short, you can adjust to yourself and work on yourself and always find a way to be good.”
I point out that she’s doing pretty well in her chosen sport.
“So far,” she says, smiling. “So far.”
Apr 26th, 2011, 07:20 PM
thanks,very interesting article to read :)
May 21st, 2011, 02:13 PM
Alisa seems to be in really bad form according to a friend who works in a hospital...
May 21st, 2011, 05:56 PM
Alisa seems to be in really bad form according to a friend who works in a hospital...You're right
Alisa Kleybanova, number 23 seed, has withdrawn because of illness.
May 21st, 2011, 06:16 PM
My friend told me that (in french, difficult to translate) : "Elle a un syndrome inflammatoire, probablement d'origine infectieuse. Elle a fait des dťpistages pour VIH, hťpatites et autres virus."
May 21st, 2011, 07:23 PM
My friend told me that (in french, difficult to translate) : "Elle a un syndrome inflammatoire, probablement d'origine infectieuse. Elle a fait des dťpistages pour VIH, hťpatites et autres virus."
mais ces dťpistages Áa veut pas dire qu'elle a tout Áa,non? seulemenrt qu'on lui a fait des test pour connaitre l'origine de sa maladie,non? :scared:
Jul 20th, 2011, 12:00 PM
I just read that Alisa is battling with cancer:speakles:
I can not be considered a fan, but that is tragic for anyone.
Jul 20th, 2011, 12:03 PM
Just found the article in English
Friday, July 15, 2011
Hello everyone :)
It's my birthday today and I want to thank all of you for the wonderful messages and wishes. I haven't written anything for a long time about why I haven't been on tour, so I would like to do it today.
It's not an easy time for me right now. I have Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer. I'm having treatment in Italy and it's going well, but it takes lots of patience and time, and I need to be really strong and positive to go through this. I still have a few more months of treatment to go. But the good news is, if I feel well after I'm done with everything, there's a chance that I'll be able to play tennis again. There is nothing for sure, but the chance is a big hope for me and it helps me to stay positive and focus on my healing every single day! I really miss playing - I miss seeing fans and friends around the world, I miss hitting the ball, I miss everything. Tennis has been my life for the last 15 years.
There are a few reasons why I'm undergoing treatment in Italy. First, I have a training base and many close friends here, so it's like a second home. Second, the hospital in Perugia is one of the best in Italy that specializes in this problem and the doctors are doing everything the best for me. It's just the perfect place for me to be - the surroundings help me to feel at home.
I am a strong person. I've shown it before. Obviously this is different than anything I've ever experienced, but after this is over I'm sure my life will be even better than ever before. This is the toughest time of my life till now, and I hope it always remains the toughest time of my life. I'm sure I'll be able to overcome this - it's just a matter of patience and time and I believe I have enough!
Of course, even though I'm in treatment, I hope I'll have a fun birthday today :) I'm really happy I have my family, my best friends and all the most important people with me here today. They're here every day, week and month helping me with everything and giving me all their support.
Anyway, I just wanted to write to you all because it has been a long time and I really miss all of you guys... I won't be on tour for a little while, but I really hope to see all of you again soon :)
WTA link (http://www.wtatennis.com/news/20110715/alisa-kleybanovas-message_2256076_2393558)
Mar 20th, 2012, 09:19 PM
Alisa Kleybanova opens up about her illness, returns in Miami (http://tennis.si.com/2012/03/19/alisa-kleybanova-opens-up-about-her-illness-returns-in-miami/)
Alisa Kleybanova will make her return to the court at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami on Tuesday after a 10-month battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The 22-year-old Russian will play her first match on the Grandstand court against Joanna Larsson of Sweden.
For Kleybanova, merely stepping on court will be a dream come true. For years, she ignored the constant run-down feeling she suffered, chalking it up to being part of the grinding life of a professional athlete.
“When you’re doing professional sport, you always [have] some problems,” Kleybanova told reporters in Miami on Monday. “You have always some pain. It’s not like everyday you’re waking up feeling completely healthy. It’s your work. You have so much fatigue every day.”
