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I translated a long German interview with Kolya:
„I’m Russian, but feeling German“
Interview by Petra Philippsen
July 20th, 2010
Punctually, tidy, reliable, disciplined – that’s how Nikolay Davydenko describes himself. He is the title defender of the tournament in Hamburg. The tennis world champion talks about home, his change and the increased recognition.
You have lived more than 10 years in Germany. Do you like the Germans?
I like the German mentality, which is totally different as the Russian one. Everything is punctual when it concerns appointments. You exactly know when, where and how. In Russia you can come late 2 days or a whole day and always say: I was stuck in a traffic jam. That’s normal.
Was the adaptation different when you came to Germany?
Yes, it was funny. I was 15 years old and couldn’t speak German really well. When I knew the language better after one year I was able to understand things here better and learned a lot. I’m tidy, reliable, punctual and disciplined. I like this. I’m Russian, but I feel German. When I come to Moscow everyone is teasing me: You are a Russian German. Your punctuality is great, but it’s not Russian, they say.
Somehow you match the cliché which we have from Russians – you like Vodka and like to talk about money.
That’s true. But I have a low tolerance for alcohol because I’m so thin. I immediately fall asleep after one glass. Russians have three topics: Women, cars, money. That’s what they talk about. That also goes for tennisplayers.
What are other differences between Russians and Germans?
Russians are more open. When someone invites for dinner, no matter if 10 or 20 people, he pays, because he was the one who invited. That’s typical Russian. When I invite German friends they don’t understand this and want to pay themselves. At first I let them do it, but meanwhile I pay for everyone.
Where is your home?
I always felt at home in Germany, not in Russia. It was always strange when I came to Moscow. Now, as I bought an apartment there, I start to feel a bit more at home there. But whenever I am one week in Germany I think I have arrived home.
You never really seemed to like the general public and to write autographs…
Whenever someone asks for an autograph or a picture I like it. But when someone then asks if I am Davydenko I say: No, I’m a soccer player. This question is just stupid, they exactly know it.
And you aren’t bothered anymore by private questions?
Noone ever asked me something private in former times. That’s why I never answered.
Therefore you got asked 3 years about your involvement in betting scandals.
Nobody talks to me about this anymore, not since I won in London. That’s a bit surprising for me.
What else has that title changed?
I feel more recognition. It feels different. Not just in Russia, but worldwide. Nearly at every airport.
In former times you were seen as an emotionless ballmachine, who doesn’t make any mistakes. Now you seen to be more open.
Now I make mistakes. No, seriously, to show emotions on the court is a sign of weakness for me. You don’t have to show anything. Then you lose power and concentration and in the end the match. I only think I have to work, to keep concentrated, I need to win. I don’t care what the people think about me, how I look like. These 2 hours in a match are just work. But I like it that the people now see that I’m a different person off the court.
That took quite a while. You have been rebuffing to the press in the past. Now your press conferences are entertaining. Have we judged you wrong?
I think so. I have always been the same. But, as I already said, nobody asked me about anything apart from the match. I try now to be more loose towards the media, to answer what goes through my mind in the moment. Someting crazy.
Does your wife understand something about tennis?
My wife is my secret coach. She can explain to me exactly how I played like and what I did wrong. That’s good.
Do you pay her a fee?
That would be typically German. No, she can buy everything what she wants. I don’t made a marriage contract. 50 % belong to her. But she is very intelligent and she knows how hard it is to earn money. We aren’t really leading a frugal life, but fortunately I’m earning more money as we actually spend.
Do you make provision for the the future?
Of course. I can continue to play a bit in the Top 10, maybe Top 5, and earn money. I even have a sponsor now. I save money, make investments, without risks – exactly like Germans do.
Since you became the World Champion in wWnter you played so good that even Federer and Nadal were afraid of you. Did you enjoyed this?
For sure. They were afraid of me at the Australian Open. That surprised me. Everyone said I would be able to win there. That was unusual that people talked about me like this at a Grand Slam. It was pressure for me somehow, but also not bad as it meant more selfconfidence as I thought: Oh, I play that good?
In spring you were stopped by a fracture of your left wrist and you could come back to the tour just for the grass season. How do you feel?
I don’t have any pains during the matches. But 4 months ago I could nearly beat everyone easily. Now I barely have any selfconfidence. I have to start from the beginning after the injury. It doesn’t matter whether you are a topplayer. In your head you start from 0.
How does this show?
It’s very difficult for me to find back my game and my rhythm. I had to change the surfaces a lot in the last weeks, which doesn’t make it easier. Lately the Davis Cup in Moscow has destroyed me. Physically and the pressure was huge. People expected everything from me and I was very nervous. The result of this was also the early loss in Stuttgart.
That doesn’t sound very optimistic.
I hope things will be better here in Hamburg, but it will be really difficult to defend my title. I need power, luck and fight. My selfconfidence has to come back soon otherwise I have to retire.
German source: http://www.faz.net/s/Rub9CD731D06F17...~Scontent.html