Dinara Safina interview 2 June 2011 for sports. ru
Dinara Safina: ęAfter tennis I picture myself as a momĽ
Dinara Safina came to sports.ruís office to answer usersí questions. of course the conversation wasnít limited to that only. We talked for half an hour, and Dinara managed to discuss pretty much everything in the world. Why the Russian football players donít have fun playing? How many games can she win versus Marat? What type of cream one needs for tiramisu? The answers to those and other question can be found in our interview.
Q: In the last ten days the TV non-stop shows matches from Roland Garros. When you watch the matches, do you have the urge to be on the other side of the screen?
Dinara: Yes, it happens. But right after that I recall how much pain this causes me in this moment and quickly realize that to play now cannot even be discussed. Every sudden movement is a pain for me.
Q: What is the cause of the pain? What do doctors say?
D: I have fractures on both sides of spinal cordís branch (appendix). The fracture on the right side is very old, and is already healing. The fracture on the left side appeared on last yearís Australian Open. Despite the fact that it didnít fully heal, I kept on playing, and this caused an inflammation. The inflammation on its turn caused a bone blister. The bone blister is touching the nerves and the nerve affects the leg. All in all, it was very complicated. At the beginning I couldnít understand whatís going on. I was warming-up and the leg feels as if itís hit by electricity - once, twice, thrice. Have I tightened my tennis shoes too much? Not really. After practice I also felt weird, when I stepped on the leg. I flew to Madrid for a medical check - there appeared the nerve issue. They told me that I need time to heal - the swallen part starting to heal, as the fracture did.
Q: What was forcing you to play despite the pain? After all you have proven yourself to everyone long time ago.
D: Love for the thing you are doing. When you want it and like it, you are ready to suffer. You get used to the adrenaline that gives sports. If you cannot compete for one reason or another, you start missing it. All this was forcing me to play despite the pain and to come back after serious injuries.
Q; Vassiliy Beserutzkiy says that heíd long retire from football, if it wasnít for the money, they pay him.
D: probably in football everything is different. Our sport is not a team one, but individual. In football, in order to be center of attention, you have to score. Then you are a hero, fans love you, newspapers write about you. But how many goals can you score a season? If you are not Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, then not so many. Thatís why many players donít have much fun, I think. In tennis is all different - the fans come to watch not more than 20 people, but only two. When you serve you feel that the whole stadium is focused on you, and is expecting something from you. Believe me, I get shivers down my spine every time.
Q: Did it happen to play in front of empty court? Do problems with motivation appear in such case?
D: Yes, it happened. There is your coach, opponentís coach and few other people. To sum up there are more linesmen on court than spectators. Then you start asking yourself - what am I doing here? Thatís a job. You cannot do anything - such things just happen.
Q: How come, what are you doing here? Today you will play in front of empty seats, but tomorrow the court will be full.
D: It just happens like that that no one comes to watch. For instance, in Fes was like that. On Monday I played doubles - we go out on court, and there is no one in the stands. After that in singles matches the fans were only Russians. If it wasnít for them, I would play without spectators.
Q: Do you see yourself as a coach?
D: I would love to try. Probably itís an incorrect comparison, but thatís as mama says ďWhen you have a child, you will understandĒ . That is, as a player I cannot understand always what the coach asks for, or why is that necessary. At the end something doesnít work, you start getting nervous and be mad at the coach. It would be very interesting to be on the other side of such relation.
Q: What do you do, if the period, when something doesn't work out, is getting longer?
D: This should be dealt with together. If the coach sees that the player cannot do some exercise or a hit, they have to try to find a new approach to it. Sometimes the solution of
a problem is hidden in words. The coach is talking and talking, and you donít get what they want from you. Then they say the same thing in another way and you think - a-haaaa, thatís what they want! No matter that the exercise is one and the same.
Q: Do you picture Marat as your coach?
D: We already worked together. Of course for just a week, because we didnít have more time. Itís very interesting to work with him. Marat approaches the process hazardously, and big desire to help and all that makes it very difficult. He works up very quickly: come one 3 more balls, 5 more, 10 more. Marat made me practice so much that I barely stood on my feet. I say: at least let me drink some water. He replies: you already got tired? I start staring at him: well yes, I am totally tired already.
Q: Is it like with Marat only, or itís the same when you work with relatives?
