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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 10:51 PM   #1
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Articles and Interviews about Alisa

Getting To Know... Alisa Kleybanova


MELBOURNE, Australia -
If Russia's embarrassment of tennis riches seems to grow deeper by the season, it's because players like Alisa Kleybanova 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 Pavlyuchenkova; 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 Fès, 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 International 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. 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. 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 tennis 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 Williams 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, I’m 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, 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.
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Old Feb 16th, 2010, 10:03 PM   #2
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Re: Articles and Interviews about Alisa

Alisa has relaunched her official website www.alisakleybanova.ru/en

It really nice and pretty...
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Old Feb 16th, 2010, 10:38 PM   #3
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thanks,it looks really good
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Old Feb 18th, 2010, 01:00 PM   #4
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Re: Articles and Interviews about Alisa

are the links to follow her on twitter or facebook working for anyone?
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Old Feb 18th, 2010, 02:20 PM   #5
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Re: Articles and Interviews about Alisa

I really like her website - very nice
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Old Feb 18th, 2010, 05:08 PM   #6
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Re: Articles and Interviews about Alisa

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...
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Old Feb 18th, 2010, 05:10 PM   #7
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Re: Articles and Interviews about Alisa

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?
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 09:53 AM   #8
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Re: Articles and Interviews about Alisa

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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."
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 10:05 AM   #9
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Re: Articles and Interviews about Alisa

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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.
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Old Feb 27th, 2010, 06:15 PM   #10
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Re: Articles and Interviews about Alisa

Dementieva and Kleybanova to play in Final

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.
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Old Feb 27th, 2010, 06:53 PM   #11
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Re: Articles and Interviews about Alisa

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.
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Old Feb 28th, 2010, 05:42 PM   #12
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Re: Articles and Interviews about Alisa

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 Fès, 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.
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Old Mar 18th, 2010, 09:12 PM   #13
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Re: Articles and Interviews about Alisa

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.
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Old Mar 18th, 2010, 09:14 PM   #14
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Re: Articles and Interviews about Alisa

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?

http://www.thedailyforehand.com/2010...isa-kleybanova
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Old Mar 18th, 2010, 10:17 PM   #15
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Re: Articles and Interviews about Alisa

^^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).
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