... but lost the first round. oh well, at least they had fun.
Who Calls the Shots?
by Jordan Chong
Saturday, 21 January, 2006
The personal and professional worlds of Carlos Moya and Flavia Pennetta collided at Melbourne Park on Friday when the pairing took to the court for their opening round mixed doubles clash.
The pair, who have been an item for a couple of years, decided to enter in the event after Moya was eliminated from the men's singles by Andrei Pavel early in the tournament.
While it was an unsuccessful Andre Agassi who tried to coax wife Steffi Graf out of retirement to play the mixed at the French Open several years ago, Pennetta proved more influential on her partner on this occasion.
"I was going to be around a couple of days so it was better to play than just waiting for her matches," 29-year-old Moya said afterwards.
"Maybe she has more influence than (Andre)!"
Unfortunately, despite being on the same wavelength off the court, the challenge of combining together on it proved too much, with the combination losing 6-4 6-4 to the Australia-Japan union of Wayne Arthurs and Ai Sugiyama.
Speaking after the match, Moya said doubles was never his strong suit and while they enjoyed a rare trip on the doubles court, both agreed to leave it as a one-off exercise.
"I'm not used to playing doubles at all and I was a little bit lost, but I think it was a good experience," Moya said.
"It was just to have some fun and we did. That was the important thing. It was just one match to have fun. That was it."
Moya said the relationship worked because both understood the pressures and stresses that go with being a professional tennis player, something a lay person might struggle to come to terms with.
"It's good to have somebody that makes the same work as you do and is working at the same thing.
"It's easy for us to understand each other which I think makes a big difference than if your boyfriend or girlfriend is somebody that doesn't know about your work at all.
"In that sense, it's much better. We understand each other very well."
They reside in Mallorca, Spain - Moya's home country - but given the nature of the tennis tour they spend long periods apart, managing to play in the same city for the Grand Slams and only a handful of other tournaments.
"I think you have to be smart to see what's convenient for your career and you have to forget a little bit about feelings when it comes to your career," Moya said.
"To me it is easy, with her being a tennis player than not being a tennis player. We know about our jobs, we know what it takes if you want to be a top player and I think that's something that regular people (don't understand).
"It's hard when we both play different tournaments but if you're travelling, even if she wasn't a tennis player, we wouldn't be together that much."
A small indication of how the relationship might have benefited 23-year-old Pennetta can be gleaned from her 2005 results.
Last year, the Italian won two titles - at Bogota and Acapulco - en route to achieving a career-best ranking of world No.23 and edging closer to her goal of reaching the Top 10.
In addition, Pennetta made the fourth-round at Wimbledon and was a semi-finalist at Modena and Palermo.
She also captured her first doubles title at Los Angeles with Elena Dementieva, with whom she made the final at the US Open.
She felt she has learned a lot from being with Moya, the 1998 French Open champion.
"We never talk about tennis but I think for me, it's a good influence to stay with him because he is a great champion so it's better for me to stay with him," the softly-spoken Pennetta offered, preferring to leave the answering of most questions to Moya.
"He's a very good boyfriend," she added.
Moya quickly responded: "What else is she going to say!"
Pennetta, the No.20 seed at Australian Open 2006, lost to No.16 seed Nicole Vaidisova in the third-round on Saturday in the first match on Show Court Two.