D: Not only with Marat. No one would ever worry about you as much as mom, dad and brother. With an ordinary coach goes like that - it didnít work, well it didnít work, went home, all is good. But your relatives would not sleep at night, and will try to find a way to help.
Q: .Could a mom load her daughter fully in training? Or itís the opposite, will be more empathetic.
D: I wouldnít say so. When I was training with mom, we followed a plan. My mom made a practice schedule following the specifics of my physique. She knows what exercises tire me, and which tire me less. She had an opportunity to combine the exercises in an optimum way, so that I wouldnít be tired to death and yes all necessary exercises would be done. The parents bear more responsibility than an ordinary coach. The coaches are more calm, and at some points you see that thatís not good. You lose a match, another, a third and start worrying, enter a cycle, you approach the coach and they tell itís all good. How can it be good, if there are no results? You say that such way of work doesnít fit you, and the coach is stunned. Are you tired of tennis or what? They came to work in the morning, made a check on the working schedule, but have they done - no one knows. They lack fire in their eyes.
Q: Probably thatís because in tennis the coaches often remain in the shadow and donít get the deserved attention, compared to players?
D: I donít think thatís the reason. After all, during matches the coaches are shown on TV as much as the players, they mention them in the news articles, discuss them on internet. There would not be all these advantages if the player you are coaching plays bad and loses all the time. The coach is working, roughly, from 9 to 6, and somehow this time should be spent. So why donít they make it maximally effective, in order to be content afterwards. Of course there are not enough top players for all coaches, but nevertheless letís train a player who would never be number 1, but make them a bit better. Then you will be noticed by the one who is aiming at number 1 spot. If there a will, one could always find motivation.
Q: Which player do you consider the best in the moment?
D: I like Petra Kvitovaís and Masha Sharapova;s coaches. From my experience I can name Larisa Savchenko, who works with Russiaís national team. With her itís always interesting, the practice is fun. Of course, also Zeljco Krajan, who was my coach for a long time. He is very good coach.
Q: Do you regret quitting work with him?
D: It was already hard to work together. After the injury appeared kind of incomplete understanding. AS I said earlier, he is telling me something and I cannot understand what he wants. It was a tough moments, and many people could understand how can I give up the coach with whom I achieved such high results. But it appeared that our cooperation didnít bear any result anymore - only unnecessary tension for all.
Q: In tennis is there coach pirating?
D: I do not see myself in such situation. I havenít heard of such cases. Probably, if this happened, everyone would talk about it. I doubt it, thatís unethical. If once you do something like that, you will forever be the guy who is hated, enemy Nr. 1. Now people are not very nice to each other, let leave if something like this happens.
Q: Anastaia Myskina was saying that in her time the tennis players were more respectful to each other. Now everyone is more mean and think only of how to tear up the opponent.
D: I didnít catch Nastyaís time, but I think that back then the things were just like now. I doubt that something major changed - then and now every player wants to win.
Q: Do you have friends among the tennis players? People, whom you could call in the middle of the night and ask for something.
D: How do you think? In life - such thing is possible, but not in sport. Even in life such people are rare. Who would need you in the middle of the night? There are few people could I rely on in such situation. These are real friends, all the others are acquaintances. People, who you have met, with whom you can have a coffee, chat a little but nothing more.
Q: Often around athletes gravitate people, who claim to be their friends and use peopleís trust, search for personal benefit. Did you cross paths with such people?
D: No, and hardly such thing could happen, as I am pretty closed person. I feel uncomfortable with people I donít know well, and I do not let them in my private space. I communicate only with people I know for a long time.
Q: How do you picture yourself after tennis? Probably in journalistic fields, or in art? Or as a photographer - thatís quite popular now.
D: I have camera, but if only you see the pictures I am taking.... In one word I am unfortunate photographer. How do I picture myself? A mom! Thatís the most interesting. Itís difficult but your hands will be full - to feed, to put down to sleep, to babysit and so much more. Other than that, Iíd love to do something related to tennis. To help kids - to guide them, to recommend a tournaments, to hint to which academy to go. That is to work something that is close and well known to me. I cannot enter culinary, for example.
Q: Is it more interesting with kids, than with professionals?
D: In principle, both are interesting. Itís interesting to raise a kid, to help them develop. From the professionals is interesting to get them to the their maximum. There are many female players who circulate around top 100 for few years, but cannot make the tiny step to enter the top. Itíd be very interesting to help such player to reach their maximum - to get her from top 100, to top 90, top 80.
