Join Date: Aug 2006
Re: Mikhail Youzhny: Articles & Interviews
I hope you don't mind that I post this one although it is already one year old
Biofile: The Mikhail Youzhny Interview
By Scoop Malinowski
Friday, November 30, 2007
Mikhail Youzhny © Getty Images
Mikhail Youzhny has become adept at transforming his Head into a helmet and he's even more skilled with his Head in his hands. Placing his Head racquet atop his head like a helmet, Youzhny celebrates significant victories by issuing a series of sharp salutes to the crowd.
The 19th-ranked Russian will find few supporters among the 12,000-plus fans packed inside the Memorial Coliseum in Portland today when he plays James Blake in the second singles match of the Davis Cup final between defending champion Russia and the host United States. Andy Roddick opens the best-of-five match final when he faces Dmitry Tursunov in today's opening singles match.
Youzhny beat Blake in their lone meeting on red clay in Moscow in the 2006 Davis Cup semifinals and Russia went on to beat Argentina to reclaim the Cup it won in 2002 when Youzhny fought back with ferocity from a two-set deficit to defeat Paul-Henri Mathieu in the decisive fifth match of the 2002 final.
Youzhny's lone tournament title of the season came on the indoor hard courts of Rotterdam in February when he defeated Tomas Berdych, Robin Haase, David Ferrer, Novak Djokovic and Ivan Ljubicic in succession. Blake believes the faster indoor hard court in Portland will enable him to impose his power-based baseline game on the versatile Youzhny.
"I lost to him last year in Moscow on clay," Blake said of Youzhny. "I remember he played an excellent match. I was a little streaky at that time on clay, which happens to me since it's not my favorite surface. He just played a little more solid than me throughout the match. This time I feel like I won't need to leave my comfort zone asmuch as I do on clay and I'll be able to hopefully go after my shots, be aggressive and still play the way I want to play on a surface that suits me much better. But that being said, I know he's an excellent player and he's not going to make that very easy for me. He's going to try to do everything he can to get me out of my comfort zone. He has unbelievable timing, great returns, is a great competitor, so I know it won't be easy. But I feel like I've prepared as well as I can and I feel good on this surface and ready to play my game."
The selection of shot combinations and willingness to step into the court while constructing points have been part of Youzhny's continued development. In the past, Youzhny sometimes tried to load up and end points prematurely with one big backhand, but over the past several months he's grown into his game, trusts his shots more and plays with the self-confidence of a man who is selective enough to set up his openings before striking the kill shot.
Tennis Week.com contributing writer Scoop Malinowski caught up with Youzhny for this Biofile interview.
Height/Weight: 6-feet, 160 pounds.
Born On: June 25, 1982 in Moscow, Russia.
Tennis Inspirations: "When I was six-years-old my hero was Stefan Edberg, I liked how he played. (Did you ever meet him?) Once I met him on the bus, we were sitting together on the same bus [smiles]."
Hobbies/Interests: "Reading books, soccer."
Childhood Dream: "I wanted to receive my driver's license!"
Favorite Movies: "I like Russian movies."
Musical Tastes: "Russian music, Lesopoval, Mikhail Tanich."
First Car: "A gray Lada."
Early Tennis Memory: "When I won my first tournament in Russia, at my club Spartak. For me, it was a strong tournament. I played two or three good players. 7-5, 6-4 in the final. I won a trophy and they take a Polaroid photo (age 13)."
Pre-Match Feeling: "A little bit excited. Feeling all I have to do on court. Before the match sometimes I try to remember how I play good in our matches, what I'm doing if I play before with this opponent. I try to remember how I play against him, what I'm doing on the court."
Favorite Meal: "Russian and Italian, sometimes sushi or a Chinese restaurant."
Favorite Breakfast Cereal: "I don't like breakfast at all [laughs]."
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: "Strawberry and chocolate I think."
Greatest Sports Moment: "It looks like Davis Cup (defeated Paul-Henri Mathieu from two sets down in decisive match of final vs. France in Paris in 2002). It was greatest moment for my name - Davis Cup - but I have a family situation in this time. So that's why, for me, maybe it was not good feelings like it was for all our persons. (Mikhail's dad Mikhail passed away two months, one week earlier.)"
Most Painful Moment: "The worst tennis moment I think was ... a lot of tough moments in every new years. Every new years were really tough, like, another problem, another problem. I think it was when I lost to Volchkov Belarus we play against first round and I lost final point to Volchkov in Davis Cup 2004."
Favorite Tournaments: "Tough question. I think it's home tournaments - St. Petersburg and Moscow."
Closest Tennis Friends: "Actually I have good contact with almost all players but I prefer good contact with Schuettler, Erlich, Ram from Israel."
Funniest Players Encountered: "It's tough question [smiles]. I saw Agassi-Baghdatis match was a funny match. I cannot say funny players but it was a really nice match. When it was cramps to Baghdatis it was really funny moment. I understand it was really tough for him but I really liked what he was doing. I understand if I was in his position I would do the same. It was really funny. I liked how Baghdatis made it."
Toughest Competitor: "I think Roger [smiles]. I lost to him ten times (0-10 career record vs. Federer) [smiles]."
Embarrassing Memory: "I loset 6-0 6-0 to Coria in Stuttgart in 2003 or 2004, I don't remember exactly the year. I was former champion of Stuttgart [laughs] in 2003 (actually 2004). And I have a lot of break points, I cannot win any games. After, my manager tell me, You are really smart. Because you lost 6-0 6-0 and now we play three sets for the same purse for the same money [smiles]."
Best Ever Felt On Court: "I think the best match was against Nadal (U.S. Open 2006). Now, in my career, I think it was the best match because it was very high level from first ball until the last."
Favorite Vacation Spot: "I like Cypress and Thailand I think was very nice."
People Qualities Most Admired: "I like to see kindness and honesty."