The problem was that fatigue never went away. Kleybanova grew frustrated. Though she was already a top 20 player, Kleybanova felt her body was preventing her from doing the hard work she needed in order to get better. After constantly trying to play through fatigue and flu-like symptoms, Kleybanova began to suspect it might be something more serious. By the time she arrived in Rome for the 2011 Italian Open, Kleybanova found herself unable to play through her fatigue.
“Until Rome I was still getting over it all the time. So there we were pretty sure it might be another thing. I was still hoping to play the French Open, but I didn’t get better anymore. That’s where we decided I have to stop and really see deep inside what’s going wrong.”
What was wrong was that Kleybanova had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer originating from white blood cells. Initially shocked by the diagnosis, Kleybanova says she was relieved to finally understand why she was constantly sick. Once she had time to process it all, she prepared herself for tough road ahead.
“This is going to be basically a very tough time for me and another big fight which is much tougher and is going to take a very long time. It’s not like a big tournament. It’s something completely different and something I really have to focus on beating.”
Kleybanova stayed in Italy for treatment, which entailed extensive chemotherapy which broke down her body and caused some hair loss. “Almost,” Kleybanova laughed when asked if the treatment caused complete hair loss. It’s that good humor that helped her get through the painful chemotherapy treatments.
“I think the most important thing is to be happy, a smile on your face. Because if you are suffering it’s never gonna work. You have difficulties and you obviously have fatigue and it’s tough. But you have to still enjoy what you’re doing. You can’t be negative. You have to always be positive. This is the most important point and it helps no matter what you do.”
It was a physically and emotionally grueling time for the young Russian, but surrounded by family and friends (her boyfriend, Giancomo Rigoni, a professional volleyball player in Italy, stayed with her every day), she says she was committed to beating the cancer and returning to the tennis court. After seven months of treatment doctors cleared her to return to court and begin training again. “The only concern was the physical condition because for such a long time I literally couldn’t do anything so I obviously had to start almost from zero,” she says. “Because it’s not just that I didn’t even do anything it’s also the treatment that was breaking down the body.”
Kleybanova had her last treatment in December, and after some time to let her body cycle through the last remaining treatments, she started hitting again in February. She’s been training in Miami in preparation for the Sony Ericsson Open and, as good-natured as ever, sounded relaxed and excited at the prospect of taking the court for her first match on Tuesday. ”I really hope the worst part is over and now I will try and keep myself as healthy as possible and enjoy.
“The biggest thing in tennis I like the most is tournaments, is matches,” she said. “I really like the result, I like to win, I like to play, to have this excitement, emotions during my matches. I think this is what I missed the most and actually probably this feeling kept me always there to fight through all the problems I had. I think that’s why in such a short time I’m here now and really excited to play my first round.”
She has no idea if she’ll be the player she was before her diagnosis but for now it’s just about getting back on court and competing. ”I don’t want to think about my ranking, I don’t want to think about where I want to be,” Kleybanova said.” I just want to be on the court and play tennis and feel good, you know? I know it’s gonna be really tough. Everybody is progressing, it’s improving every year.”
“For the now, my dream already came true, that I’m here, I’m back on the court. From now on I’m happy just to play tennis. If I’m gonna be successful that’s gonna be fantastic. But if things won’t go great from the beginning, I’m just really emotional to be back and hit some balls. I’m really, really happy already.”
Mar 21st, 2012, 07:33 AM
Emotional & Winning Return For Kleybanova
MIAMI, FL, USA - In a match she later said she would always remember, Alisa Kleybanova made a winning return from her battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma on Tuesday, rallying to win in the first round of the Sony Ericsson Open.
Kleybanova, a former World No.20 who had been out for the last 10 months, showed some signs of rust early on as she faced Johanna Larsson, losing serve twice en route to dropping the first set to the No.64-ranked Swede, 6-2.
"I was a little bit out of control in the first set," Kleybanova said. "The first match back from anything is always difficult, but especially this time I really had no idea how it was going to be out there. Tennis-wise I felt pretty good from the beginning but Johanna has a difficult game to play against, she makes you run a lot out there - she makes you tired even if you're in your best shape.
"But I'm looking at my matches differently now. It's my work, but I really just wanted to enjoy every point and every moment. Even when I lost the first set I wanted to stay positive and just enjoy myself out there, and that's why I was able to stay out there and change the way the match was going."