Q: What is needed to make a kid interested in tennis?
D: The kid must want this themselves - not the parents, the kid. Some people come to me ask to tell their daughter to start playing tennis. And every time I ask them ďWhy?Ē Sure, itís a beautiful sport, but that has to be pleasure. People who force their kids in tennis do not realize how hard it is, though. They see how girls run on court in pretty dresses, and wants to see their daughter doing that. But the parents donít think that all this comes with work beyond the limits, worries and tears.
Q: Thatís the problem with every type of sport, when entering in the professional field.
D: Thatís right. But let the kid realize on their own, whether they want this profession. One things is if the kid is lazy, the other is if it doesnít want to play. One has to feel this border.
Q: If they are lazy, let them lie on the coach and watch tennis on TV.
D: What if they are lazy, but very talented? All that has to be felt.
Q: In all cases, kids have to play sports, not professionally, but for good health. Could tennis be such sport? Itís not necessary for everyone to run after the ball.
D: Of course, but tennis has this specific that parents start to give their kids to individual practice very early. The kid is 4 years old, and already has individual sessions. Itís better to start with group practice - to play in doubles, or in quadrant - that would be more fun, the kid will put down their walls and will get pleasure. When the kid grows up, then the individual sessions could start. In tennis everything have to be gradual, the appetite must come while eating.
Q: What attracted you in tennis in your time?
D: The fact that it was really fun. On Shiryaevo Pole were always many kids, we made picnics, everyone brought something from home, and later shared it. You understand what I mean... Now there is nothing like this. The kid comes with bodyguard, trains, sits in the car and went home to play with babysitters. What is this?
Q: How is that in Europe?
D: Everything is more simple. They have let 10 people on court - all play together, have fun. But the results there are worse. One has to find the golden middle between Europe and Russia.
Q: Are you superstitious person?
D: Certainly. But I do not have any traditions or something - Iíd rather try to jump-start the luck. If I win a match, the warm-up before the next one I do the same exercises or I go to the same restaurant as before. If you lose, then you start changes - basically the restaurant, since there is not much else to change.
Q: What type of food do you like?
D: Italian, Thai, Indian, Chinese. I like best the Italian cuisine - itís diverse, tasty and good for the body. I like Asian cuisine, because I like spicy food.
Q: Do you cook?
D: I love to. My parents and Marat like how I do the carrot cake and tiramisu. When I have a recipe, where in details everything is written, there is nothing difficult to do it. Of course, I have failures. Once in Argentine I wanted to make tiramisu, but forgot to put the cream in the fridge. When I started mixing it, they spoiled everything. Another time I tried to cook meat. When buying it, I thought of having it boiled at first, but later reconsidered. I have prepared everything, put it in the oven and try to turn it on, but turns off by itself. I repeat, but the result is the same. Nothing worked - I only got pissed. Later I was told that there is a problem with the electricity, phases or something... The worst in the cooking process is washing the dishes, that are as high pile as a mountain. If someone would do that for me, Iíd cook every day.
Q: What is it more comfortable for you - to read recipes, newspapers, magazines, books using some gadgets or on paper?
D: I prefer to hold a book in my hands. Itís nicer, and the eyes donít get tired. I usually have both a both and an iPad, where the same book is downloaded.
Q: What other gadgets do you use?
D: I have iPhone, Blackberry, iPad, notebook, what else... pretty much everything. I use them only when necessary, I am not obsessed with them. I use them, as needed. But if you take my Phone and iPad now, Iíd calmly live without them.
Q: Have you been to the movies recently?
D: Long time ago, I want to go, but I donít have time. I have Black Swan for a long time. I know that itís sad story, but I still want to see it - after all it took Oscar.
Q: Do you prefer to watch movies in the cinema or at home, lying in the bad?
D: I guess in the cinema, because the movies watched in bed tune into a sleeping pill. I have fallen asleep in cinemas too, when I was tired. Last year in Australia we went to see Avatar and I was awake until I had popcorn. After that glasses on one side, myself on the other, and slept until the end.
Q: Do you watch TV shows?
D: I watch Desperate housewives, Prison Break, and I still cannot watch Lost until the end. From the Russian ones I caught Soldaty, when I lived in Argentina watched Margosha. Such shows are great when you are sad and miss Russia. Here I watched ďPapiny dochkiĒ. Itís a good show to watch while having breakfast.
