Max Mirnyi effected the first major upset of Masters Series Monte-Carlo Monday when he defeated 14th seed and former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis.
Taking advantage of relatively fast conditions for clay, Mirnyi served and volleyed his way to a 7-5, 6-4 victory. The Belarusian attacked the net at every opportunity, winning an impressive 82 percent of points on his first serve and saving seven of eight break points faced. Mirnyi volleyed with authority and Baghdatis was unable to come up with enough clean passes to force his opponent to retreat to the baseline.
Playing his first clay court tournament of the year, Mirnyi claimed just his second career win in seven appearances in Monte-Carlo. He also snapped a five-match losing streak dating back to his second-round loss to Dmitry Tursunov at the Australian Open. Mirnyi is also playing doubles in Monte-Carlo. He is seeded No. 2 with regular partner Jonas Bjorkman.
Baghdatis, who was making his Monte-Carlo main draw debut, has suffered first-round losses in his past four tournaments since reaching back-to-back finals in Zagreb (d. Ljubicic) and Marseille (l. Simon).
04-25-2007, 11:55 AM
The Tennis Week Interview: Max Mirnyi
By Richard Pagliaro
The spontaneity of serve-and-volley tennis has always appealed to Max Mirnyi, who can summon creativity from his soft hands in the split second it takes to strike a stab volley. Mirnyi remains that rarest of breeds in today's tennis: a serve-and-volleyer completely committed to his cause rushing fearlessly forward to face the fire from the passing shot practitioners of baseline tennis.
The man who will celebrate his 30th birthday two days before Wimbledon concludes on July 8 is keeping an athletic art form alive at a time when even its most avid supporters and former champions have written its obituary.
"I think it's extinct. I see a lot of big servers that aren't really looking to come in. You look at Wimbledon the last few years. Even Federer to some extent isn't looking to come in," 14-time Grand Slam champion Pete Sampras told Tennis Week. "Everyone is staying back, hitting big groundstrokes. A lot of it is technology. These young guys are growing up with big racquets and strings. They don't really learn how to hit a proper volley. I learned with a wood racquet, so I had to have the right technique. Guys are hitting big, a lot of spin, a lot of control. You don't see anyone attacking Roger [Federer] or anyone. He's dictating what he wants from the back court. That's always the best contrast, I felt, having a serve-and-volley player, playing against a baseliner. It's a good clash. I don't see it changing. I don't see any really serve and volleyers coming up. It's extinct. It's sad to see."
While Mirnyi makes his living moving forward it is those moments when he look back on his junior days that began in Belarus and eventually took him to Brooklyn and Bradenton that have given him the greatest appreciation for his growth in the game.
"My goals don't change ever since I matured. Whatever I'll do it will be so that I am not going to regret a thing looking back on it," Mirnyi says. "I love my daily challenges today and look forward to over coming them."
The Minsk, Belarus-born Mirnyi whose attacking game has earned him the nickname "The Best" holds Belarus' Davis Cup records for most wins (44-23), most doubles victories (20-9) and most ties played (31) and shares national records with Vladimir Voltchkov for most singles victories (24-14), most years played (14) and best doubles team (17-7).
As a junior who spent part of his childhood training in Brooklyn with Voltchkov, a much shorter Mirnyi wielded a two-handed backhand and played a baseline style similar to Lleyton Hewitt before moving to Bradenton, Florida, hitting a growth spurt and developing his signature serve-and-volley style under Nick Bollettieri and his father Nikolai, a former volleyball standout, who remains his coach.
Most tennis fans know him as the world's third-ranked doubles player, a man who has partnered Jonas Bjorkman, his current doubles teammate, as well as Hewitt and Mahesh Bhupathi to Grand Slam doubles titles. In addition, Mirnyi teamed with Serena Williams to win the 1998 Wimbledon and U.S. Open mixed doubles crowns.
But Mirnyi has been a strong singles presence as well. Currently ranked No. 48 in singles, Mirnyi has registered seven straight season-ending appearances in the ATP's top 60. Even on clay, the tennis equivalent of quicksand for many serve-and-vollyers, Mirnyi has crafted success. The two-time defending French Open doubles champ (with Bjorkman) knocked off 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis en route to last week's Monte-Carlo fourth round and has advanced to the semifinals and quarterfinals at the Tennis Masters Series-Hamburg.
"To me clay generally gives more time to be creative," Mirnyi says. "I get a much higher percentage of returns in play than on faster surfaces and the fact that the bounces aren't always perfect it makes passing shots, especially under pressure, tougher to execute."
When he's hitting his spots in the service box on serve, reading Mirnyi's serve can be as easy as detecting the date on a dime as it descends through the air on a coin toss and trying to loft a lob over the 6-foot-5 Mirnyi can be as comfortable as playing leap frog over the Fred Perry statue that stands in the shadow of Centre Court at Wimbledon.
A year ago, Mirnyi showed why he can be such a dangerous singles force when he beat former Wimbledon finalist Mark Philippoussis then rallied from a two-set to one deficit by winning 12 of the final 13 games in dismissing a discouraged James Blake 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-0, to reach the fourth round of The Championships for the third time in the past four years. He fell in five sets to his doubles partner, Bjorkman, 3-6, 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, marking the second time in the past four years he has lost to Bjorkman in the Wimbledon round of 16.
The father of two is a self-taught guitar player who often tunes into his best tennis against the top players. He owns career victories over current World No. 1 Roger Federer as well as former top-ranked players Sampras (Mirnyi won two of three meetings with Sampras), Gustavo Kuerten and Marat Safin.
"It's very hard to play against players who serve-and-volley all the time like Mirnyi," Safin said after one match with Mirnyi. "It's hard to keep focused: he just keeps coming."
Mirnyi is so definitive in his direction, he moves with the self-assured certainty of a man whose racquet is equipped with a tennis Map Quest.
If Mirnyi looks like he plays tennis with all the exuberance of a man who has gained a new lease on life, that's because he has. Mirnyi and wife Ksusha, the proud parents of daughters Melanie and six-week old Petra, may be alive today thanks to two-and-a-half year-old Melanie, who helped save her parents lives before she was even born.
Shortly before 5 a.m. on a May morning three years ago, the Mirnyis were sound asleep in the Grand Hotel Parco dei Principi where many ATP players were staying while playing Rome when a fire began raging through the building.
In the early stages of pregnancy, Ksusha woke up to use the bathroom, was struck by the acrid smell of smoke and through the darkness she saw the door began to blur into a blaze. Ksusha awoke her husband from a sound sleep and the couple escaped with little more than the clothes on their back.
Three people perished in the fire. Marat Safin's racquets were burnt to ashe, Sjeng Schalken leaped from his seventh floor balcony to the safety of Andy Roddick's sixth floor suite where the pair helped some guests to safety.
On the street, Mirnyi, clad only in a pair of shorts and a towel, and Ksusha were thankful to escape with their lives.
"I certainly remember that horrifying moment. I am not sure if it wasn't for the early stages of my wife's pregnancy, which made her go to the bathroom more often than before, would we have woken up at that time of night," Mirnyi recalls. "She got up only for that reason and only then smelled the smoke and saw the front door catch fire. I was deep asleep when she woke me up having seen all that. We were very lucky and didn't know who to thank: The God, stars, the destiny or maybe just our little Melanie who decided to fight for her life already there?! We are so grateful to still be here and live the lives we are living!"
An extremely fit player, who routinely plays more than 100 combined singles and doubles matches each year, it is Mirnyi's desire to play his best tennis every match as much as his distinctive style that has earned him a loyal fan following. When he makes his annual return to the U.S. Open every year his family, friends and fans from Brooklyn's Belarussian and Russian communities flock to Flushing Meadows in full force to support the man who made it: competitor and crowd remain connected.
