Re: Article : Dmitry Tursunov: Seriously funny
This was in the Aussie tennis mag and it shows that it's not just all the blog and cheap gags.
Dmitry Tursunov: Seriously funny
With his practical jokes, flip one-liners and wild internet raves earning him a reputation as one of the game's brightest characters, it's almost a shock to discover the serious side to Dmitry Tursunov. That's until you realise that the sacrifices he's made to survive on tour are no laughing matter. By Vivienne Christie
Dmitry Tursunov smiles and pauses to think. He's just been asked to describe his best-ever practical joke he's played in his travels on the ATP tour and it's obvious that the 25-year old Russian has plenty of material in the memory bank. He finally settles on the happy recollection from the Toronto Masters, when the hapless victim was none-other than World No, 1 Roger Federer. Sporting an opportunity before their fourth round match, Tursunov decided to steal his racquet bag.
"he was saying something to me right before the match, he was kind of joking around," Tursunov remembers. "He turns around and starts warming up. I take his bag and put it under the table... he was very good about it, but I won a set off him there, so I don't know if that helped."
Tales of similar stunts from Tursunov are plentiful. There was the time he was captioned in a magazine cover of Andy Murray with "Kudos to the make up artist" and stuck it in the locker room of Queens. On another occasion Tursunov was running late for a match in Monte Carlo and realised he'd only bought shirts bearing the Russian Davis Cup logos, he tore them off and slapped them onto the lockers of the French players he'd beaten the previous weekend.
And then there are the blogs. At Estoril 2006, Tursunov's irreverent take on tour life described among other things - the adventures of travelling with local drivers, gossip about who-might-be-dating-who and the intricacies of his doubles partnership with Marat Safin. "W e talked strategy for our next match and it was so great to really have a good heart to heart talk without all the girls running over and handing phone numbers to me and asking me to pass it to Marat".
With an army of new fans logging in to check such entries each day, Tursunov not only earned himself a regular gig as the ATP's resident blogger but also showed he's one of the funniest players on tour.
It's something of a surprise, then, to discover that in person the Russian is not as quick as you might expect with the flip one-liners. Instead, he's thoughtful and considered in his answer to every question, and if he notices that the allocated 15 minutes of interview time has stretched closer to 30, he's too polite to say.
We can't help but ask the quietly-spoken Tursunov whether the over-the-top internet reports gave fans an inaccurate perception of his personality. "I think every person is kind of multi-layered so that was one of the layers. It just happened to the bigger one," he explains. "I guess in a way it's a monster because I guess there's an expectation on me to be that certain way and when I'm not, people start to question 'well we read the on the blog and right now he's very serious'.
"They're very confused in that sense. Because when you don't know the person or you only know them through one interview or something, some sort of media, you really have a perception of that person, kind of stereotype. I feel like there's certain expectations of me to be all the time, to be a clown."
Discovering a serious side to one of the game's best known characters is less surprising when you hear his path to professional success - a journey mapped largely by Tursunov's strict and ambitious father, who brokered a complicated deal that saw the Russian leave his Moscow home a just 12 years old to train in Northern California. It's a period that Tursunov remembers with a mixture of pragmatism and poignancy.
"It's kind of an age where your parents tell you what to do... so it was good in the sense where I didn't have anyone tell me what to do, but it would have been nice if your parents were there at times and somebody to kind of support you and do a lot of things for you," he assesses. "I was lucky to have the people around me that kind of filled that void a little bit. They were sort of my second family so to speak.
The "second family" of whom Tursunov speaks consisted of long-time mentor Vitaly Gorin, whose father was friends with the Tursunov's in Russia. The pair trialled a one-month coaching partnership and 14 years later, Tursunov still trains at his Californian academy. This long and unique bond was boosted by Gorin's quick assessment of his young student, while he was clearly talented, he was also showing some obvious signs of early burnout.
"I had to stop practicing and go the Malibu raceway, go play video games," Gorin recounted to the New York Times in 2008. "With the amount of tennis forced on him, at some point, he would have broken and said 'Forget This.' I wanted to lighten the mood."
Gorin's sensitivity was especially important in light of Tursunov's isolation in his new country. He'd arrived with virtually no English skills ( he says he fine tuned his now near perfect grasp on it by reading comics and watching cartoons) and for a nine year period, saw his father three times and his mother just once.
Tursunov points out that he is not the only player who's made sacrifices to succeed on the ATP Tour, but also acknowledges that the long absence from his family ( he has a brother, Dennis, who is seven years older) permanently altered their relationship. "A lot of people seem to be really attached to their families, which I think is great, but I don't really understand it because I'm not that way," he says.
In fact, when Tursunov eventually returned home to Moscow as an accomplished professional almost ten years later, it was to a family that he barely knew. "It was really like meeting new people again for the second time. My mum just basically had to go through this thing where she still remembered what I was like and so she was acting with me, when I was already 22, like the way she would when I was 12.
"It was really just a very surreal experience because you know that they're your parents and you know that I'm their child but basically I don't know anything about them and they don't know anything about me."
As if those emotional hurdles weren't enough, Tursunov also endured some physical battles in his progression to professional success. While Federer can recall being intimidated by the junior Tursunov's massive groundstrokes, his chances to use them were seriously delayed when the Russian broke his leg shortly after turning professional in 2000.
Tursunov recovered to win three Futures events that year, but in 2001 he suffered a stress fracture in his back, with his recovery delayed by an initial misdiagnosis of a bulging disk. Tursunov was sidelined again when he suffered a second back fracture in a boating accident in 2004..
“ On Nadal bumping him on the changeover, Rosol said: "It's ok, he wanted to take my concentration; I knew he would try something".
Wilander on Dimitrov - "He has mind set on imitating Federer and yes it looks good. But he has no idea what to do on the court".
Machado wins 6-2 6-1
I definitely would have preferred Gaba winning as he needs the points much more, but Jan would have beaten him anyway. I expect Hajek to destroy Machado, like 6-1 6-2.
Last edited by Action Jackson; 06-05-2008 at 10:19 AM.