"Tursunov remains patient" - Houston Chronicle article [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

"Tursunov remains patient" - Houston Chronicle article

04-16-2004, 12:15 PM
Tursunov remains patient
Russian-born immigrant still waiting to become U.S. citizen
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

The Russian who wants to be an American defeated the Russian-American 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 during the second round at the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships on Thursday afternoon.

What's in a hyphen? A lot if you're Dmitry Tursunov.

Tursunov beat Alex Bogomolov Jr., who was born in Moscow 21 years ago next week. Tursunov was born in Moscow 22 years ago in December. But "Bogie," whose father, Alex Sr., was once the Soviet Union's national coach, has his U.S. citizenship, while Tursunov's quest for same drags on.

In fact, it has been in the works since Tursunov was 13 years old, a year after he left his family behind and emigrated to work with an expatriate Russian tennis coach in the San Francisco Bay area. There were problems with his first lawyer, and then 9/11 happened, greatly slowing the process. But all the paperwork is completed, and Tursunov waits patiently.

"I have no choice except to be patient," says Tursunov, a U.S. resident for so long he doesn't have any perceptible accent. "I've learned I can't change anything by worrying. I already spent too much time worrying."

And there's no reason to fret, he has concluded. After all, this isn't about rejecting Russia as a country or a culture, only about embracing the country and the culture in which he has grown up. Given his druthers, he'd prefer there were no passports and no faceless bureaucracies to dispense them.

"You should be judged by what kind of person you are and what you can do," he said. "Not by a piece of paper that you carry."

However, there are those back in the "old country" who are deeply offended by Tursunov's efforts to swap out his citizenship. It has been written that he is "persona non grata" in Russia, where he hasn't visited in eight years. Asked about that, he shrugs and says he doesn't know how Russian people feel about him because there is virtually no personal contact. The "broken phone" syndrome, he calls it, smiling.

"The Russian Tennis Federation never reached out to me after I left," he said. "I don't say that with any bitterness but just to state a fact. Perhaps for them, it was an opportunity missed. I don't know. It doesn't matter anymore. I have my life and my tennis in the United States."

Once, that seemed a huge loss for Russia. Two months after he turned 18, Tursunov won the first three matches of his ATP career in Memphis, Tenn., after winning 15 in a row on the Futures and Challengers circuits. But after Mark Philippoussis beat him in the quarters, his back started aching. He didn't play another ATP match for two years.

The injury defied accurate diagnosis for the longest time, but it was finally determined that he had two tiny fractures in his L-2 vertebrae. Only rest could help. By late last summer, he was ready to reintroduce himself as a threat to accomplish grand things, and he proceeded to make the third round at the U.S. Open, taking out three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten in the process.

At the end of the year, Tursunov had nudged inside the top 100, showing enough promise that Jose Higueras agreed to be his coach. Although 2004 has been a mixed bag of frustration and small triumphs, resulting in two more match defeats than victories, Tursunov's reaching the quarters at Westside has again buoyed his spirits. He is introspective enough to realize how badly he needs to maintain his off-court equanimity when he's whacking tennis balls.

He was able to do that in the third set against his once-and-former and, hopefully, would-be-again countryman Bogomolov after lapsing badly in the second.

"My coach gets angry with me when I get angry and don't stop to think why things happen," Tursunov admitted. "So the first and third sets were good for me. I felt under control. I didn't try to rush."

Under Higueras' tutelage, he appears to be making progress.

"Slowly," Tursunov said.

His next hurdle today is Tommy Haas, who tends to feel more American than German -- although he only jokes about changing Davis Cup teams -- and also is trying to jump-start an injury-sidetracked career. The Haas-Tursunov winner plays either fourth seed James Blake or fifth seed Andrei Pavel.

Haas, who said his surgically repaired shoulder continues to behave itself, had just a pinch of early trouble in sailing past Paul Goldstein 6-4, 6-2. Blake defeated Davide Sanguinetti 7-5, 6-3, while Pavel struggled to escape Jose Acacuso's clutches, rallying for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory.

04-16-2004, 12:36 PM
I read that just before I got here. It's a very interesting article.