"My New York part of life seems to relive itself every time I am back for the U.S. Open," says Mirnyi, who splits his time between homes in Minsk and Bradenton. "Going to the old places, staying in the hotel just a few block from where I went to school having so much support from my friends at the time and now the whole of Russian community that lives there is just something that I don't get anywhere else in the world and for that reason I treasure it very much. It's great to see old friends take so many different directions in life yet be so connected when that time comes again."
Tennis Week caught up with Mirnyi for this interview in which he discusses the key components to creating a winning doubles team, his views on the recent ATP issues with round-robin play and reforming the Masters Series schedule, how he and his wife balance family life with his career, the state of tennis in Belarus and his future goals in the game.
Tennis Week: Max, Your wife recently gave birth to your second child. How do you balance family life and life on the ATP Tour and has being a father helped your tennis in any respect? How did your family and the Bjorkman family decide to name your kids in honor of each other?
Max Mirnyi: The most important person for me in this family-building process has been my wife. We are certainly both thrilled to have already two kids, but I wouldn't have been able to continue my career in full capacity without the support of my wife. By being very committed to our family values she helps me balance the life as a professional athlete as well as the father and the husband. Naming our kids was not something our families spoke about. It's hard to believe, but there were other reasons for naming our kids this way. In our case it's reaching out to the roots of names in our family tree.
Tennis Week: In addition to the obvious tennis skills required, what are the most important qualities for a great doubles team? Is it communication? Experience playing together? Chemistry? A great server, greater returner combination? What makes for a great doubles team and how have you and Jonas been able to sustain your success?
Max Mirnyi: It is certainly all of those things that you've mentioned and plus every successful team has a strong belief in their ability and at most times those teams have enough tools on any given day to find a way to win. Trust in each other helps come through some of those difficult moments and most importantly in time of defeat being able to stay emotionally balanced as a team and continue to work together on you games.
Tennis Week: You just beat Marcos Baghdatis in Monte-Carlo last week, how do you feel about the state of your singles game right now? The year Henman reached the French Open semis in 2004 he said he felt being a serve-and-volleyer on clay actually helped him sometimes because his slice stayed so low it posed problems for the clay courters and because he could exploit the front court against baseliners even though they have a lot more time to hit passing shots. Do you feel that way at all?
Max Mirnyi: The win against Marcos was just another reminder for me that clay could be volley-friendly surface. Tim definitely has a point with a slice staying low, but to me clay generally gives more time to be creative. I get a much higher percentage of returns in play than on faster surfaces and the fact that the bounces aren't always perfect it makes passing shots, especially under pressure, tougher to execute.
Tennis Week: What's the state of tennis in Belarus now? I remember you were elected vice president of the Belarus Tennis Federation are there any projects/plans the Federation is working on to foster growth of tennis there?
Max Mirnyi: As I am sure you understand, developing world class tennis players isn't an overnight experience. I was offered the post of the vice president of our association in the beginning of 2004. I said that I would only be able to have any kind of input on a consulting basis due to the priority on my tennis carrier and that was accepted by the board. I hope our Davis Cup World Group performance in the last four years as well as my individual success on the ATP Tour have inspire many youngsters to take on tennis. In the meantime, we've done important fundamental work that we hope will have a result in the future. Taking tennis to very many schools around the county, having a tennis class as part of their daily routine, giving kids an opportunity to, at an early stages of their lives, play and get the taste for the game of tennis for free is something we believe will give us a chance to gather more talent for the junior level of play. Many more tennis facilities, indoor in particular, have been built in the last three to four years around the country, which will give better chances for our tennis population in Belarus to make progress throughout the year. It is still a long way to go from there, but we want to make sure that tennis in Belarus is accessible to most people, but especially to kids. The government program that we've put in place is also very important to us. With that we are able to provide some of the better kids, juniors, traveling pros with needed training sessions, medical support, travel expenses and much more at no cost to them. So far we are proud or the recent progress of our female players. Two girls broke the top 100 barrier and a couple are leading the junior world ranking (18 and 14). On the boys side, we have some hope too but it will take more time. In general we see the upward momentum now and to us this is very important.
Tennis Week: What's your position on the ATP's doubles initiatives now? Do you have a viewpoint on the decision to strip Monte Carlo and Hamburg of their Masters Series status? Is there a possibility of a resolution between those tournaments and the ATP?
Max Mirnyi: It's very tough shoes to be in right now, speaking of our CEO Etienne de Villiers. To balance out the interest of players, tournaments, sponsors, TV contracts and ITF is the toughest thing to do in our business. I support the decisions that our board makes along with Etienne because we have highly professional group of people working for us and they are continuously trying to find the best possible solution that tennis, as a sport, will benefit from in the long run. There are some rough moments right now, no doubt, whether you take doubles revolution, round robin, Master Series status or whatever it may be, but no change has ever been smooth and this is no exception. Patience is the right prescription to many problems.
Tennis Week: You look even more physically stronger than ever this year: you look ripped. Do you do any other sports or specific off court training to help your tennis?
Max Mirnyi: Off-court training has always been a big part of my regimen. Now, more than before, I focus on this aspect simply because the game just doesn't get any easier. It's a tough competition out there and I want to always give myself the best chance I can to win every match. For training I base out of Bradenton, Florida at the Bollettieri/IMG academy and there is a wonderful system in place where I can successfully realize my professional goals.
Tennis Week: We're approaching the anniversary of that tragic fire in Rome and I remember you were one of the people who escaped that fire. Do you ever think about that and if so what do you remember and how did it change your life?
Max Mirnyi: I certainly remember that horrifying moment. I am not sure if it wasn't for the early stages of my wife's pregnancy, which made her go to the bathroom more often than before, would we have woken up at that time of night. She got up only for that reason and only then smelled the smoke and saw the front door catch fire. I was deep asleep when she woke me up having seen all that. We were very lucky and didn't know who to thank: The God, stars, the destiny or maybe just our little Melanie who decided to fight for her life already there?! We are so grateful to still be here and live the lives we are living!
Tennis Week: Do you still play music? What do you play? You are still very popular among tennis players in Brooklyn, do you ever go back and visit when in NYC? Lastly, what are your goals for the rest of this season?
Max Mirnyi: I try to play a little every day when I am at home. It became much more of a hassle to travel with the guitar after 9/11. I am in love with the music that I grew up with: Soviet pop, rock, chanson was my favorite. Some of these artists I had an opportunity to meet while traveling. Those were special moments that gave me goose bumps and threw me back in the childhood days, seeing them as idols. My New York part of life seems to relive itself every time I am back for the U.S. Open. Going to the old places, staying in the hotel just a few block from where I went to school having so much support from my friends at the time and now the whole of Russian community that lives there is just something that I don't get anywhere else in the world and for that reason I treasure it very much. It's great to see old friends take so many different directions in life yet be so connected when that time comes again. My goals don't change ever since I matured. Whatever I'll do It will be so that I am not going to regret a thing looking back on it. I love my daily challenges today and look forward to overcoming them.
04-25-2007, 07:40 PM
great interview! :woohoo: :yeah:
thank you very much Peggy :bowdown:
07-01-2007, 08:32 PM
a rather old article :lol: but I found it only today :p
MIRNYI: EASY LIFE HAMPERS BRITS
By Brendan McLoughlin, PA Sport
Former Nottingham Open finalist Max Mirnyi has identified a lack of individual commitment as one of the main reasons behind Britain's failure to produce more world class players.