Q: What type of music do you like?
D: Basically all types. I do not have certain preferences. I do not like Radio Moscow - they donít play good music. You drive your car, switch on, and all you hear is a nonsense . I like how you walk, I like how you laugh... have you heard this one?
D: It gets me the ďhow you laughĒ, or was it ďhow you giggleĒ. Something like that. I listen and donít understand whatís that and who needs it (note: itís about ďGradusyĒís song ďGolayaĒ)
Q: In English there are also songs with simple lyrics.
D: But they are perceived in a different way. In Russian such lyrics donít sound good.
Q: Apart from tennis, what other sports do you like?
D: Football, I guess. I do not know any players, though. Once in a hotel I saw Arshavin, and I was stunned like ďWow, thatís ArshavinĒ
Q: Arshavin must be thinking ďWow, thatís Dinara SafinaĒ!
D;. Yes, but he didnít think it.
Q: Are you often recognized abroad?
D: It depends. In Italy I was recognized at a gas station. It mostly happens at passport control
Q: Wozniacki loves boxing. Did you have the urge to try it?
D: Yes, sometimes I fight with Natasha Rogozina. She was teaching me once. I liked it, but mostly because Natasha is a very good person. She says that I have a strong hit.
Q: Do you train on Marat?
D: No, Iíd better train on the boxing pear.
Q: Do you compete at something?
D: Not really.
Q: Can you win a set or game on court versus Marat?
D: What are you talking about. I could win a point here and there, but basically no chance. Once my coach put me against his assistant and told us to play at full power. In the end I walked on court and collected the balls in the basket. In his time the assistant was top 100, let leave talking about Marat, who was number 1.
Q: WIll Wozniacki win a GS?
D: Sheíll win, there is no other way.
Q: What about Murrey?
D: Heíd win too, but itíll be more difficult. I think he has to be in the right time on the right place. So he has to be always prepared.
Q: Djokovic or Nadal?
D: I like them both and know them both - they are good guys. In Nadal I like how he turns up the audience, how he charges everyone with his emotions, even when things donít go well for him. But from the point of view of beautiful game the advantage goes to Djokovic.
Q: Does the player have to be also an actor?
D: Probably, yes - after all thatís why the fans come on court. For instance, I cannot be open during tournaments, as I am fully concentrated, even closed. Probably thatís my mistake, but I cannot be more relaxed. If someone can do this - itís a big plus for the player, as well as for tennis in whole.
Q: What is the most memorable tournament win?
D: Berlin 2008. Then I won over Henin, Serena and Lena Dementieva in the final. It was really hard and the victory brought more pleasure.
Q: What is your basic opponent?
D: Myself. I have to fight with myself quite often. I donít have oppnents like CSKA is for Spartak.
Q: Is the racket often guilty for the losses?
D: Of course,. Itís not my fault - the racket is curved, hits to the side. Thatís horrible to watch from aside. Itís shameful. But emotions could be overwhelming and you donít understand what are you doing.
Q: when was the last time you cried?
D: On Fed Cup, I couldnít hold it any longer. I havenít cried so much in my life - I couldnít open my eyes after that. I cried for half an hour with no break, a little hysterics.
Q: What do you do now, as you have more free time?
D: I am dealing with things, meet friends, I spend time with mom and dad. It just appears that I have a lot of time. Actually the time flies so fast.
Q: Back in the day you mentioned that you are refurbishing your apartment with black tile. Isnít it too dark?
D: Not the whole apartment, only the bathroom. It looks great. Itís not just black tile, but with a red heart in it. The designer thought at first that I am joking, but I love how it looks. I have also a butterfly.
Q; Whatís the most unexpected gift you have received.
D: I usually say what I want to get, just to avoid the unexpected. But the best gift was a heart that Marat gave me. I cannot show it now, but itís at home. I adore hearts in all shapes and forms. I donít know why, but I feel better, when I see them.
Q: On twitter you posted pictures of few small cars.
- Yes! One of them is Fiat 500. I like it so much. In Italy I have found even a pink one. A dream car. I also saw such Mini Cooper. The yellow Mini Coopers I associate with kid cars, like the ones in cartoons. Probably thatís why I like them.
Q: It means you were a good girl as kid, and not a bad one?
D: A good girl, yes. And I havenít changed much.