Re: Mikhail Youzhny: Articles & Interviews
Mikhail Youzhny: “I don’t look at the rankings”
Robin Haase will need to dish up something pretty special this evening on Ahoy Rotterdam’s centre court if he wants to reach the third round of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament. He will be playing against none other than Mikhail Youzhny, currently ranked 22nd in the world. Haase’s Russian opponent is the man who sent number 4 seed Tomas Berdych home in the opening round. The 24-year old from Moscow has a lot going for him and he proved that by reaching the semi-finals in the US Open last year. But what will he achieve here in Rotterdam?
After your victory over Berdych, you used your racquet to salute the crowd. We hadn’t seen that before in the world of tennis. Do you always do that?
“Yes. I started doing that during the US Open in 2004 when I defeated Nalbandian in five sets. It was really late and I wanted to do something special to thank the fans. I thought about a military salute, but you’re only allowed to do that in Russia if your head is covered. I didn’t have a beret with me, but I did have my racquet.”
As a football lover, what do you think of your new national coach, Guus Hiddink?
“The problem with Russian football is not the coach, but the lack of strong players. I have no problem with the involvement of an outsider in our national team. Most Russian coaches all have their own interests in different clubs anyway.”
How are you doing here in Rotterdam?
“Fine, because this tournament is perfectly organised. I was a bit tired when I arrived from Marseille because I played three intense three-set matches there, but I’m healthy and I don’t have any injuries, so I think I can handle Rotterdam. I haven’t looked around the city this time, but I have done that in the past. This is my third time in Rotterdam, but the first time I’ve gotten past the first round.”
What do you know about Robin Haase?
“I know his name and his face, but little about his game. My coach watched him play during the first round, so I’ll know what I need to know when the time comes.”
You finished at number 16 in the ATP list in 2004, fell back to 44 and now you’re back in the top 20 again.
“The fall in my ATP rank was caused by a knee injury that I just couldn’t seem to shake off, but that’s under control now. I finally found the right doctor and I now know how to handle my knee.”
What are your goals for the next few years?
“I don’t know how high I’ll be able to climb, but I don’t look at the rankings anyway. I just work on improving my game with my coach. If my game improves, I’ll automatically move up in the rankings.”
What specific aspects of your game do you want to improve?
“That’s something I don’t talk about. I wouldn’t gain a thing by telling the world about my game and my strategy. I’ll start talking about that when I stop playing tennis.”