Just two British players, Andy Murray and Tim Henman, can be found inside either the men's or women's top 100, while the rankings are packed with players from European countries like Serbia, Croatia and Slovakia who invest far less money on the game at grassroots level.
The Belorussian, who is expected to begin what will be his sixth appearance in the east midlands on Tuesday, left his home nation aged 14 to develop his game in the United States before training at the famous Bollettieri Academy.
The 6ft 2ins giant has since gone on to win one singles title and 32 tour doubles titles as well as topping the world doubles rankings in 2003.
And the 29-year-old believes the fact players from developed countries such as Britain have other opportunities outside of the sport to fall back on means they may be less likely to devote themselves to it.
He said: "Tennis is a great way of coming through and achieving something in life whereas perhaps for somebody from a developed country you don't have to make such a harsh commitment.
"Perhaps it has to come from an attitude within, from the parents, from the kids, because to have full commitment from such a young age on a child's side and full support from your parents is a lot to ask for.
"In my mind this is the main reason why some better countries don't produce tennis players."
Asked if this was the problem in Britain, Mirnyi responded: "Certainly it's part of the reason. You can't say there has not been support from the Lawn
Tennis Association and there have been enough tournaments."
Last week Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Roger Draper claimed a more "ruthless" approach was needed if things are going to change.
He said: "It's been a pretty bad culture in British tennis, largely due to the lack of success. Everyone has their own views but at times it's like running some sort of kindergarten.
"Getting people aligned to a common goal is a huge challenge.
"Over the years, when you look back at the talent we've has, I think a lot of that talent has been wasted and it's been wasted because people haven't been leading professional lifestyles.
"Rafael Nadal doesn't look like he is going out partying every night. He goes in the gym every day."
The LTA have succeeded in recruiting top coaches including Brad Gilbert, Paul Annacone, Peter Lundgren and Carl Maes, who have all nurtured grand-slam winners, to work with Britain's leading players.
And while Mirnyi agrees the influence of such illustrious names will help, he warns it will take time for their labours to come to fruition.
"I hear there is a great system in place now with great foreign coaches and with new facilities being built.
"There are a good group of kids coming through and I think it is due to change in the near future.
"Certainly you see more players and there are more top-ranked coaches involved with the children and I'm sure sooner or later it will show its results and it will pay off.
"But it is not an overnight thing and it takes a long time to develop a top-class tennis player."
08-28-2007, 09:02 AM
Fall Again Comes Early for Marcos Baghdatis
By Erin Bruehl
Monday, August 27, 2007
Crowd favorite Marcos Baghdatis, the No. 18 seed and ranked player in the world from Cyprus, had another short stay at the US Open.
Last year he fell in the second round to Andre Agassi in Flushing Meadows in a classic five-set match that turned out to be Agassi's final career win. At the 2007 US Open, it was the unseeded Max Mirnyi of Belarus, currently ranked 106th in the world, who upset Baghdatis in a match lasting over three hours, winning 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (6) in the first round at Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Baghdatis struggling with his serve all afternoon and especially in the opening set, had little answer for Mirnyi’s serves that were regularly hitting the mid-130s in velocity. Mirnyi scored the first and only break of the first set in the sixth game when Baghdatis hit a backhand into the net for a 4-2 lead. It would be all Mirnyi would need to easily take the opening set in 36 minutes.
The Cypriot came out firing to start the second set but still struggled with his first serves and had a triple break point opportunity in the second game at 0-40 and was not able to convert. He did manage to score his first break in the fourth game on a crosscourt winner to take a 3-1 lead and held his own serve to go up 4-1.
But he let Mirnyi back into it as he allowed himself to be broken in both the seventh and eleventh games and Mirnyi then held serve in the 12th game to take a two sets to love lead. For the second set, Baghdatis converted just 37 percent of his first serves to 65 percent for Mirnyi.
The crowd in Louis Armstrong was largely pro-Baghdatis and tried to urge on the Cypriot star. In the third set, he started to hit shots more characteristic of the No. 18 player in the world, saving a break point in the first game and earned his first break of the set with a great passing shot in the fourth game to go up 3-1.
Mirnyi did his best to take advantage of Baghdatis’ slow second serves and effectively used a serve and volley technique throughout the match to drop shots over the net and catch the Cypriot in a corner of the court.
Baghdatis did outnumber Mirnyi with winners 62 to 57 for the match and had much fewer unforced errors, just 27 to 48 for Mirnyi.
Baghdatis closed out the third set when Mirnyi hit a serve return into the net.
The fourth set became an 80-minute battle as Baghdatis hit many impressive winners down each side of the court and it stayed on serve through the sixth game that ended with a tie at 3-3.
In the seventh game on Mirnyi’s serve, Baghdatis held a double break point at 15-40 on a winner down the right line but hit two shots long of the baseline to bring the game to deuce. It was the first of nine deuces in the game as the pair traded winners and shots wide and into the net. Mirnyi was eventually victorious to hold his own serve when a Baghdatis shot sailed long.
The set stayed on serve and went to a tiebreak where Baghdatis took a 5-1 lead but Mirnyi then scored four straight points on three Baghdatis shots that landed out or into the net and a smash winner to tie at 5-5.
Mirnyi hit a winner down the right line to go up 7-6 and then closed out the match when Baghdatis hit a ball into the net.
Mirnyi will next face either Paul Goldstein of the U.S. or Sebastien Grosjean of France in the second round.
- Baghdatis has never advanced past the second round at the US Open in four appearances.
- Baghdatis converted only two of 10 break point chances against Mirnyi.
- Mirnyi had 16 aces in the match.
- In the 2002 US Open, Mirnyi advanced to the quarterfinals.
08-28-2007, 05:17 PM
Hello :) i saw Max a lot in Cincinatti, and he is a funny dresser, at resturant on night he had striped pants with bright colors, looked like a clown. :rolls: .
09-07-2007, 08:23 AM
Mirnyi and Azarenka Take Mixed Doubles Crown
By Brian Cleary
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Down 6-5 in the second-set tiebreak in the US Open mixed doubles final, 18-year-old Victoria Azarenka awaited the serve of her opponent, Meghann Shaughnessy. Shaughnessy’s partner, Leander Paes, was crouched at net, moving back and forth on his toes, making it clear, as he always does, that he was dying to get his hands on Azarenka’s return.
In this position, you would think that Azarenka would try and keep her return away from Paes, a man 16 years older than her, with seven Grand Slam doubles titles to his credit. He's also known for his majestic volleys.
But Azarenka is no normal teenager, and certainly no typical mixed-doubles player. As Azarenka did all match, she drilled her return right at Paes. It was struck so hard Paes could only pop up his volley, and Max Mirnyi, Azarenka’s partner, moved in and put the ball away. Mirnyi and Azarenka, both from Belarus, went on to take the breaker, saving five set-points in the process, and with it the match 6-4, 7-6 (6).
For Mirnyi it was his seventh Grand Slam doubles title—he has now won four men’s doubles Grand Slams and three mixed—and the first US Open mixed doubles title since he won with Serena Williams back in 1998.
The win marks a memorable run for Azarenka at this year’s US Open. She reached the fourth round in the women’s singles draw, losing to the No. 4-seed Svetlana Kuznetsova. The mixed doubles crown marks her first Grand Slam triumph.
“I feel great,’’ she said after the match. “Actually, I don't believe it yet. I'm just at the point that I don't realize we won the Grand Slam. I knew we won the match, but I'm still not there. I'm kind of in a place right now, I don't know where.”
In what is a fairly unusual strategy in mixed doubles, Shaughnessy started serving for her team when the match began, and it was against Shaughnessy’s serve in the fifth game that Mirnyi and Azarenka got their first break to go up 3-2. Serving at 5-4, Mirnyi-Azarenka saved three break points on Mirnyi's serve to take the set 6-4.
