May 1, 2009

Nadia Petrova

(info about Nadia Petrova)

The international point of view of professional tennis

Thomas Kieller

Photo – Copyright Getty Images

Nadia Petrova: In the game.

With her strong forehand and backhand, Nadia appreciates controlling the game… At her best, she gets a point by moving her opponent all over the place while giving her continuous pressure. From the back of the court, she can easily make long exchanges where she gets her advantage. Sometimes, the Russian player adventures to the net in order to finish the point. Besides, she affirms her game even more with her powerful and well placed serves. Well, she has beaten many top players of the Women’s Tennis Association such as Justine Henin, Martina Hingis, Monica Seles, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. The list of great players who have fallen before her is quite long. Note that she has won nearly ten tournaments in singles and fifteen others in doubles. We can remember also her victory at the Fed Cup in 2007 along with Anna Chakvetadze, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Vesnina by beating easily the Italian team. Yes, she has numerous victories to her credit. For this Muscovite, there are still some beautiful triumphs in her near future. Indeed, tennis has a predominant role in her life, but in fact she is truly passionate about sports. Nadia is always ready to discover new sensations. To be active it’s something that has always given her good thrills…

The interview took place on October 28, 2008 at 14:25 in the press conference room of the Challenge Bell tennis tournament of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in Quebec City, Canada. It was done in English.

Prelude – Nadia arrives to the press conference room quite relaxed after she defeated easily a newcomer who is one of her fellow citizens of Russia, Maria Mokh, by the score of 6-1, 6-2.

International aspect of playing tennis

Thomas Kieller: As a professional tennis player, you have to travel a lot. In 2008, you did 24 tournaments and you have already done 65 matches. You played tennis in Australia, France, United Arab Emirates, United States, Germany, Italy, Turkey, England, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Russia and Switzerland. Impressive! How do you deal with all this travelling while competing well?

Nadia Petrova: With every year which goes by, you get more and more used to this. Your body understands more what you have to do before and after travelling. Wherever we arrive for a tournament, we have only one or a couple of days to relax before we jump on the practice court or go to the gym. What really works well for me is when I travel I like to have a good meal before I go in the plane because the food is not that great there. Obviously, I drink a lot of water because you lose a lot of fluid when you fly in an aircraft. It’s the different air pressure that does this. Also, I walk in the plane in order to stretch out my body and it helps me a lot. And where you arrive, it is also very important to have a good meal again, a nutritious one to help your body recover as fast as possible. As soon as I check into a hotel, I change myself into my sport’s gear and I go to the gym to run. This way, I let the blood go through all the parts of my body.

Thomas: I know that when you were younger you had to travel a lot with your parents. Can you tell me the reasons why?

Nadia: Both my parents are athletic coaches. When I was 12 years old, we moved from Moscow, Russia to Cairo, Egypt because my father was invited by the Egyptian Athletic Federation to help their athletes. It’s why all the family moved. I grew up in a completely different environment. It is also there that I started my tennis career and of course all the travelling began.

Thomas: Did this early travelling help you for your job?

Nadia: Yes, I always liked to travel when I was a kid. It was very exciting for me then and I still enjoy it very much because I get to see the world and visit new countries. I get to learn new things and new cultures. I will just say it is a very good life experience.

Thomas: There is a big difference between the culture of Russia and Egypt. Did you learn a lot about this experience? Moreover, was it tough at 12 years old to leave your friends behind?

Nadia (sighs): Well, at that time, I did not have really very good friends. From that time, I just had a couple that I’m still keeping in touch and whenever I’m home I see them. Besides, it was not that difficult because in school there are a lot of kids and I made friends quite easily. However, the religion and the lifestyle were completely different. Of course, you understand that we had to adjust to it as foreigners, but on the other hand it did not really bother us so much because the people were super nice and friendly. They were really respectful. It was actually a great time for me there.

Thomas: And again, as a professional tennis player, you travel to many different cities. Do you take time to open your eyes to the cultures and what do you like to experiment in each city?

Nadia: I have to say that we spend a lot of time in the tennis club, on the tennis courts and in the hotels. Whenever I have the chance, I really like to go out and explore the city where I am, do a little of sight seeing and maybe go to the local restaurant in order to taste the local foods. Also, I like to see what is happening around in order to see how the people are living and try to understand them a little bit more and maybe learn something out of it.

Thomas: Of course… And you say that you like to experiment the local food?

Nadia (exalted): Oh yes! When it comes to food, I am very excited about it and I really like to experiment different things. It’s something I like to do.