Kleybanova hung tough, breaking in the fourth game of the second set to move ahead 3-1, eventually holding the rest of the way to take the set, 6-3; her momentum was just too strong from there as she reeled off four straight games to build a 4-0 third set lead, and she rode it to a 26 63 62 victory.
"I felt I was playing better the more I was on the court," she said. "It's not just about the win though, it's that I'm back on court. If I didn't win, it's not like I would have been mad. I was just happy to be playing points, feeling all the emotions again... it's something I missed a lot and it was all out there today.
"For everyone else it's just the first round, but for me it's very emotional. I'll always remember it - it will always be the first match of my comeback."
Kleybanova's coach, Julian Vespan, was also touched. "It was very emotional for him too," she added. "But he's just really happy I'm back playing tennis again. Of course he's very, very happy I won, but he's also my best friend and he feels happy when I feel good and when I'm smiling. He just wants me to be happy. When he saw me enjoying myself again he was very happy for me."
Kleybanova will play No.22 seed Maria Kirilenko in the second round.
"I still feel like I'm building my game, and it'll take time before I reach my highest level," Kleybanova explained. "I'm just going to try to get better with every match. I hope the good results will come, but I'm not going onto the court just thinking of winning. Who knows what will happen in the next one."
Kleybanova beat Kirilenko in their only previous head-to-head meeting....
Apr 9th, 2012, 03:55 PM
Chempionat.com: Interview with Alisa (http://www.alisakleybanova.ru/en/news/172,chempionatcom-interview-with-alisa.html)
Alisa this week gave an exclusive interview to the Chempionat.com sports website. The interview focuses on her return to tennis and all the difficulties she faced.
The following is a translated extract.
Q: Alisa, first of all I'd like to congratulate you on returning to action. Tell us something more about your first tournament in Miami.
A: I did very well. Was glad to return to tennis. The most important thing for me was to compete again, play matches, just hit balls. All my friends supported me along the way. It was a very exciting event for me.
Q: Right after you finished playing, did you stay a bit longer in the US or rather you flew back to Italy?
A: Originally I planned to go to Charleston, but got a shoulder problem and decided to withdraw. This is when I decided to fly back to Italy. No need to hurry. I decided no to play the full schedule, tournament after tournament, as I used to. Physically I'm still unable to play matches week after week. I'm happy with my Miami showing and my team is happy. Everything is going smoothly. Nevertheless, it's too early to say that I'm fully prepared to return to the Tour.
Q: Aren't you afraid that, no matter how many titles you win, people will also label you as "the girl who overcame cancer"?
A: Frankly speaking, I don't care how I will be labeled. The most important is that I've recovered and can play tennis and do things I love doing. Everything else is of minor importance. Now I'm focused on staying healthy and spending time with my close friends, my team and my coach. We are always together and support each other. You know, in the world nowadays, somebody says one thing, then somebdy else says another thing, and so on. You cannot control it and this is why it's better not to pay attention to what's happening around.
Q: Let's go back to the day when you got diagnosed 11 months ago. Can you remember what you felt at that moment? What were your thoughts?
A: I had lots of thoughts, but was not worried about the fact that I would not be able to play tennis. My first thought was: "Oh, what a nightmare! I will not be able to play tennis!" When you get diagnosed, you must do what you can to survive. And this is what I did.
Q: You had lots of free time. How did you amuse yourself?
A: The summer was very hot and I couldn't stay for long in the sun. So I cannot say I had a lot of summer fun. I had a relaxing time - watching movies, reading books, chatting with friends.
Q: It turns out that Alisa Kleybanova is a complete optimist in life. Is it true?
A: Yes, of course! You can say so. However, I'd like to add that without my family's support, especially my grandmother, dad, my friends, my team and my coach, I wouldn't have coped with this. They helped me with everything. My boyfriend was also a great support for me. No matter how optimistic you are, if you are left alone with your problems, it's extremely difficult to cope with them.
To be continued.
May 17th, 2012, 10:52 AM
sovsport.ru: Sovestkiy Sport Interview (http://www.alisakleybanova.ru/en/news/173,sovsportru-sovestkiy-sport-interview.html)
The following is an extract of the recently published lenghty interview to the Sovestkiy Sport magazine.
