Hi all, I was looking on the web if I could find some info on Vera in Amsterdam at the moment, and then I found this interview which I never read before or has been posted here. It was done back at the end of 2010 when Vera was still nr. 2 in the world and it was published in a Dutch tennis magazine. It has some funny details about Vera I never knew and thought it would be nice share with you. The article is in Dutch and you can translate this in Google or so of course, but I have translated for you anyway below.
Vera Zvonareva rehabs in Amsterdam
Crazy on Frikandellen (frikandellen are meatrolls/snacks you can get in Dutch/Belgian cafetaries)
Vera Zvonareva and Amsterdam. Probably no one will directly link the Russian topplayer and our capital. However since the world number 2 had surgery on her ankle in 2009, she regularly returns to the fysiotherapists where she had her rehab. “Because the way they work at Fysiomed, is unique’, says the 26-year old Moscovite. Tennis Magazine visited her in the centre of Amsterdam
Although she finished her last WTA match of 2010 almost a month ago at the championships in Doha, Vera Zvonareva already completed almost a week of fysical training in Amsterdam, as preparation on the tennis year 2011. ‘Although I am training here daily, I also feel I am relaxing in the meantime,’ she modeslty says with a smile on her face. ‘I am in a different environment than in Moscow and it turns out relaxing. I also find Amsterdam a very nice city. I do enjoy myself here very much. What I like is that everything is on a walking distance. From stores to restaurants and sight seeing. Great. The Leidseplein and surroundings I especially like. Also I would like to ride the bike here, because you Dutch go everywhere by bike, we don’t do that in Russia. I can ride a bike, but kids in Russia just learn that for fun. You won’t see anyone in Russia get their groceries at the supermarket by bike.’
When we ask her to name a similar city in Russia, Vera says without a doubt :’St Petersburg.’ She, who besides tennis also studies International Economics Relations, continues with an impressive lesson in history. ‘St Petersburg was founded by Peter the Great at the beginning of the 18th century. Peter the Great visted Amsterdam before that and was impressed from what he saw there. The cities can be compared now with eachother because of the canals. Just like Amsterdam, St Petersburg is known as a cultural city and you see a lot of young people on the streets there.’ How she knows this all? ‘My whole life I have enjoyed to learn new things. I loved going to school when I was young. I also only trained once a day, because I didn’t want to miss my class. I was just as focussed on school as I was on tennis, until suddenly I was a Top 100 player when I was 17.
Kroketten and Frikandellen
On the day we talk to her, there is already a pack of snow, and Zvonareva says with this cold, she also tried a typical Dutch delicacy. ‘Yes, pea soup, haha. Very good. I very much like travelling and everywhere I go, I want to try the local specialties. Syrup-waffles, frikandellen and kroketten (again, these are snacks you can get in Dutch and Belgian cafetarias), I have tried them all. It’s all yummy, but for an athlete not the best food there is…..’ So it’s for the better that Zvonareva trains many hours a day at Fysiomed, a sports medical centre which is also closely connected to the Dutch soccer team. Today we also see Khalid Boulahrouz, recovering from a spawn injury. But also Robin van Persie – with whom Zvonareva rehabbed after her surgery - , Dirk Kuyt and Clarence Seedorf are all positive on the practice of Leo Echteld and his team of specialists. ‘I especially come to Amsterdam, because you can come here for just everything you want’, Zvonareva says. ‘Everyone has his own specialty. In Russia we also have good specialists, but not in one centre. When I am here, I have all in one. Good treatments, some work outs and a nice atmosphere. It is also nice to work with different people. When you are stuck with one person only, the whole process gets a bit bored.’
Zvonareva is currently at the peak of her career : second place in World ranking, after reaching consecutive Grand Slam finals at Wimbledon and US Open. When she first came to Amsterdam at the end of 2009, the situation was somewhat different. In april that year, she twisted her ankle at the Charleston tournament. First the injury seemed not that bad, just a reconvery of a few weeks. ‘But at the end of the season, I was not able to walk for a month’, she says. A few times that year, Zvonareva returned on court too fast, what worsened the injury. Many treatments didn’t lead to recovery, but still she played a number of tournaments on 50 to 60% of her capability, like she says herself. A surgery was inevitable and so came Zvonareva, on advise of her close ones, to Dutch surgeon Niek van Dijk. After that she came to Fysiomed for rehab. ‘I was all alone in Amsterdam and taken care of by the people of Fysiomed. They came to my hotelroom to make sure my foot stayed up straight during the night and checked in the morning if I was fine. Also there was always someone to go with me when I had to go to the supermarket. I found the compassion very impressive.’ A major injury with top athletes often leads to a change of mentality. Zvonareva is no exception to that. ‘You wonder if you will ever be able to compete on the level you are used to, and then you suddenly realise how much you love the sport you do. I am now less result focused, but focus more on the proces to improve. Results will then follow on its own. In the past when I lost a match I thought it was the end of the world. I started to doubt myself. How can I lose after all that hard work? Now I am much more relaxed on that perspective. I know now there will be days, I will lose.’
Because of her more relaxed attitude, we do not see Zvonareva lose control on court that easily anymore. Before, the tyniest setback would cause local showers under her towel, during exchange. ‘It is OK to be emotional , but what matters is you use your emotions in a positive way. In the past I sometimes got too frustrated. On occasion it still happens, but in general I can control my emotions better. When I get frustrated, I just sometimes have to scream, or break a racket. It just gives a relief. When I take a new racket, I am already focused on the next point. I like to play with passion and I am not going to change that. I am and I will remain an emotional player. And there is nothing wrong with that.’
Russian number one
Being number one of your country is a special honour, but to become the best Russian tenniswoman, you must be capable of above average talent. And that already starts in juniors. ‘I grew up with Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dinara Safina, Vera Dushevina, Elena Vesnina and Maria Kirilenko’, Zvonareva says. Apart from Dushevina, whos top ranking was 31, they all reached at least top 25 of world ranking. ‘We used to play each other constantly and every time, someone else won. The atmosphere between us was very different then. We used to travel as a group with only one coach or parent, which made us feel like a team. Now on the WTA tour everyone has her own coach and own training programm. We are all now focused on ourselves.’ Zvonareva remains calm under the fact the is the best Russian now. ‘Of course it is nice, but rankings change so fast. I want to improve more, because there are still so many things I want to achieve.’ Zvonareva thinks the succes of the Russians will continue for a while to come. ‘Juniors from now have a strong faith in what they can do. They see us train many times next to them and they think they can reach that level as well.’