Showing confidence in Azarenka, who is 10 years younger than Shaughnessy, the next youngest player on the court, Mirnyi had Azarenka start the second set serving. While she held at love in the opening game, it was her serve that was broken in the fifth game, giving Paes-Shaughnessy their first opening of the match. But Azarenka-Mirnyi broke back in the ninth game, and the players held serve from there to force a tiebreak. Paes-Shaughnessy actually held a 6-2 lead in the tiebreak but lost four straight set points.
Mirnyi and Azarenka first teamed together in a mixed doubles Grand Slam event at this year’s French Open. But their connection goes way back. They are both from Minsk, and while Mirnyi is 12 years older, Azarenka had not only looked up to him but also was a ball girl for one of his Davis Cup matches in Belarus.
“I've known Victoria since she came to play tennis when she was 5 or 6 years old,’’ Minyi said. “As the years go by, Victoria became the best junior, and it didn't take her too long to be one the best professional players now. It's incredible progress she's made. I'm happy to have played with her throughout this year.”
Paes said he was perhaps too fired up for today’s match and was forcing the action a bit too much. But he and Shaughnessy, while disappointed, were in good spirits after the match, highlighting the camaraderie they share that is one of their strengths as a team. They were asked if their success, the first Grand Slam final for Shaughnessy, would cause them to play at the Australian Open in January. They looked at each other and laughed.
“Would you like to do it?’’ Paes asked.
“Yeah, let’s go,’’ said Shaughnessy.
But they will have to wait at least four months to get another shot at a Grand Slam. Mirnyi and Azarenka will savor their's tonight.
Mirnyi, while knowing he had picked a good mixed doubles partner, is very aware of Azarenka’s tremendous singles potential as well. “Hopefully Victoria can learn from this win and become a great [singles] player,’’ he said. Mirnyi and Azarenka earned $150,000 for their victory.
09-07-2007, 07:28 PM
MIRNYI AZARENKA/Paes Shaughnessy
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. So that's seven for you, Max, seven titles?
MAX MIRNYI: I'm not sure. Four here at US Open.
Q. Where do you put all these trophies?
MAX MIRNYI: Well, depending on where is the nearest house. Florida.
Q. How many are back home in Belarus?
MAX MIRNYI: Whichever is won in Europe. Simple. But it's not a tough thing to decide though.
Q. How did you two get together as a team?
MAX MIRNYI: Well, we're from the same hometown, so I've known Victoria since she came to play tennis when she was five or six years old. Now she's coming up and she was always at the club and her mom was very much involved into our program as a professional. Back home at the National Tennis Center she's been always helping our team with the Davis Cup ties. As the years go by, Victoria became the best junior, and it didn't take her too long to be one the best professional players now. With the limit of the tournaments she had the last couple years she's now top 40, so it's incredible progress she's made. I'm happy to have played with her throughout this year.
Q. Max, something's happening in Belarus, because it's not only Victoria, but here comes Vladimir Ignatic right behind. He looks like he's going to be a pretty good player. Is money finally being made available to young players to train and travel?
MAX MIRNYI: I think it's a long process. It's tough to just point out one single aspect that's been improved on. The whole structure has been changed. The last four years there has been tremendous support from the government side in Belarus because our city mayor of Minsk is president of the Tennis Federation. Certainly with big help of city funds the Federation is run now. There's much more courts available for winter training.
I think generally speaking that's what's making a big difference. Hopefully in the future it's going to continue to make a change. That whole that we lived through in the '90s was very difficult for girls that are a little bit older than Victoria, and guys. You know, she's more of a new generation now. But we've had many good juniors that who were 15, 16 and didn't have the funds and ability to travel and play internationally. Now it's changing.
Of course, with the ability to play many more tournaments now you don't have to travel to the United States or Asia to play. Now in our region around Belarus and Baltic states and Ukraine and Russia there are so many more tournaments, so I think that has to do with that, too.
Q. How difficult was it for you to get money when you were 11, 12 years old to travel and to train?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I had a sponsor when I had a sponsor since I was 12, for a couple of years, and then we just -- Victoria Khabibulin and Nikolai Khabibulin, the hockey player. They started helping me until I started getting money on my own, and they're still helping me. So that's pretty much I just got lucky that I got a sponsor, and I could leave and train somewhere else.
Q. What was it like teaming with Max? Is he somebody you looked up to growing up? Were you a little nervous here?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, Max has always been around, and we always followed, and I was even ball boying since I was at Davis Cup and everything. I always looked forward to all of our players, like Max and Natasha Zvereva and all the other players.
Q. Did you ball boy for Max in a match? Ball girl for Max?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yes.
MAX MIRNYI: Some Davis Cup ties we've played at home.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Very little.
MAX MIRNYI: We have 13 years apart age difference, so I was playing Davis Cup since '94. Victoria was only eight.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Five.
Q. What were you thinking at 6-1 down?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It was 6-2.
MAX MIRNYI: Victoria was thinking; I wasn't. Especially mixed nowadays a think it's a great addition to the rule that they've made the short format which allows a lot of top players to participate in the mixed. So having that in the back of your mind, it's such a short format you know you just cannot be -- you know, allowing yourself to relax and let just time go by. Every point is so important. Obviously we didn't know that the things are going to turn out the way they did in the second set tiebreak. I was mainly concerned at the time to just keep compusure and continue to apply pressure and use the game plan that we've had for the final set, ten point tiebreaker.
Because, of course, being down 6-2, that's what's most likely to happen. But, you know, with the change of ends and one side being more windy than the other and then I was serving pretty good during that time and Victoria had some great shots, so didn't take long for deficit to disappear. When we were at 6-All situation we had to change ends again, and that was a good situation because I had to return against the girl and against wind, which gave me more time to swing and be more aggressive on my return, and I felt this was a good break for us.
Q. You came back from 0-5. Have you ever come back from it 0-6 in a tiebreak?
MAX MIRNYI: You're referring to my singles match?
MAX MIRNYI: I don't remember that, no. But 0-5 in my singles tiebreak here against Baghdatis in the first round, such two unusual things happening in one tournament that must have been our week.
Q. Victoria, how do you feel having won your first Grand Slam title?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I feel great.
Q. What's that experience like?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't know. Actually I don't believe it yet. I'm just at the point that I don't realize we won the Grand Slam. I knew we won the match, but I'm still not there. I'm kind of in a place right now, I don't know where.
Q. You were part of a class of juniors which Szavay and Tamira Paszek, and there's a fourth girl that did well here?
THE MODERATOR: Radwanska.
Q. You all sort of turned pro about the same time. Do you know each other very well?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I played doubles with Agnes and we won two juniors Grand Slams. I know Agnieszka also because she's Polish and we sometimes talk in our languages. Tamira is also a very good friend of mine, so we're all friends.
Q. This could be one of the better classes of junior players that turned pro together. Have you ever discussed the possibility that we might be playing each other in a Grand Slam singles final someday, some wish like that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, we never have. We just talk, and whoever wins, good luck for other matches. Just like that.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
09-08-2007, 04:59 PM
Mirnyi, Azarenka Win US Open Mixed Doubles Title
The championship weekend started early at the US Open on Thursday, as the mixed doubles honors were determined. And thanks to some top-notch serving and a riveting second set comeback, it was the Belarusian combination of Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka that walked away the winners, beating Indian-American duo Leander Paes and Meghann Shaughnessy in a tight championship final, 6-4, 7-6(6).
