Former World No. 8 Mikhail Youzhny has graduated from the University of Moscow with a PhD in Philosophy. In a ceremony held at the Russian State University of Physical Education, Sport, Youth and Tourism on 15th November, the Russian tennis player answered approximately 20 questions about his work before all 16 members of the scientific council approved his PhD.
"I took my coach (of 17 years), Boris Sobkin, and my family and friends as well, and the guy who helped me with the degree," recalled Youzhny, speaking from Thailand, where he has trained every off-season since 2000. "There were some professors from the university there. I was a bit nervous because it was something new, itís not like a tennis match Iím going to play, which I do every week. I was answering questions and reasoning, so of course itís different. But actually, when I think about what I said, itís my life, what Iím doing every day on court."
The 29-year-old Youzhny began studying for the degree in 2005, knowing that with limited free time as he competed on the ATP World Tour 11 months of the year, it would take him longer than the usual three-year period to complete it.
"I didnít mind if it took 5, 6, 7, 8 years, when I had some free time I could do it slowly," explained the Muscovite, who reached a career-high of World No. 8 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings in the midst of his studies in January 2008. "I feel good because I took the time to do what I wanted to do, I finished it, and Iím happy with that.
"I didnít work on the degree when I was at tournaments, but when I came back to Russia I would work on my degree and write about how I see situations: how I feel and explain how I feel about the attitude of tennis, the plusses and minuses, why you have to do certain things."
Youzhnyís work explores the philosophy and attitudes of tennis, and he hopes it will be of benefit to aspiring coaches and players.
"This is my life; I have played tennis on the ATP World Tour all my life," said Youzhny. "I wanted to explain to young players and give them some information about what I think about tennis. So it is mainly for young players and young coaches.
"I didnít do the degree to help my tennis career on the court, but maybe it can help some coaches working with young players. I speak about it to some young guys I see and how I think theyíre doing, but it is mainly for young coaches who want to be a good coach."
After completing his preparations in Thailand, where he is training with young players, Dr. Youzhny will begin his 2012 campaign at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha, before competing at the first Grand Slam of the year at the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Well done, sir. For some reason I didn't think he is an intelligent guy, I don't know why.