Tennis Forum banner

1 - 20 of 29 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
54,895 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
http://sport.guardian.co.uk/tennis/story/0,,2089296,00.html

Kuznetsova shows Brits the hard road to success



Russian diva grew up in conditions that were mentally very tough

Jon Henderson
Sunday May 27, 2007
The Observer



One of Russia's most consistent ova-achievers, Svetlana Kuznetsova, sets out a powerful case for Britain pulling down its recently opened, multi-million-pound national tennis centre and making players go away to do it on their own.

Kuznetsova does not put it quite like this, but the 21-year-old from St Petersburg, who will be trying to reach her second French Open singles final in successive years, has given Observer Sport an instructive account of how she succeeded in becoming one of 19 -ovas or -evas from eastern Europe who are in the women's top 100 (compared with zero Brits).

She recalls having to play in the bitter Russian winters without heating. 'We were playing inside but we couldn't afford to pay the gas and we didn't have electricity. We were playing in minus two degrees,' says Kuznetsova, who is number three in the women's tour rankings behind Justine Henin and the most celebrated of all the -ovas, Maria Sharapova.


'We've been through hard times in Russia,' Kuznetsova adds. 'Growing up it was very hard, which makes you work hard and mentally very tough, which is why we're so good now.

'You don't have money and so you look for free courts all the time because you cannot pay. You don't have coaches. You have to travel all the time by train because you cannot afford to fly. Sometimes you go to a tournament and you don't live in a hotel, you live in very cheap places. You share a room with people you don't know. It's a lot of stuff like that. You cannot afford many rackets and have only two of them.

'It makes you want it badly and when you start doing well you remember where you came from.'

Compare this with what aspiring British players now have at their disposal at the Lawn Tennis Association's £32million National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, south-west London: six indoor courts with underfloor heating, 16 outdoor courts, an expensively kitted-out gym, a sports science centre, a cafe serving high-quality food and overnight accommodation for 54 people. Anne Keothavong, Britain's number one, says: 'Whatever you need, you've got. You don't have to fight for a court like you did at Queen's [the LTA's former HQ]. Everything is much easier here.'

Everything being much easier might turn out to be the answer to Britain's failure to produce high-flyers, particularly on the women's side. For the moment, though, we can only observe as the eastern European players from straitened backgrounds carry off the booty.

Kuznetsova, who comes from a family of international cyclists but says 'I don't like cycling, tennis is my passion', has swept up £350,000 in prize money this year, which is nearly three times what Keothavong has banked in a professional career that started in 2001, a year after the Russian's.

Weakened by bronchitis, Kuznetsova made a slow start to the year and, although she still has not added to her career tally of eight titles, which include the 2004 US Open, she has reached the final of four big events since the beginning of March. 'It's going better and better. I'm really happy with my performances in Berlin and Rome,' she says, referring to the big two clay-court tournaments that precede Paris, in each of which she was runner-up.
Kuznetsova's athleticism, which helps her play close to the baseline and so shrink the target she offers to opponents, and a game that blends power with spin make her a formidable rival. The weakness that holds her back is the one that so often stops a very good player becoming a great one: the belief that she can cut it with the very best. She admits this a problem when she plays Henin, who beat her in straight sets in last year's Paris final. 'She is hard for me to play against,' Kuznetsova says. 'I've lost to her many times and sometimes it gets to my mind.'

Still, she nominates herself, Henin and Serena Williams, who won the year's first grand slam in Melbourne, as the leading contenders for the title, a list that is as interesting for the names it omits as those it includes. She is probably right to overlook Amelie Mauresmo, who is struggling to come back from an appendix operation, and Sharapova, who hates playing on clay and will regard the year's last two grand slams, Wimbledon and the US Open, as better opportunities to tease even more money from sponsors.