The Rome tournament, which is the last major warmup before the French Open, is about to start. Unfortunately, Alisa Kleybanova, a former Top 20 player and cancer survivor, is not among the players confirmed.
SS: Alisa, are you still suffering from a shoulder injury?
Alisa: To be honest, that just muscle overuse. Now I know that my comeback to tennis was too early. Of course, I was really happy to win my first-round match, but had no gas in the tank left.
SS: But you said that from a medical point of view, there were no contraindications...
A: Yes, it's true. The tests showed that I had recovered completely. Doctors didn't object to me coming back to the courts. We began our preparations, building up my form. After the Miami tournament, I was scheduled to play in Madrid, but decided not to play before Rome, almost a home tournament for me. In the second set of my first match in the prequalies, I could hardly move. I had to play my next match on the next day and couldn't recover. It was a strange feeling.
SS: So what are your plans?
A: I need to have a thorough examination of my body, not in terms of being healthy/unhealthy, but rather in terms of the recovery process and how it works. Through friends I found a medical centre ready to provide me with appropriate services. For the time being, I have to take another break from competitive play.
SS: So your problems on the court seem to be purely physical problems. What about your technique? Has it been affected after such a long break?
A: It's surprising, but not. Could compare it to riding a bike.
SS: Why did you choose Italy and an Italian hospital to have treatment?
A: I chose the hospital Perugia which is a 5-minute drive from my house. I'm quite lucky because this hospital is one of the best in Europe at treating cancer.
SS: The treatment must have been very expensive...
A: I didn't have to pay a penny for it. I had very good US insurance.
SS: I'm unable to picture myself in your place when you heard about it for the first time... What was going on in your head? Did you cry?
A: Believe it or not, but I didn't cry. I'd say that somewhat I felt relieved.
A: For a few years I didn't know what was going on with my body. I went through innumerable colds and so on. During the season I played on antibiotics and cortisone sprays, and all this in a complete absence of asthma. And then finally I got a clear diagnosis, a clear plan of action with good chances of winning.
SS: What was the worst on the road to recovery?
A: The first seix months in hospital. Chemotherapy. When my hair began to fall out. It was scary.
SS: How did you amuse yourself in those days?
A: I was reading, watching TV...
SS: Did you watch tennis?
A: No, not at all. My friends in Perugia are not tennis people. They were interested in tennis only because I was a tennis player.
Thank you, Veronica, for posting this interview :)
Hope Alisa gets fitness back. I'm happy to hear that it is not a cancer relaps, but just a need to get her form back.
Alisa, if you read this board, we love you and miss you and hope you'll be back before long :bounce: :hug:
Feb 18th, 2013, 06:51 PM
Kleybanova Plots Return After Two-Year Cancer Fight
By BENJAMIN SNYDER
Raymond McCrea Jones for The New York Times
Alisa Kleybanova playing at the United States Open in 2009.
Alisa Kleybanova of Russia, a former top 20 player who has won two WTA singles titles, plans to return to competition by the middle of this season, a considerable accomplishment for an athlete who has been fighting cancer for the past two years.
“I’m looking for this year for sure, and actually the first half of the year, I think,” said Kleybanova in a telephone interview from West Palm Beach, Fla., where she is training. ”I don’t know right now if it’s going to be two months, or three months, or four months, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll start playing before the summer.”
Although Kleybanova, 23, said she is “not even training at full power” now and doctors have not released her to play tournaments, she’s confident about her recovery and, eventually, playing a complete tournament schedule. “I’m a fighter, I’ve been a fighter through my whole life, and I’m sure I can do it again. It’s just about working hard, taking your time, and being patient in what you do.”
In 2010, Kleybanova won titles at Kuala Lumpur in February and Seoul in September and achieved her career-best No. 20 ranking in February 2011. As the season wore on, however, fatigue set in and she complained of continual flu-like symptoms.
At the Italian Open in Rome in May 2011, she found herself unable to recover after a first-round win against Varvara Lepchenko of the United States and had trouble moving in a second-round 6-3, 7-5 loss to Israel’s Shahar Peer. She decided to stop playing to seek out an explanation. That’s when doctors diagnosed her with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
She revealed the diagnosis on the WTA’s Web site on July 15, 2011, her 22nd birthday.