Mirnyi and Azarenka drew first blood midway through the first set, breaking Shaughnessy's serve in the fifth game. Shaughnessy put up a fight from the ad side with Mirnyi serving up 5-4, feathering a lob return winner on their first set point and setting up a Paes overhead with another lob return on their second set point; but the Belarusian's big serve on their third set point set up an easy volley to close out the set.
Paes and Shaughnessy were on their way to returning that favor in the second set, breaking Azarenka in the fifth game and building a 5-2 lead. But that lead would not hold like it did in the first set as the Belarusians came back, breaking the Paes serve in the ninth game and overcoming five set points in the process. They capped the win by rallying back from a 6-2 deficit in the second set tie-break, winning the last six points of the match.
While this is the first Grand Slam title of any kind for Azarenka (aside from an illustrious junior resume), it is the seventh Grand Slam crown for Mirnyi, whose previous titles include four men's doubles crowns and two mixed crowns. His first mixed titles came at Wimbledon and here in 1998 (both with Serena Williams).
WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID
Mirnyi: "Obviously we didn't know that things were going to turn out the way they did in the second set tie-break. I was mainly concerned at the time to just keep composure and continue to apply pressure and to use the game plan that we had for the final set, the 10-point super tie-break."
09-25-2007, 06:36 AM
so it seems Max is coming to Stockholm :banana:
A slight chance
Max Mirnyi and I still have a slight chance of reaching the playoffs, but we need to win in either Madrid or Paris and go far in Stockholm Open and St Petersburg.
09-25-2007, 01:52 PM
I cannot believe this :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
10-14-2007, 02:32 PM
Bjorkman & Mirnyi Capture Stockholm Title :worship: :worship:
Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi collected some much-needed points in the Stanford ATP Doubles Race to Shanghai with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over French duo Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra in the If Stockholm Open final.
It was the pair’s first career ATP title since clinching the Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai crown in November 2006 (d. Knowles-Nestor).
Bjorkman and Mirnyi have now won 10 career ATP titles. They last reached a final together at the Australian Open in January (l. to Bryan-Bryan).
The Swede-Belarusian duo broke the Llodra serve twice in the fifth and ninth games of the 39-minute first set. Llodra and Clement converted their only break point opportunity of the opening set in the third game on the Mirnyi service.
Two breaks of serve in the second set proved enough, as they wrapped up their 24th victory of the season in one hour and 23 minutes.
Clement and Llodra has beaten Bjorkman and Mirnyi in their last career meeting at ATP Masters Series Paris last year.
The Frenchman captured their first career Grand Slam crown at Wimbledon in July (d. Bryan-Bryan), to add to trophies at Marseille (d. Knowles-Nestor) and Metz (d. Fyrstenberg-Matkowski) this year. The pair drops to 27-11 in 2007.
WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID
Bjorkman: “It’s a great feeling to win again, because we have both been having a mediocre year in doubles. We have been fighting hard to find our way through. This week was good for us in a way, because we had three easy matches and that gave us some confidence. We had a day off yesterday to enjoy being in a final again. Today we really showed ourselves that we could play some great tennis again. This was as good as we could play and to do that in my home, it could not have happened at a better place. Once again it was great that we played before the singles final. I think the last 10-15 years here it has always been a full house and is an excellent promotion for doubles. The quality of the match was really, really good and that will help show how good doubles can be.
“We had really closed the door on [Tennis Masters Cup] Shanghai. We felt we were so far behind that we could not see an opportunity to qualify. I think now we open the door a little bit, there is still a long way to go because we are still quite a lot of points behind. But now we are playing with great confidence and we will be pumped up coming into Madrid having played our best match of the year today. Anything can happen at least now. We are going to see if we can open that door a little bit more.”
Mirnyi: “It was emotional for a few reasons. Certainly for being in Stockholm, you don’t want to let [Jonas] down, where he has played so well. I also wanted to win for that reason. Secondly, the Race to Shanghai is such a big priority and a goal for us at this point. We haven’t won a tournament this year, so there were many things at stake. To have played under this much pressure is actually very rewarding and makes me feel good going into the next couple of weeks.
“First title of the year, we started off so well reaching the final at the Australian Open but then for different reasons had a few letdowns. Now I feel we are both clicking at the same time and that we can both continue our form.”
11-01-2007, 09:16 AM
Bjorkman/Mirnyi Clinch Final Shanghai Berth
Oct. 31, 2007 - Third seeds Max Mirnyi and Jonas Bjorkman (pictured) will have the chance to defend their Masters Cup doubles title after clinching the last berth for the season finale with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Austrian/American pairing Jurgen Melzer and Todd Perry at the BNP Paribas Masters on Wednesday.
Bjorkman and Mirnyi won their first title of the season recently in Stockholm, defeating Wimbledon champions Clement and Llodra in the final. The Swedish/Belarusian duo also finished runners-up at the Australian Open at the start of the year (l. to Bryan/Bryan). In last year’s Masters Cup they defeated Knowles/Nestor in the final, and will have the chance to defend that title in Shanghai 11-18 November.
Afterwards, Mirnyi said: "Having won it last year it would have been so sad not to have had the opportunity to defend the title. It's what you play for - to be there in the last week of the season. We want to re-live it once again. We're thrilled to have qualified and now we can focus on winning matches this week instead of counting the points.
"After losing in the third round of the US Open we knew we didn't have enough points to qualify, so we looked at the schedule and knew that we had to play every week. But we also needed some of our rivals not to do so well. The title in Stockholm gave us some points and confidence."
Bjorkman added: "It's pretty sweet. It was a win-win situation. Go home and have a holiday or qualify for Shanghai and play the Masters Cup. We haven't had a great year but it's great to have a chance to defend our title. We have nothing to lose going into Shanghai."
Pairing up for just the second time this season, Perry and Melzer were finalists in St. Petersburg last week, losing to Nestor/Zimonjic in the final.
11-10-2007, 03:30 PM
Bjorkman & Mirnyi Begin Title Defense
Defending champions Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi begin their quest to salvage a disappointing year with a bang Sunday as Tennis Masters Cup begins in Shanghai. Bjorkman and Mirnyi had to wait until October to claim their only title of the season (Stockholm) and were the last team to qualify for the circuit finale.
On Sunday the duo plays 2006 US Open champions Martin Damm and Leander Paes and Bjorkman says he and Mirnyi will go in confident despite their lean year.
"We're very happy to be back and we can now play without the pressure we were under the last five or six weeks as we were attempting to qualify," Bjorkman says. "We can really go for it this week and it's always nice to come back to a tournament as the defending champions."
Mirnyi added: "Winning the Stockholm title reminded us of the form we had this time last year in Shanghai. We're very excited to be back here defending the title."
Bjorkman and Mirnyi charged to the title in 2006 with an unbeaten 5-0 record and Bjorkman said that the team was looking to make a fast start this year. "You always want to get off to a good start but at the same time we began 2-0 last year and still weren't guaranteed to qualify. Yet in the other group a team got through with only one win."
In the other doubles match on Day 1, Paul Hanley and Kevin Ullyett tackle Israelis Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram, who came in at the last minute to replace Bob and Mike Bryan (injured right arm). Hanley and Ullyett are playing their final event together.
Ullyett, who will play with Bjorkman after January's Australian Open, said: "The feeling is quite weird. The last time I split up with a partner was in Shanghai two years ago when Wayne Black retired. We've had two great years together but we're both optimistic of trying something new. And we're trying to finish strong in Shanghai this week."
11-13-2007, 11:16 AM
Defending Champs Slip to 0-2
Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi's hopes of successfully defending their Tennis Masters Cup crown are now remote at best after they suffered a second consecutive defeat in Shanghai. The duo fell 7-6(3), 6-4 to Paul Hanley and Kevin Ullyett on Tuesday.