The player not on Kuznetsova's list who has caught everyone's eye in the build-up to Paris is the Serb Jelena Jankovic, who 12 months ago was close to giving up the game but shares with Henin the distinction of winning three titles this year. Last week, after beating Kuznetsova in the Rome final, Jankovic rose to a career-high four in the world rankings.
Kuznetsova's main problem is to convince herself she can win the title, which, considering what she has overcome to achieve so much in the women's game, seems a greater problem than you would expect it to be. If she fails this test of self-persuasion, expect the acutely competitive Henin to win for the fourth time in five years.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115,330 Posts
Sveta is good because she is a great athlete who works hard. Not because it was cold when she was young.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,895 Posts
Interesting although I'm not sure Sveta made the connection between British failure and the plush conditions, rather was just talking about her own 'roots'.

Note to the LTA: make it cold and rainy. Done!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,663 Posts
An ova-achiever? *Shudder* what awful punnage.
Second, as several people have pointed out, Kuzzy isn't really a diva.
If Kuzzy comes from a family of cyclist who have broken recors then surely they should have enough money to pay the gas bills????
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,922 Posts
An ova-achiever? *Shudder* what awful punnage.
Second, as several people have pointed out, Kuzzy isn't really a diva.
If Kuzzy comes from a family of cyclist who have broken recors then surely they should have enough money to pay the gas bills????
Yeah why don't they hook the bikes up to a power generator and get heat that way..:p :lol:
;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,663 Posts
Yeah why don't they hook the bikes up to a power generator and get heat that way..:p :lol:
;)
;)

But, seriously, Sveta's family can't have been poor, can they?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115,330 Posts
I don't think Sveta was saying she was poor. The tennis facilities in St. Petersburg, Russia weren't great. And she had to travel to play.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,922 Posts
Elena Baltacha also said last year that the Brit players have it way too easy. And she's one of them, so her statement should carry a lot more weight than the words of some journalist. Go Bally, keep telling it like it is! :worship:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
77 Posts
Yeah, well you see, when you have to fight for something, you learn how to fight and you carry on fighting all through your career. And the more you fight the more succesful you can be. If it's just given to you on a plate you don't learn how to fight... You don't fight in training, so you lack the physical and technical strengths, you don't learn how to fight in matches so you don't develop the mental toughness, you don't learn how to fight through injuries, so you just give up and don't do proper rehab... And there is the difference between number 10 and number 210.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
829 Posts
Unfortunately, despite all the records her father/mother held, they weren't that rich. I once remember someone mentioning that Sveta's one year worth of tennis training is the cost of the entire cycling team. So I believe that they were definitely having a hard time, but I think the enduring paid off big time. Things didn't come easy for those Russian players and players from other countries, look at Maria, look at Justine, look at Diementieva, Serena & Venus, Myskina, they all suffered hardship or played in less then ideal conditions before they win big titles. The Spartac club didn't have underfloor heating, the tennis courts in Compton didn't the best lightings, and certainly the club that Justine grew up on in Belgium didn't have a gym facility. Their experiences early on in their lives makes them mentally stronger, more hungry, and certainly drove them to become who they are today. If LTA thinks that they can pour in money and things would automagically work, then they are in big trouble because the players will have it easy, and they will lack the drive, the determination and the hunger.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115,330 Posts
It's not just hardships. Peyton Manning is one of the most successful athletes in the world, and his dad was also a star athlete. That happens all over the place. Bobby and Brett Hull, Bonds, Griffey, Simms.
In tennis, Carling Bassett's dad was a billionaire.

It takes talent and desire.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Sammm

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,717 Posts
Interesting because I brought to your attention back in March the article Jon Henderson wrote about Ian Wight's speech re only encouraging middle class people here in Britain to play Tennis because they will display a more intelligent Tennis game due to a better education. Ian Wight is the chairman of the Stella Artois Championships at Queens.

I corresponded with Jon via email in March and gave him a link to the forum where one of my members brought up the subject. He was pleased his article got such a good response so he must have decided to follow up this line. I sent him another email a couple hours ago so I look forward to his response.

http://www.svetlanakuznetsovafans.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=21
 
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
Top