Ten months later after receiving treatment in Perugia, Italy, Kleybanova secured a wild card into the Sony Ericcson Open in Miami in March 2012. Although she won her first test against Sweden’s Johanna Larsson, she fell in the next round to Maria Kirilenko of Russia in straight sets.
Looking back, Kleybanova said that she may not have been ready to compete but that she doesn’t regret playing. “I was really looking forward to being back,” she explained after a training session with her coach, Julian Vespan. “I decided to play Miami because I took a chance and they gave me a wild card.”
Despite the victory in her first comeback match, she said she realized that her body wasn’t ready for a full competition load.
Now ranked No. 548, Kleybanova said she is looking forward to being medically cleared and getting back to competition. She said she was unsure about the type of tournament she’ll enter: a large event with the help of a wild card or a smaller event to help raise her diminished ranking.
“I feel like I need to test myself before I go on a big court because as I said it’s been too much time since I’ve been out,” she said. “I need to be sure, I don’t want to risk my health, and I don’t want to go to the important tournaments, play very tough matches from the beginning and not sure that I can do it.”
Kleybanova, also a former Top 10 doubles player, plans to play both singles and doubles upon her return. “I’m thinking to play singles, that’s the most important part. I’m thinking to play doubles as well, especially in the beginning to get more tournaments to get more matches going on,” she said. “Especially in the beginning, I will need some matches.”
In January, before the Australian Open, Ross Hutchins of Great Britain revealed his own fight with Hodgkin’s lymphoma on Twitter. “Unfortunately I will be away from tennis for a while as I was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” he wrote. “I am doing well, very positive with excellent medical support, friends and family around me.”
After hearing of Hutchins’ diagnosis, Kleybanova said she sent him an e-mail at the beginning of February. “He has to know that in case he needs to talk or say something, I’m always there,” she said. “I didn’t want to disturb him too much because, for sure, he has plenty of people around him at the moment saying many different things.”
In an interview with The Telegraph in London, Hutchins called Kleybanova’s success an inspiration. “Everyone says take it easy, but I am a positive person and I will be looking to make it back onto the court as soon as possible,” he said. “I saw that Alisa Kleybanova was back in 10 months. I’d like to play again before the end of the year, maybe be ready for Australia next year.”
Kleybanova said she believes that being an athlete has helped give her the strength to keep going. “I’ve been doing sports since I was so little. I had my goals in life and troubles and problems. You learn how to be a champion since very little,” she said. She began playing professionally at age 14.
Kleybanova said she did not have lofty goals about regaining her ranking quickly. Instead, she said, she’s realistic about what’s next.
“I didn’t play a match yet so it’s too early to think about the ranking, how as far as I can go,” she said. “Nobody knows it until I start playing. I want to take it step by step.”
And, she added, “If I can be a little bit of an example for certain things I will be very happy about it.”
Feb 18th, 2013, 09:00 PM
Finally some news :D
thanks for posting
Feb 20th, 2013, 07:40 AM
She posted it also in her first tweet since last May! Good to hear!
Feb 20th, 2013, 08:18 AM
Great news indeed, look forward to her healthy return on the courts :bounce:
Feb 22nd, 2013, 09:13 PM
Good luck Alisa :hearts:
May 1st, 2013, 11:21 AM
KLEYBANOVA IS TOP PICK IN MYLAN WORLD TEAMTENNIS ROSTER DRAFT
Cancer survivor Alisa Kleybanova (pictured to the right) was selected by the Springfield Lasers (http://www.SpringfieldLasers.com) with the first overall pick in todayís 2013 Mylan World TeamTennis Roster Draft at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif. The former world No. 20 will make her Mylan WTT debut on July 8, when Springfield hosts the Boston Lobsters (http://www.BostonLobsters.net).
Kleybanova was diagnosed with Hodgkinís lymphoma in May 2011. She successfully returned to action in Miami last year, winning her first round match, but decided she was not healthy enough to return to the WTA Tour. The Russian has been training off the court and is looking forward to playing her first Mylan WTT season.