Ullyett, who will team up permanently with Bjorkman after next year's Australian Open, was sensational on return. There were no breaks of serve in the first set but on Bjorkman's serve in the seventh game Ullyett set up two break points for his team with consecutive backhand winners, followed by a great forehand return.
Hanley and Ullyett raced to a 4-0 lead in the tie-break but Bjorkman and Mirnyi reclaimed both mini breaks on Ullyett's serve to claw back 4-3 down. But consecutive forehand volley errors - first from Bjorkman and then by a reaching Mirnyi - saw the team's hopes fade as quick as they had been raised.
Bjorkman and Mirnyi claimed the first break of the match in the third game of the second set with a classic play at 30/40 on Ullyett's serve: Bjorkman ripped a dipping backhand return and a lunging Mirnyi picked off Ullyett's upward volley. But from 2-4 down Hanley and Ullyett broke Bjorkman and then Mirnyi in the final game of the match during a four-game sweep.
Hanley and Ullyett, who improved their group record to 1-1, remain in strong contention for a semifinal berth.
11-15-2007, 03:03 PM
Bjorkman & Mirnyi Bow Out With Pride
Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi saw their Shanghai defense end Thursday despite beating Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 (Match TB). The result ensures that Paul Hanley and Kevin Ullyett are now certain to qualify for the semifinals.
Bjorkman and Mirnyi, who have been a force on the ATP circuit since combining three years ago, were playing their final match together. Beginning in February 2008, Bjorkman will team with Zimbabwe's Ullyett. (The Swede will miss the Australian swing to be with his wife Petra, who is expecting their second child in mid January).
In the first set of Thursday's match, Bjorkman set up set point for the team with a well-disguised topspin lob over the head of Erlich. The Swede also scrambled a backhand return into play on the deciding point from a big Erlich serve, and Ram three shots later netted a backhand volley to end the set.
In the second set, at 3-3 deuce, serving to Ram in the ad court on the deciding point, Bjorkman paid the price for an aggressive second serve up the middle, which missed its target wide to concede a break. Erlich fought off two break points in the next game. Mirnyi then blew a 40/0 lead on serve, double faulting on set point to hand the set to the Israelis.
But Bjorkman and Mirnyi, who last year went undefeated in five matches en route to the title, raced to a 6-1 lead in the match tie-break after claiming two mini breaks on the Ram serve. Bjorkman and Mirnyi began the year by reaching the Australian Open final but won just one title, Stockholm, during the season.
11-16-2007, 11:07 AM
The most unsuccessful year in Max Mirnyi career
Mirnyi and Bjorkman lost two of three round robin matches and didn't reach the semifinal at the final tournament of season in Shanghai. The whole year was unsuccessful: Max managed to take only one doubles title comparing to 2006 when he won seven tournaments in doubles. As a result Mirnyi was out of top 10 doubles rankings. In singles things were going even worse, Max dropped out of the top 100 and now ranked #155. Mirnyi's father Nikolay speaks about reasons of failure.
-Statistically this season is failed, - says Nikolay Mirnyi. - But the most important is that Max is in good health and ready to continue playing.
-Can you give any reasons to the fact, that Max won seven doubles title last year and only one this year?
-The explanation is simple. Max cannot always be in good shape. I mean not only physical fitness, but also mental condition. For example he took heavily the defeat at DC, when he lost to Soderling wasting two matchballs. Then at rubber against Peru he was not well and lost to Ivan Miranda, the player of much lower level than Max. This all accumulates step by step as a huge load, and it's not easy to take this load off. And when especially you're not so young, you have not enough power at decisive moments of play. So you lose important points.
-Max turned 30 this year. Fans says, he is getting old and his powers are beginning to decay.
-Unfortunately there’s a deal of truth in these words. Life is life, and you cannot act contrary to nature. But age and mental strikes are only the part of the problem. There are many other reasons. The most important is tennis itself has changed. Court surfaces became slow, balls became heavier. The style of play Max learned isn’t advantageous nowadays.
-You mean net game, don’t you?
-Net game and power serve. Max learned tennis playing on surfaces which were fast as ice and using fast balls. When low-speed tennis came in, Max began to lose matches. If formerly he won 76 76, now he lost 67 67. The difference is in one-two points when the opponent has enough time to react against his serve due to low surface and heavy balls. For example if formerly ball speed was about 230 km/h, and now it is 220 km/h. Balls became heavier and had more volume. Opponents became more chances to return it.
-Why did such a tendency arise?
-In order to attract great players tournament directors provide facilities to them. Nadal, Djokovic, Ferrer are accustomed to slow courts, so tournament organizers are trying to fit them. There is also a point of view that spectators are not interested in fast tennis when they hardly notice ball, when serve is decisive, when there is no long rally intrigue.
-Speaking about next year, what should we expect from Max?
-Olympics is the main aim. We will do everything to play doubles there with Voltchkov or somebody of the boys. If Voltchkov is in top form, no doubt he will go there. But Max have to be in top 10 doubles to get direct entry to Olympics. So it is our aim.
-Therefore Max needs a good partner. Have Jonas already give his agreement?
-No, just before our talk Jonas came to me, and we decided to discuss it at tomorrow breakfast.
-If you don’t make arrangement with Bjorkman, who could substitute him?
-There are at least three alternatives who are waiting for our confirmation: Fabrice Santoro, Mikhail Youzhny and Jamie Murray. But Max would like to continue playing with Jonas.
-Maybe Swede thinks Max is dropping their team?
-I don’t think so. They both play badly. Maybe it’s time to make a stop and look at each other from the outside. Anyhow we will remain friends.
11-16-2007, 11:45 AM
Poor Max, everything was against him this year... :awww: :rolleyes:
Это был не день Бэкхема, и так весь год...
11-16-2007, 08:50 PM
Poor Max, everything was against him this year... :awww: :rolleyes:
Это был не день Бэкхема, и так весь год...
well I promised not to comment :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
это точно :o ...
11-27-2007, 06:19 PM
Hey guys (Nadia :kiss:)
Max will be partnering Jamie Murray in ATP doubles next year! :banana:
Zahirah :wavey: :wavey: :kiss: nice to see you here :banana:
Thanks for posting :hug: :secret: although it is no news for me :rolls: :spit:
I just hope their partnership will be great :yeah: :scared:
11-28-2007, 11:24 AM
Jamie Murray finds the ‘right one’
Jamie Murray's search for a new long-term doubles partner finally ended with the news that he has persuaded accomplished doubles specialist Max Mirnyi to team up with him for most of the 2008 season.
Murray will play with Mirnyi at the first event of the season in Doha and will then keep a long-standing agreement with Kevin Ullyett to play the Australian Open before joining up with Mirnyi again for what he hopes will be a lasting partnership.
Since deciding in July to split with Eric Butorac, with whom he won three ATP Tour titles, Murray has struggled to find a replacement for the American. He is, though, rightly delighted to have landed Mirnyi. The 30-year-old, who is nicknamed "the Beast of Belarus" for his powerful physique and devastating shotmaking, ended this season ranked 16 in doubles but is a former world No.1 in the discipline and has won four grand slam doubles titles with different partners. No wonder Murray was so keen to persuade him to team up.
"I was kind of hassling him a little bit to email me and see what he wanted to do," said 21-year-old Murray, who will begin 2008 ranked 32 in doubles.
"I didn't really think it would happen, if I'm honest. It took me a while to find someone. I held off and held off, but I think I have found the right one now. I am more excited about it rather than relieved. I don't see why we can't do well in the big tournaments. Max and I both play quite a similar kind of style, which I think will work well. He serves big, volleys well and has a great presence. I think he's a great player."