It didn't say anything about his wife, but his ATP profile says he is married to "Kristina." I assume she is American. To me, after seeing Tursunov talk and conduct himself, he is American to me no matter what his citizenship. I am sure he has some Russian sensibility and influence, but when talking to him or watching him, he seems like any other young American.

04-16-2004, 01:08 PM
Star - I completely agree...I met him a few years ago at the Dallas Challenger event...I sat next to him in the stands and talked to him for a long time while we watched a match...I had no idea who he was...he started up the conversation and I eventually learned his "story". When you talk to him he really seems like an American kid...he talks and looks like a California surfer "dude" who played tennis. Very nice guy with tremendous talent...I've been following him for a 4 years now...hopefully this is the year he breaks through.

04-16-2004, 01:14 PM
I didn't realize he had back trouble.

I think that one of the keys to having a successful tennis career is to have the good fortune to avoid major injuries when just beginning.

He's a good kid with a nice sense of humor. I hope he does well.

04-16-2004, 01:36 PM
By the way...the other guy I'm following ioutside the mainsteam is Amer Delic. I believe he is from Croatia originally...won the NCAA singles title last year at the University of Illinois.

I also have my "major" favorites...Marit Safin, Roger Federer, tommy Haas, G. Coria, Andre, and Roddick

04-16-2004, 01:45 PM
wow mad1town, that's quite a list of faves :)

Dmitry sounds like an interesting kid with an interesting story. He'll need the support today against Tommy (the crowd loves him) so I think I shall cheer for him :)

04-16-2004, 02:16 PM
By the way...the other guy I'm following ioutside the mainsteam is Amer Delic. I believe he is from Croatia originally...won the NCAA singles title last year at the University of Illinois.

I also have my "major" favorites...Marit Safin, Roger Federer, tommy Haas, G. Coria, Andre, and Roddick

I have heard of Declic...... he's half american already! :lol:

Anyway, how's he doing?

I admire the diversity of your favorites. They are all wonderful players. :)

Well, maybe not Tommy. ;)

04-16-2004, 02:46 PM
Star - I think Amer is making good progress. I saw him play at the Dallas Challenger earlier this year (at the club I belong to)...I watched a ton of matches that week (it was a great draw) and saw him play 4 times...he had to qualify, then made it to the finals before losing to Sebastien DeChaunac. I think he was a bit tired...he was also in the doubles finals and played that right before the singles final.

He has done OK in some other tournaments...I think he must be on the USTA "assist list"...he has gotten a few wildcards (into the qualies in Miami)...and has been paired with Todd Martin in doubles, etc.

I think he is still trying to figure his game out on the tour....he is a big guy (6'4", 190-200 lbs.)...sometimes he serves and volleys almost exclusively yet other times he simply stays back. I'm not sure who is coaching him (if anyone) but my opinion is he needs to be a serve and volleyer. His groundies are good but not overwhelming. I think of him as a Todd Martin-type player....but he is more athletic and agile than Todd. He has a chance to make it...

04-16-2004, 02:51 PM
Star - by the way, what's up with Tommy? Don't like him? I've only seen him play on TV but he seems like a good guy...I like the variety in his game. I'm also rooting for him due to his injury as well as the unfortunate situation with his parents accident.

04-16-2004, 03:02 PM
Yeah. I got a lot more sympathy for him with all that he is going through.

Tommy has always seemed like such a playboy to me. Sort of a spoiled rich kid. The kind of guy you meet in some fraternities. He used to travel with a little harem of girls. That was funny. But as I say, Lot more sympathy for him now.

04-16-2004, 03:15 PM
Interesting about Tommy....I guess that "chick magnet" thing is pretty common for a lot of these guys. I will say that I hope the Dmitry Tursunov takes him out though...straight sets would be nice.

04-16-2004, 03:20 PM
From what we read elsewhere, Tommy's way with the ladies hasn't changed a whole lot :)

And well.... I don't find him particularly attractive in person lol

04-16-2004, 03:52 PM
By the way, I just noticed the 2nd Tursunov pic I try to upload didn't make it. I think this is the only pic of Tursunov I have ever seen where he didn't look like he had a tough look on his face. Here I go trying again...