well done Barbora
March 25, 2004
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Getting to Know...
Former ITF Junior World Champion Barbora Strycova has had limited experience so far in WTA Tour events, but she’s certainly made the most of her opportunities. The Czech teenager's first two Tour main draws were in Grand Slam events, both times as a qualifier. At Wimbledon last year (her WTA Tour debut), she lost a heartbreaker in the first round against Tatiana Perebiynis 11-9 in the third set.
Then at the Australian Open in January, she reached the second round, where she pushed world No.25 Lina Krasnoroutskaya to three sets before losing.
Qualifying for her first regular Tour event at the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, Barbora scored her career-best win over world No.35 Eleni Daniilidou en route to the fourth round.
Not at all daunted by the prospect of taking on world No.1 Justine Henin-Hardenne, Barbora relished the opportunity. After overcoming early nerves, she led the Belgian 4-1 in the second set before Henin-Hardenne recovered to win 63 64.
"She proved in the last few days that she's very good player," said Henin-Hardenne of Strycova after the match. Strycova, who turns 18 on March 28, received an early birthday present on Monday, debuting in the Top 100, a 105-spot in the past 12 months.
Barbora has been working with her current coach, Jan Havel, for the past four years, and the partnership has produced some impressive results, winning the 2002 and 2003 Australian Open girls’ singles titles and two ITF Women’s Circuit singles titles.
WTATour.com chatted with Barbora in Indian Wells.
When did you begin playing tennis?
I started when I was four-years-old. My sister played so my parents got me to try it when we were at the club with my sister one time. I also did figure skating, but I had to choose between tennis and figure skating. I had more fun with tennis. Plus it hurt when I fell in figure skating and it was dangerous. But I still do it sometimes because I love it. But it's dangerous with my tennis career now.
How does it feel to reach the fourth round of Tier I tournament?
I feel so happy. I was nervous before my (second round) match against Daniilidou. I never played her before and she's a seeded player. I thought I could win so I played better and better. It's a great win for me, my biggest win. It feels so great.
What do you like to do when you're not on the tennis court and can get away for a little bit?
I still have to do school. I like going to the cinema, inline skating and golf. That's my new thing, golf. I played golf in Bradenton and it was so relaxing and it's something different. I'm also getting my driver’s license now, so I like to practice.
Being a professional tennis player requires a lot of traveling. How do you feel about traveling and what is your favorite location?
Oh, I love to travel, I really do. I love Australia — the people and the atmosphere and the weather. I would like to go to Russia though; never been there. If I could live anywhere I would live in Australia or Sweden.
Who have you admired in the tennis world?
Steffi Graf was my hero. She was unbelievable on the court and behaved so well on the court. I want to be like that — the way she carried herself on court.
You seem like a very energetic person, one that doesn't like to stay still. When you have a day off, what do you like to do?
I hate a day off; I feel like I'm wasting time. I have to study but it's hard because I can't focus. I guess on my day off I'll play golf and try and stay busy all the time.
Does your family ever travel with you?
My father traveled when I was 12 and 13 but I didn't like that because he made me nervous. My mum can't watch, because she gets so nervous—she can't even look at me. My sister studied law and lives in US now.
Do you enjoy playing doubles? Or are you focusing on your singles career right now?
I love doubles. It's so fun and I'm not nervous on the court because I have someone next to me.
What makes you different from other people? What sets you apart?
I'm a little bit crazier than other people. I like to do crazy things, like jump in the pool with clothes on! And I love to smile.
BARBORA STRYCOVA FACT BOX
March 28, 1986 in Plzen, Czech Republic
Plzen, Czech Republic
Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Started playing tennis:
No.97 in singles; No.237 in doubles
2002 ITF Junior girls' singles World Champion; also doubles No.1 during 2002; winner of 2002-03 Australian Open girls' singles titles; best Tour result is 4r finish at 2004 Indian