Thomas: By the way, what are your favourite cities to travel to and what are you looking for?

Nadia: What really attracts me in a city is the history such as Rome, Italy. It is one of the cities which attracts me the most. Just thinking that two thousand years ago, the people were living in these buildings. When you see the ruins, you can simply imagine them being there. And now, here we are in the same place, this is why I really like it.

Thomas: On the other hand, can the all year travelling affect your performance on the tennis court?

Nadia: Yes, it affects me like it does for the other players because we spend a lot of energy while travelling and of course it is not the healthiest thing to do. In brief, we are in planes for many hours, we continually change continents and there is also the time difference to consider. So, you really have to be smart with your tennis schedule and you have to give yourself some weeks just to stay in one place and take some time off to recharge yourself.

Thomas: So, you have to find a way to relax between travelling?

Nadia: Yes absolutely and you have to do the things you like. Some days you have to forget about tennis and exercise in order to let the body rest.

Thomas: About your personal relations, do you phone, chat or email with your boyfriend, family and friends?

Nadia: We get in touch through some chats, messages and swapping emails. Anyway to stay in touch is good.

Thomas: Is distance a big factor in your life and is it the most difficult part in all of this?

Nadia: Well, the only thing I can say about distance is that it is really hard to have a relationship because you spend so much time away. On the other hand, I have just a few friends that I can really tell that they are really good friends because distance is a good test. With time, I know who my real friends are.

Thomas: I know that you reside in the area of Monte Carlo in Monaco, is it because it’s a central point in Europe or is it for the good weather?

Nadia: Yes, the location is fantastic for living there and you can play all year round outside. It’s very close to any destination and it is quite near to the major airports. So, these are the factors.

Thomas: However, when you have some free time, do you go back to your Moscow roots?

Nadia: I like going back to Moscow because my parents are not travelling with me and I feel I have to see them and spend some time with them because they miss me very much and I’m still there kid. So, I have to go there and at the same I visit also my friends.

Thomas: And what do you like when you go back to your homeland?

Nadia: Well first of all, I don’t do any sport activities. I don’t play and I don’t practice, but I spend some good time with my friends. We like getting together in cosy cafés, go for a walk, go see a movie or even go out together. So, we are just spending as much time as possible together. When I’m home with my parents, I always ask my mother to prepare the dishes I like and every single day she cooks something different because when I’m on the road I cannot eat her good home cooking.

Thomas: What kind of Russian dishes do you like?

Nadia: It is completely different from here. In Russia, we make soups that you cannot find elsewhere and some other typical salads, meats and sausages. I like pretty much everything in Russian cooking. Even the bread is different; the ones we have are probably difficult to find outside our country.

Thomas: So, in Moscow you relax and enjoy life?

Nadia: Yes absolutely, I stay up late. I do pretty much what I want but of course I have to watch a little bit what I eat.

Passion for sports

Thomas: Like you told me, you come from a family with a sport’s background. Do you need an active lifestyle to be happy? I’m not talking about your job…

Nadia: Yes, for example when I take some time off, after a while I will feel the need to do something. I like waking up in the morning and going for a run, go swimming in the ocean or in a swimming pool. I like to be active. I like walking and I do this a lot if I’m not flying in a plane. When there are some friends, we can play some games like beach volleyball, beach soccer and even golf. There is always some kind of sport activity involved in my life.

Thomas: Your father, Victor Petrov, was a hammer thrower and your mother, Nadejda Ilina, was a runner1. Did they show what you can realize in sport?

Nadia: I grew up around my parents who were always practicing or preparing for a competition and I really enjoy it. I knew that one day I will become a professional athlete but I just did not know what kind of sport I would be doing. One day, my parents took me to a tennis court. I have to say that it was something that I had already done after school. After some time, I really liked it and as time went on I started playing some International Tennis Federation tournaments. Well, I was successful right from the beginning. Then, I realized that I wanted to do this.

Thomas: And now, are you the kind of person who would like to try every sport?

Nadia (says with joy): Yes, I really enjoy sports. Whenever there is an opportunity to do something new, I give it a try because I want to know how it feels while doing the activity and also I want to understand what kind of effort you need to do to be good in it.

Thomas: Thank you Nadia2.

1. Nadia’s mom won the bronze medal at the Montreal Olympics Games (1976) in the 4 x 400m relay run.

2. For the purpose of this story, Nadia won the tournament in Quebec City four days later by beating Bethanie Mattek by the score of 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.