ďIt looks very exciting and tough,Ē said Kleybanova."But I love challenges, so I'm ready to take the opportunity to participate in Mylan WTT this summer!Ē
May 1st, 2013, 07:16 PM
Great way to come back, through WTT. Hope to see her :yeah:
Oct 17th, 2013, 10:49 PM
Alisa Kleybanova says that her main focus these days is getting enough matches in so she can possibly return to the top 20 someday, but the Russian, who had to battle cancer before launching a full scale comeback last spring, is also enterprising.
She and her longtime coach, Julian Vespan, are preparing to open a new tennis academy in Florida.
The Vespan Tennis Academy will feature 24 clay courts and eventually some hard courts. Kleybanova will train there and eventually coach there.
“We recruit good, serious players,” she told Sport Express. “We want to have wide coverage too: beginners, kids and adults. We have a good chance to do everything at a high level. We have traveled a lot, seen a lot of things, so we know how it works. I’ll take an active part in the life of the academy. In the future I plan to switch completely to work there. If something does not work out with my career or when I retire, I would like to continue as a coach.”
The 24-year-old Kleybanova says that she and Vespan make a perfect tandem and that they are like brother and sister. “ We are best friends for life,” she said. “I think it’s a great opportunity. We always support each other, and I have no doubt that we will succeed if we stick together. Not only in terms of tennis, but also in terms of the development of the academy. Rarely in life do you find people who you can trust more than yourself.”
Kleybanova added that the reason that they decided not to open the academy in Russia is her home country’s financial situation is more precarious, the weather isn’t nearly as good and because more people play tennis in Florida in general.
“In Florida, it’s almost everyone’s favorite sport,” she said.
Like many players say and have experienced, it is tough to find the right coach, hence the constant hirings and firings on tour. A coach is not just someone to hand out technical and strategic advice. Given how lonely it often is on the road, he or she is often a confidante.
“It is very difficult,” Kleybanova said. “There are good professionals, but it is necessary that the person is suitable. After all, you spend most of the days of the year with your coach. A lot of stress, difficult travel, and it’s with this person that you associate the most stressful moments in your life. Finding exactly the right person is extremely difficult. There are athletes who have a purely professional relationship with their coach, others have relationships outside the court. I will not name names, but I have seen many such [romantic] relationships.”
A two-time title winner on the WTA, Kleybanova says that young players must be careful when it comes to selecting coaches. She said that while there are some upstanding citizens in the coaches ranks, there are also some “charlatans” among them.
“They try to chase players who aren’t playing well, and promise them that everything right. We are a trusting people,” she said. “A lot of players are alone, and they have no one to turn to. And there are people who want to take the opportunity to grab a piece of you. When you start your career, it is easy to get into that situation.”
Kleybanova, who is still hovering outside the top 200, has only used three of her protected ranking tournaments, but needs to use up her other five by May 2014. She has already used up her sole Grand Slam allotment at the 2013 US Open and plans on using her two Premier Mandatory allotments at 2014 at Indian Wells and Miami.
Alisa Kleybanova has had her fair share of battles off the court in recent times, having been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2011, but now the 24-year-old Russian is looking to put that in the past and focus on helping Russia to win the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas title.
Kleybanova takes a different approach into training as a result of her illness and after hitting with the Russian team on Thursday at the Tennis Club Cagliari she explained what it means to be competing in the Fed Cup Final.
"I’m looking forward to play in front of the crowd because it gives me a lot of positive energy, even if they are rooting for the Italians," she said. "It's better than nobody watching. I’m really looking forward to it because there will be a lot of energy and emotions."
It might be a sporting cliche to say that it's the taking part that counts but for Kleybanova that old adage rings particulary true at this time in her career.
Having fought her way back into the Top 200, the Russian - who has a career-high ranking of No. 20 - is looking to use the experience of playing in her first Fed Cup Final as a training exercise as much as anything.
"Mentally I am ready for things not to work out because I still really want to enjoy my time," she said. "I want to feel like I finished a good year and mentally be positive the next year.
"Our team is pretty positive. We shouldn’t be upset by a bad day. We have to be happy: we’re playing tennis, we’re playing for our team, our country, we’re proud of it and we are in a great place. Everything is very good.
"Fed Cup is very different and it’s much harder for most players than just a normal tournament because the atmosphere is much more stressful and there is a lot of pressure and it’s a lot of responsibility."
Kleybanova is back and with her mental strength she could cause problems.