11-28-2007, 06:01 PM
:woohoo: Just popped over to jump on the bandwagon! I love our Jamie, and this news has made me so happy! I'm glad he was persistent in trying to contact him. When Andy beat him at St. Petersburg I was like :rolleyes: 'that can't have helped...'
Bring on 2008!
02-18-2008, 07:36 AM
Second seeds Max Mirnyi and Jamie Murray claimed the first title of their new partnership when they upset top seeds and World No. 1 team Bob and Mike Bryan 6-4, 3-6, 10-6 in the final of Delray Beach on Sunday.
Mirnyi and Murray had won just one match in three tournaments before this week. That record included a first-round loss to the Bryans in Sydney in the second week of the season.
Mirnyi claimed his 35th career doubles title while Murray won his fourth.
Jamie Murray said: "It was a good week for the family with Andy winning the singles in Marseille. We'll be together next week in San Jose and hopefully we can do the same thing.
"When we lost to the Bryans in Sydney it was only our second match together so we were still feeling each other out, and we didn't play as well as we did this week, where we got better with each match."
Mirnyi said: "We expected a pretty full stadium and it was great to see the crowd show great support for the doubles final."
02-18-2008, 09:49 AM
Short interview with Jamie about the win: http://andymurray.com/about/news/17-02/title-reaction-jamie/
02-18-2008, 10:00 PM
love em both. ONWARDS TO SHANGHAI!:worship:
10-05-2008, 01:02 AM
Max just got his Law degree :wavey: he wrote a note about it here: http://max-mirnyi.com/diploma.aspx
:secret: There are photos too!
10-05-2008, 11:34 AM
well done Max! :)
10-08-2008, 08:27 AM
There is another article about it on the atp-website. (http://www.atptennis.com/1/en/2008news/mirnyi_degree.asp)
Max Mirnyi is a winner of multiple Grand Slam titles and has become one of the sport's greatest ambassadors, but 'The Beast' has never forgotten where he came from.
The name on the passport reads Maxim Nikolayevich Mirnyi. Most people just call him Max. But for those men that have seen this six-foot five-inch, 210-pound Belarusian stripped with those broad-as-a-bull shoulders, chiseled from marble torso, and great big hands and feet, he is known simply as — The Beast.
This is the story of a boy who was forced into manhood real fast; accepting responsibilities and expectations without doubt or complaint. Over a career that has spanned nearly two decades, he reached the Top 20 in singles, and won seven grand slam doubles championships and thirty-seven doubles titles. When Max Mirnyi began his rise it was a time of great uncertainty; the Soviet Union was teetering on collapse and war loomed in the Baltics. Max’s father, Nikolai, a man so big that he was given double portions of food when he served in the Soviet Army, had a decision to make. One of the most renown tennis coaches in the Soviet Union, Arcadiy Edelman, had just signed a professional contract with Match Point Promotions to bring teenage phenom Tatiana Ignatieva to America. And he wanted young Max to join them as a hitting partner. Max Mirnyi was barely 13 years old. Nikolai knew it was a long shot, but it was the only shot he had.
“During the summer in New York we used public courts in Brooklyn at Neptune Street,” Mirnyi recalls. “And during the winter we played at Starret City Club. We trained ourselves as well as helped Arcadiy (Edelman) with clinics for local kids. Tatiana and I were winning most of the junior tournaments on the east coast, so soon the amount of kids in his groups grew very rapidly. We were training about two hours a day, and then hitting with adults and kids for another four hours per day. We were very tired at the end of the day.”
The clinics began raking in the money. Max started stringing racquets for the kids and even though Edelman took the money, parents would often tip Max on the side. Max hid his tips under the bed in his suitcase. The junior clinics grew so much that Edelman could not travel with Ignatieva on the junior and professional circuits. Young though he was, Max was now given a man’s responsibility. Edelman sent him as the coach and companion of Ignatieva. Max Mirnyi was still only 13 years old.
It did not take long before disturbing reports from Brooklyn began filtering through to the Mirnyi household back in Minsk. Max was being used. Slow to anger, Nikolai Mirnyi had finally heard enough. He decided he would travel to America to see about his boy for himself. There was just one problem — no money. Not to be deterred, he posted a letter to Max saying that he would soon arrive. Finally, after he managed to sell off some family heirlooms he had enough money for the airfare. Nikolai Mirnyi arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport with $14 and change in his pocket. Later that night, Max handed him a wad of bills totaling more than $300. It was the money that he had saved up from a year of stringing racquets. It did not take long for Nikolai to see what was going on, and with the money Max had saved up he decided enough was enough.
“It was like an opera scene,” Max remembers about the night his father took him away. “I was very close to Arcadiy. But Papa had made up his mind. Arcadiy was crying, screaming, begging, shouting and cursing.”
It is late at night in Brooklyn and Nikolai and Max are driving up and down the streets searching through rubbish piles.
“A former player, Sergey Leonyuk, who came to New York, was running the program at Brooklyn Racket Club,” says Mirnyi. “He offered us court time and a place to stay at one of his apartments that he was renting. This particular apartment was under renovation, so my father was helping Sergey's contractors polishing the floor and painting the walls while I was in school. Since the flat had no furniture Sergey drove us around during the night a few times and very soon we were fully furnished with a couple of mattresses from the dumpster, broken television from the club that we were able to view after Papa used a skiing pole as an antenna and a microwave that was disposed from a local Burger King.”
A few months later, the now 14-year-old Max Mirnyi got another opportunity. It would be a big one, and it came from Bradenton, Florida at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy.
“I was invited for a two-week camp,” begins Max. “And at the end of the two weeks one of Nick’s assistants says that next day at 3 p.m., Nick will watch me play on Court 40 (Bollettieri's personal court). I could not sleep the whole night. We were so nervous, because we knew that this was our family’s big chance. Next day, Papa had me warming up from 1pm. By 2:30 I was already worn out. Fortunately, I didn’t have to play too long.”
“I only needed 30 seconds to see he was special,” says Bollettieri. “I offered him a scholarship on the spot. And he has been with us for 20 years now.”
Even with a scholarship from Nick, Max would need money to travel to tournaments. Nikolai then did what he does best. He went to work. However, getting a job in the United States without proper paperwork was not easy. Eventually, he landed a job as a dishwasher at the Seiwoo Chinese Restaurant in Sarasota. It would not be enough. So, Nikolai saved up his earnings and soon he had enough money to buy a 1978 Ford Mercury, price — $500.
“The moment Papa got the car, he immediately started looking for another job,” says Mirnyi. “He got one looking after two elderly World War One veterans in St. Petersburg. He would take care of them in the day and wash dishes at night.”
It would take three years before Max would play ITF Satellites. In the autumn of 1995, Nikolai had scraped together and saved up enough money to send seventeen year old Max Mirnyi to Greece and Central America.
“After having paid for the air tickets, Papa sent me away with $250 cash in the pocket and calculated that this should last me for the first week of food and board,” recalls Max. “For the following weeks of the trip he told me that, you've got to make some money for yourself, son. In case you don't, ask somebody to lend you couple of hundred dollars and I'll pay them back as soon as we see them. Well, I never wanted to put our family in debt, so I fought like crazy and fortunately, I was able to win both satellites in singles and doubles. That was a big success but still didn't free Papa from having to wash dishes.”
Inch by inch, step by step Max Mirnyi would climb the ATP ladder. When his big breakthrough came, it was in a most unexpected way — mixed doubles. It was 1998 and Wimbledon. Nikolai sensed something in the air and went up to Richard Williams. Then Serena was just a little girl with big shots and bigger braids. Nikolai asked Richard if he could sign Serena up with Max for Mixed Doubles. Of course they would need a wild card to gain entry. Richard said that there was nothing to lose. Little did anyone realise that it would be all to gain. They won the title and next stop on the circuit was Flushing Meadows where they won again. It would be the finals of the Australian Open before they eventually lost. Nikolai Mirnyi would not be washing any more dishes now.
Still Max Mirnyi was not satisfied.
“Though he made his mark in doubles, Max was not happy,” says Bollettieri. “Max was disappointed that he had not done better in singles. So, he put his head down and went back to work. And he became a damn fine singles player.”
“What makes Max special I think is his attitude,” says Martina Navratilova. “I practised with Max a few times. He asked about specific volleying and shot selection. He obviously wanted to improve. When playing with him, he was always very positive and always gave his best effort.”
You could Google “Max Mirnyi” and find out a whole list of awards, records and laurels that span a career of almost two decades. You would read that he finished in the ATP Top 50 rankings for seven straight years and achieved a career-high singles ranking of No. 18. But if you go back and study his playing activity long enough two names stand out; Jim Courier and Marat Safin.
“In 1999, I somehow beat Jim Courier twice in three weeks; Orlando and Delray Beach.”
Kind, caring soul that he is, Max Mirnyi is no Mother Theresa on the tennis court. He will chip, chop, hack and attack you to death. He may not possess the prettiest ground strokes on Tour, far from it, but they were heavy handed and not designed for USPTA Stroke and Drill instructional videos.
Just ask the great champion Jim Courier. The former World No. 1 and four-time Grand Slam champion, found out the hard way that you have a better chance of getting around the Great Wall of China than passing Max Mirnyi at the net. After getting chopped by ‘The Beast’ at Delray Beach, Courier was so frustrated that former ATP staffer Weller Evans had to separate the two men. It was a good thing for Courier or he might have been knocked out of more than just the main draw.
In 2004, Belarus hosted Russia in Davis Cup. If Mother Russia thought she would give young Belarus a good old fashioned step-child spanking she was in for a shock. Marat Safin might have been the star, but Max Mirnyi was the spoiler. Playing at home, ‘The Beast’ went renegade, wielding the racquet like a scimitar, a hatchet and a dagger all at once. Slicing, stabbing, and spearing Safin for four hours and 15 minutes. ‘The Beast’ eventually bled the Russian to death by winning eleven games to nine in the deciding set.
“That match brought so much joy to the whole country,” says Mirnyi. And on the final day of the tie, Mirnyi clinched it for Belarus with a straight sets win over Igor Andreev.
At age 34, Max Mirnyi still gets up at the crack of dawn to practise yoga and Pilates. And in 2008, he graduated from Belarus State University with an International Law Degree. Mirnyi was also appointed a Good Will Ambassador to UNICEF in Belarus.
“Max has an inner drive and discipline that one could only dream their kids to have,” claims Kevin Ullyett, with whom Max won his first ATP World Tour doubles title.
And in the spring of 2011, the Max Mirnyi Sports Center in Minsk will open. Those that know Mirnyi best will tell you it is not his tennis results that make him special, but rather his kindness and determination off the court.
“Max’s mother, Tatiana, told me this story about Max,” begins Kseniya Mirnyi, Max’s wife. “During one New Year's Eve in Belarus, when Max was 10 years old the whole family had some type of treats and candy given to them. Max took time to observe everyone and their willing appetite while they were eating their candy. Once the last candy was eaten, Max quietly took out his full box of candy and shared it with the whole family.”
“It is his smile that is magic,” says Martina Navratilova fondly. ”He would give me a high five after a good point, and my hand would just disappear in his.”
“Our family has come a really long way and I am proud of so many things that Max has achieved in his life,” says Nikolai Mirnyi. “Each one of them is special. From many moments of his professional career to getting a good education and now building a wonderful family. Because of that he makes me very proud.”
“Max Mirnyi is the best investment I ever made in the Academy,” claims Nick Bollettieri. “He and his father are men, who refused to accept the circumstances of not being financially able to play the game, but took those circumstances and found a way to make it. Nikolai was a very humble and genuine man who did everything he could do to provide for his son.”
“Max has never, never, never, ever forgotten where he has come from,” continues Bollettieri. “When he is here with the kids he signs autographs, hits with them, volleys with them, gets out and plays singles and doubles with them. He does anything that you ask of him and even things that you don’t ask. Max Mirnyi always gives you back more than you gave him. Max Mirnyi is one out of a trillion.”
Max credits his father for his success.
“As I get older I understand that there are so many lessons that are still to be learned from Papa,” claims Max. “But, if I have to point out just one thing, I would have to say that he taught me the importance of a great work ethic.”
These days Max Mirnyi is not ready to hang up his racquets just yet. This year will see him team up with Daniel Nestor. It is doubtful that anyone who knows Nestor would suggest that he would play the part of ‘Beauty’ to Mirnyi’s ‘Beast’. But there can be no doubt that these two lions in winter could come up with some magical moments in 2011. Thus adding another chapter in an already storybook tale of the man from Minsk, known on the Tour for his hard rock body, determination and heart of gold.
Mirnyi Named UNICEF National Ambassador For Belarus
UNICEF Ambassador Max Mirnyi gives a masterclass for aspiring tennis players in Svetlogorsk.
Doubles World No. 5 Max Mirnyi has been named a UNICEF National Ambassador for Belarus, in recognition of his commitment to the rights of children around the world and long-term collaboration with UNICEF Belarus CO.
While Mirnyi is now a doubles specialist, he also enjoyed a good singles career, finishing in the Top 50 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings for seven straight years, as well as representing Belarus in Davis Cup competition since April 1994.
He holds eight Grand Slam titles, winning the men's doubles trophies at the US Open in 2000 and 2002 and at Roland Garros in 2005-2006, and capturing the mixed doubles crowns at the US Open in 1998 and 2007 and at Wimbledon in 1998. In February 2004, after an epic Davis Cup win over Russia, the Belarus President awarded him with the highest Government title, “Orden Otechestva”.
The 34-year-old Mirnyi has supported UNICEF activities in Belarus since 2004, when he assisted with fundraising events for the most vulnerable children and children suffering from cancer. Thereafter, he regularly participated in UNICEF campaigns, promoting healthy life style, legal education for children and early childhood development approaches.
“UNICEF Belarus has been cooperating with Max Mirnyi for several years. He has always demonstrated genuine commitment to building a better world for children and set a personal example of what is to be a good son and father. Thus, appointment of Max Mirnyi as UNICEF National Ambassador is a logical step forward in the UNICEF-Mirnyi friendship and will strengthen our work for the sake of Belarus children,” said Mr. Oksamitniy, UNICEF Belarus Representative.
In his new role as a UNICEF National Ambassador, Mirnyi will use his fame and personal interest in children’s issues to support UNICEF’s mission to attract attention to the most vulnerable children, to promote healthy lifestyle, a responsible parenting approach and participate in HIV and AIDS prevention campaigns.
Mirnyi said, “Undoubtedly it is a significant landmark in my life and I treat it with great responsibility. I have excellent relations with my Dad and I myself am a father of three kids. That is why I have an acute sentience to children’s needs all over the world and particularly in Belarus. I wish every child had a harmonious life and had possibilities for the fullest development. In the role of UNICEF Ambassador, I will do my utmost to turn it into a reality and make children’s lives as happy as possible.”
In Svetlogorsk, Mirnyi gave a masterclass for young tennis players and every child got an individual drill with the UNICEF Ambassador. Mirnyi then visited the Rehabilitation Centre for Children with Special Needs.